Recovery Elevator

Hello, I'm Paul, and I've realized that alcohol is shit. Alcohol isn't what I thought it was. Alcohol used to be my best friend, until it turned its back on me. When I first started drinking, I could have a couple and then stop, but within time stopping became a struggle. I've tried to set boundaries on my drinking like never drink alone, and not before 5 pm but eventually found myself drinking alone before 5 pm, oops. When I'm not drinking, I'm thinking about alcohol. When I am drinking, I think I should probably quit. After grappling with alcohol for over a decade and a summer from hell in 2014, I decided on September 7th, 2014 to stop drinking and haven't looked back. I started the Recovery Elevator podcast to create accountability for myself and wasn't too concerned about if anyone was listening. Five million downloads later and the podcast has evolved into an online recovery community, in-person meet-ups retreats and we are even creating sober adventure travel itineraries to places like Peru, Asia, and Europe! 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. Similar to other recovery podcasts like This Naked Mind, the Shair Podcast, and the Recovered Podcast, Paul discusses a topic and then interviews someone who is embarking upon a life without alcohol.
RSS Feed
Recovery Elevator






All Episodes
Now displaying: February, 2017
Feb 27, 2017

Henk, 5 years sober, shares his story…..

How do most people get sober?  We all assume that it is through rehab or 12 step programs and that your odds are slim if you try to do it on your own (  During the 1980’s an idea was promoted that the only way you could get and stay sober was through rehab programs or AA.  However, a study that followed problem drinkers from 2001-2005 showed that 85% of these drinkers got sober without any outside help (a phenomenon known as spontaneous or natural remission recovery).  It should be noted that the majority of these people still had strong support systems at home and in their community.      




[ 7:53 ] How long have you been sober?


Henk – I have been sober since Sept 13, 2010.  I am originally from Holland but now live in Thailand where I for work for Hope Rehab.  I also love to ride motor bikes.


[ 9:30 ]  When did you realize that you had a problem?


Henk – I have been in and out of various treatment facilities since I was 23.  At the age of 13, I began drinking and using drugs.  This quickly escalated into selling drugs at the age of 15.  By the time I turned 30, I had been in 5 long term treatment programs.  They did not work because I did not want to stop drinking, I just wanted the problems to stop.


[ 11:15 ]  Do you think that alcohol is the gateway drink?


Henk – Yes, when I drank I became a completely different person.  We believe that it is more alcohol than marijuana that leads to destructive behavior.


[ 12:29 ]  Paul and Henk discuss what lead him to finally seek treatment


Henk – My family did not want anything to do with me anymore.  I had racked up high debts and I could not even take care of myself.  I was living in dilapidated conditions.  I finally realized that you cannot run away from what is in your head.  You cannot drink those thoughts away.   


[ 13:37 ]  What was the biggest difference between your last 2 rehabs?


Henk – I had lost everything and was mentally and physically dying.  I decided that I could not go back to that kind of life.


[ 15:00 ]  Paul and Henk discuss the “gift” of desperation


Henk – The gift of desperation is very painful but it helped get me clean.  It made me realize what I had done to myself.


[ 16:32 ]  Paul and Henk discuss the value of a fishing rod


Henk – Right after leaving treatment, I found that I had no hobbies and no friends.  I had to find some type of higher power and since I had a love of nature, I decided to buy a fishing pole.  Anytime I was bored, angry, and lonely or upset, I would go to the canal and sit with my fishing pole.  I would feel the wind and watch the water move.  It really helped settle my mind.  I also bought a pair of running shoes and began running.  It was time to move forward.


[ 21:47 ] Paul and Henk discuss the classroom exercise he observed while visiting Hope Rehab in Thailand


Henk – I try to make the patients understand that work is needed if you want to remain sober.  Relapse rates are very high and I try to stress the importance of putting in the effort.  You want to remain sober?  You’ve got to do the work.


[  25:20 ]  How are you staying sober now?


