Category: Guest Posts

Guest: Sonia Writer & Researcher


Recovery is a lifelong process that extends far beyond substance abuse treatment. Maintaining abstinence is paramount if an individual wants to lead a drug and alcohol free life.

Substance abuse treatment is difficult on patients but maintaining recovery after treatment is equally challenging. The people in recovery need to stay away from environmental triggers and learn to recognize their own psychological and emotional triggers. They also need to focus on developing healthy reactions to stress from their personal and professional lives.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the four pillars of a successful recovery are:

  • Health — Make wise and healthy decisions to stay away from substances of abuse.
  • Home — Invest in a stable, safe and stress-free place to live while recovering from drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Purpose — Partake in activities that contribute to an individual’s worth in society, such as a job, school, volunteering and creative activities.
  • Community — Creating meaningful relationships and social networks with members of the community can provide support, love, friendship and hope throughout recovery.

Abstinence from drugs and alcohol is a lifestyle that individuals need to adopt. In some cases, the living situations of former substance users are not ideal for their continued recovery from a substance use disorder. Destructive living environments can cause the former drug and alcohol users to relapse, hindering their recovery.

Transitional housing, such as sober living homes provide a safe and substance-free environment for people in recovery, allowing them to acquire the proper tools that will facilitate their societal reintegration. If sober homes are not an option, the person in recovery should seek out supportive friends and family with healthy lifestyles.

Former substance users may also need to attend more meetings, surround themselves with people who support recovery, structure their lives and avoid external triggers, including places where they used to buy or use drugs and former alcohol-consuming friends.

Managing Triggers

Managing triggers plays an important part in maintaining recovery from substance abuse.

Internal triggers are more challenging to manage than external triggers because they involve thoughts and feelings that the individual associates with substance abuse. These cues can deter recovery and lead to relapse.

Through counseling and therapy, individuals recovering from drug and alcohol abuse can learn to train their brains to dissociate their thoughts and feelings from substances of abuse. Therapists will teach them to identify triggers through questions and offer healthy coping skills to constructively deal with thoughts that would otherwise lead to relapse.

Identifying triggers is essential to recovery — the sooner a person learns to recognize and identify factors that might drive them to use substances, the greater their chances of abstinence.

Written By Sonia Tagliareni

Sonia Tagliareni is a writer and researcher for She started her professional writing career in 2012 and has since written for the finance, engineering, lifestyle and entertainment industry. Sonia holds a bachelor’s degree from the Florida Institute of Technology.


National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). An Individual Drug Counseling Approach to Treat Cocaine Addiction. Retrieved from

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015, October 5). Recovery and Recovery Support. Retrieved from

Polcin, D.L. et al. (2010, December). What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here. Retrieved from

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration. (1999). Treatment for Stimulant Use Disorders. Retrieved from

Guest: Trey Author


Where Do Teens Find Drugs?

Check Your Medicine Cabinet

Teens can encounter drugs in a number of ways. At school, with friends, from drug dealers — these are all possible avenues for teens to find drugs. However, most teens do not have to leave their home to find drugs these days. A trip to the medicine cabinet has become the fastest and easiest way to get high.

The medicine cabinet is a one-stop shop for teens looking to find an easy high. Prescription drugs such as painkillers, ADHD medications and anti-anxiety medications are highly sought after by teens. To make matters worse, more Americans have unused prescription medications in their homes than ever before, which many experts attribute to the rise in prescription drug abuse.

“As America faces an explosive prescription drug abuse problem, parents need to be aware that their family medicine cabinet and the internet have become today’s back alley drug dealers,” said Michele Leonhart, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, in the DEA resource guide Prescription for Disaster: How Teens Abuse Medicine.

Prescription drugs are the most widely used substances among illicit drug users behind marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2010, 26 percent of first-time drug users started by abusing prescription drugs.

According to multiple studies, including research from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, as many as one in five teens have used prescription drugs to get high in their lifetime. One in 10 teens has used over-the-counter cough syrup or cold medicine to get high.

Rates of teen opioid abuse are particularly alarming. According to the DEA, 10 percent of teens say they have used a pain medication to get high in the past year, and 6 percent say they used a pain medication to get high in the past 30 days.

How Do I Keep My Teen from Abusing Prescription Drugs?

Prevention is a lot simpler than most parents or guardians think; it does not take an army of DEA agents and drug counselors to prevent your teen from abusing prescription drugs. There are four simple precautions you can take:

  1. Take inventory of your medications:
    Knowing what medications you have in your home, the amount and where they are located can help you keep track of whether your teen is stealing prescription drugs to get high.
  2. Dispose of unwanted or unused medications:
    Forgotten or old medications are prime targets for teens looking to find an easy high. Prescription drug disposal sites at places such as police stations are becoming more common and allow people to safely dispose of unused medications that could fall into the hands of teens.
  3. Lock up your medicine cabinet:
    Teens cannot steal prescription drugs if they cannot access them. Locking up your medicine cabinet is an extremely effective way to prevent prescription drug abuse in your home.
  4. Talk to your teen about the dangers of prescription drugs:
    Often, teens believe that taking prescription drugs to get high is safer than illicit drugs. It is important for parents and guardians to teach their kids from a young age that prescription drugs are just as dangerous as illicit ones.


Taking the steps listed above and having open, honest conversations with your teen about the risks of substance abuse can help your child stay healthy and drug free.


trey-image Written by: Trey Dyer

Trey Dyer is a writer and content creator for  He is a proponent of substance use disorder treatment. When Trey is not working, he can be found surfing, hiking and fly fishing.



U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2012, August). Prescription for Disaster: How Teens Abuse Medicine. Retrieved from

Johnston, L. et al. (2016, September 6). Marijuana use continues to rise among U.S. college students; use of narcotic drugs decline. Retrieved from

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. (n.d.). Preventing Teen Abuse of Prescription Drugs Fact Sheet. Retrieved from

Guest: Marc- Afflictions Eclipsed by Glory


It is my belief that everything happens for a reason.

A belief I was intrinsically born with I believe yet brought to fruition by my faith in a power that is greater than myself. My belief in all-powerful, all knowing, and all loving power that I myself, choose to call God!

My creator, my healer, my wonderful counselor and best friend, but most importantly, “My Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”

It is through this belief that I have come to the conclusion that all my years of suffering in active addiction wasn’t for not. That all the pain I caused those who loved me most, had to be for a greater purpose. That all the people I lied to, cheated on, and stolen from, must somehow in the long run benefit in some weird way from the chaos that the world once knew as my life!

If I had to choose one person, the God had created to walk the face of this earth as the most influential in my life. it would be a man I have never met before, or even seen a real photograph of, and who some may even try and argue is simply just a figment of my imagination, but I beg to differ.

That man would be an author such as myself, but I consider him to be the greatest author of all time, the Apostle Paul. The original gangster, one of my God’s very own messengers to all of the humanity and quite possibly the second greatest man to ever dwell on this planet.

In a collaborative effort with the likes of many other great writers, they published a book. Hundreds of years ago if not even more than that, and in that book, in one of the many letters he penned in it, a few sentences he wrote have profoundly affected me more than any other-other piece of literary prose.

He wrote ” I have been pressed down, but not crushed. Persecuted not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed. I am blessed beyond the curse, for his promise will endure, and his joy is going to be my strength.” 

Those two sentences for me sum up my journey from the depths of hell, swimming in the lake of fire of my active addiction. To the almost too many to even count blessings, that have occurred in the past six months of this journey into long-term, productive and healthy recovery.

It states to me that all though I was seriously pressed down by an addiction to mind and mood altering chemicals, that I have survived and I am alive. I was not crushed but definitely dealt with my fair share of persecution due to the enormous stigma that surrounds those who suffer from a Substance Abuse Disorder in today’s society.

I was not destroyed, even though I overdosed one time and tried taking my own life on more than one occasion. And that I am blessed beyond the curse of being a miserable, homeless, selfish drug addict who could not even stand to see the sight of his own face in the mirror.

