KY news anchor shares personal struggle with alcohol
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A former Kentucky news anchor is going public with his own fall from grace. Mike Barry spent decades covering news across the Bluegrass but was secretly battling an addiction to alcohol.
"Alcohol had become the dominant force in my life. Everything centered around alcohol. News stories: when can I stop by and get a drink on the way back?" said Barry.
For more than 20 years, he was the face of Lexington local news.
"For me, I'd see the billboards in town with my picture on them and the anchor team. And there was the picture and the image they're showing, but I knew on the inside that's not me, I don't feel that way. I was in misery," he said.
Barry was also an alcoholic.
"They had told me more than once, 'You need to do something about that problem.' And they'd whisper it. And I would say, 'What problem?'" he said.
After several years, the "problem" started to become more apparent. Relationships with his wife and children suffered.
"I could no longer function and I lost the job basically due to alcohol," Barry said about how alcohol affected his work.
It was still a long road ahead before Barry would get sober. One weekend he packed his bags and decided to go to South Carolina without telling a soul.
"It's part of the story that everybody knows. The police were searching for me, it was on all the newscasts and in newspapers, 'big disappearance.' And all I did was, like a little kid, I ran away from home," he recounted.
But a chance meeting during that trip changed his life and landed Barry in Louisville.
"He sort of conned me into coming to Louisville. He told me there's a new place opening up called the Healing Place and they could really use your help. Well, I thought I was going there for a job. I wasn't -- I was going there as a client."
Barry was in treatment, but still felt like he should be able to beat his addiction on his own. That is, until he relapsed time and time again and eventually hit rock bottom.
On Oct. 7th, 1994, at 2 a.m., Barry locked himself in his apartment with the intent of drinking himself to death.
"It took me 2 or 3 days to get out of that apartment but I went back to the Healing Place and I said, 'I'm done,'" he said.
Today, Mike Barry is sober. His driving passion at this stage is to help others find a way to become addiction free. He serves as the CEO of the nonprofit "People Advocating Recovery."
"To show people there is hope, there is help and there is healing, and people can and do recover," Barry said.
There are now 7,006 chapters formed in Kentucky. He shares his personal story to recovery groups around the country proving you can weather the storm. And that turning your life around is possible.
"We want to make sure people understand there is a way out," said Barry.
On May 30 at 6:30 p.m., PAR is hosting a free screening of the film, The Anonymous People at the Clifton Center. It's a feature film about the 23.5 million Americans living in long-term recovery. Admission is free but a reservation is required. For more info visit www.peopleadvocatingrecovery.org
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