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Recovery Elevator | Stop Drinking, Start Recovering. | Alcohol, Addiction & Life in Sobriety

Hello, I'm Paul and I've come to the realization that me and alcohol no longer get along. When I start drinking, I cannot stop, despite how many times I tell myself I'm only going out for just a couple. I've lost that battle 99 out of 100 times. I've tried to set boundaries on my drinking like never drink alone, and not before 5pm but several times found myself drinking alone well before 5pm. When I'm not drinking, I feel fidgety, contentious and anxious which eventually leads me back to the bottle. After grappling with alcohol for over a decade and a summer from hell in 2014, I decided on September 7th 2014, I HAVE to stop drinking. The Recovery Elevator Podcast is a medium to help keep me sober in addition to helping others struggling with alcohol quit drinking and maintain a healthy recovery. Don't make the same mistakes I did in early recovery. Hear from guests who are successfully navigating early sobriety. It won't be easy, but you can do this.
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Now displaying: January, 2017
Jan 30, 2017

Amelia, with 79 days since her last drink, shares her story……

According to the HBO documentary, Risky Drinking, 70% of people drink.  Most drinkers fall within the following spectrum: no risk, low risk, mid risk, moderate risk, severe and death.  The documentary chronicles 4 people in different stages of alcoholism.  If you are drinking to fix the problem that drinking has caused, you may need to watch this program and see where you fall on the spectrum.

 

SHOW NOTES

 

[ 10:39 ] Paul Introduces Amelia who’s last drink was on 10/10/16.

 

[ 11:12 ]  Have you had any close calls since you stopped drinking?

 

Amelia – Not really, although I was pretty irritable during Christmas time.  Instead of drinking, I just went to bed.

 

[ 11:48 ]  Tell us a little about yourself.

 

Amelia – I was born and raised in San Francisco.  I am a social worker and work with children in the foster care system.  I love to watch baseball games and travel.

 

[ 13:19 ] When did you realize that you had a problem with alcohol?

 

Amelia – I started noticing I had a problem approximately 10 years ago, but I was always able to justify my behavior.  79 days ago, I just got sick and tired of being sick and tired!

 

[ 14:32 ]  Did you ever put rules into place to try and moderate your drinking?

 

Amelia – I would try to drink only at night and on the weekends.  After a hard days’ work, I felt like I deserved it.  I had not had any bad consequences yet so this helped justify my drinking.  Soon I implemented the “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” mentality.

 

[ 15:56 ]  Did you have a bottom?

 

Amelia – I was kicked out of the Peace Corp for drinking too much.  It was Independence Day in the Caribbean and after drinking all day, I decided that I wanted to go home.  I ended up walking 7 miles in the rain back to my apartment with a co-worker.  I would also not report to the Peace Corp my location at all times and this was a requirement.

 

[ 18:42 ] How did you get to 79 days without alcohol?

 

Amelia – I had a phone call with my parents to wish them a Happy Anniversary.  I did not remember the phone call at all the following morning.  It was a total blackout.  I had asked myself, “Do I really want to be this person?”  I called a friend who I trusted and they encouraged me to go to an AA meeting.  I felt accountable.

 

[ 20:21 ]  Tell us more about this accountability piece?

 

Amelia – I had spoken to this same friend about my concerns with alcohol about a year before.  I also spoke to my mother.  She informed me that she had attended an Al-Anon meeting 1 year ago as well because she too was concerned with my drinking.

 

[ 22:53 ]  What was it like having repeated bottoms?

 

Amelia – I never thought they were real or deep bottoms.  I did not have consequences or anything taken away from me because of my drinking yet.

 

[ 24:40 ] What do you think would happen if you drink again?

 

Amelia – It would be just a matter of time before something really bad happened.

 

[ 26:00 ]  What is your plan going forward?

 

Amelia – So far AA has been working.  If I think about drinking, I just follow the drunk all of the way to the end.  I am attending the RE Retreat in Montana so that will hold myself accountable.  Soon, I would like to start working the steps.

 

[ 30:12 ] What have you learned most about yourself?

 

Amelia – that I can be happy and have a better life without drinking.

 

[ 31:00 ] What advice would you give your younger self?

 

Amelia – to look at your bottoms and see them for what they really are.  I would also listen more to my mother when she told me how alcoholism runs in our family.

