sober

#65: Annie Grace

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Name: Annie Grace

Age: 40

Location: Evergreen, Colorado

Sobriety Date: 12/15/14

Creative niche: Writing

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:  Alcohol

Story in a nutshell:

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I was sitting at the train station deep under Heathrow airport in London. I'd been drinking vodka and O.J. before the taxi to the airport to take the edge off my awful hangover which was the result of a week of super late night drinks with colleagues. Returning to my husband and two young boys I realized that while they deserved the best of me I was, by drinking so heavily and staying out so late every work trip, giving them the worst of me. I wanted better and it hit me - that I had to find a way out of the alcohol maze.

I had tried to set rules (no wine until 5pm, or no drinking during the week) just to feel deprived and unhappy. Rules resulted in my obsessing about the next time I could drink, and instead of making alcohol less of an influencer in my life the rules made it more important, more powerful.

I knew I needed a way without rules. And in the tunnel that day I had a realization. That although I currently believed that alcohol was vital for enjoyment, relaxation and everything in between I didn't used to need alcohol to have fun or relax.

I formed this simple theory. That I consciously wanted to drink less (or nothing) the far more powerful subconscious part of my mind, the part subject to a lifetime of conditioning around the benefits of drinking, simply hadn't got the memo.

This launched me into a year's worth of research on how to undo a lifetime of subconscious conditioning around alcohol. I stopped trying to stop drinking and instead focused on learning. I created a list of every reason I drank, what all the 'benefits' were in my mind. I methodically went through every reason, looking for science-based external evidence into the validity of each. Once I'd gone through everything it was as if a fog had lifted. The beliefs that I needed alcohol to have a good time or relax just disappeared. I simply no longer wanted to drink! Talk about freedom.

I like to say that I drink as much as I want whenever I want; the truth is that I just haven’t wanted a drink in more than three years. I don't miss it, I don't think about it and I feel truly joyous and free!


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Journaling

2) Eating lots of protein (to create essential amino acids!)

3) Exercise

4) Mindfulness

5) Online Communities - especially www.thisnakedmindcommunity.com


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Connect with Annie and This Naked Mind

website: www.thisnakedmind.com
website: www.thisnakedmindcommunity.com
website: www.alcoholexperiment.com
instagram: @thisnakedmind
twitter: @thisnakedmind
facebook: @thisnakedmind

Re(Pro) #64: Dawn Nickel

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The past seven years have been about peeling back the real layers of my life - and creating the community that both holds me up and allows me to give back.
— Dawn Nickel

Name: Dawn Nickel

Age: 58

Location, Victoria, British Columbia (Canada)

Recovery date*: 5/11/1989
*I have a number of dates - but the one above is truly what I consider to be my recovery date.

Creative niche:
Entrepreneur, recovery coach and advocate, writer

If applicable to your story, drug of choice: 
Not really applicable since the drugs were just what I used to cope but I was addicted to cocaine, pills marijuana and alcohol. That and my addiction to really unhealthy relationships made my young adult years a bit of a gong show.

Recovery story in a nutshell:
Started using all of the substances heavily at 15. Five overdoses by age 20. Pregnant at 20 and started to try to stop using. Went into treatment at aged 27 when my six-year-old daughter told me that I made her sick (I was trying to explain to her how sick I was that day - drug and alcohol hangover - she wasn't impressed). Smoked massive amounts of pot for two years then went back into treatment at 29. Recovery gave me a life - I went to university for 13 years culminating in a PhD in health care policy, a happy marriage to another person on recovery and eventually - a work addiction that brought me back to my knees at the age of 51. The past seven years have been about peeling back the real layers of my life - and creating the community that both holds me up and allows me to give back.


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Time with family and time alone (tied for top importance)

2) Connection with other people in recovery - mostly women

3) Attempting self-care on a daily basis (sometimes I nail it - most times I don't)

4) Reading everything

5) Meditation when I remember


 
 

Connect with Dawn and She Recovers

Website: www.sherecovers.co
Instagram: @she_recovers | @recoveringdawn
Facebook: @SheRecovers

Re(Pro) # 60: Lucy Wilkins

Lucy Wilkins We are in good co

In case you’ve been living under a rock or are brand new to the scene, Brit Lucy Wilkins and her New York-based business partner Sara have made quite the (booze-free) splash in 2018 with their biz, We are in Good Company (weareingood.co). Their vision is to make space for sober by creating a world where it’s just normal to be living life substance-free. And they do that through whimsical greeting cards with messages that are simple, quirky, funny, powerful. For Dry January, Lucy and Sara are featuring a different sober rockstar every day on their Instagram feed and asking them poignant questions about why they choose sober. [I was day 14 - since January 14th was my 11.5 year anniversary <3]. Get ready for a big year with Lucy and Sara and weareingood.co!
I mean, Brad Pitt and Elton John and Natalie Portman and Blake Lively and Demi Lovato and Bradley Cooper and Dax Shepard and Zac Efron and Kristin Davis and Robert Downey Jr. and Rob Lowe and Lana Del Ray are all sober. [source:
Vanity Fair]
Trust me when I say we’re in good company!

xo,
Laura


We imagine a world where being sober is not questioned or anonymous, but out in the open for the undeniably positive choice it is.
— Lucy and Sara, weareingood.co

Name: Lucy Wilkins

Age: 43

Location: London, UK

Recovery date*: 12/18/17
[Editor’s note: Happy belated 1 year anniversary, Lucy!]
*turning point for substance use and/or mental health challenges

Creative niche: Art, design, entrepreneurship

Recovery story in a nutshell:

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I stopped drinking to support a loved one who had issues with alcohol. I've always been able to take it or leave it, know when I've had enough and call it a night. My loved one doesn't - they have no off switch. Watching them as they slowly got deeper and deeper into the clutches of alcohol was heartbreaking.

Fortunately they stopped and little by little they turned their life around. I was so impressed by the change, the huge and positive impact it had made on their life that I was inspired to give it a go too.

I can honestly say it has surprised me how much better I feel... I didn't have an 'issue' with alcohol but without it I have more patience, more time and more energy. I very rarely miss it. Sure, Christmas is harder when everyone equates festive fun with having a drink but I look at my kids and see how much fun they're having just high on life and the feeling soon dissipates.


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Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Books - fact or fiction or Harry Potter

2) Long walks - with or without a dog, a chance to blow away the fog

3) Time with good friends - ones who get your story and love you anyway

4) 8 hours of solid sleep - for me, there is no better reset button

5) Making stuff - spending time creating is good for the soul


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Connect with Lucy and weareingood.co

Website: www.weareingood.co
Instagram: @weareingoodco

Re(Pro) #57: Adriana Marchione

Adriana Marchione

Adriana Marchione is a force of nature. I feel endless gratitude that Mama Dawn (aka Dawn Nickel, co- founder of She Recovers) reconnected me with Adriana. Adriana’s work is that of a creative - an expressive arts therapist, a filmmaker, an artist. And this fiery and fierce woman has over 25 years of long-term recovery under her belt. She’s the perfect fit for The Sobriety Collective.

Adriana’s current project is a film that some of you may have heard of - The Creative High. It’s currently in its final stages of fundraising as the film team works round the clock to finish everything related to post-production (e.g. color correction, sound editing, etc.). The moment all the post-production work is done, the film can be ready to make its film festival debut and touch hundreds and thousands of lives as it tells the stories of working artists/creatives who have faced addiction and are now in recovery.
I believe this film has the potential to change the world. And so does Adriana.
And so do
you.

xo,
Laura

Left: Adriana; right: Laura. Here we are, being our beautiful soulful selves.

Left: Adriana; right: Laura. Here we are, being our beautiful soulful selves.


Name: Adriana Marchione

Age: 50

Location: San Francisco, CA

Recovery date: 3/01/1993

Creative niche: Filmmaker, Interdisciplinary Artist, Expressive Arts Therapist and Educator

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:  Alcohol

(Recovery) story in a nutshell:

[From Adriana’s
In Recovery magazine feature
]

When I got sober in 1993, I found it absolutely necessary to connect with people in recovery who could show me a new way of life. However, the artistic resources and mentorship necessary for me to maintain my creative life and artistic integrity were missing. I have had to find my own way in unearthing artistic expression that has supported my recovery.

I was a “pure alcoholic,” never using drugs except for periodic pot smoking, which I didn’t enjoy because of its anxiety-producing effects. Alcohol was my solace, keeping me up when I needed an emotional charge and quieting my nerves when I was uncomfortable. It was also a useful companion to my artistic life.

