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: March, 2017
Mar 27, 2017

Chris, with 11 months since his last drink, shares his story……

Does alcohol relieve our fears?  Absolutely not.  It may initially feel like it does but what booze is really doing is taking away our survival instincts.  It removes our ability to face our fear (and fear is there for a reason).  We become the turtle hiding away in its’ shell.  Or worse yet, alcohol takes away our inhibitions which can put us in dangerous situations.  It doesn’t make us courageous.  We may feel like Superman after 1-2 drinks but who stops there?  Alcohol impairs our judgement and we end up attempting to fly like Superman, but without a cape.


[8:58] Paul Introduces Chris.

Chris – I have been sober for 347 days and it feels great!  I am 45 years old and live in Portland Oregon.  I am married with a 12 year old daughter.  I like to travel, spend time with my family and watch stand-up comedy shows.

[10:27] When did you first realize that you had a problem?

Chris – I started noticing that I drank too much in my early 20’s but for the last 2 years I could not go without alcohol for a week.  When my sister got married, I was pretty much in a blackout the entire week.  My final bottom came after a vacation in Hawaii.  On the last day I went on a total binge and couldn’t even be out in public.  The day was entirely wasted and I had to sleep it off.  I told my wife that I needed help and could not do it alone.

[14:11] How did your wife react?

Chris – We had both been trying to cut back and since she works in the healthcare field, she knew of some phone numbers I could call.  I contacted the support line and was seen by a therapist the following day.  I honestly told the therapist how much I had been drinking and he informed me that I was destroying my liver.  This was a good thing for me to hear.  It made me realize just how bad my drinking had gotten.

[17:53] What type of treatment did you receive?

Chris – I saw a therapist pretty quickly and then told my wife how much I had been consuming.  She was surprised when I told her I had been hiding it.

[19:25] What was your first week of sobriety like?

Chris – The first few days were physically rough but after the 1rst month I felt great.  Mentally, it is still tough.  I still have days that feel fuzzy.  Drinking caused me to lose that spiritual light.

[21:33] How are your relationships now?

Chris – my relationship with my daughter is better than ever.  I am finding new layers to me by reading and doing self-help work.  My wife and I are working on our relationship.

[22:33] What have you learned about yourself?

Chris – I can survive discomfort and unhappy feelings without drinking.  It is OK to not feel good sometimes.

[24:45] What does a day in the life of Chris look like?

Chris – I check the RE face book page every morning.  I am learning to meditate but at least try and take some time to myself each day.  I also go to SMART recovery meetings once a week.

[27:00] What are SMART meetings like?

Chris – the meetings can vary.  Some follow the SMART handbook and they help you look at your priorities and choices.  Other meetings are more like open discussions.  You can talk about anything.  The basic premise is that you can control your reactions.

[30:00] Have you had any cravings?

Chris – They are a lot weaker and occur less frequently now.  I made changes to my life like not going to bars.  I also always have an escape plan if needed.  By planning ahead, I do not put myself in any drinking situations if possible.  If someone offers me a drink, I simply say “No thanks” or “Drinking isn’t working for me right now.”

[35:11] What are your thoughts on relapse?


Chris – This addiction is tough.  I am not sure why I haven’t relapse just that I haven’t for today.  I think relapse is more common when you are not fully ready to embrace sobriety.


[37:13] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking? getting lost is a parking lot and not being able to find my way out.
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment? when I promised my daughter that I would quit drinking and then started again
  3. What’s your plan moving forward? stay engaged by listening to other podcasts (The Bubble Hour, That Sober Guy, Mental Illness Happy Hour)
  4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)? Be kind to yourself.  Don’t drink today, and if you did, don’t drink tomorrow
  5. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking? You are not giving up your identity when you quit drinking
  6. You might be an alcoholic if… nurse a beer all night so that it covers up your breath from sneaking vodka


