Re(Pro) #46: Jeff Stevens

Jeff Stevens

Name: Jeff Stevens

Age: 50

Location: St. Louis, MO

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 3/14/1992

Creative niche: Officially an entrepreneur w/some writing potential.

If applicable to your story, drug of choice
Cheap Beer and Cheaper Tequila. Then Mad Dog 20/20.

Your story in a nutshell:

I pretty much drank alcoholically from the very start. I come from a long line of people with this disease. By the time I was 24 I had a DUI, been to jail numerous times and pretty much was a liar and cheater and a thief to everyone I knew. I hit my bottom in FLA and while I had been going to meetings I was still drinking. But on March 14th 1992 the pain got so bad that I did something I hadn't done up until that moment. I asked God for help. I got on my hands and knees in a veil of tears and surrendered. God removed my compulsion to drink right then and I'm grateful all the time it's never returned. I came to learn that this was a spiritual experience right out the Big Book.

That time the SRN boys met up with the HOME gals (aka Holly and Laura) and me. <3.

That time the SRN boys met up with the HOME gals (aka Holly and Laura) and me. <3.

Since then I've lived and experienced recovery in Florida, Chicago, London, St. Louis and traveled all over. I married up. Have two great kids. I built a career in advertising and found so much freedom that I worked on a ton of beer and spirits brands and never had the desire to pick up. I go to meetings, have a sponsor and sponsees and do a weekly recovery podcast at

In 2016 I put together two of short list of skills (beer marketing and not drinking alcohol) into a business called We make NA craft beer. [Editor's note: You can invest in WellBeing! Jeff and his team exceeded their goal of $125-200K - but there's still room for you. Click here for more details.]

Some truths I've found to be true: The more I'm around, the less I know and the 12 steps are probably the simplest and most rewarding spiritual path you will find.


Top 5 Recovery / Wellness Tools:

1) Meetings
2) Yoga
3) Weekly Podcast w/The Boys
4) NA Craft Beer
5) My 3rd step minute mantra: "Take this God, I don't want it."

Connect with Jeff.

Re(Pro) #33: Griff Courtney

I met Griff almost a year ago at my current workplace - he was on his way out and I was on my way in, and he gave me a crash course in the basics of my job. Yet we connected as friends and stayed in touch - and now he's my personal trainer*.  Griff is The Ginger Hulk and he is living, breathing recovery.  

Because it's you vs. the person in the mirror.  


Repro 33 Griff Courtney

Name: Griff Courtney

Age: 28

Location: MoCo, MD

Recovery date: 5/1/2014

Creative niche: Bodybuilding, fitness, music

If applicable, drug of choice:
All in mass quantities at the same time


Recovery story in a nutshell: 
From age 16 to 23 I struggled with drug addiction. Growing up I was always very competitive, very smart/crafty and chased adrenaline. I took a hit of weed in high school, fell in love, and had $15,000 six months later. I was the best in sports earning a D-1 football scholarship and I was the best at drugs too, my life was awesome. My life was something like that out of Wolf of Wall Street, all while balancing school and football.

Eventually the fun times ended and I got kicked off the football team for an "antics and attitude problem". I struggled finding my identity as before it had been the athlete that partied. With no sports to keep me semi-busy and semi-focused I started using more and more and revolving my life around it. I was a dumbass and quit school with 112 out of 120 credits and moved to the beach in NC so I could get high, record music all night with my rapping buddy and sound engineer, and be in the sun all day. Again, this was awesome for a little while however the good times ended. I saw a whole lot of overdoses and arrests towards the end of my using career. I ignored every sign of drug addiction until I got arrested again, and then decided rehab MIGHT be worth it. All I wanted to do was stop getting arrested - I wanted to keep doing drugs and keep drinking.

On the way home from rehab I had a beer in the airport cuz drinking wasn't my problem, ya dig? I mean I never got any DUI's and drove my car blind drunk over 1,000 times so that's evidence. What alcohol did lead to was more drugs and after my second drug overdose and the removal of my left thyroid for medical reasons I decided it was a good time to get clean. I got clean for 1.5 years, put all my energy into work, family and fitness and it was a solid 1.5 years. Eventually I got cocky in my recovery and relapsed. I used for 3 days and spent almost $5k.

On the last night I was so fucked up that my bigazz passed out on my arm and luckily got woken up by my mom after only falling asleep for an hour or two. I had destroyed all the nerves in my arm and shoulder and lost function of my right arm. I only had range of motion at the elbow joint, my shoulder was dead. I cried everyday for 3 months, not knowing if I'd ever be able to return to the gym again. The doctors didn't know if I would ever recover or restore functionality of my arm. It was a scary 3 months.

I started physical therapy after 3 months and eventually fully healed and was able to lift again! I almost lost the one thing that brought me the most joy, training. This was God's way of smacking me in the face and saying " Yo GRIFF, COME ON MAN!" I completed my undergrad during my first stint in recovery and since my last relapsed I finished my Masters (MBA), launched my own personal training and online coaching company (Peak or Freak Fitness) and competed in multiple bodybuilding shows (physique and classic physique divisions).

Life is so much better without drugs and alcohol.

*See? &nbsp;Told you so.

*See?  Told you so.

Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1) Jesus

2) Lifting

3) Making Music

4) Laughing

5) Driving Fast

Connect with Griff.

