Inspiration For Your Journey

Welcome to Recovery Road, a new podcast from Hazelden Publishing. Here you'll find powerful thoughts, excerpts, and reflections from our most popular resources. These are the words, insights, and realizations from best-selling authors who have helped millions conquer substance abuse disorder. Now more than ever we need to find calm in the chaos, stay focused on self-care, and commit to long-term recovery. You are not alone. We are in this together. Join us on Recovery Road.

Back to Basics, Skills, Risks, Pride, Power, Shared Hearts, Compassion.

February 1, 2021

Back to Basics: What Does Unmanageable Mean?

In this excerpt from his book, Step Up: Unpacking Steps One, Two, and Three with Someone Who's Been There, bestselling author and sober alcoholic Michael Graubart explores the word unmanageability as it appears in Step One, and how our impulse to control everyone and everything is at the heart of our struggle with alcoholism and other addictions. Listen.

February 4, 2021

Skills for the Hard Times: Self-Care in a Season of Grief

We live in a culture that is in denial about the complicated emotions surrounding loss and grief. In his book, Help for the Hard Times: Getting Through Loss, Earl Hipp argues that people who understand loss and grief are better able to face life boldly. In this excerpt, Hipp offers advice for the grieving as a list of self-care "skills" by which we can survive and even grow through the hard times of our lives. Listen.

February 8, 2021

The Myth of Immunity: Risks that Accompany Success

In Craving, author and physician Omar Manejwala, translates the neurobiology of this human phenomenon into real and accessible terms, explaining why we just can't seem to get enough. In this excerpt, Dr. Manejwala points out that it's often when things are going well—when we think we've got it all figured out—that we are most vulnerable to our cravings, and most at risk for relapse. Listen.

February 11, 2021

Pocket Your Pride: Humility and Hope in Step Five

In Sane: Mental Illness, Addiction, and the 12 Steps, bestselling author Marya Hornbacher shares her own recovery story to guide readers through the maze of issues that make "working the Steps" uniquely challenging for people with co-occurring disorders. In this excerpt, Hornbacher explores the critical distinction between humility and humiliation as people with mental health disorders undertake Step Five. Listen.

February 15, 2021

Shared Hearts: Healthy Love in an Unhealthy Time

Now in its third edition, Brenda Shaeffer's Is It Love or Is It Addiction? has helped countless people find their way from the trials and confusion of addictive love to the fulfillment of whole and healthy relationships. This excerpt celebrates the enduring power of love, and describes some ways that power can get twisted by trauma or misused through misunderstanding and inattention. Listen.

February 18, 2021

The Power of Action for Healing and Hope

In her book, The Recovering Heart: Emotional Sobriety for Women, Beverly Conyers gives readers of all genders wisdom for the journey of recovery. In this excerpt, she underscores the links between reflection and action in the process of healing. Action is the antidote to habitual helplessness and poor self-image. The path to reclaiming the power we lost to trauma and addiction is through those positive things big and small that we do to build self-worth. Listen.

February 22, 2021

Tune In Today: Turning Down Denial and Turning Up Compassion

In her book, When Reality Bites: How Denial Helps and What to do When it Hurts, lecturer and author Holly Parker demonstrates how denial helps people cope in times of crisis or tragedy. She also teaches us how to recognize when it becomes counterproductive or detrimental—for ourselves as well as our neighbors and the planet. In this excerpt, Dr. Parker describes the ways we often "tune out" uncomfortable realities and offers a method for turning up the volume on compassion. Listen.

February 25, 2021

The Road to Compassion Goes Through Empathy

In this excerpt from her book Take Good Care: Finding Your Joy in Compassionate Caregiving, author Cynthia Orange invites us to regularly exercise our "empathy muscles." As we do, each of our interactions and relationships will benefit from more compassion, patience, understanding, and kindness. Listen.

New Year, New Start, Deep Breath, Hope, Perspectives, and Visions.

January 4, 2021

Look to the Stars: Practicing Humility

In Finding Your Moral Compass: Transformative Principles to Guide You in Recovery and Life, Craig Nakken offers tools for discovering options and making choices—especially when the choices aren't clear. In this excerpt, we explore the tension between resistance and acceptance, and how both reveal who we are and what we can be. Listen.

January 7, 2021

New Year, Deep Breath: Challenge Your Anxiety-Fueled Thoughts

In Almost Anxious: Is My (or My Loved One's) Worry or Distress a Problem?, Dr. Luana Marques offers practical steps to reduce anxiety. Learning to monitor and challenge our negative thoughts can help us find more enjoyment in our days, experience better family and work environments, and eliminate the emotional, mental, and even physical problems that anxiety often causes. Listen.

January 11, 2021

New Year, New Hope: Spiritual Skeptics Welcome

In Undrunk: A Skeptic's Guide to AA, recovering alcoholic A.J. Adams shares insights and wisdom from his own story of skeptic spirituality, and the gifts of acceptance and willingness that he found along the path of recovery. Listen.

