Re(Pro) #39: Amy Dresner

Amy Dresner RePro

It's this beauty's 5 year anniversary today so can we get a FUCK YEAH!? Long ago and far away (sometime last spring), Amy gave me her own "eff yes" when I asked her to be one of the next Re(Pro)s. We were going to time my clicking "publish" around her own book launch date in September 2017 for My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean. But, life happened. I got catfished (and had to report the whole debacle to the FBI - I'll be writing about it soon, now that the dust has settled). And so my life was upside down and then I admittedly forgot to post Amy's profile, especially since I hadn't had a chance to read her magnificent memoir. I'm still working on it (honesty! progress, not perfection!) but I couldn't let her 5 YEAR ANNIVERSARY go down in history without this little gift.
So this is from me to you, Amy.  Happy 5 years*!


Name: Amy Dresner

Age: 47

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): *1/02/2013

Creative niche: 
Writing. I've been a contributing editor to addiction/recovery mag since 2012 and I just had my first book published by Hachette, an addiction memoir called "My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean".

If applicable, drug of choice: 
Crystal meth and IV cocaine although I was an equal opportunity abuser: pot, booze, mushrooms, Ativan, Oxycontin. At the end I really enjoyed Four Loko cuz I’m classy like that.


Recovery story in a nutshell: 
I was a late bloomer and a chronic relapser. I didn’t drink till I was 19. Smoked pot at 21. I tried meth at 24 and it immediately opened up some terrifying voracious vortex in me. Thus began the cycle of rehabs, psych wards, suicide attempts. Twenty years in and out of the rooms. I’d have periods of sobriety and then just eat sand again. It was awful. I tried to stay away from booze because it made me violent and naked which I enjoyed but others…not so much. Things culminated when I was arrested high as a kite on Oxy for felony domestic violence and went to jail. I lost everything: my marriage, my sanity, my financial security. After a few more relapses and yet another suicide attempt and stay in treatment, I ended up spending two and half years in a women’s sober living, doing 240 hours of court-ordered community labor. That’s what it took for me to finally take full responsibility for my life and the consequences of my addiction. I did a major attitude overhaul thanks to the steps, my newfound poverty and my humbling penal labor and finally grew up in my 40’s. Been sober ever since.

Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1. Writing (what a surprise!)
2. Humor
3. Running my idiotic ideas by my sponsor
4. Service (in and out of the rooms)
5. Sleep (When I feel totally nuts, I unplug and take a nap.)

Connect with Amy.

My Fair Junkie

Re(Pro) #11: Liz Russo

This one goes to 11--#11 on the Re(Pro) list, that is ;)  Ms. Liz Russo, comedienne, sassy vixen of standup clubs, and in recovery, natch.  One day I'll catch her live show,  but until then, I'm happy to be social media BFFs.

Name: Liz Russo

Age: 38

Location: Easton, PA

Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 1/16/2011

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

If applicable, drug of choice (or not choice…): 
Booze and Donuts

An upper-middle class, white, college-educated girl with a loving family background becomes an alcoholic in her adulthood. It surprises many.

Unfortunately, the stigma attached to addicts hinders those who suffer from addiction to get help.

I was guilty of this, too. I said, “That’s not me. I don’t have a problem. I don’t need help.” Until I realized it was me, I do have a problem, and I definitely needed help. With support and treatment, I was able to stop drinking and reclaim my life.

This is my journey:

I was a goody-goody and didn’t drink in high school, was top of my class in academics, was the school musical lead, president of choir and captain of debate, and I was even an active member of Students Against Destructive Decisions, which would later prove ironic. I was a good kid, but the disease lurked. No matter how prudish I was most of my life, alcohol would render me powerless and my life unmanageable. It’s not that I wasn’t a good person anymore, it’s that I was a sick person and needed help. How did this happen? To ME?

Donuts were my gateway drug. Sounds silly, but in retrospect I realized that I used food much the same way I used alcohol. I went to a weight-loss summer camp for much of my childhood—or as I call it, donut rehab. I was always on a diet to lose weight and struggled with no long-term success. I decided to get gastric bypass. Afterward, I could no longer use food the same way. A year after surgery, I started to drink.

This is common with bypass patients. When the initial addiction is never addressed, and there remains an unresolved addiction component in the brain, a new addiction develops, replacing the old one. Professionals call this “addiction transference.”