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

Sober Selfies! - Send your Sober Selfie and your Success Story to

Sobriety Tracker Android 

Book – The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer


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


Mar 20, 2017

Mitchell, with 30 days since his last drink, shares his story

How to quit drinking

  1. Do not drink. Replace the beverage in your hand with a Popsicle or a ginger beer
  2. Watch the movie Leaving Las Vegas and then watch it again
  3. Listen to every Third Eye Blind Song ever written
  4. Do not watch the movie Beer Fest
  5. Go to 90 meetings in 90 days
  6. Get a sponsor or an accountability partner
  7. Think about joining Café RE
  8. Have you ever asked yourself, “Do I have a drinking problem?” Well think no more because that’s your answer
  9. Remember that alcohol is pure shit
  10. Affirmations - your unconscious mind is way ahead of you when it comes to viewing alcohol ads and advertisements. You constantly need to affirm to yourself that you will not be drinking.
  11. Change everything: where you get your haircut, the color of your walls, and probably most of the friends you hang out with.
  12. Tell the people closest to you that you will no longer be drinking.
  13. Create accountability = the most important thing on this list.
  14. You cannot quit drinking with willpower because willpower is finite and exhaustible. You might last a week or a month or a year, but eventually you will drink again.
  15. Find a higher power. This higher power could literally be a pigeon sitting on a power cable.
  16. I hate to break it to you, but you cannot do this alone. You are going to need a community of like- minded individuals. Whether this community is online, in person or your next-door neighbor, you are going to have to connect with other like-minded individuals.
  17. Did I mention that alcohol is shit?
  18. If you are just starting this journey, you do not know any answers yet. Please put the cotton in your mouth and start listening.
  19. If you ever say the words to yourself “I think I got this” you’re f@#$%@. Those are the three most dangerous words an alcoholic can say.
  20. Always give yourself an exit strategy. Drive your own car, scooter, skate board or hover board. It is right around that time when your friends start getting tipsy that the danger zone approaches and I’m not talking about the Top Gun soundtrack.
  21. Look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see? Do you like it? Do you want to change what you see?
  22. Ask yourself if you are reaching your full potential in life. Most likely if you are drinking that answer is no. Your dead relatives would not be proud.
  23. If you were thinking about quitting drinking for someone else, you’re f@#$%! You have to quit drinking for yourself.
  24. Do not beat yourself up. In fact, tell yourself that you are a rock star. Sure you might be an average guitar player who will never tour with Aerosmith, but you are worth it, you are damn worth it.
  25. You may find yourself quite bored without alcohol which is why you need to pick up new hobbies such as yoga, jogging, archery, or stamp collecting. Stamp collecting to me sounds extremely boring but you get point.
  26. You need to get outside of your mind and fast. The best way to do this is to help others. For example: Mrs. Jones's lawn across the street is in desperate need of care. That could be the perfect job for you.
  27. If you think you’ve hit rock bottom, unfortunately I’ve got bad news for you. Every bottom has a trapdoor that can lead to much greater pain and suffering.  The good news is that when you do reach a bottom there is something called a conduit. That is when your higher power is there to help you get sober.  Do not put too much emphasis on what this higher power is.  It could be the pigeon on the powerline or it could be the wind bristling between the pine trees.
  28. Educate yourself. Knowledge is useless unless you do something with it. There are a tremendous amount of great podcasts out there about recovery.
  29. Read books preferably not while drinking. “This Naked Mind” by Annie Grace is one of my favorite books. Also a book called “Beyond the Influence” by Katherine Ketchum is fantastic.
  30. If you think you are alone in your drinking, you are dead wrong. There are millions struggling with alcohol and if you connect with some of them you will find that what you have in common is incredible.
  31. Start to develop a recovery portfolio. Jam pack this recovery portfolio full of books, a list of contacts, AA meeting schedules, etc.
  32. Get out of your comfort zone. I can tell you with 100% certainty that sobriety is not located inside of your comfort zone. Friends that try to convince you that sobriety is located inside your comfort zone are not your friends.
  33. La Croix soda water is your best friend.
  34. Do not beat yourself up because alcohol has done a good job of doing just that.
  35. Get up. Get up again. Get up again. Then get up 15 more times. Eventually this will stick and booze will be something of the past.
  36. Start writing a journal. Start writing about what you’re thankful for. Start writing about what your goals are in life and if your current path is leading you to those goals.
  37. Alcoholics Anonymous. Get outside your comfort zone and go to a meeting. Stop making excuses. No wimps allowed!
  38. The stigma is total BS. In 1956 the American Medical Association classified alcoholism and addiction as a disease. Why we are still talking about this today is a mystery.
  39. Come out of the closet as somebody with a drinking problem. I can guarantee you with 100% satisfaction that more good than harm will be the result.
  40. Keep in mind that alcohol is ethanol with a couple of additives added to it to make it palatable. Alcohol in its purest form tastes like raccoon piss.
  41. Tell yourself that alcohol doesn’t actually help you relax. What it’s doing is slowing down your brain faculties. You are literally thinking slower when drinking alcohol.
  42. Watch the show “The Anonymous People” on Netflix. This is a very powerful documentary.
  43. For one week straight write down any triggers that make you drink alcohol. This is 7 straight days of putting pen to paper.
  44. Acceptance is your best friend. It doesn’t matter if you have been sober for a week or you are drinking while listening to this podcast, you must accept the current circumstances that you are in and find a way to be content in them.
  45. There is no chance of getting sober if you are not honest with yourself and others.
  46. Do not turn recovery into a game of leap frog. You cannot skip the steps to getting sober, but you can speed up the process.
  47. On a piece of paper, write down all of the people that you hold resentments towards. In another column write how you are a part of the problem.  Read this to a trusted companion and get ready for major light bulbs to illuminate.
  48. This might seem contradictory to some since the word anonymous is in the word Alcoholics Anonymous, but being silent about your drinking problem only does you harm. You need to tell your loved ones, your friends, your family and any other people you care about in regards to your goal to stay sober
  49. Develop a network of people who also share the same common goal to not drink. I’m not talking about Mr. Rogers on the television.
  50. Alcohol kills more than any other drugs combined – that’s 3 million people each year!




