To Sobriety and beyond


As the (No)Buzz Lightyear”s that are the heroes of Dry January consider their missions into to sobriety and beyond (Parched March anyone?), we thought we would highlight some relatively new approaches in the recovery universe.

The 12 Step fellowships work for a lot of people. They will continue working for a lot more. There are, though, multiple paths in to recovery and each person needs to find their own way.

For an alcoholic of my type, the 12 Steps were a life saver, but what about some alternative paths?

The idea of moderation (drugs or alcohol) is anathema to many in the treatment world and the recovery community. But could attempted moderation convince a problem user how bad things are?

This seems to be the path common to three very different organisations. In the US, Allies In Recovery (AIR) and the Centre For Optimal Living (CFOL) and in the UK Club Soda.

Dominique Simon of AIR says “If your loved one believes they can moderate, there are two good reasons for you to go along with this. First of all, it may work. Second, if it doesn’t work, they will learn that they are unable to control their using – the problem is bigger than they initially thought.”

Founder of CFOL, Dr Andrew Tartarsky’s model, the Positive Change Pathway, help’s to create the individuals optimal relationship to substances—whether that means reduced, safer, more controlled use, or abstinence.

It would be fair to say that not everyone with a drinking or drug problem is an alcoholic or addict, they may still need to recover their lives!

Laura Willoughby of Club Soda in the UK wants “to help you make the change to your drinking that you want. They are continually developing tools and techniques, and support a growing social network.

To paraphrase Shakespeare “Be not afraid of sobriety. Some are born sober, some achieve sobriety, and others have sobriety thrust upon them.”






The Scottish Recovery Consortium (SRC) are at it again. One of our favourite recovery organisations in the world have announced yet another initiative to support recovery wherever you are. A free recovery workbook, free to everyone. Just click here and download the pdf.

The SRC’s innovative ideas and practices deserve attention everywhere. Since 2008 the SRC team have developed their charity with an ongoing “organisational” recovery practice.

Watch Kuladahrini talk about it here.

The SRC believe that not only can people recover from addiction, but their lives can be truly enhanced by the recovery process. Recovery results in a better way of living and a better life.

SRC have developed Recovery College, the Recovery Initiative Fund, Opiate Replacement Treatment Recovery and many other great ideas that support recovery in the community.With a vision to have a country in recovery, SRC march on, literally with helping organise the annual Recovery Walk in Scotland.

The SRC have put the idea of recovery at the heart of treatment and drug strategy advocating for a “recovery” model in dealing with the problems caused by addiction. There are now more than 100 Recovery Café’s across Scotland as well as sports clubs and other community support organisations that support recovery. The mindset is changing in Scotland and across the UK, a recovery “movement” is emerging.

The SRC’s free recovery workbook is, as they put it, “a gift from the recovery movement in Scotland, to people in early recovery from addictions everywhere. Our gift, like recovery itself, is free to you.”

You can read about SRC online, or you can watch some videos on Youtube, you can also keep coming back here and reading about recovery in Scotland, all over the UK, and from all around the world.

Image from SRC Recovery Gave Me poster campaign.


Defy In Transform


In our recent Success In Recovery post, we featured examples of individual entrepreneurs enjoying success in recovery. While we maintain the real success in recovery is staying sober or drug free, we also believe recovery can be a ‘mirror’ of addiction. We can take assets used to survive addiction and apply them to recovery, giving us every chance to harness our energy and thrive.

There are plenty of addicts in recovery who were “successful” in addiction, but still not so happy – the energy in recovery can maintain the success and offer the opportunity of finding that happiness.

Through this recent story on we went down a delightful rabbit hole and found Tori Utley’s amazing TedX talk Why The Workforce Needs Recovering Addicts.

After watching this, we felt moved to at least check out Defy Ventures Inc.  Their view is that “many former drug dealers and gang leaders can become successful, legal entrepreneurs.” They have created a framework to “transform the hustle” in currently and formerly incarcerated drug users calling them Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EITs).

