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WHY I BECAME A SOBER COACH

Posted by PattyPowers
PattyPowers
Patty Powers is a sober coach and writer. She was featured on the A&E mini serie
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 31 May 2012
in Alcoholism 2 Comments

If I’m to be honest answering this question, there will be no quick way through it. I could say I became a sober coach because I was tired of going to bed at 6am and sick of having to shout over loud music to be heard  - but that’s only part of it.

When I got clean in 1988, I placed all bets on my writing. This meant that instead of taking a job that would have career advancement, I stuck with freelance work, doing anything that could finance large chunks of uninterrupted writing time. I came up during the late 70s and 80s among a scene of underground artists, musicians, and filmmakers, many of whom went on to mainstream success. After I got clean, I became the go-to girl for anyone from my previous life wanting to get off drugs. This lead to my first coaching jobs inside the entertainment industry. The calls were so random that I never considered it a real employment source. In between coaching gigs, I continued to take on whatever work paid the bills. Coaching and sober companion work felt like the right fit but I never gave it much thought as a career. At the time it was controversial and renegade.


As the years passed, I continued to write and perform. Although my work was being published and optioned, I still hadn’t made it through the “big doors". It killed me to watch my friends’ lives successfully moving forward while mine seemed, at least outwardly, frozen in time. What was i doing wrong?  My moment of clarity came at fifteen years clean. It occurred to me that I had never stopped directing my romantic and financial affairs and those two areas were not changing. I needed to let go (as they say in 12 step programs) but I didn’t know how. I definitely couldn’t think my way into a new life. I suppose I needed a spiritual experience but being an atheist this was difficult to imagine.

Right as my screenplay was gaining momentum and I was being flown back and forth across the country, the writers’ strike happened. Out of money, I went back to working in bars. The loud music and crazy hours were killing me. Like my final days with drugs, I was absolutely miserable and hopeless. At seventeen years clean, I was back at square one. Then the most amazing thing happened - I ran out of ideas on how to run my life. I was having tea with an old friend from the music industry when I asked him “You know me really well – what do you think I should do for a living?” It didn’t take a minute before he said, “You’d be perfect as a sober companion.”  I had no idea that sober coaching had come into its own as a profession. The renegade rock and roll days had paved the way and now treatment facilities, therapists, and psychiatrists were seeing positive results from setting up clients with sober companions. My friend suggested I contact a couple LA friends to see if anyone had leads.

The stars aligned and within 24 hours I had my first client outside of the entertainment industry. What was interesting to me was how everything I’d ever learnt in my life came into play - not just my personal experience in recovery but the information I’d amassed on nutrition, exercise, meditation, dealing with anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Every aspect of my life had prepared me to do this work.

The real test came on day three when my client’s prominent psychotherapist called for an update. Until then I had been working intuitively and unlike managers, agents, and the people I was used to dealing with, the person on the other end of the phone was skilled in mental health work. If I was a fraud she was going to call me out. Nervous, I took a deep breath and told her honestly what I saw and what I was working on with the client. The phone went silent and my stomach flipped. “I have been working with ___ for three years and you nailed every single item on my list”. His words confirmed that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

For me, falling into coaching was a spiritual experience. When I finally “let go” sober coaching came into my life. I loved it and had great results with clients. From that point on, doors kept opening. One day I got a call from the producers of Intervention about a new mini-series they were casting. Over night, this semi-secret career of mine became very public.

The television series shifted the direction of my life yet again. I received many heartbreaking emails from addict viewers who were without financial resources for treatment. I decided to set up a website and share freely what I do with clients. Currently I’m in the process of writing several books on recovery. What started as a part-time job to finance my writing has become the subject of my writing. No one could be more surprised by this than me.


To read what I do with clients as a sober coach, visit http://pattypowersnyc.com/sobercoac/

 

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Why "Don't Drink No Matter What" Is The Dumbest, Most Dangerous Thing You Can Say To An Alcoholic

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 14 November 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

Our former group secretary started her share yesterday saying "I have no idea what happened," and unintentionally captured the most maddening, misunderstood quality of alcoholism.  She got drunk the night before, and-- in addition to being shocked and mortified-- was scratching her head.

"I had to plan it, because there was no alcohol in the house," she said.  "So I had to go the liquor store.  You would think I would have stopped myself at some point."

It reminded me of one of my own relapses.  I was strapped to a hospital bed, tubes in my mouth, and my sponsor at the time stood at the end of the bed and asked, "Why didn't you call me?"

"Really?" I remember thinking. "That's what you've got for me?" 

"The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called willpower becomes practically non-existent.  We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our conciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago.  We are without defense against the first drink." Alcoholics Anonymous, page 24

The majority of people in A.A. continue to believe that this program is about building obstacles to the first drink, about not taking the first drink no matter what, about creating a support network of people that will stand between you and alcohol.  As well-intentioned as these tactics are, they ironically only work for non-alcoholics. If simple awareness and understanding of the disease, or the admonishment of another human being, are sufficient to keep you sober, you aren't powerless over alcohol.  Don't misunderstand- perhaps it's better that you not drink. There are plenty of hard drinkers who create havoc and misery, and if you have a desire to not drink, there's a place for you in A.A. But when I read the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous, I see you differently than me. 

I require a spiritual awakening to survive, you require a well-charged cell phone.

But back to the point--dissecting relapses is a staggering waste of time, and a thinly veiled attempt to regain power over the disease of alcoholism.  I've come to appreciate my relapses as critical evidence about the futility of my condition, as experience that lined up perfectly with the information I was presented from the AA Text Book.  I can't not drink. I must find a power greater than myself that will solve the problem for me.