I began creating in high school. At college in Ohio, I became a photography/mixed media artist. I was consumed by my artwork. I felt at home in the darkroom, and I worked on creative projects late at night when I could focus and find inspiration. Alcohol accompanied me as I worked and listened to music; it also became my social lubricant at parties, art openings and at the dive bars I frequented.

I drank for seven years. Alcohol was beginning to significantly inhibit and disturb my life; it was also affecting my art. When I would drink while photographing, the quality of my work suffered.


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Finding time to be quiet and listen.
Often I do this through meditation and prayer, but it also can be when dancing, drawing, writing, walking in the city or in nature.

2) Writing Fears Lists.
When I get overwhelmed, anxious or doubtful, I create a fears list to get my thoughts out on paper. This helps me let go...

3) Gratitude Lists.
One of the gifts of recovery is a changing mindset. When I can have a better perspective on my life challenges I can breathe easier and be a much easier person to be around!

4) Making Art Journals and Collage.
I use art to channel my thoughts and feelings but it also helps me to articulate my dreams and visions. I like to do this with oil pastels and found images from magazines.

5) Dancing.
I was able to find my body in recovery and this has helped me embrace movement as dance as a powerful tool for life and recovery. This might be dancing in my living room, going to an expressive dance class or dancing tango which I studied for 9 years.


 
 

Re(Pro) #48: Chris Marshall

Chris Marshall

Meet Chris Marshall, founder of The Sans Bar, Austin, TX's first sober bar. Stay social, stay sober with that #mocktailLife!

xoxo,
Laura


Name: Chris Marshall

Age: 35

Location: Austin, TX

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 2/16/2007
[Editor's note: Club 2007 in the house!]

Creative niche: Entrepreneurship

If applicable to your story, drug of choice: Alcohol

Your story in a nutshell: 

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Started drinking at 16. First beer was with friends in an empty field. I drank to feel connected to my friends mostly because I feared being different. I got my first DUI a month later and continued to drink. Joined a fraternity and found myself drinking in the morning my freshman year.

Several stints in jail and ruined relationships didn't stop me from pursing a connection with people via drinking. I drank so hard intentionally, I thought I couldn't be fun or cool if I didn't drink. Eventually I found myself medicating depression and anxiety with alcohol. Self mutilation became part of my story.

I eventually went to treatment and found a group of people who told me I belonged to them even if I didn't want to. The 12 Steps were exceedingly helpful in establishing my recovery. After a year of deeply connecting to this group of men and women who taught me how to have fun, work and create without alcohol; I moved to Austin and went back to college to become a licensed chemical dependency counselor. I never forgot the lessons from that first year, and encouraged clients to find a tribe that could offer gentle accountability.

With over 8 years of professional clinical work experience, I began to feel as if treatment was ineffective. As an industry, we have become skilled in getting people to recovery, but we suck at keeping them there. The truth is we don't teach people to socialize in America beyond Kindergarten. If you have no clue how to dance or date or make friends without drugs and alcohol, you have to learn an entire new way of social functioning.

In 2015, on a trip to Seattle I came up with the idea of creating a sober bar that could be a classroom for sober socialization. The rest is still unwritten.


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Vigorous compassion

2) Connection to humans

3) Connection to the Universe

4) Creating anything (music, art, etc.)

5) Living a life without secrets


 
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Connect with Chris

Website: www.thesansbar.com
Instagram@sansbar.austin
Twitter: @sans_bar

Re(Pro) #47: Paula Hoss

Paula Hoss

I love Paula. She's amazing, inspirational, gorgeous, and just beacon of light. I've been using her skincare line, CLN&DRTY and ZOMG it's like my own personal spa. Share in the comments what your favorite item of hers is from her line. If you haven't tried it yet, go on an Easter Egg hunt in the post because there are a couple of links to shop with a 15% off coupon.
 So like I said, I love Paula. You will too. Read on.

xoxo, 
Laura


Name: Paula Hoss

Age: 34

Location: Massachusetts

Recovery date (turning point for substance use disorder or mental illness): 1/21/2008

My own bathroom countertop.

My own bathroom countertop.

Creative niche: Skincare Entrepreneur
[Shop CLN&DRTY for 15% off with coupon code SOBER15).

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:
Alcohol & benzos

Your story in a nutshell:


I began suffering from symptoms of bipolar disorder when I was 15 years old and around the same time started to self medicate. I got sober for the first time at 18 and was able to stay sober for 3 years. I was active in the hardcore music scene, so I saw my sobriety more as straight edge rather than recovery.

At 20 I found myself in a highly abusive relationship, 400 miles away from home and isolated from my friends and family. The relationship ended with assault, kidnapping and terroristic threat charges against him, and I was left with severe PTSD and my bipolar disorder was acting out in full force.

Soon after, I picked up drinking again. I remember taking the first drink after those 3 years of sobriety and just feeling the whole world lift off of my shoulders. I felt like all of my fear, my anxiety, all of the trauma was being lifted away.

I was 21 and quickly spiraled into regular blackout drinking and substance abuse within the year. I again isolated myself from friends and family and moved to a city where I could live alone and drink and use without anyone's intervention.

At age 24, I hit rock bottom. [Editor's note: Me too!] There wasn't an arrest or an overdose, but rather a 6 month period where I would wake up every single morning, swearing that this was the last time and then would pick up by the evening.

I woke up on January 21, 2008 and felt more empty than I had ever felt in my life. I felt worthless, numb and depressed beyond belief. I crumbled on the floor and started sobbing and praying. I knew that I would either have to get sober or I would be dead within weeks.

I'm proud to say that I've been sober since that day, for over 10 years. In the early years, I was incredibly active in AA. I did the 12 steps, had a sponsor and sponsored other women. I got active in a young person's community and those people truly saved my life.

Further into my sobriety, I became a wife and a mother. I shifted my understanding of a Higher Power to a relationship with Jesus Christ. I began attending a non-denominational church and since my problem was no longer active drinking, but rather the shame and pain that went along with my lifestyle, I started connecting with and mentoring women of all backgrounds.

Part of my platform as a business owner is telling my story of surviving mental illness and substance abuse. I'm passionate about showing women that no matter where they are, no matter how far down they've gone, they can redeem themselves. That every single awful thing that they've done (because if you're reading this, I know you have that list in your head: the terrible moments that you pass off as party stories but you know in your heart that you are so ashamed of) can totally be wiped clean.


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools:

1) The Big Book of AA
2) The Bible
3) Someone who is further along in sobriety than you
4) Someone is younger in sobriety than you
5) God


 
Click above to shop Paula's CLN&amp;DRTY store and get 15% off your order!

Click above to shop Paula's CLN&DRTY store and get 15% off your order!

 

Connect with Paula.

Website: CLNandDRTY.com
Instagram: @CLNandDRTY
Etsy: @CLNandDRTY

Re(Pro) #41: Paul Fuhr

Paul Fuhr

Paul is a writer. A true writer. You are in for a treat. He's also a down-to-earth, good man who I'm blessed to call a friend. Whenever he checks in with me, it's always way beyond the surface. This guy is going places and if you aren't already familiar with his work (side-gig writer for The Fix and After Party Magazine and podcast host), it's time to brush up on all things Paul Fuhr.
Fuhriously, er, seriously!

xo,
Laura


Name: Paul Fuhr

Age: 40

Location: Columbus, OH

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 1/11/2014

Creative niche: Writing

Drug of choice, if applicable: Alcohol

Recovery story in a nutshell: Well, how big is this nutshell?

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Um, where to start? I should've started my recovery story about four or five times throughout my active drinking days. That much I know. I knew there were times that I was a full-blown alcoholic and should've called it quits, but didn't. I actually convinced myself I'd disappoint people at an upcoming party if I wasn't there chugging back beer. I was hiding empty gin bottles I'd stolen from my parents' liquor cabinet in my clothes drawers. I was not showing up for appointments. I'd consider a lunch date as a suggestion, not an obligation to actually show up. I'd text last-second "traffic jams" or "grocery store heists" (both true examples of lies I used) to my "friends" at the time.

Back to your question. I drank, and I drank with gusto. I was the Goodtime Charlie. My first drink was a stolen Zima in a closet, because my aunt told me it was better than sex. Sex was years off for me (I was a huge "Star Trek" fan, so maybe even years further than I hoped for), so I settled for Zima. When I got to college, Goodnight Nurse. I was off to the races. I loved the way that some beers made me feel softer around the edges and thoughtful, while others made me consider that I could knock out someone twice my size that I didn't really have a problem with.