Now off substances for some time, and back into my right mind am able to see that promise that Paul talked about. A promise that if I stay focused, motivated for change, and surrounded by a network of healthy support people who have my best interests in mind, that I too will attain the prize of Joy that he so strenuously mentions above.

That joy, that feeling of excited expectedness you have when you wake up in the morning eager to see the blessings that this new clean and sober life has to gift you creates the strength to keep on keeping on.

The strength to dive deep within your soul and begin to open some of door’s you have padlocked shut. The strength to tell those you hurt and those you love that “I am so sorry for the things I did in my past that caused you grief.” The strength to stand up, walk in front of the mirror and look yourself in the eyes and say ” you know what, I forgive you!!”

Be blessed you all and remember; I love you!

Marc Mcmahon is a published author, motivational speaker on addiction, and Soldier in a war to cripple the disease of drug addiction. Recruiting as many new soldiers as possible to launch an all-out assault against substance abuse. Join him in his fight. Together we can be an unstoppable force that makes this disease cringe every time he hears our boots marching towards him for battle!

Guest: Simone- I Knew I Would Never Drink

Before I was even old enough to drink, I knew I probably never would.

I remember the exact moment I made that decision; more accurately, I remember the exact moment that decision was made for me. I was 15 years old, it was a Sunday morning, and I was cleaning vomit out of the carpet with a toothbrush.

Everyone in my family liked to drink.

My mother drank, my father drank, and now that he was of the legal drinking age, my sister liked to drink too. She had always drank, ever since high-school, but now she didn’t have to hide it as much.

My sister had come home that night (or morning, depending on how you look at it) at 3 a.m. covered in vomit and completely delirious. I only woke up because I heard her yelling at the door like some combination of words would force it open. When I was finally able to get her inside the house, she immediately collapsed into a heap on the floor. She slurred something to me about this “being the right house,” but I ignored it, attributing it to what was undoubtedly a serious case of alcohol poisoning. It took strength I didn’t know I had to pull her up the stairs to her room, and when I laid her down on the bed, she instantly threw up.

The sun was already coming up, and at this point I was already awake, so I grabbed an old toothbrush from the bathroom cabinet and got to work. As I was scrubbing her leftovers out of the fibers of the carpet, I wondered how this day could get any worse. At that exact moment was when I heard it.

The sound of shattering glass erupted through the house. Strange voices from outside yelled in “If you’re inside, come out with your hands up!” It was all a blur. I flew down the stairs, my father’s door swung open, we ran outside and were met face to face with four officers and three police cruisers parked on our lawn. In the moments that followed, my sister was dragged out of her bed by two police officers and tossed on the hood of a cruiser with her hands cuffed behind her back. Since she couldn’t, they explained what happened. She had driven home drunk, and pulled into a house three doors down the road. She had broken in, found her way to a couch, and fallen asleep on it, but not before throwing up on it. The neighbors had no idea who she was, and as such called the police, who had visited every house until they heard reports of her entering our house.

Lucky for her, the neighbors didn’t press charges.

When my sister was finally conscious, the first thing she did was walked over and apologize. She paid for the couch and the lock on the door, which she was surprisingly able to break. When she came back, my dad and I were waiting for her at the kitchen table. Before we could say a word, she started crying. She told us how the alcohol had gotten away from her. She told us about a pill addiction she had been hiding from us for months. I looked at my father, whose face was one of stern confidence but also clearly holding back tears. After a long silence, my father got up and left the room without saying a word. My sister and I sat in silence at the table. In between tears, I could make out “sorry”. I knew she meant it.

My father returned with his laptop opened in his hands. “It’s not going down like this,” he said quietly, almost to himself. “Rehab. We’ll pay.” My sister, her head still in her hands, nodded silently. We spent the day looking up places all over the country. We found alcohol rehabs in Maine and some California drug rehab centers, but eventually settled on a local outpatient treatment. She went every day for a month, not missing a single meeting. Without my sister’s commitment, my father’s compassion, and the generosity of my neighbors, the situation could have been far worse.

It’s been a decade, and my sister is still sober.
I still don’t drink.

I think back to that moment, now over ten years ago, as I watched where alcohol had taken my sister, and how much worse it could’ve been.

I’ve never been happier to be sober.

Simone Flynn blogs about addiction, recovery, mental health, and wellness.

Guest: Andrew-From Alcoholic to Workaholic

How do you define success?

In my opinion success is not the amount of money I make, the car that I drive or the clothes that I wear.

Success for me is being 8 years sober, running a growing business that employs deserving people, and providing a great service to our clients.

**I have never shared my story on the internet and I think it is about time.  

My family and I immigrated to Southern California from Colombia in 1986. My childhood in SoCal was great. My parents were both very hard-working and provided my siblings and I a good upbringing.

But I was 12 years old the first time I got drunk.

As a Colombian, our family parties are awesome.
Everyone eats, dances and has a great time.
Often that ‘great time’ is accompanied by a little anise-flavored drink called Aguardiente.

We were at a family party and the adults were taking shots of this strong-smelling drink. Being the very curious kid that I was I wanted to know what it tasted like. After multiple rejections from the man passing the shots around he finally became inebriated enough (and annoyed enough) to give me a shot…and then another… and another.

I loved the feeling.

It made me feel more confident.
I danced salsa all night long with my sister and cousins. From that day on I understood that alcohol made me feel less insecure, therefore I drank whenever I got the chance.

-At 14 I smoked marijuana for the first time. I took it and ran with it.

-At 19 I was introduced to meth and the beginning of the end of that chapter of my life.

-At 23 I was incarcerated in Idaho on drug related charges for two years. I was near my rock bottom.

While incarcerated I was introduced to a program called Alcoholics Anonymous.
At first, I would go to meetings just to get time out of my cell for a few hours. Then I found out about Narcotics Anonymous and started going to those too…for the same reason.

I wouldn’t speak, I wouldn’t share, I wouldn’t participate; I truly believed that it was a bunch of B.S. and that I didn’t have a problem but it didn’t take long for some of the stories that I heard shared to strike a chord.

A story that really killed me inside was one from a psychiatrist, who was three years in on a five-year stint for a third DUI/hit and run.

He recounted how his alcoholism fueled his rage one night at a local bar. He got into a verbal altercation with his wife, which led him to getting plastered at a local bar, which ended with him surrounded by cop cars after running over a brick wall.

The story really wasn’t what actually struck a chord, it was what he said after.
He said that while locked up he had come to a conclusion about his anger. He said that he was just a soft 13-year-old boy who gets his feelings hurt easily. He said, “if we dissect backwards we can all come to that same conclusion: rage spawns from anger, anger spawns from hurt, hurt spawns getting your little f****ing feelings hurt.”

And I didn’t sleep that night.

At that moment I realized that I had an alcohol problem.
I had an addiction problem.
I had an anger problem.
A personality problem…a life problem.

It has been 12 years since I heard those words from the psychiatrist and I can still remember them all. From the tone of his voice to the smell of the jail issued soap I used that morning.

AA and NA helped me get through my jail time. I was able to have a daily routine and stick to it. I had a great sponsor, support from other inmates, and was able to go to two meetings a week. Then I was released and I was both happy and apprehensive. I had not been out on the streets AND sober, for a very long time.

After multiple relapses, multiple AA and NA meetings I decided to check myself into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Idaho. That got me back “on the wagon” for a while, but fell off again.

When I was 26 years-old I was broke and feeling ashamed and guilty.
I decided that I had to focus my energy on something else.

I moved back to California and to make a long story short I found myself selling knock-off perfume on the street. It was a multi-level marketing company that gave you knock-off perfume on consignment, and then you had to go out and hustle.

I became obsessed with being the best salesman I could be and after 2 months I was 10 pounds lighter, and attending AA and NA meetings regularly;  I had my own office in Fremont, California, training others on how to go out and hustle perfume.

I purposefully mentioned the 10 pounds I lost to accentuate my new obsession.

I became so focused on growing the business that sometimes I wouldn’t eat. I had no real friends, and I wouldn’t even call my parents.

