From books to 12-step programs, and even through online communities, we can find inspiration for sobriety all around us, in accessible and relatable forms. I don’t think of it often, but film is another great place to turn to when we’re lacking in our sobriety. If you do end up being unable to stay sober, don’t be afraid to get the addiction treatment los angeles you need. Here are 12 recovery movies I threw together for the next time you’re feeling the desire to stay in bed. Prepare for both a cry and a laugh, and the inspiration to get yourself through. Remember, when it comes to Drug addiction – getting help is not a shameful thing to do if you’re struggling. Hopefully, these films can help you.

Pleasure Unwoven

This documentary aims to answer the great debated question, “Is addiction a disease?” With visual tools and simple lingo, Dr. McCauley explains the complex science behind substance abuse and recovery. After viewing this film five years ago, my father-in-law discovered a new understanding and acceptance of addiction, and with that acceptance came hope for his son’s recovery. Watch with your husband, your adult children, your students or yourself if searching for better compression of the addicted brain.

You can purchase Pleasure unwoven through Amazon and I found it available to stream here.

28 Days

This is a favorite in the recovery community. Sandra Bullock’s character finds herself forced into rehab for a heavy drinking habit. Like many of us she is stubborn and unwilling to admit to alcoholism but when she can no longer hide from her truth, she begins to accept her addiction. With a self-discovery driven by early sobriety and the residents she befriends, she begins to grow into a new woman learning to navigate sober life and maintain her relationship with her long-term boyfriend. While the movie may be a bit cheesy, there’s no doubt that the heartwarming feeling is real, and to many of us, relatable.

You can rent 28 days (not to be confused with 28 Days Later!) on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

Recovery Boys

Break out the tissues, if you have any experience with addiction (especially drug addiction), you’re gonna cry your eyes out. This is a raw, candid documentary about a group of men living in a residential treatment home and attempting to get clean. The highs, the lows, the failures, and the wins, all sewn together with pain and the fear loved ones must face. It shows an unfiltered truth which, I believe, everyone would benefit from experiencing.

You can stream Recovery Boys on Netflix.

Russell Brand: From Addiction To Recovery

In this documentary, Comedian Russell Brand shares his inspirational story—from taking drugs and alcohol on a daily basis, to becoming somewhat of a sobriety guru, Russell shares it all. With humor and truth, he tells us what it was like and exactly how he sobered up, making it feel like your chatting with a Recovery buddy, you’ll find yourself relating to this English Superstar.

You can find From Addiction To Recovery for free on YouTube.


This is another film depicting a woman’s journey of accepting her addiction and getting sober. The main character faces a series of ‘shameful’ events brought on by alcohol and drug abuse. Her choice to get sober is met with skepticism by both her husband and mother, but she finds support in other recovering alcoholics. Critics have called Smashed cliché, however, it’s cliché because it’s true, and those of us with a substance abuse problem will have empathy for the main character and in that, empathy for ourselves.

Smashed can be rented through Google Play, iTunes, Youtube, and Amazon.


Happy is a documentary, not on addiction, but on finding the beauty in life, despite the circumstances. The camera crew visits 14 different countries and interviews 14 people on different life paths. There’s inspiration to be found in every story and underlying lessons on positive psychology. If you’re struggling to find gratitude or the positive in your life, this movie is sure to help you discover your Happy.

This documentary can be streamed on Netflix and rented through iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and YouTube.

Basketball Diaries

Based on a true story, Basketball Diaries depicts the dark side of heroin dependence. Jim (played by a young Leonardo DiCaprio) has a promising future in basketball, but before he reaches fame, he experiments with drugs and falls quickly in love. As his affair with narcotics takes off, he loses his mother, himself and his potential career. This film isn’t lighthearted, but neither is addiction. With a true portrayal of the dark sides of substance abuse and candid examples of how far one will go for drugs, Basketball Diaries is a must-see for those whose lives have been at all tainted by drug dependency.

Unfortunately, I could not find this movie available on any of the popular streaming platforms, however, you can purchase the DVD through Amazon.

Thanks For Sharing

Although this movie isn’t centered around ‘alcohol/drug’ addiction, it does a phenomenal job of painting a picture of recovery and sobriety. This film bravely takes on sex addiction, and while I wouldn’t recommend it to those not familiar with addiction, I do recommend it to my peers for the simple fact of the honest relatability found within the characters. Starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo, you’re sure to find some laughs and heartfelt feelings in the lives of the three main characters and their recovery from their sex addictions.