 

[ 33:00  ] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking? getting kicked out of the Peace Corp and hitting a parked car while drunk
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment? one of my clients told me I smelled like alcohol and I blamed it on hand sanitizer
  3. What’s your favorite resource in recovery? AA
  4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)? follow the drunk, be gentle with yourself and say the Serenity prayer often
  5. You might be an alcoholic if….. you pee in your bed after a night of drinking

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Recovery Elevator Retreat

Connect with Cafe RE- Use the promo code Elevator for your first month free

Sobriety Tracker iTunes

Sobriety Tracker Android

Sober Selfies! - Send your Sober Selfie and your Success Story to info@recoveryelevator.com

“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”

Jan 23, 2017

Erik, with 67 days since his last drink, shares his story….

What exactly is alcohol and how is it created?  According to the book, Beyond the Influence, by Katherine Ketcham, the basic ingredient of alcohol is yeast.  Let’s just call it what it is; yeast dung to be exact.  The yeast eventually dies off during the fermenting process leaving alcohol in its’ basic form, which is ethanol.  That’s right folks!  We have been consuming the same ingredient that is used in lacquer and dyes.  Once we drink, the alcohol quickly passes through our cell membranes and enters the blood stream.  Depending on our age, gender, or whether or not we have eaten, etc., alcohol affects us all differently.  Beyond just the physically changes, alcohol also affects our emotional state.  It has been known to exacerbate anxiety, stress and fatigue by triggering the body to release adrenaline artificially.  No wonder those hang overs are so awful!

 

SHOW NOTES

 

[ 10:44 ] Paul Introduces Erik and asks when was his last drink?

 

Erik – 67 days ago and it feels good on most days

 

[ 11:13 ] Erik tell us a little about himself.

 

Erik – I am 31 years old and currently live in Dallas.  I play and teach music and also enjoy cooking and exercise.

 

[ 13:42 ] When did you realize you had a problem with drinking?

 

Erik – After graduating from college, consequences started happening.  I had crashed a few cars and received a few DWI’s.

 

[ 15:11 ] Did you ever try to implement rules in order to moderate your drinking?

 

Erik – I was not real great at even putting rules into place.  But I had an interlock (breathalyzer) put on my car and would try to moderate so that I could still start the car.  One time I blew over the limit 3 times.  I was more of a binge drinker.  Once I started, I could not stop drinking.

 

[ 17:24 ] After your probation ended, you started drinking again.  What happened?

 

Erik – When you are on probation, I think mentally you are just waiting for the time to be over.  Once it is over, you can drink again.  I continued to drink for 2-3 years without suffering any real consequences.

 

[ 19:00 ]  Did your drinking progress or remain the same?

 

Erik – It progressed and I started driving when I shouldn’t be again.  I also started experiencing episodes of anger and rage, which was completely uncharacteristic of me.

 

[ 20:45 ]  Erik shares a recent story of a wedding he attended.

 

Erik – I was running late for a wedding in which I was a groomsman.  My mind made this a much bigger deal than it actually was so when I finally arrived, I headed straight to the bar.  I stumbled to the service and was late for the photo shoot.  I continued to drink and my mood kept deteriorating.  After the wedding was over, I went to the after party and eventually blacked out.  When I came to, I was in the middle of a brawl with a friend.  I was very disappointed in myself and was worried that I had destroyed some friendships.

 

[ 27:45 ] How did you get to 67 days without drinking?

 

Erik – I had worked the AA program many years ago and basically got re-plugged in.  I reached out to some previous people that I knew in the program, started going to meetings and got a sponsor.

 

[ 31:00 ]  Paul and Erik discuss the gift of desperation

 

Erik – My last drinking memory was that wedding I attended.  I am not sure if I can fix the damage that I did to some of those relationships.  I do not want that last memory to define me.

 

[ 32:00 ] What is your plan moving forward?

 

Erik – I will continue to work my program, meditate and go to meetings.  I would also like to start my own life now, by moving out of my parent’s house and getting back on track.

 

[ 33:33  ] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking? wrecking 3 cars, being in jail and having to call my parents
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment? One night I was playing a show in Dallas.  I knew I should not have driven home but I did it anyway
  3. What’s your favorite resource in recovery? AA meetings, listening to podcasts and reading.
  4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)? Recovery is a process.  Stay busy with projects and fill in that time that you would normally drink with different things to do.
  5. You might be an alcoholic if…. You use a blood alcohol calculator (BAC) in order to get past your car interlock

****Congratulations to our very own Brandy for reaching 1 year of sobriety****

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Books – Beyond the Influence by Katherine Ketcham and Living Sober by AA

Connect with Cafe RE- Use the promo code Elevator for your first month free

Sobriety Tracker iTunes

Sobriety Tracker Android

Sober Selfies! - Send your Sober Selfie and your Success Story to info@recoveryelevator.com

 

 

“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”

Jan 16, 2017

Tricia, with 30 days since her last drink, shares her story….