[ 16:57 ] Paul Introduces Mitchell


Mitchell – I have 1 month of sober time and I feel great.  I am originally from Michigan, 31 years old and am the lead pastor of my parish.  I am married with a 3 year old boy.  I enjoy playing music, the outdoors and anything Disney!


[ 20:00 ] When did you realize that you did not drink normally?


Mitchell – I was 22 years old when I had my first drink.  I drank through college but stopped for 7 years when I started my pastor role.  I started drinking again to alleviate anxiety and depression.  When I took an actual inventory of my drinking, I found that I was drinking every day.  I never took a day off.  


[ 22:49 ]  Is there any history of alcoholism in your family?


Mitchell – It is not talked about much but I am sure it is there.


[ 23:00 ] Paul and Mitchell discuss the 7 years he did not drink.


Mitchell – I really did not think about it much at the time.  I was busy building my parish.  Before I knew it, I was drinking on Fridays and then every day again.


[ 23:49 ] Did you ever put any rules in place to moderate your drinking?


Mitchell – Rules never worked for me.  Something situational always came up that gave me the excuse to drink.  Alcohol was my “go to” tool.


[ 24:26 ] Did you have a rock bottom?


Mitchell – I didn’t have a severe rock bottom but I would try and a break from drinking.  I had to keep drinking more and more in order to get the same effect.  The drinking would cause me to make unhealthy choices like eating everything in sight.  


[ 26:00 ] How important has your HP been for you?


Mitchell – God gives me hope.  My relationships with others, being a lead pastor, and my relationship with God can be just as stressful as it is helpful.  Alcohol was my escape from thinking about God, even as I served him.


[ 27:10 ] Have you ever felt let down by God?


Mitchell – It was very challenging leading new community and I would look forward to those drinks at night. 


[ 28:05 ] How did you get sober?


Mitchell – I signed up for the RE group on Facebook.  This took some initiative.  I also went on a diet and this reduced my cravings significantly.  I love being helpful to others and surrounding myself with people who “get it.”


[ 31:42 ] Have you had any withdrawals?


Mitchell – nothing really physical, but I have been edgy and irritable.


[ 33:04 ] How are you living life on life terms?


Mitchell – It is OK for life to be nuts.  You do not have to escape it. You are strong enough to deal with things that come your way.


[ 34:06 ] How is the best way to pray?


Mitchell – You need to be confident in your God.  Just talk openly and honestly to him like you would do with a friend.


[ 35:00 ] What advice would you give to your younger self?


Mitchell – Do not take that first drink.  Alcohol is addictive to everyone.  It is not safe.


[ 37:28 ] How has your relationships changed?


Mitchell – I am more present for my wife and child.  I enjoy being in the moment instead of rushing through things in order to get back to my drinking.


[ 38:07 ] Tell me about a day in the life of Mitchell?


Mitchell – I will continue to reach out to others. I also do a lot of reading in order to consistently remind myself of what alcohol did to me.


