A Day by Any Other Number…

A Day by Any Other Number…

I tried smoking medical marijuana for my anxiety disorder but it made my symptoms worse and I stopped. The AA ideas came rushing back: “Does this mean I’m not sober anymore?”

I first came into recovery the same way most people do; after a six year downward spiral into alcoholism, I finally put up a white flag and went to treatment, where I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous.

I remember the first meetings I went to. Hearing other people’s stories and knowing that I wasn’t the only person who had made a complete mess of their life gave me hope that I could one day recover. I was regularly inspired by the people that I met in the rooms and their experience, strength and hope kept me going when things got hard.

AA is responsible for getting me through those first white-knuckle days of sobriety, and for that I’m eternally grateful. But from the beginning, there were things about the program that didn’t quite jive with me, particularly the way relapses were handled.

Addiction is a chronic disease; statistics for relapse rates vary depending on who you ask, but according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 – 60% of people treated for substance abuse will relapse (the relapse rates for opioids are even higher, with many statistics putting the rate as high as 91%).

For many, relapse is a part of their recovery. But in my experience, it wasn’t treated that way in the rooms.

A slip or a relapse was often treated less like a natural part of the recovery process and more like a full-fledged abandonment of sobriety. No matter how long you had sober, if you slipped up, you were back to square one. You were a newcomer again, the days or months or years of time and energy you spent building your recovery and transforming into a better, more honest person – erased.

To me, that seemed completely and totally backwards. And in my experience, it did more harm than good. It seemed that many people, afraid of judgement and “losing their clean time,” were too ashamed to go back to the rooms after slipping up. I’ve heard stories of minor slips becoming full on relapses as people thought “well, I already lost my clean time… no point in stopping now!”

That didn’t sit right with me. For this (and many other reasons), I ultimately decided AA wasn’t for me.

Flash forward to six years into my recovery. Battling an increasingly severe anxiety disorder, I decided to give medicinal marijuana a try. I smoked a few times, found that it didn’t relieve any of my symptoms (in fact, it exacerbated them) and decided it wasn’t for me.

Now, at this point, I hadn’t been to a meeting in about three years. But a lot of the ideas I learned in AA came rushing back to the forefront of my consciousness. All of a sudden, I started questioning everything I knew about myself, my choices, and my recovery:

“Does this mean I’m not sober anymore?”

“What will people say when they find out?”

“Are the past six years of my recovery – and life – now null and void?”

“Are people going to think this means I want to start drinking again?”

I quickly fell into a shame spiral. Read more

Finding a New Normal After Addiction

There were leftover beers scattered outside the house as the picnic came to a close. Linda* remembers rounding up the cups and bottles and polishing them off—a little bit of everything that everyone else was having at the party. She was in elementary school.

Another mom stood there appalled, scolding her. For Linda, the mother’s reaction is a distinct childhood memory. For the first time, she thought, “Oh, maybe this was not normal. But I didn’t have a gauge for normal. I grew up in an alcoholic home. It was like the Wild West. There was no law and order in that home. Everybody fended for themselves.”

Linda’s mom was often sick and periodically hospitalized with different ailments, while her father frequently traveled for work. At a moment’s notice, she and her older brother would be shuffled off to other people’s homes. “It was always a lot of chaos. You never knew one day to the next what was going to happen,” she said. “It was just total disorder and unmanageability.”

But all the turmoil was stuffed behind closed doors, and Linda’s family was an expert in image control. “We were the perfect people,” she recalled. Her family lived in their fancy home, driving their luxury cars down the streets of their affluent neighborhood. They wore designer clothes, went to the best schools in the area, and traveled the world.

By her senior year of high school, Linda consistently brought home straight A’s, won awards, and excelled in sports. “On the inside, everything was so disorganized. I went to great lengths to present a different picture,” she said. Her effort paid off when she was accepted to an Ivy League university.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Take Over

Accustomed to very few rules already, college ushered in an era of completely unchecked impulses for Linda. There was always an excuse to drink, whether she was rewarding herself for finishing a tough assignment or acing a test, or if she were at a football game. She’d have one because it was the beginning of the weekend—meaning a Thursday night for her. Hard day? Crack open a can. Why drink a regular-sized beer when you can drink a 40-ounce bottle? “I pretty much became a daily drinker there,” she said. “I didn’t realize that I drank alcoholically in college until I got sober.”

