sobriety

#66: Marnie Rae

annie grace (7).png

Name: Marnie Rae

Age: 50

Location: Seattle, WA

Sobriety date: 4/15/2003

Creative niche: Entrepreneurship, mocktails, writing

If applicable to your story, substance of choice:
Alcohol - Grey Goose Martinis (with 3 olives) and Black Russians to be more specific. Although a bottle of wine would do in a pinch.

nutshell

Recovery/sobriety story in a nutshell:

I started drinking as a teenager.

It progressively became the focus of my life, all of my friends drank (although most weren't addicted), every event was an excuse to drink. I thought I was having fun, we even laughed about the time I drank too much and ended up in the hospital. Somehow missed that burning bush :(

Finally, after 20 years of drinking, I had my 'rock bottom' moment. I attended an elementary school fundraising auction that I had been a big part of creating, got drunk with our friends before the event, snuck in alcohol at the event, made a fool of myself trying to converse with my children's teachers, and embarrassed someone I love very much - my husband (makes me cry to write this). I knew when I went to bed that night it was going to be the last time I drank (it was).

I had a friend that didn't drink, although I didn't know why. I walked right up to her the next day in the parking lot at school after dropping our kids off and asked her point blank why she didn't drink. I look back now and I have so much love for that scared young woman that was rude and awkward and desperate.

Thank God my friend had been in recovery for a long time and could see through the awkwardness. She told me she was in recovery, I told her I needed help. She took me to my first AA meeting - I am forever grateful for her and the people in those rooms. I did NOT finish all 12 steps and I'm okay with that. I'm sober, I'm happy, I am a work in progress, I do my best to be a good human, I'm okay with it.


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools:

1) Grace

2) Gratitude

3) Writing

4) Time by myself

5) Fear
Fear isn't really a 'wellness' tool but honestly, the fear of going back to that life is one of the things that keeps me sober.


marnie rae logo.png

Connect with Marnie Rae

website: www.marnierae.com
instagram:
@marnieraec
facebook:
@marnieraec

Re(Pro) #61: Courtney Andersen

Courtney Andersen
Helping others fuels my soul and I’m a firm believer of “women supporting women.”
— Courtney Andersen

Name: Courtney Andersen

Age: 36

Location: Detroit, Michigan

Recovery date*: 8/18/2012
[* turning point for substance use and/or mental health challenges]

Creative niche:
Writing, Blogging, Entrepreneur, Online Coaching, Helping others

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:
Alcohol and LOTS of it. I also enjoyed cocaine for about 3 years in my active addiction with alcohol.

nutshell.jpeg

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I LOVED alcohol like it was my bestie for over a decade.  

My vicious cycle of addiction was spent for over ten years feeling ashamed, embarrassed, lonely, isolated and scared but I kept staying in this world. For so many years I didn't feel like I deserved any good.  Most days depending on my work schedule were spent thinking about drinking, drinking or dry heaving, laying in bed all day until I ordered pizza at 8pm when I finally stopped throwing up all the alcohol from the night before. I mean this cycle happened weekly; alcohol poisoning for sure! Of course I would say to myself every time I would dry heave that [this would] "be the last time I did shots or drank like that"...LIES!

I often found when I woke up the night before I had no clue how I got home or what happened. About ninety percent of the time my drinking would end up with me upsetting one of my friends, boyfriends or family members. I often would yell at them, pick fights and get violent like a real pig. So many missed opportunities and relationships down the drain because of my addiction. So much TIME WASTED and moments I will never get back in my life. Funny thing is since I was about 24, I knew I would have to stop drinking one day. In the pit of my soul I believe that all addicts know they have a problem of some sort, it's just a matter of "are you going to address the problem" or just “carrying on because you don't want to feel or face reality?!!”

courtney before after

When I was 29 years old, I woke up the next morning from a complete shit show of an evening. I was told I lost my cat (who was not an outside cat at all) for the second time as I left my screen door wide open because I went outside to smoke in a blackout. I was also told by my then boyfriend that he was over the drinking as well; at that point we had been together for a year and a half. He had seen plenty in such a short amount of time because I will say the last couple of years of my drinking my episodes were getting worse and worse. So that day I made a pact to myself and the universe that if Fiona (my cat) was found I would give up drinking and give life a go sober as I knew I had to do since I was in my early twenties. For two days I laid around from the worst hangover in my life, like straight up death! I’m surprised I didn't need medical attention. So every few hours I would go outside shaking Fiona's treats and calling her name; finally FURPANTS came walking out slowly from under my neighbor’s deck looking terrified and leaves all over her fur and in her whiskers. I dropped to my knees like a scene from a movie and scooped her up and instantly starting crying. I felt in my whole being and on another level that sobriety was my answer; this was 1 million percent my rock bottom. I probably hit RB about 40 times previous to this but this time it was the last bottom I would face.

My life began on  August 18th, 2012! That boyfriend who said ‘enough was enough’ is now my husband. He even gave up drinking with me; he never had a problem but just got to a point in his life he could do without. Sober Life has not been easy, a lot of emotions a lot of ups and downs but it’s all worth it. I honestly wouldn't change a thing of how my life has become. My world is just better with friends, family, husband, myself and everything else. I even have my own health and fitness business and currently working on starting my own non profit/charity for women in recovery called Sober Vibes! Helping others fuels my soul and I'm a firm believer of "women supporting women." My business, Sober Vibes, the happiness and gratitude I experience now in life would never have happened if I continued to drink, I’d probably be dead if I would have kept in my active addiction and I know that in my heart and soul!  

WE DO RECOVER.


Courtney Andersen & Lori Massicot recently had me on RAW!

Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools:

1) Writing

2) Exercise

3) Meditation

4) Therapy/AA

5) Laughter


Re(Pro) #58: Tammi Salas

Tammi Salas

In my humble opinion, this woman needs no introduction. She (and The Unruffled Podcast partner Sondra Primeaux) are changing the face of what it means to be a sober creative — and that art and recovery are not mutually exclusive, much like Adriana Marchione, our last RePro. I had the pleasure of meeting Tammi at She Recovers in NYC and then again at She Recovers in LA, when I got to take her gratitude art workshop (along with beautiful soul Shelley Richanbach, who led us in a full body gratitude scan). I am inspired by Tammi on a daily basis and my hope is twofold: 1) that I will get to spend some true, quality time with her one day and soak up her art and gratitude and beauty in person, and 2) that you, dear reader, find something in Tammi that resonates with you. It’s my true honor to present Tammi Salas to The Sobriety Collective.

xo,
Laura


Name: Tammi Salas

Age: 48

Location: Valley Ford, CA (NorCal)

Recovery date: 2/03/2015

Creative niche:
Art, writing, podcasting, late bloomer + college student majoring in art at my age!

If applicable to your story, drug of choice: 
Alcohol

Recovery story in a nutshell:


On February 3, 2015, I had my yearly physical scheduled with my general practitioner. January had been filled with a lot of contemplation about how miserable I was in my life. I had a physical bottom with booze the week after Christmas in 2014, so I spent a lot of time examining why I felt the way I did. When I was sitting in my doctor’s waiting room, filling out the general medical intake form, I paused at the question How many alcoholic drinks do you have in a week? I thought about lying, like I usually did on the form, but something inside of me wanted to tell the truth, the whole truth. I put 21 down on the intake form and handed it back to the receptionist before I could change my mind.

My doctor seemed surprised by this new information provided, but asked good questions about what I drank (bourbon) and looked up what bourbon was made of (corn) and told me all of that corn was turning to sugar and most likely contributing to a lot of my health issues (cystic acne, weight gain, etc.). She nonchalantly asked me if I would consider going on an elimination diet and removing alcohol first. Now, I love a challenge, so I immediately said yes. She reiterated that I would need to eliminate alcohol for 8 weeks and was I sure that I could do that. The bait was taken and I was all in to eliminate alcohol, gluten, sugar and dairy.

unruffled pod

The funny thing is that even though I thought I was telling the truth on that medical intake form, it wasn’t the whole truth. In actuality and with hindsight, I was really drinking 42 drinks a week because I drank three double manhattans every single night towards the end of my drinking. I feel like it’s important to tell you this because when I was drinking the truth was fluid and bendable. Once I got sober, I realized I had a long way to go in the truth-telling department. This would be my first start.

In sobriety, I started sharing my creative work on Instagram. I was approached to create illustrations for Holly of Hip Sobriety and we collaborated on The Mantra Project: 40 Days of Sobriety email course. I pitched myself to write a column for the Recovery Revolution about how I navigated the 12 steps of AA and it’s called Crossing The Room. I got a little braver with each project.

Last year I launched The Unruffled Podcast with my co-host, Sondra Primeaux, and we talk about where art and creativity intersect with our sobriety and recovery from alcohol. I also released a softcover book called My Daily Gratitude Practice: How I Got Started + Found My Visual Voice. I also sell original paintings from my 2018 gallery show called The Geographic. Those can be found in my shop on my website.


I no longer sell and serve wine, I sell art and serve up my perspective on recovery.
— Tammi Salas


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools 

1) A solid morning routine:
Prayer, meditation, tarot, journaling + hot tea

2) Daily gratitude list
+ being part of an online gratitude circle

3) 8 hours of sleep:
No matter what.

4) 12-step meetings:
Working with a sponsor + sponsoring women

5) My phone:
To text + talk with women in recovery + listen to podcasts


 
Tammi
 

Connect with Tammi.

website: www.tammisalas.com
instagram: @tammisalas | @theunruffledpodcast
email: tammisalas@mac.com

Re(Pro) #56: Jocellyn Harvey

Jocellyn Harvey.png

Maybe you know her as @seltzersobriety on Instagram. That’s how I first met this Vermont-based beauty. Jocellyn is a writer, a truthteller, a connector. She and I share so much in common - about some pretty deep and private things - and I feel such a close sisterhood to her (we haven’t even talked on the phone!). One of the things I love most about Jocellyn and her IG feed is that she’s real and raw and a combo of insights into her personal life with actual Inspo. Since she submitted her profile, she started a new venture on IG: @blackwomensharing, a platform for women of color to come together, share about their lives, and find connection. Love you, J!

xo,
Laura


Name: Jocellyn Harvey

Age: 27

Location: Vermont

Recovery date: 1/10/2016

Creative niche: Writing and connecting with others

If applicable to your story, drug of choice: 
Alcohol, and the times I did drugs I made sure to do them all at once

Recovery story in a nutshell:

I drank occasionally as a teen and bad things generally happened, but I thought I'd outgrow it. Once I got my first post-college job at 22 I started being a "sophisticated" daily drinker, and that really took me to the brink. Right before I got sober I was drinking copious amounts of wine and cocktails every day, starting to develop the shakes, losing my mental capacity, and contemplating suicide. It was sad and ugly.

The day I woke and decided "yup, I cannot do this anymore" was so humbling and amazing. Now I stay sober with the help of 12-Step programs, connecting in-person and online with other sober people (especially sober women), and during the summer of 2018 I started going to therapy, which has been immensely helpful for addressing trauma.

Other things I do are more self-care related. They may seem simple, but they are hugely important: good sleep, good eating, getting a bit of exercise (I struggle with this one the most), reading, and also just relaxing on the couch with a TV show and being okay with that. Balance, right?


