Category Archives: recovery

Craig Ferguson Talks About Drunken Celebrities (Video)

This video was posted on NPR along with commentary about the recent problems of Justin Bieber.  Although well before Justin’s recent notoriety, it bears on him as well as the people that Ferguson mentioned.

One of my great-nephews asked me for my opinion on the video and the subject.  Here was my answer:

Wellll…let me put it this way. If I were still working in rehab, every single one of my clients would watch this video.

As far as Justin Bieber is concerned, it certainly isn’t his fault. For most of his life he’s been coddled, encouraged to do whatever he likes as long as he keeps working and bringing in the bucks. He’s had no healthy family modeling, and emotionally he stopped growing — probably — at the time he got involved in the dysfunctional lifestyle, long before he began using chemicals. If not then, certainly when he started drinking, drugging or both.

We drink to excess initially because it makes us feel different. There is something that we are trying to fix — a bad feeling, an emotional pain, feelings of not being good enough, or whatever. Drinking doesn’t make us feel good, it makes us feel better: better looking, more sociable, less bothered by poor self-esteem, maybe even loved and safe, whatever. But eventually, we drink because the alcohol has modified our brains and our thinking in such a way that we can no longer imagine living without booze or some other mood-altering chemical. Then we lie to ourselves and tell ourselves that we are just fine, thank you very much. Until it become apparent that we aren’t.

Addiction isn’t fixed by stopping temporarily, or even permanently. It’s on the way to being fixed when we are desperate enough to confront whatever it is that causes us to think we need to drink and/or drug, and begin healing — and growing — toward being an emotionally healthy, well-balanced person.

Along with the drugs (alcohol is just a legal drug), addiction is a habit: of thinking, of behaving, of dealing with discomfort. Quitting is the essential first part, because intoxication is chemically-induced insanity, and the whole point of sobriety is moving toward sanity. But until we have made the habits of a sober, sane person more powerful than those of a drunk — until we have learned to be not only abstinent but sober — we are in danger of falling off the wagon at any time. It’s not an event, it’s a process, and it takes a long time, and it takes balls.

As far as Ferguson goes, he told my story too. The details were different, but the story was the same.

Now, please watch the video and enjoy it.  Ferguson’s a funny man, even when he’s being serious.


What Is Sober? One Man’s Opinion…

I’ve been asked why, if this page is called What…Me Sober?, I post stuff about smoking and other issues such as sexual addiction. So, I guess it’s time for a bit of a policy statement, or whatever you want to call it.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine says that “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.”

“Pathological pursuit,” in layman’s terms, means chasing something even though it should be clear that it’s nowhere nearly in our best interest. In short, acting out on a compulsion.

As far as I am personally concerned, “Sober” means free of compulsion. Continue reading

Home Groups — The Place To Celebrate New Year’s

The three attributes of AA, the Steps, Traditions and Concepts, are the foundations of any program: Unity, Service and Recovery. Just as a triangle can’t support itself without all three sides, a 12-Step Group couldn’t survive without all three “sides” of its structure. With its sides intact, on the other hand, a triangle (or pyramid) is the most stable structure there is.

We have to:

  • Stick together and support each other;
  • Make sure that we — and newcomers — have a place to come to;
  • Progress physically, spiritually and emotionally so that we can get better ourselves and then help others to recover.

The home group is the basis of all three things.  Read More


Spirituality and Recovery: An Insider’s Guide

From the Sunrise Detox Blog:

‘…we who have struggled with the monkey on our back know things about addiction that no one else knows. That’s not to say that we’re any smarter about it, it just means that we, too, have our point of view, and from the inside it’s rarely pleasant. We beat ourselves up, we focus on our regret, on resentments, on past and present mistakes, about the things we missed out on, on how we were treated, on how the world is being run, on our future. It would be enough to make us crazy, if we weren’t already. And that’s because, as the title implies, “addiction is the opposite of spirituality.”’



Holiday Parties: What’s A Host To Do?

Social occasions that involve people in recovery—especially early recovery—can pose some perplexing problems for the host. On one hand, a host who is aware of a guest’s need to avoid mood-altering substances may wish to do what is possible to keep from exposing them to temptation. On the other hand, social drinking is a part of everyday American culture, and most guests can drink with relative impunity as long as they moderate their consumption.  A host may be concerned about how to handle the situation when some of the guests are in recovery — especially those only a short way along on their journey.