During her sophomore year, Linda was randomly assigned to the same dorm suite as the school’s baseball team. As the only woman, she said she took on the role of nurturing sister, ordering extra food for them or picking up their groceries while she was as the store. “I had absolutely endeared myself to them,” she said.

These close relationships allowed Linda to live a Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde life. She was put together on the outside, but things could turn quickly, especially when drinking. “I could go to fraternity parties or basically wherever I wanted, act with impunity, and get away with it. If anyone came after me they would have player 1, 2, 3, and 4 and all their cousins and brothers after them. So, I did that,” she said. “I really acted in a way that was irresponsible and selfish.”

In her junior year, Linda joined a fraternity after a friend joked that because she was always hanging out with them that she might as well pledge. “I was like, game on. I was always that way. I’ll see you and raise your bet,” Linda said. “I know now that they don’t ask light drinkers to pledge a fraternity, especially if you’re a girl.”

Despite her drinking habits, Linda continued to wear the mask she’d kept on since she was a little girl. “I was your type A overachiever. I looked like a Brooks Brothers catalog. I had the best grades. I was in all the right activities,” she said. “I was always harder, faster, stronger than everyone else. I did that so people would overlook things. They wouldn’t question me.” As she graduated college, she had an acceptance letter from an elite law school in one hand and a drink in the other.

A ‘Full-Blown Alcoholic’

Law school brought sanctioned daily drinking as Linda made her way from one recruiting event to another. “We would get these law firms and businesses throwing these ridiculous, over-the-top parties any night of the week at the place of [our] choice. It was open bar,” she said. “We were wined, dined, and recruited.”

Everything revolved around alcohol—study groups, nights off, parties. She once arranged a slew of kegs for an academic activity with the law journal, “not the kind of activity [for which] you would normally need a keg party.” Someone quipped that that seemed strange, but Linda saw nothing wrong with it.

As the pressures of law school intensified, Linda started drinking alone frequently. The more demanding her course load, the more she drank. “I became a full-blown alcoholic.” But once again, there were no consequences. She maintained her grades and received an offer from a prestigious firm upon graduation.

Linda went full throttle at work, putting in long hours on hard cases. “I was very high functioning,” she said, even as she drank all day at CLEs, client meetings, lunches, networking groups, “rubber chicken” dinners, black-tie events, and evening cocktails in the office’s conference room. “That was just the culture. It was very accepted,” Linda said. Not everyone would participate, but “I found the crew in the office. We always find each other.”

Linda says it wasn’t uncommon to go to somebody’s office to drop off a letter about a case and find them passed out, face down at their desk. She wasn’t an unusual case, Linda said. Her secretary once casually told her she might want some gum after a few cocktails at lunch. “We worked hard and partied hard. We figured it was our reward,” she said. Read more

After 6 clinic visits for treatment, Minn. woman says communities need to take alcoholism, mental illness seriously

After 6 clinic visits for treatment, Minn. woman says communities need to take alcoholism, mental illness seriously

HUDSON, Wis. — For Angie Payden, recovery is like a game of Jenga, strengthened by individual pieces such as Alcoholics Anonymous, religion, family, friends and more. If she loses one piece, the whole structure could come crashing down.

The fragility of sobriety is something Payden knows well. She went through recovery several times after struggling with alcohol abuse for years. In August, she’ll be four years sober.

“This is my last recovery,” she said.

A dormant disease

Payden’s problems with alcohol didn’t start with the first sip, like many of the stories go. She made it through her teenage and young adult years without issues. It wasn’t until she was 38 that her drinking got out of control. A mother of teenagers and a business owner, Payden started feeling stressed.

“I wasn’t happy with my life in general,” she said.”‘Nothing brought me pleasure.”

Except drinking.

As the stress worsened, Payden started to drink more and more on the weekends or while out with friends.

“I felt a lot better,” she said.

She soon realized she could feel better all the time, not just on weekends. So she started drinking on Thursdays, and then Mondays, and on and on.

“It wasn’t long before I was drinking every day,” she said.

At first, the drinking wasn’t impairing her life. But soon she began to experience the consequences.

Over the next several years, Payden went to the hospital for alcohol poisoning 20 times, spent nights in jail, closed her business and became alienated from her family.

During this time, Payden would have periods of sobriety. She followed a cycle of drinking too much, going to recovery or jail, sobering up and then drinking again.

“I could never reprogram my brain,” Payden said. Read more


Jimmy Fallon Addresses Alcoholism Rumors: I’m Not Drunk Every Night!

