Saturday, February 28, 2015

Harmony's Success Story

My guest poster, Harmony Rose, is the wife of an alcoholic who allowed forgiveness to set her free. She submitted her story to me in response to requests for success stories. A link to her book is at the end of this post.

This is Harmony's story:

I can honestly say “Love at first sight” is where our story begins. When my husband and I met it was as though time stood still. Our relationship moved very fast.  After three months of dating my daughter and I moved in with him.  He had three other children and a grandchild.  My husband and I went to the bars often and although I wouldn't drink he did and he would become very intoxicated. We had fun, we played pool, we played darts, he never went without me at first, but that all changed.

We were together for a year & a half when I had to have major surgery to remove my left adrenal gland and a large tumor, it was adrenal cancer. Seven days after my surgery was the first time my husband stayed out all night drinking and didn't come home.  That is when everything started to change.  You see for once I needed him to take care of me, it took me months to recover but when I couldn't focus all my attention on him he abandoned me.  We were married three years.

If I had to hit on the key notes of our life I would say it would be this. I mostly tried to raise the kids myself (including my stepchildren but that is a whole other story entirely) he went from drinking at home to going out to the bars.  Some nights he would come home some he wouldn’t.  Sometimes he gambled his paychecks away I would never know what to expect because life with an alcoholic is a roller coaster ride!

Things progressively became worse over the years as did his drinking.  I was becoming more bitter & resentful. I never could understand how this man could drive a car home so drunk and never get caught.  One night I got the phone call after 12 ½ years of his binge drinking that my prayers had finally been answered he had been arrested for a DUI.  I thought now things are going to change they will get better we can be happy.  Boy was that putting the cart before the horse. The first few months were okay the tension was lifted he went to a treatment program for 5 weeks then started AA meetings.  At about 3-4 months he started becoming worse than when he was drinking and this baffled me, why was he not getting better, was he secretly drinking? Nope he was what is called a “dry drunk”.  You see although he was actively in AA he now thought he had all the answers and he was so high on the “pink cloud” they talk about that his ego was bigger than he was.
Selfishness and self-entitlement are a big factor in alcoholism.  My husband continued to not drink but that was the only change he made he wasn't making any internal changes emotionally.  If you can imagine the first ten months of sobriety were far worse than when he drank. The lies, abandonment, verbal abuse, blame, and finally the infidelity that about killed me!  How is it that my husband the “sober alcoholic” was far worse than the “drunk alcoholic”?  We separated, he moved into another room in our home after his indiscretion and he needed to decide if “he” wanted to be married to me anymore.  This is where I contemplated taking a bottle of pills so I wouldn't feel the pain.  Instead of doing that I decided to surrender which led me to an amazing spiritual experience.  I put the pills down and suddenly I felt a warm sensation flow through my body slowly from my head down to my toes as if I was being hugged from the inside out.  After that and talking with my therapist I realized I never truly forgave my husband for anything so for the first time in my life I gave him complete forgiveness for it all, the lies, the abuse, the infidelity, the abandonment, the neglect, everything.  I could have walked away at that point but instead I chose to stay and love my husband stronger and deeper than I ever had before because I wasn't giving up on our marriage or on him.  I knew deep down that my husband wasn't my husband it was the alcoholism it was the disease, he was a very sick man.

So I began showing love at every turn even when my husband couldn't I stayed strong.  A few weeks after that my husband’s sponsor had him read something in the big book of AA that touched him differently this time.  That evening I came home from work to find that he had moved back into our bedroom.  This was our chance to start over, or at least I had hoped.  That was September “2013’’ three months later for Christmas my husband got a ring got down on his knee & asked “will you marry me again”!  June of “2014” we renewed our wedding vows on our 11th wedding anniversary.  We have now been together almost 15 years.

