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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: June, 2018
Jun 25, 2018

Alcohol and Anxiety

Today we will look at anxiety and the role it plays in alcohol addiction. 

Anxiety is inevitable, but we can change what we do and feel about it, ultimately affecting the level of severity we experience and the frequency of attacks.  It shows that we care about what is going on.  Anxiety is a tool we inherited from our prehistoric past that let us know that we were in danger.  It is useful and necessary, and is a natural part of life. 

Unlike normal anxiety, chronic anxiety does not have roots in the present moment.  Chronic anxiety begins when the anxiety becomes our default modus operandi.  The conscious mind focuses on the anxiety, fueling it and allowing it to expand and become consuming.  We find ourselves on a hamster wheel of potential causes, cures, analyses, and ultimately, fear and discomfort.  It surfaces for, as far as we know, no apparent reason.  We make attempts to repress or sidetrack it. 

Drinking is one way that many try to deal with their anxious feelings.  While we are drinking, it feels like our problems temporarily disappear.  When we look more closely at the way alcohol changes brain chemistry, we see that all it does is slow us down and weaken our higher faculties.  In the relatively short long term, alcohol usually makes our problems worse by increasing our anxiety and having a negative impact on our overall health. 

We have the ability to naturally rewire and change our brains.  When we make the decision to quit drinking, over time we can reverse many of the negative effects on our brain chemistry and overall health.  Our brains are able to find a new and more healthy version of homeostasis with less anxiety, less depression and more clarity.

Chris, with almost 1 year since his last drink, shares his story

 

SHOW NOTES

 

[11:40] Paul Introduces Chris.

Chris is 36 years old, a power plant operator, lives in North Dakota. He's married with two kids and a dog.  He enjoys camping and boating, cooking, photography, and woodworking.

 

[13:40] What is camping like now that you don't drink?

Alcohol took over his life.  Now he feels more present for his kids.  He feels his life is more enriched.  He enjoys more of nature.  He is happy to have quit. 

 

[16:00] When did you first realize that you had a problem with drinking?

A while ago.  He craved it since he started in high school.  It started social, and it gradually progressed.  In the military, he went to Korea when he was 21.  Being far away from friends and family was difficult and and he drank more.  He suffered from “terminal uniqueness”.  He felt he was different from the people around him.  We lie to ourselves and focus on the differences, further isolating ourselves from the community around us.

 

[23:55] Did you ever have a rock bottom moment?  How much were you drinking?

He was drinking a case of tall beers almost every week.  His wife had been giving him ultimatums for a while.  He started to drive drunk on a regular basis.  He was regularly drunk, or if he wasn't, he was experiencing intense anxiety.  He would regularly yell at his kids.  He was terrified about what he was becoming.  His wife turned toward the church and he turned toward alcohol.  He and his wife had a blowout over drinking and they separated.  He read a few AA books.  He moved out to the camper.  His faith suffered and he had to see his pastor.  His wife explained how much he was hurting her.  He went to see a counselor and started to unload his emotions.  He eventually found an intensive outpatient program that helped him quit. 

[31:38] Will you share a little of what you learned in your outpatient program?

Neuroplasticity, how your brain becomes dependent on chemicals.  He learned that it wasn't a moral failing, and he felt relief.  He started to relate to the other members in the group.  His wife filed for divorce, and it helped him apply himself in the program. 

 

[37:15] Where did you get the strength to move forward?

The gift of desperation.  He didn't know what else to do.  He saw that this was an opportunity to change and he applied himself.  His faith life had dried up and he became inspired after reading “Bill's Story” from the AA book.  He started to get better rest.  As he worked the program his feeling of higher power returned.  He realized how much he had hurt his wife.  He was lucky enough to have counselors and friends in his life that helped him get through it.  He started to focus on his actions and not the results with his kids and his wife started to come around.  He started to do the work for himself and not for her. 

 

[45:42] What have you learned most about yourself in sobriety?

That he's worthy of love.  He's worthy of a happy life.  Life is worth it. 

 

[46:20] What's on your bucket list in sobriety?

To continue.  To continue to work on his marriage.  To continue to make memories with his family.  He wants a future for him and his loved ones.  He wants to help other people with recovery. 

 

[47:51] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking?

    The many ways that he hurt his wife and kids. He'll never forget hurting his loved ones. 
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment?