I had traded drugs and alcohol for…work.

At the time I was introduced to Jeffery Combs’ book Psychologically Unemployable (Jeffery is also a recovering addict). In the book there was a part that said not to confuse addiction with passion.

That there’s a fine line between being a workaholic and a passionate entrepreneur.
I sold the business and moved back down to my parents house in Southern California.

Now 28, living at my parents house, I was working at Target and felt passionless.
Luckily I was able to find a great AA/NA community close by and my sponsor at the time gave me a task.

He told me to go sign up for a class at the local community college. I really didn’t want to do that, but he said that it was not a suggestion, that if I wanted to continue working with him that I had to go take a class.

A week later I was at the Saddleback Community College campus looking through their course catalog. There was nothing I was interested in, until I saw a course called intro to website development (HTML). I thought, “I like computers and websites…why not?”

Three months later my room at my parent’s house was full of HTML and website design books. After a while I decided that I could make a business out of it. I had already overcome my fear of sales (selling perfume on the streets to strangers) so selling website design to local businesses would be a cakewalk.

And 8 years later  here I am.

I now co-own a website development agency.
I have a staff that I feel are like my family, and as a matter of fact, my brother is part of the team.
We are currently based out of Medellin, Colombia. Ironically, my parents left Colombia seeking a better life for us and I’ve come back to Colombia with that better life trying to help the local economy, while helping businesses in the U.S. with their online presence.

Once sober and committed to my sobriety, I didn’t try to become an amazing developer and build the next Facebook; instead, I evaluated my strengths and passions and decided how I could best utilize my skills to build a business that could employ people and help businesses.

Early in my sobriety I felt like every little step I took was all about me, and in a sense it was. I mean everything you do early on has a big impact. Every single step you take, every single piece of homework your sponsor gives you, every piece of literature you read is all about you and your recovery.

But after a while, you start to realize that there’s a bigger reason for your sobriety.

Whether it’s to help your parents buy a house and retire, provide your children with a great life, work at a company and help it grow, or start your own company and employ people who depend on you, there’s a larger importance to your sobriety other than just your own well-being.

You may not see it now, but everything you are doing right now will have a greater impact in the future.

Good luck and thank you for reading.

Andrew was born in Bogota, Colombia, but was raised in Los Angeles California. He is a recovering addict / alcoholic with 8 years of sobriety under his belt. He is also an entrepreneur, the proud owner of


Guest: Jay-Acknowledging his Codependency

Codependency has a lot of different faces. The phrase that sums up my experience is that
“I’m happy when you are happy, and when you’re in distress, I feel unregulated.”

At just under a year sober I had learned that my girlfriend had relapsed and wasn’t doing too well. We would see each other regularly and never spoke about whether or not she was using. I trusted that when she wanted help she would ask for help, but it broke my heart and I wasn’t as cool as that statement might make me appear.
I worried a lot.
Each time my phone rang I thought it would be someone telling me that something terrible had happened. I created anxiety in my life by trying to be prepared for the worst at all times.

Eventually she asked for help and I brought her to detox.
We weren’t sure that she would stay more than the night but she made the decision to go and I would sleep well that night; or so I thought.

The funny thing about the mind is that it can control the body. At 11 months I was having panic attacks, I was losing focus at work and I was sleeping in broken patterns throughout the night.
Today it’s easy to see in hindsight that I was waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop– I was waiting for the worst case scenario and I was sleeping lightly because my mind was preparing my body for its “fight or flight” mode, and plus, if I were awake I could rush to her rescue.

For over two months I slept like this.

I became tired throughout the day and kept my ringtone on the highest volume.

During conversations with friends I would scour for service, refreshing my connection to make sure I hadn’t missed any calls or voice mails. I didn’t trust that the universe was taking care of her and I stopped meditating.

In a couple’s session her therapist had mentioned a theory she had about our behavior.

She suggested that I was the sick one because I wasn’t being treated for my own illness.
I thought, “Here we go, here it comes. Jay is always wrong. Everyone warned me about couples sessions.”…I felt like I was set up in a position where I would never be right and I would never win. I tried to switch the focus back to the treatment she was or wasn’t getting, and how this would affect her discharge plans.

The therapist said to me, “You’re trying to control this conversation just like you’re trying to control her treatment plan. In codependency, one person takes control and the other person allows the control. Your fear is that if you let go of that control, you will lose her. Her fear is that if she doesn’t allow you that control, she will lose you. Have you ever asked her what she wants?”

She was right.

I went on to explain how wrong she was, that I was in recovery and I had the experience and insight that I knew was helpful to my girlfriend. I had the cheat sheet with all of the answers.

She didn’t shame me or try to prove me wrong. My girlfriend simply smiled because she had heard the truth and knew it to be spot on.

Her therapist waited for me after our session and gave me a handout on codependency and emotional regulation.

It explained a lot.
It was difficult for me to see. It was difficult to admit.

I hadn’t realized these methods weren’t effective. I was becoming a teacher rather than a supportive boyfriend. I wasn’t listening anymore because I was preparing my response. I always thought there was a perfect combination of phrases for any situation that could dissolve any conflict or confusion.
I found safety within this line of reasoning.

What a difficult pill to swallow to learn it wouldn’t work any longer.

Everyday I meditate and talk to my network of support and try to set the tone to go with the flow of things rather than holding on too tightly to what I believe. For my meditations I began using mantras like “everything is as it should be” or “go with it.”

Acceptance is one of those things that I needed to commit to. It’s hard to accept because it’s hard to let go of my defenses. For me, acceptance today means that my happiness isn’t derived from the happiness or well-being of my girlfriend.

My happiness is derived from the effort I put into being happy and healthy. For me.

Codependency can be subtle or it can be painfully obvious.

An outside perspective with someone you trust is a sure fire way to discover how healthy and helpful your communication techniques and relationship style is. The most important thing isn’t to be discouraged if you’ve found you’re skewed to the codependent side.

The important part is realizing what the problems are, and being willing to work work on letting go of them.

Your relationship will only grow if you allow it the space to do so.

Jay is 27 years old and has been sober for over 1 year.  
He is an alumni at Atlas Recovery House, a non-12 step-based program in Los Angeles, where he also works. In his free time he likes to play music and enjoys going to concerts.


Guest: Midwestern Mama- Creator of ‘Our Young Addicts’

It’s Good To Be Alive!
By Midwestern Mama, creator of Our Young Addicts.

My dad was an early riser.
Each morning at the breakfast table, he would stretch and declare, “It’s good to be alive! Good to be alive!” As a kid, I dismissed the sheer beauty of this morning ritual and squirmed at how he repeated the phrase.

Fast forward to age 49, I now understand the infinite wisdom that he expressed and why it required such emphasis. In fact, on my dad’s 80th birthday in 2009, my sisters and I presented him with a tribute of all the things we remembered growing up and his “good to be alive” mantra was top of the list.

At the time of my dad’s 80th birthday, things in my family life were turning upside down and I had no idea what twists and turns we were in for in the years ahead. From this point forward, our middle son became a focal point. Not because he was the middle kid, but because his attitude, mood and behavior was changing. It was becoming foreign to us and we were wondering what the heck was going on. We were very concerned.

Until this point, life had been beautiful.
A great marriage. Three wonderful kids who seemed to be thriving.
Prosperous careers. Friendships. Community involvement. Fun times on family vacations. A home that provided comfort and joy. Lots of laughs and family time together.
You name it. Indeed, we were blessed. Then, as I said, things started to change.

Our son was using drugs.

Marijuana at first, quickly followed by opiates including heroin. Although his grades were exceptional, his attendance record was putting high school graduation at risk. He was lying, stealing, manipulating.

We saw it, but others said it was just a phase. We suspected drugs, but did not have tangible evidence because he hid it well. It got worse and worse, and for those of you who have been through addiction first hand or as a family or friend, you know what I mean.

In short, things were ugly. Yet in spite of the ugliness, I discovered beauty. Yes, I discovered beauty and beauty saved me.