I actively go to 2 meetings with my husband every weekend & I support him 100%.  I am so proud of the man he is today! He is my best friend the absolute love of my life. He has been clean & sober for 2 years 5 months now.  We are more in love and happier than we have ever been. We hope to inspire others to know that addiction doesn't have to mean the end & recovery can mean a whole new beginning. We are proof that miracles do exist you just have to believe and hold on to hope! We have rebuilt our marriage, our life, and our family that was once destroyed by alcoholism.  If you ask my husband or read my book this is what he will say “My wife never gave up on me. When I thought I was dead inside it is she who saved me from myself”

My book is titled Married Under The Influence my author name is Harmony Rose it is my memoir of what life was like for me being the wife of an alcoholic.  Thank you for letting me share.  I hope you take the time to read our whole story it is full of strength, hope and forgiveness!

                                                                                         Best Wishes, Harmony

Here is one link to my book: You can also find it on,, and Google the title other links will pop up.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Lately, I seem to be dealing with a lot of people who have gone through some really – I mean REALLY – tough times. Every idea, thought, dream, confidence is being tested and the result is that they are having difficulty trusting in their own abilities. They have lost a sense of self which has created low self-esteem. Each and every one of these people who have always been self-confident, problem-solvers, often gave advice to others on how to improve the other person’s life. The spark seems to be out of feeding flint. There’s no little bundle of fuzz to help catch the spark into a blaze. Something is wrong.

Many times over the years, I could relate to the above paragraph. Many times I have said I was just going to walk away from everything that appeared to be creating a problem including the blog, the support groups, my husband, the house, and even, my dog and cat. I know. I know. Running away is never the answer. But, when things seem to “not be fixable” and I can’t figure out what to do, I doubt my abilities to finish or DO whatever needs to be done. My self-confidence is trampled upon until it’s just as flat as a critter run over by an 18-wheeler.

I can hear my mother telling me to “get over it” and to “pick yourself up by the bootstraps and get on with it”, and (my personal favorite) “if you aren't solving the problem then you ARE the problem.” Phew!! My mother was a great believer in using a work-around system to try and try again. If one thing didn't work, try a different approach, make a new plan, but don’t ever quit.

Although a bit drill-sargent-y-ish, I think my mother was right. Mother’s always seem more right as we get on in years. Wish I had listened to her more when I was in my 30s rather than waiting til my 60s.

Anyway, I believe there are ways to build our self-esteem after a devastating disaster in our lives. One of the most common is to seek professional help. A good therapist can go a long way to making us understand that not every loss or fail is a sign that we are not competent.

I have some simpler things that I often do when I start to feel defeated. I go to the salon and get pampered a bit. Invite a friend and after the makeover go for coffee, dinner, or anything that is out of the ordinary. A physical change can sometimes led to a mental change.

Do something physical. Go for a walk, swim, or to the gym for a nice sweaty workout. While improving your health you can improve your state-of-mind. I find that when I’m walking I often let my mind wander and sometimes it strikes upon a solution to my current issue. I don’t consciously seek the answer, I just let my mind go and do its own thing.

For a financial issue, I get advice from my banker or anyone who knows and understands accounting, budgets, etc. Maybe someone can help set up a budget or review the situation. When I'm totally stressed over not having enough money, I take a look at my own budget and see where I can cut expenses or how I can best pay the bills around my paydays. Sometimes I call the creditor and ask if some kind of arrangement can be made to help the situation.

Don’t forget about the BIG bills. I constantly worried about the IRS until I called them and worked out a plan to get caught up on my back taxes. It was easier than I thought it would be and now I’m not thinking I’m a low life because I owe money to the government.

A friend of mine was fired from her job after 17 years of very loyal service. The firing had nothing to do with her job performance or ability. But, after being denied for unemployment and applying for jobs all over the state, she feels “unemployable” and “incompetent.” She fears she will never work again in a field in which she has always excelled. I suggested that she go to a temp agency and take on simple assignments. That way her self-confidence might come back up to par. Maybe she could go back to school and take a few classes that would show her that she’s capable of learning something new.

If you doubt your ability as a parent, re-evaluate your how you have handled parental crises in the past. Take a long hard look at your children and ask yourself: Are they healthy? Are they clean? Are they well-fed? Are they happy? Is there anything you would not do to keep them safe? If you feel you are doing the best you can, then that’s all you can do. Don’t ask anyone if you are a good parent. People have a tendency to tell you what they think you want to hear. This would be a great topic for that professional counselor that I was talking about earlier.

The most important thing about getting your mo-jo back is --  don’t stop. Don’t give up and let someone else’s ideas run your life. Whatever it is that is making you feel inadequate is the thing you need to do more of. You might not succeed on the first couple of tries. But if you quit you will always feel as though you CAN’T do whatever the thing is. Instead just keep trying and telling yourself that you CAN. Tell yourself that often and soon you will believe it. Once you believe it, then you will DO what needs to be done. Think outside the box, get a new plan, and look at your options.

It isn't that you’re not good enough or just can’t, it’s that just haven’t found the key to your dilemma. Patiently try every key on the ring and eventually one will open the door. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

All ya need is love...

Spouses of alcoholics have a very special love-hate relationship with any holiday that demands us to be “loving” or encourage us to buy greeting cards with professions of undying love and commitment. It’s bad enough that we have to endure “family” holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it’s then followed by New Year’s Eve when we are supposed to kiss someone at midnight that conjures up feelings of love and romance. In fact, even Christmas is a romantic holiday when faced with buying that very special gift for the very special someone. In the end the only feelings it generates are ones of disappointment, anger and loneliness.

After November, December and January, we get the ultimate slap in the face – February as the month of love and the most romantic Valentine’s Day. Oh my goodness, just let me hide under the covers and not re-emerge until it’s over. Oh wait – that won’t work because close behind February are all those months where Spring is in the air and all things are fresh and new – like love. And just when you think that’s over and summer is ahead we are met face to face with the Wedding Season.

Ahhh…. Weddings…. That’s when you want to pull the bride aside and ask her “Do you reallllly want to do this???” “Do you know what you are getting yourself into?” You want to tell them about the dirty underwear behind the bathroom door; the shaved off whiskers that remain in the sink; beer burps and farts when trying to be romantic; special dinners served cold because he stopped to have a beer with a friend on the way home; and on… and on… But somehow you never get to say any of those things because the bride is so beautiful and giddy – why spoil the day. Besides just because it was like that for you doesn’t mean it will be like that for her.

I’ve made a change. I’ve stopped dreading almost half of every year and have decided that those months aren’t so bad after all. I found a way to forget about having someone to kiss at midnight or send a syrupy card to on Valentine’s Day. I found a way to rejoice in my own form of “loving” those previously dreaded days.

It’s simple really. I just have no expectations of anyone except myself. I have decided that the most important person that needs expressions of my love is --- ME! And of course, my kids, friends and pets.  I don’t need a man or spouse to convey love. I have all I need.

For Thanksgiving I make each of the grandkids their favorite dessert. On Christmas morning, I give a beautifully wrapped gift of something I really want – to myself. New Year’s Eve is spent, with a bubble bath and champagne as I watch the ball drop. Then I fall asleep relaxed and calm.

But Valentine’s Day is a little more difficult because I am a true romantic at heart. I send out cards to all my favorite people. My great-grandkids get a small box of chocolates. My daughter and grandson’s wife each get a bouquet of flowers. My cat and dog get special treats. I fix myself a special dinner and watch action/adventure movies on TV. In short, I make it a special day for all the people I love and who love me. It doesn’t have to be a man – it could be other people who are important in my life. Showing my love to them makes me feel as though I have celebrated the month of love in a very special way.

It all goes back to taking care of you and loving yourself. It’s about putting your feelings, needs and happiness first. There are worst things in the world than being without a spouse or partner.

Sometimes we do have a romantic partner, but the romance has left the building in favor of a liquid love. It is much stronger and powerful than the vows we took on our wedding day. The liquid love is far more important to the spouse/partner than getting a special gift or displays of affection. What was once the same as those blushing brides is now gone – lost. We are left with emptiness.

What to do? Love yourself. Be happy within your own head. Love your partner, but accept the fact that you have different priorities now. Everyone needs to express themselves – so express your feelings to others in your life that hold a special place.

