How to Travel without Getting Drunk: Go on a Sober Vacations in 2019 Without Jeopardizing Your Sobriety

How to Travel without Getting Drunk: Go on a Sober Vacations in 2019 Without Jeopardizing Your Sobriety

We all love to travel

Nearly every online dating profile can confirm this. We only have a finite amount of time on this planet, and we have a pull to see as much of it as possible. This can be an incredible experience, especially when we’re traveling with fun light-hearted people. When traveling, our guards are often down, and our heart opens to the present moment. The sights, sounds, and smell are all taken in. We are fully present, and this is where the magic happens.

A trip from hell

Traveling the globe is great until it becomes a nightmare. In 2014, I was a counselor for a high school trip, and we had just finished the Inca Trail and exploring Machu Picchu (this is where I got the idea for the 2018 sober travel itinerary to Peru). I had plans to continue my travels after the students returned to Colorado and I was ready to strap on the backpack and let the wind take me. That was the plan at least.

I said goodbye to the group and had every intention of staying sober for the rest of my trip. That internal declaration lasted no more than two hours, and I found myself drunk at the hostel bar later that evening. For the remainder of my stay in South America should have been the sober vacation of a lifetime, but it ended up being a disaster where I wanted to hit the eject button nearly every moment.

Death Road mountain bike tour

After that, I traveled to Puno and visited the highest freshwater body of water on the planet, Lake Titi Caca. Then I visited La Paz Bolivia where I saw Guns and Roses on my birthday. They didn’t sell alcohol at the concert, so I saw it as a sign it was going to be my new sobriety date, my birthday! After the show, I was drunk followed by a brutal hangover for the Death Road mountain bike tour.

After that, I did a jungle tour in the Bolivian Amazon and was so thankful to hear I wouldn’t be near a bar or store that sold alcohol. Well, alcohol is everywhere, and ended up convincing a local to sell me 3 liters of beer. I was becoming demoralized, and the trip was only half done. Next up, my trip involved renting a car and drove (mostly drunk) through northern Argentina, then a 16-hour bus ride over the Andes into Chile where I vomited on myself twice. The bus driver apologized for the windy roads. To the day, I still don’t think he knew I was just flat out drunk. Oh yeah, I forgot about the salt flat in Bolivia and northern Chile. This is usually a highlight for travelers, but I was too hungover to exit the vehicle most days.

Will this trip ever end…

I found myself in northern Chile in the San Pedro de Atacama Dessert wanting nothing more than to just “go home.” I think I even googled “time machine” or “tele-transport” a couple of times in google searches. I was utterly defeated by alcohol at this moment, and I still had ten days left on the trip. I booked a stargazing trip in the desert of Chile which, apart from Machu Picchu, was the best part of the whole trip. During this stargazing excursion, I got a glimpse of the universe. A seed of spirituality was planted in my heart… For a moment, I thought I would be able to go the rest of the trip without alcohol.

Then Lima happened. I woke up every day promising myself I wouldn’t drink. I did so well until the sun went down. I did manage to attend a couple AA meetings in Lima which helped, but overall, it was a total dumpster fire.

I’ve also googled “dolorian time machine” in hopes that I can go back and to that trip again: sober. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I go back and see these incredible places again. The difference this time is that I won’t do it alone.

Great Experience with Sober Vacations

After that vacation from absolute hell, the idea of sober travel vacations first arrived. I said, I love to travel, and I need to find a way to do it without being tempted to drink. Call it fate, destiny, or whatever, I then started the Recovery Elevator podcast, the sober communities Café RE and we just did our first international dry travel vacation to Peru in 2018 with 20 total attendees. During that trip, not one person drank. We had 20 people who have decided to live a life without alcohol and not one person drank. Incredible. On top of that, laughter seemed to be the theme of each day!

Next up is Asia January 20 – 31st, 2020. We will be flying into Bangkok, Thailand and departing Seam Ream, Cambodia. Apart from exploring two top destinations in Southeast Asia, we will be doing service work with Ourland, an elephant sanctuary, in Kanchanaburi. This sober travel tour should be the trip of a lifetime and simply cannot wait.