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Twelve Step Programs

2) Therapy

3) Free & Native workshops to help with self-worth and past situations

4) Making sure I get a proper nights sleep & going on walks

5) Connecting with others & not sitting in my "ish"


 
C43A9691-5684-4610-B765-71E4DF22C8B9 - Jocellyn Harvey.jpg
 

Connect with Jocellyn

Instagram: @seltzersobriety | @blackwomensharing
The Temper: Joceylln’s portfolio

Re(Pro) #51: Beverly Sartain

Beverly

Name: Beverly Sartain

Age: 39

Location: Jacksonville, FL

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental health concerns): 4/13/2006

Creative niche: Life coaching and entrepreneurship

If applicable, drug of choice: Poly-substance user

nutshell

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I grew up in an alcoholic and domestic violence situation and had mismanaged mental health and trauma issues. I coped with substance use, perfectionism, co-dependency and workaholism. I tried to use external things to fill a void inside of myself. This dysfunctional coping lead to a crossroads in my life where I had to make a decision to stay in victim consciousness or learn to be the creator of my own life. I knew I had tremendous potential I wasn't living. At 26, I went on a journey to discover how to 'be' with myself. I got a Master's Degree in Spiritual Psychology which gave me 22 principles and paradigms to live by. I recovered through a holistic approach of self-awareness, self-care, recovery thinking and learning new skills and tools. Connection with myself and Higher Self are my priority and allow me to have greater connection with friends, family and my community. My life is now devoted to sharing tools and techniques with other people in recovery and supporting people in using their recovery for purpose and prosperity. I've done tremendous inner work, created a life that I love and am proud of and now express myself through my own business as I lift other folks up into the greatest version of themselves so that they can have greater impact in their families, community and world.


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Beverly and I finally had the chance to connect in person at She Recovers in LA. We’ve been in digital contact for so long I can barely remember how it all started, but suffice it to say she is just luminescent. Beverly submitted her RePro over a year ago and for some reason, I never got around to it. I had also signed up for a group coaching program of hers and kept having blocks around starting the work. I assumed she judged me (assuming makes an ass out of all of us!) for leaving her hanging.

After Beverly spoke at her WE ARE THE CHANGEMAKERS panel, I jetted off to the bathroom in time to catch Tara Mohr’s keynote, planning on connecting with Beverly post-talk.

But here’s how the universe works.

Who was sitting in the chair next to mine when I dashed back but Beverly herself? She had no idea my stuff was hanging out right next to her. So we hugged, took a selfie (see above) and then I unloaded my emotional gunk. About how I felt she might have judged me for flaking.

I’ve never judged you, Laura. Ever. You are too hard on yourself. I wish you could see what I see in you.” - Beverly Sartain

Yep. So I started bawling. Had what Taryn called a “break open” - and I then decided to take my vulnerability to the stage and ask Tara Mohr a question about the inner critic and imposter syndrome and how I sometimes felt like I didn’t belong doing this work. And so all 600 women experienced me sobbing.

Can I just tell you how powerful it was? How loved and embraced I felt? Despite my fear and anxiety. It was just magic and I have Beverly to thank for helping guide me through the process of letting go of my inner shame and judgment.


Top 5 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Self-forgiveness statements
2) Observation Journal
3) Ideal Scenes
4) Paradigms that work for you not against you
5) Pulling Cards (affirmation, angel or intuitive oracle decks).


recovery ripple

Re(Pro) #49: Robin McIntosh

Robin McIntosh

In part 1 of our WorkitHealth women in entrepreneurship duo, we meet Robin McIntosh! You'll meet Lisa McLaughlin, Robin's business partner and friend, in part 2. Robin and Lisa have set out to change the world of digital recovery - and their blog features some of the biggest recovery movers and shakers (Olivia Pennelle, Lara Frazier, and yours truly). Thank you for all you do, Robin! 

xo,
Laura


Name: Robin McIntosh

Age: 33

Location: Oakland, CA

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 12/31/2006

Creative niche:
Design, entrepreneurship, art history, art, literature

If applicable to your story, drug of choice:  Alcohol / food

Recovery story in a nutshell:

Nutshell version: when I was five I tried to use a kitchen knife to cut all the "bad parts" off my my already tiny frame. My eating disorder, needless to say, started before I could stitch together coherent memories. When I found alcohol at thirteen, my first feeling was relief that I could spend a moment outside my form, the "itchy" reality of daily life. A demented combination of alcohol, anorexia, and bulimia led me through multiple school expulsions, eight rehabs, and several detoxes. Finally, when I was 24 I found other women in recovery, therapy, and 12-step meetings. Last year I celebrated a decade clean, abstinent and sober, and I am so very grateful!


Top 3 Recovery/Wellness Tools

1) Workit Health Community
2) Writing
3) Sober Friendships 


Connect with Robin.

Website: www.WorkitHealth.com
Instagram: @robinamcintosh@WorkitHealth
Twitter: @robinamcintosh | @WorkitHealth
Facebook: @robinamcintosh | @WorkitHealth

Re(Pro) #43: Sarah Roberts

Sarah Roberts

Name: Sarah Roberts

Age: 45

Location: Ottawa, Canada

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 7/31/2002

Creative niche: Writing, cooking, entrepreneurship

If applicable to your story, drug of choice: Alcohol

Recovery story in a nutshell:

Nutshell

I drank almost daily for over a decade and at the age of 29, I got a DUI and I felt like my entire life had just crumbled down around me. Everything I'd been holding onto was shattered in that moment, and I knew I had no choice but to completely change my life. I quit my job. I moved across the city. I abandoned relationships that weren't serving me and I grabbed on tighter to ones that were. I enrolled in Business school and I busted my ass to prove to myself and everyone else that I could actually do something with my life. I graduated Summa Cum Laude but when I started looking for jobs, my criminal record got in the way. It was humiliating but it also pushed me towards entrepreneurship.