Instagram: @peakorfreak


Re(Pro) #23: Helaina Hovitz

I get to meet this pretty lady in May (She Recovers in NYC, people--yaaas!) and share the love at her wedding in June.  I'm so, so, SO, stoked.  We've been friends (online) for over a year and a half now, which seems nuts when I think about it.  If you're not familiar with Helaina yet, get ready to dive into the life and works of one of the most accomplished sober twenty-somethings in the world.  Seriously.


Name: Helaina Hovitz

Age: 27

Location: New York, NY

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 11/12/2011

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.): Writing 

If applicable, drug of choice (or not of choice...): 
Then: Weed and definitely mostly alcohol. Now: Cookies at 2am when I can't sleep.

Recovery Story in a Nutshell:

Recovery Story in a Nutshell

Oh boy....a nutshell? Let's hope it's a Walnut and not a Peanut, more wiggle room....I was 22, a social drinker with a few years under my belt, high-functioning, and in therapy for PTSD and anxiety when it occurred to me that I was jogging around the finish line when it came to making a full recovery. It was only once I entered 12-step recovery that I was able to start to really become the person I always wanted to be, living a life that felt fulfilling, calm, and full of healthy people and relationships.



Top 5 Recovery Tools

  1. Meditation and mindfulness.
  2. Speaking to and being of service to other women in recovery both in personal relationships and through my writing.
  3. Reading inspiring literature.
  4. Being mindful of HALT/ strong self-care.
  5. Remembering that everything is meant to be as it is at any given moment, even if I don't like it!

Connect with Helaina.


Re(Pro) #2: Olivia Pennelle

Next in the Recovery Profile aka Re(Pro) series is the wonderful, amazing, enthusiastically inspiring Olivia Pennelle.  You may know her as Liv of Liv's Recovery Kitchen, and she's making the digital recovery space a better place, one day at a time ;) 

xoxo, Laura

Name: Olivia Pennelle

Age: 36

Location: Manchester, UK

Sobriety date: 26 March 2012

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.):
Writing, cooking, creating new recipes, designing and launching Liv’s Recovery Kitchen.

Drug of choice (or not of choice...):
My ‘favourite’ combination was alcohol, cocaine and codeine.

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I was born in the US, to a not-so- functional family; consequently, I ended up in the UK at a young age. I started using at 12/13 years old to mask my feeling of being utterly lost; I had no anchor, and was crippled with anxiety and depression. Using, to me, seemed to ignite a light inside that made me feel whole, albeit temporarily. When I discovered this, I could not stop. I thought it gave me confidence; I was sociable and no longer withdrawn, or seeking solace in food and isolation. I began hanging around with a much older crowd and consequently my use of drugs escalated from the recreational types to more hard drugs. Running parallel to this journey of drug discovery and escapism was a series of dysfunctional and harmful relationships – on both parts - and a hell of a lot of poor choices. As with all stories of addiction, we all trudge down that road of desperation, illness, loss - huge consequences until we die, get hospitalised, end up in an institution, or find recovery. I was close to suicide. I had isolated myself to using on my own, in my apartment, and had few friends left and felt utterly broken. Disconnection can’t begin to describe that chasm I was left with. I was left with two choices: live or die. I chose to get help. And I attended my first AA meeting. I haven’t had a drink since and was four years sober on 26 March 2016. It’s not all rosy. I still continued taking codeine inappropriately, and was in such denial that I didn’t see it was an issue. It was only in ‘cleaning house’, that another like-minded person suggested that I was an addict. My work had revealed that whilst alcohol brought me to my knees, there is a long, long history of drug use. I later found my home in NA, and will celebrate 4 years clean on 5 August 2016.

Top 5 tools for recovery (from drug/alcohol/food addiction, mental illness, etc):
I love this question. I believe that the foundation of my recovery is rooted in connection and spirituality. I achieve it through: 

1. Writing.
This is my number one tool. I have written in journals since my first week in recovery. It connects my mind and spirit and I feel there is great power in connecting pen and paper. My writing takes two forms: journaling and writing my blog.

a. Journaling:
i. I write in the morning: my plan for the day, how I feel, any reflections.
ii. I write in the evening: I write about my day and acknowledge what I on a daily reading, any troubles/worries; have done right that day – this is one thing I cannot recommend enough.  I write through any resentment, 3 things I am grateful for, what I have invested in my recovery and sometimes make a list of things I need to do the next day. 

b. Blogging:
This I started in my third year of recovery and it has been invaluable. It’s cathartic to share my journey. Initially its purpose was to share my weight loss journey in recovery, but it has morphed into so much more. I now write interviews with others in the wider recovery community, share recipes and blog about my recovery. 

2. Talking.
I need to connect with other like-minded people. I need to hear I am not alone. There is great power in the collective empathy of other people in recovery. I speak to at least one of three close friends daily. I don’t want to, but I have to. 

3. Meetings.
I attend two NA meetings a week and I do service. I am still yet to figure out the reason why I still go. It could be the 90 minutes silence, the connection with other like-minded people, the collective empathy, the giving of myself or the sharing for the newcomer. I need to hear how others feel and are coping with their life. 

4. Exercise and good nutrition.
I damaged my body so much that I now try to invest in myself through nourishing activities. I need to sweat, daily, for my mental health and fitness. I ride a bike as a mode of transport, and workout about 4/5 times a week. I am trying to lose weight and spend a lot of time researching and sharing healthy recipes and lifestyle. 

5. Yoga.
It is spirituality to me. It connects the dots between my mind-body- soul. I feel utterly at peace and more in harmony when I regularly practise it. That’s not to say I don’t have to remind myself, all the time, about the need to go to a class. 

Connect with Liv: