I used to think sobriety was about determination and willpower. I remember countless mornings when I swore I would never drink again. Never. Sometimes I didn’t drink for months. Sometimes weeks. Sometimes days. Sometimes, my determination was replaced by anxiety or frustration or pain, and I drank that same evening.
Alcoholism is a diabolical disease, and it hasn’t a thing to do with willpower or determination. Alcoholism is about how our different brains react to being poisoned. For some of us, the experience is euphoric, and our brains adapt to prioritize alcohol. We aren’t weak or broken. We introduce our brains to one of the world’s most highly addictive substances, and our brains take the bait. And just like that, we are hooked.
I remember those mornings of determination like they were yesterday. I would stare into the bathroom mirror feeling utterly defeated. My eyes drooped, my face was bloated and my skin was pale and sweaty. My physical appearance only enhanced my self-loathing resulting from another night of losing control of my drinking. Some nights I stayed out too late. Some nights I argued with my wife. Some nights I withdrew from my family and sulked in private. But every night before my morning of determination – always – my drinking was out of my conscious control. The part of my brain that I had convinced to equate alcohol with survival was in charge, and it was doing a bang-up job of keeping the poison flowing down my throat.
As a high-functioning alcoholic, I had a predicament. My alcohol-induced depression was so debilitating and unlivable that I couldn’t continue to drink, but I protected my secret so well that I couldn’t seek help that would expose my truth. Sobriety had become a matter of life or death, and I couldn’t do it on my own, nor did I think I could find the help I needed under the conditions I was willing to accept.
I felt so alone. And yet, I was experiencing the exact same dilemma as tens of millions of other Americans.
After so many failed attempts at sobriety, I finally made it out. I scraped and clawed from the bottom of the pit of alcoholic desperation. I found permanent sobriety, and I had a lot of help battling my addiction. But yet, I did it from the privacy of my own living room.
When I knew I had made it – when I knew I would never drink again – I was both relieved for myself and my family, and terrified for the millions of people stuck in the vortex of high-functioning alcoholism. I wanted them to know what I knew. I wanted them to find the salvation I stumbled across, and the knowledge I acquired from so many different sources.
I wanted to share my sobriety with the world.
Alcoholics Anonymous was never an option for me because of the shameful stigma that haunts the organization and its participants. I’ve come to learn a lot about AA in my recovery, and I’m eternally thankful for the millions of lives saved. I’ve been asked often why I’ve gone rogue and created my own program for early sobriety instead of joining forces with Alcoholics Anonymous. I’ve been accused of having a big ego or acting selfishly by sharing my alternative solution. I’ve even been warned that I’m going to kill people because AA is the only way.
I don’t believe any of that. While I respect and admire Alcoholics Anonymous for the volume of lives saved, and I have many close friends in the recovery community for whom AA is a great fit, it simply does not work for everyone. I am living proof. I needed something else, and so do millions of others. That’s why I’m sharing my program called SHOUT Sobriety with the world.
It has nothing to do with ego. It is not about bashing AA or traditional inpatient rehab. It’s about providing an alternative and meeting people where they are in their battle against an epidemic disease. We need more solutions – more treatment options. The factors that lead to alcoholism aren’t one-size-fits-all, so we need varied and dynamic solutions, too. The fundamentals of SHOUT Sobriety worked for me. Maybe they’ll work for you, too.
We offer SHOUT Sobriety to high-functioning alcoholics who are ready to redefine their lives and break free from the cycle of insanity. And we offer SHOUT Sobriety free of charge because we don’t think you should have to pay for freedom. Similar online sobriety programs cost $800 to over $1,000 for six to eight weeks of material. So how can we afford to offer SHOUT Sobriety for free?
We can’t afford not to eliminate the financial barrier to participation. This is important. I remember those mornings staring in the bathroom mirror – the mornings of intense determination. I thought I could do it. I thought I could quit drinking on my own despite all evidence to the contrary. I was convinced. If only I could be stronger this time. This time I could do it for sure. I simply wasn’t ready to pay for help pulling myself out of the pit.
This isn’t about affordability. Most participants in SHOUT Sobriety could comfortably afford an $800 investment in the rest of their lives. This is about getting help to people at the earliest possible time to help them stop now, not later when the damage is significantly worse and the pain inflicted is more than necessary.
SHOUT Sobriety is about pain. A therapist friend of mine taught me the only thing that makes people change their behavior is pain. Not pain to others, and not the potential for pain down the road. A person has to be in so much pain that the status quo is unbearable.
It really is as simple as a pros versus cons list. If the pain alcohol causes reaches a point where it outweighs the relief or pleasure it provides, we have a fighting chance at permanent sobriety. If, however, the solution comes with a significant pricetag, the equation shifts and the cons of drinking might not yet outweigh the pros.
Alcoholism is a progressive disease. We’ll get there eventually. We always do. The $800 will eventually seem a bargain if it helps save our lives. Eventually. With SHOUT Sobriety, we want you to get out before it’s too late. We want you to find sobriety before you are willing to pay for it. We want to help you stop the damage now, not when the damage is significantly worse.
So how can we afford to do it? How can we offer SHOUT Sobriety free of charge? We have a whole lot of faith that people who resonate with the story of my alcoholism will feel like I do in recovery. I get tons of emails every week from people who relate to my message and share my affliction. Those people tell me it feels as though I’m writing their story. I’m just praying when they get to the chapter about helping others find freedom, they will be committed like I am.
We believe we can support SHOUT Sobriety and my mission in life to end the stigma associated with alcoholism through the generosity of people who have made it out of the grip of addiction.
When you support SHOUT Sobriety through your financial commitment, you aren’t paying for a cure to your disease. You are helping someone else find the freedom they deserve.
I say it all the time: We are all in this together. We all know the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection. If you have found sobriety, your journey isn’t over. The only way to protect your sobriety is through connection. One beautiful and generous way to connect is to help others find their sobriety, too.
Small donations add up. The sustainability of our non-profit business model depends on small recurring monthly donations. Think about the financial toll active alcoholism had on you and your family. If you pay forward just $25 per month of the monetary benefit of sobriety to SHOUT Sobriety, we can continue to offer this program well into the future.
If you don’t believe in SHOUT Sobriety, we don’t want your money. If you think my motives aren’t pure and my mission is selfish, please donate to an organization better aligned with your belief system. But if you feel morally compelled to do something about the stigma and help the millions of high-functioning alcoholics hiding in plain sight, we will be honored to have your support.
I promise – we won’t let you down.
And if you are struggling – if you are caught in the cycle of drinking beyond your control – if you want the freedom that saved my life – please check-out SHOUT Sobriety. Your recovery is waiting.
We are ready when you are.