The Cure to Addiction

The Cure to Addiction

I’ve been wanting to write this post for quite some time, and I’m excited to have finally done so. A cure to addiction… Is this even possible? Before we explore this, let’s take a snapshot of what addiction is right now.  At this moment in time, 2018, I feel we are at the beginning of what our understanding of what addiction even is, let alone finding a treatment for it. Are we close to a cure at this moment? Unfortunately, I don’t think so, in fact, I don’t believe we are even close. With 83 years passing since the inception of AA in 1935, we still don’t know much about what causes addiction and how to treat it; especially modern science. In 2014, there were 143 med schools in the USA, and only 14 of them had 1 class on addiction even though it’s estimated that 40% of hospital beds are occupied due to alcohol-related issues. This is staggering. It can be said that rehab is a 30+ thousand-dollar introduction to 12 step programs, and the best study that I can find is that AA has a 7-8% success rate according to the Sober Truth by Lance Dodes.  Currently, 85% of rehab facilities are 12 step based. Studies show that 2.5 people out of 1000 make it to 2 years of sobriety. Yikes, but the good news is you can continuously start over. Governments have no idea how to deal with addiction. The 40 years, 1 trillion-dollar war on drugs has primarily been a waste. There are still 21 million Americans, 80% of those with alcohol use disorders, who need treatment with addiction. Estimates show that of these 21 million Americans, only 10% of those get the actual help they need. I don’t want to paint a grim picture for readers, but currently, on this planet, we aren’t doing so hot when it comes to treating addiction. In fact, we’re failing, but it’s a start.

Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob created a fantastic program called Alcoholics Anonymous that currently has over 2 million members in over 120,000 groups worldwide. There is Smart Recovery, Refuge Recovery, yoga, meditation, Recovery Elevator and more. People are trying their hardest to tackle this planet’s most pressing epidemic; addiction. Despite the bleak snapshot painted above, I feel we are on the right track. I think in 500 years when we look back, we will all be looked at as pioneers for what shaped the way for recovery treatment. Or what we’re doing now may be like bloodletting. Doctors thought for around 800 years that bloodletting was the best way to rid the body of an infectious disease. Turns out, human beings need blood. I don’t think this is the case with how we are currently treating addiction, but you never know.

Let’s discuss what I mean when I say cure to addiction. What I’m proposing should render addiction obsolete. As in it won’t happen, or least not nearly at the level of occurrence that we see today. I guess this wouldn’t really be a cure, because to have a cure, you would need a disease, and what I’ll be covering should essentially create an environment that doesn’t foster the disease. Too much of western medicine emphasizes treating existing illnesses since there isn’t much money to be made in getting at the source. When I say cure to addiction, I don’t mean addiction happens, then insert treatment. I’m saying, addiction doesn’t happen in the first place. This is the more ideal scenario. I’d be more than happy to be out of a job.

Keep in mind, this is all speculative, some of these ideas may seem so far out, so bizarre that it isn’t even a possibility… But if you give it some thought, this may make sense. Some of you will agree with this, some of you might not want what I’m proposing ever to happen. In fact, it scares me too. It’s uncomfortable. Who knows, if MP3’s are still a thing in 500 years, I may get this spot on, or I may have wildly missed the mark.

Where did I get the idea for this post? For the cure to addiction?  Well, it was at my fantasy football draft in Las Vegas this past August. We were having dinner at the Hofbrauhaus House, and I was watching my two buddies argue about the dividing topic of immigration. One of them is a liberal, and the other is a conservative. They’ve had this same conversation or a similar one, the past 5 drafts. I knew I wouldn’t be engaging in this conversation, so I decided just to sit, listen and observe. As they were defending their steadfast positions with eloquent and non-eloquent diatribes based on part fact but mostly conviction, a strange thought arrived. It said the only way to solve the immigration issue is to eliminate all borders. Across the whole planet. And before we go any further, I want to mention, this post is about addiction, not immigration or politics, so please do your best to listen with an open mind. I said to myself, no, that can’t be right. That will never happen. And then the wheels in mind started moving. So much so, that I had to step outside the restaurant and sit on a bench for about 10 minutes. My brain kept connecting the dots until I said, holy shit. That’s the cure to addiction. Yippee!!