Thanks For Sharing can be found to rent or buy on Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and iTunes.


Not a movie, but an honorable mention. I couldn’t write a recovery media list without adding TV show, Mom, into the mix. Starring Anna Faris and Allison Janney, this program does a fantastic job creating highly relatable characters, with plots that are humorous but also relatable, CBS depicts an honest view of what it’s like to get sober and rebuild one’s life. It’s loosely based on the 12-step program, so if that’s a tool you utilize, I highly recommend it.

Check your local listings for Mom, or stream the full series through CBS All Access.

When A Man Loves A Woman

A married couple is forced to confront the wife’s alcoholism and their challenges that unfold as her sober journey takes off. While she flourishes in sobriety, her husband feels out of place. This movie paints a true picture of learning to stand on one’s feet, and, with an appearance from Philip Seymour Hoffman, who tragically lost his lifelong struggle with addiction in 2014, there’s an additional tug on one’s heartstrings.

When A Man Loves A Woman can be rented on iTunes, Google Play, Youtube and Amazon.

A Star Is Born

I haven’t brought myself to watch this, however, it is said the film beautifully paints an honest picture of the heartache caused by addiction. This remake, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, is about a country singer and his battle with alcoholism. Lady Gaga recently won a Golden Globe for her outstanding performance in this powerful movie, so bring the tissues with you.

A Star Is Born Is still in theater and should be showing in a theater near you.

Beautiful Boy

Based on a father’s memoir, Beautiful Boy portrays a son’s addiction and its ability to absorb the entire family. It’s a true testament to how far our loved ones will go to pull us out of the grips of drugs and alcohol. The gut-wrenching performances and the rawness of the script, produce a profoundly genuine picture of family addiction.

Beautiful Boy can be seen in some theaters and streamed on Amazon Prime.

A Terrifying Halloween at the Bottom of a Whiskey Bottle - Sober Mommies

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10 Ways to Prepare for Cravings During the Holidays - Sober Mommies

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“Nope. Not today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe you’ll matter enough tomorrow.”

A friend posted this on Facebook today, regarding something she’s going through—something she’s been going through, and it hit me hard. People commented, poured out love, and told her she matters right now. She matters so much, and I’m sure she knows that, but to someone else in her life—who may hold a key to new beginnings she’s been denied for so long—it doesn’t seem like she matters.

I get that.

My current situation is different, but I’m dealing with my own heartache. I had a huge hand in creating mine, but I still understand how she feels.

For the past two years, I’ve broken my own heart time and again by attempting to make a relationship work that’s just not meant to be. It was my very first “sober relationship,” and I stupidly assumed it would be different (read: healthier) than those I’ve had in the past, because I’m sober.

It was not, and is not. This relationship seems harder, and so do the break-ups (read: multiple).

It’s the same every time we try to make it work, but somehow harder every time it inevitably fails again. We love each other, but we also destroy each other. We can’t seem to leave each other alone, even though we know we should. Even though we have both admitted that our very lives could possibly depend upon it.

IT IS ADDICTION PERSONIFIED. We know this; yet we return.

I’ve been sitting here all morning trying to figure out a way to make this pain go away. All by myself. I know better than that by now. I know I can’t do any of this by myself, but it’s so damn hard to reach out sometimes. It’s almost too exhausting to consider…until I see a post like my friend’s.

She’s hurting, vulnerable, and scared. She’s pissed, and doubting herself. I’m sure she’s experiencing a million conflicting emotions, but she’s not remaining silent, or sitting in secret, agonizing pity. My friend is speaking up, letting us in. She’s letting us know this sucks for her and needs help dealing with it.

No one is going to have magic words or perfect advice to fix this for her. She knows that. But she also knows how powerful sharing her pain can be,  and that vocalizing it is the only way she will get relief—some freedom from her mind and weary heart.

My friend has no idea what she’s done for me by expressing this out loud. She will when she reads this.

Thank you for speaking up, and reminding me why I need to. I don’t have magic words for you. Just thank you. For giving me the insight and push I needed to be as brave as you are, and to do what I need to do for me.

Writing this is my first step.

Next, I pick up the phone. I talk to people who love me and understand. I stop hiding and hurting alone, and I take my vulnerable ass to the one place I know I’ll be ok, and spill my messy guts.