Will it take the place of a hot, sexy, evening with candles, champagne and chocolate? Probably not. But, it will make you feel special when that child, grandchild, friend says to you… “Oh thank you so much! That was so special! I love you too!” So love yourself by giving love to others because they are worth it. You are worth it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Is it the end?

Sometimes I’m asked if a spouse is at end-stage or how to tell if a spouse is at end-stage. One of my most popular posts is a definition of end-stage alcoholism. You can find it here:

An end-stage alcoholic has usually been through detox and/or rehab several or many times only to return to drinking almost immediately after being released. Most likely they have other health difficulties such as cirrhosis or pancreatitis or a combination of issues. The most common theme is that they simply do not want or cannot stop drinking. If they try to stop on their own they will have tremors and will probably go into DTs which can be life-threatening without medical assistance.

The best way to determine if an alcoholic is end-stage is by observation. Extreme yellowing of the eyes and soft tissues of the face is one of the first physical signs. Vomiting blood; explosive bloody diarrhea; lack of appetite; swelling in the belly; inability to walk; loss of the ability to “be in the moment”; and, hallucinations are all signs that the end may be approaching.

Just because someone is end-stage does not mean death is imminent. End-stage can last years or it can last days. It just depends on the severity of the health issues. Sometimes if the alcoholic can get into a medical detox program, they can recover from many of the health problems. For example, the liver can regenerate cells and become functional again. However, if a return to drinking occurs, the process just repeats itself over and over again – hence The Immortal Alcoholic.

I don’t want to mislead anyone. The long-term consequences of the biological damage will remain. Dead brain cells will always be dead brain cells. Brain atrophy (shrinkage of the brain) can continue to progress at a more severe rate than most people of the same age with dementia. Once the damage is done to any of the organs, it is done and although functioning may improve greatly during abstinence, once that bottle hits the lips everything will go back to that pre-detox status very quickly.

The next question asked is what to do if you believe you are dealing with an end-stage alcoholic. There’s really not much that can be done except prepare yourself for the various scenarios. What will you do if your alcoholic dies? Are you dependent in some way on his income? Housing? Or any other basic living needs? If so, have a plan for what you will do when that support ceases. If he goes to the hospital, detoxes and lives, knowing that the likelihood is that he will return to drinking, what will your plan be on how to handling that situation? It’s hard to think of all the various routes until actually faced with them, but there is a need to try to imagine and have a plan. My motto is hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

Don’t forget about the legal stuff – get a medical power of attorney and a general one if the alcoholic will consent. Try to find out what the alcoholic would like as far as services are concerned. You must consider that this is just like any other terminal illness and handle the legal issues as such.

That being said, there are some things you can choose to do if you suspect end-stage is fast approaching. First off, do NOT take away the alcohol. At this point removing the alcohol should only be done in a medically safe environment. It is possible to gradually reduce the amount of intake if you have control of all alcohol access. It can take quite a while, but it will be less traumatic to the alcoholic and can eventually lead to him being alcohol free.

You can try to get the alcoholic medical help, but most doctors want to treat people who WANT to live and alcoholics often do not make good patients. However, getting a full CBC blood test with INR can give you a good idea of life expectancy using either the Child-Pugh or MELD scores. You can find more specific information concerning these two tests in The Workbook for Caregivers of End-Stage Alcoholics available only on this site.

There really is no definitive program for what to do when you discover you are living with an end-stage alcoholic. So I leave you with these suggestions: Be knowledgeable; Make a plan or several plans; Hope for the best and plan for the worst.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What to do...

The question was about what to do if your spouse, partner, or other family member is over-indulging in alcohol. The answer: It depends. And to further complicate matters, there is no easy answer.

If your loved one is in the early stages of alcoholism you can take whatever opportunity you can to try to talk to the person. The opportunity would be when you can talk rationally without anger or nagging. If you become a nag, the alcoholic will close any doors to communication because they just don’t want to hear about it. But, if you can find a moment when you are both open, try mentioning that you were sorry that he/she couldn’t participate in… (whatever was going on) and maybe next time he/she can plan to drink after the event. If you preface your comments with some type of understanding or veiled apology, the conversation will not be confrontational.