You might be saying to yourself episode 199 ended with you thanking planet earth, now you’re talking about a world with no borders. Wow, Paul, I bet you’re wearing Birkenstocks and have distanced yourself from all forms of plastic. Nope, I’m a guy who lives in Montana, a red state, who shoots clays with my shotgun for fun on the weekend, but deep down, even though some of it doesn’t sit well with me either, it feels right.

Okay, let’s explore this. In my opinion, the most profound line in “The Realm of Hungry Ghosts” by Dr. Gabor Mate, is that anthropologists have no record of addiction in pre-modern times. Contrary to popular belief, Europeans did not bring alcohol to the Native American, Inuit, and Aboriginal populations, or to South America to the Mayans, Incas or Aztecs. Alcohol has been around for 1,000’s of years and records show that all these cultures consumed alcohol. So why is that only within the past 400-500 years has abuse of alcohol and addiction been a problem. Why has is the swath of addiction caused more havoc within some social groups more than others?  Before we discuss this, let’s look at the Rat Park experiment conducted by Bruce Alexander.

I first came across this study in my first year of podcasting, and I’m reluctant to say, I dismissed it. At that time, I was in the camp that addiction is roughly 80% genetics and about 20% environmental, now, I’ve done somewhat of 180. I feel that addiction is about 20% genetics and 80% environmental. Okay, back to Rat Park. The study looks at two different environments for rats. In one cage, it had a single rat. The rat has access to food, water, and cocaine. It was only a matter of time before the lone rat chose a diet of strict cocaine and ended up dying. This process was repeated continuously with the same result. You might say, duh, cocaine is one of the top 4 most addictive drugs on the planet. But what happens when the environment changes. The second environment is called Rat Park which is full of rat families, with toys for the rats to play with, with mates for the rats, and probably Third Eye Blind Playing in the background. In Rat Park, the rats have access to food, water, and an unlimited supply of cocaine. What happened? Nothing. Cocaine/addiction was no longer a problem. Eliminate stress, change the environment, and eliminate addiction. It worked for rats, it should for us right? Well not so simple, but in theory, yes, and it’s gonna take some time.  Johan Hari talks about this in his Ted Talk titled, “The Opposite of Addiction is Connection.” I highly recommend watching this. He continues to say the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. It’s connection. I would say it’s more of a combo of sobriety and connection.

I am also reluctant to say when I first saw Johan Hari’s Ted Talk 3 years ago, I dismissed it and wasn’t a big fan. Now, I think I think, for the most part, it’s spot on. Johan’s Ted talk is starting to echo a theme that has been presenting itself the more I learn about alcoholism and addiction. That addiction is not about the pleasurable effects of substances, it’s about the user’s inability to connect in healthy ways with other human beings. In other words, addiction is not a substance disorder, it’s a social disorder. Previously, when I first started the Recovery Elevator podcast, early 2015, I was in the camp that the pleasurable effects of alcohol, and drugs, were the primary drivers for addiction but now I feel that the pleasurable effects of alcohol and drugs help soothe inner trauma and our inabilities to connect healthily with other humans. On an individual level, we are not at fault for this. In today’s breakneck fast-paced world, we are living further and further away from other human beings, we falsely connect more and more via social media and our society has a significant problem with accumulating external possessions because we’re taught this is healthy. Unfortunately, much of today’s economy is reliant upon our addictions.

I feel the birth of addiction occurred with the mass displacement of people from their lands, communities, and roots that started with the substantial land grabs of the Spanish, French, Dutch, English, and Americans on our own continent. Some groups of people, who are disproportionately affected by addiction, got the raw end of the stick, and they are still paying the price. What about those who weren’t displaced from their lands, maybe someone like myself and probably several other listeners. Well, life has drastically changed for everyone on the face of the planet in the past 500 years, Especially in the previous 100, and even more so in the past 50. Before the first flight took place in 1902, it was a lot harder to leave a community. Today, I think a lot of us are still trying to figure out “where we belong” and this sense of alienation has affected some more than others. For myself, this has resulted in addiction.

