Sara, with 5 months and 10 days of sobriety, tells us how she did it.
[9:21] Paul introduces Sara
Sara has been sober for 5 months and 10 days, or a total of 163 days. Sara is feeling better than she has ever felt, which is a common response in early recovery. Sobriety has not been all wonderful colors, tastes, and smells. Sara's experience so far has been overall great, but not without challenges; she has had to overcome some adversity. Which is a very big foundational pillar of life, as nothing comes easy in sobriety, and getting sober is a blind leap of faith. Sara is originally from Louisiana, currently living in New Jersey, she is a psychiatrist who is married with no children. For fun, she does everything she used to do but is learning to do it sober. One of her best sober activities she has enjoyed was attending a Coldplay concert, in which she remembered every single minute. The concert was amazing, as was Sara's first sober football game, feeling every emotion so much more. One not so cool activity in sobriety was joining friends bar hopping after a football game. Sara struggled, but realized she is no longer "that guy" and could drive home sober.
[13:21 ] Talk to us about your Elevator. When did you hit bottom?
Sara made small attempts to stop two years prior to her sobriety date. During that time, she read a book titled "Freedom from Addiction," which inspired her; only until an invite to socialize and drink. She would start again and not be able to stop. Eventually, Sara was at a happy hour followed by dinner with lots of drinking. She thought she was good to drive home. She ended up in an accident after which the entire night was a blur. Realizing that she could lose her life and career, even though there were no legal ramifications involved. Sara realized how lucky she was to come out of that situation safe and not in a legal battle. Paul shares his driving while intoxicated experiences. Sara woke up the next day and through the next week she was dazed and confused her memory was foggy as she was self-blaming herself. Everting in her life was going well other than drinking, she questioned why she was sacrificing everything for drinking.
[16:27] How much did you drink?
Sara drank vodka in airplane size bottles, they were easier to consume, leaving no evidence. She would usually drink a few throughout the day, over time it progressed. Her consumption amounts were often up and down, Sara was never one that could have just one or two at dinner, she would always continue drinking through the night. When she decided to stop drinking, she was up to 6-7 drinks per night, and was starting early in the day. For Sara, her disease progression was more about the time of day she started rather than the amount. Usually a couple glasses of wine and some shots of alcohol. Sara tried to put multiple plans of control in place; only drink on the weekend, only after work, no hard liquor. Paul realizes the question of control is a dumb question. The thought that one day we can drink normal must be dismissed.
[19:38] How did you do it? Walk us through the first day, the first week.
Sara's first week she doesn't remember much, but had a lot of family events and weddings with open bars where she was put to the test. After she got through all the events without a drink, she wondered why she drank when she was loving everything she was doing sober not understanding why she ever started in the first place. Sara's first few months have been filled with new activities; biking, hiking, gym. She has replaced drinking with trying new things.
[21:00] Tell us about your program.
Sara didn't enlist any kind of program. Yet, even before the accident she was listening to sobriety podcasts, as she was contemplating sobriety. Sara then found RE which became her program. While doing her morning routine she has the podcast playing as her preferred recovery resource, along with fitness and other new routines. Paul reminds us that willpower is exhaustible and finite, eventually running out, leading to relapse. We need a daily affirmation to remember why you don’t drink.
[24:07] Sara shares her fears about being "found out" on the podcast: Being a psychiatrist and worried about people learning of her addiction. A lot of friends still don't understand, and see alcoholics as worst case scenario. Images of bums is the picture normal people have. Sara knows that is not alcoholics are like, but struggles with the stigma even though she knows that is ridiculous. Paul sees Sara's alcoholism as an untapped asset in her career. Sara chats with addicts face to face in a hospital setting and listens to their struggles. Many of her patients have been through been recovery. Sara's advice to her patients is to take it one day at a time, she tells them about podcasts as many haven't found a program. She is also able to offer resources that she uses herself. Paul suggests she uses her own experiences. Sara hopes to get to that point. She remembers to focus on the similarities not the differences. She is just not realizing that she has a problem. Paul is curious when she will get there. Sara realizes she needs to get rid of the fear of judgement. Paul shares how he came out as an alcoholic. Everybody knows somebody in recovery. Paul feels within time her superiors will admire her strength. What if she tells her first patient tomorrow? Sara was trained to never put focus on yourself, but you make exceptions to help with the rapport of the patient. How prevalent is addiction in the ER? Most of the ER is filled with intoxicated people, or those who are experiencing withdrawals; mostly in the evenings on weekends, and during the holidays. Paul knows counselors who have succeeded because they are also in recovery. Sara feels like telling Paul was her first big step going out into the digital world. Sara wants to connect with more people, and thinks she is in the right direction to come out of the closet about her sobriety.
[32:02] How do you stay sober today? Sara is awake at 5 AM does yoga, meditation, and plans her day. Sometimes she works out. After work Sara comes home and starts her evening routine: working out, meditation, and/or some planned quality time with friends and family, tennis lessons, or something new. Sara hopes to try out martial arts. She plans to do something new every few months to continue to grow and bring happiness to life.
[33:00] What is on your bucket list at one year? Sara hopes that after one year she is more involved in the sober community; she doesn't have any support right now. Besides Cafe RE. She plans to surround herself with more people like her.
[33:57 ] What have you learned about yourself through sobriety? Sara learned that she doesn't need alcohol to have a good conversation with people, she is OK just being herself. That has been the most intoxicating thing about being sober. Everything is even better without alcohol.
[34:41] What are your plans to stay sober during the holidays?
Sara thought the holidays would be hard, luckily for her she has a lot of family functions that were once her crutch, have become growth experiences. She doesn’t even think about drinking anymore; she auto looks for non-alcoholic beverages. While she misses the one glass of wine once in a while, she is content with beet juice now in a wine glass.
[36:01] Rapid Fire Round
“You Might be an Alcoholic If…” Your idea of dieting is doing straight shots instead of mixed drinks.
Paul’s Life Hack: ?
7:10-8:40 PM 11/17/2016 - - - 6:10 - 6:50 AM 11/19/2016