    Last summer when he chose drinking over his wife.
  3. What’s your plan moving forward?

    To continue to work a program. He likes to keep his sponsor close. 
  4. What’s your favorite resource in recovery?
  5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)?

    You don't have to be sober for the rest of your life, today. Take it a day at a time. 
  6. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking?

    Just be honest with yourself. Stop lying to yourself.  Don't listen to the voice of addiction.  Tell someone that you trust.  Accountability and community is key. 
  7. You might be an alcoholic if...

    “You go to sleep drunk, and wake up with less eyebrows and more penises drawn on your face.”

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

This Naked Mind – a book by Annie Grace

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!”

 

Jun 18, 2018

Compassionate Curiosity: a way we can get to the root of why we drink.

“The problem's not that the truth is harsh, but that liberation from ignorance is as painful as being born. Run after truth until you're breathless. Accept the pain involved in re-creating yourself afresh.” - Naguib Mahfouz

One of the biggest root causes of addition is self loathing.  Feeling like we are not worthy or that we are in any way less than others is a belief often found at the center of our addictive behavior. 

The cure for self loathing is self compassion, or self love.  Replacing the habit that is self judgment with forgiveness, the mental rigidity with an intention of being open, or the repetitive criticism with positive messages that we can do this are some of the first steps toward distancing ourselves from addictive tendencies. 

We begin with a process of self examination, wherein we compassionately do so without judgment. 

“There is no moving forward without breaking through the walls of denial.” -Gabor Maté

Kim, with 1½ years since her last drink, shares her story...

 

SHOW NOTES

 

[1:30] Paul Introduces Kim.

Kim is 37 years old from Arkansas.  She's been sober over 1½ years. She's married with 3 kids.  She works as a counselor.  She enjoys her spending with her family, reading, and Kintsugi. 

 

[6:05] When did you first realize you had a problem with drinking?

She experienced complications with her pregnancy.  With that came a prescription of pain medication.  After she went through the pain meds, she noticed that she couldn't stop drinking. 

 

[9:06] Did you try to put any rules into place? 

From her work with addiction, she knows that putting rules into place is addictive behavior.  She was probably going through a half gallon of vodka per week.  She attempted to quit throughout 2017.. nothing really stuck. 

 

[10:35] What were some lessons you learned in your previous attempts to quit?

She has a stubborn personality.  When she tried to quit using her will power, she failed.  It scared her.  She started researching different podcasts, and found Recovery Elevator.  She was worried that she couldn't do it alone.  She began to find other stories and realized that she was on a slippery slope. 

 

[13:20] How were you able to quit successfully?

She realized that she needed to remove triggers.  She tried to eliminate stress.  She hired someone to help her with small duties. 

 

[15:50] How are you able to maintain professional distance in your job working with addicts?

When you work in a field where you give to others, you have to make sure that you are ok first.  You have to give to others what you can spare, not what you need. 

 

[17:00] Walk us through the early days of your recovery. 

The first month was difficult.  She had lots of cravings.  She tried to keep the memory of her difficult year close.  She would use the brainspotting technique.  She knows people can relapse after years and years.  The addiction waits to see where the hole is, and that's where it gets you. 

 

[23:50] Are you able to be open about your own recovery with patients?

Reaching out to Paul helped her realize how she was in denial about her addictions.  She shares her recovery experience with some patients, and it's been much more helpful. 

 

[24:40] What are the common hangups that your patients have?

The biggest struggle is the stagma and the shame.  Also, the surrendering to higher power. 

[27:10] What is the biggest thing you've learned about yourself?

She needs to show herself the same compassion that she gives to everyone around her. 

[27:40] What has been your proudest moment in sobriety?

Sharing with her clients.  Showing them that she also struggles with different things. 

[28:28] What are you looking forward to in Peru? 

Seeing the beauty, and being a part of a recovery community. 

 

 

[29:10] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking?

    Pre-parent: 17yo, on vacation with family in Mexico.  Parents lied about her age so she could drink at the resort.  She hung out at the bars.  On the last night, she was sexually assaulted. 

    As a parent:  She used to drank in front of her young child.  Her child began to copy her drinking behavior by drinking his water in a small cup with a straw. 
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment?
  3. What’s your plan moving forward?

    She would like to be a voice for recovery with mental health professionals.
  4. What’s your favorite resource in recovery?