I don’t need anyone else to clean up my mess or put me back together again. I just need to allow people to love me where I’m at, help prevent me from going backwards, and stand by me as I get myself to where I need to be.

Lastly, to my friend:

You matter. You make a difference. You save lives. And I really, really hope that they take advantage of the chance you are offering them to have someone as amazing as you in their lives.

This post was submitted by Reagan Post.

I fucking HATE being honest with myself when it comes to shit that really matters.

That’s how it started; the most difficult email I’ve ever written.

I remember having to squint through endless tears to even see well enough to type out the words. Perhaps the memory is so vivid because it was just two weeks ago that I forced myself to write it. I had spoken to many women about my situation, but knew Julie, the founder of this blog, had experienced something very similar. I wanted to share my realization with her because I knew she would not only understand, but also hold me accountable.

I wrote:

I was really in deep denial about my motives for this custody modification. I truly believed I was only doing this for my daughter, but now can see that was bullshit. It was a decision based in self…

Earlier that day, I’d finally admitted to myself the real reason I had been so terribly consumed with constant feelings of guilt and shame.

The admission was the hardest truth I’ve ever had to face about myself.

My daughter is five and has lived with her father, full-time, since I checked myself into rehab for 28 days in October of 2012. Before that, I was a single mother, “living” in active alcoholism and putting her life and safety at risk daily. After my sister kicked us out because I couldn’t stay sober, I was served with custody papers. I was mortified. I had no clue what to do. I had no job, no home, no money, a DUI on record (with my one-year-old in the backseat), and I was STILL drinking…

I knew I was in no position to win a custody battle.

I consulted with my lawyer, decided to sign over temporary custody, and go to rehab.

If you had asked me then, I would have told you I did it out of a mother’s selfless love for her child. You probably would’ve called me “strong” or “brave,” but the truth is, I was thinking only of myself. I was scared. I wanted to run away and hide—and that’s exactly what I did for 28 days. I didn’t want treatment; I wanted an escape. It was completely and utterly selfish.

I was released from rehab on Halloween, and was drinking daily again by early December while my ex maintained custody. I attended outpatient treatment while still steadily drinking, and in February of 2013, I attempted suicide. That landed me in a mental institution for a week. I got out and carried right on drinking.

I carried around an extreme hatred for my daughter’s father for drastically reducing the time I was allowed to see my daughter. I denied my part completely. I was constantly demanding more visitation time, and truly believed I was entitled to and deserved it.

Did I mention my selfishness?

It took nearly dying on my bathroom floor to reach my bottom with alcohol. My sobriety date is December 23, 2013. In July, 2014, seven months sober, I decided I was ready to regain full physical custody of what was rightfully “mine”. I had earned it! That past October, me and my big-bad ten months of sobriety retained the services of the best family law attorney in town.

And then I went mad.

Recovery took a backseat to my custody case, and I became absolutely obsessed with “getting my child back.” I stopped doing pretty much everything I knew was necessary to stay sober and lost all perspective. I began an awful downward spiral. I became more selfish and self-righteous than ever. The words I spoke and texted to my ex during this period were accusatory, mean, and intrusive. They could have cost me my relationship with my little girl. I could not see any of that. In my mind, I was absolutely justified. I was doing what was right for my daughter.

Thank God for other women in recovery who had the balls to call bullshit, dish out some tough love, and be brutally honest with me. Thank God I reached out. I hated what they were saying, but after enough people said the same thing—after an abundance of prayer for clarity, self-awareness, and strength to be honest with myself—I was finally able to see the harsh reality. They were absolutely right. I was in NO position to have my daughter back. She was much better off where she was.

I knew what I had to do.

That’s not the kind of mother I want to be. And that’s not the kind of “love” my child deserves.

I confessed in the email. And I meant it.

It is difficult to explain how much finally being able to do this means to me. So many times I have told myself to just hold on…just hang in there until December. Maybe it’s sick, but I drew a lot of strength and hope from that…

I finished the email around 10:30 PM, and just sat staring at it. I knew clicking send could quite literally be the only way I’d ever follow through with my decision to do what was right. I knew I would receive the support, encouragement, and reassurance I so desperately needed, and I would be held accountable—to take all necessary action to prevent further harm.

Forty minutes later I committed and sent Julie the email.

This was a first for me. Not only had I been able to finally see the truth about myself, I was actually able to use that knowledge to fix a mistake and prevent harm to others. I was able to take my wants out of the equation and do what was right for my daughter. Not easy, but right.