Congratulations Recovery Elevator on 100 episodes!  How did we make it to 100 episodes?  How else, but one episode (day) at a time.

Problem drinking that becomes severe is often given the medical term alcohol use disorder or AUD.  Some interesting studies from the NESARC show that in 2012, 7.2% of the population surveyed had an alcohol use disorder (article found here: www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders.) 

Europe also has an organization (the ECA) who conducts alcohol related surveys.  They found that although people in Southern Europe drank larger amounts of alcohol, they were able to moderate their drinking.  In comparison, there were more alcohol related fatalities in Northern Europe.  Could this be because of binge drinking?  Perhaps the folks from the South can drink 1-2 glasses of wine with their meal while people from the North are drinking larger quantities in one sitting?  We will let the ECA draw that conclusion.

 

SHOW NOTES

 

[ 8:23 ] Paul Introduces Tricia who’s last drink was approximately 30 days ago

 

[ 9:00 ] When did you realize you had a problem?

 

Tricia – I knew I wasn’t a normal drinker even at the age of 23.  I always knew that I would have to quit one day.  I never drank just for the taste, it was always to get drunk.  Once I started drinking, I could not stop.

 

[ 11:28 ] Did you ever put any rules in place in order to control your drinking?

 

Tricia – I tried switching to a drink that I did not like.  This never worked and I would end up doing shots of something else.  My fellow drinker friends thought this was a great idea!  I was always into fitness and nutrition so I would make sure my daily caloric intake would allow for booze.

 

[ 15:41 ] Tell us about yourself?

 

Tricia – I am 35 year old chef who now owns her own business.  I have always been a runner but also enjoy anything in the outdoors, such as skiing and snowboarding.  I like to knit and cross stitch Gangsta Rap lyrics into items for friends.  My only hobby before was drinking.  I would work and drink.  That was it.   

 

[ 19:18 ] Did you have a bottom?

 

Tricia – I was a high functioning alcoholic.  My bottom was very high.  I would always pretend that I wasn’t drunk or that I didn’t have a hangover. My motto was, “I’ve Got This.”   When I went on a 3 day binger, 30 days ago, I was so hung over that I could even fake it.  I had to stay in bed all day.  That was the first time I experienced the physical withdrawals of sweating, fever and shaking.

 

[ 22:15 ]  How did you reach the conclusion that you did not have control over alcohol?

 

Tricia – My friends and I were going out one night and rented a party bus.  I was terribly anxious for weeks up until this party.  I was afraid I would drink too much and black out.  The black outs were getting to be very common.  I ended up drinking too much and woke up the next day with bruises all over my legs.  I did not remember falling down but obviously it had happened. 

 

[ 24:48 ]  Did alcohol play a role in your divorce?

 

Tricia – there were many other factors but both my ex-husband and I drank.  When we fought, we had usually both been drinking.  I wasn’t supposed to be the drinker of the family.  My brother was the center of attention since he had the alcohol/drug problem for years.  I was the over achiever who still managed to get to work on time and function normally.  Until I could no longer fake it.

 

[ 26:56 ] How did you get to day 1 without a drink?

 

Tricia – I had not planned on stopping drinking entirely.  It basically snuck up on me.  I had that terrible hangover and the physical withdraw symptoms so I called my brother who is now in recovery.  He is very supportive.  I went on-line and found the RE podcast and starting listening and hearing similar stories.

 

[  30:28 ]  What does a day in the life of Tricia look like?

 

Tricia – I started going to AA meetings.  I ended up being late to my first AA meeting because I went to the wrong room.  The security officer at the church shouted to everyone that the AA meeting was in the other room.  Even though I was 10 minutes late for that meeting, I was really 10 years late in trying AA.

 

 

[ 34:51  ] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking? the blackouts and everything that I do not remember
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment? trying to moderate and being fearful that I would over indulge and put myself in danger
  3. What’s your plan moving forward? Every morning I read the Big Book pp 86-88.  I meditate on those pages.  I am also reading a book by Tara Brock called Radical Acceptance.
  4. What’s your favorite resource in recovery? AA meetings and connecting with other alcoholics
  5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)? keep an open mind and forget everything you think you know.  Do not try to do this alone.
    • you need alcohol to do simple tasks
    • you put vodka in your water bottle to go to the gym
    • you think you are an alcoholic
  6. You might be an alcoholic if….

