Category Archives: Sobriety

“Yes, I’m definitely a virgin, thanks.’

Twice this week I went to a fundraising gala that had an open bar. And at each event, I ordered my signature cocktail; a Shirley Temple.
And each time the bartender said to me ‘are you sure you don’t want me to put some vodka in that?’

I have to admit I struggle a bit with open bars. Not that they tempt me to drink, I just think it’s incredibly ironic that when drinking alcohol, I never seemed to end up in an open bar situation. In hindsight, this was probably a good thing, lifesaving even. My mother is from the post-war generation (bear with me) who grew up with rationing, so she installed me the belief that it was sinful to waste food…. or drink. Along with growing up fairly poor, it was equally sinful to waste free food or drink. So, there is an internal struggle within me when I am at these events to not waste anything. Which is why I always order a Shirley Temple. As I at least feel like I’m going someway to getting my money’s worth….

In case you need it spelled out; Shirley Temple is a virgin cocktail i.e. it contains no liquor. NO LIQUOR. If I wanted liquor I would order liquor. I’m really just good with the sugar rush thanks.

I’ve had years and years of experience of turning down drinks, I’m very skilled and a polite but firm ‘no thanks,’ that makes it clear to not keep pushing me. Because it can sometimes be a little wearing. Not to mention, that this insistence one day could come on a really, really bad day, when I’m low on resources and a ‘yes’ just pops out of my mouth. And then my innocent Shirley Temple turns into a weapon of mass destruction in my hands.

So, do me a favor. If you drink that’s great but please don’t push it on people who don’t. If someone orders a soda or water respect the fact they are a grown up and if they wanted alcohol they would DAMN WELL ORDER ALCOHOL.
Because if someone was gluten free you wouldn’t keep insisting they eat bread, would you?
And leave me to my Shirley Temple’s. Because it seems after all, that it is possible to become a virgin again.


I’m really excited to tell you about the She Recovers conference taking place in NYC on May 5-7.
I’m really honored to be taking part in this event as one of the official sober blogger team members. There will be a reception and meet on greet on the Friday night so if you are able to attend I will get to meet you in person.
The line up is killer:
Gabrielle Bernstein
Elizabeth Vargas
Glennon Doyle Melton
Marianne Williamson

I know!!!!!!!!! Awesome, right!!!!!!

Tickets are selling out fast there are less than 80 left if you are interested you can purchase them here.

She Recovers is a community women who believe we are all in recovery for something and that we are stronger, together.

Dawn, me and Taryn

Dawn, me and Taryn

I met the co-founders Dawn Nickel and her daughter Taryn Strong for dinner last year, when they were out in New York planning the event. They are an awesome kick ass team and I love what they are doing for the recovering community. Dawn started She Recovers because she knew how important self care is to recovery.
She’s right. Self care is vital to recovery.
If you are free and you are able, we would love to see you at the event and meet you in person.

20 Ways to Get a Natural High for Cheap

Thank you to Alyssa Craig for these great suggestions.

'Where's the bar?'  Image courtesy of moggara12 at

‘Where’s the bar?’
Image courtesy of moggara12 at

We can all use a little mood booster from time to time and going for a natural high is the best way to go. Fortunately, chasing after a natural high does not require a lot of cash. Here are 20 great ways you can get that natural high for next to nothing.

1) Aromatherapy: Some scents such as vanilla and lavender activate endorphins. These scents are easily accessible in sprays, candles, and even perfumes to keep around the house.

2) Exercise: Go for a great run, hike a mountain, or do some yoga. The more vigorous your exercise, the stronger the activation of those endorphins you will experience.

3) Eat Some Dark Chocolate: Yes, dark chocolate has been shown to produce a little natural high. Be careful not to overdo it, but a handful should do the trick.

4) Listen to Music You Enjoy: Whether country gets you going or you need a little alternative rock to feel better, listening to your favorite tunes can help your brain release mood boosting chemicals.

5) Eat Spicy Foods: The body responds to spicy foods in the same way it responds to pain – with endorphins! So add some more peppers to your meal or kick up the curry.

6) Acupuncture: This should be done by someone with experience and training, but acupuncture therapy can help provide a natural high and relaxation.