January 14, 2021

New Year, Next Happy: Grieving Losses Large and Small

In her book, The Next Happy: Let Go of the Life You Planned and Find a New Way Forward, Tracey Cleantis offers practical help for the journey of grief. With wisdom from her own hard experience, Cleantis shows how to face the reality of letting go of dreams that can no longer be, accept sadness, anger, and shame, and ask the questions that will let you find a new way forward. Listen.

January 18, 2021

New Year, New Perspective: Work, Success, and Self-Worth

Whether we're in the early stages of recovery or have a few years in the rearview, having a job or not having one can offer some formidable emotional challenges. In his book, First Year Sobriety: When All That Changes is Everything, Guy Kettelhack helps us explore ways to deal with our hopes and fears about loneliness, success, and purpose without resorting to old, self-destructive behaviors. Listen.

January 21, 2021

New Year, New Chances: Rebuilding Trust in Early Recovery

Beverly Conyers has helped hundreds of thousands of readers recognize family roles in addiction, heal shame, and build healthy relationships. In Everything Changes: Help for Families of Newly Recovering Addicts, Conyers underscores the role of trust in family relationships and offers advice for supporting the loved one in your family with the disease of addiction, as well as ways to care for and support yourself as you navigate the early months of recovery. Listen.

January 25, 2021

New Year, New Now: Stop Letting the Past Control Today

Beloved author Earnie Larsen was a true and certain guide to living more abundantly in recovery. In his book, Destination Joy: Moving Beyond Fear, Loss, and Trauma in Recovery, Larsen explores ways you can bring greater love, acceptance, and belonging into your life. This includes learning to fully inhabit the present moment—what he calls "getting in the now." Listen.

January 28, 2021

New Year, New Vision: Seeing Without Judging

While many see the new year as a chance to try new things and make big changes, author and recovery guide Beverly Conyers shows how each day—even each moment—contains the same promise and possibility. In her book, Find Your Light: Practicing Mindfulness to Recover from Anything, Conyers shows us how the practice of mindfulness—including the skill of seeing without judging—can be a game-changing part of recovery and a path to a happier life. Listen.

Self-care, Self Worth, We are allowed to experience life.

December 3, 2020

Find Your People: Belonging to Others in Recovery

Those of us in recovery came to know the life-or-death value of having at least one person who knows us through and through—and cares about us anyway. In this excerpt from his book, A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps, Patrick Carnes focuses our attention on the vulnerability and trust inherent to the Fifth Step. Listen.

December 7, 2020

The Difference Between Guilt and Shame

Dr. Joseph Lee, in this excerpt from his book Recovering My Kid, helps illuminate the difference between guilt and shame, and shows us how these emotional and relational forces are at play in treating addiction, embracing recovery, and rebuilding trust and hope in a family. Listen.

December 10, 2020

Sober Mom's Tools for Surviving the Holidays

Many of us are running ourselves ragged these days—especially parents or caregivers. In this excerpt from her book, A Sober Mom's Guide to Recovery: Taking Care of Yourself to Take Care of Your Kids, Rosemary O'Connor charts a path through the Holidays that can help you stay sane and sober, and even enjoy some peace with yourself and your family. Listen.

December 14, 2020

You are Worth the Effort: Training Makes the Difference

In her book A Kinder Voice: Releasing Your Inner Critics with Mindfulness Slogans, Thérèse Jacobs-Stewart offers a simple solution to the many ways we talk ourselves into false beliefs about our aptitudes and gifts: practice. Happiness, she teaches, is worth the effort. Listen.

December 17, 2020

Let Go a Little: Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance

Brené Brown, in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, gives us the permission many of us may not even know we needed these days: to lighten up. We are allowed to experience joy and laughter—even in unpredictable and painful times. Listen.

December 21, 2020

Nourishing the Body: The Sugar Thing

Whether it was stress eating over the last year of uncertainty and unrest, or the fact that the holidays are upon us again, many of us are thinking about what we put in our bodies, and how what we eat can affect our health—including our recovery. In this excerpt from her book The Recovering Body: Physical and Spiritual Fitness for Living Clean and Sober, author Jennifer Matesa takes a look at the addictive qualities of sugar, and what it does to our minds and bodies. Listen.

December 24, 2020

Trust the Process: Ripple Effect in Everything

In his book, Drop the Rock: The Ripple Effect, Fred H. helps us explore Step Ten, and how the habits and practices that we build in a program of recovery create positive effects in us that ripple outward into our relationships and beyond. As we work Step Ten, we come to see that all we can control is the integrity of our response to what happens. Listen.

December 28, 2020

Love in Recovery: Start with Yourself

Jennifer Storm, in her book Awakening Blackout Girl: A Survivor's Guide for Healing from Addiction and Sexual Trauma, brings us along on her journey through trauma and recovery, sharing her missteps as well as personal triumphs. Finding love and pursuing relationships in early recovery can be fraught in the best circumstances; Storm says our search for deep and dependable love must start with ourselves. Listen.