Paul ends the podcast with some questions for the listeners: What type of role does or did alcohol play in your life?  Does alcohol dictate your life?  Be honest with yourself.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Paul will be speaking at a “This is My Brave” even on 1/22/17.  The event is at the Moss Theater @ 4pm.  The address is 313 Olympic Blvd, Santa Monica, CA.  Tickets can be found here:  www.bfrb.org

Connect with Cafe RE- Use the promo code Elevator for your first month free

Sobriety Tracker iTunes

Sobriety Tracker Android

Sober Selfies! - Send your Sober Selfie and your Success Story to info@recoveryelevator.com

 

 

“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”

 

Jan 9, 2017

Mona, with 2 weeks since her last drink, shares her story…….

Paul starts the show by answering some “fan“ mail questions about God and AA.  Many listeners wonder how they can participate in AA without accepting a higher power.  When the pain of drinking outweighs everything else, you just may be willing to try anything.  Statistics show that alcoholism is on the rise but attendance at AA meetings is stagnant or even on a slight decline.  Attendance at AA meetings may be on the decline because it is a religious based program and also because of the stigma involved (don’t be a hater!).

In a recent article found on TheInfluence.org, http://theinfluence.org/american-gulag-the-five-ways-hundreds-of-thousands-of-people-are-coerced-into-rehab-and-aa/ , it is discussed how people are being forced into AA or rehab, either by employers or the Courts.  Legally, however, a person cannot be forced into AA because it is considered a religious program.  Experience shows us that you will be more successful in a program that you choose voluntarily.  So whether it is AA, SMART, Life Ring, or your own personalized plan, find a program that makes you want to live and love life.  Work that program as if your life depended on it (because quite frankly, it does!).  

 

SHOW NOTES

 

[ 10:08 ] Paul Introduces Mona 

 

She currently lives in Chicago.  She is 23 years old, loves to read and create playlists.  Mona is still figuring out all of the new things she likes to do now that she does not drink.

 

[ 13:43 ] When did you realize you had a problem?

 

Mona – it has been about 4 years in the making.  When I was 19 years old, I drank way too much and was super hungover.  I was totally embarrassed because my parents witnessed this.  I quit alcohol for the next 30 days but knew that I was not completely done with it,

 

[ 16:21 ] Did you ever put any rules in place to try and moderate your drinking?

 

Mona – for 2 years I tried to manage the amount of drinks I would have in 1 sitting. I set my limit at 4 and after that I would just leave the bar.  I realized I had a problem when I was putting so much energy into trying to moderate.

 

[ 20:13 ] What was your bottom?

 

Mona – I did not really have a rock bottom.  I remember my parents had paid for this great trip to the Grand Canyon and the entire trip I was trying to keep control of my alcohol intake in front of them.  The Grand Canyon was so beautiful and it just showed how messy my life had become because of alcohol.

 

[ 21:57 ] How does it feel to be sober at 23 years old?

 

Mona – I feel proud but also overwhelmed at the thought of never drinking again.

 

[ 23:15 ] How did you do it?

 

Mona – I tried will power at first and I was also seeing a therapist who I was finally honest with.  So far the temptation to drink has not been too bad.  My holiday work party was slightly difficult and I left early.  I also started telling my close friends that I had stopped drinking.

 

[ 26:30 ]  What do you think would happen if you started drinking again?

 

Mona – nothing productive would happen.  I would be totally stagnant in my life and in my job.  I would not be happy at all.

 

[ 28:38 ] What is your plan moving forward?

 

Mona – I am experimenting with creating my own plan of recovery.  I want to explore all of my options.

 

[ 32:52 ] What do you want to achieve in sobriety?

 

Mona – I would like to have deeper and more authentic relationships.  I want to become connected to who I really am and to go after the jobs that I really want.

 

[ 35:07 ] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking? After doing drugs and drinking, I had a horrible fight with a guy I was interested in.  I ended up stumbling back to my apartment and just feeling totally empty.
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment? Seeing the Grand Canyon and comparing its’ beauty to my “not beautiful” life
  3. What’s your plan moving forward? Creating my recovery plan
  4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)? Look for the similarities , not the differences
  5. What is your best advice for the newcomer? If you are continually thinking about alcohol or listening to recovery podcasts, have the courage to try out sobriety
  6. You might be an alcoholic if……you empty a bottle of perfume and fill it with alcohol in order to bring it on the airplane in your carry on

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Book of the Month – The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer

http://theinfluence.org/american-gulag-the-five-ways-hundreds-of-thousands-of-people-are-coerced-into-rehab-and-aa/

Recovery Elevator Retreat

Connect with Cafe RE- Use the promo code Elevator for your first month free

Sobriety Tracker iTunes

Sobriety Tracker Android

Sober Selfies! - Send your Sober Selfie and your Success Story to info@recoveryelevator.com

 

 

 

“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”

 

Jan 2, 2017

Shaun, with 2 months since his last drink, shares his story

One of the most common questions we get asked as alcoholics is, “What do you drink now that you no longer drink alcohol?”  Or, “How do I fit in at social functions now?”  There are plenty of tasty non-alcoholic drinks to choose from, so when water is just not cutting it, check out the list below:

Shirley Temple (don’t’ forget to double up on the cherries!)              

