The nuts and bolts of recovery, where the rubber meets the road, hardcore recovery, etc.

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Sober Toolbox Additions

July 9, 2012

It’s that time of the month again.  This batch of greatest hits includes several reviews on books about sobriety.  Sober Toolbox Additions are where we revisit posts from the past that were more focused on the nuts and bolts of recovery and re-post them in our new Sober Toolbox tab.  This month’s pictured toolbox is […]

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Sober Tools #1 – Tools Sober

January 3, 2012

To start the new year off we are introducing a new feature to the site, one that begins today and will morph throughout the year into a helpful collection of  tips on how to get and stay sober.  We have always posted things that we are adding to our personal toolboxes of recovery, but have not done a good job of […]

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What I Hate about Recovery Blogs

March 2, 2009

A Room of Mama’s Own at The Discovering Alcoholic

I want to thank my guest blogger MPJ from A Room of Mama’s Own for helping me out while I’m in Japan. She delivered this blog at the most opportune time possible, and in my next post I explain just how grateful I am. Thanks MPJ!

When The Discovering Alcoholic asked me to write a guest post about
what I hate about recovery blogs, I was stumped. After all, I love
blogging about recovery and I love reading recovery blogs.

My husband is a sex addict, and when I started blogging nearly two
years ago, I couldn’t find many people writing about sex addiction
codependency. I (with some typical negative self-talk) thought, “I
won’t fit in here. I won’t be able to relate to blogs about
codependency and addiction around alcohol and drugs, and those
bloggers won’t think sex addiction is a ‘real’ addiction, like the
ones they have to deal with. They’ll think my husband is just a jerk,
and addiction is just an excuse, and his recovery and mine are a

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What Doesn’t Help

February 27, 2009

Original Pic by Miro-Foto now at The Discovering Alcoholic

I want to thank my guest blogger Elizabeth at HopeMaybe for helping me out while I’m in Japan and providing this insightful look into the way alcoholism affects the entire family. Sometimes even the best of intentions may be less than helpful and often cause resentment. Not unlike throwing water on a grease fire, uninformed/unwanted help can be fuel for the flames.

Even today, two years since I left my alcoholic, I still explain that
I was married to an alcoholic but HE WASN’T AN ALCOHOLIC WHEN I MET

So much of the advice you find on the internet and in Al Anon
literature is hurtful to a person dealing with a relationship with an
alcoholic. (I need to caveat that by saying that I found the support
groups in Al Anon wonderful and life-saving). While searching for
help, I read material that said that not only did my spouse have a
disease, but that I also have a disease called co-dependency. That I
was probably born this way. I care too much about other people and do
too much for them. That’s why I married someone who became an
alcoholic. His alcoholism was always there and that is why I chose him
to marry. He was someone I could latch onto and support. He was needy
and I needed to be needed.

Even today, two years since I left my alcoholic, I still explain that
I was married to an alcoholic but HE WASN’T AN ALCOHOLIC WHEN I MET
HIM. This is truly said with all capital letters. I always feel the
necessity of making it perfectly clear that I am normal and just got
caught up in a downward spiral when he started drinking. Why do I feel
I still have to defend myself? It is mostly because our culture looks
disparagingly upon those of us who are caught up in alcoholism. We are
somehow weak, and big suckers to choose an alcoholic.

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Just Run!

February 16, 2009

Original Pic by Olliethebastard now at The Discovering Alcoholic

It doesn’t matter if it is the sixth reincarnation of a mad slasher or a velociraptor on the hunt, according to Hollywood formula the unfortunate prey almost always sticks around to be skewered or eaten. Of course with the actors it’s their job, but I have noticed the same behavior in myself and other addicts/alcoholics… we all have a flair for the dramatic, a craving for the complex, and a natural talent for making even the most mundane tasks suspenseful. In my early sobriety I would often get sidetracked from the sole task of just not drinking and become entangled in issues that were better left addressed for later- after I had gotten the hang of not turning one up at the drop of a hat. It’s a classic example of addictive thinking when priority is given to other matters over the number one goal of not using/drinking.