The next morning I headed to my lawyer’s office as soon as their doors opened to drop the lawsuit. I went to work and forced myself to show up for my regular day. By 7:30 PM, I was curled up in fetal position on my bedroom floor. I was in full-fledged grief over the loss of the fantasy “future” I’d held onto for so long.

The following week was pure hell. Thank God for sober alcoholics; people willing to love me through darkness, until I can see the light.

Julie’s response to my email that night included, “Surrender doesn’t have to mean giving up. It can mean the difference between acceptance and change, and a lifetime of bashing our heads against a wall trying to move it. I love you so much. You are stronger than you know.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

I’ve heard that pain is the touchstone of spiritual progress, and that emotional turmoil must come before serenity. Today, I believe these claims to be 100% true. This experience has allowed me freedom, relief, and the unshakable faith that, no matter what, everything will be ok. I finally know in my heart and soul what the selfless love of a mother for her child feels like.

And it’s absolutely beautiful.

Thank you, God—for the blessings that follow pain- for hearing my pleas—and for placing amazing sober alcoholics in my life.

This post was submitted by Raegan.

I was 37 years old when I gave birth to my youngest son. Unhappy and feeling trapped in an emotionally damaging relationship I had been in for only a year, I struggled to juggle the demands of having a newborn into my already hectic life and problems.

I’d stopped drinking and smoking the moment I decided to continue with the pregnancy.

I knew after 16 years of drug and alcohol abuse, heavy smoking and not caring well for myself, I needed to do all I could to ensure he was healthy. I (without realizing it) replaced wine and cider with HUGE bars of chocolate, subjected my womb to countless loud rock concerts, and spent the whole time stressed and unhappy—but I didn’t drink or smoke.

A few months after his birth, I started drinking again. As my unhappiness in the relationship grew, my drinking increased back to pre-pregnancy levels.

When my son was almost two, I ended the relationship with his father. Nearly a year later, after a sustained campaign of emotional abuse (that would continue for a good few more years), he finally left our home, and I was relieved to find myself once again single.

I was in a terrible state mentally. The abuse I had experienced at the hands of my ex—the gaslighting, the attacks on my self-esteem and the bullying—all combined with a history of addiction and depression.

It had all demolished my self-worth and faith in anyone or anything. I was paranoid; unable to relax or trust anyone. I couldn’t sleep and I was living life on the edge.

In August of 2013, on the brink of breakdown, I finally surrendered. On top of the difficulties with my ex, I had to deal with massive insecurities and tension in other areas of my life. I was struggling at work, my mother had cancer, and I was tormented by watching a loved one battle his own addiction and mental health issues.

There was also the matter of my three-year-old son. I found him difficult to manage, to be with, and to care for. To some extent, he scared me. A big boy, with a stubborn streak, he always seemed argumentative, uncooperative, and even aggressive. I worried about who he would grow into. I imagined when he would be able to easily overpower me. I wanted to be able to love him well, but I just didn’t know how. I feel sure now that I should have sought help for postpartum depression then.

When I surrendered to the breakdown, I was a mess for a few months, but then enrolled in a course to train as a Yoga instructor in April 2014. I knew I had finally stepped onto the right path, and immediately felt calmer for having made the commitment to this new path. I felt a shift and level of relaxation descend over me.

Still drinking heavily and smoking far too many cigarettes and joints, I was able to better control my drinking; ceasing to drink alone for the first time in a long while.

Through Yoga training, I learned to relax, let go of tension, and to forgive and accept myself. I started to live with greater gratitude, and sleep. As my resilience grew, I began to feel more comfortable in my skin and became happier in general. Seven months into the course, I stopped drinking.  That was over three years ago.

Through all of this, I noticed a visible change in my son. He was calmer, more content and cooperative. He communicated his needs better and seemed much happier. I realized the angry, stressed, rage-filled little boy I had feared so much when he was three was simply reflecting me back to me. I must have been a scary mother to have around—I was volatile, unpredictable, irritable and distracted. It must have been so hard to grow up with me as a guide for handling emotions.

Children sense our emotions. They learn from us how to process them. I have torn myself up with guilt over the mother I was, but realize the futility in that activity.

I cannot go back and change the past, but I can be different now. I can be present with my son; talk to him, listen to him, make time for him, and allow him to express his emotions. I can accept when he has hard truths for me to hear. I can share my experiences of the world with him, and use those to help him to learn about his world. Most of all, I can love him completely; so he never has to doubt that he is loved.