Ginger Beer (Cock N Bull brand)                  

Sugar Free Red Bull

La Croix (basically flavored soda water)

Soda water with a splash of cranberry

World Market is the place to go if you are looking for a large selection of ginger beer.

 

SHOW NOTES

 

[ 11:48  ] Paul Introduces Shaun

           

Shaun is 30 years old and currently living in Bozeman, MT.  In his free time, he plays hockey, snowboards and coaches little league flag football

 

[ 13:13 ] Paul asks Shaun to describe his bottom

 

Shaun – I was drinking all day and through the night.  I proceeded to drive home after fighting a friend for my keys.  I drove down a very dangerous canyon and hit the guard rail with my car.  The police eventually pulled me over.  I woke up in the hospital and my father was there, looking very disappointed with me.

 

[ 18:00 ] When did you realize the gravity of your drinking situation?

 

Shaun – Even though I knew right away how bad it was, it still just seemed surreal.  A few weeks went by before I realized this wasn’t a dream.  I went about 3 weeks without a drink.  I started drinking again at my 30th birthday party and went on a 6 week bender.  I then started to just slow down on my own.  I was suffering from deep depression, had walked away from my job, and realized that I was not attaining the goals I had set out for myself. 

 

[ 21:54 ] What do you think would happen if you started drinking again?

 

Shaun – I would be right back to where I was before.  I really do not want to know.

 

[ 23:00 ]  What were your drinking habits like?  How much did you drink?

 

Shaun – I was your typical college drinker.  When I started drinking, I was ready to party.  My drinking escalated when I moved to Bozeman.  

 

[ 25:47 ]  What was your depression like while drinking?

 

Shaun – My depression was usually triggered by the hangovers.  I would think to myself, “What could I have done instead of drinking?”  I would feel worthless about myself the next day.  Alcohol just kept the depression going.  Without alcohol, mild depression is still there but overall I feel more even keel and it is easier to deal with.   

 

[ 27:39 ]  How about anxiety?

 

Shaun – My anxiety was also heavily triggered by booze.  It is still with me now, but has lessened greatly.  Normally after a night of drinking, I would feel totally anxious and would end up with the “screw it’s,” it’s time to drink this away.

 

[ 29:00 ]  How did you get sober?

 

Shaun – I just took it day by day.  I would think that today may suck but tomorrow will be better.  I told many of my friends that I had stopped drinking.  Some of these friends understood, while others are still waiting for me to start drinking again (they are no longer friends).  I also tried to keep focused on my goals and my profession.  Alcohol does not fit within my goals anymore.

 

[ 32:00 ] What is your plan moving forward?

 

Shaun – I will continue to surround myself with positive peers, see my therapist, and basically build a new friend base that does not revolve around alcohol.

 

[ 34:00 ]  What is it like getting sober at a young age?

 

Shaun – It is very hard.  Beer seems to follow all activities but I am trying to make new sober friends.  You have to work through the uncomfortable feelings of being in a situation and not drinking. 

 

 

[ 39:35  ] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking? After a birthday party, I punched my buddy in the head and he proceeded to throw me down the stairs.
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment? When I would make jokes about being an alcohol and suddenly stop laughing because I knew it was me.
  3. What’s your favorite resource in recovery? Hitting the gym
  4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)? Just take it day to day.  Win the fight for that day.
  5. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking? Just start.  Start talking to people about your problem.
  6. You might be an alcoholic if……you make jokes about being an alcoholic but stop laughing because you know you are talking about yourself.

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Recovery Elevator Retreat

Connect with Cafe RE- Use the promo code Elevator for your first month free

Sobriety Tracker iTunes

Sobriety Tracker Android

Sober Selfies! - Send your Sober Selfie and your Success Story to info@recoveryelevator.com

 

If you are in the LA area on 1/22/17, Paul will be talking at a “This is My Brave” event.  The event will be held at the Moss Theater in Santa Monica.  Just google the event to search for tickets.

 

 

“We took the elevator down, we gotta take the stairs back up, we can do this!”

 

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