Posts tagged with "alcoholism"

QxA Davis Mallory

By Vaughn Lowery and Hannah DiPilato

Davis Mallory from MTV’s The Real World, discusses his struggle with alcoholism as well as how far he has come in his career. 

360 Magazine recently had the opportunity to sit down with Davis Mallory, a contestant from The Real World on MTV. He is now pursuing a music career while educating others about alcoholism. As an openly gay Christian, he hoped to share his story with others as a television personality as well as a musician. 

What was it like being on MTV’s The Real World Season 18? Any regrets? Do you still stay in contact with other cast members?

I was a senior in college, 21-years-old, when I auditioned for and was cast on MTV’s 18th season of the Real World, located in Denver Colorado. I was a fan of the show and had just come out of the closet to my classmates that summer. I felt that I had an interesting story to tell – being a Christian and openly gay was not something I had not seen on TV before – and I wanted to prove you could be both, while also showcasing a more masculine image of homosexuality than was often shown on TV.

Immediately after the show ended I flew around to colleges in the USA discussing and often debating Biblical professors in front of a student body; dissecting Bible verses and their interpretations on homosexuality. My grandfather James Davis Mallory JR (whom I’m named after) is a Christian author and psychiatrist – and so I was raised very orthodox – Southern Baptist. I found this time to be very rewarding and something I’m proud of – to date I still receive messages from viewers of the show expressing their gratitude for my story on The Real World.

I of course have regrets during my time on the show – I think most people who have done that show in their 20s will tell you they regret things they did or said. We were all heavily fed alcohol which created chaos, confusion, fights and hookups. I’m still close with several cast members, two of them live in Nashville so I see them most often. Tori Hall, who was on Road Rules and married Brad Fiorenza (I attended their wedding) and Brooke Labarbera, who was on my season of the Real World are two people I remain close with and I spent much of this summer 2020 with both of them!

What led up to you having an issue with drugs and alcohol? How’s life after sobriety? Are there any triggers that make it difficult to remain sober?

When I was younger (before trying alcohol) my mother told me to NEVER drink, instead of teaching me how to drink. This was because my parent’s divorce was caused in part by my father’s alcoholism. When I went off to college, I got drunk for the first time and I quickly progressed into blacking out when I drank. I would sometimes wake up the next morning and hearing stories from my friends about stupid things I said or did the night before. I tried to get that under control by lowering the amount of alcohol I drank and by not drinking hard alcohol.

I went through many chapters of my life taking breaks from drinking and reducing my alcohol intake. My father has now been completely sober for over a decade and his example is a big inspiration in my own decision to completely quit drinking. I’ve now been sober for 4 years. After reaching my 1-year mark of sobriety I had a big regret – that I hadn’t quit earlier. I felt so much better – I looked so much better and I just wished I had fully quit earlier in my life.

Thankfully, perhaps due to God or just growing up, I have ZERO temptation to drink anymore. I’m constantly reminded why I quit when I see other people’s struggles with alcohol. I have seen people wheeled off in an ambulance with alcohol poisoning, I’ve had close friends die from alcohol poisoning, a friend’s mother recently did; another close friend died from an overdose of drugs mixed with fentanyl recently. These everyday reminders keep me sober.

I really wish our society didn’t glorify drinking in movies/commercials/music, because the downfall from alcohol is not being taught to children: accidentally death, liver disease, the fighting it causes, relationships ruined, horrible, absent or addicted parents, job losses, physical damage it does to our bodies and faces are never shown in these alcohol commercials.

What was it like growing up with an uncle who had access to major recording artists like Wynonna Judd? Did that experience help shape you into the artist you are today? If so, how?

My uncle Chaz managed pop artist Amy Grant for many years and still manages Christian recording artist Michael W. Smith. My uncle John Mallory wrote songs for artists Wynonna Judd, Sixpence None the Richer, Ty Herndon and more. I  grew up in the music industry, attending a lot of these artist’s concerts and meeting them – I spent summers on Amy Grant’s farm in Nashville – I was a huge fan of her and Michael W. Smith.

As a kid I dreamt of being a singer and wanted to have careers like theirs – my positive message songs “Faith,” “Not That Far Away” “Lost” and “Somebody’s Watching” are examples of songs influenced by Amy & Michael’s music. I did not expect to become a songwriter. How songs were written was a mystery as a kid – I knew singers sang them but didn’t know how they were created. When I started out on this journey to becoming a recording artist I had to watch and learn from others in numerous songwriting sessions until I really got the hang of doing it myself.

During your first year in Nashville, one of your former cast members (Diem Brown) passed away from cancer. How did their loss impact your life at the time?

Diem Brown passed away in 2014 – I moved to Nashville at the end end of 2013 – so I had just started my journey into songwriting. My first original released song is titled “Beautiful Girl’s (Diem’s Song)”, a song I wrote about Diem with award-winning songwriters Ben Goldsmith and Tori Tullier. The song debuted in People Magazine, where Diem was a news reporter and received press in E! News, US Weekly and more outlets.

Diem and I grew up in nearby parts of Georgia (I’m from Marietta, she’s from Roswell – just 15 min away) although we did not meet until we did the show. Diem was a sorority sister with my mother’s best friend’s daughter, Carly Hartwick, who first introduced us over email prior to our meeting in person for the first time when Diem and I did an MTV Challenge together: The Duel II in New Zealand.

Diem and I gave a school speech together where she shared wisdom on pursuing one’s career goals by interviewing those with the same job, Diem becoming a News Anchor where she met her idol Katie Couric to ask questions on how to get to Katie’s place in life. Diem’s speech really inspired me as I chased after my own career dreams in music, so when she lost her battle to cancer I was deeply saddened and wrote the song to memorialize her through music. Her sisters’ often use the song on the anniversary of her death, which I’m always touched to see.

You grew up in Atlanta but now reside in Nashville. Do you prefer one city over the other? If so why?

I was born in Atlanta and raised in a suburb of Atlanta called Marietta. After attending college in Florida at Stetson University, I returned to Atlanta for 2 years before moving to NYC. I have not lived in Atlanta since 2009; however, I return every year to see my family who still live there. It’s changed a lot, the movie industry was not there when I left, and in my song titled “Atlanta,” the first song on my upcoming album Little Victory, I talk about my journey from Atlanta to New York and now Nashville with a longing for my hometown and noticing how much the city has changed.

I moved to Nashville to pursue a career in music, hearing it was a land full of songwriters. The things I really like about Nashville are the people and culture here. There are really great moralistic people here and I am thankful for that as it’s a safe great place to live. Nashville is like going to college in the music industry – people in all stages of their careers are here and many are willing to collaborate. I would not be where I am today if not for Nashville.

What are some of your musical inspirations? Can you name a few people that have inspired you or who continue to inspire you?

Aside from mainstream pop artists like Britney Spears, George Michael, NSYNC, Michael Jackson, Robyn, Prince, Mariah Carey, the real-life connections that have influenced my career include Parson James (vocalist on Kygo’s “Stole the Show”) who is one of the first people I wrote music with. We met in NYC in 2013, I followed him to Los Angeles to write with him and moved to Nashville prompted by advice from his then-manager who thought I sounded like a Country artist.

Roger Murrah (BMI Songwriter of the Decade and writer of several Country music #1s) is one of the first people I met when I moved to Nashville. At the time I was still learning how to write songs, so I watched him work in several sessions and I began to understand how to write the way he did.

Scot Sax (Grammy-winning songwriter for Tim McGraw/Faith Hill’s “Like We Never Loved At All”) is another person who was very influential on my songwriting journey – he taught me how the B52s recorded “Love Shack” in a go-as-you-flow style recording their ideas on the spot to build the song.

Aside from these few names, I have been in over 300 songwriting sessions, and I’ve traveled writing music in Europe (Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Malmo, London, Amsterdam), New York and Los Angeles. Everyone along the way has taught me something, a new trick or technique to writing music or producing music and I’m thankful for everyone who has worked with me.

As a songwriter, how do you come up with themes? Is your music based on an isolated experience or a chapter of your life?

I keep an ongoing note on my phone called Songwriting Ideas so that whenever I get an idea for a song I write it down there. I then bring these ideas into songwriting sessions to get something started. Sometimes I get a melody (occasionally during a dream) and record these on my phone, using it as another tool to get songs started.

In 2018 music publicist, Lyndie Wenner asked me what my most popular social media posts were – to which I replied: shirtless photos of myself. So she told me I needed to write a song called “Shirtless” and I did, releasing that song in 2019. This conversation with Lyndie changed the way I wrote songs. Before I was writing broader subjects, and after I began to write more about the things I saw my audience interested in. I still observe that the things I write about center around one of 4 themes: 1. God and my faith; 2. Love lost of found; 3. Partying and dancing, of 4. Overcoming addictions.

Another influential person in my songwriting career is PollyAnna (Dutch pop/EDM vocalist, songwriter of Paris Hilton’s new song “I Blame You”). I spent a summer writing with her in Nashville, Los Angeles and Berlin and  I observed her taking random phrases we said in conversations and writing them down for future songwriting materials. I now do the same, whenever something unusual is said in a conversation. PollyAnna and I wrote a song together in Berlin called “Without You, I Feel Good”, which has now been signed to Soave Records, produced by a DJ named Nexeri, and coming out on February 26, 2021.

What words of wisdom would you offer an emerging artist who is trying to break into the business?

The words “If you build it they will come” from the great baseball movie Field of Dreams, is a motto that holds a strong place in my mind regarding my strategy to release music and gradually having people discover your work. I have a business model of writing songs and selling them to DJ/producers and I think this is a great move for up-and-coming singers to build a name for themselves.

My first job after college (post-Real World) was a sales job that required reaching out to 100 potential customers every day with the expectation that between 1-10 would buy something – I now use this strategy in my music career in so many facets and find the same results.

Is there anything you would like to speak about that we didn’t already touch on? What can your fans look forward to?

2020 was set to have me perform in Germany, Boston, Chicago, Palm Springs, North Carolina but the shows were of course canceled due to the pandemic. I look forward to getting back to touring though and to meet more people who have been asking when I will be in their city. I have been spending the last year working on new music with DJs, finally releasing the sophomore album that I have been alluding to and even developing an idea for a third project of which some of the songs are ready 🙂

Little Victory is an upcoming single/video that you’re pushing. It’s an extremely inspirational piece of work about someone feeling like a fish out of water. What prompted such a piece?

I wrote “Little Victory” after returning from Israel where I had met and was at the time long-distance dating Israeli singer-songwriter Elhay Cohen, the song idea came from my co-writer: female Canadian producer and songwriter Robyn Dell’Unto. December 2020 French DJ RetroVision released a version of this song on Don Diablo’s record label Hexagon and the original version is going on my forthcoming album of the same name.

Retrovision, Davis Mallory – Little Victory 

Little Victory Music Video 

Little Victory single 

Pre-Save for the album Little Victory

Here is a private SoundCloud tracklisting for the “Little Victory” album:

  1. Atlanta –a song I wrote about my hometown, my journey to NYC and Nashville to pursue music – with nostalgia for Atlanta – the city where I had my first heartbreak and how much the city has changed since I left (it’s now a film industry).
  2. Ain’t Afraid – features a big name in the EDM industry Luma (Seven Lions, Nurko, Zack Martino) – who I co-wrote the song with – it’s about not being afraid to fall in love
  3. Little Victory– co-written with and produced by female Canadian artist Robyn Dell’Unto – a remix of this song made by French artist RetroVision released on Don Diablo’s label Hexagon. “Little Victory” is about a summer romance with my Israeli ex who I met after I opened for Eurovision winner Netta who told me I had to visit Israel.
  4. Fire Signs – features Miss Audrey the Katy Perry-inspired Best Pop Artist at the Nashville Industry Music Awards, I wrote this song in Sweden about zodiac chemistry compatibility – I’m a Leo and Miss Audrey an Aries, we’re both Fire Signs.
  5. Shirtless– this is a new Countrified mix of the song that aired on MTV’s War of the Worlds and became the theme song for men’s swimwear line: Poolboy
  6. Heavy – features an all LGBTQ identifying cast – with vocalist Blake Leider and rapper Daisha McBride – discusses why relationships have to be so heavy, produced by Danish Aren Anderson and Ukrainian Depdramez.
  7. Can You Tell Me?– produced by Canadian artist BLEM and written in Berlin with Vincent Stefansson and Valentin Glage – “Can You Tell Me?” is about being ghosted. Where does all the love go in this modern era when two people separate and the romance suddenly dies.
  8. Say You Hate Me– written in Sweden the same week as “Fire Signs” “Shirtless” and previously released single “Jane Fonda” – “Say You Hate Me” is a very Britney Spears/NSYNC-style Swedish pop song co-written with and produced by Magnus Funemyr about a relationship that has grown stale.
  9. Sink or Swim – with references to Madonna, Beyonce’s “hot sauce,” and Whitney Houston’s “receipts” – “Sink or Swim” is about a cheating partner and the end of a relationship, produced by Option A. Music video coming by Russian filmmaker Dmitry Zhitov.
  10. Forget You– co-written with Nashville female EDM vocalists Notelle & Luma, produced by artist Swiss DJ FENOX – “Forget You” is about the end of a relationship and having a hard time letting go of the memories.
  11. Broken Dreams– this unreleased version by Ukrainian producer Depdramez – was co-written with pop artist Drew Schueler – tells the story of all the hard work artists put into chasing their dreams of stardom.
  12. Faith – written in 2020 at the start of this pandemic with American Idol contestant Madeline Finn, “Faith” is an uplifting anthem giving hope for all to not lose their faith in these trying times, produced by Austrian producer Jakob Koller.