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Blindfolded Fear

February 4, 2009

Blindfolded fear of sobriety at The Discovering Alcoholic

Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence was an intellectual, philosopher, and statesman. No doubt smart and forward thinking, but it was his ability to pack so much meaning in so few words that makes Jefferson one of my favorite Founding Fathers. In the quote above, it took me a while to figure out what the venerable TJ meant by “blindfolded fear”. I guess if it had been me pushing the quill we would have ended up with something less urbane and certainly less profound like “scared to look”.

I was reminded of the quote after reading a rather lengthy comment by a TDA reader in a previous thread that because of its potential for discussion deserved front page posting as a full blog titled My absolute fear of sobriety. I wish I would have come up with the title because much like a phrase from TJ- these few words are rife with meaning.

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My absolute fear of sobriety

February 3, 2009

Promoted to the front page not from the user blogs but actually the comments section because this has way too many good topics not to serve as a full blog post. I felt a short reply would be inadequate so I will respond tomorrow evening with a blog of my own. Thanks (anonymous)! (The blindfold pic is representative of a Thomas Jefferson quote I thought appropriate for the post, care to guess?)

Original photo by foxtongue now at The Discovering Alcoholic

Hello and thank-you.

I have been reading your site for the past three hours. It is 23h26 in the major metropolitan city I live in. I am totally inspired and encouraged as I drink my beer and smoke the last of my hash. I am planning on going out soon to buy one more beer before its too late despite the fact I already have more in the fridge, but maybe not enough, and I am trying to avoid realizing I want more at a time when it is too late. This is where I am right now. For a while throughout my now one month bender I have been telling myself that I will stop tomorrow and then don’t, of course.

I am kinda the “functioning” type. That is, I just finished three years at one of Europe’s oldest and finest universities with high honors AND in a foreign language and have one more paper to write before receiving the honor of a diploma in its name. Because of these studies and of the professional and/or menial labor I am obliged to perform in order to stay sheltered, fed and wasted, I have been able to keep my addiction under control more or less. This one month bender was born out of my thinking that I have some free time (after a six week intensive theater job ended)…the first few days it felt good to just sit around and get high, dancing and painting and unwinding. But it has been a month now and I’m scared.
I drink alone. Mostly.

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The Psycho Sign

January 29, 2009

Now that my friend Elizabeth over at Hope Maybe has posted a response, it seemed a good time to share the guest post here I wrote for her earlier in the week here at TDA.

The Psycho Sign in at The Discovering Alcoholic

When asked to write a guest blog for Hope Maybe I wasn’t sure what to focus on, the alcoholic or those close to them so I decided to find some common ground. Experienced on both sides of the fence as a recovering alcoholic and then working with a family member struggling with their own addiction, I thought I would be the last person to fall prey to another’s disease… wrong. I’m not alone though, estimates range between four and nine people are adversely affected by another’s addiction. Personally, I would consider even nine a very conservative number.

Those closer to the alcoholic or addict almost always face long term repercussions including guilt, remorse, anxiety, and what I call the psycho sign. Not exactly a clinical term, but it is the best I can come up with for the type of behavior that is essentially a form of harm reduction and fatalistic enablement.

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January 23, 2009

Ignoring risks at The Discovering AlcoholicMy work involves quite a bit of travel, so I find plenty of time to ponder the driving habits of those sharing the road. Most of the time you’ll find me in the fast lane passing people on the interstate, I’ve got a decent sense for where the high risk areas are for getting a ticket; medians with trees, right behind the low rise on long straight-aways, low access roads, and sometimes on the shoulder of access ramps are all places it pays to keep an eye on. Here’s a peculiar observation. The posted limit abiding drivers I’m passing while doing the maximum speed I think I can get away with will zoom right past me when I slow down for a work zone. Not logical, because if there is one place you can be rest assured to find a trooper with a well deserved attitude is in an active construction zone.

So why do these people adhere to the speed limit for 59 minutes of an hour trip then risk a ticket and even doubled fines during the brief pass through the work zones?

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A Good Alcoholic

January 9, 2009

original pic by Optiglot at The Discovering AlcoholicWhat does it take to make a good alcoholic?