As a mom and wife, I felt responsibility to hold everything together. I was doing OK at this for everyone except myself. It felt like things were getting ready to fall apart. It felt like things were becoming unmanageable (Step One for those who embrace the 12 steps.)

I did not want things to become unmanageable, so I paused. I sought help and through this help, I rediscovered beauty in everyday life and it was more beautiful than it had ever been. This is not to say that things were not sad, mad or difficult. Addiction is all those things and witnessing it as a parent is horrific. What it is to say is that during this harrowing journey of addiction for my son, I intentionally and consciously began to embrace beauty all day, every day.

Just like my dad, beauty began each morning when I woke up. Waking up, alive and with the belief that this was a new day with new possibilities was an amazing starting point. I even began to say aloud his expression when I woke up: “It’s good to be alive. Good to be alive.” From there, I began:

  • Taking time to mediate.
  • Taking time to enjoy.
  • Taking time for gratitude.

I remember sitting in my son’s room – he was no longer living with us and was sofa surfing at the time – and feeling the morning sun come through his windows; it was warm and reassuring. Yes, the sun rose, day after day regardless of what was happening in my son’s life or my own. That, alone, was reassuring and beautiful.

Beauty continued to reveal itself as my husband and I landscaped our yard and planted a garden one summer early in the addiction years. The physical labor was therapeutic as we lugged bags of mulch and dug in the dirt to plant perennials and annuals that would attract butterflies.

What Else?
I remember:

  • Bringing a picnic of favorite foods to our younger son’s baseball games in lieu of having concession-stand fare several nights each week.
  • Spending my lunch hour at park near my office soaking in the warm sun.
  • Going on vacation to hike in the mountains of Montana without much cell phone reception and relishing in the disconnection from all things digital.

The road ahead was nothing short of hard and challenging, but I sought beauty each and every day.

  • Thanking God for the beautiful sky – always a different picture from the day before.
  • Appreciating the seasons.
  • Meeting new friends through Al-anon and online support groups.
  • Challenging myself with new perspectives through reading Buddha, the Talmud, and many other philosophies.
  • Acknowledging the challenges that every individual faces, whether expressed or contained.
  • Putting my experiences into writing and sharing these with a variety of publications.
  • Creating Our Young Addicts and knowing that its mission of experience, resources and hope would connect parents and professionals concerned about the rising number of young people using drugs and alcohol.

As our son’s addiction spiraled out of control and blips of hope became mere flickers of possibility, we maintained contact with him and welcomed him home as often as he cared to join us.
This included:

  • Family meals where we held hands each with our own prayer, wish or hope.
  • Caring yet candid conversations where we shared our honest concerns about his addiction.
  • Offering help and support for our son to embrace sobriety and recovery.
  • Giving him nutritious meals, a warm shower, a change of clothes and a clean bed … only to know he’d head out the next day and not knowing when he’d return.
  • Relishing in each and every interaction we had with him because it meant he was alive and that a bright future remained possible. (Trust me, I had begun to think about his obituary because that’s how gripping his addiction had become.)

While the days and nights were dark and the unthinkable was always possible, I sought beauty; I expressed gratitude for what was and tried to let go of what wasn’t.

Fast forward to summer 2014, through many efforts at treatment, my son decided he was ready to embrace sobriety and recovery. July 11, 2014, remains one of the most beautiful days of my life. It is the day that my son began his return, slowly but surely.

Through my son’s recovery, each day has offered up even more beauty than I ever imagined.

Do I look back on the addiction days as ugly? Sure, there was ugliness. Addiction is ugly. But it is the beauty that got me through it and the beauty that keeps me cognizant of today and the future. Without a doubt, as my dad said each morning, “It is good to be alive. Good to be alive.”

RM headshot MSU

Midwestern Mama is the creator or Our Young Addicts, a growing community of parents and professionals who are concerned about the rising number of young people using drugs and alcohol. Together, we share experiences, provide resources and offer hope – no matter where a kid may be on the spectrum of addiction, treatment and recovery. Together, we are the #OYACommunity.

*Connect with Our Young Addicts:
Twitter: @OurYoungAddicts



Guest: Candace- Her Weight Loss Journey!


I was skinny as a child.
It wasn’t until the age of 8 or 9 that I really started to gain weight.
That is also about the time my mom started to work outside of our home, so she wasn’t around, and my older brother didn’t really care what we (younger brothers and myself) ate.
I was/am very much loved by my parents and family, but some things did happen when I was young and it was something I didn’t talk about.
So I used food as a way to cope.
Eating became something that I could control in my life.
Food became a comfort to me.
I loved eating but wasn’t interested in eating any healthy things.
I loved junk food, the sweeter the better. Eventually, I stopped playing sports and ended up sitting on the couch more and more

I would say I became addicted to the bad stuff; candy, cakes, cookies, chips, pop, ice cream: Sugar.

I have tried to lose weight what seems like thousands of times!
I have tried so many different ways.

Prescription medications, a few over the counter pills.
Those never worked. I never did it consistently and really wasn’t doing it for myself.

There were times when my dad would bribe me-telling me that he would buy me a whole new wardrobe if I would just lose 100 lbs. I would take the challenge, but I would only half-ass it, mostly to get him off my back. I would lose a few pounds here and there, but not enough to motivate me, and I would usually just get discouraged, and quit again.

I have had gym memberships.
I have tried the Atkins diet.
I even tried herbal teas that claimed to enhance and promote weight loss, and at one point,
My parents even had a food therapist come talk to me.

None of that worked. 

I am now 37 years old.
I have to take 3 pills, 2x a day to control diabetes and high blood pressure.
I am tired of being tired all the time.
I’m tired of being out of breath going up a flight of stairs,
I am tired of having to ask a flight attendant for the extra seat belt thing
(or just hiding my waist to make it look like my seat belt is on, even though it won’t fit and because I was to embarrassed to ask for it)
I am tired of not being able to fit on the rides at our local theme park.

For me the biggest motivation has been the prospect of adopting a child.
It almost happened recently, but fell through and things didn’t work out.
But through that experience, I realized that there are so many kids in my life who love me and who want me to stay around and that I want to be around to see my goddaughters, nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews grow up.  I want to be here to see them graduate high school and when they go of to college.
I want to see them get married. I just want to be here.

This time I know I will be successful because I am committed!
The difference is that before, I was doing it for someone else & for the wrong reasons.
This time, I am doing this for ME.

It has been about 7 weeks since I began this new journey.
My heaviest weight was 358.
I have lost 13.4 lbs total.

I have even managed to be a part of 2 birthday celebrations, and have made it through St. Patrick’s Day & Easter without giving into the temptation around me.

I have changed the way I eat and look at food. I have started to change the way that I think.
I have even started to exercise. I walk every day, I have done my first 5k and I finished it, I am signed up for more walks, one in May and the other in July.

The advice that I would give to anyone else who is trying to lose weight
is that you have to want it.
You can’t do it for anyone else.

Next, I would say change the way that you are looking at it. It’s not a diet, It’s a LIFE CHANGE.

Also, you need support.
It helps not to isolate yourself or keep it secret.
I never realized how much support I could have if I just reached out.
So many people love me and are supporting my journey.

Make realistic goals for yourself.

Do what works best for you.
For me that meant making a meal plan, and no more eating out fast-food. I try to eat a lot of veggies and fruit every day and I count calories. I have also tried out Zumba, home workouts and walking as I said before. I don’t like the gym, so I am trying new things on to see what fits.

You have to commit to this as a life change.
No one can do it for you, only you!

Everyone keeps telling me how proud of me they are, which is great.
I really do appreciate it,

but it doesn’t mean anything
if I am not proud of MYSELF.



Guest: SoberMJ -An Mom, An OverComer

Have you ever woke up after a long night of partying to realize that you have no clue what happened?

Have you ever spent a whole night in total black out to find yourself the next morning in bed with someone you don’t know?

Have you ever blacked out and done something that you totally regret?

Or even worse, have you ever came to in the middle of a black out to find things happening that you’d much rather not remember?