Henk – My sobriety is still my #1 priority.  I have a sponsor and still go to meetings, especially when I travel.  Since I work in a rehab facility, I am constantly seeing new comers.  It helps remind me that addiction is so painful.  When I reached 1 year of sobriety myself, I had tears running down my face because I could not believe that I had done it!


[ 27:50]  What are your thoughts on relapse?


Henk – Relapse is a sign of some type of reservation in recovery.  As alcoholics, we can think of a million reasons to drink.  Nothing that happens to you justifies a relapse.  Drinking only makes it worse.  


[ 30:39  ] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking? Sitting by myself at Christmas one year.  My life was a mess, my girlfriend had just left me and no one wanted anything to do with me.
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment?  When I crashed my scooter in front of all of my friends
  3. What’s your plan moving forward? Right now I am feeling very stable and calm in my recovery.  It helps that I love where I work.
  4. What’s your favorite resource in recovery?, meetings, and the book Living Sober
  5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)? “Stop being a dick Henk!” and “Take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth.”
  6. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking?  The best thing you can do for yourself is get sober.  I used to think that my life would be over if I could no longer party.  Life has only just begun for me since I got sober.
  7. You might be an alcoholic if………you think alcohol is the solution


Resources mentioned in this episode:




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


Feb 20, 2017

James, with 79 days sober, shares his story……..

Paul starts the show by recommending Annie Grace’s video course on how to get started in sobriety and how to make lasting changes.  Enter promo code elevator50 to receive $50 off.

Does getting sober mean simply not drinking?  No – not drinking equals a dry drunk.  Getting stuck as a dry drunk also means that your life will not be as happy and fulfilling as it should be.  This can lead to a slow downhill decline until you pick up drinking again. If giving up alcohol feels like a punishment, than you have entered into dry drunk land (  Recovery does not mean returning to the life you had before drinking; it means moving through the challenges of what life throws your way.

Symptoms of a dry drunk:

  • Low stress tolerance
  • Picking up other unhealthy choices (lay off the smokes Paul!)
  • Loneliness
  • Denial
  • Refusal to accept what recovery means
  • Romancing the drink
  • Self-pity
  • Being over-prideful

Getting involved in meetings and being engaged in your recovery program can help you recognize these symptoms.  If you feel like a dry drunk, you should examine your program to see what is missing.




[ 12:30 ] Paul Introduces James who has been sober for 79 days.  James feels lucky that the gifts and goodness of sobriety have come to him already.


[ 13:15 ] James is 29 years old, lives in NJ and sells software.  He enjoys going to the gym daily and golfing.


[ 14:53 ]  James discusses his drinking history


James – I was your typical teenage binge drinker.  When I went to college, I got involved with religion and the Bible and really did not drink much.  After college, I ended up taking a job on Wall Street where drinking and drugs were prevalent.  Even though I was drinking just like everyone else, I still struggled with my internal beliefs (Why are we all here?).  I was making good money on Wall Street but my addictions kept me from making emotional connections.  


[19:25 ]  James discusses how drugs and alcohol were only the solution.  Reality was the real problem.

James – I wanted to be able to look back on my life with pleasure regarding my relationships and the bonds that I had formed.  Alcohol and drugs were keeping me from reaching this ultimate goal.  I had tried to control my drinking but finally the pain was just too much to take.


[ 21:06 ] James discusses his rock bottom


James – I had been skidding against the rock for quite a while.  I would go 3-4 weeks without drinking and then would just tear it up.  This behavior went on for 2-3 years.  It was like having 2 separate lives.  I finally checked myself in to an outpatient rehab.  This allowed me to start reconnecting to other people in the program.   


[ 25:00 ] What was it like after connecting with these people?


James – I immersed myself in recovery (reading, writing, dialytic behavior therapy).  It was hard getting out of my comfort zone but I started communicating better with my girlfriend, I stopped lying and began telling everyone I was done with drinking.


[ 28:30 ]  What were the reactions of the people you were telling?