I kept my addiction and my sobriety a secret. I told almost no one about the truth of my life. I hid it by saying that I was "into health and fitness, so I don't drink" and I went about getting "into health and fitness" through the food I ate, and through exercise and through sleep and meditation and yoga. Yet, I started using sugar in the same way I'd used alcohol---alone, in my room, with a tub of ice cream and a spoon. I knew that if I was going to be able to keep my secret, I'd have to learn strategies to combat my cravings, so I set out to learn as much as I could about the brain and cravings and nutrition and food-as-fuel, not as a numbing agent. I also knew I'd have to get to the root of my pain, as alcohol and sugar were simply the symptoms of the problem.

I held on to my secret for over a decade until I finally launched my blog and shared the truth in my first post called "The Decision." Health and wellness became my recovery pathway. For the first time, I really started to understand the body-mind connection, and I became awed by this amazing vessel that carries me through my life. I share what I've learned with others through my blog and my book and my online course and my coaching programs.

I couldn’t have expected my life to evolve the way it has since sharing it, but it has been nothing short of extraordinary.
— Sarah Roberts

I am now able to share openly about my life with others and I am also thrilled to be co-creating Sobriety Starts HERE, a website filled with video interviews of recovery badasses (like YOU, Laura!**) sharing their stories of redemption. It is a passion project that is quickly taking up more and more of my time as I love having these conversations with REAL people who have been there and can help others struggling. I'd love for you to check it out at SobrietyStartsHERE.com.

Thank you, Laura, for allowing me to share here.
Your work matters and I adore you! xo
[Editor's note: Thank YOU, Sarah. That means the world to me.]

** Here's my interview with Sarah on SobrietyStartsHERE.com <3

Laura Silverman sits down with Sarah Roberts of Sobriety Starts HERE to share about her blog, The Sobriety Collective and more…

Top 5 Recovery Tools

1) Nourishing my body through food
2) Movement
3) Meditation
4) Regenerative sleep
5) Connecting with others in recovery.


Connect with Sarah

SSH

Re(Pro) #39: Amy Dresner

Amy Dresner RePro

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

xoxo,
Laura


Name: Amy Dresner

Age: 47

Location: Los Angeles, CA

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

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

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

Nutshell

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


Top 5 Recovery Tools:

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


Connect with Amy.

My Fair Junkie

Re(Pro) #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) #35: Montee Ball

It's not every day that I feature a former NFL player on The Sobriety Collective.  I mean, the man has his own Wikipedia page. From the Denver Broncos' second round draft pick in 2013 to proud father, partner, and recovery advocate in present day, I present my (Twitter) friend, Montee, to all of you.

xo,
Laura


Montee Ball

Name: Montee Ball

Age: 26

Location: Denver, Colorado

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 7/31/2016

Creative niche
Classical music, golf, raising awareness about addiction, entrepreneurship

If applicable, drug of choice: Alcohol

nutshell.jpg

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I developed a habit of drinking until I blacked out, during my years in college. That habit then followed me to the NFL, where I found myself to be alone, with "friends" who only partied with me because of what I provided for them. It became extremely difficult for me to talk to anyone because in sport, you're taught not to show any weakness. So I then developed a habit of suppressing my addiction (habit). This overall pattern led to a world of hurt, loneliness, and shame. Which then increased my drinking. Once my son was born, I then found out what my purpose in life is. So I became sober in order to be in my son's life. And I plan on staying this way!

Top 5 Recovery Tools

1. Building a sober support community around me.
2. Swallowing my pride.
3. Honesty.
4. Being proud to be in recovery.
5. Loving myself!


Connect with Montee.

Instagram: @MonteeBall
Twitter: @ballrb28

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) #33: Griff Courtney

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

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

xo,
Laura


Repro 33 Griff Courtney

Name: Griff Courtney

Age: 28

Location: MoCo, MD

Recovery date: 5/1/2014

Creative niche: Bodybuilding, fitness, music

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

Nutshell

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

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

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

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

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

Life is so much better without drugs and alcohol.

*See? &nbsp;Told you so.

*See?  Told you so.


Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1) Jesus

2) Lifting

3) Making Music

4) Laughing

5) Driving Fast


Connect with Griff.

Website: www.peakorfreakfitness.com
Instagram: @peakorfreak

 

Re(Pro) #32: Dana Bowman

I love me some Dana. This woman is hilarious, talented, and a true friend. I feel guilty that it only took me roughly ONE YEAR to post her Re(Pro).  Not sure what happened but suffice it to say, I first heard her on Since Right Now - I believe - and ever since (right then...hehe), I was hooked.  On Dana.  I love you, girl.

xoxo,
Laura


Dana Bowman RePro 32

Name: Dana Bowman

Age: 47

Location: Lindsborg, KS

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

Creative niche: 
Writing. I also have mad fire baton skills.

If applicable, drug of choice:
Wine. The cocktail of mommies. That's kind of sarcastic, but it seems to be the case in my experiences.

