James, with a sobriety date of November 12, 2016, shares his story.


Recovery Elevator is on Instagram!  Please follow Paul and Ben here .


On today’s podcast Paul discuses relapse.  For some, and Paul has only met a few, relapse isn’t part of their story.  But for the vast majority it is, and it isn’t something to be ashamed of.  Spontaneous sobriety is rare.  Paul feels that the word ‘relapse’ is another word in recovery, similar to the word ‘alcoholic’, that needs to be thrown out.  The word ‘relapse’ has implications of failure.


When we drink again, after having made the internal declaration not to, we are simply doing more field research, learning lessons along the way.  If you find yourself in a continuous cycle of field research, self-compassion is key.   Stop placing success and failure parameters on whether you drank last night or not.  When we start addressing what we are using alcohol to cover up than relapse will become less frequent and even a thing of the past.


When you do find yourself on stable footing, beware of the 3 most dangerous words on this journey…I got this.






**Listeners you can listen to James’ first interview back on episode 105 when he had 74 days of sobriety, today he has 850 days. 


[8:05] Paul introduces James


James is 31 years old and lives in New Jersey with his wife and their pomsky, Milo.    He works in Manhattan.  For fun he likes to golf, go to the gym, and hang with his wife and pup.


[10:50] Give us a little background about your drinking. 


James started drinking when he was 13, stealing beers and wine coolers from the liquor cabinet.  In high school he was not a big drinker, although he remembers how drinking helped make him feel comfortable.


He started college, on a golf scholarship, became good friends with one of his teammates that was a Christian, started going to bible study and church and didn’t drink his entire freshman year.   Later, one of his teammates from England, was graduating so they threw a party and James drank.  He picked up right where he left off and the next three years of college he was binge drinking and dabbled in drugs.


The spring semester of his senior year his coach called him in to his office and told him not to come to practice anymore, that he was coming in smelling like liquor and bringing the rest of the team down.  This was the first time that he realized his drinking was affecting other people.


[13:44] Can you tell us what it felt like to have someone on the outside call you out on your drinking. 


Immediately James was embarrassed and ashamed.  He walked out of the office feeling sad and like he had let everyone down.  He was able to curb his drinking enough to not be a burden and make it through the last 3 months playing golf.


2010 James was in Barcelona, caddying at a nice country club, the 2nd day he caddied he met a man that offered him a job which he took a week later.  This was the beginning of the end.  From the time he graduated at 21 years old to 28 years old, when he got sober, it was a quick progression of drugs and alcohol.  In the span of 5 years James lost his Grandfather, his uncle and his Dad.  Instead of dealing with the losses he used alcohol and drugs.


At 27 he was arrested for possession of cocaine, theft, and disturbing the peace.  This leads to an intervention by his family and his Mom gives him the option to go to rehab or see a therapist.  He picked the therapist.  He went through a number of therapists and his girlfriend of 2 years left him during this time.


[22:40] What did it feel like that moment when you told yourself you were done. 


He immediately felt a sense of relief.  He reached out to a friend from college, that he used to party with, but from his posts on Facebook knew that he had gotten sober.  At this time neither his family, or his girlfriend, would talk to him.  He went to see his friend from college the next day.  Talking to him helped, and he also started 12 weeks of IOP.  Everyday he would ask himself, is this going to honor my father.  He knew he had to make some changes and he firmly believes his father died to save his life.


[24:45] Once you surrendered, how did you make it one week, one month, how did you do it?


One day at a time.  James says he was never a half-in guy, so once he decided to get sober, he dove in.  He found the RE podcast, started reading a lot, went to AA, and was going to IOP and therapy 3 times a week.  Very early he burned the ships with everyone, which he says was very therapeutic.  He could finally breath and no longer had all the guilt and the shame.


[28:00] What was the transition from drinking/partying like you did, to the clean and sober life, like?   


James said it was hard, but that it was almost like he was going back to the person he was the whole time, and it was a relief.  In the last 6 months he shifted from playing the victim and feels he is becoming exactly who he is supposed to be.


[33:05] Talk to us about your year 1 and year 2 and the differences between the two.      


James says he definitely had the classic pink cloud and felt great.  At the end of year 1 he started to struggle a bit but after he hit the year mark, he felt rejuvenated.   He booked the trip to Peru with Café RE and between months 13-15 things took another turn.  Things felt dark and he was asking himself if this was what he got sober for.  It was then he had a conversation with a friend, and with Paul, about ayahuasca and stayed in Peru to attend a ceremony.  James says it wasn’t a magic bullet but that ayahuasca, hiking Machu Picchu, and getting married in October, is what changed his attitude about everything.


[35:15] On a group chat we were on you said one of the lessons you learned was that you no longer have to be the biggest guy in the room, talk to us about that.    

The first night, of the first ceremony he did, there was a gentleman there from New Zealand who was bigger than James.  (Who is 6’3” and 220 pounds, which he had always identified himself by.)  During the ceremony James was weeping and this gentleman came up behind him, put his arms around him, held him like a baby, and told him to just let it all out.  It was at this time he let go of feeling like always had to me the biggest guy in the room.  He was supposed to do 3 ceremonies but after the first one he told the shaman that he had gotten what he needed and didn’t do the remaining 2.


[39:30] Talk to us about Cardamone Coaching.


Even as a kid James knew he wanted to help people.  Wanting to become a recovery coach was something he discussed with Paul while in Peru.  He realized fear was what was holding him back and that that was all bullshit, so he got certified to be a recovery coach.  His goal is to help people in recovery by using his own experience.

James’ coaching website is: https://www.cardamonecoaching.com/ .


[45:06] I saw your registration come in for the Bozeman retreat, what are you looking forward to at this retreat?


Going back to Bozeman, it’s a change of pace from New York City.  Seeing some of the same people and meeting new people.   The retreats have changed James’ life.


[47:25] Rapid Fire Round



  1. What is you plan in sobriety moving forward?


Continue doing what I’m doing, stay the course, one day at a time, and helping people.


  1. What’s your favorite resource in sobriety?


Reading, I must have read 35 books in the last 2 ½ years, reading has really opened me up to different things.


  1. In regards to sobriety what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?


It gets better and you never have to feel this way again if you don’t pick up a drink or a drug.


  1. What parting piece of guidance can you give to listeners?


You are good enough


  1. You might be an alcoholic if…


If you get arrested outside of a nightclub with drugs in your pocket, a stolen credit card and no shoes on.





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