Back to the absence of addiction in pre-modern times. You might be saying to yourself, Paul, I’m relatively certain borders, boundaries, tribe lines, restrictions, precincts, confines, rivers existed in pre-modern times… Yes, this is correct. But when civilizations remained settled for upwards of 500-1,000+ years, and you were lucky to have oxen and wagon, you may have never encountered a border or really knew what one was in your lifetime. If everything you needed was already in your own “rat park,” then why leave?

Now let’s explore a futuristic world without borders. Again, this scares me. Big time, but if you think about it, it’s really the only way things can go. We’ve been doing the conquer, defeat, divide, overthrow, coup, rebellion, revolution, wage war, WWI, WWII, with sticks and clubs and now with nuclear bombs. For ages.  It’s not working, and human beings are starting to wizen up. The EU opened its borders up in 1985, and this has made things easier.

When will this no border fantasy world occur? I don’t know, it might not. Artificial Intelligence might have something to say about it first. With the proliferation of social media, which isn’t a genuine human connection, things may get a lot worse before they get better. But barring nuclear war, ending everything for everyone, I think this will happen in the next 300-500 years. If you’re saying to yourself, I don’t want to live next to a white person, or I don’t want to live next to a black person, well, in the next 200 years, we’re all going to be the same color anyways so please get over yourself. I think, when everyone can move about this planet freely, when we can accept all human beings as equal when we are able to establish roots and communities wherever we’d like, then I think we’ll wake up one day and see the problem of addiction slowly fade away.

 

 

 

 

 

RE198: The Importance of Letting Go

Play

Patrick, with 10 years 2 months since his last drink, shares his story . . .

SHOW NOTES

[10:50] Paul introduces Patrick

Patrick is 37 years old, and is from Brooklyn, New York.  He’s been sober since August 23, 2008.  He is married and has no children.  He works as a stand up comedian, recovery coach, and a video editor.  He likes to try to squeeze in a good meal between shows, visit friends, and snowboard.  He would like to get better at rollerblading.

[14:08] Give us a little background about your drinking habits

He did not drink until his freshman year in college, because he has a family history of alcohol abuse.  When he tried alcohol for the first time, he loved the way it made him feel.  Alcohol became problematic within his first year of drinking.  When he was drunk, he became unpredictable: he was the guy who took off his clothes and climbed buildings.  Despite getting warnings from counselors, he continued to drink for the next 8 years.

[30:40]  What finally made you make that decision to go into sobriety?

While at a baseball game, he told his friends that he wasn’t going to drink.  His buddy said, “but you can have just one,” and Patrick said, “of course I can have just one.”  6 hours later, he was ejected from a bar for being too intoxicated.  The next morning, his girlfriend told him that he had to move out.  That became his sobriety date.

[41:00]  In the last 10 years, have you noticed any cross addicitions?

He definitely needs to look out for working too much and not eating in a healthy way.  When stressed, he turns to ice cream.  He’s realized that since he was a kid, he’s tried to change how he feels on the inside by using things on the outside.

[44:10] Is there something that you have done differently while getting sober?

He would have gone to 12 step meetings immediately.  Learning the idea of doing the next right action sooner.

[ 48:48 ] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking?

The trip to Italy when he became “a monster” and his girlfriend threatened to leave early.

  1. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment?

He was moving out of an apartment a few years before he got sober, and he realized that no one, neighbors, roommates was unhappy that he was leaving

  1. What’s your plan moving forward?

Staying true to sharing his story through his comedy

  1. What’s your favorite resource in recovery?

 

The phone.  Calling other sober people and being available.

  1. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)?

Show up with integrity.

  1. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking?

If you’re going through hell, just keep going.  This too, shall pass.

  1. You might be an alcoholic if…

If you’re doing “sober October” for the 10th year in a row, and you rarely get through a few days of it, you might be an alcoholic.