David Linden, a neuroscience professor at Johns Hopkins’ School of Medicine and author of The Compass Of Pleasure argues in Forbes that traits that make a good CEO – risk-taking, strong drive for success, obsession, dedication, novelty-seeking – are precisely what make a “good” addict (hustler).

Constance Scharff, co-author of Ending Addiction For Good, identifies another similarity with Defy’s “hustlers.” She suggests high achievers often report a stressor or trauma early on in life, fuelling the success drive in the same way it drives addiction. Scharff notes they frequently had some basic needs unmet as children, and that these driven individuals are often self-medicating. Most importantly she concludes ““We’ve never seen someone who hasn’t at least doubled in productivity after treatment.”

All sides of the street, recovery breeds success.

Alcohol Free


You might not expect to find a piece on Dry January on an addiction recovery site, although you will certainly see it covered across all other traditional and social media. The first “official” campaign seems to have started in 2012 in the UK. Alcohol Concern, a leading UK charity encouraged a challenge to go alcohol free for a month to raise funds for their work.

A lot of people report having done this regularly for the sake of their health, so with the added motivation of a worthwhile cause this annual campaign has continued to grow. It is predicted that one in five UK adults will take part in 2017. The idea has gained traction in the United States, Australia and South Africa signifying an international appetite for reconsidering the role of alcohol in day to day life. Some commentators suggest there is a “sobriety movement” growing with more people choosing alcohol free lifestyles hailing 2017 as the year that the “sobriety movement” will hit the mainstream. Certainly attitudes to drinking are changing and the rise of alcohol free drink choices in pubs and clubs is one of the biggest growth areas in the beverage market.

One of the major benefits associated with the alcohol free challenge is that people rethink their relationship with drinking. Many who try a Dry January choose to go a step further remaining sober all year round.  Comments on the Dry January blogs, and in numerous articles covering last years campaign reveal that many participants realised they really did have a drink problem whilst others just preferred feeling healthier and saving money!

Whatever the outcomes all of this is good news for anyone in a recovery process. In the past one of the key factors identified as an obstacle to sober living was social pressure in a society where drinking (even heavy drinking) was the social norm. This emerging sober lifestyle trend can only help make recovery a less stigmatised option.





No more Bad Santa’s – stay sober at Christmas

If you are new to recovery, the question of how to stay sober at Christmas can seem overwhelming. We all need help and support to at any time of the year. In the “party season” life can provide enough connection for the most committed extrovert and more than plenty for life’s quieter souls. It is a challenging time to stay sober. We all need suggestions, tips or guidance when it comes to choosing a sober lifestyle. The benefit of the experience of others helps with the commitment to staying sober, making plans to stay aware and stay sober seems to be universal to that experience. As Helaina Hovitz says in this helpful article,

“The first 90 days of sobriety are, of course, the hardest, and the holidays are the time of year when the child in all of us feels the most temptation to overindulge in, well, just about everything. Plus, temptation is everywhere.”

If the method of recovery you practice has support groups – like 12 Step, Lifering, SMART, Refuge, Women For Sobriety or faith related options – opportunities to connect with others with a shared goal are useful. Those with some recovery experience will fully endorse the ideas in this article. If you have decided to quit drinking (or drugs) and find your own way Helaina’s suggestions can only help.

Helaina’s article first appeared on the popular website Bustle, welcome evidence that the idea of choosing a sober lifestyle, whether permanently or for a specified period, is becoming increasingly mainstream. This growth of a lifestyle change culture can only be a good thing for those in recovery from addiction or those who just want to change their relationship to alcohol (and drugs).

Make a commitment to change, make a plan, above all let people know your intentions and motivation. You will be amazed by the support you get.


Many Paths, One Destination


In our last post we looked at defining Recovery, in this ORA “Observes” Post we would like to share an article from arch-blogger Brooke Feldman. Brooke who openly identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ communities and a person in long-term recovery from a substance use disorder, blogs in her own space and, regularly, for The Huffington Post. This piece really talks about the different pathways in Recovery and why we need to talk about them more.

Thanks Brooke.

Read the article.