I have.
I remember it like it was yesterday.

 When I graduated high school in 1998 I went a little wild.
Well, maybe a lot wild.
I was waiting tables with people who were in college and they partied hard.
I fit right in.
I could get into bars without an ID, I could get drinks bought for me, I could get away with whatever and I wanted and I took full advantage of it.
I was young, promiscuous, and ready for a good time.
I was a wild party girl and I was proud of it.
I started dating a guy who ended up moving to Austin, Texas. I thought what the heck I’ll try long distance dating, plus, it’ll give me the chance to check out the party scene in Austin.
They sure know how to party down in Austin!
Me and some girlfriends drove down from Arlington a couple of times until that relationship went sour. Relationships and monogamy have never been top on my priority list but I kept in touch with some of the people down there.

When a group of friends decided to take a road trip to Austin for a car show, I was all about it. I figured while down for the show I would stop in at the apartment complex where my ex boyfriend lived to see if there was a party going on.
Of course there was… there always was a party going on.

 It was a hot summer night in Austin.
Beer was flowing and the air was filled with smoke. It was my kinda party.
The night was a blur but, surprisingly, I remember saying to everyone that I needed to go to sleep.

I was really high, (smoking has never been my thing I don’t like the effect it has on me).
I barely remember stumbling to a back bedroom, closing the door and passing out on the bed.
I was alone and fully dressed.
I don’t know how long I was in bed, could have been an hour- could have been 6 hours, I don’t know. What I do know is I woke up to a guy having sex with me.
I remember feeling scared and confused, and I wanted it to end.
Instead of fighting it, I turned my head the other way and passed out again.

I just let it happen.

When I woke the next morning, I got the hell out of that apartment and never went back.
I’ve never spoke to any of the people I was with that night again.
I have no idea who it was that was on top of me that night. I could pass him on the street and would never know it was the guy who raped me.
I was so disgusted and so ashamed, and I was angry!!!!
The thing is, I was angry at myself.
How could I let this happen to me? How could I be so stupid?
Maybe, I shouldn’t wear such revealing clothes.
Maybe, I should have locked the door.
Maybe, I need to stop being a flirt.
Maybe, if I had some control over myself this wouldn’t have happened.
Maybe, I’m just a piece of meat for men to use?!?!
It’s all my fault!!!
Not once did I blame the guy that undressed me while I was unconscious.
Not once did I see how disgusting it was for a guy to feel the need to have sex with a girl who is clearly not capable of saying no.
Any guy who does this to a girl is in my eyes not a man.
It’s disgusting!
I have had trust issues with men ever since.
I’ve been in one unhealthy relationship after another.
I wonder if men are really interested in me or they just want to have sex with me.

Through counseling I have come to understand my need to date married men, my bosses, or men who are unavailable.

It is me seeking control.
I use sex as a way to control the relationship.
I figure they will use me anyway so I’ll be one step ahead.
I’ll use them and take all they have and then ..I’m the winner.

It’s a sick way to look at things, but I’m finally working through all of it through counseling.

I am working on having a healthy relationship with myself before I worry about having a man in my life.

Since that night many years ago I have met other girls who have had the same thing done to them.

I feel comfort in knowing I’m not alone, but at the same time, I am sickened by the fact that it’s more common than we think.

I have come to realize that it’s not my fault that it happened.

We live in a world that tells woman that it’s our fault that we get raped.

We’re told that what we wear causes men to act inappropriately.

As if they have no control over their behavior when a girl wears a short skirt.

It’s unfortunate that women are scared to tell someone when they’ve been raped because they will be called liars.

It doesn’t matter how much you’ve had to drink if you say no the answer is no.

I wonder if I could’ve saved myself years of misery if I had told someone and sought help.

But as always, wondering does me no good.

I have to focus on today and work on being the best possible me for myself and my kids.

Maybe one day I’ll find the right man for me, maybe not.
I’m okay either way.

I’ve learned that I am good enough just as I am, I don’t need a man to make me feel better about myself.


Melissa Johnson is a dedicated member of the recovery community.
She is a loving mother in recovery who is inspiring others with her personal accounts of addiction and sobriety through blogging.

This is the link to her blog:

Guest Rose: Battling Addiction, Fighting for her Children.

Like any other Mom, I love my children fiercely.
Honestly, the depth of the feeling cannot really be put into words.

The two happiest days of my life were the days they came into this world.
I looked into their faces and vowed to do my best to protect them in every way possible.

Unfortunately the hardest thing I faced was trying to be a mother and an addict at the same time. 

I knew the day I left my ex that it was going to get ugly.
But I had no idea that it would turn into the battle it did….

Life as a Mother, and an Addict-

When I began my travel down the road to addiction with an eating disorder, I never thought it would end with me checking into treatment for prescription meds and alcohol use.

For a long time I knew that I was playing with fire when it came to drugs and alcohol.
I knew that I wasn’t like the other people I partied with. I always took it to a different level.

This was something I knew, but never wanted to admit.
Even when bad things started to happen, or when my family started to show concern.
I ignored them and continued on.

For the duration of my marriage I was what is called a “high functioning addict”.
I was able to keep a job, pay my bills, care for my children, cook meals, do laundry.
However, keeping up the guise of normal was exhausting both mentally and physically.

I went to the doctor a lot telling them that I was sick, and trying to find a reason why I felt so bad; unfortunately I never told them the whole story.
For me everyday was a struggle.  (and when I say struggle, I mean it.)
Constantly trying to balance work, kids, relationships, and an addiction isn’t for the faint of heart, mind you.
But for a period of time, I managed.

Of course, on the outside my life looked normal, for the most part. My kids were well taken care of.
I read books on parenting and child development.
I had a bedtime routine we read stories every night.
I took them to the park, to birthday parties-you know normal things parents do with their children.
I tried to be the best mom I could.

Addiction made that difficult, and at the end, impossible.
It’s crazy what you can live with when you don’t know any better.
I had no idea how much anxiety I lived with physically and emotionally. I had heard about it, but for some reason never felt like it applied to me-(this is ironic, to say the least. I literally oozed  tension and stress.)

In treatment I was forced to feel, face, and seek help for this anxiety.
Before treatment I found a solution in a substance or behavior and that worked but the relief it provided got shorter and shorter. Eventually, there was no relief no matter how much I used or drank- it didn’t work anymore.

The last 3 years before treatment I could not get high or drunk anymore. The feeling evaded me.
The only reason I used at this point  was to be able to function, to feel “NORMAL” .
I got sick if I tried to not use.
Miserable is putting it lightly when I talk about getting sick.

I had only known my ex husband for 5 months before we got married.  We got married because I unexpectedly got pregnant.  I was told by friends and family that I didn’t have to marry him but I did  it anyways.  I felt like he was all I deserved.

I knew he had issues with alcohol and drugs but I hoped things would change after the baby was born.  What I wasn’t prepared for was how drastically he changed and the person he became.  It started with a small shove here, an insult there.  I kept telling myself it would change and get better.

It didn’t take long for the violence and emotional abuse to escalate.

I could go into gory details but I choose not too.  I feel it is more important to focus on the future.  In the end, the fact is, we both made mistakes and had poor judgement.

After six years I vividly remember the moment when I had had enough.  I couldn’t do it anymore.
The havoc left in the wake of domestic abuse and substance abuse was blatantly obvious at this point.
My children were innocent victims in this whole F@#$%D up situation and I decided it was time to leave.

I packed a couple of suitcases grabbed the important documents and moved back in with my parents.

The Downward Spiral-

Before I moved home I don’t think my parents realized just how bad the situation was.
They kept encouraging me to go to counseling. I did what I always do, please other people, and went to counseling.
It didn’t help, but I have to be honest and say I put no effort into therapy.
I was done. I was not going back to that marriage ever.
The kids stayed with me, and for a while, things were okay.
That was the first 2 months and then I fell apart.
I no longer put limits on when I could use.
I had held it together for seven years, I pulled out the stops and fell apart in a matter of months.

