In Episode 15 of The Courage To Change: A Recovery Podcast, host Ashley Loeb Blassingame interviews her husband Dac Blassingame, who is also in recovery. The conversation is wide ranging, from talking about the differences between each other’s addictions, what it’s like to be married to someone in recovery, fears of raising children genetically predisposed to alcoholism, and how the tools of recovery have helped their marriage.

We’ve pulled out some key pieces of Dac and Ashley’s story to share how their shared language of recovery has helped them as individuals and as partners and as parents. This episode is a doozy, and we hope you listen to the whole thing here.

Dac’s Story

Dac grew up in Texas a happy child. He describes a loving household with a positive upbringing. He loves his parents, who Dac says “did the best possible job they could have given the circumstances; they did an incredible job until something just shifted in [his] brain.” 

At 12, Dac found alcohol. While many people with Substance Use Disorders tie their drug or alcohol use to trauma, depression or pain, Dac says this is not the case for him. “I wasn’t drinking for pain or any external factors,” Dac shares. “I love the taste of beer; I love smoking cigarettes; I love smoking weed, and I want to continue this.” He doesn’t know when his alcoholism took over, but he pins the beginning back to age 12. 

Dac drank and used throughout his teenage years. He shares: 

“I’m a drinker through and through. It wasn’t an opioid crisis back then, but it was a benzo crisis, because you could get Xanax or Valium or Librium or Klonopin for next to nothing — a buck a pill or two bucks a pill. Once I found the pills it took me so much deeper down the rabbit hole and so much more quickly because thenI didn’t have to go buy a bottle of Jack and drink the entire bottle to get the desired effect. I love the effect produced by alcohol coupled with pills. And I wasn’t an all-day drinker, but I would smoke weed all day until I could get that drink in me. So weed regulated me until I could drink.”

The Brick 

When he was 20, Dac got into an altercation that could have ended or severely limited his life: he was hit by a brick, which opened up a large hole in his skull through which people could see his brain. That was the moment that changed Dac’s trajectory. He remembers thinking, “Okay, wait a second, I love drinking, but also this is the result of my drinking.” Dac stopped using and drinking, went to rehab, and started going to meetings.

Dac & Ashley

Dac and Ashley met at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, have been a couple for 10 years, and married for 4 years, and parents of twins for 3 years. Dac has been sober for 16 years, Ashley has been sober for 14 years. While their alcoholism is quite different from each other’s, their entire relationship has been helped and shaped by the tools they learned in recovery.

Dac shares, “You have competitive advantages to having a partner that is also sober…there is a next level of communication, a fourth dimension that you can get on with your sober partner if you’ve both been in the trenches, both together and on your own, that you don’t really get,” with a partner who is not in recovery. 

In the podcast, Dac and Ashley share many times in their relationship where being able to ask for help and know the language of recovery has helped them through financial, recovery,and relationship crises. 

I was really afraid, because I have a lot riding on your sobriety. – Ashley Loeb Blassingame

And vice versa. – Dac Blassingame

After many conversations and couples therapy sessions, Dac and Ashley agreed to become parents, despite Dac’s concerns about having children. 

Ashely shares that Dac, “had some real concerns about having children, especially given that we both have this fatal progressive, chronic mental illness and that it’s highly genetic.”

In 2016, Dac and Ashley learned they were going to be parents – the same day that Dac learned he had lost his job. Dac and Ashley found out that they were having twins, which was a complete surprise to them. Ashley shared, “I know it’s supposed to be a happy day, but it was probably one of the most terrifying days of my life.” Dac found gig work, and found a job in Santa Monica, that was a two hour commute both ways. Life was stressful as Dac was out of the house for so long every day, and Ashley was recovering from a difficult pregnancy, working and being with their infants, then toddlers. The couple worked through that challenge, and Dac was finally able to get a job closer to home. In the podcast you can hear many more details about their communication during this time, how they used many life and coping skills taught in recovery – communication, being present, and being supportive – to become a stronger couple. 

Today, their fraternal twin boys are 3, and both Ashley and Dac love being parents. 

The bottom line for Dac is this: “I’m putting all my chips on you and you’re doing the same with me…When we have something that we have to say, we say it, because it’s going to affect our lives on a daily basis. I feel like we’re in a pretty good spot.”

Quotes have been edited for clarity.