Tag Archives: Focus 12

Recovery Rocks – Lisa Robertson

Every week I post a Recovery Rocks interview and exclaim about how inspiring, incredible, amazing etc they are.
I’m really running out of words to describe these stories. Well this weeks interview is all of the above, along with being very personal.

Lisa Robertson is someone I’ve known most of my life. We grew up in the same town, lived on the same council estate and went to the same schools.
She was in the year ahead of me and although we weren’t exactly friends we certainly knew each other. Lisa was way cooler than me at school and she hung out with a cooler crowd.
I’ll be honest, Lisa scared me when we were teenagers, a beautiful girl with a very tough exterior. She seemed older than her years.
Of course, now I know that tough exterior hid the pain and fear she was experiencing, just like me, she was already lost.

I left home at 16 and didn’t see Lisa again for years. The I ran into her when I was about 18 months sober. She was slighltly drunk and very nervous and looking for help with her drinking.
I didn’t see her again for a while but she kept popping up. I was working at Focus 12 (the treatment centre I’m donating some of my profits from the UK sales of my book ‘Why you drink and How to stop).
She was looking for help again.
Lisa struggled for a while, then eventually she went into treatment.
It was then that the real Lisa began to emerge.
Lisa was a single mother of four children so let me tell you, getting sober was not easy for her.
But she did not give up.
She is over 4 years sober and has just completed her degree to become a therapist. Amazingly, she is also working at Focus 12 helping others in the way she was helped.

I can’t tell you how incredible it has been for me to watch her grow and change to become the woman she was meant to be. Her life has transformed, she has a career a loving relationship and the love and respect of her children.

Words cannot express how proud I am of her.

Lisa Robertson

Lisa Robertson

1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
I had a lot of rock bottoms. The two that stand out the most are not recognizing myself in the mirror and knowing that I was going to die if I was to continue drinking. I was scared of living and scared of dying at the same time. My whole body was bloated and I was in pain from my enlarged liver. The other was nearly losing the relationships with my children. The feeling of devastation I had when the reality of how much and how long I had been putting them second to my drinking. I felt disgusting and worthless.

2) What was your ‘moment of truth’ or ‘clarity’ that prompted you to get sober/clean?’
As I said above. The potential loss of my children in my life and realizing how awful life had been for them and for so long. I relapsed and seeing the hope in their eyes replaced with hurt, confusion and anger was a real hard time for all of us to work through. It is still ongoing (as building relationships are) and I am grateful that they gave me the chance to show them I could change.

3) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?

Very hard, my children were very hurt and angry. I had so much guilt and shame. I knew that I had to keep moving forward and the support I had from other people who knew what I was going through was very important in those early days. I didn’t want to drink but I really struggled with the feelings I had which were very raw.

4) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?

I have managed to earn the trust of my children. I am available to them now and I have the privilege of seeing them achieve in their lives.
I have the ability to learn. I always thought I couldn’t achieve any academic qualifications. I am proud to say that I have a degree and I am about to start a BA honors in September, I was wrong!!
I have amazing support in both my recovery and in my work.
I have met some amazing, interesting and beautiful people.
Also some of my bad experiences in recovery have turned out to be good things, as I have learnt from them the most

Lisa Robertson at her graduation.

Lisa Robertson at her graduation.

5) If you could go back in time to you when you were dinking/using what would you tell yourself?

Believe in yourself and be yourself.

6) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?

That I can learn from everybody. I am strong. That change is always happening and I can embrace it. I don’t have to be angry anymore.

7) What are your favorite recovery slogans?

You can’t save your face and your butt at the same time.
Keep it simple
If nothing changes….nothing changes.

8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’

Recovery rocks because it is a gift and opportunity to do so much more than exist. I appreciate so many small things in my life that I would hardly notice in my drinking. I am grateful for all my experiences and I am excited about the future. All I wanted was to maintain a sober life. I got that and so much more. Miracles do happen.

Russell Brand focuses on addiction.

The original and unique Russell Brand spoke today at a parliamentary select committee today on addiction. Accompanying him was Chip Somers the chief executive of Focus 12 abstinence based treatment centre in the UK. (Full discloser: I trained as a therapist at Focus 12, it is an awesome facility with really dedicated staff. Hundreds of people have got clean and sober there over the years.)
Unlike the USA, the UK has a focus on harm minimisation as a primary form of treatment. This means in most cases, prescribed substances such as methadone are given to addicts as an alternative to using heroin. Thus minimising the harm of getting and using illegal drugs. Alcoholics are given drugs like anti-abuse that makes the alcoholic really sick if they drink alcohol. I think harm minimisation has its place; however in the UK all it seems to have done is replaced illegal drugs with state sponsored ones. Thus making the taxpayer the dealer. Sadly, abstinence from all mood and mind altering drugs, including prescribed ones, seems to be the very last resort for many treatment providers in the UK.
I have worked with many addicts and alcoholics who want to stop taking all drugs (especially the prescribed ones), they want to treat the root of the problem and overcome their addiction not mask it with other substances. As Russell charmingly points out, he became an addict because of “emotional and psychology difficulties and perhaps a spiritual malady.” Yet this is still not understood and there isn’t enough provision for abstinence-based treatment. The US is ahead of the UK in accepting that addiction is a disease and that abstinence is the only effective form of treatment for this disease. I don’t think this is the case yet in the UK where (judging from the comments left after the article in the Telegraph) people still believe it is a moral issue and a question of choice. This is not to absolve the addict or alcoholic of responsibility; rather it is absolutely their responsibility to do something about their disease. But they can’t do it alone. They need help. Lots of it.