Catch up with the top ten posts in “Exploring Sobriety” this year.

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I’ve been writing more than ever this year and want to thank each of you for reading. As the year wraps up, I’ve gathered the ten most popular “Exploring Sobriety” posts of 2020 into the list below.

If you’re a new reader, this list is the perfect starting place. If you’ve been following me for a while, it’s a great way to catch up on any posts you missed or wanted to read again. I hope you all enjoy these and find them interesting or helpful.

10. Why Addicts Do Endless Mental Math

“One of the things that non-addicts rarely realize about alcoholism is how much planning goes into it. This is especially true among so-called ‘high-functioning alcoholics.’ My drinking days required constant calculations, as I tried to balance law school and work with getting drunk every single night.” …


I might have been “high-functioning,” but I was still an addict.

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Before getting sober, I used to drink beer every single day, almost always to the point of drunkenness. I typically had no less than a six-pack each night and often drank much more.

Despite this heavy drinking habit, my life hadn’t fallen apart as much as it could have. I only drank in the evenings, and during the daytime I managed to remain a more-or-less productive member of society.

While maintaining a daily drinking habit, I also was able to get into a great law school, graduate with honors, pass the bar, and become a lawyer. …


There’s more to life than waiting for the next drink.

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Drinking Through Life

As an alcoholic, I was used to watch life rush past me. Before getting sober, I spent most of each day either drinking or in a hurry to get home so that I could start drinking.

The myth that I told myself was that my drinking habit was fine because I was a “high-functioning” alcoholic. What I meant by this was mostly just that I never drank at school or work. It wasn’t exactly a high bar.

Although I wasn’t drinking during the daytime hours, alcohol was still constantly in the back of my mind. …


How an alcoholic really drinks.

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“Just One Drink”

I was a daily alcohol drinker for about ten years, and in all that time, I don’t remember ever having just one drink.

There were rare nights that I took it easy, and had just a few. There were even a handful of days that I didn’t drink at all. But, as far as I can remember, I never once had a single beer and then called it a night.

More often, I was on the other extreme. I typically tried to get as drunk as possible without getting sick. …


Does getting sober mean an end to fun?

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When I first quit drinking, I was filled with doubts about my sobriety. One of the ideas that I struggled with was the fact that I’d no longer be able to celebrate special occasions with alcohol.

What was a birthday without beer? Or new year’s eve without champagne? Was a celebration really a celebration if there was no booze involved?

I thought that getting drunk was an essential part of having fun. I really couldn’t imagine how anything could feel like a celebration if I was sober.

Now though, after I’ve been sober for a few years, I look back on these doubts and laugh. The idea that alcohol was a necessary ingredient at every party or event no longer makes any sense to me at all. …


How I learned to stop being so judgmental of my fellow alcoholics.

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Two Categories

I used to think that all recovering addicts fell into two categories, and I hated them both.

The first category was made up of the ultra-cheerful crowd who never seemed to stop smiling or shut up about how much sobriety had changed their life.

The second category was composed of the other extreme: the bitter former drinkers whose only joy in life seemed to be wallowing in their own misery.

When I first decided to get sober, I dreaded talking to any of my fellow recovering addicts. …


My life will never be perfect — but that’s okay.

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Daydreaming About Perfection

“Progress, not perfection.”

This pithy piece of advice is so popular within sobriety communities that I sometimes take it for granted. That’s a shame, because it perfectly encapsulates a mindset that has been instrumental in helping me stay sober.

When I was still a daily drinker, I was obsessed by the idea of perfection. Although my life was at its worst, I always tricked myself into believing that I was just one day away from turning everything around.

I used to stay up late getting drunk and daydreaming about a perfect life that I was just sure would begin the very next morning. …


Why I went against the conventional wisdom during my first year sober.

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When I quit drinking, one of the most common pieces of advice I heard was not to make any major life changes during my first year sober. Conventional wisdom holds that career moves, new relationships, and long trips should all wait until at least year two.

The idea behind this advice is simple: big changes are stressful and distract from sobriety. During their first year without alcohol, recovering addicts already have enough on their plates; there’s no need to add even more.

In addition, personalities change a lot during the first year of sobriety. There’s a strong chance that big decisions made within the first few months of sobriety will end up as big regrets one year later. …


Actor Rob Lowe has a warning about what it takes to quit drinking.

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Rob Lowe. Photo by David Shankbone via . Licensed under .

Rob Lowe has spent over half of his life sober. After an infamously hard-partying youth, he quit drinking in 1990 — when he was just 26 years old — and has stayed alcohol-free ever since.

Lowe has also become an outspoken advocate for his fellow recovering addicts. In addition to working privately to help teenage addicts and their families, he is also incredibly open about his addiction during public interviews.

“You Have to Want to Do It”

Last week, on The Today Show’s Sunday Sitdown, Lowe talked about his sobriety with the host, Willie Geist. …


Quitting alcohol brought newfound calm to my life.

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When I decided to stop drinking, I was worried because alcohol was my main source of relaxation. I thought that without getting drunk each night, I’d have no way to unwind and my anxiety would build.

There was a little truth to this concern. When I first got sober, my anxiety did briefly skyrocket. However, as I adjusted to my new life, and discovered new ways to relax — running, hiking, and writing, for example — my anxiety dipped back down.

Then, to my surprise, my anxiety continued to fall. Although it didn’t disappear completely, it reached a lower level than I had ever experienced during my drinking days. …

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Exploring Sobriety

Reflections on life without alcohol.

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