I also suggest getting brochures and information about the different types of support groups for alcoholics – AA, Smart Recovery, etc. and leave them around the house where they will clearly be seen. You can research rehab centers and when you find something interesting, like San Patrignano Rehab Center in Italy, you can start a conversation with, “I was reading on line and discovered that there’s a place in Italy that takes addicts and treats them free of charge.” You can tell how their program works and that it would be great if there was a place like that here in the United States. You can even say – I know this wouldn't fit for you, but I was just finding it interesting. There are other rehab centers that are more like a vacation in a luxury resort rather than a rehab clinic. You can mention them and say… “I would love to go there.” The point is you can open up discussions and lite a little fire of interest in the not-so-totally-soaked brain of the alcoholic.

Of course, none of the above works if the alcoholic is past the point of communicating reasonably. In that case, there is almost nothing you can do. The alcoholic is not going to listen or open any doors of communication because he/she will always feel that they are being pushed into rehab. They don’t believe anything is wrong with them, so why listen to someone who wants to try to convince them that they need help?

The most important thing that you can do in any stage of alcoholism is focus on yourself and not the alcoholic. What is it you want to do? What are you passionate about? Develop your own interests and actively participate with others who share those interests. Join a book club, quilting group, dog lovers group or any other kind of group that you find interesting.

If you have kids, use them by taking them to different places or encouraging them to do things outside school and home. I used to pack a picnic lunch, put the kids in the car and ask them what direction they wanted me to drive. Eventually we would find a place to have our lunch and try to find our way back home. In reality, I always really knew where we were, but it was fun to let them try to figure it out. I also watched the newspaper for “free” events, festivals, fairs, etc. and hauled the kids along. These kinds of activities got us outside the house and away from the alcoholic. It was a great bonding experience and created some pretty awesome memories.

The bottom line is that the alcoholic is going to do what alcoholics do – drink. They will do this without regard for what it does to you or the family dynamic. There’s no point in confrontation, anger, or threats because they will fall on deaf drunken ears. If you do make any threats, you must be prepared to follow through on the consequences that you've set. If you threaten to leave, be prepared to leave.

There are obviously a few things that you simply cannot let happen – like blindly letting the alcoholic drive drunk or allowing complete control of the finances.  Use common sense while letting them find their own way.

If you are a parent of an alcoholic child the whole game changes. See: Do just one more thing

Soooo…. It all sounds so simple – right? Well… not so right. This will be the hardest thing in the world to do. The NOT doing anything to “help” or “strongly encourage” the alcoholic will be the most difficult thing you've ever done. It’s just not natural to let someone you love fall down a never-ending rabbit hole. All our instincts will tell us to do SOMETHING, do ANYTHING. Ignoring anger, frustration, disappointment is almost impossible.

You will need support and you can find it by joining a group such as OARS or Al-Anon and/or getting a personal therapist. I offer one-on-one support coaching through my website LindasFrontPorch ( To join OARS on Facebook or the independent website, send me an e-mail requesting an invitation.

Here’s a list of other relevant postings:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

More normal...

I was honored to have participated in Perri Peltz’s Show on SiriusXM Stars yesterday. I was in excellent company with Peter Santoro of LESC, Dr. Mark Willenbring of Alltyr, and Dr. George Koob of the NIAAA. I want to send out a special thank you to Perri Peltz for inviting me to her show.

Over the next few posts I’m going to be expounding on the questions I was asked during the program. The answers as so much deeper than a few seconds response can cover. This particular post is also a bit of a continuation to my previous post “What’s normal anyway…”

I was asked why spouses/families stay or continue to try to help the alcoholic in their life. My simplified answer was that it was like the Frog Soup Syndrome. In case you are not familiar the theory is that if you put a frog in a pan of hot water it will jump out immediately. If you put the same frog in a pan of cold water and slowly bring the water to a boil the frog will stay in the pan and eventually become frog soup.

By the same theory if we think what we are doing is “normal” and continues to do what feels normal but add a few things here and there it will continue to be normal for us. After years of being on that particular level of normalcy, we may eventually discover that we are actually so far away from normal that we don’t even recognize the state we are really in. It could possibly be the state of frog soup. That’s when the spouse hits themselves on the forehead and screams “What was I thinking?”