IPAs made me feel like I licked a shag-carpet and disappointed the nearest beer nerd in the room. Wines made me sleepy. Vodka made me horny. Jager shots made do stupid shit and spout "X-Files" trivia. Irish car bombs were exercises in trying to not chip my teeth. No matter what, I was never the guy passed out first. I was challenging everyone to keep the party going, which meant I wasn't up with all the fun people at 2:30 a.m. No, all the fun people at a party were off fucking in their bedrooms or passed out like good college students. Me, I was adrift with the island of misfit toys in a college living room: friends of friends who were too drunk to be sleeping. We played Jenga or watched late-night TV. We had nothing in common so it'd be a series of those half-awake, half-aware, no-consequence conversations carried into the morning.

My drinking simply got worse. Transplant all the "fun" drinking from college and move it to home. No bumper wheels. No keg stands. The carnivality of college drinking was gone. I was living at home again. I immediately got a DUI. Even that wasn't a wake-up call for me. I just made more drinking buddies. I had a stay at a hotel with two other DUI offenders and all they focused on was trying to get booze into our hotel room. I remember thinking THOSE PEOPLE are alcoholics. Not me. Well, I was, but not like those idiots. I just wasn't ready to consider that about myself. Even court-ordered therapists were staring sessions between the two of us. I had plans to go drinking that night, and my arms-crossed attitude told him that.

In fact, let's do this: let's wrap all of my drinking up quickly. Let's call it a wash of hilarious, sexy, awkward, adrenaline-pumping, forbidden, sorrowful, sad, empty, poor, lonely, shameful scenes of me drinking and trying to get by. Let's say it's a real three or four years I can't remember. Three kids are in there, too. A pissed-off, hollowed-out wife, too. Put them in there. That certainly wasn't the real version of me out there. That was an alien powered on draft beer and pint bottles rolling around my seats. Now, let's say it's all behind us. 100%. So, how did I get recovery?

I got sober my listening to other people. First, I listened to those first people who hurt me so deeply: "Maybe you're an alcoholic." That thought caused me to recoil, retreating like back from a flame. But when I forgot to pick my oldest up from school, having passed out from a relapse after treatment, I knew I was an alcoholic. So I accepted that I was. I started listening. I also started listening to the delicate nature of conversations around me: in meetings, between my family, my friends. Even if they were inane things about the weather or how much Oliver, my second-oldest, hates the smell of cereal, I listened. I hadn't heard it before. I sopped it all up. I wasn't listening for years. I was checked out. So, listening was the real trick for my recovery. I wasn't listening to my internal clock telling me when all the liquor stores around me were starting to close. (Do you know what that desperation feels like, knowing it's after-hours everywhere?)

I also started downloading podcasts and reading every single addiction narrative I could find at the library. I couldn't identify with everything -- not completely -- but I tried. I scraped a line here; a page here; a chapter there. Nothing was MY story (not that mine is amazingly unique) but I didn't expect to see myself mirrored in anyone's pages. Eventually, I just found myself to be a listener. In my drinking days, I was a talker. I waited for others to draw in a breath so I could inject my bullshit, be it a James Bond fact or something I simply made up. I hated silence (maybe because it reminded me that I clearly could hear the drunken buzz thrumming through my bones as an electric current or something). Now I was a listener. It helped everywhere. I listened to podcasts; I listened at work to people talking at their desks; I listened in performance reviews I was suddenly giving in a job I suddenly had; I listened when my sponsor told me to check my motives. I simply listened. That's what got my sober. Listening to the stories in my 12-step meetings don't make me feel like I've found my people or that I'm not alone -- they remind me that I continue to walk through this world alone, but can carry what they share with me through with me.

(I also listened to the people I made amends to. That was the feedback I needed to hear most. They were there for the real holy-shit damage, too. That's as much an opportunity as it is a life-changing chance to make a difference and demonstrate how far you're come. If someone is willing to accept your apology at the same time they'll call you out for being a monster, that's a gift.)

Time heals everything that it should. Everything else wasn't worth it in the first place, in my opinion.

Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1. Spotify.
I would pay at least $200 a month for this. I can't explain how important this is to my recovery. As fast as my broken-brain's moods will shift from one second to another, Spotify is always there for me. I create specific mood playlists, playlists for friends going through similar, playlists for my podcast episodes, anything and everything.

2. Writing.
I don't journal, really. With all my professional writing obligations, I don't have time for that. But writing is a huge recovery tool because I'm airing out my past and current recovery in articles, podcasts, appearances, and books.

3. Family & Friends.
There's not too much to say here, other than this list grows and swells and shrinks at a moment's time. And I don't pay much attention to it. I know who will be there for me, sure, but I'm more worried who **I** can be for someone when they need **me**. That's not something I've ever considered before.

4. 12-step work.
I host two podcasts, writing countless paid articles, speak at 12-step meetings, answer FB messages from strangers, and work with others on a regular basis. I think this is as fulfilling as it is rewarding as it gets. When someone reaches out to me to say they got something out of an article, it makes everything worth it.

5. Sleep.
I never slept before. Not for real, anyway. This is where I should put "exercise." but I think if I get control over "sleep," everything else will follow. Sleep, though. That's my white whale. I have teeth-gnashing, vivid, talk-aloud nights, and then I have the kind where I feel like I didn't sleep at all. I just want to wake up and go, "All right. With a cup of coffee, this won't be so bad." I swear, four years later, my brain is still expecting a brutal hangover and a zillion excuses.


Connect with Paul.

Re(Pro) #40: Ali Swan

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You probably don't know that you already know this lady's gorgeous face as Instagram's own, @soberinadrunkworld (read through the end for links to Ali's work). I'm - very unabashedly, I might add - one of her biggest fans. Let's put something into context though - when I first reached out to Ali to ask her to be involved, she was super gung-ho with her YES! but hadn't yet made the decision to share her name publicly. Since then, she's asked me to GO FOR IT and her style continues to progress and advance - she's come up with lots of delicious art that I'll be sharing, naturally. Lastly, I'll just thank this sweet soul for her patience as my editorial schedule is non-existent and really depends on my mood - and because the latter half of 2017 was truly a tumultuous time in my life, I suppose it's apropos that I post this on the first day of a new month in 2018. That being said, on to the goods!

xoxo,
Laura

 

 
PS: Ali even did a portrait of me in her very own style! &lt;3

PS: Ali even did a portrait of me in her very own style! <3

 

Name: Ali Swan

Age: 42

Location: United Kingdom

Recovery date (turning point for addiction and/or mental health): 2/25/2017

Creative niche: Art & design

Drug of choice, if applicable: Alcohol

nutshell

Recovery story in a nutshell

I can't remember when I started to rely on alcohol for confidence and to get me through social stuff - probably pretty young. I drank heavily every weekend through my twenties and thirties but everyone did so it was just normal to me. I always drank more than everyone else though and I was always the instigator of heavy drinking nights. Gradually the weekend drinking spread into the rest of the week. I began to worry about it and felt uncomfortable around people that drank "normally". I knew I needed to address it long before I did anything though but eventually I was just so tired of how it made me feel I couldn't do it any more. I started trying to stop in May of 2016 and had longer and longer periods of sobriety ;then I did Hip Sobriety School with Holly Whitaker in Spring of 2017 and that was absolutely pivotal for me. Almost as soon as I got sober I started drawing, I think I'm trying to make up for all the years spent numbing out my creativity!


Top 5 Recovery Tools

1. Breathing - I use meditation and deep breathing exercises to calm me in times of need!

2. Music - I love music to change my mood in the direction I need to go, sometimes some upbeat pop, sometimes calming classical or maybe some chilled out jazz!

3. Connection with the recovery tribe on line - they bring me back to reality when my mind goes crazy!

4. Lavender oil - love it!

5. I will just pick up a pen and paper and sketch and doodle, I find it the best way to focus my mind I guess its a form of meditation for me.


Connect with Ali.

 
Ali doodles
 

Re(Pro) #38: Michelle Winder

Michelle Winder

Michelle is a force of nature. Her IG game is ON POINT and always has the most inspirational BICEP flexing going on - it was such an honor and privilege to meet this beautiful mama and her daughter Shelby in New York City at She Recovers in NYC. If you're looking for #soberspo, look no further. This woman is it - ways to reach this girl on fiyah after the jump.

xo,
Laura


Name: Michelle Winder

Age: 47

Recovery date: 10/7/2015

Creative niche: 
I always associate the word creative with art, so I think that I'm not creative. I do however, own my own my own business and humbled to know that I am providing jobs for 23 people everyday in a loving, home like environment.