December 31, 2020

New Year, New Start: Becoming, in Every Moment of Life

In her new book Just Dandy: Living with Heartache and Wishes, Sandra Swenson writes about leaning into the future with hope and confidence—not that everything will turn out fine, but that, whatever happens, she will act in ways that are true to herself. The new year is an opportunity to keep becoming, keep learning the lessons that come with grief as well as gratitude, and keep living with integrity, grace, and openheartedness. Listen.

Transformation, Reminders, Coping, and Supporting.

November 2, 2020

Learning to Recognize Grief: Skills for the Holidays...and Recovery

No one has been spared from loss or grieving this year, especially those of us in recovery who may also be experiencing the loss of our former coping mechanism, substance use. In his book Help for the Hard Times: Getting Through Loss, Earl Hipp tells us all about grief and what we can do to work through it while sustaining our sobriety. Listen.

November 5, 2020

Transformation: The Journey of Recovery

In her book, Sane, Marya Hornbacher explores how Step Seven, particularly after working all the steps before it, offers us the opportunity to see our own transformation: what we were before, while looking ahead to what we can become next. We can become something completely new¿or something we already were, but couldn't see, because of our addiction. Listen.

November 9, 2020

A Helpful Reminder: We Can All Help Others

As we get closer to the holiday season, it's time to reflect on how those of us in recovery can be of service to others. In Three Simple Rules: Uncomplicating Life in Recovery, author Michael Graubart tells us about helping others, but making sure we're offering "helpful help," rather than "unhelpful help." Listen.

November 12, 2020

Shame in Recovery: An Unwelcome Visitor at the Holidays

Jennifer Storm, in her book Awakening Blackout Girl: A Survivor's Guide for Healing from Addiction and Sexual Trauma, brings us along on her journey through trauma and recovery, showing us how shame has shaped her experiences through it all¿and still today. She reminds us that though we will make mistakes and need to make amends again and again in life, we don't have to let shame control us. Listen.

November 16, 2020

Coping Ahead: Preparing for Confrontation

As we think of the holidays, there's quite a bit we might need to cope with: health, boundaries, family issues, beverage and menu choices, and so much more. Here's a mini-course for coping with confidence from the book, Of Course You're Angry: A Guide to Dealing with the Emotions of Substance Abuse, by Gayle Rosellini and Mark Worden. Listen.

November 19, 2020

The Gifts of Imperfection: Scarcity and Fear of the Dark

Ten years after it was first published, Brené Brown, in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, gives us advice that is particularly relevant this year¿especially as we get close to winter. Here are her thoughts on fear of the dark and scarcity, as they get in the way of our gratitude and joy in these challenging times. Listen.

November 23, 2020

Help for the Hard Times: Supporting Others

The holidays are coming up and many of us will be feeling loss and grief this year, different from that felt in any other year. In his book Help for the Hard Times: Getting Through Loss, Earl Hipp helps us see that we can help others through their grief, especially if we've already spent considerable time in The Hard Times. Listen.

November 25, 2020

Just Dandy: Being With Family While Being Without Family

Sandra Swenson, in her new book Just Dandy: Living with Heartache and Wishes, writes about the holidays and family from the perspective of a mother whose son struggles with addiction¿and also as a person who also manages the other aspects of her life that can be just as hope-filled and heartbreaking. How do we do it? How can we be "just dandy" and mean it? Listen.

November 30, 2020

Looking Ahead: Set Your Own Goals

We don't need to wait for the New Year to make some goals. In fact, it's well-known that we need to have things in our lives to look forward to, and goals can be how we do that. All of us in recovery can take some notes from Melody Beattie in her book, Codependent No More, about how to find the joy in setting goals Listen.

Self-care, Humility, and Mindfullness helps us approach these trying times.

October 1, 2020

Emotional Sobriety: How to Cope with Problems When You're Sober

Sometimes the problem isn't the problem¿the problem is how we cope with the problem. Sometimes, we need expert advice for how to cope with our problems as explained by Dr. Allen Berger in his book, 12 Smart Things to Do When the Booze and Drugs Are Gone. Listen.

October 5, 2020

Look to the Stars: Practicing Humility

Humility helps us approach what we do with an open and curious mind, and no time is better to practice humility than today. Beverly Conyers, author of Find Your Light: Practicing Mindfulness to Recover from Anything, explains how humility will only serve us in our recovery. Listen.

October 8, 2020

Drop the Rock: Recovery Aerobics

Those of us who've been in recovery for a little while might wonder if we could use a check-up for our recovery. Fred H. looks to Step Ten to give us these spot checks¿these recovery aerobics¿in Drop the Rock: The Ripple Effect. Listen.