I found this question scribbled on top of some work notes I was reviewing from last year. Like most of my jotted down reminders that are over forty-five minutes old, it took me a good while to figure out what it actually meant. On a business trip, I had stopped after normal dinner hours at the Waffle House near my hotel (always near, always open, and I’m a waffle-man) to refuel and annotate some of the application notes I had made in the field.

Typical of the late night crowd there was a group of young men that were difficult to tune out, especially the giggly one that claimed he would “make a good alcoholic”. My first thought was that he should know better than to say such a thing, the second was that this young idiot was “me” in the 80’s, and finally will he or would I have stayed on that path if we truly knew what it entailed?

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First Year

January 2, 2009

Gatinha’s TDA 1-Year Chip at The Discovering Alcoholic

Promoted to the front page from the user blogs. I want to thank my friend Gatinha for all her contributions. I can think of no finer way to start off the new year than by handing a good friend and fellow alcoholic the first TDA 1-Year Chip ever rewarded. Congrats Gatinha, you earned it! Please find all her previous postings here at Gatinha’s blog.

At the beginning of 2008 I wrote my story here, and made the decision to try to achieve one year of continuous sobriety. For several years up until then I had months of sobriety, weeks of sobriety, days of sobriety, etc., interrupted by binge drinking which consisted of picking up two tall beers to drink on the way home from work, and a six pack of tall ones to drink at home.

I felt like I was managing my drinking, because I never drank on a night before I had to work. However, I paid dearly for each of these binges by being very ill the next day. I would sleep until noon and spend the rest of the day with rapid heart beats, panic attacks, and depression and so on. I would swear each time that it would be the last time.

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2009: History We Make Today

January 1, 2009

2009: History We Make Today at The Discovering Alcoholic

History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today. ~ Henry Ford

New Year’s Day is a time of recollection and resolutions for most of the world, but I think it is important for those of us in recovery to remember that dwelling on the past and making promises for the future is something at which we have always excelled. The old cartoon above from 1905 is a great reminder that time marches on predictably, so we must act now before we are once again wistfully looking back at the past.

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December 19, 2008

Einstein’s definition of insanity now at The Discovering Alcoholic

Promoted to the front page from the user blogs. I want to thank my friend Gatinha for all her contributions. You can find all her previous postings here at her blog.

When I think of my story and read the story of other alcoholics, the word insanity comes to mind. In A.A. I’ve heard the following definition of insanity. It is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

How can we go through such horrible experiences each time we drink and expect that the next time will somehow be different? Doctors, psychiatrists and many others have tried to figure out what it is that makes the alcoholic the way that he/she is. Some think it is an allergy to alcohol, others say that we don’t absorb alcohol the way that others do, it might be a chemical imbalance in the brain, etc.

All of the explanations don’t matter. The bottom line is that when we drink we become obsessed with drinking or not drinking. The Big Book of A.A. describes some of the things we do to try to control our drinking: “Drinking beer only, limiting the number of drinks, never drinking alone, never drinking in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the house, never drinking during business hours, drinking only at parties, drinking only natural wines…” I’ve tried all of them.

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The Alcoholic Playbook: Spectators Become Part of Game

December 12, 2008

The names, places, and circumstances may vary, but you can be rest assured that most alcoholics and addicts follow a very predictable path. The same rationalizations, secrecy, prevarications and red herrings are used by gutter drunks to Boston bluebloods as if they were all using the same playbook; let’s call it the alcoholic playbook.

We go back to one of our favorite tags of this series, Amy Winehouse, who has spent most of a month in the hospital because of a “reaction to medications”. Actually though it’s her parents that are the main objects of my attention as they display not only enablement, but demonstrate how easily an alcoholic/addict can draw the spectators into their own game of addiction.

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TDA Misery Index

December 2, 2008

Pic by R Stanek at The Discovering AlcoholicThe down economy has given new life to a term not used frequently since the Carter administration, the misery index. “The misery index is an economic indicator, created by economist Arthur Okun, and found by adding the unemployment rate to the inflation rate.”

The economic and social cost of the escalation of these two figures increased the suffering of the country and this index became a way to measure and describe the misery without resorting to an Andy Rooney diatribe. Hearing the term again has made me think about using it in another way when dealing with addiction or more specifically, enablement.

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