Jay Light – The High Status Doormat to Roast Battle Master





Current Sobriety Date: Sept. 10, 2015

Growing up outside of conservative Dallas, Texas, Jay Light had to sneak late-night viewings of Comedy Central and Adult Swim with the volume turned low. His parents wouldn’t have approved. Today things have come full circle: He’s appeared on both seasons of Comedy Central insult competition Roast Battle, been named a “local eclectic noise maker” by L.A. Weekly, and praised as “one of the best Roasters in Los Angeles” by no less than Comedy Central mainstay Jeff Ross.

Self-deprecating, slyly dark, and always eager to subvert audience expectations, Jay began his stand-up career as a freshman at North Carolina’s Elon University. As an undergrad, he hosted frenetic student TV gameshow Win Stuff and wrote/directed 2011’s Shock Jock, which screened at the Cannes Festival’s Short Film Corner. Follow-up effort Rocketeer received the Sprite Films Competition’s national Viewers Choice Award the following year. Jay’s Media Arts & Entertainment degree came with the Communications department’s high-profile A.J. Fletcher Award, granted annually to “an outstanding graduate…who reflects a wide-ranging interest in the field.”  

Now a regular performer at famed Sunset Strip institution the Comedy Store, Jay co-produces weekly live editions of Roast Battle. He credits the latter with helping him tap into his true comedic voice, become a better joke-writer, and elevate his confidence as a performer…not to mention score the opportunity to open for Dave Chappelle. Onstage Jay may look like the clean-cut, naïve boy next door and readily admit, “I suffer from camp-counselor face!” But as crowds quickly learn, he doesn’t shy from discussing his sheltered religious upbringing or the formative lessons learned along his path to sobriety. 

In addition to making the finals of Comedy Central’s Roast Battle II: War of the Words, Jay has appeared on the network’s Not Safe with Nikki Glaser and HBO’s Project Greenlight. Most recently he’s honed his improv skills at emerging L.A. venue The Pack Theater, and in 2018 became both a contributing writer for Pete Holmes’ HBO series Crashing and staff writer for the Discovery Channel’s BattleBots reboot.  

Aside from touring clubs, music venues and colleges across the country, other stand-up credits include the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, the Motor City Comedy Festival, the Golden Spike Comedy Festival, the Blue Whale Comedy Festival, and South by Southwest.

In the podcasting realm, Jay puts his film degree to use every Monday morning on Blockbusting with Jay Light. The show first invites top comics and filmmakers to discuss industry news and the latest box-office results. Guests then dissect a successful mainstream movie they don’t consider a personal favorite – no gimmicks, no remorse, no punches pulled. Everything may be subjective in comedy but on Blockbusting unpopular opinion rules. 

As for Jay’s parents? Though his mom may have disowned his earliest career choices, it’s safe to say she’s coming around. They’re admittedly still not his target demographic, but Comedy Central now plays loud and proud in the Light household whenever he’s on.  

Check out this episode!

Tom Shanahan – Healthy, Wealthy, & Full of Spiritual Adrenaline

Find Andrew on the Web: www.selfmade-coaching.com

Join Andrew’s Facebook Group! SMCMastermind

The Book: Spiritual Adrenaline: A Lifestyle Plan to Nourish and Strengthen Your Recovery– Tom Shanahan

Online: www.spiritualadrenaline.com

YouTube: spiritual adrenaline

Facebook: spiritual adrenaline

Instagram: spiritual adrenaline

Tom Shanahan is a personal trainer, weight management and sports nutrition consultant with certifications from the American Aerobics Association International and the International Sports Medicine Association. He is also certified as a health coach by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York and as a meeting facilitator for Yoga of Twelve-Step Recovery (Y12SR).

Tom Shanahan is a personal trainer, weight management and sports nutrition consultant with certifications from the American Aerobics Association International and the International Sports Medicine Association. He is also certified as a health coach by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York and as a meeting facilitator for Yoga of Twelve-Step Recovery (Y12SR).

Tom has served in government as well as a private sector attorney specializing in civil rights litigation, serving as an advisor to New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins, Public Advocate Mark Green, and as a high-level policy advisor to two New York State Governors.