Recovery story in a nutshell

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I got married "later in life" at 36 (I know, OLD) and when I had my boys, at 39 and 41 I experienced severe post-partum depression. All of this, paired with some problematic drinking turned into an addiction. I didn't really have a dramatic down turn...just a very slow, sad, aching decline into addiction. My "bottom" was not an arrest or even daily blackouts or sex w/ strangers - I just felt awful and sick and wanted to die. I have a chapter in my book called "I Never Danced on Tables" - which kinda explains how I think a lot of times alcoholics tell themselves, "I am not getting ARRESTED - I am NOT an alcoholic." But, I knew. I could not stop, and I could not keep drinking. So, I finally came clean to my husband and found a meeting and started attending. This was back in 2011. I did relapse, for four days, in 2012, and then got sober on Jan 1, 2013. It's an easy date to remember.

Top 5 Recovery Tools:

1) Meetings

2) Big Book/God/prayer/my HP/daily serenity prayer

3) Honesty - when I don't tell the truth I just wither

4) Humor & Humility (that's two, I know, but how they go together!)

5) Writing


Connect with Dana.

Re(Pro) #30: Megan Lawrence

I love Megan. 

Thanks to Alicia Cook, friend/writer/HuffPost contributor/Instagram poster/recovery ally, I got connected to the lovely Megan. And then I find out she's in recovery and knows my gals Lara and Sasha (and more). And I love the small crazy beautiful perfectly imperfect world we live in. This woman gets it. I'm proud of this mental health/recovery advocate/writer FRIEND of mine, and excited for all the accomplishments she's made and will make in her life.  

xoxo,
Laura


Megan Lawrence

Name: Megan Lawrence

Age: 25

Location: Tampa, FL

Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 8/10/2015

Creative niche: Writing

If applicable, drug of choice (or *not* of choice):
 Alcohol, Amphetamines, Cocaine

Recovery story in a nutshell:
I never knew the extent of my problems until I found myself in a hospital bed trying to explain the suicide attempt I (fortunately) failed in August of 2015. Looking back now, I am able to admit that I have always battled addiction, but was never willing to say out loud that I was ever out of control.

I started doing drugs at the age of 14, and over the next 9 years, I would dabble in a handful of different ones, with Adderall, alcohol, and cocaine, becoming so much more than your occasional usage. I would have to say that college is when my bad habits took a turn for the worse, mainly because I didn't have my parents watching over my shoulder, and college meant that I was finally an adult, able to live however I saw fit. For the first two years of college, I would say that the one thing that kept me somewhat together was college soccer. My partying was considered "typical" college behavior, and I never saw what I was doing as harmful.

I actually took a break from drinking once I got my fake ID taken away from me, and I developed a love for weight training. It wasn't long before that turned into an addiction as well. Sometimes training 2-3 times a day, and still having soccer 6 days a week, I had started overtraining, and I was becoming sicker by the minute. My athletic trainer was worried about me because I had dropped down to 5% body fat, and warned me that I would not be able to play soccer until I gained my weight back. Naturally, my first instinct was to defend myself. I was okay with how my life was going, because to me, working out was a healthy thing. Oh how wrong I was. To please my trainer, coaches, and my now worried friends, I stopped working out as much. For fear of gaining the weight back that I lost, I started tracking my calories (putting my body into starvation mode), and I became addicted to amphetamines (Adderall), which allowed me to never get hungry.

The first time I was ever willing to admit that I had a problem was when I experienced a drug overdose from staying up for a consistent 96 hour period of time on nothing but drugs. My body was shutting down on me, and my drug use had caused me to stop caring about what was important. I failed to show up to soccer practices on time, and eventually I stopped showing up all together. It was then that I was forced to part ways with my collegiate career as a soccer player, and a couple months after that, I found myself in jail for a DUI. It was then that I decided something had to change, and I cut amphetamines out of my life forever.

The ugly drinking years. [editor's note: trust me, I've been there. It's not glamorous.]

The ugly drinking years. [editor's note: trust me, I've been there. It's not glamorous.]

Although strong enough to make me say goodbye to Adderall, my arrest was not the final rock bottom I had waiting for me 2 years, and 4 months down the road. Within that time is where my drinking really started to take a hold of me. My black outs were occurring every other day, and I kept finding myself in compromising positions. Becoming more and more self-destructive, I had lost grip on reality, and who I was as a person. Self-medicating was how I dealt with every day life, and this works, until it doesn't. It is not a means of healing yourself. Self medicating is only temporary, and until you face the root of the evil, you will only put off the rock bottom that will inevitably happen.
And that is what happened to me.

After my fair share of cocaine benders, and cracking my head open in the last month of my drinking, my last drink landed me in the hospital, and at the age of 23, I decided that I would live the rest of my life in recovery. Sobriety was the only option for me, and when I am asked, "So you don't think you will ever drink again?" My only answer for them is no. I found out early what I have a problem with, and I will be forever grateful for that. When I drank, I never knew if I was going to like myself by the end of the night, or where I would wake up the next morning, and now that I am sober, I never have to worry about that. I love who I am all the time, because I am finally in control of myself.

This is what recovery looks like, people!

This is what recovery looks like, people!

There are always going to be days that are hard, but there are always going to be reasons that make my sobriety worth it. It is a powerful thing to be in control of your own actions, and I enjoy being able to remember the things that happen in my life. I am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason, and I by no means regret anything that has occurred in my past. We are not who we were, we are who we become because of that. I wake up every day and make the choice to remain sober because I have finally shown up for my life, and I no longer numb the parts that are harder to deal with. I just deal with them, and put a smile on, because despite where I have been, I am excited for where I am headed.

Top 5 Recovery Tools:
 

 

1. Writing.

Without it, I would still be struggling to figure out who I am. It helps me silence that 'voice' in my head, and before writing, my thoughts were overwhelming, and loud.

2. Exercise.

I have been involved in athletics my whole life, but the need for it changed once I became sober. Natural endorphins are incredibly powerful, and I enjoy being physically strong just as much as I enjoy being mentally strong.