If you are reading this and thinking you can never feel forgiveness and compassion for yourself, try to imagine how life would be if you did.

Try to treat yourself with compassion, and see if there is just one tiny change you can make in how you talk to yourself.

Addiction makes us behave in ways that would not happen if we were not addicted. You cannot return to the days of addiction and change the way you behaved, but you can start from wherever you are and move forward. Forgiveness and compassion for yourself are powerful tools to help in this. It is not easy to do this, but it is a truly valuable lesson, and one which children benefit from witnessing, so that they know that if they make a mistake, they, and you, will forgive them and treat them with compassion as well.

One small shift can make a big difference.

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Last week I was fortunate enough to celebrate six years in the world of recovery from addiction and alcoholism.  Like so many other sisters and brothers in sobriety, I could easily list a hundred things that are better on this side of the wall that addiction creates.  That doesn’t mean everything instantly gets easy.  It gradually gets easier.

It’s like learning to write your name.  I watch my preschooler write hers, and it is slow and unsure.  She puts so much effort into it, and takes intense concentration just to get the letters to form a shape the rest of us can associate with an alphabetical letter. We all started that way, yet somehow, we can write our names with fluidity.  Our signatures become routine.  After so much thought and care, we barely have to think about it.  That is what recovery has brought me.  It has become a part of me.  Things that I used to handle with anger, yelling, and sometimes even violence, I can now handle with care.

When I find myself wondering what the hell is going on, I allow myself time to reflect and pray to something greater than myself to help me find answers.

You would think that this is a state of mind that all recovering addicts would never contemplate leaving.  It isn’t so much that I want to leave it; I just want to figure out a way to have my fix, too.  Sometimes it seems the healthier I get, the more I can convince myself that I am of such sound mind now that I can go ahead and drink. I’m different now. I would be able to figure it out this time.

There was a conversation about accountability going on at my house the other day. It made me realize that sometimes there is only one thing that keeps me sober.  One single fact bounces me out of my delusions of being able to drink and pops the bubble.  There is one person in my life that I know will hold me accountable. That person is my husband; who is also in recovery.  If he knew I was drinking or using drugs, unless I sought help with the swiftness of a formula one car, he would send me packing.

One thing we agree on is that sometimes, the absolute best thing you can do for an active addict is walk away.  I know a lot of people may find me cold and heartless when I say that I don’t stick by people, “no matter what.”  If someone is compromising my recovery, my beliefs, or my physical/spiritual well-being, I will walk away.  That doesn’t mean it is easy.  It means that I love myself enough not to let anyone mess with my happiness.  I know that my husband sending me out the door would be about him taking care of himself as much as it would be about me needing a kick in the ass.

As a recovering addict, it isn’t that I have a bunch of “no matter what” people around me that keeps me going.  It’s those that would drop me like an illegal drug in a bust that help keep me on track.

The fear of losing my husband and children are a massive part of what has helped me stay sober.  Those thoughts linger in the back of my head whenever I think I might be able to pull off a casual drink.  So, for anyone that would kick me to the curb if I start drinking and using again…I owe you a large amount of thanks for six great years.  May you hold me accountable for many more.

Ah, the holiday season of peace and goodwill toward all. There may be some peace and goodwill around, but it doesn’t reach us all, does it? For some, holidays are a time of joy, but for many others, this time of year can be a time of great stress and anxiety. For those of us in recovery, with personal and sometimes family battles raging all the time, the holidays can be a very distressing and triggering time.

From office parties and endless commercials urging us to spend more and feel inadequate if we aren’t delighting in the ‘festivities,’ to alcohol-sodden secret Santa gifts and anguish over family quarrels and demands, the urge to run and hide until mid-January can be very strong indeed.

We feel such pressure to have a good time and be happy around the holidays, but why? Why do we have to be? If you’re unhappy on the 20th December, why *should* you be happy on the 25th? Of course, it’s great if you can be, but when the pressure for happiness becomes another stick to beat ourselves with, it’s time to drop it!

My wish for you is that you have a day to take care of yourself, give and receive love, and go to bed at the end feeling that you have done your best. Christmas aside, this is my for you every day of every year. If, however, you are feeling anxious about how to get through the holidays without having a meltdown, these tips might help.