7) Humor: Find ways to laugh each day. Read a funny story, watch a television show you enjoy, or joke around with friends. As mentioned here, humor is a great way to experience that natural high.

8) Group Fitness: Exercise makes the list twice because while getting in a great workout will get you that natural high, studies have shown that exercising with a group of people will do an even better job of releasing endorphins.

9) Positive Thinking: Simply changing the way you think can do wonders for your situation. Allowing yourself to be weighed down by negativity will affect you as adversely as thinking positively will build you up naturally.

10) Eat Your Favorite Comfort Foods: Sometimes we just need grandma’s chocolate chip cookie recipe or your favorite steak and mashed potatoes to feel better. This really does help, so now and then be sure to indulge in your favorite foods.

11) Meditate: Taking time to meditate each day will help give you a natural high and sense of peace. How you do so depends on your preferences, but you may meditate through prayer, breathing exercises, or simply being still.

12) Get a Massage: This can either be a professional spa experience or you can ask you sweetie to rub your shoulders. Either way, that natural high will take place.

13) Perform: Instruments, dance, singing, and theater are all great ways to not only share your talents with others, but to also get an adrenaline rush.

14) Fall in Love: A whole slew of chemicals are activated in our brains when we fall in love, including adrenaline, dopamine, and endorphins. So go ahead, take that risk. If nothing else, you will have that great high for a while.

15) Extreme Sports: Mountain climbing and cliff jumping are some great, free ways of getting that adrenaline rush. Others that may require more money or supervision include base jumping and skydiving.

16) Spend Time in Nature: Find time to go stargazing, go for a walk in nature, or even go through a drive in the countryside. Nature provides healing for the soul and you will definitely feel a little natural boost.

17) Dream: It’s possible, according to some researchers, that our brain release small amounts of a powerful psychedelic (DMT) when we sleep. This would explain some of the crazy experiences we have during our nighttime adventures.

18) Smile: Yup, it is really that simple. If you are needing a little boost, simply force yourself to smile for a nice release of endorphins and serotonin. You will soon see your mood improve dramatically.

19) Serve Others: There is a reason people who serve continue to do so. Not only do they enjoy seeing someone else’s life improve, it makes them feel good too.

20) Conquer a Fear: Whether you squish the spider on your own, apply for a job you want but have been intimidated to pursue, or tell that special someone how you feel, being brave and conquering a fear is sure to give you a great, natural rush.

So the next time your life is in need of a little lift, try some of these activities for a natural rush that will give you that desired high without a crash.

Sober Solutions – Practice acceptance of others

We have explored how we change our inner world, but what can we do about our outer world – the one where we have to deal with other people and how they affect us? This is a challenge in itself, and very important for alcoholics, who can easily get caught up with other people’s dramas and be affected by their behaviour. In my experience there is really only one way to deal with other people, and it is by accepting them as they are, not as we would have them be. It is something I continue to practise every day, especially with the people closest to me.

Image courtesy of photostock at

Image courtesy of photostock at

Acceptance of others is really the only way to have peace. We can’t change people. We can’t get them to do what we want them to do, when we want them to do it. They just won’t. They just do what they want to do, how they want to do it.

But it can drive a person crazy, constantly running around trying to get the world to behave as they wish it would. I don’t mean that we should sit by and passively accept behaviour that is clearly unacceptable. If someone is abusive, for example, we can’t just accept that. We can remove ourselves from that experience and we should use whatever lawful means are necessary to ensure that the behaviour isn’t continued.

The point I am making here is that we don’t have to tolerate what is unacceptable, although we can accept that a person or circumstance may not change. What we can’t afford to do is get twisted up in knots about it. Once we have accepted that the person may not change, we are free of the person and the behaviour. This is the goal of accepting others as they are. We become free from them. When we are trying to change them we are enslaved by them.

If I’m OK with me, I don’t have to make you wrong.

This is what it boils down to. If I can’t accept you just the way you are, it’s usually because there is something wrong with me. I’d prefer you to change rather than to change myself because, frankly, that’s easier. Most problems are caused because so many people are interfering with other people’s behaviour. They don’t like ‘how they’re doing it’.