I self-medicated with food and alcohol. What started as a temporary solution to anesthetize myself from the discomfort of coping with life became the problem itself. You can’t be arrested for overindulging on junk food, but alcohol proved more dangerous.

I was an overweight non-drinker and after losing more than 100 pounds, I morphed into a skinny social weekend drinker. As my drinking escalated, so did my weight gain. Within a year, I was arrested for two DUIs. The judge ordered a five-year sentence, serving one year in Northampton County Prison. I celebrated my 30th birthday in jail. Shocking, scary, and devastating, but not enough to keep me sober.

I don’t recommend the jail diet, but I reclaimed my weight loss and got sober during my stay. When released, my sobriety was short-lived, despite potential consequences. I started drinking and gained the weight back (again!). My addiction had progressed far beyond where I had left it years before. Soon enough, I added a public drunkenness charge to my arrests while on parole.

Authorities gave me a choice of penalty: rehab or jail. They couldn’t incarcerate the addiction out of me, so I picked the option I hadn’t tried yet. I drove myself drunk to the Livengrin Foundation for Addiction Recovery in Bensalem, Pa. with a six pack in my trunk, just in case it didn’t work out. Addiction is insanity.

I hit bottom when I decided to just stop digging. I surrendered my shovel January 16, 2011 during my time at Livengrin. Through continued recovery, I remain healthy and sober. I also gave up donuts and all gluten, dairy, soy and eggs, and have changed my relationship with food using the tools I learned in recovery from alcoholism. I now eat healthy, exercise, nourish my body, mind and soul — and have lost more than 100 pounds. The lessons learned in recovery can benefit everyone, not just an addict.

There are many pathways, but the journey starts with hope. Someone gave me that gift. I want to give hope to those suffering from addiction by sharing my story. We are not that different. You are not alone. More than 23 million Americans are in recovery from addiction. I am one. 

Top 5 Recovery Tools:

 #1  Working a Program of Recovery
#2 Self-awareness/Honesty
#3 Remaining Teachable/Humility
#4 Exercise/Nutrition 
Practicing Mindfulness in All Things 

Connect with Liz.
Twitter: @thelizrusso
Instagram: @thelizrusso
Facebook: @ilovelizrusso

Re(Pro) #7: Nancy Carr


Get jeally, people!  Because here we are, in the flesh, back in February '16.  Nancy and Laura, hangin' in the sunshine.  I'm also proud to say Nancy's story was one of the first I ever featured on The Sobriety Collective.  I'm super stoked to have her join  us, once again, with her Recovery Profile aka Re(Pro).  Good luck on your move, Nancy, and I'm so #grateful and #blessed to have you as a friend!


Nancy Carr

Ugh, 49!!!

Naples, FLA, soon to be Carlsbad, CA in a month!

Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 
May 11, 2004

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

I started writing in my 20’s as an outlet for my angst – I kept journals here and there, but a year before I got sober (2003) I started a journal on my laptop and that’s when my writing really started becoming an extension of myself.  After I got sober, I kept on writing and I had so much more to write about, life was more interesting and it wasn’t about whining and complaining.  I kept on writing through my first year of sobriety (in addition to hand writing step work) and soon I realized I had put together a manuscript – which then became my Memoir.  My book sat on a bookshelf, literally, for 9 years, until I self-published it through Kindle last year.  It’s been a great experience and journey and I’ve been so fortunate that I’ve been help to other women in their quest to get sober.  I also started a blog in 2009 and would write occasionally about sober life, family and essays, and then by 2015, I started giving my blog all my attention and started writing more, mainly about recovery and sobriety.  Being connected with my blog and my memoir has and continues to be such a huge part of my recovery.  One of the greatest gifts has been joining and participating in the amazing online sober community.  It’s helped me in so many ways and I’m truly grateful for all the amazing connections and friends I’ve made.   

If applicable, drug of choice (or not choice...): 
Booze and Blow

Recovery story in a nutshell:

Started drinking at age 13, by 16 I started doing cocaine and by 19 I was drinking and doing cocaine weekly and I was off running in my disease.  I drank and did blow regularly for over 20 years.  My 2nd DUI is the one that saved me. I was 37 years old and this DUI is when I said to myself, “I have been living my life the same way since I was 19, I need to get my shit together”. 