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Connect with Cafe RE– Use the promo code OPPORTUNITY for your first month free

Sobriety Tracker iTunes

Sobriety Tracker Android

Sober Selfies! – Send your Sober Selfie and your Success Story to info@recoveryelevator.com

“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”

 

RE 197: This is What Recovery Looks Like

Play

Aaron, with over 1 year since his last drink, shares his story…

SHOW NOTES

[12:30] Paul Introduces Aaron.

Aaron is 39 years old, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  He’s been sober since October 16, 2017.  He’s married with two children.  He works in HR and Recruitment for a small company.  He likes home improvement, the outdoors, gardening.  He likes to restore and repair his house and cars.

[15:30] Give us a little background about your drinking habits.

He has drank every day more or less since college.  There was a strong drinking culture at his college.  He made a lot of friends through drinking.  It extended to his work after college.  He associated alcohol with being social.  Alcohol made its way into all of his activities.  He didn’t know how to regulate it.  He struggled to care for his children while he was drinking a lot.  He couldn’t concentrate and was getting cold sweats.  He decided to start regulating.  He read a book that asked him to regulate but it didn’t work for him.  He realized that he need to change.

[19:53] Did you have a rock bottom moment?

Many.  He skipped along the bottom.  He always had a way of getting out of trouble, which gave him a false sense of accomplishment.  Rock bottom for him was realizing that his life had become unmanageable.  He would have beers in his basements, and he called them his “morning beers”.  He realized that it wasn’t where he wanted to be.  He went to his first meeting, and he judged everyone there.  He started to get something out of it by the time he was in his 3rd meeting.  While in recovery, he started to feel like he had a split personality.  He was cleaning out the garage and he found some camping gear.  He found a box of alcohol.  He pulled it out decided to hide it.  He would lie about going out to his garage to work on something, but he was really going out to drink.  He felt bad because he was lying about it.  He argued with himself out loud and realized he had a problem.  He went to a meeting and was honest about his relapse, and since then he has been sober.  He began to work with his AA program.  He started to understand himself a lot more.  He became more in touch with his intuition.  He’s realizing that it’s more important to be in the now.  He now knows that his intuition will know what to do in situations that would previously baffle him.  He’s less stressed and much more happy.  He has more responsibility, but life has gotten more fun.

[30:21] How have you started to change your inner dialogue?

He started to get into emotional intelligence.  It is a way of living that has many parallels with the 12 steps.  He realized that his past didn’t have to affect his present.  He realized that his suffering was all in his head.  He started waking up earlier and going down to watch the sun rise.  He found meditation and peace and he started to forgive himself.  He realized that he was blessed to be a part of the moment.  He stopped worrying and focused more on acceptance.  He doesn’t worry about the future as much.  He is grateful to be here now.

[35:28] Have you figured out the “why” behind your drinking?

It started as just a way to cope with anxiety, but it eventually became a part of his identity.  The “why” was part lifestyle, part insecurity, then eventually addiction.

[36:17] Walk us through a day in your recovery.

He gets up early.  He tries to shut his mind off.  He enjoys daydreaming and spending time with his kids.  She asks him profound questions, and he’s happy to be a part of her childlike innocence.  He works, also.  He enjoys the new freedom he gets with his new job.  He goes to AA meetings twice a week.  His days are filled with things he loves, or loves working on.

[39:04] What’s on your bucket list in recovery?

He wants to go on the RE Peru trip.  He wants to keep his life manageable.  He wants to eventually retire so he can travel and wants to be a part of his family’s life for as long as he’s around.

[40:11] Talk to us about the text that was meant to go your sponsor, but accidentally went to the president of your company.

He was laid off, and started to offer what he did independently.  Many people were approaching him because of how many people were laid off.  He wasn’t taking sides, but he said talking about how difficult things in life can be positive.  He was reading a text from the president.  He wrote a long winded text to his sponsor, with thoughts about his job, and his boss replied.  He immediately wanted to delete it.  They talked about it and he ended up giving him a sizeable contract as a result.