Apply this in particular to your immediate family. You love them, right, but don’t they drive you crazy with their behaviour? Can’t they see that if they just saw things your way, or did things your way, everything would be so much easier? But it never works, does it? What usually happens when we try to sort out the world is that the world starts behaving even more badly than it did before, resulting in our feeling frustrated and resentful. Just imagine if you stopped focusing on other people’s faults, and only focused on your own self-improvement. And everyone else did the same…
Practise accepting them – see what happens – see how you feel.

This is an exclusive extract from my book ‘Why you drink and How to stop: journey to freedom.’
Available on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble.

A goodbye letter to alcohol…

Dear Alcohol,

I don’t know where to start. We have come a long way, you and me.

Image courtesy of Simon Howden at

Image courtesy of Simon Howden at

Things were great in the beginning. I had never met anyone like you. Nobody had ever made me feel the way you did. I felt special when I was with you. Full of hope, that anything was possible. Those were magical days; no thought of tomorrow, everything ahead of us, exciting and fun.

I thought it would always be like that, I thought our feelings would never change.

I never believed you could hurt me this much.

You were my world, my everything. You completed me. I felt safe with you. You touched me like no one else could. I came to rely on you. You were always there, wherever I went. Then things changed.

I kept thinking; ‘This time it will be different, it will be like the old days’. But it never was, the old days never came back. I tried so hard, but it was all so much simpler in the old days.

But you made me feel ashamed. I was scared at what I was capable of when I was with you.
I got lost in you. I couldn’t see what was really happening. I pushed my family away; my friends didn’t matter anymore, as long as I had you.

It stopped being fun a long time ago. I don’t remember when. I should have stopped seeing you then, but I couldn’t let go of the promise you made all those years ago. You promised you’d be my one and only, but you lied. You lied about everything.

I see that now; I see that everything was an illusion, that nothing you did or said was true.

How could I have been so stupid, so naive? I was never special to you, you never cared about me. You just wanted me to yourself. You didn’t care what I wanted or needed. I was just one more to you.

I didn’t think there was any further I could go down in my obsession for you, but there was always more pain, more destruction, and still I wouldn’t let go. Then I came to the jumping off place.

I saw that you would kill me. My love for you would kill me.

I had to learn to live without you.

I decided at that point, that no matter how hard it was I wanted you out of my life forever. You tried to get me back, you were close a couple of times, but finally I saw you as you really were – a liar, a thief, a soul stealer; you were never capable of love.

You never cared.

It was seeing this that gave me the power to get over you. I learnt that all the things I thought you gave me, I could get myself.

I started loving myself; I learnt that I had something to offer. Best of all, I learnt I could cope without you. I found love and connection, in different ways to the ones you offered.

What you offered was fake. Now I know what real love is, you could never come close.

It’s over now, forever. I feel repulsed when I see you. I shudder to think that I could ever have loved you, that you could have been important to me.

You disgust me.

Image courtesy of markuso at

Image courtesy of markuso at

I can walk past you now and it doesn’t bother me.

I feel free. I feel whole. I can see your lies and laugh at them. You have no hold anymore. You are nothing to me.

Yours sincerely,

A Recovered Alcoholic

This is an exclusive extract from my book: ‘Why you drink and How to stop: Journey to freedom.’ Available at Amazon, Barnes & Nobel and iTunes.

If you would like to share your goodbye letter to alcohol or drugs please message me.

September is Recovery Month!

National Recovery Month

Did you know that September is Recovery month?
This years theme is Join the Voices for Recovery: Together on Pathways to Wellness.
The purpose of Recovery Month is promote the benefits of prevention and treatment for mental health and substance use disorders.

For years addiction and mental health have been in the closet, sufferers have been too embarrassed to talk about their problems openly, for fear of being judged or labelled.
But the fact is in 2011 20.6 million people 12 or older were classified with substance abuse or dependence. What’s worse is 19.3 million of them needed treatment and didn’t get it.

I think the tide is finally turning, this problem is so prolific and effects so many people that the recovery community has decided not to stay silent anymore. More and more people are speaking out publicly about their struggles with addiction and mental health. The more this happens, the more people can see that they are not alone, more people will get help, less people will suffer.
When I launched the ‘Recovery Rocks’ interviews I though I would really struggle to get people to use their real name and a photo.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. I have met so many people who are publicly declaring they are addicts and alcoholics in recovery. It’s so inspiring.

