To Regain His Health and His Family, He First Had to Get Clean and Sober

Tony Calderone’s last drink came on his oldest daughter’s 16th birthday, and it led to disaster – punching his ex-wife’s husband and terrifying his kids.

It was the end of decades spent drinking too much and using drugs. At 5’ 6” and 220 pounds and fired from his job, Tony knew he was out of control.

It took the look on his daughter’s face to make him seek treatment and, ultimately, sobriety. “I’ll never forget that,” he says today, four years later.

Now, Tony has regained his health through recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. He is in spectacular physical condition at 51 and a lean 160 pounds. And, most importantly, his girls have their father back.

“My workout regimen helps keep me sober,” says Tony, a metal fabricator and carpenter. “Life’s pretty good right now.”

Millions Struggle with Addiction after 50

Tony’s struggle is common for older people in the US, Canada, UK and Australia, experts say. The Baby Boom generation introduced widespread use of illegal drugs decades ago, and that continued as prescription medicine became its own epidemic among middle-aged and older people.

“Substantial evidence suggests that substance use among older adults has been under-identified for decades,” the US National Institutes of Health says. “The aging of the Baby Boom generation creates a new urgency to effectively identify and treat substance use among older adults.”

By 2020, 5.7 million older adults in the US alone will meet the criteria for alcohol abuse, according to a report in the journal “Addiction.”

We don’t metabolize alcohol and drugs as quickly as when we were younger, doctors say. So, what we could “handle” earlier in life can become a problem later.

Exercise can be a helpful part of recovery, along with 12-step programs, counselling, and medical and family support.

 “Many patients with various substance use disorders have found that exercise helps to distract them from cravings,” Dr. Claire Twark wrote for the Harvard Medical School. “Workouts add structure to the day. They help with forming positive social connections and help treat depression and anxiety in combination with other therapies.”

‘I Wanted to Take My Life Back’

 Tony has built a new daily and weekly routine around eating right, exercising and recovery. He eats a strict diet of lean protein and steamed vegetables, lifts weights six days a week, and attends three recovery meetings a week.

 “I just do what’s right for me,” he says. “I wanted to be the ripped, old man – old, sober man – at the beach. I wanted to take my life back. I’m getting the results I wanted.”

 He’s considering his first physique contest next year. “I love to work out. It’s total comfort for me. It’s my therapy.”

 Addiction or not, we all don’t have to devote ourselves so much to get lots of great benefits from exercising – physical, mental and social. But Tony says he’s happy.

 “I like my age. I’m in the best shape of my life,” he says. “And my daughters are proud of their dad.”

 > If you or someone you know might have a drug or alcohol problem, contact your doctor, counsellor or Alcoholics Anonymous​, phone (306) 665-6727​ or Narcotics Anonymous, phone (306) 652-5216​ And we’re here to help you get fit whenever you’re ready.

Lemon Blueberry Protein Bar

Here’s a lovely departure from chocolate-themed protein bars, with a delightful combination of lemon and blueberry. If lemon isn’t your thing then leave out the lemon zest and embrace the vanilla-blueberry vibe.

Courtesy of

What you need
Serves 20

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • ½ cup dried blueberries
  • 2 cups uncooked, rolled oats
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups vanilla protein powder
  • 3 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon Swerve confectioners style erythritol


  1. Line the bottom and sides of an 9 × 9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, so that the parchment paper hangs over the sides. (These will be your handles to easily pull the protein bars from the pan once they’re done.) Lightly rub the parchment paper with coconut oil.
  2. Combine the coconut milk and almond butter in a pot over low heat. Stir often, until fully combined and smooth, then remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. Blend the dried blueberries in a food processor until creamy. Add the almond butter mixture, oats, and protein powder and pulse until fully incorporated. Press the dough into the prepared dish and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Cut into 20 bars.
  4. Whisk the coconut oil and Swerve together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the protein bars. Chill until the glaze sets, about 5 minutes. Store in the fridge.

One serving equals: 80 calories, 5g fat, 23mg sodium, 5g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 1g sugar and 12g protein.

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