If you can’t make a Recovery Elevator sober travel vacation, and you still want to travel, here are some tips.

Tips for sober travel

  • Go with a friend who knows you won’t be drinking. This person can hold you accountable and give you support in those difficult moments. Make sure this friend doesn’t prioritize alcohol.
  • Go with a sober travel buddy – even better! If you have a sober friend ask them to travel with you.
  • Attend an AA meeting. I’ve attended AA meetings in nearly a dozen countries and not only is it great support, it’s a quick way to meet locals. I went to a meeting in Mexico and then was invited to a BBQ at a local’s house. It was so much fun.
  • Keep recovery in your pocket – My recommendation is Café RE, but there are several supportive online recovery communities.
  • Don’t risk it – Wait till you have some solid sobriety footing before embarking on a sober vacation 2019. If you’re in your first 30 days of sobriety, it may be prudent to wait another couple of months.
  • Do not stay at the party – many hostels are where the party happens. Do your research and make sure you have an exit strategy when you’re ready to call it a night.
  • Be strategic with your destinations – If sobriety is your goal, then the Spanish party Islands Ibiza, probably shouldn’t be on the itinerary. Maybe think about visiting Morocco where alcohol isn’t part of the culture.

Don’t let your goal of sobriety hinder your travel plans. There are many ways to do this. I’ve been to over 15 countries sober, and I plan to add to that list! Sobriety has given me a life I could never could have  imagined. Thanks for being part of it.

 

12 Reasons Why Sober is Better for 2019

12 Reasons Why Sober is Better for 2019

The decision to cut alcohol out of your life will pay off huge dividends in 2019 and much longer. Trust me…

Happy New Years Eve! Breaking news… You don’t have to drink today. In fact, over the years, I’ve met several people whose sobriety date was December 31st. You can have a hangover on the first day of the year, or you can wake up feeling refreshed. It’s up to you.

Deep down inside, at the core evolutionary level, we arrive on this planet fully equipped to live a happy life without any external substances. Especially alcohol. Here are 12 reasons why sober is better and why it’s a good idea to get the new year started off right with the Best Sobriety Podcasts.

1. Look you’re best

In Café RE, I see before and after pics posted all the time and oh my goodness are the transformations incredible. Within 30-60 days of quitting drinking, you’ll have people pull you aside and say, what’s your secret? You must be eating at the new vegan restaurant next door and are sipping on pure kale juice? I want to be clear, this statement has nothing to do with shedding pounds. I’ve seen people go up to their beautiful healthy weights, I’ve seen the color of people’s skin change, I’ve seen smiles return to faces.

2. Feel your best

More important than looking your best (external), you’ll start to feel your best (internal). I remember when I was drinking, the first 10-20 seconds when I woke up in the morning were intimidating. I knew I was going to feel less than average. Upon waking, I was afraid to fully assess the amount of damage I had done to my central nervous system the night before. The most important catalyst to feeling your best starts with sleep. While drinking, there was no quality sleep. If I could summarize how I feel in sobriety with one word, that would be – rested.

3. Alcohol can fix things you didn’t know were broken

Within time, you’ll start to notice issues (internal and external) slowly begin to fade away. These could be health issues or turbulent relationships with loved ones or co-workers. I never was a long-distance runner. I didn’t think I had the genetics to do it. I would tell myself that I’m built for quick bursts, like a cheetah. In sobriety and my normal one to three mile runs turned into five, seven and even a twenty-three mile ridge run race at year 3 in sobriety.

4. Make the most of your time spent on this planet

Human beings are awake on average 15 hours and 30 minutes per day. Make all the hours great. I remember towards the tail end of my drinking, the first 6-8 hours of every day were blah, at best. I’d then turn a corner and say, okay, I’m starting to feel better. A couple hours later I’d say, I’m feeling good, today is a good day. Unfortunately, at that moment, I’d also say, let’s take a detour from the present moment and start drinking. No matter how many times I promised myself today would be different.