If applicable, drug of choice: Alcohol

nutshell

Recovery story in a nutshell: 
I began drinking in my early 20's, very casually for a really long time. I never ever saw it as a problem, until it was. That happened in my early 40's. when family members began to say things to me about my drinking, when I began to blackout, when I started planning around and constantly thinking about drinking. I fought giving it up really hard. I never wanted to not drink, so I tried to moderate. That's when things really spiraled out of control. I spent two really long years fighting to keep drinking, with every passing week being worse than the last. I finally gave up that fight 10/7/2015 and began my journey of recovery. I relapsed 4 or 5 times in those early days, but am happy to say that I will never drink again. Sobriety has been the greatest gift that I have ever given myself. I am present and love life like never before.


Top 5 Recovery Tools

1. My sober community is at the top of the list.

 
Editor's note: SOBER COMMUNITY, baby! Heeeere's Laura (aka me) with Michelle at She Recovers in NYC, May 2017.

Editor's note: SOBER COMMUNITY, baby! Heeeere's Laura (aka me) with Michelle at She Recovers in NYC, May 2017.

 

2. Reading... 
...as much as I can, whether it be a book or blogs or a simple social media post.

3. Mantras

4. Meditation

5. Music


Connect with Michelle.

Re(Pro) #36: Jamie Amos

Back in February - yes, February (my life got crazy this summer - I was elaborately catfished [more on that soon] and so my editorial calendar hasn't exactly been reliable), my girl Jamie wrote me this gem:

*~*~*

Dear Major Internet Crush: I am a writer and badass professional living in New Orleans, AKA the drunkest place on earth, where a vibrant and eccentric recovery community costumes regularly and stays sober. I grew up in generational poverty rife with addiction. Over my 20 years of drinking and drug abuse, including a pretty intense intravenous coke habit, I also managed to put myself through college, earn an MFA, and publish fiction in some national magazines before getting sober is 2014. I love your site and the supportive community I see you nurture on Twitter and Instagram. It would be a huge honor to be a re(pro). 

*~*~*

How could I say no to that? Since that time, I've been crushing on *her* and all that she does with her writing partner, Nikki, via The Neutral Ground (link after RePro). She has become a fierce warrior woman in the recovery movement. I'm just embarassed it took me the better part of a year to get this amazing woman's story to you.

Thanks for your well of patience, girl.  

xo,
Laura


Name: Jamie Amos

Age: 37

Location: New Orleans, LA
[Editor's note: Apparently people *can* get sober in NoLa!]

Recovery date: 6/6/2014

Creative niche: Writer, all the way. 

If applicable, drug of choice:
My drugs are assigned to periods of my life.
In my teenage years, I binge drank Budweiser (because Bud Light was for sissies) and smoked pot.
For my early 20s, I shot cocaine and meth and hunted down LSD anytime I could find it.
I switched back to beer in my late 20s, early 30s, because I needed to manage an increasingly unpredictable reaction to my substances. Alcohol was my final undoing, but I don't think I've yet met a drug I didn't instantly love.

nutshell.jpg

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I went hard early in life, diving full in and totally committing to a life I thought was wild and free. I hit what should have been 1,000 bottoms before I turned 25. Instead of pushing me toward recovery early in life, I tried to moderate my drinking and drug use and kept my outside life mostly intact. I put myself through college, kept steady jobs, and maintained a monogamous relationship long term. All of my consequences were internal, and over time my depression, anxiety, and self-hatred became unbearable. In 2014, a man sat next to me at a dinner party and told me about recovery. That began a 2-year long battle with my willful disbelief in my addiction. What has been, for me, more difficult than putting down drugs and alcohol has been sustaining the belief that I need to.




Top 5 Recovery Tools

1. The word no.
I am never closer to relapse than when I've overcommitted myself and said yes to please other people. Beneath those yeses that lead to my exhaustion is always a belief that I have to work for love.

2. Reaching out to my tribe.
I have always kept close girlfriends, but when I got sober and started to be real-talk vulnerable, this huge group of powerful, dangerous, warrior women showed up to walk beside me. I need them constantly to remind me I am enough.

3. Mothering myself.
I got this concept from Holly Whittaker and Laura McKowen of the HOME podcast, but I take it seriously. Soothing baths, naps, early bed times, healthy meals.

4. Daily writing.
I often don't know what I'm feeling until I work through it in my journal. This practice has sustained me through hard times.

5. Respecting quiet.
I'm often plugged into a screen or book, and I forget to carve out quiet space to listen to what's going on inside. Quiet is where the transformation happens for me, but I have to tune in to know it's happening


Connect with Jamie.

Neutral Ground

Website: www.theneutralground.net
Instagram: @jamie_amos
Twitter: @ja_amos1
 

Re(Pro) #34: Laura Ward

Laura is a dear friend.
If not for the #recoveryfriendlyweb, our friendship (like so many others) wouldn't be possible. I feel privileged to know her, and even more so to be next to her during her first ever experience with yoga, at #SheRecoversNYC in May. This PR maven has two years and some change under her belt and what she's accomplished with her wonderful blog and brand is out of this world. I love having coffee or ice cream in my GIANT quitwining mug. Pic to come soon*. 


#soberlaurasforever,
Laura


Laura Ward

Name: Laura Ward

Age: 45

Location: Connecticut

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 2/4/2015

Creative niche: Writing

If applicable, drug of choice: Alcohol

Nutshell

Recovery story in a nutshell: 
From the very first time I tasted alcohol as a kid, I loved it. By the time I was 42, I didn't believe I could function without it. Alcohol was my very best friend. For a long time. Until it tried to kill me. At first, I believed alcohol was right. Death was the only option. But, somehow, the shriveled, scared, sinking person who'd been slowly drowning inside my heart for years, held her head above the flood long enough to scream for help. I hired a counselor who worked with me to focus on that person, and identify the reasons why I drank and all the tools I could use to replace the staple booze had become in my life. While I have been sober for more than two years, my recovery journey will never be over. I learn more about myself every day. And, I become continually more powerful and less afraid.


Top 5 Recovery Tools

1. Writing
2. Being Honest
3. Holding Space for Myself
4. Supporting Others in Recovery
5. Expressing Gratitude

 

Yep, this sober rockstar has even been on TV!  
Laura Ward and NBC CT's Kerri-Lee Mayland talk summer mocktails.

 

Connect with Laura.

 
Quit Wining

Website: www.quitwining.com
Facebook: @QuitWining
Instagram: @QuitWining
Twitter: @QuitWining

 

Re(Pro) #28: Lara Frazier

In April of 2016, Lara and I became friends.

What an adventure we embarked on since then.  We crammed more into one year of digital friendship than many IRL friends have in five years.  For 6 of those months, we took part in a series called 12 on 12, where, with five other bloggers/creatives in recovery (Aaron Perry, Olivia Pennelle, Mark Goodson, Cristina Ferri) we would share 12 nuggets on the 12th of the month pertaining to our recovery and reflecting on that month's theme.  We took turns hosting on our blogs, and my month was last July (anniversary month!); chosen topic was MUSIC. The magic continued online, as we provided each other support through breakups, fighting the stigma outloud, and just day-to-day recovering woman in her 30s biz-ness.

And then?

We finally met!* 

xoxo,

Laura


LaraFrazier

Name: Lara Frazier

Age: 33
[Editor's note: Lara and I both in our Jesus year - I'll turn 34 on Thursday, 5/18 and she'll turn 34 in June].

Location: Dallas, TX | Spring Hill, FL

Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 2/10/2014

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.): 
Poetry, Art, Songwriting, Marketing, Writing, Social Media

If applicable, drug of choice (or *not* of choice): 
It started with an abuse of prescription opiates, but the drug that took me out was Adderall (usually combined with Xanax).

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I began abusing prescription opiates after a minor surgery around 21 years old and began experimenting with more opiates shortly after that. I was one of those people who said I'd never do drugs and I hardly drank in college. However, over time, the experimentation got worse.

nushell.jpg

I will say my doctor was my first drug dealer. When I was in graduate school, I went to a psychiatrist to tell him I believe I was becoming addicted to prescription opiates and he sent me off with another prescription. This time it was for an anti-depressant, Xanax, and Ambien. He didn't seem to care that I was abusing pills - he wanted to treat the symptoms of my withdrawal from the pills. The symptoms were depression, anxiety, and lack of sleep.