October 12, 2020

Honesty in Recovery: Giving Ourselves Room to Grow

Many of us are survivors, and many of us are facing recovery from not only a substance use perspective but also from a place of trauma. Jennifer Storm helps us examine our recovery¿honestly¿from both perspectives at the same time in Awakening Blackout Girl. Listen.

October 15, 2020

Easy Does It: Finding Serenity in Upheaval

Melody Beattie wrote 52 Weeks of Conscious Contact: Meditations for Connecting with God, Self, and Others to help us remove what's in the way of our serenity. Here is Week 18, where Melody helps us with the concept "easy does it" so we can walk through recovery¿challenges and all¿one step at a time. Listen.

October 19, 2020

The Trauma of Now: Helping Ourselves and Each Other

Whether we are essential workers, first responders, or health care providers or we live with people who face incredible circumstances on a daily basis, we need to know how to support ourselves and each other. Cynthia Orange helps us identify and manage stress and depression in this excerpt from Shock Waves: A Practical Guide to Living with a Loved One's PTSD. Listen.

October 22, 2020

Step 10: Autumn Spirituality in Recovery

Autumn is here and we are living through unprecedented times. But let's never forget that while we've never been in this place before, others have gone before us, and they've had their own challenges and strife during their recovery. Marya Hornbacher, in this excerpt from Waiting: A Nonbeliever's Higher Power, weaves a story for us about her own experience in the world of the Spirit. Listen.

October 26, 2020

Mindfulness for Healing Through Forgiveness

Beverly Conyers, author of Find Your Light: Practicing Mindfulness to Recover from Anything, just published Follow Your Light: A Guided Journal to Recover from Anything. Here are two exercises from the journal about forgiveness, something we can all examine a little more closely in ourselves in our recovery journeys. Listen.

October 29, 2020

Emotional Sobriety: Pressure Yourself to Change

In times like these, the pressure is on¿but what can we do about it? In his book, 12 Smart Things to Do When the Booze and Drugs Are Gone, Dr. Allen Berger teaches us how to look inward and focus on our part of the problem. Listen.

In times of crisis and uncertainty, even healthy people and relationships will experience conflict.

September 3, 2020

Fake It Until You Make It: Acting "As If" in a Pandemic

As we kick off National Recovery Month during a pandemic, it's a good time to look at one of our most popular titles for advice about how to manage ourselves as we manage our recovery. Here's an excerpt from Drop the Rock: Removing Character Defects by Bill P., Todd W., and Sara S. to help us act "as if" we can keep walking through our recovery by looking up to see the big picture and having faith that we can--and will--get to where we're going. Listen.

September 7, 2020

Trust Your Story, it's Bigger than the Present Moment

In times of stress and uncertainty, it's common to worry about relapse, either for yourself or someone you love. Extra anxiety, fueled by global, local, or even personal experience with the coronavirus pandemic, may lead people to cope in all kinds of unhealthy ways. In this excerpt from Destination Joy: Moving Beyond Fear, Loss, and Trauma in Recovery, Earnie Larsen reminds us that avoiding relapse depends on our willingness to "face what is chasing us." Listen.

September 10, 2020

Between Chaos and Discipline: A Path to Serenity

While right and wrong can sometimes be clearly defined, much of the time we wrestle with competing perspectives and pressures in order to do the next right thing. In Finding Your Moral Compass: Transformative Principles to Guide You in Recovery and Life, Craig Nakken offers tools for discovering options and making choices. In this excerpt, we explore the tension between chaos and discipline--a timely topic during the coronavirus pandemic, when chaos seems all too present. Listen.

September 14, 2020

Standing Still in the Moment: Train Your Brain to Think First

In times of crisis and uncertainty, even healthy people and relationships will experience conflict. With insights from neuroscience as well as her own recovery, Cynthia Moreno Tuohy's book, Rein In Your Brain: From Impulsivity to thoughtful Living in Recovery, opens the door to a whole new way to think about thinking--especially when the emotional stakes are high. Listen.

September 17, 2020

What Agoraphobia Can Teach Us About the Usefulness of Fear

In this time of distancing and isolation during the pandemic, we can learn from how people handle panic, anxiety, and agoraphobia. This excerpt from Embracing the Fear: Learning to Manage Anxiety & Panic Attacks by Judith Bemis and Amr Barrada can teach us how fear can be useful to us in our recovery. Listen.

September 21, 2020

Exit the Resentment Lane: Positive Self-Talk During the Pandemic

There's a lot to be angry about these days. The coronavirus pandemic has affected our jobs, our health, and our families; recovery can feel harder to maintain. In this excerpt from their brief book, Of Course You're Angry: A Guide to Dealing with the Emotions of Substance Abuse, Gayle Rosellini and Mark Worden call us to examine self-pity as a destructive form of unhealthy anger, and point a way past it. Listen.