I didn’t want to quit drinking or drugging, as I didn’t know that living sober was really an option for someone like me.  I was able to hold a job, I could pay my really important bills and I passed for your typical fun party gal that liked Happy Hours and drinking Mimosa’s all weekend.  However, I knew I had a problem and I knew deep down I was a total and complete mess.  But I was in too much fear to tell anyone, let alone ask for help.  My DUI attorney urged me to get a court card signed at an AA meeting.  I went to a meeting and ran outta there and drank for a week before making the decision that I should give the sober AA life a try.  I was all out of options and my snooze button wasn’t working anymore.

I started going to AA regularly and did what was suggested; 90 meetings in 90 days, got a sponsor, worked the steps and I kept coming back.  I didn’t know what else to do.  My life got amazingly better very quickly and my desire to drink was lifted.  Life was in session and I was able to participate for once! Twelve years later, I’m still doing the AA thing, but not every day is rainbows and butterflies, but today I know how to handle situations that used to baffle me and I can take care of myself and know that I’m in recovery from a fatal disease that wants me dead, so yeah, I’ll keep going back.

Top 5 Recovery Tools:

AA Fellowship, Steps & Meetings (I guess that’s 3):
This is what my intro to sobriety was and as long as I stay connected and continue to share and work the steps in my daily life – I have a pretty good shot at staying sober.

Having a sponsor and my bitch buddies: 
Having a sponsor has saved me so many times, because I usually don’t know what’s best for me.  But if I hash it out with someone who has more time than me and who has gone through what I have gone through – I’m going to get through it – sober! I also have my bitch buddies; girlfriends that I call any time that let me vent and allow me to express how I’m feeling and what’s going on.  These women are an amazing support system and I don’t know what I’d do without them.

Doing the next indicated thing and releasing the outcome. 
This action has helped me so many times during my sobriety and it’s never let me down.  It may not always turn out the way I want it to; but it turns out the way its intended to.

Prayer and Meditation: 
Prayer has been a big part of my sobriety very early on and it’s a constant in my life.  Twice a day, every day.  Some days, the prayers are short and sweet and other days they are longer – either way I need to keep my spiritual maintenance in check.  I’ve been practicing Meditation off and on for about 10 years; most recently I took a Transcendental Meditation course.  It was intense and I’ve been trying to incorporate that into my daily life.  20 minutes twice a day, some days I fall short, but I know how to do it and it’s so powerful and soothing – it takes me to a completely different realm and I get to experience another level of soul searching.

Taking Care of Myself: 
This is hugely important to me and what this looks like changes every day.  Some days it’s just eating healthy, hitting a meeting and going to work.  Other days, it’s walking Lucy (my rescue pup), working out, taking a bath and making dinner.  It could also be taking myself on a trip or going shopping and treating myself to ice cream.  This manifests itself in so many ways and as long as I have a balance of life and recovery then I know I’m doing the best I can with what I have. 

Connect with Nancy.
Twitter: @NLCarrC
Facebook: Last Call Last Call

Re(Pro) #3: Paul Silva

Proud to have my brother in recovery (and former sibling-in-pod via The Recovery Revolution.Online's Since Right Now Podcast Network),
Mr. Paul Silva.  You may remember Paul's old blog, Message in a Bottle.  He's back and better than ever with Buzzkill, his website, and his eponymous podcast, Buzzkill Pod.  This Canadian runner is an amazing soul and I'm grateful to call him a real life friend.
xoxo, Laura

Name: Paul Silva

Age: 45

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sobriety date: May 4, 2011

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.):
Smart Assery. And sometimes writing.

Drug of choice (or not of choice...): Booze - any kind.

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I left to go to a party at age 15 and came back at 40. Drank the wrong amounts at the wrong times for the wrong reasons. Gift of desperation hit me after my upteenth bottom and I realized had no choice but to get and stay sober. I have been blessed and lucky to have been given sobriety.

Top 5 tools for happy/well-balanced recovery (from addiction, mental illness, etc):
Prayer, Meditation, Running, Talking to Others, Service


Connect with Paul:
Twitter: @buzzkillpod
Instagram: @buzzkillpod
Soundcloud: Buzzkill Pod
Buzzkill: The Sound of Change.™

PS: That's us below <3

Here we are during the infamous #UNITEtoFaceAddiction in Washington, DC, October 2015.

Here we are during the infamous #UNITEtoFaceAddiction in Washington, DC, October 2015.