My using spiraled out of control.  I was in full-blown addiction, I did not have a good grasp on reality. I blamed everyone and everything else for my problems.

I tried so hard for 6 months to stop using I went to 12-step meetings every day, I had a sponsor.
But the reality is I couldn’t stop.
I got so sick, and this meant that no matter how bad I wanted to get sober I just couldn’t do it.
I can’t put into words how much I hated and despaired having to wake up in the morning.  Honestly I wished that I would just not wake up, and that maybe I would be lucky enough to die.
I did not want to have to face another day of hurting those I loved the most.

Finally I had a moment of clarity:

I called my sponsor and asked her if she thought maybe going to treatment would be a good idea. She said it helped her.  That was the hope I needed if she could do this so could I.  In treatment I would have the supervision I needed to stop.

I called a treatment center at 9 AM on July 29th 2014.
By 5 PM that day I was on my way to treatment and to a new life.
I was terrified but at this point anything was better than where I was.

I knew that they would help me medically detox from the prescription drugs and alcohol.  Turns out you can die by just stopping cold turkey benzo’s and alcohol cold turkey.

Getting Clean Didn’t Make All My Problems Go Away-

My first week of addiction treatment was spent in bed asleep I got up to maybe eat and get my vitals checked or take meds.  After six days I got up and took a shower and started the process of putting my life back together starting with me.  I went to my groups, I went to my individual sessions and I threw myself into getting better.  Having had a taste of not having to use I wanted sobriety and I was willing to do whatever it took.

My first treatment center like so many across the US could only get me coverage to stay for 30 days.  Come on let’s just put this in perspective I had spent 16 years destroying my life and 30 days is supposed to cure me and have me ready to deal with life.  The reality is I was still testing positive on my drug screenings as benzo’s are stored in the fat and take a long time to get out of your system.  I had been using Xanax, and Clonopin for 3 years I was still having significant side effects from them and seriously I was an emotional train wreck. . But my insurance felt I was ready for a half way.

I thank God that I knew I wasn’t ready I was terrified of going back to the bottomless hell that my life had been while using.  So I asked for more inpatient treatment. They found it to this day I am so grateful that I had those extra 5 months of Partial Hospitalization it saved my life.  The healing that took place could not have happened in any other setting.  I had intense therapy to treat the emotional pain and trauma that had followed me for so many years.

I finished this program moved to a halfway house and got a job.  This is when I started to really see that I could do this.  My sponsor worked with and I began to work  my  way through the steps.  I continued an Intensive Outpatient program and eventually moved onto seeing an individual therapist. I will not sit here and tell you this was easy.  It wasn’t it was a lot of hard work.  A Lot of tears, and a lot of emotions.  But I got through it.

I knew I wasn’t ready to be a mom yet, but as I continued to improve and accomplish things sober I knew I was getting closer.

My ex didn’t trust me. He believed that addicts couldn’t get clean and stay clean.  He has told me many times that once an alcoholic/addict always one.  Based on his thinking, I was a danger to our children, and always would be.

The irony here is he didn’t even care for the children full time until just a couple of months ago.  His parents did the caretaking.  Somehow he also seemed to have a blind spot not remembering the domestic violence somehow that was ok.  But me being an addict was’nt.  He did anything and everything to limit and control my contact with my children.  To this day every day I have to request through text or a phone call to speak with my children.

Really!!!! Are you F&*$ing kidding me. It’s exhausting and sometimes I don’t feel like doing this.  It has been a year and a half.  He has no legal order limiting my contact with the children.  This doesn’t change the fact that he knows this is the only way he can hurt me anymore.

In  the end I just have to keep my side of the street clear.  I keep doing the right thing I go to meetings, see my therapist and do the best I can with what I have.

I have a custody hearing in May and I am nervous to say the least.  The only prayer I have is that God’s will be done whatever it may be. It will always be in the best interest of the children that is what I really want and at this point I will accept the outcome.

You see the thing that recovery has taught me is that I don’t know what is best.  My plans don’t really take into consideration the big picture.  God or my “higher power” has a way of always having the best outcome happen.  I can take comfort in this and I do.  Its gotten me this far.

Don’t get me wrong there was a time where I really thought I was going to lose my kids that it didn’t matter that I had done the right thing and gotten treatment.  The thing is even when I was faced with my biggest fear in sobriety.  I stayed sober.  And at this point I still have a chance of getting partial custody.

In the end my life is amazing compared to what it was a year and a half ago.  I am alive I wake up happy in the morning looking forward to my day not dreading it.  I have contact with my kids and things are continuing to improve.

I have a job that I love and people in my life that love and support me.  This is more than I could have asked for before. My family is back in my life and I am building relationships with them again.  I am grateful for each day.  Today I can deal with life as they say on life’s terms.  I have coping skills and have healed from trauma that I never thought would be possible.
Today I choose to live.


Rose Landes is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram



Project: Books For Recovery; One Man, Giving Back.

I recently heard about a project called Books For Recovery, and I thought it sounded like a fantastic idea.
Reading really helped me to get through some of the toughest parts of early recovery.
Those hours that felt like days were a little bit more bearable when I had a good book to keep me occupied.
I know that reading has also played a huge part in so many people’s sober lives as well and I really think that Books For Recovery could really help so many people out there.

We all want to do our part to give back and help other people who are new to recovery in any way that we are able to, and that’s exactly what the person behind Books For Recovery aims to do….

Who is he?
Matt is a person from New Jersey, who struggled with alcoholism until he was 27.
He has over two years of sobriety and is coming up on his third. He got sober and began his recovery with the help of family, friends, medical professionals, and with the help of people he met through

What is he doing?
He is providing FREE books to people who are newly sober, and is raising money to put toward the project.
His ultimate goal is to provide one free book to people who are entering treatment facilities. (How cool is that!?)
The money raised will go directly to cover the costs of inventory upkeep, storage, shipping supplies & shipping costs.

Why is he doing it?
Like all of us in recovery he simply wants to give back and make a difference in someone else’s life.
He feels like an idle mind can be a dangerous thing to a newly sober person. (Which we can attest to!)
Reading (and cycling) helped him to pass through the difficult days much easier, and reading offered him inspiration, education, empathy, and perhaps most importantly- hope.
Without cycling, the support of his family, and all of the reading that he has done, he doesn’t think he would be where he is today.

How can we help him?
Matt has been giving back with books since 2014. Let’s help him reach his goal, of not only continuing to do what he is doing, but to grow into something with even more reach!
We can help him by making donations, buying from the Amazon store, or partnering with him.


If you are interested in making a donation here is the Indiegogo link:

If you would like to learn even more about Matt, his project, or are interested in partnering
here are the social media links: 


Guest: Mark- Sober Parent, Smart Phone


Twitter has become my new drug of choice.

Sorry coffee, the tweets pour in before you percolate.
My wife has noticed a change in me since I got on twitter six weeks ago.

Here’s our conversation in the car the other day:

At a stop light I thumb “notifications” on my black rectangular wonder box.

“What kind of world is this?” My wife asks.

“What do you mean?”

“You can’t sit at a stop light and just be still. You don’t have to check that thing. Nothing has changed.”

Silence. How often am I silent instead of saying “you’re right?”

“Our kids are screwed,” she continues.

“Not if we raise them right.”

“They sit in the back seat and see you check your phone at a stop light? What do you expect them to do?”

My son is three and uses a pine cone as a cell phone, but she has a point.

The hardest part of parenting is modeling the behavior I want to see in my children. And I don’t mean eating broccoli for dinner. I mean demonstrating patience instead of anger, choosing to read instead of watch TV, or refraining from cursing—lifestyle choices.

“So what to do we do?” I ask her.

“We pick up the kids from daycare at 5:30 and they are in bed by 8:00. That’s two and a half hours. Two and a half measly hours that we should not be on our phones. Period.”

We agreed three days ago to place our phones in the kitchen in a designated place for those two and a half hours.
Here is a brief review of those three days and what I’ve learned from them.

*Day 1

Kids playing in the other room. Wife is making dinner. I reach past her for my phone.

