10 Great Tips for Staying Sober

February 16, 2012 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

Just stay sober. It’s easy for everybody to say, but it’s not that easy to do. If it were, then everybody would do it! If you or someone you know is trying to stay sober (or just get that way), then here are some tips that might help.


#1: Decide to do it (and really mean it).

Make the decision, and then write down all the good things that will come out of being sober. Next to each, write a reward that will come with it. Some examples:

–I’m going to be able to save money and get a new car.

–I’ll be on time for work every day; I can now work towards the promotion that I want.

–I will finally go back to painting, which will make me feel more peaceful.

#2: Do positive things for yourself – the more, the better.

Put some music on, light some candles and take a bubble bath (yes, guys can do it, too). Read that book you’ve wanted to read for a year and a half. Do something – anything – that will make you feel a little more special than you did yesterday.

#3: Get in touch with yourself spiritually.

This is something that is very important, and it’s not about religion! Connecting with yourself spiritually means finding out what makes you, you; what makes you unique. There are many ways to do this: yoga, meditating, going for a walk… Whatever it is that you have to do to get back to being you – find it, and do it.

#4: Redecorate your house.

A new place for a new you! Start with one room at a time, and go out and hit a thrift shop or a garage sale. You can get some great things at these types of places for very little money, and it’s amazing how much happiness you can find in the smallest of things.

#5: Establish new patterns for yourself.

Any positive change is good when you’re trying to stay sober. Buy some gourmet coffee (with the money you are saving by being sober), get up just a little earlier than normal and enjoy a great cup of coffee. Go to a park and have a picnic, join a league and go bowling, have a barbecue at your house and invite your sober friends and family. Do something positive that’s different.

#6: Surround yourself with people who care.

You always hear people say, “A great support system will help you, blah, blah, blah,” and you may feel like it’s just recovery garbage, but it is important to have people around you who support your decision and the progress you have made. Pick up the phone and call just one friend whom you really care about (a sober one), and try to reconnect. Having someone around to enjoy the new sober you is important.

#7: Don’t forget the music.

Seriously, music is the one thing that will always be there to make you feel good. Put it on while you’re getting ready for work. Crank it up while you’re doing the lousy dishes. Music will always make you feel better.

#8: Get outside!

Sometimes you may feel trapped inside the house, afraid to go outside (yes, even when you’re sober). Do it anyway. Run to the store, take a drive, go for a jog… anything to get yourself moving and out of the house.

#9: Clean the house!

Cleaning may be an evil, but a necessary one. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel when the kitchen is clean when you get up in the morning and how good it feels to know that you did it!

#10: Do something for someone else.

There are people out there who need you. Older people especially love company, or you can join Big Brothers, Big Sisters and be a mentor for a child. Look for ways to help people.

When you achieve sobriety, you become part of the world again, and you can make it as special and real as you want it to be. You will realize that you are worth it, and being sober is the one thing that will make you feel that way.

No matter how you choose to spend your days, all that matters is that at the end of each one, you can say, “I stayed sober. There is no other thing harder to do, and I did it!” Because you can. You are working on becoming better than you have ever been and ever could have imagined. That right there makes it all worth it.


This Post was written and contributed by Ricky Stanton.  Ricky has over 10 years of experience helping people with their drug and alcohol rehab programs.  He hopes to continue to help educate others about the dangers of drug and alcohol addictions.

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Expat Life and Alcohol

October 27, 2010 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

Being an expat and a trailing spouse is tough. I am one. That is why I fully understood what this woman has gone/is going through. And I admire her bravery for sharing her story…Thanks, B!

To all Recovering Moms in Switzerland, this is for you.

I love red wine.  The way it looks, smells, and tastes.  I love the way it brings people together with smiles, toasts, and pleasant wishes.  Alcohol….a source of celebration and happiness for many. Not for me.  Alcohol brings me physical pain (in the form of hangovers or unforced self-injuries),  guilt (from drinking again after vowing to stop), and shame (from having done or said something I regretted while drunk).  I also feel shame because I want to stop but can’t.  

