C H A P T E R 1

You Can Stay Sober!

You can stay sober. It is as simple as taking your daily medicine. Millions of people use the following approach to manage their recovery on a daily basis. You can too.

Staying Sober will teach you, step by step, how to create a new, drug-free way of being in the world. You will develop your own goals and objectives. You will set your own pace and learn how to create a new way of life beyond your wildest imaginings.

The only question is: Are you ready? Are you ready to free yourself from the fatal grip of addiction? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? And are you finally ready to end the downward spiral of crisis, negative consequences, and chaos? Do you want to create a sober lifestyle filled with happiness, meaning, purpose, and your own version of success?

My Promise to You

Here is my promise to you. I will guide you through the Staying Sober process. I will never ask you to do anything that countless others and I, myself, have not done. I will be at your side, teaching you skills, giving you exercises to practice, and providing you with helpful information, encouragement, personal stories, examples, and useful tips.

There are no time limits or finish lines. You get to take as much time as you need, and you can start over any time. I will never give up on you. I know this approach works. It has for me. It can for you. The only question is: Are you ready? If so, read on.

The Best Time Ever to Get Sober

There has never been a better time to get sober than today. We have learned more about the nature of addiction and effective ways to treat it in the past twenty-five years than in the previous 2,500!
Here are just some of the highlights:

  • New PET (Positron-Emission Tomography) and fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanning technologies enable us to study the impact of addiction on the brain in real time.
  • The creation of addiction medicine—a new medical specialty devoted specifically to help people recover from addiction.
  • Breakthrough discoveries and research on the neurochemistry of addiction and the impact of drugs on brain structures and behavior.
  • Comprehensive, long-term studies showing which types of therapy are most effective, as measured by treatment outcomes that promote long-term (twelve months or more) abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
  • Increase in services. Nationwide, we have more treatment centers (more than 16,000) serving more individuals with more evidence-based treatment practices than ever before.
  • Record levels of federal funding for addiction services, research, and education. The annual budget for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is now more than three billion dollars.
  • Increased public awareness of addiction as a medical/mental health condition that requires treatment instead of a law enforcement issue requiring punishment.
  • A new paradigm in addiction treatment, recovery management, is producing significantly better long-term outcomes.

It is helpful to remember that, prior to 1935, none of the above existed. Those addicts and alcoholics who were wealthy enough could check themselves into private hospitals or health spas—places to go “dry out.” The rest of us tended to end up in psychiatric wards, hospital emergency rooms, jail, or the morgue. The fact that you are reading this page separates you from thirty-five million other Americans who are still in the fatal grip of their addiction.

Getting the Most from This Book
What are my chances of staying sober?

Quite good, based on my personal experience, clinical work with others in recovery, and the findings of SAMHSA’s long-term outcome studies. To borrow a phrase from AA, “It works if you work it.”

Staying Sober is not a magic bullet or quick fix. No such thing exists. What do exist are evidence-based skills and practices with a track record of successfully treating addiction. If you are ready, willing, open-minded, and honest with yourself, I believe Staying Sober will work for you.

When can I expect to feel better?

This is difficult to predict. Everyone’s path is unique. There will ups and downs along the way. This is particularly true early on in sobriety. The healing process requires you to break old patterns of thinking, feeling, and behavior. Growing pains can be expected when you leave your old, addictive comfort zone.

Remember, you set the pace of change. You are in control. Most people report they begin feeling better after a few weeks.

Why is this approach more effective than others?

Staying Sober is multidimensional. Treatment protocols integrate the most effective, evidence-based practices from the clinical/research community with the latest breakthroughs in addiction science, aspects of the 12-step model, and other spiritual/wisdom traditions.

Staying Sober’s developmental approach makes treatment easier to implement. There are three major stages of recovery: Early, Mid, and Long-Term Recovery. Each stage focuses on distinct goals, tasks, skills, and activities.

  • Early Recovery—I will teach you how to shift from addiction to recovery-based thinking, feeling, behaviors, and activities. You will learn coping tools to deal with the stressors that activate the addictive cycle.
  • Mid Recovery—You will build on these skills by learning how to integrate these skills into a balanced, stable weekly routine.
  • Long-Term Recovery—You will create an on-going recovery maintenance plan to stay drug-free, one day at a time. I will also teach you the skills you need for on-going personal growth and development.