The music video for Can You Tell Me?” is scheduled to release on 2/19/2021

Doctor, Coronavirus, Health, Vaughn Lowery, 360 Magazine,

Klaus Jakelski on Doctors and the Unimaginable

By Klaus Jakelski

Frank Lambert’s soul had hemorrhaged dry long before he volunteered for his present deployment. He just didn’t know it yet.

The battle-hardened surgeon had seen action in Rwanda, Burundi and Chechnya. Some of the bad memories he had suppressed. Others came to him only in nightmares, which he could never quite remember. His service had been one known for faultless, hard work in the operating room and afterwards, hard drinking to keep the demons out. Most recently he had substantially turned himself around — made himself better — at least that’s what he thought.

But life in the civilized world of Boston operating rooms had not been enough for him. He soon needed to feel the rush of adrenalin which propped up his self-identity.

Volunteering with an NGO that operated a forward relief station under NATO protection, he found himself in the middle of the Yugoslavian Civil war of the 90’s. He thought it was a simple mis-understood conflict in Europe — the civilized world after all — what could be horrible about that?

But as the conflict raged around Sarajevo, Frank and his nurse ally, Gwen Pakin, felt isolated from the main conflict. Until the inevitable arrived. The girls and young women who had been raped. Naturally, the two elected to do the procedures to free the girls from the captivity of unwanted pregnancy.

With each of his five daily cases, Frank became mesmerized by the splashing of the red evacuation bottle. Torn between gladness for the life he had restored and sadness for the life he had taken. Each one eating away at another part of his soul.

A cousin of mine, a battlefield trained ex US Navy anesthetist, recently volunteered to work in the ICU at Columbia Presbyterian hospital in Queens NY. Nothing in her training had prepared her for the month she spent there, looking after COVID-19 patients. Loosing an average of six patients per day is not a normal experience in anybody’s books. She told me she managed to suppress the bad parts of her experience.

Which is exactly what Frank had done all his working life. Especially in combat areas where each reparation of a torn human body whether it was by suturing, exploring a bodily cavity, amputation or some other surgical alchemy, was exactly the sort of thing that would result in a non-surgeon being recommended for a long stay in a psychiatric prison. But Frank, entrusted by regulatory authorities and accustomed to the controlled carnage of surgery as he was, had learned how to cope. At first suppressing the memories in a dark corner of his soul. And when the burden became too great, unlike my cousin, he began to self-medicate. At first with a little, but as the painful psychological provocation became too great, with more and more alcohol.

Such is the plight of many first responders, whether civilian, or in the military. If not alcohol, then another substance.

Even though nurse Pakin recognized that Frank was better than on his last deployment, she quickly saw through him, because she had issues herself. A life rocked by personal loss and service in conflict zones, no matter how altruistic, had left her with emotional scars too.

So Frank wasn’t quite able to compartmentalize his new reality. He wasn’t able to separate the liberation of a woman from her rape, from taking the life of her unborn. He knew just as well that the simple procedure would never return the woman’s soul to its rightful place after the tortuous transgression.

Frank found his trigger in the swirling red evacuation bottle on the wall of his makeshift operating room. The bottle that drew him in at the end of every case, one at a time, and separated him one more degree from his freedom, as he developed a new found affinity for a different bottle of liquor.

This type of scenario plays itself out repeatedly in our every day society. There’s no need to go to a war-torn area to meet an antagonist like the dark genocidal Kamenko Hradich, who has all the surface veneers of a gentle family man, until he reaches his breaking point. We know this all too well.

The people who deal with this type of suffering are right here. These first responders are all around us. Many of them as yet unaware of their trouble. We only need to recognize them.

As for the issue of war rape – It is so easy for us to sit in our comfortable space when bad things happen elsewhere.