    Her faith is strong and it helps her in her darkest moments. 
    The Miracle Morning.  She does it daily no matter what.
    Recovery Elevator podcast.  She looks forward to listening weekly. 
  5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)?

    You can't do this alone. The magic happened when she reached out. 
  6. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking?

    A quote by Carl Jung.. “What you resist, persists. What you can feel, you can heal.”
  7. You might be an alcoholic if...

    While listening to someone else's story you think to yourself that you need to remember it in case you relapse.

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Audible is offering my listeners a free audiobook with a 30-day trail membership. Go to audible.com/elevator and start listening. Or text ELEVATOR to 500-500.

In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts – a book by Gabor Maté
When Things Fall Apart – a book by Pema Chodron
The Miracle Morning – a book by Hal Elrod
Kintsuji – The japanese artform of “golden joinery”.
Brainspotting – a theraputic technique
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!”

 

Jun 11, 2018

Burn The Ships

For many people, the answer of what is it that is holding us back in our lives isn’t exactly obvious. The question of what is blocking us from obtaining that inner peace we deserve can be difficult to answer for some. The good news is that if you’re listening to this podcast, the answer is most likely alcohol is what’s holding you back any it may be time to “burn the ships”.

Fran with 16 months since his last drink, shares her story...

 

SHOW NOTES

 

[8:00] Paul Introduces Fran.

Fran is 43 years old from Indiana, but originally from Cleveland.  She's married and a mother of 2.  She's a program director and massage therapist.  She is an entrepreneur and loves yoga and the outdoors.  She also likes to work in her yard.  She previously had 3 years of sobriety during her 20's. 

 

[11:15] What made you seek out a sober life initially?

She injured herself as an athlete and then got into the restaurant business.  Initially it was fun, but then she began drinking on the job.  She realized her life was empty and she became depressed again.  An ex of hers helped take her to a 12 step meeting.  It worked until she stopped actively working on her sobriety. 

 

[14:14] What was your initial attempt at sobriety like?

She was able to ground herself in who she was, with a clear mind at a very pivotal time in her development.  She met other women in recovery and it felt a bit like a clique.  She didn't feel like she fit in.  After graduating college sober, she started doing some internet dating.  She met her husband and relocated to Indiana.  She had her first child, then started drinking shortly after the child was born.  She felt dislocated.  She transitioned back into semi-regular drinking, which eventually lead to excess. 

 

[20:02] Did you experience a bottom moment?

She had many.  She would fight with her husband.  She blacked out at a baby shower.  She fought with her family and her husband's family. 

 

[26:37] What was it like when you first quit drinking?

It wasn't easy.  It was a process that took time.  Initially motivated by weight loss, she felt like she was talking about it all the time.  She realized that she could not go a day without drinking.  Her husband was suffering from throat cancer and she started taking his pot pills after he recovered.  She tried to substitute them for alcohol.  She thought pot could get her sober. 

 

[28:49] Did that help?

No.  The anxiety and depression was worse.  She became suicidal.  She went back into recovery.  She started listening to Recovery Elevator.  She hit the gym.  She found herself back at AA.  She's more committed this time, and this time it's “no matter what”. 

 

[33:26] What is your recovery portfolio like today? 

She focuses on gratitude.  She reads and meditates.  She does yoga before work.  She realized that other people around her now have permission to focus on their health, as she leads by example.  Her marriage has improved a lot. 

 

[37:06] What is it like to be a healer and to help people release tension and bad energy?

It's a gift.  When she's able to be present, it helps them let go.  As a sober person, she now honors and respects her own body and leads her clients and students to the same. 

 

 

[38:54] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking?

    Seeing the despair on her child's face and she witnessed her mother being drunk.
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment?

    Stopping to buy alcohol on the way home from the gym, and opening the bottles before she got home.
  3. What’s your plan moving forward?
  4. What’s your favorite resource in recovery?

    Her sponsor.
  5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)?

    It's going to get better if we stay away from alcohol.

  6. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking?

    It's okay. It's okay to give it a shot to see what it's like.  It's not as scary as it seems.
  7. You might be an alcoholic if...

    “You're so incapacitated by alcohol that your family thinks calling your reverend is the only way to get you to go home.”

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

This episode is brought to you by Simple Contacts. Visit www.simplecontacts.com/elevator and use the promo code elevator for $30 off your first order.