There are some simple things to remember….

Hosting People In Recovery For The Holidays


aaAt a meeting the other day, a guy suggested a topic and proceeded to share at length. It really makes no difference what it was, but two things were clear: the person didn’t have any concept of what recovery is really about, and he is so far up in his head that he has a long way to go before getting the hang of it.

It got me to thinking about when I was in the same boat. To begin with, I analyzed everything. I was so smart and so on top of things that I’d been pretty much a useless drunk for the previous six months and a semi-functional one for several years before that. So, naturally, a few weeks out of treatment I thought I had all the answers.

I had all sorts of high-falutin’ theories. I’d read a few books, and I was pretty sure that with a bit of effort I could become a recovery guru and help all those other poor folks who just couldn’t seem to get it. I was going to re-write the Big Book and streamline the program so that it would work for folks in the here and now, instead of fooling around with ideas that were (at that time) fifty years old. Continue reading

Oh No! Another Gratitude Meeting!

Wild Turkey by John James Audubon

Wild Turkey
by John James Audubon

It’s Thanksgiving again (or Thanksgivikkah this year, if you will), and around this time it’s inevitable that thousands of recovery meetings will respond with lots of sharing about gratitude. Just about anyone who’s breathing and taking nourishment has something to be thankful for, and it does us good to bring those things out and look at them from time to time.  This is one of those times.

My wife says she’s tired of gratitude meetings until she’s in one, and I agree.  People may be a bit repetitive when they share, but those folks aren’t talking for our benefit, they’re sharing for themselves: their own experience, the strength it has given them, and their hopes for the future. What more appropriate time to do so than on a national holiday dedicated to overeating and football being thankful for the good things life has given us?

Who has more reason to be thankful than us recovering alcoholics and other addicts? We are in remission from a deadly disease, and through the help of a Higher Power (however we may understand it) and the other people in our lives, we will be able to maintain that remission indefinitely, thanks to the skills we’ve learned and the progress we’ve made. People die from this disease — hundreds of them, every day of the year. Thanksgiving, too.  But we don’t have to!

Happy Thanksgivikkah! And thanks for being part of my recovery (you are, you know)!

Related articles

THE FIX Is Back!

The Fix, an occasionally outrageous but always thought-provoking journal of sobriety, was purchased out of bankruptcy a few months ago, and has been undergoing a makeover aimed at increasing its readership and the breadth of its service to the recovering community.  The first issue will go live on 11/25, but you can go to the site for a preview of the new look and some good reading.

I’ve been known to disagree with various of The Fix‘s writers in the past, but I’ve never failed to check out each issue.  Sign up for their weekly newsletter while you’re there.

Secondary and Substitute Addictions

There’s something different about nicotine addiction and the way people view it, as opposed to other drugs. I think it’s the lack of perception of immediate harm, the “this won’t be the one that kills me” factor — truly insidious denial. Along with that, I believe, goes the knowledge that giving up nicotine is truly throwing away one of our last crutches. When you put down the nicotine products, you’d better be ready to take recovery seriously, because that’s about all there is left — or so it must seem.

We see folks with remaining and/or substitute addictions as often as not. Continue reading

Study Reveals First Effective Medicine to Treat Cocaine Dependence

This will be a great help during early recovery. However, it’s no substitute for a program.  No “magic bullet” will undo the psychological and social damage done by addiction.  Only a concerted effort over time to straighten out our thinking and clean up the “wreckage of the past” will give us the self-image and confidence to pursue long-term sobriety.

Cocaine is responsible for more U.S. emergency room visits than any other illegal drug. Cocaine harms the brain, heart, blood vessels, and lungs — and can even cause sudden death.

Sticking With The Winners

Around the 12-step rooms we are frequently told that we should not take another person’s inventory, meaning that we ought not criticize another person’s program. The rationale behind such statements seems to be the fear that since (presumably) that person is doing the best they can, it might be bad for their recovery to tell them to their face what we believe they are doing wrong.

While this is no doubt true Continue reading