I have chosen to remain anonymous because I am not yet ready to tell the world about my horrible and dangerous disease and we all know how small Switzerland is. I have only recently shared this with my immediate family and the only reason I did was because I had reached the point of either getting help or dying.  My daughters are still young so dying is not an option. They deserve better than this.  I did not bring them into this world to leave them motherless in a few years because of alcohol abuse.  I wanted to speak up because I know there are many of you out there who are in the same boat as I and are afraid to reach out and get help. If you think you have a problem you need to know that you are not alone.  There are many of “us” out there.   I didn’t have a problem back in college or graduate school. I partied like everyone else did, I didn’t drink everyday (nor alone), and I excelled academically.  Drinking was a social thing for me.  My problems came later on when life got more serious and settled (when I married and became a mother).  

I love being a mom.  My kids are my reason for living.  I would do anything for them!  Unfortunately I started to drown in my home life.  Laundry, cooking, cleaning, diaper changing, driving….there was no escape from my housekeeping duties.  Life wasn’t perfect with my husband either at times and that didn’t help. Being a SAHM (stay at home mom) or dad can be very isolating and lonely. My drinking problem started a few years ago when I would have a drink or two on some evenings (usually red wine).  I especially loved doing this while I prepared dinner.  Nothing wrong with that right?  I deserved it!  A small token after doing so much during the day and being stressed out with the kids and all of the activities I had to deal with.     As time progressed so did my drinking.  I went from one to two glasses a couple of nights during the week to several nights per week.  My alcohol intake advanced as well. One/two glasses were not enough anymore.  I reached the point (this year) where I’d end up guzzling a whole bottle and hiding the evidence from my husband deep down in the garbage bag.  My social drinking also changed: I’d continue drinking at home alone (behind my husband’s back) after we would return from a restaurant or party.  Something else I started doing? I’d chug a glass of wine while no one was watching and drink a new glass pretending to be one of them.  Yes…I would pretend to be a responsible and controlled drinker.  
A couple of years ago I started to wonder if I had a drinking problem.  Naah!  If I had a problem somebody would have pointed it out already right?  I thought: “I’m responsible. I take care of my kids and pay our bills.  I make playdates and medical appointments on time.  I’m doing my job!  I also don’t look like an alcoholic. My face isn’t red and puffy and I’m not living out of a box under a bridge, dressed up in rags. I don’t have the “shakes” or need a drink first thing in the morning.  How can I be an alcoholic?”     Oh! How I fooled myself into thinking I was normal through all of these thoughts and rationalizations!  The truth came loud and clear a few weeks ago when I got very drunk at a birthday party. I don’t remember much about the night (just little bits and pieces).  Apparently I lost it and went crazy when we arrived home. I made my girls cry that night because I had threatened to leave Switzerland (I said I would go away and never come back).  My husband had to get away from me so he left the house. My daughters started to call daddy on the phone because they thought he was going to leave them too.    After a couple of hours I ended up passing out on the couch and waking up at 2am.  I knew I had done something very bad.  I didn’t remember anything specific but I had the flashback of my girls crying big fat tears and my heart sank.  I was not able to go back to sleep and was extremely anxious the rest of the early morning.  That is when I said “enough is enough”. I knew I didn’t want to keep doing this anymore. I knew I was slowly killing myself and needed help.  So I made the decision to tell my husband about my secret drinking life and problem. I had no choice. I had wanted to do this before but I was afraid because to say the words “I am an alcoholic” is a very scary thing.  I was terrified but it was “do” or “die”.  I decided to choose life and get better for me and my family.

