The Story of John Clem

John W. Clem loved and believed in the principles of the 12-Step Program, and he was committed to sharing his blessings with others. John also had a love for Southeastern Ohio, and he envisioned a place where local men could safely recover by practicing the 12-Step way of life.

Despite a graduate degree in Public Health and a successful career, John’s alcoholism progressed to a level where he had become increasingly impaired physically, mentally, and spiritually. On October 11, 1980, with the help of his wife Andrea and some very special friends, he was carried into The Alcoholic Clinic in Youngstown, Ohio, for detoxification.

At first, John refused to accept his condition, and his perception of 12-Step Programs was that they were something akin to a cult. Thanks to the resolve of those around him, John stayed in the hospital and completed a 28-day inpatient treatment program. During this stay, he began to identify with the recovering alcoholics he met and sensed something desirable in them, a certain peace or confidence. John eventually embraced the 12-Step principles as a way of life and regained his self-respect and dignity. Later, John attributed all of his blessings to the 12-Step Program.

John and Andrea moved to Athens, Ohio, in 1997. He loved the small-town feeling of the city. He fit right in and was always available for newcomers to call or stop by to discuss their recovery.

One of John’s community service commitments while he was here was as a member of the Athens, Hocking, and Vinton County 317 Board’s committee on alcohol and drug addiction. During this 3-year term of service, he emphasized the need for a residential program in the area to serve local men in need of recovery.

Unfortunately, around the year 2000, John was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Throughout his 3-year battle he continued to carry the message of recovery with grace and dignity. He passed from this life on July 8, 2003. Though he is no longer with us, John’s life continues to serve as a sterling example of the power of recovery through the 12-Step Program.

Many of John’s “Clemisms” will live on through those with whom he shared. It is our vision that his legacy will also remain alive through the daily operations of the John W. Clem Recovery Houses.

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