I remember years ago concealing the truth about my past to people around me, it was just too much hard work. I thought I would be judged and that people would think I was ‘unstable.’

Alcoholism is part of who I am, in many ways it made me who I am. As awful as that struggle was, overcoming that struggle has given me what I have today and I wouldn’t change that for anything.
And besides I stopped caring what people think of me. I mean really, I don’t care what you think about my past or what I did, or that I’m completely open about being a recovered alcoholic. I don’t care if that shocks you.
I just don’t care, because what matters is what I think of myself.
And I really like myself today.

So please do what you can this month to spread the word that recovery from addiction and alcoholism is not only possible, but addicts and alcoholics can go on to have happy, successful, fulfilling lives.

Image courtesy of Naypong at

Image courtesy of Naypong at

Someone is suffering in despair, desperation and loneliness RIGHT NOW, and they really, really need to know they can get better.

SAMHSA National Helpline

Book Review: ‘Guts the Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster’ by Kristen Johnston

A while ago someone pressed a copy of ‘Guts’ into my hands, with the admonishment that I ‘had to read this immediately.’
So I promptly put it on my shelf and forgot about it.
Having recently had a baby, the only books I was interested in were; ‘How the f**k do I get this kid to sleep’ variety.

But after meeting the author on Twitter (where else) I decided to pick it up.
You’ll know Kristen Johnston from her hit shows ‘3rd Rock from the Sun’ and ‘The Exes.’ British readers will remember her as ‘Ivana Humpalot’ in the Austin Powers movies and for a hysterical cameo in ‘Sex and the City.’

Me reading 'GUTS.' Ask KJo about the finger.

Me reading ‘GUTS.’ Ask KJo about the finger.

As this book is written by a comic actress you would rightly expect it to be very funny. It is a funny book, however I actually found the jokes to be a distraction in the first few pages.
I felt like Kristen Johnston was giving the reader the version of herself she thought they expected, and she didn’t want to let them down.
I wondered if this is how Johnston is when you first meet her in person. That she uses humor as her armor, creating an illusion of openness and intimacy, which actually deflected you from seeing who she really was or what was really going on.

If you are looking for a ‘celebrity memoir,’ with funny anecdotes about famous people, you are going to be disappointed.
Johnston barely touches on her upbringing, rise to fame or acclaimed career as an actress. They are mentioned in passing; instead the book is an invitation into the soul of an addict as they battle their fear and denial.

There were two parts of the book in particular that made me shudder with recognition.
The first is where she describes witnessing her brothers bullying.
With no means of voicing her feelings, she violently lashes out at one of his tormentors.
Describing this as one of her many ‘ill advised decisions.’ I felt it was actually a truthful reaction to extraordinary pain. She had no other way to express how she felt except violence.
Her feelings were demanding a release.
This type of irrational, compulsive behavior is ‘normal’ in someone who has learnt to protect their inner world, by building a wall around themselves.
It should therefor come as no surprise, that this little girl grew up to become addicted to ‘pain pills’ as an adult. It was inevitable that she was going to have to find a way, to numb the pain of feelings she could never dare express.

The second incident that touched me, is when the first crack in her wall first begins to show. Johnston has been admitted to a hospital in England for life saving surgery, when her intestines literally burst from all the drugs she had been taking. Because she is in so much pain and can barely move, she has to ask a nurse to help her wash her hair.
As an adult, she realizes this is the first time she has ever asked anyone for help.
By this point in the book, her loneliness and isolation are palpable, and the simple act, of another human being tenderly washing her, is almost heart breaking.
It’s clear that Johnston has never let anyone in and the sheer thought of it terrifies her.

The reason this book should be compelling reading for any addict or alcoholic, is just how much Johnston reveals of the inner life of an addict.
She rightfully claims to being completely unoriginal in her feelings and behavior, her experience of addiction is just like anyone else’s.
Addicts will do anything to prevent anyone seeing who they really are, they will fight tooth and nail to defend the wall they have built around themselves. Johnston is certainly no different.