I am very lucky to be where I am right now.  Alcoholism is a progressive disease and it can turn bad and ugly very quickly.  The lucky ones get help before they lose their job, spouse, family or cause a major tragedy (like Diane Schuler, the mother who killed eight people including herself and four children on a NY parkway in July).  I am very blessed to still have my life and the people I love in it.
I have been sober for a few weeks now and am seeing things more clearly than ever. I urge any parent (mom or dad) who is struggling with alcohol abuse to talk to someone and reach out for help. You are not alone!   If you would like to meet other moms going through the same struggles with alcohol abuse (or if you think you might have a problem and would like to explore it further) please join our
Recovering Moms in Switzerland” online group:   health.groups.yahoo.com/group/recovering_moms_Switzerland/     (you can join anonymously if you wish)

Those who managed to quit

July 29, 2009 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

alcohol_champagne_glassesQuitting – be it smoking, drinking, taking pills – is difficult, no doubt about that. However, it is not impossible. I therefore list here a few well-known people who had alcohol problems, still have problems, but managed to quit. In doing so, I hope to inspire those who want to quit to try and try and try.

George W. Bush. Despite his shortcomings as US President, former President George W. Bush is a living example that quitting is possible. He admits to having some alcohol problems up to the age of 40, referring those years as his “nomadic” and “irresponsible youth” period. He has a criminal record for disorderly conduct (age 20) and drunken driving (age 30). According to this 2000 New York Times article.

“… as he approached 40, an age when Al Gore was already a senator running for president, George W. Bush was just a heavy-drinking, fun-loving oilman struggling to control his temper, salvage his business and hold on to his marriage.

However, the article went on to say that Bush was late bloomer who redeemed himself at midlife and in the process, achieve something extraordinary – serving as the 43rd US President.

Richard Harris. The Irish actor was an inveterate drinker who managed to quit and went teetotal till his death at the age of 72. In his early years, he was well-known for his role as King Arthur in the film Camelot and as a mercenary in The Wild Geese. His most recent and perhaps most memorable role however, was as Professor Dumbledore, Harry Potter’s friend and mentor, in the first two Harry Potter films. In addition to being an actor, Harris also wrote poetry.

Alice Cooper. The leader of the American rock group KISS looks like somebody out of a horror film when he turns out for a show. In real life however, the 61-year old Vincent Damon Furnier is a devoted father and born again Christian. He credited his religious beliefs and his passion for golf as the major factors that helped him overcome his alcohol and drug problems. He says that when he took up golf, he replaced one addiction with another, albeit a healthier and better one. He plays golf six days a week and is almost a “pro.” His 2007 autobiography was entitled

Alice Cooper, Golf Monster: Rock ‘n’ Roller’s 12 Steps to Becoming a Golf Addict.

Samuel L. Jackson. Mr. Jackson is another one of those showbiz people who had an alcohol and drug problem but managed to stay dry during the last 15 years after undergoing rehabilitation. Like Cooper, he too, took up golf and got hooked. In fact, “he has it written into contracts that he must have time out from filming to play twice a week.” Check out this article on Jackson

From coke addict to golf addict: How Samuel L Jackson found salvation on fairways to heaven.”

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Sobriety Requires Surrender

March 19, 2009 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

Obstacles to lasting sobriety

What is it, that enables certain alcoholics and addicts to thrive in recovery, while others struggle for years – unable to establish any meaningful sobriety?

Anyone familiar with recovery knows the biggest battle for alcoholics and addicts – is the battle with our own minds. The way our disease affects the way we think and interpret the world, is the largest obstacle to lasting sobriety. The sick, troubled mind causes some to drink or use destructively for years. The alcoholic or addict will repeatedly fall victim to the mind’s tricks, as their disease relentlessly destroys them physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I’ve seen people with ten or fifteen years of sobriety, seeming to work a great program, always in meetings, and able to quote AA literature like scripture; suddenly start drinking or using again, lose everything they’ve gained – and die drunk or loaded. As if they never had any sobriety at all.

There are others who appear to take the program lightly, with little struggle, and live year after year in healthy sobriety. They seem to possess an inner strength that their recovery is built on. But what is it that gives them this strength? What’s the key that enables some to obtain healthy, long term sobriety, while others are stuck in a revolving door?

The alcoholic mind convinces us that it’s within our power to conquer our disease. We exhibit textbook cases of insanity, as we try the same methods that fail repeatedly – sometimes for years. Our diseased minds blind us to the futility of our efforts. We must reach a point of tremendous pain before we finally accept defeat. And when defeat is finally accepted, we can discover the key to real, healthy, long term sobriety – that key is complete surrender.