Let go of ‘perfect’

Magazine covers, movies, TV shows, and advertisements paint a picture of what holidays *should* look like. Most of the time, these ideas of “perfect” cost a lot of money, hours of time and—let’s be honest—set designers! If your tree and ‘Christmas table’ don’t look like they belong in the pages of Good Housekeeping magazine, does it really matter?

It is just one day

If it is really overwhelming for you to deal with a certain holiday, just remember, it is a day just as long as any other, and very soon, it will all be over. Keep breathing and let it pass.


My go-to practice when life threatens to overwhelm me is to breathe. Taking a few deep breaths in a moment of stress, can transform how you feel in that moment, and take you from anxious to calm in just a few moments. The practice in this video is a simple, effective breathing strategy that can really help you to find calm quickly.

Find Gratitude

Whenever life feels tough, reflecting on reasons for gratitude can be uplifting and help put life into perspective. No matter how challenging life can be, there will always be something you can find to be grateful for. It doesn’t matter how small or seemingly insignificant that thing is, anything positive helps (even if it’s just ‘I’m breathing!’)

Let it go

No, I am not talking about singing that song from Frozen, although the words are rather magnificent! When we fall into rumination and negative thinking, it is really helpful to have a way to release that tension and overthinking. There are many ways to do this. Here are some of my favorite practices.


Self-care is our best friend when it comes to beating stress, especially during the holidays. We get pulled in so many different directions this time of year, with so many people putting demands on our time. There is so much perceived obligation to do things for other people, it can be easy to forget that we need to take care of ourselves. In recovery, at this most triggering time of year, self-care is so important to help us stay well.

Help others

All spiritual traditions understand the importance of helping others. One way you can turn the tables on holiday anxiety, and make it truly memorable and meaningful, is to give to others. This help doesn’t necessarily have to be financial. There are plenty of ways we can help others that don’t cost a great deal of money. Look out for, and spend time with your elderly neighbors! Run errands for them, help them wrap Christmas gifts, or just make sure they are not alone. You could help out at a local homeless shelter, offer support to your local recovery community, or at your church. Look to see where in your community support is needed, and give what you can.

Just say no

Not in the Nancy Reagan sense (because we all know that didn’t work), but let’s remember we can say no to the demands and requests of others. This falls under self-care, but I think warrants its own section, because we are generally so bad at it!

You are perfectly within your right to do things the way you want to do them this holiday season. You don’t have to go to the boozy parties and visit the relatives that you actually can’t stand just because it is Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza. You don’t have to put yourself in any situation that will trigger you.

Obviously, I am not advocating ignoring the needs of anyone else completely, but remember that your recovery is more important than ‘family traditions’ and colleagues’ hurt feelings. It is okay to take care of what you need for your wellbeing.

The holidays have become a massive millstone around people’s necks, and often brings anxiety rather than the joy it promises. Don’t buy into the hype, and make this holiday period one that soothes and nourishes your soul and your health rather than depletes it.

Please tell us how you manage holiday stress. Share in the comments what works best for you!

Esther is from Wales in the UK. She beat 20 years of alcoholism and drug abuse at the age of 41 when she trained to be a yoga teacher. She has been sober since Oct 12, 2014, and has written a book about her adventures (Bent Back into Shape, Beating Addiction Through Yoga).

Esther loves music, Yoga, her babies (three human sons and one dog daughter), walking in the hills and at the coast, and dancing like no one is watching (even when she is at the grocery store!). She is passionate about the power of Yoga to create health and happiness, and believes that through its transformational power, and particularly learning to breathe, we can create space, peace, healing and joy in our lives.

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The first time I guzzled alcohol, I was seven years old. My mom left me with her glass of sauvignon blanc when she went to use the restroom. I sucked down a giant gulp, like I couldn’t get it in fast enough. When she returned, I didn’t say anything, just handed her the plastic cup and went on my way. I don’t think she, in her muddled mind, even noticed. Who would suspect their seven-year-old of stealing their booze?

But that was just the culture, and isn’t it still? Parents drink to forget they’re parents, at least for a little while. At least, mine did.

After that incident with the sauvignon blanc, I drank nothing more than childhood sips of my dad’s beer and half glasses of wine at Christmas. My dad was (is) an alcoholic too.