5. Build better relationships

The opposite of addiction is connection and while we’re drinking, we’re not connecting. We may think imprinting our ass on a bar stool for hours at a time helps us build lifelong friendships that will endure the test of time, but that’s not the case. Conversations without alcohol are always more enjoyable. They’re authentic. Also, when we quit drinking, it will become clear who we need to spend time with.

6. Confidence

I had this feeling as a kid, and I think most of us had it at some time in our life, which was I can do anything if I put my mind to it. That feeling is better than any drink, drug, adrenaline rush, etc. In sobriety, you’ll find your inner voice saying things like, “I think I can do this,” which transitions into “I can do this,” to eventually, “I am doing this.” This state of mind was gone when I was drinking. Welcome back!

7. Less fear

The underlying level of fear in your life will drastically be reduced. You’ll be less afraid. You’ll stop making decisions based on fear. You’ll be more proactive in life instead of reactive. If we are always making decisions based on fear, we aren’t moving forward in life.

8. You’ll save a sh*&^t ton of money

According to my Recovery Elevator sobriety tracker, I have saved $37,486 since I quit drinking. This isn’t chump change found under a couch cushion. That’s a lot of money. This past April, I closed on a house on 1.5 acres outside of town. I’m surrounded by mountains, across the street is a 1,200-acre dairy farm, and the sunsets are epic. Down payment required for this house was, roughly the amount I’ve saved from drinking. This would have never happened if I was drinking.

9. You’ll be living in the present Moment

You’ll find yourself saying, what is this? This intangible presence that I can’t touch but I know is there. The thing that I’m hyper aware of that I never seemed to notice before. It must be the present moment. When we live in the present moment, depression (the past) and anxiety (the future) fade away. Why is the present moment so powerful? Because it’s all we have.

10. Avoid unnecessary disasters

You won’t be ruining your cousin Mindy’s wedding, or you won’t park a car in your neighbor’s pool. It seemed like once a year I did something I deeply regretted. At first, it was making an ass out myself at a party, but as the drinking progressed, the consequences became more catastrophic, like a DUI while driving to work in 2014. It’s nice to put substantial distance between me and those tragic events in life.

11. Create the future you want

I thought I could make the life I realized a reality while I was drinking, but that wasn’t the case. The grandiose goals and plans I projected in my future during my drunken states, never even reached a whiteboard when sober. As long as I was drinking, the tires of life were spinning in the sand and towards the tail end of my drinking, the tires were removed entirely. This is where sobriety gets exciting. The life transitions that I’ve seen take place are incredible. I met a guy named Patrick who attended the Peru trip and in sobriety, he has sold a portion of his shares in his restaurant group, purchased one of those “souped” up sprinter vans with Scandinavian interior finishes, bought like a 50 mountain ski pass and is living the life he’s always wanted to live. Anything is possible in sobriety.

12. You’ll start to make healthy memories

Within time, you’ll start to create new, fun and exciting memories. I’ll be honest, getting sober was a challenge, to say the least, but in the past four years, I’ve had some incredible memories and met some fantastic people. Several of these memories are from Recovery Elevator meet-ups. Some of them are epic sunrises with my standard poodle Ben. It’s also a compilation of the excellent smaller memories. It’s the little things that count!

The Empty Calories in Alcohol

The Empty Calories in Alcohol

I drank a lot of alcohol. Alcohol caused a lot of damage in my life. Was any of it good? Was I able to at least get some nutritional value from $14 beer night? Well, let’s take a look.

Alcoholic beverages primarily consist of water, pure alcohol (chemically known as ethanol), and variable amounts of sugars and carbohydrates; their content of other nutrients, proteins, vitamins, or minerals is usually insignificant. Because they provide almost no nutrients, alcoholic beverages are considered “empty calories.” It’s safe to say a Twinkie has more nutritional value than any alcoholic drink, and it’s common knowledge that Twinkies are terrible for us. The good news is none of us lack any dietary components by not drinking. Alcohol is still shit.

Let’s talk calories for a second. 1 gram of alcohol contains 7 calories compared to 4 calories per gram of proteins and carbs, and 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories. Again, those are 7 hollow calories because the body never uses them.