For years now, rumors about Jimmy Fallon’s alleged drinking problem have been circulating online and in the tabloid media.

The speculation was spurred by numerous witnesses who gave accounts of Fallon frequently getting “very drunk” at NYC bars after completing filming on The Tonight Show.

There were even reports that Fallon’s bosses at NBC were concerned about his hard-partying ways.

For years now, rumors about Jimmy Fallon’s alleged drinking problem have been circulating online and in the tabloid media.

The speculation was spurred by numerous witnesses who gave accounts of Fallon frequently getting “very drunk” at NYC bars after completing filming on The Tonight Show.

There were even reports that Fallon’s bosses at NBC were concerned about his hard-partying ways…Read more

An Addict’s Perspective

It’s 10:34am and I’ve now got my hands on a paper bag full of the single drug I can’t use reasonably.

I’m writing this, as I don’t have a better tool of expression to grab the moment.

I made a call at about 9:23am to refresh my pain meds. As you know (though have misspoke without me correcting you), I have Norco prescribed every week. You’ve called them Lortabs, and I just nodded. Subtle difference, but that’s at best, my desire to be right (read: accurate), or at worst, some undiagnosed OCD. Addiction isn’t a question. It’s fairly obvious.

So, as I think about it, I’ve gotten exactly nothing done. All I’m attempting to do is distract myself from the want. I’m trying to not think about 11am, and the time I get that little piece of paper that I get to trade for my personal vice. I’m thinking about the ritual: the arrival at the office, the walk to the desk, that blue, monogrammed, security-protected little sheet that I get handed. Playing cool to the desk receptionist. “Oh, your husband’s name is Dick Johnson? Hilarious.”

She speaks softly, wears scrubs, wears that lingering smile. I notice she’s not wearing her wedding ring. Neither am I, but I have safety reasons. Perhaps her, too. That’s a story for another time.

I take my golden ticket, crease it in half, and slip it into my eternally-occupied denims. It’s a “thank you,” a nonchalant dismissing of this red-headed gatekeeper I’ve kept charmed, and I’m hobbling back to my car, maybe embellished, maybe not. I feign strength more than I feign pain, but I always knew as a kid, pain got sympathy. It took these last few years under the iron and the bar to learn strength gets a certain respect I’ve come to appreciate as well. Maybe I let the leg drag a little more; I wonder if keeping the show going is necessary. Maybe I don’t hurt like this right now, but I will at some point. I’m sure to make them, and if need be the security cameras, aware.

I’m in my car now in this story.

It’s 10:05. Maybe a quick dash to get some coffee. Caffeine only makes the mind race harder, but it’s a motion, an action, to dispel my thoughts for a few minutes.


That didn’t go as fast as I hoped. I took a few moments to think about this as I walked away.

I’m driving towards my pharmacy. I’ve got my comfort blanket creased in two in my back left pocket, opposite my wallet. It sits under my ass, metaphorically propping me up as I pull into the lot. I park, double-check the wallet and script, then lock the doors. They thunk hard as the motors engage, pulling them down. A little light flash and honk confirms all the operations went through without a hitch.


Once inside, I turn the corner, past the workout supplements, protein shakers, and Tylenol. One of the over-fat, under-height women there will take my comfort blanket, unfurl it, and ask what my birthday is, as if they didn’t know. As if we haven’t done this dance weekly, 30, 40 times already. I’ll answer, smiling, and she’ll proffer the question of whether I’m waiting, or coming back later. Woman, I’m addicted to these things: of course I’m waiting.

If she’s new, or one of the not over-fat, under-height techs, but an actual pharmacist, I’m told “at least 30 minutes.” If they know me (and most all of them know me now), it’s 15-20. It’s almost always 15.

I have a pattern of checking the clock about every four minutes during this narrative, but it takes another three to drink my coffee, refresh Facebook, and get around to actually writing this.

If I’m lucky, Sheila will give me my prescription. If Sheila wasn’t 250 to 270lbs, she has a pretty face I’d probably have talked to in the days before my wife. She’s kind, pleasant, and remembers me for my graciousness. I’m always nice to my drug dealers. That’s not to say I wouldn’t be otherwise, but Sheila makes that extra effort to get my prescription out to me a little faster, and if that, in some alternate universe, required a pity fuck, or some sort of friendly getting-to-know her, then hey, what’s the harm in that?

Changing the face of addiction: Loved ones left behind share their stories

The NDP government has faced recent calls to declare a state of emergency over the fentanyl crisis in Alberta but, for one Calgary woman, it comes too late to save her partner.