James – I was surprised at the amount of support I was receiving.  My friends would joke that I should have gone to outpatient rehab 3 years earlier.  I also felt like people respected me more for the work that I was doing in recovery.


[ 30:21 ]  What is your plan moving forward?


James – I am taking it 1 day at a time.  Not drinking enables me to have the life that I want to have.  I am trying new things and keeping recovery fresh.


[ 31:54 ]  Paul and James discuss the passing of his father and how he is dealing with those feelings without using alcohol.


James – I feel like I have only scratched the surface of life without alcohol.  The full extent of my father’s passing has not hit me yet.  I want those feelings to come even if by a freight train.


[ 32:58 ]  Which recovery tool is resonating with you right now?


James – Outpatient rehab has been the most helpful so far.


[ 34:12  ] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking? When I was arrested and had to see my family’s faces the next day.
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment? After my grandfather had passed away, I went out drinking and drugging.  The next morning I woke up with the terrible feeling that something wasn’t quite right.
  3. What’s your plan moving forward? Keeping up with my DBT and trying to be of service to others
  4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)? 1 size does not fit all
  5. What is DBT and what is it like?  It helps with mindfulness and with staying in the moment.  It teaches you how to not be impulsive.
  6. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking?  Take a good hard look at yourself and try to find out what your underlying issues are.  Get real with yourself.
  7. You might be an alcoholic if…..  You continually feel depressed and anxious 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


May 20th in Bozeman MT is the AALRM (run for recovery).  You can sign up for a virtual run at  Enter promo code recoveryelevator to receive $5.00 off


DBT (dialytic behavior therapy) for people struggling with substance abuse problems, is a way to achieve self-acceptance while simultaneously accepting the need for change. There are four basic aspects to DBT: mindfulness, interpersonal relations, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance.  



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


Feb 13, 2017

Jeff, who has been sober since Dec 5, 2016, shares his story……


Paul starts the show recounting his 2 weeks visiting Hope Rehab in Thailand. (


What I learned in Rehab

  • People came for other drugs but quickly realize that alcohol was the real issue
  • Most people were still in denial of their addiction and will not stay sober
  • A lot of the clients were just going through the motions
  • Addiction does not segregate; there were people from 4 continents, lawyers’ doctors, social workers, accountants, etc.
  • Thailand is hot and wild pythons are a real thing
  • Alcohol is communal. I have the same story as a guy in Malaysia and we had an instant connection within 5 minutes
  • We are the lucky ones
  • Some people are close to hitting the “fuck it” button at all times
  • If you experience mild depression once, you have a 16% higher chance of experiencing it again.
  • It takes your body 3 days to recuperate from 20 minutes of stress
  • The old saying, “It takes 21 days to learn a new habit,” is a myth. It really takes 66 days. Once a habit’s circuity is created it can never be unlearned, but a new habit can be started.
  • NVC or non-violent communication is the way to solve 99.4% of problems.
  • Watching TV does not lower cortisol levels, but reading does
  • Cortisol from stress impairs learning new things and problem solving
  • The ego lives in the past and future, only the heart can live in the moment
  • Even though the Recovery Elevator podcast is free and rehab may/may not be free,  we’ve all paid a tremendous price with our pain and suffering
  • The road to and in recovery narrows
  • The problem is not the problem
  • We need to find a way to stop the relationship with the chemical alcohol. It boils down to us not being satisfied
  • I am not powerful and I am not special when it comes to alcohol.
  • Step 0 = Trying everything to drink like a normal person (moderation, only beer, no hard alcohol, etc.)
  • To quit drinking, we only need to quit one thing.  Everything!
  • The solution to quitting drinking is to have a spiritual experience without alcohol
  • You must find a higher power and it cannot be yourself.  Your ego is not your amigo!
  • There is a lot of laughter in rehab
  • People stop maturing emotionally and spiritually once addiction takes hold
  • Resentments are offensively dangerous
  • You do not have a chance at sobriety unless responsibility falls on your own shoulders
  • Buddhism basically consists of 5 pillars that prevent harm to ourselves and others
  • There is an AA waltz; 1 step, 2 step, 3 step drink. That damn 4th step.
  • Addicts and alcoholics are a sensitive group of people. I was a summer camp counselor in 2007 and it felt at times we were dealing with teenagers. Tammy said this, and Roger said that.
  • Sometimes we will worry over not having anything to worry about.  Don’t worry Paul, there will always be something to worry about
  • We tend to not relapse over divorce, bankruptcy, or a family death.  A broken shoelace?  Bring on a drink!
  • A counselor asked a group to do an exercise each night for 1 week. The following week only 20% of the participants had done as the counselor has asked. The counselor then responded with “and that is why only 20% of you will stay sober after rehab, the majority don’t go through the work.”
  • My addiction told me that I didn’t need to do the rehab work since I have been sober for over 2 years. Nice try Gary (my addiction).