Admit we can’t conquer the disease on our own

For the alcoholic and addict; we can think all we want, gain all the knowledge there is, and work the most perfect recovery program possible. But the only way to achieve long lasting, meaningful sobriety, is to finally give up the fight, admit we can’t conquer our disease on our own – and surrender the fight to God. Without complete surrender; long term, happy sobriety isn’t possible. We may be able to quit drinking, but our disease will still control of our minds.

When I was growing up, my family had a friend who suffered from one of the worst cases of alcoholism I’ve ever seen. He battled everything in life, terrorized his family, and finally ended up in utter despair. After years of suffering, he finally reached a point where he admitted he had a problem, and decided to stop drinking – which he did. He was adamant that he could remain sober on his own, and refused to attend any type of recovery program, or accept outside help from anyone.

He managed to stay dry for quite a few years. But as time went by, he grew sicker, and more miserable – he lived in a dazed state of depression. Finally, one day, his pain became unbearable – so he went into his backyard, wrapped a towel around his head, put a pistol in his mouth, and gave his disease it’s final victory. He refused to surrender.

This man’s memory was clearly in mind when I decided I’d had enough of fighting my own disease. His example helped me realize how powerless I was in trying to recover on my own.

During my first year of sobriety, I was told there were certain things I should avoid doing. I was told not to make any drastic life changes that could cause stress, and to avoid any geographical changes that would take me away from my support group. It was recommended that I keep everything as low stress and easy going as possible for the first year or so.

Now, I don’t recommend this to anyone new to sobriety, but I didn’t follow some of the direction I was given. In my first year; I moved to another state, got divorced, and then moved to another country. My life was about as unstable as it could get. Based on the way I lived and worked my program – my chances of staying sober looked pretty slim.

But there is one thing that I did completely, from the beginning of my sobriety – I surrendered. I knew without a doubt that I was powerless over my disease – I’d tried for years and failed. The biggest relief for me, was to give up the fight, turn it all over to God, and pray for his help and guidance every day.

My own program for sobriety

For me, surrendering is my program. There are other aspects to my program, but they all center around ongoing surrender. My program doesn’t keep me sober – I wear it like a loose jacket, and it adds to the quality of my sobriety. Without surrender to God, the rest would be a waste of time.

If you’re new to sobriety, or in the midst of drinking and using – please don’t be afraid to admit your powerlessness to fight your disease. Finally turning the battle over to God completely, will give you the relief, guidance, and strength you need to start life over. You’ll find that life holds more promise than you ever dreamed possible.

Chad blogs over at The Effective Spirit. In recovery since 1992, .Chad writes about a variety of topics centered around recovery, Christianity, personal growth, overcoming adversity, and effective living.

Are You Being Treated by an Addict?

April 3, 2008 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Among the general population, between 10 and 15% of us are addicted to drugs or alcohol. That means that if you think of eight or ten of your friends — chances are good that one of them is a substance addict.

It should come as no surprise, then, that in a group of eight or ten doctors, there will also be an addict. The number may even be higher because they have easier access to addictive drugs than a pedestrian would.

Take that the next step — within a group of eight or ten surgeons…. yes… with knives… and anesthesiologists…. putting people to sleep and stopping pain….. scary stuff.

Since there are 800,000 doctors in the US and about 61,000 in Canada, the math tells us that there will be 86,000 or more doctors who are addicted. Now divide that out by 50 states and 13 provinces or territories… bottom line — there are everywhere, in every locality, and they are treating patients every day.

Only 8,000 of the American doctors have “confessed” to their addictions, and are undergoing any form of treatment or rehab. That’s one in ten if we trust the stats above. The rest aren’t even on the radar. But they continue to treat patients.

And that’s the basis for a handful of articles published in mainstream media within the past few months about doctors, both surgeons and others, who are addicted to drugs or alcohol and while under the influence have botched surgeries and caused deaths.