September 24, 2020

Hijacking and Healing: The Brain Science of Addiction and Recovery

In this excerpt from his book, A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps, Dr. Patrick Carnes outlines insights on addiction and healing from current brain science and invites us to embrace our recovery as a lifelong creative emotional, physical, and spiritual process of healing and growth. Listen.

September 28, 2020

You Have Feelings: A Gentle Reminder About Being Human

How are you feeling? It's a common enough question--especially in these days of the coronavirus pandemic. But not everybody knows how to answer it. In this excerpt from Feed Your Head: Some Excellent Stuff on Being Yourself, Earl Hipp describes how an emotional vocabulary can help us tolerate and talk about the intensity and discomfort that come with big feelings. Listen.

In times of stress and uncertainty, it's common to worry.

August 3, 2020

Believing that Life Should be Easy (And What the Reality Is)

What is the role of acceptance during the coronavirus pandemic? When we're anxious or isolated, serenity can feel even more distant than usual. In 12 Stupid?Things That Mess Up Recovery, Dr. Allen Berger gently but firmly roots us in the reality that life is hard and always will be. We get to control only what we can: our response to this reality. Dr. Berger uses the term "stupid" to describe self-destructive thought patterns and actions that can undercut our health and sanity and derail recovery. Listen.

August 6, 2020

The Gift of Listening: Helping Others in the Time of Pandemic

Living in a time of pandemic-related isolation and uncertainty invites us to care for ourselves and others in new ways. In his book, Three Simple Rules: Uncomplicating Life in Recovery, author Michael Graubart makes the case that truly enjoyable, fruitful, spiritual, meaningful, and sober lives come from living by three simple rules: Trust God. Clean house. Help others. Listen.

August 10, 2020

Fences: Boundaries Keep Us Safe from Ourselves

Much of what we have been focusing on from the start of this pandemic is how it affects us negatively. How social and physical distancing is hard for people in recovery, how stakes are higher, how life is literally in the bounds. And also, if we were to look at this from a dialectical behavioral standpoint with the "and" instead of the "but," it's giving us some time to stay in and focus on ourselves, our relationships, our lives, and our futures. In Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin by Anne Katherine, she tells us about how boundaries are particularly important for people with substance use disorders and compulsive thoughts and behaviors. Listen.

August 13, 2020

Detaching: Taming Our Reactions for Our Own Health

We are under so much stress. We're snapping at each other, we're worried about each other. We are living in unfamiliar times and conditions, not getting out as much as we used to, and we're reacting to each other and our situations in ways that aren't our usual reactions. Or are they? Some of us have relationships with people that could be considered codependent. Years ago, in Codependent No More, Melody Beattie gave us this term as meaning: "A codependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior." Listen.

August 17, 2020

You're Not Alone: The Importance of Finding a Sponsor

What's happened in the recovery community since the start of the COVID-19 crisis? It has continued. It's pivoted. It's moved online. It has been a beacon of hope to so many. It has sustained itself through groups, treatment centers, virtual outpatient services, and online meetings. Video, phone, email, texting--people have stayed connected. Because, as A.J. Adams says in Undrunk: A Skeptic's Guide to AA, there is no recovery alone. Whether or not it's your substance or style, one of the ideas that works for recovery is finding someone who's gone before you. Listen.

August 20, 2020

Making Art for a Natural High

We all have our own reasons for why we drank or used or did whatever we did to numb ourselves. We escaped, we hid. But what can we do now that we're in recovery? How can we capture some of that high without substances? This is something each one of us has to answer for ourselves, but we can get a little help from Jodie Gould in High: Six Principles for Guilt-Free Pleasure and Escape. She offers us many ideas, some of which (like travel) aren't options during the global pandemic, but art therapy is definitely within our reach. Take her tips, grab a notebook and pencil, and go away. Escape. Enjoy. Listen.

August 24, 2020

Relapse Red Flags: A "Cyber Junkie" Recovers in the Real World

As many workplaces and schools have moved to telework and remote learning due to the coronavirus, many of us are spending hours each day looking at screens, sometimes compulsively scrolling or watching--looking for news or entertainment or distraction or connection. Like food addictions and eating disorders, online and cyber addictions involve inescapable aspects of daily life. In this excerpt from his book, Cyber Junkie: Escape the Gaming and Internet Trap, Roberts reminds all of us what these red flags can look like. Listen.

August 27, 2020

Trust in a Time of Crisis: Living Without Knowing Outcomes

In his book, A Gentle Path Through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps, Dr. Patrick Carnes teaches that recovery's process of healing and growth will be sustained not by control but by trust. In this excerpt, Dr. Carnes invites us to reflect on a time in our life when we survived--and even thrived--through a leap of faith. Listen.

August 31, 2020

Finding Calm in a Crisis: Recharge, Relax, and Remember

It's impossible to have a problem-free life. The global effects of coronavirus have underscored this reality. Written originally for young people Earl Hipp's book, Feed Your Head: Some Excellent Stuff on Being Yourself, offers specific ways to access calm and stay in touch, even when the storms are raging. Listen.

