Monthly Archives: October 2012

Questions From A Normie #3

By Chris Alvarez

                        Can you still go out to clubs and bars?

Going out to clubs and bars was something I really enjoyed.  It was a time when I could let loose, act crazy and hit on girls.  99.9% of the time I had to be drunk to do it.  However, now I can act crazy without being drunk, can have fun while being sober, and can have enough self-confidence to approach women and accept being shot down. 

That’s how I operate now.  Nevertheless the ability to go out to bars and clubs can differ from person to person.  Some people can go out, while others can’t.  It all depends on what triggers you have and how well you deal with them.  I would never say to someone that has one week sober that they are ok to go to a bar, I wasn’t ok to go out to clubs and bars at one week sober either.  For many of us though, time has a way of helping you cope.

No matter how much sober time you accumulate, some people will never feel 100% comfortable with going to these places. Those people come to accept that fact and live perfectly happy lives.

So to answer the question; I can go to clubs and bars as long as I stay focused and know that I can’t drink and don’t need a drink either.

If you are a “normie” and would like to know more leave a comment and I will answer any questions you have.



Filed under 12-Steps, addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Dating, Sobriety, Uncategorized

The Numbers of Empathy

By David Gole

It has been almost 70 years since the holocaust and the era of hearing a story from a survivor first hand is coming to an end. Where do we go from here? How do we remember this part of history and make sure that it never happens again? Several youthful descendents of survivors have started a trend to carry on the legacy of their ancestors, who had experienced a living hell—through permanently tattooing the numbers of a survivor on their body.

Uriel Sinai / Reportage Getty Images

Uriel Sinai / Reportage Getty Images

Tattoos in Jewish culture are very controversial. Jewish law states that a Jew should be buried the way they were born, preventing people with body piercings and tattoos from being buried in a Jewish Cemetery. Lately, Cemeteries have become more lenient, being considerate of survivors who still have the tattoo on their body.

In modern culture, many young adults have been getting tattoos to express themselves in a non-destructive manner. These tattoos have enabled some Jews to become closer to their relative and help create an unbreakable bond between them. Though some people have become accustomed to young people getting tattoos, many frown upon the idea of holocaust tattoos being sported by young Jews.

When people see someone out in public with holocaust numbers tattooed on their forearm, they might ask “Why do you wear these numbers on your arm?” or “What does it mean?”. Others might be more angry than curious about such a “sensitive” tattoo. Some may be ridiculed for being insensitive to the extermination of millions. In one instance, a police officer said “God created forgetfulness so we can forget.” If that is the case, the why do we say never forget? Yes there are other, probably better ways to remember the holocaust, but the one thing you have to admire about these young Jews is their empathy. It takes a lot of bravery for someone to stand up for what he or she believes in, no matter what anyone else may think about it.

What do you think about this? Should young Jews be tattooing a survivor’s number on them, or should they find another way to honor their memory?


Filed under Gratitude, International, Judaism, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Questions from a Normie

By Chris Alvarez

In response to the feedback from our recent blog about normies, we thought we’d start answering some more common questions that crop up for alcoholics.

A Normie Asks:              

Why can’t you just have one drink every once in a while?

There are times when I wish I could have just one drink. There are times when I wish I could drink on special occasions and there are times when I wish I could have just one sip.  But this can’t be.  I’ve tried this and I couldn’t do it.  At first it might have seemed like I was capable of doing it, but in every instance, over time my tendencies to drink to excess have always come back.

No AlcoholOne drink a week might turn into two drinks a week, two drinks a week might turn into a drink a day and a drink a day might turn into a drink an hour.  This is how I drink.  I know it.  Every once in a while just can’t happen.

The same logic applies to drinking on special occasions.  I could try and only drink at weddings but then I would probably make an excuse like, “Ohh I can drink at weddings so I can drink on holidays too.” My alcoholic thinking would bastardize that logic and I would end up saying, “Ohh look, the suns out today. I can drink.” or “Look, it’s cloudy today, time to drink.” No matter what, I can’t drink.  If I have one drink I’ll find an excuse to have many more, and that just can’t happen.

What are some questions that you have gotten from normies?  Normies, what have you always wanted to ask an alcoholic?  Leave your questions in the comments below.

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Filed under 12-Steps, addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Sobriety, Uncategorized

Questions from a Normie


By Chris Alvarez

Us addicts and alcoholics like to call people who don’t suffer from the disease of addiction “normies” or “normal” people.  Recently I began to think that these normies might have questions about what it’s like to be an addict/alcoholic.  So I began asking some of my “normie” friends if they had any questions.

Here’s the first in a series of questions they had for me:


What bothers me most about not being able to drink?

