Stephan, with 10 months since his last drink, shares his story…
Harm Reduction – The feeling of constantly downgrading addictions. Most of us address one addiction at a time, and usually tackle what we perceive to be the most harmful addiction first. Things improve with each hurdle. The lessons we learn from each stage strengthen our ability to move on to the next stage.
Often at the root of many of our addictive behaviors is essentially an addiction to thinking. The majority of our thinking is unnecessary and just causes mental noise. The thinking brain can take us to the worst case scenario in a matter of moments which can cause the body to respond with fight or flight. If adrenaline becomes the main fuel that we use to get through our days, over time we will find ourselves with sickness and disease.
The key is to find a way to shut off the monkey mind without resorting to extreme activities like skydiving, etc. Practices that cultivate inner harmony like meditation, yoga, playing a musical instrument and a myriad of other endeavors that cultivate mindfulness can slowly calm the mind and switch off the incessant chatter.
[10:15] Paul Introduces Stephan.
Stephan is 33 years old and lives in Denver, Colorado. He’s married with a daughter. He owns a music school and is a freelance musician. He also plays golf.
[12:40] Give us a little background about your drinking.
He started after high school. He started to drink when he began working as a musician. He liked drinking at first. He tried to quit a few times along the way and began to suspect that he was an alcoholic pretty early. “Alcohol is the glue that binds phony friendships”. He would exercise and reward himself with alcohol. He used to live behind a bar and there was a crew of people that would go to the bar regularly. For a few weeks he only drank on Sunday. He began to feel a rift between the man he knew he was and his behavior. It was exhausting. His wife became pregnant and he used that as an excuse to drink every day. His wife would say “Do you remember what you said to me last night?” She knew he wouldn’t remember. He felt shameful that he couldn’t remember. There was a difference between what he knew he could be and what he was doing.
[20:58] How did you ultimately end up quitting?
He had several failed attempts. He stayed up at a wedding drinking by the fire. He woke up and he had bitten off some of his dental work. He felt like he was self-sabotaging. He had some oral surgery to get his wisdom teeth removed, and his first question was about alcohol. It all began to slowly add up. Then he found the Recovery Elevator podcast. He became mentally exhausted.
[23:58] Did you experience a rock bottom moment?
It all began to slowly add up. He became mentally exhausted. He knew he needed to be there for his new daughter. He couldn’t imagine being still drunk or hungover as a parent. There were complications with the pregnancy and he decided he was going to quit so he could be present while at the hospital.
[25:00] How did the birth of your daughter affect your attempts at sobriety?
No magic recipe. There was a decade of noise in his head already. He began to lean in to the new role. The birth of his daughter changed him, as well. He feels like he has a huge gift that he has a daughter and that he has his wife. He also visualized his daughter and his business as his purpose in life and his responsibility. He is proud that he’s been sober everyday of his daughter’s life.
[27:26] Have you experienced any cravings? How did you navigate them?
He had a family trip planned to New Zealand. He didn’t drink and he felt like a small kid with parental restrictions. Then on another vacation, everyone else was drinking but he stayed sober. The big challenges were easier, but the small situations were where he almost caved. He doesn’t keep alcohol in the house. His wife is really supportive. He also eats a lot of ice cream.
[31:25] Is there anything you would have done differently?
The next step is to reintroduce some fitness. In the past, exercise was motivated by rewarding himself with drinking. Now he wants to try it with a different intention with more longevity.
[32:44] Tell us about the vision board.
He was in a business development group. They had an exercise where they passed around a tin of dominos. The domino represents the one thing you need to change in your life/business. The one domino that will knock over all the other dominos. He put it on his vision board. He realized that his domino was sobriety. Since then he’s accomplished so much. He believes in himself again. Part of the static in his head was not believing that he could follow through on the commitments that he makes to himself. When he finally “knocked over the domino”, he began to see other things fall into place.
[37:06] Walk us through a day in your recovery.
Take it a day at a time. Today is all that matters. Don’t overthink it. Stay in the moment. He is looking into attending AA. He will reach out to people. He’s been making some sober connections. He wants to give his songs to other artists.
[39:23] Rapid Fire Round
- What was your worst memory from drinking?
He was at his best friend’s wedding. He tried many new kinds of alcohol. They were driven to stay at a houseparty. He outdrank everyone. He slept out in the grass. He woke up with people taking pictures of him asking if he knew where he was. He wandered into the neighbor’s house and used their toilet. He fell asleep on a stranger’s couch. She woke up and came down and found him there. He was mortified.
- Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment?
Realizing that there is no controlling the beast, it needs to be slayed.
- What’s your plan moving forward?
- What’s your favorite resource in recovery?His wife, and the Recovery Elevator podcast.
- What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)?
Faith, belief, and action. Have faith that you will have the circumstances and the tools you will need. Believe that you will be able to do it, and take the action that needs to be taken. A recipe for success.
- What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking?
Just do it! The other side is much better.
- You might be an alcoholic if…
“If you rotate the liquor stores you stop in on the way home so none of them realize you have a problem.”
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”