Maintaining a healthy recovery during a worldwide pandemic can be hard work.

July 2, 2020

Sleep and Massage for Escape During the Pandemic

The idea of getting high and seeking pleasure takes on a whole different spin in recovery. Especially during the pandemic. We can't go outside as much as we normally would, we might be alone as we stay physically distant from others, and we are likely more stressed than usual. So, when Jodie Gould recommends sleep and massage as part of the Pleasure Principle of restoring ourselves in her book High: Six Principles for Guilt-Free Pleasure and Escape, we relish the opportunity to take a breather and just relax. Listen.

July 6, 2020

Stupid Thing 8: Confusing Self-Concern with Selfishness

Maintaining a healthy recovery during a worldwide pandemic can be hard work. In addition to keeping connected to our support systems and staying away from opportunities to use, we also need to continue the spiritual work of humble and honest self-evaluation. Author Allen Berger can help. In his book, 12 Stupid Things That Mess Up Recovery, Dr. Berger uses the term "stupid" to indicate the self-destructive things we do, that can undercut our health and sanity. In this excerpt, he illustrates how confusing selfishness with self-concern prevents us from acting on our own behalf. Self-concern is not selfishness! Learning to honor and care for ourselves is a hallmark of recovery. Listen.

July 9, 2020

Sorry, Self: Being Gentle with Ourselves during a Pandemic

Right now, we are all being affected by many things we can't control. We can't control our immune system, we can't control our elected officials, and we can't control the other members of our household. We also know we can't control the disease of addiction. So, let's turn our attention to one of the only things we can control: our thoughts and feelings about ourselves. Today we'll walk through two exercises from the new guided journal by Barbara Theodosiou, Living Without Shame: A Support Book for Mothers with Addicted Children. Although this support book is designed for mothers, these exercises can be helpful for anyone who feels a little (or a lot) overwhelmed right now. You can download print-outs of these exercises found on this post at, or just answer the questions in a notebook or journal. Listen.

July 13, 2020

Healing the Wounds of Shame: Human, not Perfect

Crisis and stress can bring out the best and the worst of ourselves. In this time of coronavirus concern, you may be feeling stuck and powerless. If you're comparing yourself to some of the heroic and superhuman social media stories about pandemic productivity, and "making the most" of quarantine, perhaps you're wondering what's wrong with you. Authors Ronald and Patricia Potter-Efron describe shame as, "A painful belief in one's basic defectiveness as a human being." If some version of this belief and its pain are part of your life, you know that shame is powerful, and it affects the way you think, feel, and act toward yourself and others. In this excerpt from their book Letting Go of Shame: Understanding How Shame Affects Your Life, the Potter-Efrons help us consider our shame as a messenger or teacher, with a role to play in our lives. They also provide a framework for taking away shame's destructive power by affirming our basic humanity, humility, autonomy, and competence. Listen.

July 16, 2020

Practicing Gratitude: Appreciation as an Antidote to Anxiety

There are many reasons we might be feeling anxious or depressed these days. Having tried all kinds of unhelpful and unhealthy responses to feelings that seem overwhelming, those of us in recovery have certain practices and strategies that help us notice and navigate negativity, and we're usually looking for more. As an antidote to anxiety, author in recovery Kevin Roberts recommends the depression-defying gift of gratitude. In his book. Cyber Junkie: escaping the Gaming and Internet Trap, Roberts describes his own first attempts at keeping a gratitude journal, and how this simple daily practice became an essential part of his recovery. Listen.

July 20, 2020

Anger in a Time of Crisis: Recognize and Avoid the Volcanco

Feelings are what make us human. They happen whether or not we acknowledge them. Denying that we feel angry, sad, scared, or any other way sets us up for bigger problems later, as unrelieved emotions build and build until something breaks or explodes. Written originally for young people, this excerpt from Earl Hipp's book, Feed Your Head: Some Excellent Stuff on Being Yourself, is a timely reminder, in these anxiety-producing days of coronavirus pandemic, about the gifts of appropriate and articulate anger. Listen.

July 23, 2020

How Recovery Prepares Us to Reframe Pain and Suffering

The Serenity Prayer teaches us to accept the things we cannot change. One of those basic things we cannot change is that, sometimes, we suffer. Right now, with COVID-19 in our midst, we are suffering. We are mourning. We are wondering so much. We are ever aware of how fragile life can be. But, in other ways and to lesser degrees, we are in pain having lost jobs, contact with others, and security. We can accept that we cannot change suffering, but how do we cope with it? How can we lessen it? Listen.

July 27, 2020

Four Ways to Resist and Recover from Addictive Emotions

You might agree with the statement, "Nothing feels better than feeling bad." Misery loves company, and we love to be loved. We stew in it. We soak in it until our fingers get pruney. Why? In some of us, the neurochemicals associated with negative emotions trip the reward centers of our brains and we become addicted to unhappiness (along with whatever other substances or behaviors have learned this trick). Now, we tend to be swimming in worry, fear, anger, and uncertainty due to the pandemic--which isn't helpful as we're already working hard on ourselves in our recovery. Listen.