The Language of Letting Go – a book by Melody Beattie

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!”

 

Jun 4, 2018

Bravery:  Ready to face and endure danger or pain.  Showing Courage.

Many times in life we come face to face with our next step.  We can see clearly the path ahead that will lead to our next “level up”.  We can know everything there is to know about our plight and circumstances.  We can possess the very map that will lead us to the next door.  But when the time comes, sometimes we hesitate to open it.

In sobriety, you have to be willing to fail.  People who seek sobriety are a particular kind of brave.  They imagine another way to be and actively seek it out, even if it means going against the grain or swimming upstream.

It's important to note that being brave and/or courageous does not mean being without fear.  Feeling fear is not only normal, but it's an important part of the process.

The growth we seek lies not in running from fear, but in embracing it and, if possible, learning from it.  Fear can be a profound and necessary teacher.  Bring brave and courageous means that instead of avoiding fear, we compassionately face it and move forward with it as an ally in our sobriety portfolio.

Individual bravery becomes amplified and much more powerful when supported by the collective bravery of the sobriety community. 

Beth, with 6 months since her last drink, shares her story...

 

SHOW NOTES

 

[8:50] Paul Introduces Beth.

Beth has been sober for just over 6 months.  She's 39 years old.  She's a mother of 3 from New Jersey.  She's a special education teacher.  She loves the outdoors, sports, art, and music.  She is learning skateboarding from her 9-year-old nephew. 

 

[11:38] When did you realize you had a problem with drinking?

 

 

 

She started drinking heavily in college in an attempt to deal with social situations and have fun.  She always felt different from other people, and was also dealing with a recent death in the family.  She had easy access to alcohol in school.  She moved to New York City right before the attack on the World Trade Center.  She used alcohol to deal with stress and difficult emotions. 

 

[16:40] Did you ever try to put any rules into place to moderate?

Yes.  She would try to regulate the times she could drink.  She would try to regulate when she was allowed to drink hard alcohol. 

 

[18:25] How much were you drinking before you quit? 

She drank nightly.  Red wine helped her deal with stress when dealing with her kid's homework. 

 

[20:15] Did you reach a rock bottom? 

She drank while taking her kids out for Halloween.  She drank a lot and experienced a bad hangover.  She began to worry about whether or not she was a good mother.  She discovered the podcast and began to listen.  She decided to become sober and joined Cafe RE. 

 

[26:20] What was it like at first when you quit?

She was excited.  She told a few close friends and family members.  She wanted to get back into running.  She felt great.  She avoided concerts and other places where she used to drink.  She did whatever it took to not drink. 

 

[28:45] Have you changed your mind about AA now that you're sober? 

It was a complete 180 degree change.  She began to feel more connected and she related to them more than before.  She is looking forward to expanding her recovery community. 

 

[33:45] How has your perception changed?

She knows she's on the right track, but she is starting to fear relapsing.  She is trying to break free from her perfectionist mentality.  She is facing and processing a lot of shame from her past.  She appreciates the benefits from her newly found clarity. 

 

[37:50] What happened when you accidentally posted your sobriety on Facebook?

She received some unexpected messages of support from different moms in her social network.  She gave others the info for getting help. She believes alcohol is a real gateway drug. 

[41:24] Rapid Fire Round

  1. What was your worst memory from drinking?

    Her birthday in NYC. After a night of dinner and drinks, she passed out on the floor next to her apartment door. 
  2. Did you ever have an “oh-shit” moment?

    She went to a concert for her daughter's birthday. She needed beer badly.  She made her kids wait in line forever so she could get a beer. 
  3. What’s your plan moving forward?

    To continue staying healthy. Be more present with her kids.  Get more organized.  Find comfort within herself.  She's more happy with who she is. 
  4. What’s your favorite resource in recovery?

    Cafe RE group because it will forward you to other great resources.
  5. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received (on sobriety)?
  6. What parting piece of guidance can you give listeners who are in recovery or thinking about quitting drinking?

    If one drink is not enough, then it's time to stop drinking. The poison has already begun to take effect.  It's not worth it.  Trust your gut.
  7. You might be an alcoholic if...

    “You're pregnant, and you haven't told anyone. You say you're not drinking to someone, and they assume you're pregnant because you usually will always have a drink.” 

 

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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!”

 

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