Like many addicts Johnston paints a picture of determined self-reliance.
Believing she can just power through anything with her grit and determination. Unwilling and unable to face up to her reality, I believe it was no coincidence that her body finally forces her to see what her mind refuses to.
Thousands of miles away from home, friends and family; unable to work, she could do nothing but stare at the ceiling and contemplate how things have ended up this way.
Too weak to fight and with no distractions, the wall she had built around herself slowly begins to crack.

“I suppose I was also grieving for the loss of the unfeeling, jokey, impenetrable me.”

Inevitably when that wall cracks; grief, loss and loneliness flood in. Johnston shares all of this with the reader. Then, for someone who has determinedly hidden her true self from the world, she begins to discover who she really is, for the very first time. Vulnerable, scared and very lost she begins the journey back to herself.
The miracle of recovery is, that despite everything we have believed about ourselves, who we really are is glorious. We don’t need to hide or be alone anymore because who we really are is just fine. This book convinces you that if Kristen Johnston can discover this, then so can you.

Kristen Johnston

Kristen Johnston

Because of her stature, Johnston has often been referred to as ‘Amazonian.’ The description fits her not because of her height, but because she is a warrior.
Guts is the account of a lone warrior battling to stay in denial before finally waging the courageous battle of sobriety.
It is a privileged glimpse into her inner world and I hope very much that this warrior has finally found her tribe.

Sober Solutions: Internal Navigation Systems

Imagine a pilot who needs to fly to Russia but decides that he doesn’t want to check his navigation equipment because he knows which direction to go. So he just sets off in the direction he believes Russia to be.

Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at

Image courtesy of Gualberto107 at

Imagine how shocked and embarrassed he would feel if he landed in America.

A pilot flying a plane without using his navigation system, is like a person trying to live a successful and happy life without using their feelings to guide them.
That’s what our feelings and emotions are for, they are our Internal Navigation System.
They are a vital tool that we need, in order to get where we need to go.
When alcoholics get sober, they usually have no comprehension of how to get where they want to go. The place alcoholics end up in at the end of their drinking, is most certainly not where they originally planned.
If you are an alcoholic who is sober, than you are probably learning to use your Internal Navigation System for the first time.

Alcoholics drink because they don’t want to access their feelings. Which means whilst we were drinking we missed out on a lot of emotional development.

When we should have been developing emotional intelligence we were just numbing our feelings with alcohol.
Our Internal Navigation Systems are in bad shape because we have abused them so much.
For successful sobriety we have to learn how to use them for the purpose they were intended.

Because nothing is more important than how we feel.


Our whole lives are dictated by how we feel.
You only have to look at an active alcoholic to see someone who is desperately trying to manage the emotional turmoil inside of them. Chasing after stuff or people with the misguided belief that they, or it, will ‘fix’ what they feel inside.

For me, my whole life was dictated by fear, or to be honest; blind terror. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t frightened. It ruled my life and dictated every action I took and only alcohol numbed the intensity of it.
I constantly changed my outsides to try and fix my insides. I moved houses, countries, jobs and relationships all in this fruitless quest.
As alcoholics, we somehow got the faulty impression, that we use what’s outside of us to mange what is inside of us.

Did you do that?
How did it work out for you?

Let me guess, you never felt how you thought you would?
What you thought would complete you, didn’t come close?
What you thought would save you, failed?
Am I right?

We didn’t realise that human beings are designed to have mastery over their emotional lives, not the other way around.
Instead of being slaves to these feelings, they are actually designed to serve us.

We have to find a different way to live and to manage our lives (our internal life) than what we have been doing so far.
Successful sobriety means learning how to use our Internal Navigation System.
This means going within, observing ourselves with curiosity, not judgement.
Examining our feelings and asking ourselves why we behave the way we do.
And most importantly feeling our feelings as they happen, understanding the messages they send us. Using them to guide us.
Becoming fully connected to ourselves.

This was probably the most terrifying thing I had ever done. The absolute last thing I ever wanted to do was understood why I felt (and reacted) the way I did. My feelings scared me because I didn’t understand them.
They threatened to swallow me whole.
But slowly I began to see that all I ever did when I felt bad or uncomfortable, was a knee jerk reaction to try and fix it as quickly as possible. I was so uncomfortable in my own skin; I could barely stand being me for a moment longer.