[43:29]  Talk to me about the pennies in your car.

He kept pennies in a tray in his car, because he had heard an old wives tale about sucking on a penny to throw off a breathalyzer test.  Whenever he got pulled over he would throw the penny in his mouth to suck on.  When he got sober, he saw the pennies in his car and he realized he didn’t need them to he cleaned them out.

[45:02] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking?

    When he woke up at 4am, his infant daughter was screaming for a diaper change.  His hands were shaking so badly that he couldn’t do it, so he ran downstairs to get a drink so he could function.

  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment?

    The people at his work approached him and told him that if he ever decided to stop drinking they would support him.  It was an indication that other people could tell that he could drink heavily.

  3. What’s your plan moving forward?

    Once your cup is full, and you don’t know how much more can fulfill you, the cup just gets bigger.  He wants to live a life of enrichment and fulfillment.

  4. What’s your favorite resource in recovery?

    The Recovery Elevator podcast has been great.  Also, AA.

  5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)?

    Get honest with yourself about it.  It’s okay as long as you learn from it.

  6. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking?

    Don’t quit before the miracle happens. 

  7. You might be an alcoholic if

    “…if you keep pennies in your car to throw off breathalyzer tests, and if you drink boxed vodka from a solo cup with a mixture of powdered gatorade and hose water in secret.”

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Connect with Cafe RE– Use the promo code OPPORTUNITY for your first month free

Sobriety Tracker iTunes

Sobriety Tracker Android

Sober Selfies! – Send your Sober Selfie and your Success Story to info@recoveryelevator.com

 

“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”

 

RE 196: How Normal Drinkers View Addiction

Play

Dan, who doesn’t practice abstinence based recovery, shares his story…

Link to the Fox News article mentioned in the episode

“To be human is also to suffer from addiction. The particular vices vary as do our degree of addiction to them, but it takes precious little searching to know we’ve all got something unhealthy that pulls at us.” – Mike Kerrigan, Fox News

SHOW NOTES

 

[11:08] Paul Introduces Dan.

Paul doesn’t practice abstinence based recovery, and had a drink a few weeks ago.  He’s  28 years old and lives in New York City.  He runs a channel called Recovery X and Spooky Digital.  He does MMA.  He has a family.  He practices mindfulness.

 

[12:48] Give us a little background about your drinking.

He started drinking when he was 10.  His brother was getting married, and his parents allowed him to have a couple drinks.  He got really drunk.  He got a lot of attention and had a lot of fun.  His family started to warn him about alcoholism but he didn’t yet understand.  He would occasionally steal his father’s prescription medicine.  He had behavioral problems at a young age.. he would get in fights.  He started a school riot between different grades.  He always looked up to the trouble makers.  They got attention.  He has a big family, and he felt like he always had to fight to be noticed.  He was kicked out of 8th grade for stealing money from another kid.  He was sent to a private boarding school.  He was kicked out for fighting.  He went through all kinds of behavioral modification programs.  He felt abandoned by his family.  He noticed that his brother had a different strategy than him.

 

[18:33] At what point did you realize that you were using alcohol to self-soothe?

He wanted to keep getting kicked out of private schools until his parents would run out of options and send him to public school.  He began to drink more once he got to high school.  It helped him reduce his anxiety.  He ended up getting arrested after a fight, and was sent to rehab in Los Angeles.  It was his first experience with a sober lifestyle.  He was 16.  He saw young people in recovery.  He stayed out there for a while and would go on and off about wanting to be clean.  He was arrested after a drinking related incident that turned violent.  Alcohol always lead to destruction in his life.  He had a problem with his thoughts and feelings and emotions.  He also had an inability to deal with stress and relationships.

 

[23:53] Tell us more about the thinking problem.

His experience has been that the drugs and alcohol have been the solution to the problem, which was thinking or avoiding his internal dialogue.  He experienced a lot of internal conflict, different conflicting voices.  Now he has to be really strict about what he thinks, and what he allows to come into his mind.  He had to learn how to challenge and to reframe every negative thought and to turn it into something positive.

