Harold Hughes is a a self-professed “college dropout and a drunk with a jail record,” a native of Iowa, a former trucker, and a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous. He also served as that state’s governor from 1963 until 1969 and as a U.S. senator from 1969 until 1975.

“I don’t know why I’m an alcoholic, but I do know that I am one, and I guess that’s what important,” he says in this 1964 talk at a California AA roundup. He was never a normal drinker in his life, he said, and over the years his disease progressed until a failed suicide attempt in 1952 led him to a spiritual experience. He endured a brief relapse in 1954 and started an AA group in Ida Grove, Iowa, in 1955.

Harold launches into a powerful discussion of his experience with the steps, especially the inherent “therapy” of the fourth step. He also shares his powerful faith in God and his gratitude at having found a way out.

Harold Hughes died in 1996 with 42 years sober.

Recovery Speakers: The world’s biggest library of AA speakers

We have more than 2,000 AA speaker tapes as well as hundreds of shares from people in other 12-step recovery programs. If you are suffering from addiction to alcohol or any other substance, you can find help here. Listen to a recovery speaker, read our blog or participate in our community forum. Recovery is possible, and you don’t have to do it alone.