I stopped abusing prescription opiates for a few years and I didn't really abuse my other prescriptions. However, I was involved in a car accident in 2009 and I was prescribed a plethora of opiates and other pain killers. When I lost a job in 2010, and called my psychiatrist to tell him I wanted to die, he told me he had the answer for suicidal ideation in a pill. He didn't ask to see me. He just prescribed me something and when I went to pick it up the next day, I discovered it was Adderall, which is an amphetamine. It stopped my depression for a short while, but then it led me into a four year addiction and a lifestyle that involved institutions, homelessness, and loss of self.

Left to right:   Lara's shero,  Holly  Whitaker,  Lara , and  Laura  McKowen, fellow writer and co-host of HOME podcast.

Left to right: Lara's shero, Holly Whitaker, Lara, and Laura McKowen, fellow writer and co-host of HOME podcast.

I entered long-term recovery in 2014, about four years after I was first prescribed Adderall. I started in AA and worked all 12 steps. However, I started feeling like I had stopped growing. I felt that there were problems that AA and prayer weren't solving. I left AA, with the help of Hip Sobriety School and Holly Whitaker. I developed a holistic program of recovery that involves prayer, meditation, self-awareness, essential oils, empowerment, fierceness, art, creativity, passion, service, inventory, friendships, love, kindness, and a whole myriad of other tools.

I began my blog in early 2016 because I found the power of truth-telling. Many women went before me in starting to be open about their sobriety and their recovery. And I honor them always, for telling the truth and for their ability to be raw and vulnerable and real. (You were one of them) xo
[Editor's note: awww, I love you, lady! <3


*WE FINALLY MET!

Image 1: Carolyn Monticelli, Lara, me.
Image 2: My and Lara's wrists, #soulstamped.
Image 3: Lara, Carly Benson, me.


Top 5 Recovery Tools

1) Service

2) Prayer

3) Connection

4) Self-Awareness

5) Constant Growth/Self-Improvement


Connect with Lara.

Website: www.laraannfrazier.com
Instagram: @sillylara
Facebook: @laraannfrazier
Twitter: @sillylara


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.

xo,
Laura

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) #20: Shane Watson

Name: Shane Watson

Age: 41

Location: Phoenix, AZ

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 11/29/2011

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.):
Speaking engagements, cryptic interactive online art and fiction, writing, poetry/lyrics, music 

If applicable, drug of choice (or not of choice...):
Alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, prescription drugs, excess, chaos

This is a ginormous nutshell. &nbsp;FYI.

This is a ginormous nutshell.  FYI.

I got started down the road to substance abuse in middle school for a few reasons. I was a scared, awkward kid who desperately wanted to be liked, but didn’t quite fit the mold that everyone else was in. I was definitely different, and not always in a way that was seen as good. I wasn’t even remotely comfortable in my own skin. So I thought I’d win my peers’ approval and acceptance by drinking. In addition to that, I was curious to see what it was like. Finally, there were some people I looked up to who had substance abuse issues of their own, and they seemed completely happy and successful. So, while I had been told about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, what I had seen conveyed a very different message..

The first time I drank, one of the worst things that could have possibly happened did happen: nothing. I don’t mean that the alcohol didn’t affect me. I mean that there weren’t any immediate consequences, at least that I could notice. After having been told what drugs and alcohol would do to me, I was anticipating some kind of instant lightning bolt of consequence. When nothing seemed to go wrong, I thought, “There’s no price to pay for this. I just did it and I’m fine. The world didn’t end. They lied to me about this.” I’ve since learned something very important about consequences. There is a consequence for every negative decision we make, but they don’t always happen immediately and we don’t always notice them right away. Sometimes they don’t become apparent until much later, and sometimes they chase you down the road years later.

I noticed that when I drank, everything seemed to get better. My pain seemed to go away. I was dealing with bullying and feeling very out of place in junior high, and when I drank, I quit feeling the sadness from that. It seemed to allow me to finally be comfortable in my own skin. I didn’t realize that the feeling was a lie. When I got into high school, alcohol was a lot easier to get, and I started using it as a way to deal with my problems. My alcohol use became much more frequent and I started drinking larger quantities. I didn’t realize how much worse I was making things for myself. None of it seemed like a big deal at the time. Alcohol then gave way to marijuana, nitrous oxide (Whip-Its), and some initial experimentation with prescription drugs.

By the time I was a freshman in college, I was using marijuana daily and drinking frequently. Later in college I got caught in the web of opiate painkillers after a friend with a prescription gave me some oxycodone. After I started on painkillers, the floodgates opened. The feeling from opiates was a step beyond alcohol in my quest to escape my pain, disintegrating relationship, and my growing dislike for myself. Somehow I miraculously made it through college with a decent GPA and managed to get my degree. I’m still not completely sure how I managed that.

Shortly after college, I got into ecstasy and cocaine. I developed a huge cocaine habit that eventually led me to getting into meth, once the cocaine ceased being effective. Right around the same time, my painkiller addiction led to heroin after it became impossible to get legitimate prescriptions and expensive to buy illicit opiate pharmaceuticals. Alcohol was there all along, in ridiculously excessive quantities. Eventually, I became willing to use just about any substance that happened to cross my path. When someone asked what my drug of choice was, I laughingly quoted the Alice in Chains song “Junkhead.” “What’s my drug of choice? Well, what have you got?”

My life was a mess. I lost jobs due to absenteeism, quit other jobs due to an inability to focus, and eventually stopped trying to get jobs. I drained a $10,000 bank account on my addiction. I had nothing to show for it but increasing health problems. There was alcohol poisoning. There were overdoses. There was one particular overdose involving a combination of cocaine, meth, alcohol, and fentanyl (a powerful synthetic opioid) that was absolutely hellish and insane. To this day, it surprises me that I made it through that one. My behavior was erratic and I became angry and unpredictable. At one point, coke and meth made me a 130lb skeleton. At a later point, alcohol made me a 215lb slug.

This went on for years. I wasted my 20’s and the better part of my 30’s. I wanted to stop but was so caught up in it all. I was making all kinds of bad decisions. I’m responsible for my own choices, but addiction and the damaged thinking that comes with it makes it a whole lot easier to make bad choices. Eventually I was no longer using to feel good, but to not feel horrible. I was drinking and using purely out of addiction and the need to avoid withdrawal. Guilt and shame kept me running back to drugs and alcohol, which led to behavior that caused me guilt and shame. It was an endless cycle.

.I ended up jobless for a long time, and thousands of dollars in debt. My thinking and brain chemistry were so overwhelmed by the substances to which I was a slave. I came to a point where I hated myself and said, “I’m never coming back from this. I’ve done too much damage. I’m going to ride this train until it crashes.” The last night I drank and used, I went on a rampage. I hurt people who didn’t deserve it, smashed up my own house, and eventually attempted to end my own life. I was arrested and charged with multiple felonies. If I had been convicted of everything I was charged with, I was looking at the possibility of a doing few years in the Arizona Department of Corrections.

That’s what led to me serving time in Durango Jail, part of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s notorious Maricopa County Jail system. While in jail, I went through hellish withdrawals. The extent of the jail’s acknowledgement of my withdrawal consisted of giving me a bottom bunk, so I would be less likely to get a concussion if my withdrawals led to a seizure that ended up with me falling out of bed. I suffered horrible insomnia and only managed to occasionally sleep for about 15 minutes at a time. It was less like sleeping and more like passing out. I genuinely felt like I was going insane. I went through a combination of the worst physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pain I’ve ever felt. I genuinely believed that I had lost everyone and everything I loved and cared about. I found myself at a nearly unbearable low point.

I became willing to do anything to repair the damage I had done, but wasn’t sure that such repair would even be possible. While in the midst of this, I somehow found a tiny bit of sanity, which allowed me to make myself a promise to make my faith, my family, and my sobriety my priorities. A fellow inmate named Troy gave me a Bible, which I started reading. It was a welcome escape and was the only thing that gave me any kind of hope in those moments. I latched on to that Higher Power and never let go.

I eventually bailed out while my case was pending, and I moved into a place called the Phoenix Dream Center. It’s a live-in facility where people who have had substance abuse issues, people who have been in jail and prison, people who have been homeless, former gang members, and victims of human trafficking can move in and get their lives back together. A lot of good growth and healing started for me there, but it wasn’t easy.