Let’s find out what these calories are doing to us over the long haul.

1 12 oz. can of beer = 154 calories. 1 glass of wine around 125 calories and 1 whiskey coke has 180. Let’s average the three and use 153 calories per drink. Let’s say we average 5 daily drinks which equates to 765 meaningless calories per day. 5,355 per week and 278,460 per year. 1 pound of fat is roughly 3,500 calories, so this is close to 80 pounds of excess garbage the body must deal with.

Another snippet to drive this point home, 1 pint of beer contains roughly the same number of calories as a slice of pizza. But it’s not even apples to apples, because even though the slice of pizza isn’t the healthiest option, the pizza still contains some vitamins, minerals, and calories the body can use for energy. A pint of beer, not so much. If we average 4 pints a day, this is 1,460 slices of pizza per year, and I hope there’s at least pineapple on that pizza. I know I just lost some readers with that pineapple comment.

The human body is impressive, but it does not digest the calories from alcohol efficiently. What does efficiently burn alcohol? That would-be machines, cars, airplanes, motorcycles, generators, you get the point. The metabolism of alcohol is a complex, multi-stage process that takes place mostly in the liver and kidneys, not in the intestines, where normal digestion occurs.  More significant to the current discussion, alcohol is almost never fully metabolized, but instead excreted as acetic acid, because it’s a toxin that the body wants to get rid of. When we binge drink, some of this is permanently deposited in the brain and stored as acetaldehyde.

Let’s talk about timing and when these calories are burned.

Alcohol temporarily keeps your body from burning fat, explains Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of the book “The Hunger Fix.” The reason is that your body can’t store calories from alcohol for later use, the way it does with food calories. For example, when we consume something high in calories like a hamburger, the body will way say, whoa, this is a lot of calories, this is more than I can handle at this moment, I’ll save some of this for later. The body can’t do this with alcohol. So when you drink, your metabolic system must stop what it’s doing (like, say, burning off calories from your last meal) to get rid of the booze. “Drinking presses ‘pause’ on your metabolism, shoves away the other calories, and says, ‘Break me down first!'” Peeke explains. The result is that whatever you recently ate gets stored as fat. What’s worse: “Research has uncovered that alcohol especially decreases fat burn in the belly,” Peeke adds. “That’s why you never hear about ‘beer hips’ — you hear about a ‘beer belly.'”

Why do we get uncontrollable hunger when we drink?

Alcohol impairs inhibitory control, which leads people to eat more. There is evidence that alcohol can influence hormones tied to feeling full. For example, alcohol may inhibit the effects of leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite, and other hormones that inhibit food intake. According to one study, neurons in the brain that are generally activated by actual starvation, causing an intense feeling of hunger, can be stimulated by alcohol. Bring it on 2 am Taco Bell run.

Let’s talk about a decreased appetite malnutrition.

Stay with me for a second. Over time, chronic alcohol abuse and alcoholism can take a severe toll on a person’s appetite and nutrition levels. Alcohol inhibits the breakdown of nutrients into usable molecules by decreasing secretion of digestive enzymes from the pancreas. Alcohol impairs nutrient absorption by damaging the cells lining the stomach and intestines, and disabling transport of some nutrients into the blood. Also, nutritional deficiencies themselves may lead to further absorption problems. For example, folate deficiency alters the cells lining the small intestine, which in turn impairs absorption of water and nutrients, including glucose and sodium.

The NIAAA reports, “Even if nutrients are digested and absorbed, alcohol can prevent them from being fully utilized by altering their transport, storage, and excretion.”

After a while, the body, instead of working overdrive to properly digest what we consume, it hits the off switch on the appetite.  I experienced this after about 10 months into owning my bar in Spain. At first, I would make a late-night stop at the pizza shop, but eventually, I found myself forcing calories into my body. I had entered the malnutrition phase of the addiction cycle. I found that it took about a week for my appetite to return once I quit drinking.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Alcohol – Meaning Body Eating Spirit in Arabic

Alcohol – Meaning Body Eating Spirit in Arabic

“Al-khul (Arabic, meaning ‘body-eating spirit’. Etymological root of ‘alcohol’.) – By Alissa Kingham. Alissa can be reached at alknrk@aol.com.

