Washington Hunter Explains How Hunting Helped Him Overcome Alcohol Addiction

by Matthew Wilson

A Washington hunter thanks hunting for saving his life. Being outdoors helped the man overcome his battle with alcohol dependency and addiction.

Steven Johnson, of Oakville, Washington, is a recovering alcoholic. Over the years, hunting has helped keep him away from the partying and drinking that plagued his youth. But for a time, Johnson thought he might never hold a firearm or go into the woods again.

“The biggest thing is just getting out there, peace of mind, being out in the woods, going to places you’ve never been in the middle of nowhere,” Johnson told the Daily Chronicle. “I like exploring.”

When Johnson was 18, he got in trouble with the law. He received a felony for stealing beer from a local pub. Due to the crime, Johnson gave up his passion for hunting. By law, he was required to give away his firearms to fellow family members. He also wasn’t able to buy any more.

Hunting had been a part of his life since he was 11, and now he faced a future without it.

“It was 100 percent because of drinking and partying as kids,” Johnson said. “I was an alcoholic for years. I’d get home and just want to drink.”

The Hunter Rebuilt His Life

Johnson spent the next five years in a redemptive arc for the movies. He struggled with alcohol and trying to function day to day. But he slowly got his life on track. His job as a millwright helped stop the social drinking of his youth because he often worked a night shift.

Eventually, he was able to buy his own home and regain the right to bear arms.

“I totally changed my outlook on social drinking,” Johnson said. “It’s worked out good for me. It’s way, way better.”

To celebrate his new lease on outdoor life, Johnson bought $30,000 worth of hunting equipment. For instance, he bought multiple rifles, shotguns, and handguns. He also bought a $1,000 thermal imagining monocular. Hunting has continued to help him with his addictions.

“I felt like I had lost something,” Johnson said. “So I made up for it in one bang.”

As for what he’s up to these days, Johnson has turned his sights away from wild game like elk and deer. Now, he’s defending wild game and farmlands against predators like coyotes.