David Altshuler, M.S.
(305) 978-8917 | david@davidaltshuler.com

Hark! I Hear the Canons Roar!

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After years of kicking around auditions and struggling to survive waiting tables, Oscar gets his big break. It’s a small part admittedly-actually only one line-but for the first time, he has the chance to act in a real show. On Broadway, no less.

Oscar attends every rehearsal and practices his line like no one has ever practiced before. “Hark, I hear the cannons roar!” he says over and over again in front of the mirror in his tiny fifth floor walk-up. He works endlessly with the director, changing the emphasis on the words of his debut. “HARK! I hear the cannons roar!” “Hark! I HEAR the cannons roar!” “Hark! I hear the cannons ROAR!”

Envisioning being noticed by one of the many critics in the audience on opening night, Oscar is nervous but ready. No aspiring actor has ever practiced harder; no performer has ever been better prepared.

The curtain opens; Oscar walks confidently to the middle of the stage; he turns to face the packed house; BOOM! The cannons go off. Startled out of his wits, Oscar jumps a foot in the air and screams. “What the hell was that!”


Oscar wasn’t ready. All his preparation, all his hard work, all his willingness came to naught. We wanted to do well; he wanted to get it right, but he didn’t. Indeed, he failed miserably. I just don’t know how long it will be before he gets another chance at a part in a Broadway show. Indeed, based on his performance with “Hark! I hear the cannons roar!” he may never get another shot.


Racso has been making tremendous progress in treatment. He truly feels he had finally kicked his addiction to marijuana. After smoking pot several times a day for years, Racso has now been clean for six full months. Racso religiously attends narcotics anonymous meetings; Racso never misses an appointment with his therapist; Racso even wants to go back to college to be certified as a trained addictions counselor after he has been clean for another year or so. Racso knows how to stay sober when he is elated; Racso knows how to stay sober when he is bored; Racso knows how to stay sober through a host of emotions and situations.

One night after a 12-step meeting, Racso walks outside with a cute girl whom he has seen on previous Monday nights. They get to talking about recovery and go for coffee. The girl invites Racso up to her apartment. They are sitting together on her couch when she offers him marijuana.


Racso wakes up 36 hours later, his life in shambles. He took one puff of marijuana, then another, then a bunch more. Stoned out of his mind, he has slept through his job, gotten fired, and failed to fulfill a number of other commitments that had taken months to put together. Without a paycheck, he is going to have a tough time paying his rent and experience real time consequences.

How could he have known that the cute girl was using and would ask her to join him in getting schnockered? “I like to meet guys at meetings,” she said. “They’re always so nice, not rude like the guys I meet in bars.”

Poor Racso. I hope he gets another chance as sobriety just as I hope that Oscar gets another shot at a part in a Broadway play.

Addicts in recovery have to expect the unexpected. They have to be prepared for “triggers”-people or situations that will set them back. Racso was okay with his job, his budget, his meetings, and his life. He never suspected that a cute girl and the opportunity to smooch would set him spiraling down a familiar path. Now Racso is holed up in his apartment, smoking pot for breakfast, lunch and dinner, eating chocolate ice cream, promising himself that he’ll get up early and look for a new job “tomorrow”. His self-esteem is lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut. He feels bad about himself, so he smokes some more pot. His depression keeps him from getting out of bed before the crack of noon. I’m not sure what’s going to happen when the rent comes due on the first.

The take away for loving parents is simple: teach your kids that the best way to stop is not to start. The best odds of having kids who don’t end up stoned and feckless each and every day is to model sobriety in the home.

None of the above is to suggest that there aren’t those who can smoke pot occasionally and function. I have even met a few rare individuals who can smoke pot frequently and still be productive.

But for Racso, it’s just not working out.

What the hell was that?



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Copyright © David Altshuler 2019    |    Miami, FL • Charlotte, NC     |    (305) 978-8917    |    david@davidaltshuler.com