Then came college. Ironically, my parents had been extremely overprotective of me, so once I got away, I lost myself. I blacked out, my eyes rolling up until only the whites showed. I screamed obscenities, drank and drove, ended up in random guys’ beds, stole liquor, drank at work, almost went off the side of a cliff, slept on the street. At one point a chair got thrown out a window. I don’t know who did it, but I know I was involved. I’d like to blame it all on the alcohol, but it was more than that. It was me. It was my lack of self-esteem and self-respect.

This went on for eight years until I met my husband. After one drunken night where I screamed at him over nothing, I ended up in a tearful ball on the living room couch. My roommate spoke the words that turned it all around: “If you don’t get it together, you’re going to lose him.”

He was worth it.

I moderated my drinking and I did it well. I did it for eight years, even after a debilitating postpartum mood disorder when my daughter was a baby. I drank in a healthy way, and I was happy, well-adjusted, stable.

I was lucky. I was able to moderate when not all can. I was able to make a choice rather than alcohol choosing for me.

After my son was born in 2016, I went off the deep end. Mania, depression, mixed mania, hearing voices, intrusive thoughts about something bad happening to my children that shook me to my core. The medication wasn’t working. Nothing was working. I was sure I could continue to practice moderation, but the alcohol made the symptoms worse. I became sure I would act on the intrusive thoughts.

One fateful night when the cravings got to be too much, the voice of reason too muddled and I gave way. I can’t talk about it. It’s too painful. But the next day I cleaned myself up, stood up tall, and made a decision. I told myself I’d give up drinking for a year.

In a perfect world, all of my problems would have been solved with this commitment to sobriety, but in reality, I was still mentally ill, and I was still incorrectly medicated. It took another nine months to get the medication cocktail right, and a lot of therapy to work through the trauma that haunted me.

But I stayed sober. And after a year of sobriety, even though I’d been mentally stable for six months, I decided that drinking had to be a thing in my past. No more beers with my brother, no more wine tastings with my friends. No more. I had to choose what was more important.

Sobriety with a mental illness is a tenuous thing. One false step could send me into a rage or on a bender.

I have to stop thinking of how things used to be and focus on how they are and how they can be. I have to be better than those who parented me, and I have to stay strong and stay dedicated. I won’t drink to forget I’m a parent—I’ll live to forget I drank.

I see so many amazing warrior moms letting out their battle cry of, “I won’t be like my parents before me! I will give my children unconditional love, free of the confines of the alcohol prison!” Now I add my voice to the fight—because it is a fight. It’s a fight I will win—because my babies are worth it. My husband is worth it. And because I’m worth it too.

This post was submitted by Rachel Nolan.

A Sober Mommies Contributor is most often a non-professional – in and out of recovery – with reality-based experience to share about motherhood & active addiction, the multiple pathways to recovery, or a family member’s perspective.

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There’s something about Thanksgiving that increases my anxiety. Maybe it’s the collection of all my family in one room and the feelings of returning to the scene of some horrible crime. Perhaps it’s the expectations I bring with me regarding what everyone is thinking about me. Or it might just be the heightened sense of literally everything coupled with the fact that some people are completely shit-faced and telling really inappropriate jokes.

Who knows?

I have yet to figure out why large family holidays are still really hard for me, even after 16 years of recovery and a shit-ton of therapy.

I know I’m not the only one, so I thought I would throw together some tips on how to combat the good, bad, and ugly moments across the table from Aunt Lucy who won’t stop asking you questions about every aspect of your life that isn’t quite perfect yet.



1. Skip it

Yes, you read that correctly.

Saying you can’t make it to Thanksgiving this year is totally acceptable. If you don’t feel comfortable or ready to confront the ghosts of Thanksgiving Past, Present, or Future—say, “Thank you for the invitation, however I have other plans this year.” Will this invoke feelings of disappointment and confusion for some of the people in your life? Certainly. However, this is not your problem unless you make it so. You are entitled to keep yourself safe (and sane) this year, and you are not responsible for all the ways other people might feel about it.

That said, if you do decide to ditch Thanksgiving, I suggest joining up with friends or keeping yourself busy.

Nothing screams “NO ONE CARES ABOUT ME,” like making the decision to isolate yourself on a major holiday and then sitting around wondering why no one is calling to check up on you every ten seconds.

If you have a safe place to host a few people, maybe send out a text inviting some friends you know are also hesitant about heading in for family time, and make plans to chill and partake in activities that you enjoy. If you’re new in recovery, perhaps you could ask one of your friends who is hosting their own crazy family if you could join them this year. That way you can sit back and enjoy the fact that everyone’s family has their issues; while also providing moral support to the host!