[ 39:03 ] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking? my son found an empty beer can and was bopping the family dog with it
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment? I was on vacation and took a good look at myself in the mirror.  I looked like I was pregnant, my belly was so swollen
  3. What’s your plan moving forward? staying accountable and feeding myself with knowledge
  4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)? you have to do the work, “you don’t got this”
  5. What are your thoughts on relapse? Don’t beat yourself up.  Keep going.
  6. What has been your proudest moment in sobriety? making it this far
  7. You might be an alcoholic if…. you have a beer bottle opener that looks like a fake handcuff in your car


                  *****You are the average of the 5 people you hang out with the most****


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



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


Mar 13, 2017

Amanda, with 19 months since her last drink, shares her story


Why we drink:


  1. Alcohol is everywhere. Drinking appears to be the norm.  We are bombarded with alcohol advertisements 67 times a day.  Our society has a love affair with booze.
  2. We have a genetic make-up to become addicted to alcohol.
  3. Our environment is flooded with alcohol. We think everything we do should be accompanied by alcohol.
  4. Alcohol is a highly addicted drug.
  5. We have shitty coping skills.


Not on the list of why we drink: a moral failing or a weakness of character




[ 7:45 ] Paul Introduces Amanda.  How long have you been sober?


Amanda – I have been sober for 19 months.  This is the longest I have ever been sober.  I feel very proud of myself.


[ 8:51 ]  What is your background?


Amanda – I am from Mississippi but now live in Florida with my 15 year old daughter.


[ 10:27 ] Did you ever try to put rules in place to moderate your drinking?


Amanda – I started drinking when I was 16 so there were no rules in the beginning.  I was that sloppy drunk girl in the room.  I would start watching the clock for 5:00 which meant it was time to drink.


[ 12:34 ] When did you first realize that you had a problem?


Amanda – In 2010, one bad thing after another happened to me.  I was put in jail for domestic violence.  I was so ashamed of not being able to control myself with alcohol.  I felt that I was a strong person since I had raised my daughter alone.  I did not want to appear weak and vulnerable.


[ 14:26 ] Amanda and Paul discuss the stigma of addiction.


Amanda – I had twin cousins who died because of alcohol.  Their memory and my daughter were the only reasons why I didn’t commit suicide myself.  I felt like no one cared about me so why should I care about myself?


[ 16:01 ] How did you get sober?


Amanda – I did not use AA.  I went to a rehab that taught the 12 steps but after I was released, there was no support.  No one called or checked on me.  My parents had basically just dropped me off at rehab.  I still drank for 4 years and then turned to meth.  I finally decided that I was either going to die or go back to jail.  I moved to another state but was still hanging out with the same type of people.  I knew I needed to give up booze so I started looking for something else to do.  This led me to find a group of people who were into mud runs.  I got into fitness.


[ 21:42 ] Amanda and Paul discuss her days in rehab and her personal development.


Amanda – I did not feel like anything had changed after my 60 days in rehab.  Afterward I started looking into motivational development.  Someone told me that I was born with a purpose.  Everyone has the power to help others.  I was under the false assumption that life was going to be a piece of cake.  I joined a personal development community (Breather University).  The people in this group accepted me and my life has completely changed.  I am Amanda and I am amazing!  I am not a part of sobriety groups because I hate the alcoholic label.  What you say about yourself is what you are.


[ 33:36 ]  What is your pump up song?


Paul – Limp Bizkit, “Nookie” (Life is an opportunity, not an obligation).

Amanda – Jason Aldean, “Gonna Know We Were Here” (Self-affirmations are super important to me). 


[ 34:08 ]  What is your relationship like with your daughter?


Amanda – We have had to rebuild our relationship.  She lived with my parents for the last 6 months that I was using.  She moved in with me when I went to Florida.  There has been a lot of growing and we have had to push through the hard times.


[ 36:50 ]  What is a typical day like for you?


Amanda – I say positive affirmations to myself every day.  I list 3 things that I am grateful for every day.  I try to exercise, read or watch personal development videos every day.



[ 39:09  ] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking? getting knocked out by a big guy I had tried to beat up
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment? jail
  3. What’s your plan moving forward? sharing my story to give others hope
  4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)? everything that you go through, isn’t always about you
  5. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking? life is beautiful, fill your void with goodness
  6. You might be an alcoholic if….. you duct tape 2 beers to your hands so that you do not lose them


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

Amanda U-Tube videos – Patched Wangs

Book “Beyond the Influence,” by Katherine Ketcham



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


Mar 6, 2017

Paul G with 10 years of sobriety, shares his story……

What is mindfulness?  Mindfulness is basically a type of coping strategy.  It is being in the moment, paying attention and being present.

