SHOUT Sobriety: As American as Blueberry Pie

Grammy's Blueberry PieI am a Christian who celebrates the faith diversity offered by Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and others. I am a heterosexual white male who supports equality for the LGBTQ community, women and people of all races and ethnicities. I am a fiscal conservative and social moderate who believes in listening and compromise on almost every issue (I’m done listening when it comes to assault rifles and background checks – I live in Colorado, and we have lived through too much).

 

I stand and salute the flag, but understand that it represents liberty and the freedom for my fellow Americans to kneel, or even burn it in protest. Freedom is in part defined by disagreement and dissent. God has blessed Americans with the right to agree to disagree.

 

I am a sober alcoholic. I write and speak about alcoholism and recovery. That might seem a pretty depressing topic to which to dedicate my life, but it is a very uplifting time to be an active part of the recovery community. There are lots of energetic people doing innovative things in the recovery world. I like to think of myself as one of them. I believe recovering out loud, if enough of us do it, can end the epidemic of alcoholism.

 

I question many of the philosophies of Alcoholics Anonymous. I challenge the principle of anonymity and the amends process on merit and logic, making my arguments respectfully and listening openly to those with a different point of view. I consider it to be a substantive debate among recovery warriors who want to help people beat alcoholism.

 

That’s why I have been so surprised to be told – three times now, actually – that if I keep going, I’m going to kill someone.

 

Kill someone? What? I’m trying to offer an alternative approach to the literally millions of people for whom Alcoholics Anonymous is not an option. I’m trying to build a better mousetrap based on modern brain chemistry research and years of personal experience interacting with alcoholics.

 

Rejecting alternative methods of recovery is like saying that if you don’t like chocolate cake, you aren’t allowed to celebrate your birthday. We are a nation built on freedom – freedom of religion, political views and even choices in health care. Alcoholism is a mental health crisis, so we better come at it with as many options as possible.

 

Last week, I spoke to a friend who is in her third year of recovery just like me. Unlike me, she had the strength to get sober when in her early 20s, and she found her recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous. I love that. I love the courage she mustered to walk into the rooms of AA as such a young person. Here’s what I love the most. She sat next to the only other young person she saw in the room. This past weekend, she was a bridesmaid in the wedding of the girl she sat next to at her first ever AA meeting. For all the parts of AA where I disagree, it really is life saving for the people for whom the twelve steps work.

 

I’m sure the three readers who accuse me of attempted murder would reply that AA works for everyone who works it. But it doesn’t. Recovery isn’t one size fits all, and it doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not you believe in God. There are alternatives – lots of alternatives – in recovery, and just about everything else. The world is not just Christianity, white men, heterosexual marriages and chocolate cake. It is not just AA, either.

 

I’m working on a recovery program now because what I’m looking for – the methods I used to recover – doesn’t exist yet. So I’ll put it all together and share it with the world. It will be called, “SHOUT Sobriety,” and, as the name implies, it will involve a whole lot of recovering out loud. I hope I don’t kill anyone with love and connection.

 

I have a lot of work to do on the curriculum, and I’m not sure exactly how the program will work. This is one thing I know for sure: SHOUT Sobriety will absolutely, 100% NOT work for everyone (even if they work it).

 

Freedom means worshiping your way, loving who you love, voting your principles, tolerating various fiscal and social views, and being quiet sometimes even if you refuse to listen.

 

And it means getting sober in any way you possibly can while the applause grows from those who came before you even if they took a different path.

 

I say it all the time – we are all in this together. That which separates us is far less important than our common goal of freedom from alcohol. I am passionate about recovering out loud. I am passionate about the strength I receive from helping others. And I am passionate about blueberry pie on my birthday.

 

If you would like to read about my recovery passions, and get a sneak peak inside my SHOUT Sobriety program, please check out my free ebook, Guide to Early Sobriety. Let me know what you think, even if you disagree. I’m getting pretty good at listening.

Guide to Early Sobriety

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12 Comments
  • Reply
    Jay Wilson
    May 15, 2019 at 4:43 am

    When are we going to debate in one of your posts? So much of what you write is great! But SO many of the assumptions and implications would make for fantastic discussion.

    • Reply
      Matt Salis
      May 15, 2019 at 6:21 am

      Sounds like a great idea, Jay. Let’s have that discussion here in the comments. What do you say?

  • Reply
    Debbie
    May 15, 2019 at 5:26 am

    Great article! I agree, there are different ways to reach the end goal of sobriety. I believe openness about the battle against alcoholism will help speed up the process. Secrets slow things down. Obviously there is no one set way to sobriety for everyone but why not celebrate being sober and unashamed? Keep working on your program! We always need a new approach to this long standing, devastating addiction/disease, alcoholism. Hopefully you can get a program going and approach middle and high schools. Bring awareness to parents and students (similar to Kids Escaping Drugs).

    • Reply
      Matt Salis
      May 15, 2019 at 6:20 am

      I would love to work with kids. I need to figure out how to do that without them blowing me off and thinking what happened to me could never happen to them. I think about it a lot. Someday!

  • Reply
    Jay Wilson
    May 15, 2019 at 7:08 am

    I was thinking more of a headliner marquis discussion a stand alone. Lol

  • Reply
    Cathy
    May 15, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    Fantastic article! Thank goodness there are many new ways to get sober today. One size doesn’t fit all. I also have seen many people get sober in AA. For life, once they began to attend! I went, but it ultimately didn’t work for me. It never occurred to me to go back, but once I accepted that I really was an alcoholic, I knew that I needed help of some kind. I was fortunate to read your Guide to Early Sobriety and some other helpful books and articles from the time I decided to get sober again. And communication with you, Matt, has been a blessing. I have a supportive family–what family member doesn’t want to see their loved one recover from a horrible disease?

    • Reply
      Matt Salis
      May 15, 2019 at 4:31 pm

      I am so glad to be in contact with you, Cathy, and so glad to be a little part of your recovery!

  • Reply
    Jeff Smith
    May 15, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    Keep serving up the blueberry pie. Its exactly what I need right now and I know others do as well. I have some pretty amazing friends who believe that a twelve step program is the only way to recovery. I am so thankful that their lives have been radically changed through the relationships and support they have received from their brothers and sisters in their groups but they haven’t worked for me. What is working are many of the things you subscribe to and are trying to help others see and embrace.

    • Reply
      Matt Salis
      May 15, 2019 at 6:30 pm

      Yes, Jeff! Different stuff works for different people. I’m glad my stuff resonates. I bet that means you would like my Grammy’s blueberry pie!

  • Reply
    Jay
    May 16, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    Can you explain a little how that would work? Who what when where how type stuff?

    • Reply
      Matt Salis
      May 16, 2019 at 1:01 pm

      Sure, Jay, although I don’t have any details now. We would schedule it. We can do it over a recorded phone call. I’ve got the next few podcasts lined-up, but maybe we can do it down the road a piece. Thanks!

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