Two hundred or so girls are kidnapped in Africa to the service of some African war lord. We see it on the evening news. We turn it off and say to each other, well I’m glad that is over there, as we roll over onto our pillows and go to sleep.

And still we don’t make the connection. The one that #Me Too is making. The one that is circulating in the most genteel corridors of our society, as well as our schools. The notion that a certain treatment of women is alright, as long as it never gets called out.

Really?

The systematic rape of thousands of women occurred in a civilized area of Europe, alongside the most monstrous genocide since the holocaust. What does it take for that sort of thing to boil over in another advanced society?

My guess is, as Frank followed his adrenalin rush from case to case, he didn’t have a chance.

Alcoholism in the Family

Alcoholism in the family affects how your brain switches between active and resting states.

A family history of alcoholism affects a process that the brain uses when transitioning from a mentally demanding state to a resting state, researchers have found.

You don’t have to be a drinker for your brain to be affected by alcoholism. A new study shows that just having a parent with an alcohol use disorder affects how your brain transitions between active and resting states – regardless of your own drinking habits.

The study, performed by researchers at Purdue University and the Indiana University School of Medicine, discovered that the brain reconfigures itself between completing a mentally demanding task and resting.

But for the brain of someone with a family history of an alcohol use disorder, this reconfiguration doesn’t happen.

While the missing transition doesn’t seem to affect how well a person performs the mentally demanding task itself, it might be related to larger scale brain functions that give rise to behaviors associated with addiction. In particular, study subjects without this brain process demonstrated greater impatience in waiting for rewards, a behavior associated with addiction.

Brain-Reconfiguration
Multiple regions of the brain are involved in a “reconfiguration” that happens between completing a difficult task and resting. But for people with a family history of alcoholism, this reconfiguration is diminished.

Findings are published in the journal NeuroImage. The work was led by Enrico Amico, a former Purdue postdoctoral researcher who is now a researcher at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland.

How the brain reconfigures between active and resting states is like how a computer closes down a program after you’re finished with it. “The moment you close a program, a computer has to remove it from memory, reorganize the cache and maybe clear out some temporary files. This helps the computer to prepare for the next task,” said Joaquín Goñi, a Purdue assistant professor in the School of Industrial Engineering and the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

“In a similar way, we’ve found that this reconfiguration process in the human brain is associated with finishing a task and getting ready for what’s next.” Goñi’s research group, the CONNplexity Lab, takes a computational approach to neuroscience and cognitive science.

Past research has shown that a family history of alcoholism affects a person’s brain anatomy and physiology, but most studies have looked at this effect only in separate active and quiet resting states rather than the transition between them.

“A lot of what brains do is switch between different tasks and states. We suspected that this task switching might be somewhat lower in people with a family history of alcoholism,” said David Kareken, a professor of neurology at the Indiana University School of Medicine and director of the Indiana Alcohol Research Center.

The study defined a “family history of alcoholism” as someone with a parent who had enough symptoms to constitute an alcohol use disorder. About half of the 54 study participants had this history.

Researchers at Indiana University measured the brain activity of subjects with an MRI scanner as they completed a mentally demanding task on a computer. The task required them to unpredictably hold back from pressing a left or right key. After completing the task, the subjects rested while watching a fixed point on the screen.

A separate task outside of the MRI scanner gauged how participants responded to rewards, asking questions such as if they would like $20 now or $200 in one year.

Amico and Goñi processed the data and developed a computational framework for extracting different patterns of brain connectivity between completing the mentally demanding task and entering the resting state, such as when brain areas rose and fell together in activity, or one brain area rose while another fell at the same time.

The data revealed that these brain connectivity patterns reconfigured within the first three minutes after finishing the task. By the fourth minute of rest, the effect had completely disappeared.

And it’s not a quiet process: Reconfiguration involves multiple parts
of the brain at once.

“These brain regions talk to each other and are very strongly implicated in the task even though by this point, the task is already completed. It almost seems like an echo in time of what had been going on,” Kareken said.

Subjects lacking the transition also had the risk factors that researchers have seen to be consistent with developing alcoholism. These include being male, a greater number of symptoms of depression,
and reward-impatience.

A family history of alcoholism, however, stood out as the most statistically significant difference in this brain reconfiguration.

The finding affects research going forward.

“In the past, we’ve assumed that a person who doesn’t drink excessively is a ‘healthy’ control for a study. But this work shows that a person with just a family history of alcoholism may also have some subtle differences in how their brains operate,” Goñi said.