[ 9:28 ]  Jeff’s full e-mail to Paul is posted on the Recovery Elevator blog


[ 10:30 ] Tell us a little about yourself and when your last drink was.


Jeff – My last drink was on 12/4/16.  I am originally from Denver, married and have a 17 year old son.  I am entrepreneur who likes to fish and wakeboard.  


[ 11:48 ]  Did you ever try to put rules in place in order to control your drinking?


Jeff – I really had not tried to stop until this past fall.  I would only spend a specified amount of money on alcohol or only drink on the weekends.  This tango dance with booze never worked.


[ 14:08 ]  Why do you call yourself a high bottom drinker?


Jeff – It took me a long time to label myself as a problem drinker.  I got married young, I owned a small business, and was a normal drinker for a long time.  I was able to justify my drinking because my life was good up to a point.


[ 17:57 ]  When did you realize that you were not a normal drinker?


Jeff – By my late 20’s, my drinking was really progressing.  I was living for the weekend parties with my neighbors.  This was normal behavior among all of us.  We would also hold church services at the house in which drinking was included.


[ 21:43 ]  Walk us through your first DWI.


 Jeff – We had gone out with all of the neighbors.  Our designated driver had started drinking so I offered to drive us to the next restaurant.  When I was pulled over, it was more embarrassing than anything.  By 2008-2009, I was suddenly divorced and had primary care of my son.  I was full of self-pity and this justified my drinking.  Later that year I was out drinking and called my cousin to come pick me up.  She had a few cocktails at the bar as well.  She was driving us home later and swerved off of the road and we hit a concrete barrier.  I still continued to drink after this. 


[ 28:47 ]  Paul and Jeff discuss how he successfully cut back drinking in 2016


Jeff – I still did not think that I had an alcohol problem.  I thought it was more of a relationship problem.  My current wife’s child was in the hospital and I suddenly thought that I did not want to end up there because of my drinking.  I had a good marriage and a rock star son.  I did not want to lose everything that I had.


[ 33:27 ]  Tell us more about your obsession with alcohol.



Jeff – I could not get past the first step of admitting that my life was unmanageable.  I still think that I can manage my life, just not as well.  I finally realized that I couldn’t manage my life if I were dead.  I started listening to the RE podcast.


[ 38:42 ]  How do you feel now?


Jeff – I feel great on most days.  It was hard over the holidays and I’ve had to break old traditions that involved alcohol.  My wife keeps me accountable and suggested that we make new traditions.  The RE podcast helps remind me of where I was.



[ 41:57  ] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking? I was supposed to be the Officiant at a friend’s wedding.  I was feeling really down towards marriage at the time and proceeded to drink all night before the wedding.  I was not competent to perform the wedding the following day. 
  2. What’s your plan moving forward? Keep listening to podcasts, reading Annie Grace’s book, “This Naked Mind,” and staying open to what my higher power has in store for me
  3. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking? Listen to RE podcast episode 99.  Ask yourself, “Which person do you want to be?”