 

[26:17] At what point were you able to detach from the negative thoughts?

He doesn’t differentiate the thoughts from himself, he thinks it’s all him.  He thinks the mind is only about 10% of the entire brain, but it thinks that it’s all of it.  “It’s like a stowaway on a ship saying it’s the captain”.  He had to make friends to his subconscious mind and tell it that he’s listening.  He started meditating regularly.  It helps him get better at reframing thoughts.

 

[30:17] Did you experience a rock bottom moment to push into sobriety?

Many.  So many times in so many different ways.  If he had to pick one it would when he was getting violent in a relationship with a woman.  He realized he wasn’t raised that way and that he violated some sort of a core value about respecting women.  It made a tear in his psyche and he felt something growing through the cracks.

 

[32:32] Tell us about the lack of abstinence in your practice.  How does one successfully embrace the grey area?

He finds binary thinking in the recovery community.  The more we can be inclusive and the more we can embrace the idea the abstinence based recovery isn’t the only way the more people we can reach and the more people we can help.  A big misconception about harm reduction is that one needs to be completely sober.  Abstinence is a goal, but we’re really looking to improve our health and our lives on a daily basis.  The goal has been to monitor his mental health on a daily basis.  He started doing DBT (see links below).  Part of that is keeping a record of your emotions and thoughts throughout the day.  He takes notes about what happens in the day.  Our memories are often distorted and the diary helps eliminate that and keep everything straight.  He can see the patterns that lead to substance abuse.

 

[36:41] When you drank recently, how did you feel when you woke up the next day?

Alcohol can beat you up, but you don’t have to do it yourself.  Have compassion and keep it moving.  Don’t get stuck in the self loathing.  Tell yourself positive things.

 

[38:47] Tell us more about DBT.

DBT stands for Dialectical behavior therapy.  It’s a therapy with mindfulness at its core.  If one is more mindful of one’s thoughts, one can see the patterns and opportunities for reframing.  If someone ahead of you shuts a door in your face, the first reaction might be anger, but if we can see that we are assuming the intent, we can reframe it as a more innocent situation.

[41:05] Talk to us about abstinence being the goal.

Abstinence is one of the goals.  The real measure of success is in your life.  How are you treating other people?  Are you being kind and helpful?  How are you feeling?
[43:03] Tell us more about Recovery X.

They are offering free recovery resources to people in need.  They offer as many voices involved as possible.  They help people find recovery resources in their area.  Initially his passion in life was communication.  When he was a child he was bad at it.  He always wanted to understand communication.  After being in recovery, he realized that he could combine communication and recovery to be the most use to people in the world.  They want to provide trusted sources and resources that are are not scams.  Real authentic honest trustworthy programs.

[48:55] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking?
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment?
  3. What’s your plan moving forward?Focus on mastery, and continue to stay out of the results and just hone the skills.
  4. What’s your favorite resource in recovery?Recovery Elevator, and RecoveryX.org
  5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)? 

    Have compassion for yourself and just keep showing up and doing the work and you’ll get there. 

  6. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking? 

    Love yourself like you would love somebody else and reach out to people when you need help.  If you’re on Day 1 today, I would say have compassion for yourself.. you are fighting something that isn’t easy (it isn’t supposed to be) and I encourage you to keep at it.  Don’t give up.  It gets better, it’s a skill. 

  7. You might be an alcoholic if 

    …you go somewhere on vacation and end up on probation. 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Recovery X:
Website

 

Video

Facebook (where we shoot live)

Youtube

 

Audio

Spotify

iTunes

 

Additional links mentioned from Dan

Recovery X Facebook Group where they post behind the scenes footage and people interested in recovery can connect with others.

 

Learn DBT Group on Facebook is a free community Dan runs, where people in recovery from a variety of mental health disorders can come to learn about DBT, get support and find free resources.

 

Personal Social Media for interviewee Dan

websiteInstagram, or Facebook.