2. Bring a Friend

If you’re feeling uneasy about walking into Thanksgiving dinner unarmed, it is always an option to ask if you can bring a friend. If certain members of your family are aware of the fact that you’re in recovery, you can even ask them how to best address the question to the host. In some families, more is always merrier, but I imagine this is not the case with all.

3. Arrive early so you can leave early

Okay, so while I’m aware that in some families drinking starts way early on Thanksgiving, it has been my experience that the numbers are few in the earlier hours on Thanksgiving day. Calling ahead and offering to come and help set up might be a great plan that helps everyone. The host will be able to perhaps enjoy more of the day knowing he or she has an able body to assist, and you can feel less guilty for chewing and screwing an hour after dinner – when happy hour hits full swing.

4. Have an exit strategy.

There are a number of reasons it’s totally acceptable to leave family functions early. The most important one of all is because you can. As I stated in #1, you have every right to protect your recovery, and you do not have to feel bad about decisions you make in order to do this – even if it hurts someone’s feelings. Do I suggest skipping around to everyone whose action or behavior is making you uncomfortable and confronting them before you head out? Not at all. However, if you need permission to politely excuse yourself, there are a great number of amazing reasons you could.

  1. You’re going Black Friday shopping, have to be in line at Target at 3 AM and need a nap.
  2. You’re not feeling well.
  3. You want to get ahead of traffic.
  4. You need to get the kids home because … (You can basically fill in the blank here).
  5. You have a ton of laundry to do.
  6. You want to go home.
  7. You have to go binge-watch Orange Is The New Black on Netflix.
  8. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. You’re a grown-ass-adult, and you’re free to do whatever you want. BOOM.

5. Make plans to meet up with friends after.

If you’re not feeling 100% confident, but can’t get out of it, it’s always a great idea to have plans after. This provides you with good reason to leave early if you need to, but also may help you avoid drinking or use – even if you really want to—because you’re accountable to those friends, and you know they’ll miss you if you don’t show up.

6. Have your friends on speed-dial, and don’t be afraid to lock yourself in the bathroom.

Calling people you trust with your recovery is never a bad idea regardless of what day it is. During holidays though, I find it’s much easier to ensure contact with people when I give them a heads up that I may be calling in a crisis situation. This gives them the opportunity to tell me that they actually won’t be available, so I can find someone else, or invites them to keep their cell near by.

7. Be kind to you.

Look, I know family time can be difficult—even under the greatest and most supportive circumstances – and even after years into recovery. It’s okay. Please know you’re okay and that there’s nothing wrong with you for not wanting to sit around a very large table and be interrogated by people you maybe haven’t seen since last year. It’s okay if you don’t want to share, even the great things that have been going on, with those in your life that might remember when things weren’t as awesome. It does not make you a bad person to take a time out and care for yourself.

8. Keep in mind recovery is a daily process

My personal recovery is a part of me I have to nurture daily. Some days I need to pay more attention to it than others. It’s kind of like having a cat. When I’m showing it constant attention, it may appear not to need me. The more I ignore it or pretend it’s insignificant to my daily life, the more vulnerable and needy it might get.

Be aware of your triggers, and the patterns of your past. If every Thanksgiving you do the exact same thing and it lands you in a position you don’t want to be in this year, change the plan.

Even if it’s not a perfect plan, I promise it will allow you one step further to where you want to be in your recovery—whatever that looks like.

9. Be prepared to forgive yourself if you don’t have a great day.

No one is perfect, and no plan can be 100% fool-proof; especially when family is involved. If you say or do something you regret, it is possible the sun will rise the following day allowing you the opportunity for progress. Did I mention holidays are hard? Good. Please be gentle with you.

10. Do the best you can with the tools you have

At the beginning and end of each day, all we have we have is our best. Today’s best might look different from yesterday’s, and tomorrow’s best might be even more promising than today’s. Try to be patient with yourself and allow yourself the opportunity and grace to make mistakes and learn from them. You’re awesome.

And if the next day you feel you made the wrong Thanksgiving decision, rest assured, there will be another one coming around the corner before you know it.

Julie Maida has been in abstinence-based recovery since May 2, 2000. She is fiercely determined to advocate for and connect ALL women with the appropriate support and resources necessary to achieve their personal recovery goals. She writes about mothering with mental illness at 

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