Why should we practice mindfulness?

  • It is good for our bodies It helps boost our immune system
  • It increases positive thoughts while decreasing negative thoughts
  • It changes how the brain functions and helps us focus
  • It enhances our relationships

Unfortunately many alcoholics have terrible coping skills and we can live entirely in our head.  Mindfulness training can help us stay in the moment.  It is the art of being, not doing.




[ 9:05  ] Paul C Introduces Paul G from Hope Rehab in Thailand.  How long have you been sober?


Paul G – over 10 years.  My first round of rehab happened when I was 19 years old.


[ 11:00 ]  Tell our listeners a little about yourself.


Paul G – I am originally from Ireland but now live in Thailand.  I am married and have a 10 year old son


[ 11:30 ]  Did you ever try to implement rules to control your drinking?


Paul G – I did not have any rules in place at the beginning of my drinking life.  Alcohol gave me comfort.  After taking my first drink, I finally liked who I was and where I was.  I moved to England and worked in a bar where I was able to drink all day long.  A girlfriend convinced me to leave that occupation and I realized I had not gone a day without drinking in many years.  I went to rehab for her, not because I wanted to stop drinking.


[ 16:14 ] Paul C and Paul G discuss his first stay in rehab.


Paul G – After I left rehab, I did not stay sober.  I knew if I drank, I would lose my girlfriend.  I chose booze over the girl.  I got back into school and immediately went on a drinking bender.  I was having panic attacks and suffered from alcohol induced depression.  I was just hoping for someone to get me psychiatric help because I could not even complete the forms to have myself admitted to the hospital.


[ 19:11 ]  So you basically drank yourself  homeless?


Paul G – Yes, I was walking the streets and wandered in to a recovery house.  They sent me to a dry house for 1 year and stated that I did not need psychiatric help.  My panic attacks had all been alcohol induced.  I stayed sober for 2 years.   


[ 20:40 ]  What happened after 2 years?


Paul G – I got sick of thinking and talking about recovery.  I had been so enthusiastic in early recovery but was starting to feel like I was missing out on something.  The mental obsession had returned.  Perhaps I had opened that door again.  I was going to bars with my sober friends but it was a very slippery slope.


[ 23:00 ]  What was your bottom like?


Paul G – I drank for another 10 years because I felt like I had some control in the beginning.  I did not end up back in that poor mental state so it gave me a sense of false confidence.  Things eventually did go downhill and I moved to Saudi Arabia thinking that because it is a dry country, it would make it easier to stop drinking.  My first day on the job, I was shown the bins where all of the illegal alcohol was stored.  Booze was readily available and even stronger since it was home brewed.  I knew that I would die if I stayed to I moved to Thailand.


[ 28:00 ] How did you get introduced to meditation?


Paul G – I have been into meditation for years.  After every relapse I would always go back to meditation.  My problem was that I was using meditation to escape reality instead of using in to get “into” reality.  I would use meditation to get into a blissful state when it should be used to get grounded. 


[ 31:22 ]  How is meditation similar to mindfulness?


Paul G – Mindfulness is the ability to objectively observe our thoughts.  It allows us to take a backward step and see our thoughts.  Mindfulness is a part of meditation.


[ 32:11]  What are some things we can do to enter into a mindfulness state?


Paul G – You need to bring your thoughts to a physical sensation.  We use feel beads in therapy.  With true meditation, you start to see how your mind has been tricked.  The craving, which is that voice in our heads, is not always obvious.  Mindfulness helps you identify what your brain is doing and the craving loses its’ power.  Addiction is like having an allergic reaction to our emotions.


[ 37:35  ] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking? Sitting is a bar after learning that my liver was damaged from drinking.
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment? Selling my girlfriend’s music tapes for booze
  3. What’s your plan moving forward? Showing up for life every day
  4. What’s your favorite resource in recovery? Inside timer App
  5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)? You will never regret not drinking yesterday
  6. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking? If you are really willing to change, there is an option for you.
  7. You might be an alcoholic if…… You keep saying you are sorry for things that you are not really sorry for.


              ******Congratulations to Allison for reaching 1 year of sobriety!  You rock!******

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Recovery Elevator Retreat – (A Personal Recovery Wellness Retreat – non 12 step based)

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

Inside Timer App (mindfulness app found in iTunes)

Podcast – Hope Rehab Mindful Compassion Show (



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