“Our treatment, both from a policy and treatment perspective, has failed. It failed me, it failed Nathan and it failed Nathan’s family,” said Rosalind Davis, who watched the man join the ranks of the hundreds of Albertans who have lost their lives to the deadly drug.

Davis and her partner, Nathan Huggins-Rosenthal, purchased a house together in the autumn of 2014, and with Nathan helping out with renovations, their lives were growing together exactly as they had planned.

However, after injuring his back during the process, Huggins-Rosenthal took a prescription painkiller that led to addiction. Just 18 months later he was dead, and Davis was left with a lifetime of questions without answers.

“It was so incredibly senseless, but I didn’t think the addiction was that bad,” she told Postmedia.

“You wake up every morning and you feel like your skin is crawling . . . you check your phone every morning and you check your text messages because you don’t think it’s real.”

Huggins-Rosenthal wasn’t what the public generally envisions when thinking of a “stereotypical” addict.

“He had his MBA, he worked as a successful stockbroker . . . he wasn’t what would be considered a stereotypical user,” Davis said.

“Our typical weekend morning was just drinking coffee and reading the paper. We weren’t people who went out every weekend. We’d go to the dog park, we’d go to yoga. All of those normal things, and then one day he just lost interest in life,” she added.

After five or six months of being in the dark, Davis confronted her partner about the problem and they agreed to seek treatment in February 2015.

However, the system failed him, in Davis’ eyes.

The couple faced a four-month wait after being referred to an outpatient program at Foothills Medical Centre, and Davis believes it was a contributing factor in his death.

Now, six months after Huggins-Rosenthal’s overdose death, Davis wants to shed light on addiction, and try to stop that same system from failing someone else.

“It’s so easy to ignore when it’s not a problem that directly hits you. But it’s an epidemic, it’s touching more and more people,” she said.

“When you bring it out into the open you have more control over the situation. The more they push people into the shadows, or punish people who are addicted, you’re creating a bigger problem” Davis added.

Not far from the home Davis still resides in, a different family followed a different path, but endured the same tragic result.

John Cliffe — whose 35-year-old son Jason died recently from the drug — is begging anyone who may even think about taking fentanyl to think twice.

“I feel like I’ve got to do something for my son,” he said.

Jason was heavy into hockey in his youth, said his ex-wife, Jennifer.

“Boxing, too,” she said. “He was a bronze and silver glove winner in his first year, I think he was 12. He was a five-time gold gloves champion, and a Canadian champion until he gave it up at 19.”

Jason went to Father Lacombe High School in 1997, before leaving in 1999 with a clear path for himself in mind.

He worked as a roofer for a number of years before finally opening his own business based in Calgary, Cliffe Exteriors, as a legacy for his two kids, who are five and nine.

Jason’s father and ex-wife want the public to know that the addict and the person are not one and the same.

“He was a wonderful boy and he was married, he had two little kids,” said his dad.

“He went to rehab last year, he was so good, and then he relapsed. He had money one night and he thought he would have some fun . . . and it killed him.

“You shouldn’t go before your children,” he said of his son’s death that now leaves two children without a father. “I just turned fifty-nine two weeks ago and I’m just broken.”

Jennifer said even though Jason battled addiction, he remained a good father.

“Even in our marriage, I had to separate the addiction from the person,” she said.

“Even through a lot of it, though, he was there for the kids.”

The death toll from the potent synthetic opiate has reached 153 in Alberta by the halfway point of 2016, adding to the 274 people who lost their lives last year.

John Cliffe said it’s time for action, to keep parents, friends and family from going through the same pain they’re going through now.

“It’s terrible. The government has to do something, and something soon,” he said.

“It’s like a disease for these young people. One time and they’re dead.

“He was old enough to know better, but it was an addiction. Age doesn’t matter, it doesn’t discriminate. You grieve for everybody when they die . . . but a son? It’s so hard.”

The grieving dad said his message is simple — and he hopes those who can make a difference are listening.

“If my message can save one kid, that’s all I care about.”

Chevy Chase enters rehab

Chevy Chase has checked into rehab, according to a rep for the actor.