Often times the hit on the forehead is accompanied with the realization that the alcoholic is now too sick to be on his/her own. Leaving him/her now would be like leaving a person dying of some incurable disease along the side of the road and driving off. It often feels immoral to just walk away.

There are a lot of reasons why people stay with in a relationship riddled with alcoholic insanity. Some stay because they love the alcoholic – or rather – the person the alcoholic was before the alcohol took over the brain. Others stay for practical reasons such as being unable to afford to live without a joint income. Many spouses say they took vows when they married and to leave would be in violation of those vows. And still others stay because they can’t find a way to climb out of that pan of frog soup.

I took my husband back into my home to protect my daughter from moving her nearly-dead alcoholic father into her home. I had stayed married to him and he was my responsibility – not hers.

The bottom line is that the answer is not cut and dry. There is no absolute correct path. There are as many reasons for a person staying in (or going from) a relationship with an alcoholic as there are reasons for doing anything we do in life. Sometimes we make choices about staying or going even when it may appear that we are doing nothing.  Doing nothing puts us in a position of choosing to be in that pan of hot water that’s getting hotter by the minute.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

What's normal anyway...

I’m very excited about being on Perri Peltz’s radio show on Tuesday (1/27/2015) at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on SirriusXMStars Channel 109. Not only am I going to be on the show, but I’ll be following Dr. Koob of NIAAA. That’s an honor and a hard act to follow. He’s about science and research and I’m about life experience. I think that just about makes us a complete package.

I think life experience as a wife of an alcoholic is subjective. No one person is just like another and no one marriage is just like another. But, there are commonalities and sometimes it’s as though they are not just commonalities, but rather everyone is alike. Really, we are not. I’m happy to have discovered that.

There was a point in my marriage that I thought we were like every other married couple we knew. I felt normal. My husband would get up in the morning, we would have coffee, he would go to work, I would take care of the household, he would come home, have dinner, watch some TV, tuck the kids in and go to sleep. It was pretty much the same routine every day. Of course there was a couple of scotch on the rocks when he got home, then wine with dinner and maybe more scotch during TV.

Even though I did not grow up in a home that had alcohol, this routine didn’t feel out of the ordinary to me. This is how life was depicted in movies starring the likes of Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Don’t remember of Ozzie Nelson kicked back a drink when he came through the door. But, if it wasn’t actually on TV, it still seemed that it might be something he would do. I imagine those productions made it seem “natural” to consume alcohol after a hard days work.

The description I give about my marriage is one that was within the first five years of our couple-ness. After that things went downhill.  During the early years, I would look around and see my friends husbands drinking what seemed to be an equivalent quantity of booze as my husband. Maybe they were alcoholics also. After all, most of our friends were serving about the same submarine and were attending the same social functions. Maybe it was a “birds of a feather” sort of thing.

I didn’t wake up to the fact that something was wrong until we were transferred to a new city and stayed with friends until our new house was available. The husband of the couple did not have any alcohol at all until after dinner when he would pop open a can of beer while watching a movie on TV or playing UNO with the other adults. He played with the kids in the yard while there was still daylight and helped with the homework while the wife cleaned up the kitchen after dinner. When I witnessed the dynamics of this family, I realized that there may be some issues in my own family.

I don’t know why it took me so long to really realize that something was wrong in my marriage and in my family. I’m a stubborn woman with a positive outlook and that may have been my downfall. I wanted with all my heart to be “normal.” But, eventually, I could see that my husband’s first love was alcohol. It was worse than discovering that he had a mistress – which happened at just about the same time.

The topic on the radio show is about how alcohol affects families. The details and scenarios of that destruction is a point that I hope to address. Please join me and Perri Peltz as we talk about standing in the wake of alcoholic destruction. We will be taking callers. “The Perri Peltz Show” is Live on SiriusXM Stars Channel 109 from 1-2pm ET. The call in number for listeners is 888-947-8277.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dr. Koob and me...