There are little things that bother me about not being able to drink.  I miss the taste of a cold beer on a hot day.  I miss going to bars with friends and bonding over a couple drinks.  But mostly I’m not really that bothered that I can’t drink.  However this being said, what does bother me, and it bothers me a lot, is when I am looked at like a leper, or when people in my family (close relatives) make up lies about me or don’t feel comfortable telling their friends that I am an alcoholic. They do things like give me looks when I am about to be open and honest.  For example someone asks me why I moved to LA and I am about to answer, “It’s because I went into treatment.” Then I get cut off before I can answer and someone else replies for me, “he moved there for work.”  It’s the stigma of addiction that really bothers me, the shame that family members feel.

Being an alcoholic has taught me how to live life and see the world differently.  The struggles I have been through have made me a stronger, wiser and a more caring person, and that is something I am proud of.


Filed under 12-Steps, addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Education

Top Ten 12-Step Catchphrases

By Charlie Patterson

12-step catchphrases can be very helpful to those in recovery. “Old timers” of the various programs are fountains of these slogans, with the uncanny ability to utter just the right phrase at the most painful moment. A good catchphrase is a real zinger, able to both sting the ego and inspire recommitment to 12-step principles. Love them or hate them, 12-step catchphrases are enigmatic in their ability to both help and annoy simultaneously.

1) “One day at a time.”

How many times have you heard this one? Hundreds? Thousands? Billions? Trillions? Hundreds of trillions? More than a phrase, its a zen-like state of mind. Worried about a big problem? Just take it one step at a time. Don’t stare at the mountaintop, just look at the trail in front of you. It’s truly a great one.

2) “Let go, let god.”

One of the more abstract 12-step catchphrases, yet the most popular. Its meaning is tricky to explain to the outsider. It means that you’re better off in life going with the flow and letting things happen rather than trying to control outcomes. Many 12-steppers have the unfortunate habit of trying to control things beyond their control, and unable to find peace with destiny. The word “god” can be substituted with “higher power” for atheists and agnostics, but it doesn’t sound too catchy that way.

3) “This too shall pass”

Early in recovery, many 12-steppers have trouble dealing with adverse events, large or small. Many a 12-stepper has gone off the deep end because they just couldn’t deal. Those who prevail, however, understand that all problems “shall pass,” or subside after a period of time. Patience and application of the 12 steps are key to this state of mind.

4) “Nothing is so bad that a drink won’t make worse.”

While a drink, drug, or other form of relapse may provide a brief moment of respite for life’s difficulties, the misery is always compounded by relapse. Successful 12-steppers know this, and that’s why they still attend meetings, share and hold commitments after multiple years of recovery, and pound newcomers’ eardrums with this excellent tagline.

5) “Easy Does It”

This is an elegantly simple 12-step slogan. It’s message can be applied to all facets of life. “Easy does it” means, in other words, don’t freak out, chill out, relax, calm down, take a deep breath. Untreated alcoholics and addicts, without a drink or drug, sometimes flip out. Just don’t, and you’ll be better off. Really, just don’t.

6) “Principles before Personalities”

Another versatile slogan, this saying is best applied to a 12-stepper who’s ready to drink because he/she is fed up with the characters at their local 12 step meeting or treatment center. They’re using accumulated resentments as a reason to say “F-this, I’m taking a drink.” This catch phrase reminds us that the principles keep us sober, not the people.

7) “How’s that working for you?”

Perhaps this is the funniest of all 12-step sayings. For proper delivery, timing is crucial. Here’s a demonstration of how this phrase is properly used.

NEWCOMER (TO SPONSOR):  “I just got back together with my ex-girlfriend and took a job as a bartender.”

SPONSOR (GRINNING): “How’s that working for you?”

When this catchphrase is properly used, the word “that” always refers to some sort of self-destructive behavior that will generally bring an addict/alcoholic closer to relapse. It’s just the sort of subtle reminder that addicts and alcoholics need every now and then because they’re not an introspective bunch.

8) “Keep coming back.”

This classic saying can be maddening to newcomers. Is it a trick? Is there a hidden meaning? Could it really be that simple? Yes, actually it is. Just stay sober, keep coming back to meetings and life will get easier.

9) “Don’t leave before the magic happens.”

In other words, don’t give up on sobriety before your dreams come true. Addicts and alcoholics can be very impatient. They can also have undue senses of entitlement. This combination of traits makes waiting for anything a chore, and this is one of the reasons relapse is so prevalent. Time and time again, however, dreams come true and magic does happen to people in 12-step programs, lending this catchphrase plenty of validity.

10) “Keep it simple, stupid.”

The 12 steps are not complicated, but leave it to addicts and alcoholics to view the 12 steps as tantamount to building the space shuttle with basic household tools and duct tape. The word “stupid” is crucial to the impact and value of this catchphrase to newcomers. It’s a reminder to newcomers to stay humble. Addicts and alcoholics have a difficult time admitting ignorance. While it may seem to some a somewhat negative phrase, it’s just the sort of tough love needed by many in early recovery.


Filed under 12-Steps, addiction, Sobriety