Not only did I drink, I chased after ridiculous things because I thought it would make me feel better.
I could give you semi-rational reasons for moving countries, changing jobs, breaking up with someone, moving house etc.
But really I was doing all of those things, because I sincerely believed I would feel better if I did. Everything single action I ever took, was in the hope of trying to change how I felt.
Nothing worked.

Not until I discovered, that what I had been looking for, had been inside of me all the time.
Here is the amazing thing, discovering who you really are, understanding and facing up to your feelings is far less frightening and awful than we believe it to be.
It’s just the thought of it that is worse than the reality.

Because once we have done it, we then have access to this wonderful guiding instrument, that can aid us in making the right choices. Our Internal Navigation Systems can guide us to become the people we have always wanted to be.
Becoming a fully functioning human being, means I am fully connected to who I really am, I can now use my feelings to guide me.
I can go within and listen to what they are telling me.
Which means I make better choices for myself and my life is going in the right direction.
It’s true that recovery like life, is a journey not a destination.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono

And for alcoholics, sobriety is the vehicle that can now take us anywhere we want to go.

Sober Solutions is part of a series of posts, based on extracts from my new book: ‘Why you drink and How to stop: journey to freedom.’ if you would like to know more about your Internal Navigation System and how to use it, you can purchase my book here.

How to stay sober on July 4th

Nothing looms larger for a newly sober alcoholic than a holiday, or a weekend, or worse a holiday weekend.
In early sobriety, holidays are something to be negotiated carefully, especially holidays that involve a lot of drinking.

Happy July 4th!

Happy July 4th!

The first year of sobriety is really about a lot of ‘firsts.’
• First sober birthday
• First sober Christmas
• First sober New Years Eve
• First sober Thanksgiving
• First sober Superbowl
• First time having sex sober

You get the picture. These are all events that previously would have been perfect excuses to drink. Alcoholics particularly like events that ‘normal’ people drink (and get drunk on) because for that day they can pretend they’re normal too. Alcoholics can hide in a sea of drunk people.

In truth, alcoholics never need an excuse to drink, although if we have one we will never waste it.
So if this is your first sober July 4th here are some tried and tested methods for getting through it sober.

1. Have an escape plan. Wherever you are going, whatever you are doing, think of an exit strategy before you go. Don’t put yourself in a position where you are stranded and relying on someone else to give you a ride. Make sure you drive yourself to wherever you are going or have enough money for a cab or bus. That way, if you feel wobbly and need to get away, you can make your excuses and go.

2. It’s ok to lie. If you are not ready to tell people that you have stopped drinking and are in recovery it’s perfectly ok to fib. Tell them you are on medication that means you can’t drink, tell them you are driving later, tell them whatever you want.
Rehearse it in your mind before you go out, so if someone asks why you’re not drinking, or tries to force a drink on you, you have an excuse already to go. Don’t feel guilty about telling a white lie; your sobriety is your business and no one else’s.

3. Watch what you drink. It’s really easy in social situations to put your glass of soda down and go to pick it up and realize it’s someone else’s rum and coke. For someone in early sobriety that may be the only trigger they need. Keep hold of your drink at all times, or do something to the container that identifies it as yours, like writing your initials on it if its plastic.

4. Hang out with sober people. Sometimes in recovery, we feel that as soon as we get sober we have to start making it up to the people we hurt when we were drinking. It is a mistake to do this too early.
If you have been invited to a party with family or friends and there is usually lots of drinking and partying. Give your self-permission to politely decline. You may be feeling you should attend to make up for all the years you didn’t show up, or showed up drunk and ruined it for everyone. You don’t have to do any of those things. Remember July 4th comes round every year and next year you will be in much better shape to take part. This year, it may just be safer and wiser to hang out with people who don’t drink.

5. Think through the drink. If you find you are in a situation and you are tempted to drink, think through the ‘drunk’. Play the tape in your mind as you think through having the first drink, then the second, then the third, then what happens next. Think about how you would feel the next day, remember how awful it was.

Lastly, don’t’ be alone, don’t struggle on your own. Pick up the phone and call a friend or another sober person, be honest about how you feel and you will be amazed and the difference it makes when we begin to tell someone how we really feel. You don’t have to hide anymore.
Happy July 4th!