July 30, 2020

Food, Sleep, and Exercise: Anti-Anxiety Basics for Troubled Times

A little anxiety can propel you through a happy, successful life, like a motor on a boat. But too much anxiety is a bad thing--even if it's just a little too much. Being "almost" anxious limits your ability to pursue your interests and risk new experiences. This, in turn, drags down your quality of life and well-being. In this era of coronavirus, it's helpful to revisit three essentials in the anti-anxiety toolbox. Listen.

There are, of course, plenty of things we can't control right now, but we can try to manage our responses to what's happening.

June 1, 2020

Good Grief During the Pandemic: Loss without Losing Everything

Many of us are grieving right now. Losing your job, losing your old way of life, or losing the ability to see and hug your friends and family are all different kinds of grief. Author Barbara Theodosiou lost her son Daniel to the disease of addiction in 2015. We hope this excerpt shows you that you are not alone in your grief, and while we grieve, we cannot lose ourselves. Listen.

June 4, 2020

Crisis and Creativity for People in Recovery

A lot of creative people, whether making art for a living or for the pleasure it brings to life, are being put to the test. They may struggle with feelings that their work isn't "essential." Stress and worry may be blocking creativity, causing an additional crisis of identity. These feelings may even remind people of the worst days of their addiction. So, let's turn to this excerpt from Jennifer Matesa's book The Recovering Body. Here, Matesa reminds us of the importance of creative work in our darkest moments, and reassures us that our moments of creative blockage and self-doubt will pass. Listen.

June 8, 2020

Cleaning House During a Crisis: Silence Your Negativity Committee

No doubt about it, this is a stressful time. Especially for those of us trying to maintain our recovery. There's plenty of negativity everywhere we look, but the truth is, the most negative statements we hear are often the things we tell ourselves. In this excerpt from Three Simple Rules: Uncomplicating Life in Recovery, author Michael Graubart gives his advice on how to silence all of that negativity flying around in our heads. Listen.

June 11, 2020

Not a Democracy: Parenting Teens During the Pandemic

If you've got a kid who's working through a substance use disorder, create a home where you set the boundaries. You are older, smarter, and more experienced than your child. You are the parent. It's your house. And, according to Dr. Joseph Lee in his book Recovering My Kid, your house is not a democracy. This excerpt has been edited for brevity. Listen.

June 15, 2020

Recovery and the Pandemic: Emotional Boundary Basics

In her book, Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin, Anne Katherine show us how each challenge is an opportunity to assert who we are, and what we truly need to live happy, healthy lives. In this excerpt, Katherine reviews the basics of emotional boundaries, and how we can tell if our boundaries may need some attention. Listen.

June 18, 2020

Sober Mom During the Pandemic: Recovery and Exhaustion

As parents or caregivers, it can seem impossible to even consider taking a break for self-care. But, as author Rosemary O'Connor explains, it's not only beneficial to show yourself some compassion, it's necessary. This excerpt from A Sober Mom's Guide to Recovery provides a much-needed reality check on why we let ourselves get so exhausted, and what we can do about it. Listen.

June 22, 2020

In a Time of Crisis, Stop Trying to Be "Good" at Meditation

There are, of course, plenty of things we can't control right now, but we can try to manage our responses to what's happening, and work to reduce the stress we carry. One technique we can try is meditation. If this practice hasn't seemed to be your thing, you're not alone. Author Thérèse Jacobs-Stewart has some insights that might help. In this excerpt from her book A Kinder Voice: Releasing Your Inner Critics with Mindfulness Slogans, Jacobs-Stewart offers this paradox: meditation will work much better for us when we stop trying so hard. Listen.

June 25, 2020

Surrender: How Step 3 Helps During a Pandemic

For those of us who walk in the worlds of both mental illness and addiction, it's important to think about what Step 3 means for our need to make things work according to our will, especially with the coronavirus in our midst. Here, in her book Sane, Marya Hornbacher recounts part of her recovery journey, and shares some wisdom about the illusion of self-control and the concept of surrender. Listen.

June 29, 2020

Meditating with Flo: Finding Avenues for Anxiety in Recovery

In her book The Recovering Body: Physical and Spiritual Fitness for Living Clean and Sober, author Jennifer Matesa introduces us to somebody who greatly improved her own meditation and mindfulness practice: a dog named Flo. We hope this story acts as a reminder that we all have sources of peace and joy during the pandemic, possibly right under our noses. Listen.

While we're all going through this time of collective crisis, let's revisit the basics.