3. Family & Friends.

Now that I am sober, the relationships in my life have been able to grow into something of deeper value. Speaking my truth, and no longer hiding who I am from those who care about me, has helped me remain sober, and has helped rebuild the damage I have caused in the past.

4. Helping others.

Talking, and connecting with others has provided my life with such purpose. When I am able to inspire others to become the best versions of themselves, it reminds me of why I choose to remain sober, and it provides a type of happiness that alcohol and drugs tried to take away from me.

5. Reading.

 I love finding books that help me understand myself more and more. There is nothing better than finding a book that you relate to. It is proof that you are not alone, and it is small reminder that there are people out there who feel the same way. I find such peace in that.

 

Connect with Megan.

megan 2.jpg

Re(Pro) #27: Melissa Johnson

This woman right here is doing magical things. The epitome of service in recovery, Melissa started a nonprofit called Clean Life Clean Home.  I'll let her tell you all about it but suffice it to say, expect big magic from her.  She's also got a well of patience a million feet deep because she's been waiting for her Repro for almost 9 months.  I had the pleasure and HONOR of meeting her in NYC last weekend for #SheRecoversNYC where I got to give her a big hug. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Melissa.

xo,
Laura


Melissa Johnson RePro 27

Name: Melissa Johnson

Age: 37

Location: Norman, OK

Recovery date (turning point for mental illness or addiction): 5/19/2015 

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.):
Blogging and Non Profit Creator

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

Recovery Story in a Nutshell:
I struggled for many years with alcohol. I was always so insecure and self conscious but alcohol gave me the confidence I longed for. I could say and do what I wanted without a care in the world. I didn't care if I blacked out and did things I would never dream of if I was sober, I wanted that carefree feeling. I would chase that feeling for many years through the depths of hell. I have been arrested three times for DUI in Dallas, Texas. I am a three time felon, DUI and two felony child neglect charges. I have multiple misdemeanors all having to do with alcohol. I never cared about going to jail, it was like a time out for me, then I'd be back at it. I never wanted to quit. Ever. After totaling a second car and leaving the scene of the accident to avoid another DUI, I went to an AA meeting and ran like hell to the nearest bar. I wasn't ready. I had many more years of hell to put myself through.

It wasn't until my kids were removed from my home by Dhs for the second time that it clicked. There I was in front of the same judge deciding where my kids would live AGAIN. I finally surrendered. I finally accepted that it will NEVER get better, it will never be fun, it will keep getting worse. It was one thing for me to suffer the consequences of my actions but for my kids to suffer too? I was done. The obsession and desire to escape reality has been removed.

After I found out I would not be going to prison for my latest charge I knew there was something else I was meant to be doing. I felt led to share my story. Not exactly what I wanted to do. Who wants to tell the world they have had their kids removed from the home twice due to their drinking? No one!! But I felt called to do it and I couldn't sleep until I listened to the little voice in my mind. So I fearfully began my blog My Truth Starts Here, because I felt it was time to finally own my truth and to share it without the guilt and shame I have felt for so long. I began sharing all the parts of myself that I wanted to hide, and what a journey it has been.

Almost a year after my kids were removed in May of 2016, I began a nonprofit called Clean Life.Clean Home. where I go in and clean free of charge for a mom or/and dad in recovery, but I also share their story of addiction to recovery. Basically I am being of service, paying it forward to a beautiful sober human being while sharing their story of hope. My goal is to show others out there struggling, that recovery is possible and that they don't have to be ashamed anymore, and just look at all these people getting their house cleaned that have been through hell but have come out the other side better than before.

Top 5 Recovery Tools

1) Blogging!

I get such a release when I type something up and send it out into the Internet. Crazy how much better I feel when I get it out there.

2) Yoga!

Hot yoga is my fave. I love to sweat. I feel amazing afterwards.

3) Running!

I'm definitely not fast. I'm not going to win any races lol. But I love running outside especially early in the morning. Nothing like it.

4) My life coach!

She is amazing and has helped me so much. I am slowly becoming the confident independent woman that I had always tried to be with alcohol.

5) 12 step meetings!

Although I don't have a sponsor and I don't work the steps this time I got sober, I still get so much out of the meetings I go to. I love hearing what people have to say. I always hear what exactly what I need at that moment. Plus I have some amazing friends in AA, I love seeing their beautiful faces.


Connect with Melissa.

Clean Life Melissa

Re(Pro) #24: O.R. Marv

You know him as One Rep Marv (aka O.R. Marv).  I don't even know the elusive man's full name but I will honor his sobriquet because we celebrate *all* paths to recovery here.  
Happy Birthday to the guy who will make us do SQUATS, not SHOTS. ;) 

 

xo,
Laura

OR Marv Repro

Name: O.R. Marv

Age: 31

Location: San Diego, CA 

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 6/22/2013

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.): 
Blending fitness with recovery: personal training, online coaching, blogging.

If applicable, drug of choice (or not of choice...): 
Alcohol, marijuana, opiates, cocaine, athletic drugs (steroids, etc.)

Recovery Story in a Nutshell:

Where do I begin?

Well, I was born in a very loving, well to do, religious family that pretty much preached “Leave It To Beaver” values. The problem was, even as a small child, I had no identity and no self-worth so I was extremely uncomfortable in my own skin. Now I firmly believe I didn’t come out of the womb a self-loathing narcissist or an egomaniac with an inferiority complex, but I learned these things at such a young age that they became ingrained personality traits of mine that would plague me for the first 27 years of my life.