In a lot of ways, the Dream Center is harder than jail. Our days started at 4 a.m. and ended at 11 p.m. Every moment was scheduled for us and included intense morning workouts (run by a former pro rugby star), classes, janitorial work, maintenance work, labor, homeless outreach, church, etc. We were run ragged, but the discipline, structure, and purpose were what I (and the others there) needed as part of a successful recovery.

While in the Dream Center, I poured myself back into my faith, which remains a key component of my recovery today. I started communicating again, instead of trying to run from my problems. I made exercise and nutrition a big part of my life. I started creating art and writing again. I started to laugh again. I gained back my self-respect and others’ trust. As a result of the changes that began there, I was able to restore my marriage; something I hoped would happen but didn’t know was possible.

In court, the prosecutor was seeking 90 days of jail time for me, and the Probation Presentence Writer wanted me to do six months. I didn’t want either to happen, as they could delay the good work that had begun in my marriage, and in my growth as a person. I accepted a plea deal. Based on what I said and others said at my sentencing, the judge said that he didn’t see any benefit to me serving additional time. To this day, I am grateful he listened to me and to the others who spoke. I was sentenced to two years supervised probation. I was assigned 46 weeks of one type of counseling and 15 weeks of another. I was given a permanent (“designated”) felony and lost my rights as an American citizen. I paid thousands of dollars in court fines and fees. I was given a 10 p.m. curfew. I was randomly drug tested.

Under really interesting circumstances, I ran into a guy who overheard part of my story and told me I should apply to be a substance abuse Peer Educator at a local nonprofit called notMYkid. I did. In January of 2013, I started there as a part-time youth Peer Educator and worked as hard as I could. I spoke in schools across Arizona, sharing the experience and knowledge I learned during my journey with students in 6th through 12th grade. I decided to be as open and honest as I could about my past in order to help prevent others from taking the same path. I did everything I was asked to do and took on additional duties. I was relentless and determined in my efforts. Within the first three months, they made me full time. Four months later, I was given a staff position, and became the organization’s first Communications Coordinator.

I was then promoted to Manager of Parent and Faculty Education for the organization and eventually became a Prevention Specialist. I research several behavioral health topics and create presentations for parents, school faculty members, after school program mentors, and camp counselors. I have also recruited, hired, trained, and managed several Parent and Faculty Educators, who are primarily behavioral health professionals and current or former law enforcement officers. I do parent, student, and school faculty presentations on substance abuse, and I do parent and faculty presentations on bullying, depression/self-injury/suicide, and Internet safety. I also do TV, radio, web, and print interviews as the organization’s representative. I’ve done approximately 75 interviews in the last few years.

From "215lb slug" to 5 years sober.

From "215lb slug" to 5 years sober.

I currently travel around Arizona doing speaking engagements, sharing my personal story intertwined with teachable keys to behavioral health. I’ve had the opportunity to share my story with students and government officials in Boston, and students and parents in California. I’ve spoken to groups as small as five people and as large as 1,000. I’ve done as many as seven one-hour presentations back-to-back. I’ve had the chance to address the Pinal County Drug Court, sharing my story and thoughts on the way government and the courts view addiction. I’ve presented at Grand Canyon University, Arizona State University, Paradise Valley Community College, and a number of corporations, Including American Express, Cox, and Insight. As of December 1st, 2016, I’ve done 270 presentations to an audience of over 16,000 people. Approximately half of my presentations have been given to students, and the other half to adults.

I also had the opportunity to do interviews for a historic documentary called “Hooked: Tracking Heroin’s Hold on Arizona,” which was simulcast on every TV station (and most radio stations) in Arizona on January 13th, 2015. Additionally, I was appointed to the Recovery and Response Subcommittee responsible for developing, staffing, and overseeing the crisis line phone bank taking calls during and after the airing of the documentary.

In October of 2015, I had the chance to become an ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) trainer. As a registered trainer, I now have the honor of facilitating two-day suicide intervention workshops, and teaching genuinely lifesaving intervention skills to people around the state of Arizona. It has allowed me to combine my personal experience with the topic, and my passion for helping others, with the well-designed material that has become the industry standard (crisis lines, military, fire departments, police departments) for suicide intervention.

Most importantly, sobriety has allowed me the opportunity to become the type of husband I should have been all along and has given me the chance to be a very good dad to an amazing daughter who was born shortly after my one-year sober date. I give thanks every day for the fact that I got clean and sober before having a child. I owe it to her and my wife to have my act together. Every moment with my daughter is a gift that I never thought I would get. If you had told me when I was in jail that my life would be like this right now, I wouldn’t have believed you though I would have desperately wanted to.

I’m thankful for every chance I get to help other people, to let individuals who are struggling know that they’re not alone, and to destroy the stigma and stereotypes surrounding addiction and recovery. I take every opportunity I get to help people understand that addiction is not a failure of morality, but a behavioral health issue.

If you are struggling, please speak up. Find a trusted, caring, non-judgmental, willing, and ready person and let them know what’s going on. Things can get better, but not until you make the choice to change and move forward. Get connected with local professional resources that can assist you in your recovery. If the situation calls for it, detox correctly and go through residential treatment. If not, consider an intensive outpatient program, or at least 12-step meetings.

Find what works for you, and do it. Surround yourself with positive and caring people who are mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. Create a support network. Fill your phone with the phone numbers of those on whom you can call when you’re struggling– even if it’s two in the morning. Practice intentional and consistent self-care that includes healthy coping skills and positive outlets. It’s not enough to just NOT use drugs and alcohol, but it’s important to figure out what to replace them with. For me, that includes things like music, writing, art, exercise, hiking, serving others, laughter, meeting new people, and experiencing new things. Find your recipe for success and then make a point to put those pieces in place every single day.

November 29th, 2016 marked five years of sobriety for me. I’m grateful to even be alive and amazed at the wonderful opportunities I’ve been given. Every morning when I wake up, I give thanks for the tremendous amount of grace I’ve been shown. I’m astounded at how much my life has managed to change for the better in that short amount of time. It makes me excited to see what’s next.

Thank you for taking the time to allow me to share my story with you. I hope it benefits you in some way.

-Shane

Top 5 Recovery Tools

1. Faith

2. Love

3. Purpose

4. Positive outlets (music, exercise, writing, etc.)

5. Serving others

 


Connect with Shane.

 
 

Re(Pro) #18: Claire Rudy Foster

I've got a major girl crush on my fellow July '07 member, Claire. I'm SO SO SO excited to read her new book (details within).  She's a phenomenal writer and expresser of thoughts--and a warm, supportive, lovely friend.  I'm not much of a betting woman but I'd put money on a major legacy this gal will leave, and Claire is quickly making her mark in this space.  Viva la recovery revolucion!

xo,
Laura


Name: Claire Rudy Foster

Age: 32

Location: Portland, OR

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 7/06/2007

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

I’m a writer and a lifelong reader. I fell in love with reading when I was young: I was allowed to read whatever I wanted, even the books and magazines that my parents read, so reading was an early, illicit pleasure. In reading, I explored places and experiences that made me believe that adulthood would be wonderful, bursting with interesting people, gorgeous meals, and excursions to every corner of the map. In recovery, I’ve found those people and places, and they populate my novels and short stories. 

It might sound trite, but sobriety has made my dreams a reality. When I was drinking, and deep into my heroin addiction, I was trying to write and just going in circles. I saw a few stories published, and knew I had potential, but when I was using, it was just that: potential. Nothing more. Inevitably, I couldn’t write because I had to be high all the time and when I was high I could barely form a coherent thought, much less tell a story. Once I got sober, the pieces starting coming together again. Next month, my first book is coming out, and that’s a dream come true for me. 

I never thought I’d have my name on the cover of anything; I thought that I would be one of those tragic, unacknowledged writers who OD’d in her apartment and nothing to show for her life except a trunk of unpublished, not-very-good pages. A few times, that was a real possibility, and I think it’s my pride that kept me plugging along. I’m not gonna fucking die without accomplishing something, I always told myself. And here I am, with a book, and I don’t want to die anymore and I’m not going to overdose or drink myself to death. How’s that for a plot twist?

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

Heroin and alcohol. I stuck with the classics. In a perfect world, I would have been blacked out at all times. I loved blackouts at first, because it was like being in a time machine. You walk in one end and come out the other, and you’re in a totally different spot, with new people and better music and hopefully more of whatever put you in the blackout in the first place. The problem was that the more I drank, the scarier it got. I would come to and I’d be with people I didn’t recognize, in dangerous places, with bad things happening. It really frightened me. Whenever I think I miss getting loaded, I remember those times: the sensation of falling into this dark, dark pit and not knowing who or what was waiting for me at the other end. There’s nothing romantic about it, and as awful as it was, I’m glad I spent so much time at the bottom. Heroin may love me, but I don’t love it back. And I don’t love who I was then, either. I think part of me was addicted to suffering, and getting loaded was a more efficient, dramatic way of getting into that dark place. I’m grateful that I don’t live there anymore.