The “National Lampoon” star has entered Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center in Minnesota to deal with an alcohol-related issue, Heidi Schaeffer confirmed via email.
TMZ first reported the star was entering rehab.
In 1986, Chase checked into the Betty Ford drug rehabilitation center for addiction to painkillers.
At the time, his then-publicist told The New York Times that the actor had developed a “dependency on prescription drugs relating to chronic and long-term back problems” tied to the pratfalls and stunts he did on projects such as “Saturday Night Live.”
While some of his “SNL” co-stars have struggled with drug use, Chase told Esquire magazine in 2010 that he was never big into recreational drugs.
“I was pretty low-level when it came to drug abuse,” Chase said. “I checked myself into the Betty Ford Clinic after my nose started to hurt.”
The 72-year-old actor will next be seen in “The Christmas Apprentice” and “Dog Years.”

My Depression Almost Stopped Me From Getting Sober

If not for the therapy and anti-depressants I took for the first year of my sobriety, I would not be alive today.

The early morning sunlight slipped in through the closed blinds, illuminating the dust in the air and landing on the armchair right across from me. My therapist, a short, amiable woman, sat casually in the armchair, clipboard resting on her lap. She waited patiently for me to say something, her eyes looking at me with concern.

I couldn’t meet her eye. “I’m sorry, I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to be saying right now.”

She nodded, jotted a few things down on the clipboard, and brushed a stray hair from her face. The lamp sitting on her desk seemed to grow brighter in the silence. I rubbed my eyes and fought the urge to yawn. I hadn’t slept in nearly three days. By then, it was normal for me.

Depression is an odd thing. I had been living with it for so long that I failed to notice the symptoms anymore. The constant fatigue was a part of my make-up, the dark circles around my eyes a regular occurrence. I spent my nights awake, staving off the uncomfortable despair by binge watching documentaries and drinking my thoughts into silence. After spending nearly half of my teens in a fog of untreated suicidal ideations, the discovery of alcohol as a solution to my dangerous melancholy seemed to me to be serendipitously welcome.

When I moved from my Midwestern hometown to Denver, Colorado for college in the fall of 2010, the night-caps were already a part of my routine. It was easy to sneak bottles of cheap whiskey past my RAs and walk to class in the morning with a carefully spiked coffee. The small campus was full of people like me—hyper-intelligent insomniacs who finished their homework before 7 p.m. and left the campus in droves to attend one of the many parties held in the neighborhood each night.

I didn’t stay there very long, though I wished I had. When I left that college after only a year and transferred to a larger campus down the road, I suddenly found myself with far more freedom to do what I wanted. The lack of structure and accountability from my friends created a vacuum that I quickly filled with drugs and alcohol. I often skipped classes and failed out of that second college after a year of avoiding responsibilities and shutting myself up in my room.

After that, the darkness that surrounded me grew. I dropped out for a year and in that time nearly destroyed myself. I chose the right kind of company that wouldn’t look twice at the amount of drugs I was taking. They were a ragtag group of 20-somethings who spent every day under the influence. We talked about nothing and scraped pennies together to get dollar menu burgers from the food joint down the street. None of us had jobs.

I was 19 years old and I hated myself. I spent hours in the shower after each night of hard partying, scrubbing my skin until it was angry and red—trying desperately to scrub away the grime that had attached itself to my being. Many times I sank to the floor of the bathtub, my tears mingling with the water as it rushed down the drain.

Looking For (Sober) Love

When I first got sober, my favorite trick was to stumble around bars pretending to be drunk in the hopes that the hot guy across the room would take advantage of me. Now that I’ve outgrown that unsurprisingly ineffective technique, meeting prospective dates in sobriety is often a matter of sheer serendipity—of keeping an eye out for eligibles with mutual interests and having my radar on for prospective partners in the periphery. To some extent everyone does this, but being in recovery is both a blessing and a curse in terms of honing that romance-detector: our mental faculties are clear enough that we’re more aware of potential mates in our environment but, without the crutch of alcohol to slacken our inhibitions and the dim lighting of a bar to make everything seductive, it’s often more difficult to feel comfortable approaching a complete stranger.

That anxiety makes the early stages of dating challenging, says relationship expert Dr. Belisa Vranich. Newly sober alcoholics, she says, are likely to feel “really intense fear” when they first re-enter the dating pool. “A lot of people who are newly sober have never dated before without being under the influence of something,” Vranich says. “It’s terrifying not to be at least a little bit high—to have nothing to lean on to relax.” But the longer you’re clean, the easier dating gets. So what can you do to find people to practice—and potentially succeed—with?

Transparency about your sober status can sometimes pay unexpected dividends.