“What are you doing?”

“I thought of a text I need to send.”

“What about our deal?”

“Our deal was to leave the phone here, I’m not picking it up!”

Lesson 1: when collaborating with an addict to ‘give up’ an addiction, make the language clear, final, and without any wiggle-room.

*Day 2

We are eating dinner with the kids. A muffled buzzing in the kitchen alerts us somewhere, someone is reaching out to one of us.

We stare at each other between our infant’s gooooos and a toddler request for more milk.

“I’ll get it for you bud.” I jump to the rescue and dart into the kitchen.

“You’re pathetic,” my wife’s response.

Lesson 2: turn your phone off; don’t just switch it to vibrate.

*Day 3

Today was much smoother. Until I came downstairs to fetch my son some water as I put him to bed.

“Be right up bud!”

A quick check won’t hurt.

Lesson 3: when you admit you broke a pact, do it while guest blogging so the likelihood of your wife reading it is not very high.

The phone-hide practice has it’s advantages. My nine month old daughter was able to push a cart, walking (with assistance) for the first time. I was fully present to experience every second of it.

Mark Goodson has been sober since 2007 and has found writing to be a key to his recovery.
He is a teacher and a sober daddy to two children.
Mark Goodson Twitter: 

Guest: Alexandrea- Choosing to Live a Sober Life

I’ve never written about this.

Most of the people in my life know nothing about it, yet here I am, penning an entire article about the dirty little secret my family adamantly ignores as much as possible.

Whenever we gather, there’s an elephant in the room. I grew up with him.

For the first decade or so of my life I didn’t even know he was there. All I knew was that there was something that kept my mother’s side of the family disjointed and angry. Over the years I managed to catch tiny tidbits of the stories; little pieces of information I was never meant to know, but I learned anyway. I got in trouble quite a few times for being in “grown folks business.”

What I learned was this:

  • At some point, my mother and her many siblings were placed in foster care before going to live with her grandmother.
  • There were hushed accounts of molestation and incestuous rape that everyone skated around and avoided like the plague.
  • My mother and her siblings were subjected to severe abuse, including being locked in a closet, burned, beaten, and left unattended for days at a time.
  • My grandmother was addicted to drugs, including heroin and cocaine.


None of these things made sense when I was younger; it wasn’t until my teenage years that I began to really understand.

When I was eleven I met a woman named Queen for the very first time. She was introduced to me by my cousin as ‘auntie Queen’ and I remember feeling uneasy around her whenever she was around, which honestly wasn’t often. Queen dressed strangely- always in at least three layers of clothes. I recall thinking it was so strange that she wore a beat-up old coat in the middle of Florida summers.


I remember my mother being upset that I had been around Queen but not really understanding it. She was so angry; there was furious yelling like I’d never heard before, and my home was hardly a silent one. I remember being told to never be alone with her or another recently introduced member of my extended family- an uncle.


I remember being alone with that uncle. I remember suddenly understanding why I was supposed to stay away from him.


When I was about 14, I was blindsided by a revelation: Queen was not my aunt, she was my grandmother. It made no sense to me, then, but looking back it should have. My mother and I called the same woman grandma- of course she was actually my great-grandmother. Her name was Virginia and she was a powerhouse, the loving and gracious. I miss her dearly at the strangest times.


My mother sat me down just once to explain what happened in her childhood. She told me about the neglect and abuse she and her siblings endured at the hand of their mother, under the influence of drugs and a (then undiagnosed) mental illness. She told me about taking the brunt of it as the oldest in order to protect the younger kids. She terrified me and broke my heart in one go.


Not long after that, my mother left. In the middle of the day, she was shipped off in the back of a police car and immediately Baker Acted. She had written a letter to a friend, confessing that she was on the verge of suicide. She told her friend she would take my brother and I with her, so we wouldn’t suffer without her. Her friend saved our lives by calling the cops before we ever got home from school.


To be honest, I’m not sure what would have happened if she hadn’t.


That began a tumultuous period in my life, filled with powerful emotional pain and confusion as my mother was in and out of mental health hospitals, trying to finally deal with the demons in her past. I remember being so angry; so terrified; so lost. I harbored that anger for a long, long time. To be honest, I still haven’t been able to address it with my mother, even though I am no longer angry. I have abandonment and trust issues, and a gnawing fear for my own mental health because of what happened through my childhood and teenage years.


That’s the saga of Queen. That’s what addiction does- even generations removed.


The damage isn’t limited to my corner of the family. Though my mother has proven strong enough to forgive the woman who never asked for it, most of her brothers and sisters were not able to do so. Three of my mother’s siblings developed substance abuse disorders. One of my aunts- a twin to my uncle- died due to HIV complications after contracting the virus through needle sharing. I ache for her daughter, even though she is older than I am.


Virginia, the woman I will forever call my grandmother, died three years ago. I haven’t seen Queen since the funeral; she’s now living with one of my uncles and his wife.


As far as I know she has been sober for at least a decade now. In a weird way I’m proud of her, yet I feel like she is a stranger. I don’t know if she thinks of me as anything different. I’m not sure I want her to. But I would be lying if I said she didn’t play an important role in my life, even if she was absent of much of it: she is the very reason I lead a sober life.

I’m sure she never imagined her life turning out the way that it did. For my grandmother, my mother, and yes, even for her, I am doing the best I can to make sure I don’t follow her.



Meet Alexandrea:

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Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. Through her work with Harbor Village Rehabilitation in Miami, FL she has garnered valuable insight and experiences which she applies to her work and personal life. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.  

Guest: Chelsie- My husband has been diagnosed


My husband has been diagnosed with liver cirrhosis


When I fell in love with a Hep C patient I knew the risk I was taking, but somehow it still wasn’t enough to prepare me for the bad news I received last week.

My husband caught Hep C from a blood transfusion for his hemophilia at 10 years old and he’s been living with it for 22 years now. We knew liver cirrhosis was a possibility, but we never imagined that it would happen so soon.

When you start a life with someone you don’t really think about the end and what would happen if one of us ever got really sick. Sickness isn’t supposed to happen until we’re old and wrinkly, until we have lived a long life together. Our son isn’t even a year old yet and the fact that his father might not be around to send him to college or watch him get married has now become my reality. I try to be hopeful, but the resulting chaos makes it difficult.

We found out that the Hepatitis C progressed to Liver Cirrhosis last week when he started a new treatment for his Hep C. Expecting to finally be cured of the Hep C we were excited for him to start the treatment which is known to have a very high success rate but the medication wasn’t the only thing he received. We also received the sad news that he now has Liver Cirrhosis and that’s it. No information about options or lifestyle changes or what to expect. The nurse who delivered the life changing news said we would have to wait a month to talk to the doctor.

I don’t know about you but not knowing can sometimes be the worst part. Of course, I went straight to Google for some answers but every case is different and no concrete answers were found. No alcohol and low salt was pretty much the only consistent information we got, the rest was pretty vague. Life expectancy and life quality can’t be found on google. Only his doctor can really answer that question with any degree of certainty.

What now? I guess we wait and try not to freak out, well at least not too much. I’m trying to be hopeful and I’m successful most of the time but something changed and life at home isn’t the same. He’s changed. Angry. On edge. No Patience. I can’t reach him. The tension is unbearable. Everything I do makes him angry and he denies it or seems to think I deserve it. We should be growing closer, but it feels like I’m already losing him. Maybe he just needs time to process all of this. Well at least I hope that’s all it is.

Since all this chaos began I’ve thought about using drugs a few times. Not my usual drug of choice but still something that should be avoided. The worst thoughts are the ones where I think I could handle it and that it would be a relief to just have fun and get away from all this. It’s only a quick thought, nothing serious yet, but enough to have me think about how I’m going to avoid going down that dark path again. I’m even more cautious since the last time I relapsed was due in part to my 6 year relationship ending. I don’t know what I’d do if things didn’t work out with my husband, for whatever reason.

