Almost 15 million Americans have cancer, but there are more than 15 million American alcoholics. Addiction to alcoholism touches all of our lives. In this speech designed to inform and destigmatize, I talk about how victims of cancer are treated with love and care while victim of alcoholism are treated with scorn and shame. The cure for alcoholism is available to us in changed attitudes and in the voices of those of us willing to tell our stories – willing to wear the label alcoholic without fear. It is a speech about misperception and bravery. It is about societal influence and rejecting the stigma. Most of all, it is about the cure.
Exploring the questions of addiction recovery.
Listen to this speech I wrote for the students at a large, racially and economically diverse high school after they experienced a series of brazen and dangerous incidents of alcohol abuse. We can’t convince all adolescents to abstain from alcohol, but we can convince them to make drinking a choice with two acceptable answers. Let’s reduce peer pressure and increase mutual respect. Maybe we should give our teens the chance to make the right choice when drinking alcohol isn’t an expectation.
Sheri and I are stuck. We have made tremendous progress in the recovery of our relationship, now in the third year of my sobriety, but resentments from the past continue to haunt us. We have unpacked, dealt with, explored, rehashed, discussed and worked through all of the issues. We have apologized – me for my drunken behavior, and Sheri for her angry responses – sincerely and endlessly. But it isn’t enough to free Sheri of the burdens of resentment.
Good news – Jason is back. Untoxicated Podcast co-founder and licensed addiction counselor and couples therapist Jason Polk is our guest, and he is joined by his friend Lana Isaacson, also a licenced couples therapist and addiction counselor. They offer suggestions about releasing resentments and getting unstuck, as well as tips on a host of other topics faced by relationships in recovery.
We are proud to recommend the workshop Lana and Jason are hosting for couples in recovery. They call it, “Have Each Other’s Backs Again,” and it will be held November 10th in suburban Denver. What a great way to get your marriage back on track after dealing with trauma from alcoholism or anything else that has you stuck. For more information, or to register, go to Lana’s website or Jason’s website.
In part two of a three part series about how Matt’s alcoholism has damaged our marriage, Sheri talks about the process of recovering our marriage from the depths of distrust and deceit. While we’ve made good progress, learning to love again is ongoing and requires patience and massive effort. The raw emotion in this episode tells the whole story.
God has an important place in my life. He always has. I am a very spiritual person, and I pray constantly both now and back when I was in active alcoholism. That’s why I don’t believe God wants us to let go and let God. For me, God has given direction to my life, but he expects me to do the work to get sober. I don’t believe alcoholism is a spiritual problem. I believe it is a brain disease. My faith helps me, but it is not required for permanent sobriety. That’s why we leave God mostly out of our SHOUT Sobriety program. We want you to feel welcomed regardless of you spirituality or beliefs.
On this episode, we are talking about preparing to send a coming out letter to announce your alcoholism to the world. That’s what I did a year into my sobriety, and the day I sent that email was the best day of my life. You don’t need to send it today in week six of this program, but it is important to begin crafting the letter and prepare to announce your enlightenment to the world.
Relationships are so important to our happiness and our success in early sobriety. Taking alcohol out of our relationships actually does not fix the problems that our years of drinking caused. Removing alcohol only makes the damage visible and allows us to work on our problems and try to fix our broken relationships. In this episode, we talk about relationships with family members as well as intimate relationships.
The disease of alcoholism has many victims. The spouses and children of an alcoholic are victims. The parents and friends of an alcoholic are victims, too. The victim we forget is the alcoholic. If you are convinced alcoholism is a disease like I am, then the person afflicted with the disease is most definitely a victim. What other disease can you name where the victim is the target of blame and shame? That is no way to heal.
Another important point we address in week four of the SHOUT Sobriety program is our emotional immaturity. When we have spent years, and even decades, drowning our emotions in booze, we are completely ill equiped to deal with emotions in sobriety. Our emotional maturity is frozen at the age when we started medicating with alcohol, and we have some serious maturing to do.
In the third week of the SHOUT Sobriety program, we discuss two very important topics in early sobriety.
We have to be patient with ourselves and our brains as we begin to recover from alcoholism. Not only does it take time for our brain chemistry to improve, but it takes time for our sobriety muscles to gain strength. Social events are dangerous for the first year of sobriety, and should be avoided when possible, and prepared for when they are required.
What we eat can cure us. We are talking about a pro-recovery diet that will stimulate the generation of neurotransmitters and help us avoid cravings to drink alcohol. My good friend and nutrition expert, Kelly Miller, taught me everything I know about this subject, and it works (I am living proof)! Check out Kelly’s website or find her on social media (facebook and Instagram) at The Addiction Nutritionist.
To learn more about SHOUT Sobriety, or to enroll in the free program, please visit the SHOUT Sobriety website.
In week 2 of SHOUT Sobriety, the topic could not be more important. This week we are focused on brain chemistry. We lean how our alcohol consumption hijacks our neurotransmitters and controls the reward pathways in our brains withholding pleasure from us unless we give our brains alcohol. We also learn about the power of the subconscious mind. It really doesn’t matter that we have decided on a conscious level to quit drinking. Until we give our massively powerful subconscious time to learn new patterns, our brain will be screaming for us to give it alcohol.
This truly is vitally important, life changing stuff, and I hope you enjoy and feel insightful relief from what you hear.
To learn more about SHOUT Sobriety, or to enroll in the program, check out our SHOUT Sobriety website.
Learn about our program to help people navigate the treacherous waters of early sobriety. It is called SHOUT Sobriety, and we offer this six week strategy for free for those concerned about their drinking, and for the families of those who abuse alcohol.
To learn more, listen to this podcast episode or check out our SHOUT Sobriety website.
Hear my story and what worked for me to achieve permanent sobriety. Editorial note – when I say, “strokes,” I mean, “seizures.”