This episode is brought to you in support by Robinhood. Right now, Robinhood is giving my listeners free stock such as Apple, Ford or Sprint to help build your portfolio. Signup at elevator.robinhood.com

Connect with Cafe RE– Use the promo code OPPORTUNITY for your first month free

Sobriety Tracker iTunes

Sobriety Tracker Android

Sober Selfies! – Send your Sober Selfie and your Success Story to info@recoveryelevator.com

 

“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”

RE 195: What Should the Bottle Say?

Play

Corey, with 5 days since his last drink, shares his story…

The mentioned article from the Irish Times

SHOW NOTES

[8:48] Paul Introduces Corey.

Corey has been sober for 5 days.  He’s from Minnesota, now lives in Boston.  He’s 25 years old and is working full time.  He likes to exercise.  He loves music, plays guitar and piano.  He has an upcoming trip to Columbia, is learning Spanish.  He feels confused with life now that he has left the structure of school.  

[13:31] Give us a little background about your drinking.

He started to drink a lot more during years in college.  He started to experiment with weed in high school.  He began to drink or party when he should have been studying.  He didn’t realize there was something wrong at the time.  He used his computer to avoid academic responsibilities.  He was okay with it as long as he continued to deliver on his academic duties.  He felt like he coasted through college and also began to coast through his first jobs.  He found himself in the same behavioral patterns.  He didn’t know where he was or what he was doing.  He lost a romantic partner because of his partying.  He drowned his feelings with drinking.  The feelings came back up after a few months.  He was caught in a weekly cycle of drinking and depression.  He used a notebook to think out loud and he wrote down that he wanted to quit drinking and smoking to be comfortable with who he was.  He devised a plan.  Last year he tried to knock out one of the three (weed, tobacco and alcohol).  He was so focused on change that he was able to quit tobacco.  Before a family trip he felt suddenly depressed.  He began to drink alcohol to try and cope with his feelings.

[22:10] How were you able to quit all 3?

He set a new year’s resolution to quit alcohol.  He ended up getting a therapist and it has helped a lot.  He went down to New Orleans and it broke his sobriety streak.  He felt guilty.  He let himself down.  He is now searching for a way to enjoy friendships without booze being involved.  Over the summer, he loosened his grip on quitting a little bit he hasn’t been able to shake it.  He went to a Halloween party and was drinking, and didn’t feel good.  He just decided to leave.  At home he was depressed and began googling ways to end his life.  He feels that is his rock bottom.

[29:51] How will you manage your drinking on your upcoming trip to Maine?

He doesn’t have a real concrete plan.  He knows there will be temptation.  He’s not sure what to do about it.  He will try to text them and tell them that he won’t be drinking.

[32:48] What’s your plan in sobriety moving forward?

He bought some books.  He wants to read those.  He’s listening to podcasts.  He wants to continue to learn and journal and continue to move forward.  He’s concerned about his upcoming trips, but he’ll do his best and try not to judge himself.

[37:46] How have you been getting past cravings?

Having some sort of healthy beverage on hand. He drinks tons of water.

[39:03] What is on your bucket list in sobriety?

He wants to record a full album and get better at guitar.  He wants to make the most out of his international trips coming up.  He wants to quit also because he wants a family.

[40:34] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking?

    The incident where he drank and almost indulged in suicide.

  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment?

    When the denial ended and he got depressed.  He drank to go to sleep.  He realized he was damaging his health.

  3. What’s your plan moving forward?
  4. What’s your favorite resource in recovery?

    Recovery Elevator podcast.  He loves the format.  He likes to hear about other people’s stories.

  5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)?

    To take it one day at a time.  If he does today and then he does tomorrow, he doesn’t have to worry about the future.

  6. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking?

    Just to get out of the trap of associating college with partying.  It’s going to catch up to you.

  7. You might be an alcoholic if

    “…you always pick up a 30 rack of beer multiple times in a week when you go grocery shopping.”

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Support for this episode is brought to you by RiaHealth.com. Visit Riahealth.com/elevator and enter the coupon ELEVATOR for $25 off your first month.

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Connect with Cafe RE– Use the promo code OPPORTUNITY for your first month free

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“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”

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