I’m very excited to post that I will be a guest on “The Perri Peltz Show” on January 27th at 1 pm Eastern Time,  Sirius XM Stars Channel 109. Listeners are invited to call in to 888-947-8277 with questions or comments.

Also on the show will be Dr. George Koob, Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Dr. Koob oversees the Institutes budget for research in scientific areas such as genetics, neuroscience, epidemiology, prevention and treatment. Be sure to tune in early enough to be able to hear what Dr. Koob has to say. It should be very interesting to hear his points of view and learn what the Institute is doing in the world of alcoholism.

Dr. Koob will be a tough act to follow. I’m up to the challenge. I’ll be focusing on families of alcoholics and how alcoholism destroys more than just the alcoholic. It would be awesome if my readers would call in with questions or comments.

Mark your calendar and join me with Perri Peltz for this live broadcast. We will be taking callers. “The Perri Peltz Show” is Live on SiriusXM Stars Channel 109 from 1-2pm ET. The call in number for listeners is 888-947-8277.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Success stories...

In the comments of one of my posts the question was asked: So does ANYONE out there have a story about ACTUALLY coming out on “the other side” and everything being “alright”???

The simple answer to the question is YES. The reason we don’t hear so much about those stories is that the chaos has settled down so there’s not so much need to keep reaching out for support.

I do receive “success” stories, but success comes in different forms to different people. “Being all right” is subjective to the person seeking that condition. For some it means that the alcoholic quits drinking and the family switches to a healthy dynamic without the influence of alcohol. For others it means the non-alcoholic is able to break away from the alcoholic and is free to create the life they want without the chaos of alcoholism.  Even care givers of end-stage alcoholics eventually find peace after the death of the alcoholic. For those people, the death is what leads to everything being all right.

The OARS Family and Friends Group have members who are still in horrible alcoholic situations and then there are others who are no longer living with the alcoholic. Even though the alcoholic is not drinking and they are not living with the drunk, there are still things that come up in everyday life that are sometimes difficult to handle. These people reach out to others who are either in their situation or just simply under the circumstance. In that case, even though they are on “the other side” they still find themselves faced with the aftermath.

If anyone wants to share a “success” story, please send it to me at with the words “Success Story” in the subject line. I’ll share your story in the blog.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Holiday Grief...

Below is a guest post from AJ Richichi, founderof

Although illustrated as the best time of year, the holidays can be very difficult for people suffering, and who have suffered, with addictions with grief triggers. A few years ago, my grandfather passed away in the middle of the summer. Months later around Christmas time, it became evident for the first time that he was gone… forever. I felt as if he died once more, as his favorite chair remained open the entire night and his favorite foods remained untouched. The Holidays became a reminder of his absence, not a celebration of family and the New Year.

Grief is a difficult thing to manage. It lies with you as you try to sleep and remains with you throughout the day. It’s complicated and varies with each experience. I wish I had the solution or could develop an equation to find ‘x’, however I’ve come to understand that, for me, grief and other stress in my life can be significantly reduced with a number of things.

1.    In depth conversations with family. Instead of asking dead-end questions about their day or the weather, ask questions about their job, work, or personal life.

2.    Exercise. Whether its 30 minutes before everyone wakes up for the holiday party or after you open gifts, exercise can give you much needed time to reflect and decompress.

3.    Go out to breakfast with your parents. As a young adult a few years out of school, I’ve found that my relationship has changed with my parents. Through countless discussions, I've matured to realize that me growing up was challenging for both parties. When my relationship is good with them, all other elements of my life tend to be less stressful.

4.    Read! Blog or book, magazine or newspaper, find a quiet place and learn from other perspectives, viewpoints, and opinions.

The holidays are a time of cheer and joy. However, it can be a hard month based on your particular situation. It’s important to keep a positive mindset. How do you deal with the holidays? What’s worked for you in the past? I’d love to hear your thoughts. –AJ


AJ Richichi is Founder of, the positive social network based on supporting fellow community members. Working alongside countless self-help organizations, ChronicleMe has recently launched infographic campaigns to help raise awareness and educate millions of people with topics including mental health, sexual assault, suicide prevention, domestic violence, and cyber-bullying.