May 27, 2020

Oscar- and Grammy-winning Artist Paul Williams Reflects on Recovery

“We've Only Just Begun” was songwriter's Paul Williams first hit song. It also marks the beginning of his using drugs and alcohol to deal with the world. But today, after 25 years of sobriety, the song has taken on new meaning. 

“It occurs to me that there was a transformation of that song, and the meaning of that song and the power of that song and the life of that song that was the result of great human kindness and talent … people walking up to me in my life and saying—here, let me make this part of your life better,” Williams said at the YMCA of Greater Long Beach’s 48th Good Friday Breakfast. 

During the event, Williams shared his struggles with addiction, with using alcohol and cocaine to fuel his ambition, to churn out hit songs and to cope with fame. In the late 1980s he hit rock bottom and sought help. Since entering recovery, the president and chair of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers has co-written the book Gratitude and Trust: Recovery is Not Just for Addicts  and received certification from UCLA as a drug rehabilitation counselor.

His message: “There is hope for the hopeless. Recovery and the process of recovery is about giving away what you’ve been given.”


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