I had a multitude of health issues as a young child which ultimately saw me having a total of 8 major operations and a head injury, so I also learned to play the victim at a young age as well. My identity was always based on something or someone – it was never intrinsic, it was never my own identity. I didn’t truly pick up a drink or a drug until I was 17 years old - I had dabbled previously and wasn’t impressed. My first time getting drunk was shortly after a pretty serious incident which left me with a head injury, snapped wrist, cracked collarbone, torn rotator cuff, and stress fractured vertebrae. Just prior to the incident my identity had been getting good grades so going from a straight A high school “A.P.” student to barely keeping up in remedial classes overnight landed me in a severe depression. And THAT’S when I found drugs and alcohol.

I should have known I was going to have a problem right away because once I finally got loaded that very first time I thought to myself, “This…..solves…..EVERYTHING!” I was somehow smarter, sexier, funnier, able to talk to the opposite sex, more sure of myself, all of that and then some! I would chase that solution to all of my so-called problems for the next 10 years. During that time I did despicable things that became black spots of my soul which only caused me to chase getting loaded even more feverishly. Any sense of morality from my upbringing was thrown out the window in order to get loaded. I became a professional self-victimizer because when I played the victim I felt self-pity, and when I felt sorry for myself I then, in turn, felt entitled to do whatever the F*** I had to do to make myself feel better. This came in many forms – drugs, alcohol, sex, materialistic things, bodybuilding (random, I know, for a daily drug addict/alcoholic), etc.

For years I resembled someone who had it all together, but in reality I was petrified inside. Petrified inside that everyone would figure out I wasn’t as cool as they thought I was. Petrified inside that everyone would figure out I hated myself. Petrified inside that everyone would no longer like me if they truly met the real me. So I played a role to hide this fear. The role of being outgoing, even cocky, and fully self-assured. It was false pride encapsulating self-loathing and it worked as I was very personable and well-liked by most people. During those 10 years of active addiction I flunked out of college, graduated from a different college with a stellar degree and GPA despite daily drinking and drugging, went to outpatient treatment programs, lock-down units of mental wards, inpatient treatment programs, therapy….everything short of breaking out in handcuffs.

How did I never end up with legal problems? I have absolutely no clue because I was into some pretty serious crimes and situations, so all I can say is my Higher Power was looking out for me even though I refused to acknowledge he existed. When left to my own devices for all those years I was nothing but a liar, a cheat, and a thief…and not just for the obvious reasons. I was a liar whenever I told myself, “Ok…THIS will be the last bottle, the last sack, the last vial” when I knew DAMN WELL it wasn’t even going to be the last one for that night. I was a cheat for cheating myself out of living a life I could be proud of, of having a relationship with my Higher Power, and ultimately having a relationship with myself. And I was a thief for stealing myself away from my friends, family, and loved ones when I was in the depths of my disease.

I was introduced to what Recovery looked like at 25 years old, after close to 6 months of total treatment where I was officially introduced to two 12 step fellowships. I told everyone I was in Recovery and embracing the new lifestyle…but that wasn’t the truth. I’m a “smart guy” whose got some “edumacation” under his belt so I had these theories. Theories of how I could drink or use like a gentleman, theories of where I lost control, theories of “it only got so bad because events X,Y, AND Z all happened at once and had they happened separately I wouldn’t have gone to such s***.” So I tried to pick and choose which parts of the programs I would follow, I tried to sponsor myself, I tried to be 90% honest instead of 100% honest. I tried, I tried, I tried. So what happens when I’m not recovering, I’m just merely abstinent as a “static addict” or “dry drunk”? Well, I secretary meetings dirty, I take dirty tokens, and I work dirty steps. I turn right back into that liar, cheat, and thief.

Repeatedly I did these things for 2 years. For 2 years I beat my head against a wall. For 2 years I was back to that insanity of where I had once come from…too afraid to live yet too scared to kill myself. And THAT’S when I found my GOD – the “Gift Of Desperation” – and on June 22, 2013 I finally became willing to go to any lengths to get and remain not only clean and sober…but to truly recover, as well. I did things I was unwilling to do in the past and I have been rewarded with a life beyond my wildest dreams.

Am I rich and famous? No. I’m still waiting on that…I’m still waiting to be handed life on a silver platter….I’m still waiting to be handed the winning lottery tickets. But today I have been given a wonderful gift – the gift of self-worth – something I never had as a child. That is my greatest gift in Recovery, and with that gift has come many changes in my life. I’ve been able to face some pretty tough situations and maintain my sobriety – the death of my mother, the life-altering diagnosis of breast cancer for my significant other and best friend, and the decision to quit my corporate job to become fully self-employed. I’ve faced things I once thought would be “un-faceable” and I’d like to think I handled them with dignity and grace…but only because I put my Recovery first. If no one told you this today let me be the first…YOU ARE WORTH IT. YOU DESERVE TO LIVE A LIFE YOU CAN BE PROUD OF. YOU DESERVE TO LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY. YOU DESERVE TO RECOVER.

I had a hell of a hard time coming to grips with those statements. For years, my total and utter lack of anything resembling self-esteem prevented me from allowing myself anything positive in my life so I would always self-sabotage. Today, I don’t have to do those things. Today, I allow myself positivity, self-love, and much, much more. It didn’t happen overnight, but trust me on this…it works if you work…so work it, ‘cause you’re worth it!

Top 5 Recovery Tools
 

1. Fitness

2. 12 Step Meetings

 3. Being of Service

4. Hanging Out With Friends in Recovery

5. Working With Newcomers


Connect with Marv.

marv.jpg

Website: One Rep at a Time
Twitter: @OneRepataTime_
Instagram: @OneRepataTime_
Facebook: @OneRepataTime
 

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) #16: Joey Bradford

I've known Joey, in some capacity, for all of 2016.  We made each others' "e-quaintance" back in January and it's been such a treat to watch what she and her BFF in life and business, Persia, are creating in the holistic wellness and recovery worlds.  Plus they're British.  That just makes everything more fun :)  Stay tuned for a rockin' interview and make sure to buy their new book, The Inner Fix!
Love you, Joey darling, my fellow Sober-at-24-er!
xo,
Laura


Name: Joey Bradford

Age: 28

Location: London, England.