Get involved with social or political activities

In my hard-partying days, the only political issue I was passionate about was lowering the drinking age but sobriety opened up a whole new world of opportunities for social and political activism. And getting plugged into the community is a great way to meet like-minded people. Vranich also recommends signing up for volunteer work since conversations in these environments happen organically as a result of shared interests that extend beyond the same brand of gin. (Volunteering will also put you in touch with some honest-to-goodness quality people; jerks tend not to donate their time to those less fortunate.) The Internet can, of course, give you access to groups of people who share your interests—MeetUp is a site that offers a way for people who are passionate about everything from snowshoeing to hypnosis to exotic cheeses to meet each other (meetings are held across the United States as well as internationally).

My friend Celeste, a 25-year-old student from Portland, Oregon, was heavily involved with her local Occupy movement, even though, she says, “It was kind of stoner city down there.” Still, at the Occupy camp, she began chatting with a guy who was more pass than puff-puff and it turned out that he was also in recovery. “After the cops shut down the camp, the relationship kinda fizzled out and we stopped hooking up,” she laughs. “But it was good to have a sober ally there.”

Go online

This is a major, if obvious, option and one that Vranich espouses emphatically. “With Internet dating,” she says, “you can actually say you don’t drink before the date, which really helps weed people out”—not to mention getting you weeded out by hard partiers. (I love it when I’m mistaken for a naturally responsible teetotaler, rather than somebody who used to black out and wake up in different states.) Specifying that you don’t imbibe on conventional dating sites like Match or OKCupid is easy since the sites actually ask you the question, while still others—like the sober social networking website In The Rooms—are specifically geared toward sober people. “Some couples reconnect after knowing each other in the program 20 years ago, losing touch, and then finding each other on our site,” says In The Rooms co-founder Ken Pomerance. Meeting on a sobriety-specific social network, he says, cuts through the getting-to-kn0w-you clutter. “There’s a gut-level trust and honesty that you’ll find from people in recovery,” he says. “You don’t have to walk around the elephant in the room.”

Flirt over fitness

After leaving the haze of active alcoholism or addiction, many of us develop a newfound interest in taking care of our bodies—and there’s no reason to be bashful about picking up equally health-conscious dates at a gym, yoga class or triathlon. Darren, a 46-year-old doctor from San Francisco, found his future spouse in his cycling club a few years after separating from his ex-wife and getting sober. “One morning after a ride in Golden Gate Park, this pretty, quick-witted blonde and I got to talking, and we just clicked,” he says. “It was nice because my sobriety didn’t even come up, but if we’d been in a bar it probably would have been an issue. She has a moderate relationship with alcohol, but since we’ve both been training for a triathlon, she’s hardly been drinking, either.”

Discover your passions—and the people who share them

Vranich encourages sober people to ask themselves what they’re interested in that doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol. “What do you do with the time that you would have been drinking or drugging or hung over?” she asks. “What are the things that make you happy? And what would you like to do that you’ve never tried before?” Abandoning the darkness of active addiction leaves a significant space for new interests to develop or old ones to be rediscovered, so why not go back to childhood, adolescence or those infrequent days of unintended sobriety and try to remember what moved or inspired you? Thendo it.

My friend Kurt, a 27-year-old graphic designer from New York, discovered his passion for graphic design after he got sober and he met his current beau at the graphic design section of a bookstore. “I was being clumsy and dumb and accidentally knocked over a book,” he says. “Alex smiled at me and started asking me about Photoshop. Even though I was still being totally awkward, he seemed to think it was cute. We ended up really hitting it off.” Likewise, Jeremy, a 24-year-old student from Philadelphia, made it a priority to go to more music shows in sobriety—music had always electrified him but he’d usually been too drunk to appreciate it—and he met the woman who became his girlfriend while standing in line at an Arcade Fire concert. “We started talking about how great the set was and went from there,” he says.

Overdisclose (but not too much)

Many of us tend to be understandably reticent about identifying as people in recovery, but transparency about your sober status can sometimes pay unexpected dividends. When you’re honest about being sober, you make yourself vulnerable—and allow others the same opportunity. Catie, a 27-year-old fashion merchandiser from Austin, says, “I have this bad habit of always telling people that I’m sober, even when it’s not necessary so when I was meeting friends at a wine bar and the waiter asked me what kind of wine he could bring me, I said, ‘No, I don’t drink,’” she recalls. “He blurted out, ‘Neither do I!’ Even though it was just a lucky accident, if I hadn’t had such poor boundaries, I never would have met him.” The two ended up going out twice after that.

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