There are several components to the first step.  The physical allergy-- when I put it in me it says "give me more"-- is just the first part.   This is the part that nearly everyone in A.A. gets.  But the second part-- the mental obsession-- is casually dismissed by most.  The broad side of Alcoholics Anonymous operates under the painfully misguided idea that once sober, once dried out, the alcoholic must now use willpower and other humans to stay away from the first drink.  And when the alcoholic fails at this-- and most do-- they are often told that "perhaps they are not ready."  Or, "maybe you need to drink more."  

This sort of staggering ignorance could drive a man to violence, you know?

If I believe my disease is ocassion-based, I will likely have occasion-based sobriety.

 

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How to Help a Loved One Withdraw from an Addiction

Posted by spiritedlady
spiritedlady
Spirited Lady Living is my dream to help people deal with the peer and media pre
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 01 September 2011
in Other Addictions 0 Comments

Addictions of all kinds can be incredibly difficult to overcome. When a loved one is suffering from an addiction, it can greatly affect you as well. Naturally, you don't like to watch them suffer and you're searching for ways to help.

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90 Beatings In 90 Days

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 01 June 2011
in Alcoholism 0 Comments

"90 meetings in 90 days" gets my vote as the saddest old saw in Alcoholics Anonymous.  Don't get me wrong-- I absolutely love AA meetings, and I did the 90 meetings in 90 days ritual a couple times. Problem was, that was the extent of my recovery, so I lived with this nagging superstitious fear that if I missed a day, I was destined to drink.  And my AA friends apparently had no desire to disabuse me of that notion.  

So where did this oft-repeated commandment come from?  You can't find it in the original AA program literature, but then again, much of what you'll hear in meetings today doesn't come from the AA program. No, like many of our modern pearls of wisdom in AA, the 90 in 90 idea comes from rehabs that felt obligated to give some direction to the freshly-detoxed alcoholics and addicts they were churning out like processed cheese.  So, in addition to a headful of slogans and a copy of Living Sober, the wide-eyed rehab graduates were instructed encouraged to get to 90 meetings in 90 days, lest they find themselves back in rehab (where, conveniently, most major credit cards are accepted).

The problem with 90 in 90 is that it implies attendance at meetings is all that's required to recover, and that could not be further from the vision of Alcoholics Anonymous.  When it is not paired with an almost immediate immersion in step work, 90 in 90 is tantamount to putting the new person on a shelf.  And it's nearly impossible to stay sober there.

To be clear, attending AA meeting is far better than not attending AA meetings, and if having a little rigid structure early in your recovery is helpful, then by all means, do 90 in 90. The real issue with the idea is one of emphasis. It's so over-used that it has become a form of temporary sponsorship, unfortunately because we're either reluctant to (or incapable of) telling the new person just how urgent their situation is and what's required to recover. Sadly, 90 in 90 provides cover for the person who lacks a message of depth and weight, who masquerades as an informed, experienced member of Alcoholics Anonymous.  

In other words, me, for over a decade.

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AA Success Rates

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 28 May 2011
in Alcoholism 1 Comment

If you're ever sitting in an AA meeting and can't bear the monotonous drone of victimization and problem sharing, bring up AA's statistical success rates.  Yes, the topic is not really the purpose of a meeting either, but it's certainly better than suffering through the latest update on Janet's sick hamster or how Carl nearly drank over his broken weed-whacker.   And it's guaranteed to get an animated discussion going.

AA's effectiveness is a polarizing topic.  Take a deep breath and watch this Penn & Teller video. Normally I don't put much stock in the opinions of irrelevant Las Vegas magicians, but there's an important truth in the video.

Here's the truth:  AA is failing.  I agree with the statistics-- I believe that less than 1 in 20 of people who ever attend an AA meeting experience any sustained sobriety.  But Bigfoot and the Mime tell only half the story, because the whole truth does not fit their AA-bashing agenda.

What's the whole truth?  The AA program works.   The problem?  Finding it.

What people encounter when they first wander into an AA meeting today is rarely AA.  It's a self-help, group therapy session masquerading as the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  It's a pep rally for abstinence through willpower, where the "tools" are all about staying away from a drink, one day at a time, world without end, amen.

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0 votes

AA Success Rates

Posted by FrothyJay
FrothyJay
FrothyJay has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 28 May 2011
in Alcoholism 1 Comment

If you're ever sitting in an AA meeting and can't bear the monotonous drone of victimization and problem sharing, bring up AA's statistical success rates.  Yes, the topic is not really the purpose of a meeting either, but it's certainly better than suffering through the latest update on Janet's sick hamster or how Carl nearly drank over his broken weed-whacker.   And it's guaranteed to get an animated discussion going.

AA's effectiveness is a polarizing topic.  Take a deep breath and watch this Penn & Teller video. Normally I don't put much stock in the opinions of irrelevant Las Vegas magicians, but there's an important truth in the video.

Here's the truth:  AA is failing.  I agree with the statistics-- I believe that less than 1 in 20 of people who ever attend an AA meeting experience any sustained sobriety.  But Bigfoot and the Mime tell only half the story, because the whole truth does not fit their AA-bashing agenda.

What's the whole truth?  The AA program works.   The problem?  Finding it.

What people encounter when they first wander into an AA meeting today is rarely AA.  It's a self-help, group therapy session masquerading as the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  It's a pep rally for abstinence through willpower, where the "tools" are all about staying away from a drink, one day at a time, world without end, amen.

...
Hits: 3882
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