Recovery date (turning point for addiction or mental illness): 05/05/2012

Creative niche (art, music, writing, entrepreneurship, etc.):
Co-founder of lifestyle movement Addictive Daughter (coach/ healer/ author)

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

Recovery Story in a Nutshell:

My ‘rock bottom’ was gradual. By 24, a series of events left me with a niggling feeling that I perhaps needed to look at my relationship with alcohol (in fact, on and off, I’d had thoughts about this since I was 17 or so).

The nudge to do so came just after I’d badly fallen out with my best friend over the Christmas period in 2011 during a drink and drug-fuelled evening of chaos (where my behaviour was very much at fault, unfortunately). Ironically, this is the same friend I later went on to set up positive lifestyle movement Addictive Daughter with!

Immediately after our fall-out, I began dating an alcoholic who was several years sober and in recovery. The six months we spent together gave me an opportunity to lay off the drink almost completely and experience the many benefits that came with that.

Then, having hardly touched alcohol for almost half a year, I went on a massive bender whilst on holiday without him. I spent 12 hours passing out and vomiting until I was just retching air, begging to be taken to hospital. I returned home from my trip to be broken up with (my boyfriend had met someone else during the time I was away, and promptly married her - but that’s a story for another day.)

Although I was obviously hurt, I remember panicking more about having to go back to my ‘old lifestyle’ than losing him from my life. And then the light bulb moment came… I didn’t have to. I could do sobriety for me.

Realising that pretty much every negative occurrence in my life had happened as a result of being under the influence helped me to see that building a substance-free life could be a positive step for me.

In my early months of sobriety, I learned a lot about myself; I loved waking up clear-headed and remembering everything I had said and done the night before, my skin was clearer, my eyes were brighter and I felt inspired and motivated.

However, I also began to discover how dependent I was on alcohol to have a ‘good time’ socially - in order to feel confident and relaxed. Working through this was a challenge at first, but one I became willing to take on. It was important to me to learn how to become comfortable in my own skin, without the aid of substance.

Over the past 4 years, living alcohol-free has become much more ‘normal’ to me, as well as those I’m closest with. Many people respect and even, dare I say, admire it as a lifestyle choice. Total sobriety has cracked me wide open to a more spiritual way of life, which wasn’t something I’d anticipated or set out to pursue particularly. That said, I’m really grateful for the unexpected detour. I talk about my journey into sobriety and how a relationship with a ‘power greater than myself’ has evolved in Addictive Daughter’s new book, The Inner Fix

Last year, I married a gorgeous man - a filmmaker - who is also sober (in recovery from drug addiction). Today, my life feels uncomplicated, honest, exciting, free and more purposeful than it’s ever felt before.

 

Top 5 Recovery Tools

 1) Letting go of other peoples’ responses to my lifestyle choice.

Not everyone wants to be around a sober person because you are a mirror to others peoples’ choice - and that can be uncomfortable for some people. I am pretty sure that I’m a fun, open, friendly person a lot of the time, but people who aren’t on this path can create distance relationally, and identify it as ‘boring’ or ‘too good’. I’ve learned that this is more about their way of relating to sobriety, rather than evidence of who I am. Friendships evolve, change, fade and sometimes even reignite again. I’m learning to allow my relationships to ebb and flow, as they need to. 

2) Not comparing my ‘rock-bottom’ to someone else’s.

The only thing that’s ever led me to entertain drinking again is hearing someone else’s story and thinking, ‘that is so much worse than my own, I guess I could have gone down further.’ But then I remember that I’d prefer not to do that, actually! The truth is, my journey got bad enough for me. And that’s really all there is to it. The fact that I was just 24 when I embraced a sober way of life is something I am grateful for. A lot of good stuff has happened since then - more than I could have dreamt of really - and much of that’s down to the clarity sobriety has given me.

 3) Surrounding myself with ‘radiators’.

In workshops run by Addictive Daughter, we talk about ‘drains and radiators’. ‘Drains’ are people who sap your energy, remind you of your limits and generally bring negative and low-frequency vibes. ‘Radiators’ do the opposite - they lift you up, help you to feel expansive and bring light and warmth. Socially, I try to surround myself with radiators as much as I possibly can, particularly when life feels fragile.

 4) Remaining open and teachable

A lot has shifted for me over the past few years, particularly my attitude towards spirituality. I was a complete atheist until a few years back. I’ve become more open-minded, and as a result, have encountered some pretty unbelievable (in a good way) things. I try my best to remain open to new experiences and ideas, as I know this is just the beginning and that I’ll continue to grow if I’m open to it.

 5) Prayer & meditation

I read this quote by Yoga Bhajan recently: “Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when God talks to you.” Prayer comes quite easily to me these days (that wasn’t always the case, but I’ve found my feet with it and now, there’s no stopping me.) Meditation I find harder, because my mind can get so busy and I struggle to sit in stillness for extended periods of time. I 100% see the value in it, and I hope to continue to develop in this area! On days when my mind is in overdrive, I find running or journaling really helpful. The rhythmic nature of running gets me into a trance-like state - I get such release and many epiphanies from a good old run!

 


Connect with Joey & Addictive Daughter.

Book (just released!): The Inner Fix!)
Website: www.addictivedaughter.com
Instagram: @joey_bradford
Twitter: @Joey_Bradford_