Recovery Story in a Nutshell:

In a lot of ways, my story is boilerplate. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. Like I said, there was this void inside me, a hole that opened up and was impossible to fill. I was a really lonely kid---that’s not a reflection on my parents, or my family, I was just that way. I was a dreamer and I think I figured out really young that there was no place in the world for people like me, and instead of believing that things would get better, I gave up hope. You can only weather so much. And I wasn’t brave then, and I didn’t know who I was, so I was basically like “fuck it” and pulled a vodka blanket over my head and refused to come out. I started drinking and using fairly young, and it felt right to me in a way that was scary. You could say that it was my first love, and I had absolutely no interest in fighting it. I didn’t realize how deep my addiction went until I finally tried to quit on my own. I couldn’t stop. I tried everything, from moving apartments to switching substances, to therapy and yoga and being a vegan and getting married, and I was still an alcoholic and a heroin addict. I could dress it up and say “it’s because I’m a writer” or “it’s because I got raped,” but neither of those things are completely true. “I’m self medicating.”

I ended up getting sober at 23. I think that everyone has a few windows of opportunity, when it comes to addiction---and the longer you wait, the fewer opportunities there are. For whatever reason, I jumped through this one and I haven’t gone back. I got sober on my own, detoxed in a tiny studio apartment I shared with my then-husband, and decided I could just muscle through it. I didn’t know anything about addiction or alcoholism and figured I was just insane. I thought I would have to go on a mood stabilizer or antidepressants---in fact, I was prescribed both of those things by a well-meaning psychiatrist in my first few months, because I described my symptoms and they were concomitant with bipolar disorder. (Of course, I hadn’t told this doctor that I’d quit drinking and getting loaded, so she thought I was having a mental break of some kind.) I stayed sober on my own for close to three years, and my life got smaller and smaller. I lost all my friends and I was so lonely. I rarely left the house, and I was afraid to walk down the wine aisle at the store. Finally, I got a suggestion to go to an AA meeting, and that’s where my recovery really started. 

Top 5 Recovery Tools

1) AA meetings
For me, staying physically sober wasn’t enough. I needed to learn how to grow up, work on myself, and be brave, and I learned all of that in AA. I’ve been sober for almost 10 years now, and in AA for more than 6. The contrast between having a community and trying to go it alone is like night and day for me. I don’t think AA is for everyone, but it can help anyone. It was exactly where I needed to be, and I use what I’ve learned in the rooms every day.

2) Writing
I keep a journal, write letters, and stay creative. Cultivating the playful, imaginative part of my mind is critical for my recovery. I was surprised and pleased to learn that getting sober didn’t turn me into a different person: it’s helped me to live up to my potential. I was a writer when I was drinking, and I’m a writer now: a sober one. A few years into my recovery, I went to graduate school and earned an MFA in Creative Writing. It feels like such a gift to not only be able to finish what I start, but to say “writing matters to me,” and be able to invest in myself.

3) Friends
Where would I be without my people? From AA to the #xa community on Twitter and the awesome friends who have come into my life over the past decade, I feel loved, supported, and seen. When I was drinking, I felt invisible: like I didn’t matter, and that nobody would miss me if I disappeared. Now, I have friends who fill my days and nights with laughter, music, and fun. I have a man in my life who makes me feel like I’m full of stars. I would also say that, in sobriety, I’ve learned how to make new friends without feeling nervous or inhibited. These days, I’m grateful to have quality friends I can count on, and who keep me honest and grounded.

4) Naps
Enough said.

5) Hope
Emily Dickinson said, “Hope is a thing with feathers.” That’s how I live today. I have heard people describe hope as a kind of faith, and I think that’s true, too. For me, recovery is what happens after the initial pain and excitement and drama of early sobriety has passed. Life continues to be life, and I continue to learn. I try to go forward believing that good things are possible, for me and everyone. I write about my hopes, talk about them. I remind myself that my best days are ahead of me, and that if I stay sober and keep going, I’ll get where I need to be. Of all the things I rely on, I’d say that hope is the thing that has truly given me wings. One day, I decided that I had trudged far enough; instead of giving up, I learned how to fly.


Connect with Claire / Win a Copy of Her Debut Book!

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Re(Pro) #15: Cristina Ferri

Yay! &nbsp;Here we are! &nbsp;We look like we could be sisters! &nbsp;Or cousins :)

Yay!  Here we are!  We look like we could be sisters!  Or cousins :)

Cristina Ferri is a beautiful, gorgeously fierce, fighter of a soul--who is sassy to boot.  I mean, come on--ALL THE UNICORNS!  I had the ultimate pleasure of hugging my sister in sobriety a couple months ago at the I Am Not Anonymous portrait shoot in Washington, D.C. and we wore our matching #SOBER necklaces (designed by love, lori michelle for yours truly).  Let's throw some unicorn confetti in the air and welcome none other than Ms. Sober Unicorn


Name: Cristina Ferri

Age: 39 -- EEK!

Location: Plainville, MA

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 4/24/15

Creative niche: Photography & Singing

If applicable, drug of choices (or not of choice): Alcohol

Recovery story in a nutshell:

My recovery journey started a few months before my actual sobriety date. I started working with my therapist on the difficult internal issues and mental health problems I had been self-medicating myself with and casting aside for years. Soon, I began really seeing that a lot of my issues were burning hotter by my alcohol use. But when I made the decision to stop drinking, there was really no turning back. I realized really quickly that I needed a support line, other than my therapist, and I tried to find local AA meetings. Even though I always brought something home with me from the meetings I attended, I didn't feel as welcomed as I felt with the online recovery tribe I was also starting to build. These people rapidly became friends to collaborate with, vent to, laugh with and lean on. Staying sober is really only one part of my recovery journey. I am also currently working on my co-dependency, self-esteem, anxiety, depression and CPTSD, eating habits and relationship with food, body image, spirituality and relationship with my higher power as well as learning to just be human.

Every morning, I start my day with gratitude and try to journal my thoughts, which allows me to share a positive and healthy attitude towards everyone I interact with throughout the day. I worked with a health coach who truly helped me lay a foundation for success in creating a safe, nourishing place for my recovery. I also started a blog to share my story, and I'm currently having growth and interest in it to the point where I'm in the works of creating a new outreach program, revolving around recovery and art, that I hope to be announcing by the end of the year. I began volunteering with Girls On the Run & recently joined a church where I have been invited to be a part of their praise team! My recovery has truly changed my life. But it's something that I literally have to keep choosing every day, and every minute if necessary.

 

Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1) My Blog

2) Prayer & Meditation

3) Church & my relationship with my higher power

4) My Online Tribe

5) Booooooooooooooooooks


Connect with Cristina.

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 
#5
Practicing Mindfulness in All Things 


Connect with Liz.
Website: www.thelizrusso.com
Twitter: @thelizrusso
Instagram: @thelizrusso
Facebook: @ilovelizrusso
Email: liz@thelizrusso.com

Re(Pro) #8: Sean Paul Mahoney

Sean is #sparkly and #sober and I adore him!  Technically, we're siblings in pod (him with Sloshed Cinema and me with Bad Story on The Recovery Revolution's Since Right Now Podcast Network) but I've been a bad, bad girl and haven't recorded since February.  Ooopsies!  Anyway, back to Sean.  He's a charming, delightful breath of fresh (glittery) air and I feel warm and fuzzy inside knowing he's got my back and vice versa, even just digitally.  And with that...carry it away, Sean! 

xoxo, Laura


Name:
Sean Paul Mahoney

Age: 43

Location: Denver, CO

Recovery date*: January 2, 2009
*turning point for mental illness or addiction

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.):
Writer/storyteller, ninja level wiseass

If applicable, drug of choice (or not choice...):
Booze, cocaine, anything toxic to make me check out and lots of it, por favor!

 
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From teen drinker and drug experimenter, to 20 something club kid, party goer and party thrower to dive bar regular and daily blackout drinker in my 30's, my use and abuse spans nearly 3 decades. I hit a major bottom in late 2008 which forced me to leave my relationship, change my whole life and get sober.