The spider lived on the back of her head. She wasn’t sure exactly how long it’d been there. She only became truly aware of its presence when she first started giving it permission to bite her.

The spider had been with her for so long, it had become so accustomed to her, that it had learnt to whisper in her ear, speaking mistruths in a voice that sounded so much like her own that it became impossible for her to distinguish between its lies and her own thoughts. It whispered to her when she was by herself, and when she was surrounded by people. The spider had no care for what she was thinking, feeling or doing. Her life was lived with the spider’s muted tones repeating persistently, never faltering, like a sinister backing track that only she could hear playing.

Her life was changed from the first bite. And neither the sinking of its fangs into her flesh nor the spread of its venom caused her any pain. It induced a feeling of euphoria, incited a sense of overwhelming tranquility like nothing she’d ever known before. The way she’d experienced both the world outside of herself and her own internal existence up until that moment had been perpetually uncomfortable. It was too bright, too loud, too unpredictable. Every interaction felt jarring. She moved through life in a skin that didn’t fit, every motion requiring so much physical exertion that she’d been exhausted for as long as she could remember. The first bite felt like finally coming home.

The venom flowed through her veins slowly, its warmth crawling languidly through every limb. The spider spun a silken web, gently lowering it before her eyes, dulling her vision until she no longer felt like she was staring into the sun. The edges became blurred, the colours muted, and her perception softened. The fear she carried dissipated, every other importance ceased to matter. She allowed herself to be entirely alone, safe in the knowledge that still she was held.

The spider would only bite her when she allowed it to. At first, she would only grant it permission occasionally. She was suspicious of the ecstasy it bought her, and her craving for its poison frightened her. But it continued to whisper, pouring words into her ear like honey, breaking her resolve until she began to forget why she was fighting it to begin with.

So over time, the bites were administered more frequently. She waited for them and welcomed their arrival. The spider grew bigger, its voice stronger and its influence more powerful. She could no longer distinguish herself from her inhabitor, and she could barely remember the person she had been before it took hold.

Each bite continued to deliver the guaranteed oblivion, but they also started to induce other effects. The area around the wound where the fangs were inserted started to rot. The punctured skin wept and blistered, releasing the unmistakable scent of festering tissue so pungent that she began to avoid being close to anyone else. But the spider thrived on the stench, feasting off of the decay. She didn’t need people near her anyway, it told her, because she was never alone. The only respite from the increasing agony of last bite was the arrival of the next. And so still, infected and in pain, she was held.

She knew where she was headed. Even in the beginning, in the midst of the elation the spider had initially bought her, deep down she’d always known what the outcome would be. She sensed the end, drawing ever closer, and she felt herself running blindly towards it as if the spider had attached its web to her toes and was controlling her forward motion like a malevolent puppeteer. But she didn’t fear the descent. She didn’t fear anything, not anymore. Because she was never alone. Because still, she was held.”

High Bottom Drunk: The Wheels Don’t Have To Fly Off

High Bottom Drunk: The Wheels Don’t Have To Fly Off

We all hear the stories of alcoholics who almost completely ruin their lives before getting sober. They are secretly chugging bottles of vodka, crashing cars, getting arrested, and continuously putting themselves into incredibly dangerous situations. I have addicts like this in my family, and I greatly sympathize with them. I am so proud of them when they finally do hit bottom and get sober. But do we have to experience such acute pain? Is there such a thing as a high bottom drunk?

But what about the alcoholics who have “high bottoms”? These are the people who, from an external view, seem to have a relatively healthy relationship with alcohol. Rather than continuing to speak in general terms, let me touch on my own relationship with alcohol and having a high bottom. I was a binge drinker from the age 17 until I was about 21. The first time I ever got drunk, I fell in love with what alcohol did to me. I went from being the shy and uncomfortable girl to being the witty and charismatic life of the party. Whenever I got drunk I fell in love with the people around me and kept the night going until I was the last person standing. Around age 21 I got my sh*t together, so to speak. I hit a rock bottom at this age, and it became apparent that I had to cut down on my drinking (if you are interested, I speak about some of my bottoms around this age on episode 99 of Recovery Elevator). I quit drinking for a month, and completely reevaluated my relationship with alcohol. Although at the time, I knew I was an addict, I convinced myself that I could continue drinking if I could implement moderation. I valued drinking so much that I forced myself to do this.