May 4, 2020

Five Mindful Ways to Tame Your Anxiety in Stressful Times

The practice of mindfulness can help change our perspective and provide much-needed peace of mind. Beverly Conyers, author of Find Your Light: Practicing Mindfulness to Recover from Anything, offers five mindful ways to tame your anxiety and nurture your overall well-being. Listen.

May 4, 2020

Shame Resilience 101

While we're all going through this time of collective crisis, let's revisit the basics of shame: what it is, why it hurts, and what we can do about it. To help us out, we're turning to one of the world's top experts on shame, Brené Brown, with this excerpt from her book The Gifts of Imperfection. Listen.

May 4, 2020

Identifying Emotions: When Life Turns a Grandparent into a Parent

The COVID-19 pandemic is turning everyone's lives upside down. Grandparents may need to step in and care for grandchildren, if their adult children are struggling. It might be for a little while, the duration of the pandemic, or longer. It might be permanent. The Grandfamily Guidebook: Wisdom and Support for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, offers some tips. Listen.

May 4, 2020

Active Listening: Caring for Others while Caring for Ourselves

Recovery calls us to serve others--and people who are caregivers during this health crisis need someone to listen to them. So, let's reach out. Call each other. Get on Skype or FaceTime. Ask friends how they're doing...and listen. We can't offer a hug right now, but we can offer an ear...and a heart. You and your recovery will be better for it. Here are some tips for supporting each other. Listen.

May 7, 2020

Welcome to the Club: Grief and Recovery During a Pandemic.

This is a time of change for all of us. Some changes are bigger than others, but all major changes require us to grieve what was lost. In this excerpt from her book The Grief Club: The Secret to Getting Through All Kinds of Change, renowned author Melody Beattie explores the comfort that comes from knowing that others can have compassion for what we're experiencing. Listen.

Finding the Light: Choosing Mindfulness Instead of Checking Out
May 7, 2020

Many of us are used to numbing our feelings and checking out, by way of substance use or other process addictions. Feeling our emotions is new to us and scary. How do we do this? How do we withstand it? By facing it. By using mindfulness to help us become grounded in where we are at this moment. Author Beverly Conyers offers advice. Listen.

Working Step 10: Paying Attention to Our Emotions
May 7, 2020

Whether we've been working the Twelve Steps for a while, or are new to them, we're experiencing a time like no other during this global pandemic. We're finding new ways to maintain our recovery, so we don't destroy all that we've worked so hard to build. We don't have to go through this alone. Here are some thoughts from Fred H. about emotions and Step 10 in Drop the Rock--The Ripple Effect. Listen.

You Can't Always Be Disney Dad, Particularly When Distancing
May 11, 2020

Parents are supporting their children around the clock while trying to also put in a productive workday from home. We're all managing our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a time of stress--and adding in those of our children makes life all the more difficult. Whether you've got kids at home or not, here is an excerpt from Sober Dad: The Manual for Perfectly Imperfect Parenting by Michael Graubart that gives us a little perspective into how we might best manage it all. Listen.

Readiness to Change: Step 6 for Those with Mental Illness
May 14, 2020

For those of us who balance both mental illness and substance use disorders, it's hard to find our footing during a global pandemic. Marya Hornbacher, in her book Sane: Mental Illness, Addiction, and the 12 Steps writes about the Sixth Step in Twelve Step programs: the willingness to have God [or our Higher Power] remove our defects of character. Listen.

Life and Trauma: Ask for, and Accept, Help
May 18, 2020

We all need some help right now. Every one of us is dealing with a situation that we were not prepared for. In this excerpt from Shock Waves: A Practical Guide to Living with a Loved One's PTSD, Cynthia Orange teaches us how to ask for help, how to best offer help to others, and how to make our crisis-filled days a little bit more predictable. Listen.

May 21, 2020

Parents of Kids in Recovery: Checking in with Your Emotions

Parenting is hard. Parenting a child with a substance use disorder is particularly challenging. Parenting a child with a substance use disorder during the pandemic involves new levels of difficulty. What can we do with negative feelings? Speak them aloud. Own them as yours. Give them their space. Dr. Joseph Lee, in his book Recovering My Kid, coaches us all through the everyday work of taking out our emotional trash. Listen.

May 25, 2020

Returning to Step One: Harnessing Our Periods of Descent

For many of us, realities such as physical distancing requirements have stirred up feelings of isolation and even darkness. In the words of author Marya Hornbacher, this is a period of descent. As Hornbacher explains in this excerpt from Waiting: A Nonbeliever's Higher Power, if we return to Step One, the root of the Twelve Step program, we can find the meaning and value in even our lowest moments. Listen.

May 28, 2020

Grandparenting During the Pandemic: Signs You Need Some Help

Many grandparents find themselves parenting their grandchildren. This can happen when their own kids struggle with substance use disorders, incarceration, mental illness, and other problems. As we continue to feel the impact of COVID-19, grandparents may have to step into a new role. It can feel overwhelming. Help is available, but first you need to know that you need it. Here are some signs that you need help. Listen.