           ********If you want to stay sober, you’ve got to do the work********

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

Send us an e-mail if you would like to volunteer at Hope Rehab in Thailand



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


Feb 6, 2017

Shane with 3 days since his last drink, shares his story…..

Paul starts the show off by listing his reasons for quitting drinking:

  • I wake up eager to start the day
  • I’m not lying to myself anymore
  • Because It’s a progressive disease and I know the pain and misery that awaits
  • I do not have a beer gut anymore 
  • THIQ was being deposited into my brain after every binge drinking episode which made it harder and harder to stop
  • I do not want to get dumber.  I want to get smarter.
  • Most alcohol tastes like moldy tootsie rolls
  • I was sick of telling myself “One day we are going to ________”
  • Alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs in the world and it kills more people than any other drug combined
  • I was failing as a dog owner… big time
  • I do not wonder if I have Alzheimer’s anymore
  • Because alcohol is shit, total and complete shit
  • Money is neat, and I have a lot more of it now
  • I do not black out anymore, I’m only on this planet once and I don’t want to miss a thing
  • I haven’t had a serious physical injury since stopping drinking. That would be a torn hip flexor doing Limbo in 2012. No joke
  • No more black eyes
  • Sometimes I feel “High on Life” 
  • A diet based on calories from alcohol doesn’t work. I’ve tried it
  • I put an Altoids in my mouth because I like the taste, not to mask the vodka on my breath
  • No more cavities - In those blackouts, brushing my teeth wasn’t a priority for some reason
  • My face no longer looks like a swollen pumpkin
  • I quit because one day I would like to share my life with a very special person. Slim to no chance of that happening before
  • My standard poodle Ben looked at me to go play on a beautiful summer day in 2014 and I was drunk in bed at 3pm on a sunny afternoon. Those eyes broke my heart. Ben, I am so sorry
  • Alcohol was my best friend and it turned on me
  • I couldn’t stop drinking once I started
  • I found I needed more and more alcohol to obtain the same effect 
  • I quit drinking because I heard the Brave Heart soundtrack for 3 weeks straight - When it wasn’t playing, it was in my head
  • I wasn’t free
  • Alcohol determined where I worked, who I hung out with, when I went to bed and when I woke up
  • Music didn’t look like much of anything 
  • I want to look at myself in the mirror in the morning and say “Hey, I know that guy!”
  • I do not want to go to rehab, but if I do, I’m going to Thailand
  • I want to stop living a life of life or death. I would probably commit suicide within 5 years and I’m not really living.
  • It’s been 8 years since I got a black eye at a bar… by a girl
  • Girls like me now-well more than when I was talking to them cross eyed and blacked out
  • I was sick and tired of being sick and tired
  • My body doesn’t randomly ache anymore
  • My right elbow hurt when I swam for about 7 years. Not anymore
  • I can now run a 7:30 mile - three of them in a row actually 
  • I do not want a DUI… okay another one
  • Alcohol is shit. Did I mention that already?
  • I saw Guns and Roses in Bolivia and remembered it. I saw 311 at Red Rocks and do not remember any of it. I’d like to remember concerts in the future.
  • I wanted to stop blaming others for my problems
  • Ulcers are painful, and I’ve got a several ulcers due to a compromised immune system
  • I do not want to go to jail… okay go to jail again
  • Shovels give me blisters, so I decided to quit digging… See what I did there?
  • I’m AHDH and being in the moment is something I struggle with,  now I’ve got a shot
  • My parents just retired and I can fully be there for their golden years
  • Alcohol wasn’t cheap. Per the Recovery Elevator tracker app I’ve saved $11,867 
  • I’ve learned to get to it, you need to go through it. Today, I feel uncomfortable feelings at face value and lean into them instead of jam them into a box only to have them explode and an inopportune moment, like my best friends bachelor party
  • My stomach hurt from laughing 4 times 2016; from 2007-20014 that number was zero
  • This is going to sound lame but it’s the truth. At about 6 months without a drink, the childhood feeling that I can do anything I put my mind to had returned… and is still here… watch out stigma
  • I don’t want to kill myself anymore. That’s pretty cool eh?
  • I watch my favorite episodes on TV instead of being the lead actor in the drunken episodes 
  • I can play 4 Third Eye Blind Songs on the Guitar. Okay, 3.5
  • Stars. Holy shit. Have they always been there and so bright? 
  • It is liberating to not need a mind altering substance at social functions
  • Depression and anxiety are unpleasant feelings. They still lurk around at times, but not for nearly as long nor as thick
  • Turns out I do not suck at kickball or dodgeball.  I was too drunk to kick or dodge the ball
  • Being a business owner overseeing a staff of 22 is easier without a splitting headache
  • In sobriety, I’m learning that that guy Bob was on to something and everything is gonna be alright – Hey Mon!
  • Problems pertaining to money have pretty much dissolved
  • Anxiety = 98% better now
  • Shirley Temples, I have rediscovered, are the best drink known to mankind
  • The people that I surround myself with are my true friends, not drinking friends
  • Binge drinking in airport stalls and then throwing up in the boarding line was miserable.
  • I want to enjoy 100% of my vacations, instead of around 30-40%
  • I still get depressed, but no longer than a couple days. Before, it would be for weeks/months.
  • Because today is the best chance I have at staying sober.