Surprisingly enough, I got really good at moderating alcohol. I credit a lot of this to the hangovers. I get incredibly bad hangovers after having only 3 or 4 drinks. The hangovers have become so bad, that as much as I love getting buzzed, even when I am 3 drinks in I often can’t justify having a fourth because I know too well how I will feel the next day. The bad hangovers have been enough to keep me in check with my drinking over the past few years.

I am 24 and although I spent two months at the start of this year sober, I have been continuously drinking for the past 3 years, until recently. During this time I have consistently worked, traveled around the world, paid all of my bills on time, and built and maintained some amazing friendships. I have been able to appear like your typical young adult. A lot of my friends have been in the advertising industry and we worked long hours during the week and spent our weekends partying on rooftops, often ending up at someone’s apartment where we would talk until 3 am about life! (you know the alcohol infused conversations that can miraculously jump from global warming to the illuminati to art, then to the Kardashians, and end up all the way back at the meaning of life?).

Even though everything seemed “fine”, I have continued to return back to this idea of sobriety. I don’t know how to describe it other than by saying there is a part of me that I keep deep inside that just knows I will live a better life sober. I am reminded of this come Sunday morning when I spend the day doing absolutely nothing other than nursing a hangover. I am reminded of this when I look in the mirror and see that my eyes have been drained of any spark they may have. I am reminded by this when I spend a few weeks sober, and notice that my body just starts to glow when I am not making it process alcohol. I am reminded of this when I wake up at 3 am and feel the dread and anxiety that comes after my wine buzz has faded. I am reminded of this when after a night out I awake and feel deeply unlovable. I am reminded of this when I realize I rely on alcohol to make me feel worthy of great relationships. I am reminded of this by all the subtle ways alcohol makes my life a bit darker.

Just as the ways drinking negatively affected my life were somewhat subtle, the ways sobriety impacts my life are also subtle. So far sobriety has not made me lose 20 pounds or get an amazing job or find an amazing life partner. For me sobriety looks like me spending 15 minutes every night stretching while listening to music I love. It’s being able to make plans on both weekend days because I no longer have to have one reserved for nursing a hangover. It’s allowing myself to sit with feelings like loneliness or sadness, without immediately trying to cover them up with a drunken night out. It’s finding the time to exercise 4-5 times a week, something I never had the energy to maintain while drinking. It’s money I’m saving. It’s going to bed knowing I will wake up and be myself, not the exhausted zombie alcohol makes me become.

As my days of sobriety tick by I start to flirt with the idea of drinking again. I justify this by reminding myself that I wasn’t an “out of control drunk”. I have a feeling that other people with high bottoms may do the same. All I can say is that in these moments, you must let these feelings come and go without acting on them. And then in the moments when you do feel good, really let yourself feel that and it will remind you why you are staying sober.

I am 24 days sober, and the reason why I stopped drinking this time is not because I hit a low. It’s because I am sick and tired of living a mediocre life. I am tired of being a “functional” alcoholic. I don’t want to go through life just simply functioning through it all- barely squeaking by. I want a life that is good, or possibly, maybe, even great. And I am fully aware that when I am drinking, I’m just not going to push for that. When I am drinking, I am fine settling for mediocre, as long as it means I can order another round.

I’ve been journaling a lot lately, and I recently wrote a love letter to my high bottom. I thanked it for allowing me to have to take responsibility for my sobriety. I am not choosing sobriety because things got so bad they couldn’t get any worse. I am not choosing sobriety to make a partner or my parents feel relieved. I am choosing sobriety because I believe it will lead to a better life. When you get sober at a high bottom, it means you are truly listening to yourself. You aren’t getting sober because the world is telling you to, it’s because you want to, and that is the fuel that will keep going.

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