This research was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (grant P60AA07611) and the Purdue Discovery Park Data Science Award “Fingerprints of the Human Brain: A Data Science Perspective.” The work was also partially supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants R01EB022574, R01MH108467, and R00AA023296).

About Discovery Park
Discovery Park is a place where Purdue researchers move beyond traditional boundaries, collaborating across disciplines and with policymakers and business leaders to create solutions for a better world. Grand challenges of global health, global conflict and security, and those that lie at the nexus of sustainable energy, world food supply, water and the environment are the focus of researchers in Discovery Park. The translation of discovery to impact is integrated into the fabric of Discovery Park through entrepreneurship programs and partnerships.

Six Ways to Cut Down on Alcohol

by Tara Yombor, LMHC and clinical director at Pathway to Hope, a Delphi Behavioral Health Group facility.

Social (moderate) drinking, binge drinking, alcoholism, tolerance, and dependence. This is the typical pattern of progression for drinking that leads someone to think of him or herself as needing to cut down on alcohol. Some might think they are prone to alcoholism. Within that progression, the time for someone to cut down on drinking is based on the individual’s idea of what is causing dysfunction and unmanageability in their life.

Why is it so easy for someone to become addicted to alcohol, and what does it mean to have
an alcohol use disorder?

First of all, alcohol does not have an adverse social stigma, which makes the dependence for it more likely, and the consumption of it more acceptable. Alcohol is typically used to celebrate happy events and sooth the sad events in life. Think about a celebration. What do most people imagine? Alcohol, champagne, and a “toast to the New Year!”

During times of mourning or stress, alcohol can be used to ease the emotional pain of a loss or as a stress reliever. Social (or moderate) drinking is seen as a normal and perfectly harmless way of socializing, relaxing, or a form of celebration.

A binge drinker is defined as a man who drinks more than four to six drinks in a two-hour period, and a woman who drinks more than four to five drinks in a two-hour period. Someone with alcohol use disorder is typically a person with a long-term addiction to alcohol. This person is typically unable to control how much they consume or when to stop drinking and spends a lot of time thinking about the next drink.

It can be easy for someone to transition from a social drinker to a binge drinker to having an
alcohol use disorder. A binge drinker is someone who has more than the above allotted
acceptable drinks in a short amount of time.

Someone who is a binge drinker or struggling with heavy alcohol use may find that people close to them begin to notice negative patterns of behavior during times of drinking. Friends and family may start to become worried about the person’s drinking patterns and negative outcomes that have begun to arise from their drinking. A person who begins to engage in
binge drinking may find themselves calling out of work the day after drinking due to a hangover; they may miss important deadlines, get into arguments with their loved ones, or lose track of daily responsibilities.

Tolerance for alcohol means that a person needs more and more alcohol to feel the desired effect than they previously would not have needed. Someone who has a pattern of binge drinking may find themselves drinking even more alcohol in a short time to feel drunk.

Once tolerance increases, the possibility of dependence increases. Dependence can be defined as relying on alcohol to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Essentially, a person is controlled by their need to ingest alcohol to feel “normal.”

During any of these stages of alcohol use, someone may feel the need to seek treatment. how to deal with withdrawal symptoms varies for each person based on how dysfunctional or unmanageable their life has become due to their drinking.

Here are six things you (or anyone) can do to cut down on alcohol. Most of these mean a change in behavior.

1. Acknowledge the problem – in order to stop the behavior, you must first acknowledge what the negative behavior is and make a conscious effort to commit to changing that behavior. Also, put the goal in writing and make a list of reasons why you want to cut back on drinking. For example, if the behavior is drinking too much during celebrations, you have to determine what “too much” means to you and, next, set a goal to decrease the amount you are drinking during celebrations.

2. Set a realistic goal for drinking alcohol – if you struggle with binge drinking, set a realistic, and achievable goal. The next time you’re out during a social event, make it a goal to cut back to three to four drinks in two hours instead of five to six. Or perhaps instead of going to a happy hour on Friday or Saturday night, pick one night to go out and stay in the other night. Cutting back by making realistic and achievable goals will keep you on track and make you feel better about the fact that you are keeping your goals.

3. Write it down – make sure to keep a journal of the times you drink, how much you drink, and any negative outcomes related to the times you drink (for example, drinking and falling down or making an inappropriate comment to a friend). By keeping a journal, you will hopefully be able to see patterns of behavior. You can also share this journal with someone you trust and ask them to look out for any patterns you may have missed.