[ 8:58 ] Paul Introduces Shane.  When was your last drink?


Shane – My last drink was on Christmas day (which was 3 days ago at the time of this interview).  These past 3 days have been tough.  I’ve been doing a lot of sweating.


[ 11:00 ] When did you first realize that you had a problem?


Shane – I received my first DWI when I was 18.  That was my first time in jail and it was horrible.  When I first starting drinking I thought I had found my soul mate.


[ 13:08 ] Tell us a little about yourself.


Shane – I am 32 years old and from California.  I like to play tennis, golf and travel.  I like to do anything outdoors.  Booze took away the fun I used to have in these activities.


[ 14:26 ] Did you ever try to put rules in place in order to control your drinking?


Shane – You name the rule and I have tried it!  I tried to limit myself to specific types of alcohol but would always forget the rule once I started drinking.  The best rule you should remember is to just not drink.


[ 17:50 ] What is so different now?


Shane – I did not chicken out when I thought of calling Paul.  I try to live in the moment and stay busy.  I also try not think too far into the future.


[ 19:45 ] What was your bottom?


Shane – 1 bottom was that I was mentally draining my family constantly.  Other bottoms were all of the 4 times I ended up in jail.  I was basically blacking out my entire life.  Alcohol made me feel like I was going crazy.   


[ 24:40 ] You have mentioned a few times how bad going to jail was.  Whose fault was it that jail was so bad?


Shane – It was my fault that I had ended up in there.  But the guards were really harsh.  The other inmates were fine.


[ 25:40 ] What have you lost to alcohol?


Shane – I’ve lost many days of my life and plenty of girlfriends.


[ 26:40 ] What happened this past Christmas day that made you want to stop drinking?


Shane – I’ve wanted to stop drinking for years.  It had just become too exhausting to continue.


[ 28:50 ]  How have you gotten 3 days so far?


Shane – Right now I do not feel like I am white knuckling it.  I am not going to AA.  I’ve had bad experiences with church in the past and AA has too much religion in it.  Praying to a higher power does not work for me.


[ 31:53 ] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What’s your plan moving forward? Staying busy, listening to podcasts and U-Tube videos on recovery
  2. What was your worst memory from drinking? I was punched in the face by a girl
  3. What’s your favorite resource in recovery? The support of family and friends
  4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)? If you are comfortable than you are not growing, do not become stagnant water
  5. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking? Do not give up on yourself.  Be true to yourself.  There is hope.
  6. You might be an alcoholic if……. you wake up with pee in your pants and you are not sure if it’s yours!


Resources mentioned in this episode: (by Kevin O’Hara)

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



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