What can be done to ferret out these doctors and pull them away from practicing and potentially harming patients? It turns out — not much. Most states in the US have some kind of law or statute that allows doctors to self-identify, put themselves into rehab, and quietly (under the table) inform a state agency that this is happening. When they do so, they are protected, are allowed to continue practicing, and are — supposedly — monitored to make sure they are recovering from their addictions.

Only everyone knows that doesn’t work. While there may be a doctor here or a doctor there who successfully undergoes rehab and recovers well, they are few and far between. They continue to treat patients.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper discussed the horrors of addicted surgeons on Anderson Cooper 360. The scenes and photos were sickenly graphic.

In addition, CNN published sad and horrible stories of women who were mistreated or suffered botched surgeries at the hands of addicted doctors.

These follow reports issued by NBC last winter that tell of California’s movement toward removing their veil of secrecy which would no longer allow doctors to hide behind these bogus rehab programs, but could yank their licenses if they hurt a patient.

As you can imagine, the doctors groups are crying foul. They are covering up for their peers, trying to protect them, perhaps under the guise of “there but for the grace of God…”

Advice for patients? Trust your instincts. We can’t affect legislation. We can’t convince doctors to quit their practices or take leaves of absence…. all we can do is protect ourselves. And the way to do that is to step away, run, walk, just leave behind a doctor if we have just the slightest suspicion that s/he might be addicted to anything. You don’t want a doctor who is a gambler or a sex addict or any type of behavior that could possibly compromise your care taking care of you.

And don’t think it can’t happen. Addicted doctors mar and ruin lives every day. Just read those articles cited above. Ordinary people, like you and me.

Don’t let them do it to you.

Progress Not Purr-Fection

November 15, 2007 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

By Pam Sekula

I wrote this, my first published article, 21+ years ago and it appeared in the September/October 1986 issue of Alcoholism & Addiction magazine. Although the main characters have moved on, the subject matter still holds true. I hope you can use it, I don’t think the rights are an issue any longer.

Every member of the family is affected by the disease of alcoholism. Take pets, for instance. There are three in our household and each has a distinct personality, as most cats certainly do. But these personalities go beyond SFB (Standard Feline Behavior). These residents are definitely “COAs” (Cats of Alcoholics).

We are a family in recovery, but as we well know, the “ism” progresses for those family members without a program. The independent cars do not have a daily plan for living, either individually or as a group. Therefore, we are hesitant to project about their chances of recovery. Smokey, the oldest, is the Family Hero. She ventures outside by herself, is successful at catching insects, and hides under the hosta plants at the bird feeder. She complains loudly when she is in the house wanting to go out and jumps on the counter demanding food. Upon occasion, she is found atop the cupboards, draped over the edge in the vantage position of a little general. She was the first car and lets the others know it in no uncertain terms. Often she is a royal pain, as she tends to act the “perfect cat.”

Jimmy the Cat is our scapegoat. If ANYTHING goes wrong, we yell, “JIMMY, where are you?” Every cattail from the dried arrangement disappeared, the evidence was hanging from the mouth of Jimmy the Cat. A crash from the livingroom: there was Jimmy looking down from the mantle at the broken vase on the floor. If two out of three cats are fighting, it is Jimmy who has instigated the brawl. He stops for no more than 10 seconds for petting, and prefers to hide among the plants on the window seat.

Last, of course, is Motley, the Lost Child. At first we thought Motley was a bit slow, but that wasn’t the case. He was simply quiet, by a long shot, compared to his brother and sister. Instead of meowing, Motley seems to question us with short cries sounding more like a frightened guinea pig than a cat. He uses his long fluffy tail for silent expression, something like semaphores, only with one flag. Motley cuddles close without a sound, appears bewildered, and we have found him in front of the television watching re-runs of Wild Kingdom. Motley’s favorite sleeping places are under our daughter’s bedcovers or in the bathrub behind the shower curtain. The other cats push him away from the food dish, and he spends a lot of time staring out the window.

Recovery brings its own bag of joys and woes, but at least we have somewhere to go for help. Do you suppose someone will come up with a 12 Step “Feline-ship?” They would call it “Al-E-Cat!”

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Pam_Sekula

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.