4. Don’t keep alcohol in your house – it is easier to come home after a long day of work and pour a glass of wine rather than going out to the bar on a Wednesday when you may have other obligations at home such as taking care of a child. When you don’t have alcohol in the house, it eliminates the desire or temptation to drink.

5. Stay busy – by having non-alcohol related activities to engage in, you are more likely to say no to drinking, as you’ll want to be present for the activity. Do things that keep you active, such as riding a bike, hiking, going for a walk as the endorphins from engaging in exercise may eliminate the desire for alcohol.

6. Ask for support/Talk to someone – tell people you trust about your goals and ask them to help keep you accountable during times when you may be struggling or find yourself surrounded by temptation. Also, there are therapists who specialize in alcohol/substance use who you can talk to that can assist you with your goals and process through any underlying emotions that may be related to drinking.

Remember that the above tips may not work for everyone. Some people may be into the stage of alcohol tolerance and dependence. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol dependence, reach out for help from a professional or call a treatment center in your area. Alcoholism and dependence look different for everyone.

Sober Houses and the Path to Recovery

The Truth About Sober Houses and the Path to Recovery

by Mallory Neuberger

Wendy Williams made headlines last week when she revealed that she’s living in a sober house; but less than one week later she left work, checked out of the facility, and went on to drink alcohol until she was hospitalized. So, what went wrong?

Sobriety is not something that we can pay for. As a recovering cocaine addict, I had to admit that I was an addict and that I was ready for a drug free life. In essence, I had to hit my bottom. Some people die before they find the willingness to get sober. Others need to end up in prison, homeless, or selling their bodies and souls to feed their disease. And many, like myself, don’t lost their homes, cars, jobs or families, but find themselves spiritually void and miserable, with their drug of choice no longer providing the relief that it once had.

Wendy Williams is going through difficulties in her marriage. Her husband is rumored to be cheating on her, and his mistress is pregnant. Despite appearing on television daily, living in a sober house, and paying a sober coach to keep tabs on her 24/7, she still couldn’t handle her heartbreak and to alcohol to numb her pain. The next day she was back on TV. In my opinion, she isn’t ready.

Ethical sober houses keep residents safe by breathalyzing and drug testing them. They have guidelines to provide structure, including curfews, chore checks, and mandatory attendance at 12-step meetings like A.A. or N.A. There are organizations that certify sober houses as good operators, so it’s important to be sure that you are choosing a place that truly has the residents’ best interests at heart.

Sober houses offer a sense of community. They are filled with residents and staff who are all trying to stay sober and meet life head on. There is always someone to talk to, so we are never alone. In my sober houses we emphasize healthy living, encouraging good eating habits and exercise. We practice yoga and we meditate together. We offer fellowship where we eat, laugh, play games, make crafts, listen to music, and sit by the pool. We celebrate together, helping one another get through birthdays, holidays and anniversaries without picking up. We are houses filled with sober women and we are like a big family filled with surrogate mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. We cry together, and more importantly, we laugh.

Putting down drugs and alcohol seemed like the only way I could live, but what kind of a life was it going to be? I feared that I would be socially awkward without my expensive wines or a frozen margarita with salt. I didn’t think I would be able to stay awake without my beloved cocaine. I was losing my best friends – drugs and alcohol – how would I ever have fun again?

The sheer happiness that I have found as a sober woman is greater than any high that I ever experienced. I wake up every morning without a hangover or user’s remorse. I dance whenever and wherever I can, even while trying on clothes in stores, or at parties where nobody else has hit the dance floor. I run by the beach, singing out loud, without worrying that I may die of a stroke due to last night’s excesses. I practice yoga and can actually “be” on the mat for ninety minutes, breathing freely through my once stuffed nostrils.

I have a disease, and that disease is called addiction. I am no longer ashamed and hiding behind it. Addiction is not a weakness or a character defect. It is a debilitating disease without a medicine to cure it. Money cannot buy my recovery, but working a daily program can keep me sober, one day at a time. Every day I go to a 12-step meeting. I remind myself that I’m an addict in recovery and I reset my brain and ask for the strength to remain sober just for today. I am of service to others in recovery, showing them that this simple program works. It isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. My worst day sober is always better than my best day high, because I am authentic and free and living the very best version of myself. I hope that Wendy Williams hits her bottom soon, and without any terrible consequences. I would love her to live in one of my sober houses.