I was hit with an HIV positive diagnosis at seven months of recovery and really thought that would be a great excuse to go out and get loaded but for some reason I didn't. Since then I've relied on my fellows and a spiritual practice to help me not be a hot drunken mess, one day at a time.
 

Top 5 Recovery Tools
 

#5: Other Sober People
Words and advice from people with more time than me still saves my ass 7 and a half years later. I can't do any of this alone and  thankfully I don't have to.

#4: Rest
A lot of time when I think I'm losing my mind, I just need a nap. Listening to my body and resting has saved me from all kinds of stupid decisions.

#3: Walking
Walking clears my head and helps me work out any insane ideas I might have plus there's health benefits too so that's rad.

#2: A Spiritual Connection
No, I'm not a church goer. But I try connect with something bigger than myself thru looking at art or hanging out with animals or listening to the ocean or just meditation for a few minutes.

#1: A Sense of Humor
Laughter and being able to laugh at myself has been the greatest gift of recovery. Yeah getting sober is serious stuff but laughter takes the tension out of the whole thing. I've learned how to use my sense of humor as a way to communicate some dark stuff while actually helping other addicts and alcoholics who are in desperate need of a laugh. 


Re(Pro) #7: Nancy Carr

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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!

xoxo,
Laura


Name
Nancy Carr

Age
Ugh, 49!!!

Location:
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.): 
Writing! 

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.
Blog: www.lastcallblog.me
Twitter: @NLCarrC
Facebook: Last Call
Amazon.com: Last Call
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Re(Pro) #5: Robyn Joy

Robyn is one of my new favorite people.  I love love love love her and you will too.  The End!
xoxo,
Laura


Name: Robyn Joy

Age: 39

Location: Vermont

Sobriety date: January 1, 2016 

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

I've recently gotten really into zines, both as a reader and creator. I got a small grant from Long Distance Love Bombs and have written and published two issues of "Best Intentions" since I stopped drinking. I used to be a painter/assemblage artist and I am finding my way back to that slowly. I have been a performing musician in years past, but I'm currently working on quieter projects at home and using my kitchen as a creative vegetarian studio. I'm also getting married in July, and doing everything DIY including all the decor and my dress, so at the moment I am surrounded by papier mache and heart garland and lace.

Drug of choice (or not of choice...): Booze Booze Booze. So much booze.

Recovery story in a nutshell: 

Erg. This is hard to describe in a short blurb. I was a drunk for a million years, or possibly something like 25. I started drinking when I started forming my personality, discovering my sexuality, exerting my independence. Boy that all turned into a gnarly mess of a girl, but a functional one. I got involved in romantic relationships with the opposite of what my parents hoped for me more often than not, put myself in dangerous and harmful situations because I hated myself so much, and played the victim for as long as I can remember. I drank to feel complete, to feel validated, to feel pretty, to feel confident, to be the fun girl that everyone wanted to be around and love. It didn't work out. It never does, right? I had a lot of continual disasters (sexual assault, self harming, financial trouble, divorce, loss of friendship, etc), but I didn't quit because I hit rock bottom. I hit that a couple times and drank harder. I quit because I was tired and sick and if I wasn't super embarrassed or ashamed by my drunken behavior, I was scaring myself. I went to rehab after I realized I had been blacking out every single night for longer than I'd care to admit or think about. I talked to my job and my fiance and my family and friends through shaky voices and tears sometimes. I spent 3 weeks there. The first two were life changing, mostly because I was taken out of my booze soaked environment. The third was mostly frustrating due to a lot of circumstances, so I ditched a week early (on Thanksgiving day). I was sober for a week at home, but then thought I could try drinking like a normal person. I now know that I do not drink like a normal person and to try is only going to awaken my little gremlin-wolf-snake-beast who's thirst is unquenchable. My last drunk night was new year's eve 2015. I drank lots of wine. I staggered to the store and came back to the apartment with a ridiculous amount of more wine even though I was already slurring. We went to a party and no one was mean or judgmental, but I could feel and see on everyone's face that I was as expected - wasted before 10pm and heading for a train wreck. I got a ride home and was in bed by 11pm and woke up in the morning with a new feeling. I actually wanted to be sober instead of just saying I did. My fiance took me for a walk and he made a video of me dumping the last bottle of wine over a cliff. I haven't had a sip of anything since.

How you stay sober / Tools for a happy recovery:

Reading.
I read a lot more than I used to. I've incorporated reading into my nightly routine, which is so good for me for so many reasons. I listen to books on tape sometimes too. I listened to Alan Carr's "The Easy Way to Control Your Drinking" in my first few weeks of sobriety and felt brainwashed, but in a good way. Currently I am about to finish "Recovery 2.0" by Tommy Rosen - a MUST read if you like the idea of a holistic recovery process, and I'm going to start "Dry" by Augusten Burroughs. There is also a vibrant community of people in recovery on the internet that I read and I look to for further recommendations. And I am an avid reader of recovery zines (or "perzines") and it's easy to get lost in a rabbit hole of wonderful writing there. One writer recommends or mentions another and so on. I am adding to the pool with my own and feel humbled to be part of such a powerful bunch of voices.

Diet and drinking.
I keep myself well stocked with seltzer, either with a full tank in the soda maker or a full 12 pack in the fridge. I make a ritual out of pouring it into a glass and adding fresh lemon, ice and non sugary juice if I am feeling fancy. I know that when I am out, I order a soda with a splash of cran and a lime. I was already eating relatively well, but drunken nights often used to lead to late night junk food binging, laziness, and a lack of concern about my body. I gained 50 pounds in the last few years and continue to struggle with that and ongoing body image issues I was born into. I try to cook a healthy dinner most every night, which is quite a thing sometimes, but it's an important thing, and my skills and creativity constantly improve. Actual diets to lose weight or change my habits drastically tend to make me obsessive and overwhelmed, so I have learned to not be tempted by their promises. I am strictly vegetarian, I read labels and educate myself, and I try to eat whole foods as much as possible, and I think that's the best possible scenario for me. 

Yoga.
This is an imperative part of my self care and growth. I have always enjoyed it, but have never stuck with a routine for very long. In rehab, we had a free yoga and meditation class once a week, and it helped me to remember that I really like it (and once a week is not nearly enough). I came home and committed to spending the time and money on a local yoga studio. I don't always go as often as I would like, and the cost adds up, but lately I have been able to get 3 classes on a regular week and up to 5 or 6 when I am truly on my game. I'm hoping to find a balance at some point and still continue with the studio some, but get a home practice too. I have yet to meditate regularly, other than when I am falling asleep at night, but it is in my future goals as well. 

AA Meetings.
I go to one AA meeting every week. I love this group of people and I don't know that any other meeting is like this one, and I don't honestly care, because I feel like this is all I need. Tommy Rosen's book broke down the process of working the 12 steps and I will most likely give it a go sometime soon, but I haven't gone there yet. People who are way into the program will continue to insist that I get more involved, go to more meetings, devote myself to being of service, blah blah blah, but right now, it is a small piece of my pie.

Therapy.
I have been in therapy for years, so this isn't a new thing. The catch phrase I hear a lot now is "dual diagnosis" - having an addiction paired with mental illness.  I no longer have access to benzodiazepine because of being in recovery, and that can be really hard for me. I do take an anti depressant that also helps with anxiety, but sometimes I have to really pull myself away from panic inducing situations and rely on safe tools I have learned to self soothe. Breathing techniques I have learned in yoga are indispensable, but I often just avoid being in places that I know are going to threaten my mental health. After a lot of reading, I suspect my depression/anxiety and PTSD are actually Bipolar II, but I no longer see a psychiatrist because I don't really like where that leads me. I had a drug/alcohol counselor before rehab and then another one when I came home. They were fine, but very clinical in their approach, and I didn't find either of them super helpful. But my regular therapist has been life saving.

More Self Care [editor's note: YAYYY!!!]: 
I am learning about taking care of myself ahead of everything and anything. I am a die hard codependent person. I become whatever I think will make the most people pleased with me. I don't know how to make choices about simple things like what music to listen to or what shirt to wear or what food I like. I participate in social things for the sake of making people believe I like the right things that will make me the most likable. This is all changing for me in sobriety, and it is both amazing and excruciating. I am REALLY emotional a lot. I want seclusion and independence a lot more than I ever have before, but I also want to fall back into the old me and be taken care of and not have to think for myself. But I have to do what serves me best before I can be a good friend, lover, sister, teacher, or anything. Being sober has been the best thing to happen in my forever healing process so far.