Sober Recovery Essay

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In February 2014, I wrote a piece that ended up going “viral” in my own circles; overnight every person in my life read about the depths of my sickness, my recovery, my addiction, and overnight I understood that I had no real choice but to start building out Tempest and Tempest Sobriety School.

The validation started to trickle in; when I set up a new blog (THIS BLOG) in late 2014 and debuted a company called Hip Sobriety, a lot of people started reading my work.

Thanks to your malleable brain, the more you do something sober the easier it becomes. The generous support of other human beings carries us when we cannot carry ourselves.

But you may need to muddle through a thousand situations sober before it comes as naturally as it did when you were drunk. I was thrilled to discover, through Marc’s books and others, that my theory about how we get sober is corroborated by science.

Though I haven’t been to meetings in some fifteen years, I will always sing their praises. Not long ago, musing about how 12-step works, I realized that one of the oft-repeated AA sayings was in fact a description of neuroplastic change: “We don’t think our way into a new way of acting, we act our way into a new way of thinking.” If you take action to foster your sobriety deliberately, repeatedly, and within a supportive community, change happens precisely because you are altering the very structure of your brain.

In recent years I’ve been studying neuroplasticity on an informal basis and applying its principles to my daily life, especially vis-à-vis my addictive propensities: Chocolate truffles! And it happens, I argue, whether or not you believe in God.Which is unfortunate because although 12-step is not the only way to get sober, it is one way, and it’s been effective for millions of people over the past 80 years.I certainly had a lot of judgments when I first started going to AA, but in my state of utter ruin I was in no position to be picky.As with any new practice, consistent participation in 12-step programs gradually and methodically builds new neural networks.Every sober foray into a situation you used to get high for — first date, party, being alone and lonely — strengthens your capacity to do so again.I could write at least twenty self-help essays about how this idea for a book became an actual book that you can buy right now (also please buy it right now, please).I’ve decided to be rather straight-forward about it; to talk about two very important elements that made this impossible pipe-dream an actual thing, that I learned through the process of getting sober: (1) The Work, and (2) The Thoughts. I was about thirty days sober, had just read Glennon Doyle’s , and I understood immediately that I was supposed to write.For everyone else, it mostly comes down to white knuckling it or AA.But in recent years 12-step programs have been attacked on many fronts, charged with being too religious, dogmatic, disempowering, cultish. There’ve been times during the life of this blog that the Great 12-Step Snowball Fight has erupted — as is typical for any blog, podcast, or article on addiction.I’m not a fan of AA, but I’m not a 12-step basher either.


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