About Mallory Neuberger

Mallory Neuberger, MS, CRRA, author of Sober.House (My Story), is the executive director of The Frog Pad, a safe and structured holistic healing house for women in recovery from drugs and alcohol. After struggling with her own addiction, Neuberger has dedicated her life to helping others find sobriety, volunteering at drug recovery centers including Hazelden IOP, The Addiction Institute in NYC, Gods Love We Deliver, and soup kitchens. She was also employed at Behavior Health of the Palm Beaches before opening her first sober house.

How do I start dating again?

You probably had high expectations for marriage but things happened,and you called it quits. It has been five years since you went on a date and are wondering can I date again. This is a question that many people who have gone through breakups, divorce or their partners have died often ask.

Certain aspects of dating have changed since over the years. Gone are the days when dating included coffee dates or meeting at the movies. We now have many online dating sites,and the probability of meeting someone online through various social media platforms is high.

If you plan on getting out there and dating there are several things that you need to consider.

List what you want from a partner

It is essential that you make a list of what you would like from a potential partner. While finding the perfect partner is a cliché there are qualities that you are not willing to compromise on. Your past relationships should guide you on what you do not want or what you liked. It is also vital that you stop comparing your future partner with your past. It is essential that you avoid people who are on drugs like tramadol addiction or alcoholism. This is because you do not want to deal with all the drama that comes with addictions too soon.

Have fun

Don’t be so engrossed in finding the right partner that you forget to have fun. Dating is supposed to be fun; look for activities that interest you and your partner. It is easier to fall in love when you are not so tense. Instead of this person being the perfect match try having fun without being judgmental. Avoid going to places that remind you of your ex; be creative and discover new places. The date does not have to be romantic and does not mind finding a new friend. You can choose to download one of the several dating apps available online. Look for one that is genuine and begin by creating friendships.

Work on yourself

Relationships can drain you and leave you with notime for yourself. This single period is the ideal time to finding and doing things that you are passionate about. You can decide to hit the gym and work out on your image. Do this for yourself and besides you might find someone new. As you invest more time inyourself, you find qualities about yourself that you have never discovered. Travel and expand your horizons, learn a new skill or language, take cooking lessons or simply change your wardrobe.

Change your attitude

A break up can change how you view relationships. You probably have negative preconceived ideas on different genders,or you probably have the attitude that all relationships hurt and lead to break up. It is good to take some time and grief your previous relationship. Find and focus on the positive. Avoid generalizations – what happened in the past is in the past. You have a high chance of finding love if you maintain the right attitude.

Do not be too “picky.”

There are those who approach a new relationship with a list of qualities that they are looking for; when you look at the list, you realize that it is impossible for one person to be that perfect. While we are not telling you’re to lower your expectations; we are encouraging you to be realistic about your expectations. Give people a chance and do not focus so much on their weakness. Not every person you come across will have the same qualities as your previous partner.

Take your time

Do not rush to get into a relationship. There can be pressure due to age to get married,but you need to go in your pace. Go for more dates and try different types of people. This will give you a wide variety of choices. Dating should be fun so relax and try out new things. While on a date take your time to ask meaningful questions. Where does your date expectations? Where do they see themselves in the next five or ten years? Questions also keep the conversation going.

First date

Avoid shifting the conversation to your ex or past hurtful relationships. People, like being valued and cared for and talking about your ex continuously,makes the other party feel unappreciated. First impressions matter; wear something that makes you feel comfortable. Take care of your grooming, apply some perfume and make every effort to be gorgeous. A shower is a must. For the first date select a place that you are familiar with. Always carry some extra cash in case your date cannot drop you. When choosing a place for the date, avoid a place you will constantly be bumping into your friends. This will create distractions; the date is about the two of you.

Guys your confidence matters; while it is normal for you to be a bit tense take short breathes and avoid overthinking. Do not take alcohol to cure your nerves; this can make your conversations odd and besides your date may not be into alcohol. Keep the conversation fun and maintain eye contact. One party should not do all the talking,but you should give your partner the opportunity to ask you questions and interact. Listening is an important skill that will earn you points. Nothing is annoying as someone who is constantly on their phone. It passes the message that you do not matter. When on a date be polite by turning off your phone. If you are a guy offer to pay on the first date. Make a follow up on your date to find out whether they got home well and how they are progressing after the date. You can then request for another date.

Conclusion

Dating can be a nervous time for some people. But, it is also an exciting time to meet new people. Focus on the conversation and having fun and do not make it too serious. It might take going for several dates before meeting the right person buteventually you will meet someone you like.