The fighting is just terrible and when I feel like I can’t take it anymore the first thing I do is get some distance by going into the bedroom. Then I’ll usually write. Thoughts need to slow down to be written down. They can only go as fast as I’m able to type which helps me calm down. It helps me organize my thoughts and process how I’m feeling. When we get in an argument I rather go in the bedroom and text him. It just makes it easier to express myself and say everything I need to without being cut off.

I know a big part of wanting to retreat into drugs has to do with the criticism and feeling like I’m not good enough. I’m a perfectionist in many aspects of my life. I’ve never taken criticism well and having to deal with it all the time for useless reasons is tough. Thinking I’m not being good enough has a significant negative effect on me. It’s one of my major weaknesses.

I know he’s going through a lot and I feel bad when I’m not more patient with him. I shouldn’t take it so personally when he’s criticizing me. However, it’s hard not to take something personally when your being criticized or when someone always getting mad at you. That’s pretty personal if you ask me. I’m not perfect, even though I’d like to think I am sometimes.

I’ve avoided going back to drugs thanks to a combination of two things. First is getting some distance by keeping busy with something I love and the second is remembering what drug use leads to. My secret answer to both those things is blogging. Writing calms me down and keeps me busy.

Whether I’m writing about addiction, reading an old post or reading another recovering addicts blog, it helps remind me what drug use leads to. Blogging is a great solution for many recovering addicts. I believe that’s why so many of us do it and why when things get bad at home I’m often hiding in the bedroom on my computer. We’ve built such a strong and caring online recovery community. I’m truly honored to be part of it.
Read more here. 

Meet Chelsie:

I’m a Recovering Addict, Child of an Addict, Freelance Writer and Psychology Major. I’ve recently become a mom to a wonderful baby boy and got engaged to his father, who is also a recovering addict and a great supporter of my dreams. I’ve always dreamed of having a career helping people and making a positive change in the world. I hope I can help people understand addiction and inspire compassion within them for those suffering from addiction. I believe that by letting people in on my journey of self-discovery along with sharing what my addiction and recovery mean to me I can give hope that recovery is possible as well as inspire change in those who are still struggling. I want to let people know they aren’t alone in this fight. I write all about this on my blog A Recovering Addicts Experience. To inquire about my freelance work or if you need someone to talk to I can be reached at






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Guest: Mike Palombi- Sober Author & Speaker


Michael’s story goes to prove that God is still in the business of redemption, healing, and miracles. Mac Powell, Third Day

Mike contacted me via Twitter, and I took some time to check out his story.

I am so happy that I did! I love to hear different stories of how God works in the lives of different people, weaving this beautiful narrative that only He could have pieced together.

Sometimes, we give up on people or we consider them to be lost causes.
We often give up on ourselves, and feel like there is simply no way out of the mess that we have created.

I encourage you to learn more about Mike and his story, I know that it will inspire you to keep going through whatever you might be struggling with, by offering you hope.

Here is a little bit from his website: 

“Mike Palombi’s message of hope is encouraging, inspiring, and a welcomed antidote for those struggling with the condition of hopelessness. His message is delivered powerfully, simply, and not without answers to some of life’s most troubling circumstances.”

“Whether you are an inmate, an addict, a housewife, or a church pastor, Mike’s message crosses multi-cultural boundaries and respectfully challenges every man and woman, young and old, to re-evaluate their own lives and choose how they will live.”

If you would like to learn more about Mike and his story of redemption, click here.
It truly is never too late to allow God to change your whole life. 

Guest: JessiRae Pulver-Recovery Blogger & Author

I really like the idea of featuring fellow addiction & recovery bloggers on Discovering Beautiful.
As authors of our own writing, we each bring a unique voice and perspective to the Recovery world.
Our individuality is what brings so much value to our contributions.
Please take some time to get to know JessiRae:

JessiRae Pulver-Adell is an addiction & recovery blogger for Harbor Village. She writes to elucidate the disease of addiction and is an activist for the homeless and animals. She enjoys furry creatures, Jrock, and towering bookshelves! Have a story or a pitch to share? Email her directly at

wTake some time to stop by the Harbor Village Blog to check out some of the articles that she has written:

*Using the Arts to Overcome Addiction
*Opening the Doors of Communication During Recovery
*Holistic Healing For Addiction 
*2 Million Students Tried Vaping for the First Time Last Year

-Here is a Direct Link to her writing.

Guest: Tom- Acknowledging Alcohol Abuse

Hi my name is Tom and I am a recovering heavy alcohol abuser/possible alcoholic (I can’t say I was alcoholic or not because I never got evaluated).It all started when I got back from Afghanistan in 2007 and I felt the need to drink a lot because that is what I thought everyone did when they got back from their deployment.At first it was okay and there didn’t seem to be any problems, but then somewhere two or three years later I just couldn’t control how much I drank anymore. I still thought that nothing was wrong and that I was just being “normal” like everyone else and I felt that if I wasn’t drinking then I wasn’t being normal.
 So in late 2010 I had an episode where I drank 8 beers before I went to the bar, I did this all the time and thought that is what everyone did, and then 6 pints of really strong beer at the bar. Probably totaling somewhere around 18 beers if you add up all the ounces and alcohol content that night. So I got home and the next morning I had the usual hangover symptoms and thought everything was fine. It wasn’t until around 3 pm when I was on my way to college that something didn’t feel right.
My right side of my face and right hand became numb and I thought I was going to pass out. I started to throw up real bad and for like a few hours this numbness and feeling sick went on and hyperventilating. I went to the hospital and I almost went in, but I was too embarrassed to go in. Luckily somehow I made it home and in a few days I felt better. If I drank anymore that day I probably could have died.
You would think that would stop me from drinking, but a few weeks later I was back at it. I never drank that heavily again but I drank about 10-12 beers once every 2 or 3 days up until the day I said that is enough of this lifestyle. I am happily 4 months sober at this point. . (Sober date of September 16, 2013)
Here I am today, luckily, 4 months sober with the help of everyone around me, my running club (I now run 3-4 times a week, which is a way better high than alcohol ever was), and Brittany’s blog (which by the way rocks!!!)
What I am trying to say is NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!!There IS life after addiction or substance abuse.If you are reading this and are near giving up hope or feel like you are not worth it, believe me, YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!If you feel like you want to end your life or getting close to it, there is SUPPORT AND HOPE out there and we all think that YOU ARE WORTH IT.Whether you believe in a God or not, that is okay. What I can say is that God has surely helped me personally and now I read the bible every day. God truly does love you and has no partiality for anyone. No matter what you did in your past, He really really really loves you. All you have to do is love Him back.

Guest: Rob- Celebrates 2 Years in Recovery!

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    “My name is Rob Kelly, I am an alcoholic and addict!
    Today January 10th 2014 I celebrate 2 years clean and sober, this is the longest I have been clean and sober since I was 12 years old, & I am 51.”

    For me the journey into darkness began after being physically and sexually abused.

    I sought to fill the hole inside me with alcohol, drugs, sex, a successful career as a teacher, coach, and contractor, my marriage, as a parent, and an active Church member.

    Gradually I lost them all and I put a hand gun in my mouth and pulled the trigger… the firing pin dropped and hit the primer… nothing happened…

    I didn’t realize it but God had a plan for me.

    The pain and darkness, the desperation, the self loathing spiraled out of control.
    in total surrender I cried out to God!!!
    Help me, I cant live like this anymore, I want whats real!
    If you are real you have to show me!!!

    From that earnest plea, that small act of faith, God did respond in a way that changed my life.

    Today I have a peace and serenity in my life that comes by the grace of God, Jesus His only Son is my Lord and Savior and I have been redeemed through the salvation he supplies.

    There is hope in him, please know this.

    This is a very abbreviated version of my story.

    If I can share my story anywhere or help you or a loved one struggling in darkness please let me know.

    Remember my God always responds to faith. I am given a daily reprieve based solely on the maintenance of my relationship with the God that created the universe and breathes stars into being!!!!

    Thank you for letting me share.


    (If you would like to contact Rob, feel free to comment below or request his email address. You can do so anonymously)

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