01:50 – Surrounded by a culture steeped in drinking, Tom shares his story of demise and (spoiler alert) rebirth

05:13 – Tom’s life began to fall apart and his drinking/drug use escalated after a political scandal and a series of medical tragedies engulfed his world

11:46 – Broke, 140lbs and almost too sick for treatment, Tom entered rehab

14:35 – Rev. Vern Milken had a profound effect on Tom’s view of rehabilitation and spirituality

15:41 – Hopelessly addicted to nicotine, cigarettes and diner food, Tom realized that the culture around his 12-Step experience was out of whack with the goal of an overall healthy lifestyle

18:42 – Wanting to understand health and nutrition on a deeper level Tom attained certifications in personal training and nutrition and began writing the book

22:55 – In researching the book Tom actually went to the archives of the founders of 12-Step recovery to understand how even they didn’t fully comprehend how necessary a healthy lifestyle is

28:02 – Spiritual Adrenalinegets into the science of why a healthy lifestyle is important and can repair the damage that afflicts many in the addiction/recovery community

38:58 – Too often in mental health and addiction treatment there is no discussion of diet and exercise

45:36 – Tom is active within The Sober Active Movement along with a growing effort of others such as, The Phoenix, Addict to Athlete, Temperance Training, Ignite Fitness, Rise and Grind and many others.

49:07 – Inca Trail Trip & Spiritual Adrenaline Adventures– for those in recovery who are looking for amazing vacations that take people out of their comfort zones

57:15 – Recovery is possible but not always easy or fun

58:40 – For people who want to know more about Tom and what he’s up to

Casey Ryan – You Don’t End Up In Meetings Because Things Are Going Well




With me on the show today is Casey Ryan of Ryan life coaching she helps bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be. Casey, how are you? I’m doing well. Andrew, how are you? I’m doing great. We’ve had some technical difficulties getting the show. But the baby’s good, the computers good, we’re good to go. So a great thing is to reset. Everything is reset God’s will not mine.
So give us a little background on how you grew up and, and what kind of led to what happened. You know, you got sober in 2005. And I’m guessing that wasn’t because things were going well before then. And now. I mean, I was just like a casual drinker. And I thought, you know, let me try out a meeting that might be a great social event. And I just stumbled into now 13 years later, it’s like life is wonderful. If that were the case, I probably wouldn’t be so passionate about sharing a message of recovery and really
I love when people will tell their stories of what it was like because that’s really what resonates with people, you know that emotional connection, things were going great. Most people wouldn’t stumble into a 12 step program or find themselves in a courthouse or in an IOP. So no, life was not going great when I walked into a meeting, what was the background before you started coming in? I think so much of my background of my story is probably just a lot of shame. And this perception of life that perception of not fitting in there is always one of the best lines and if I write a book, it will probably be titled, a mild sense of impending doom. There is always this mild sense of impending doom in my life, and it led to physical feelings, legitimate physical sickness, when I was a child, just constantly on edge of feeling that I didn’t fit in questions about life.


I came from a broken family and I never understood you know why my dad left and there was a poverty on with
Living with my mom, my dad didn’t understand why we needed money. So there was a lot of talk of money. My dad didn’t understand why the lights were being shut off. And some nights around candles because electricity wasn’t paid. There’s just a lot of conflicting things about who I was what my worth was, where did I fit in, I believe that like I was the cause of my mother’s depression, and my father leaving basically, and no one ever told me different. And it’s not to blame anyone. So many children, especially nowadays come from a broken home and some of them overcome it. I was not one of those. And there could have definitely been a predisposition with some sort of depression or mental illness beforehand. But there’s just always again, that sense of impending doom that I did not fit in and that I was the cause of all of my family’s problems, basically. So I stayed really quiet. I kept all of this to myself. I never told my mother about my physical illness that I had, I mean, I’d be doubled over in pain, which is if you
Feeling like someone had punched me in the gut. And today, you know, I understand that is just nerves. In short, it’s it’s nerves, it’s emotions are something that physically happened to us, you know, it’s why we call them feelings like we feel emotions, we physically feel those. So it was going through that there is my grandmother had also sent me to my brother and I to Catholic school. My family was very big in the church. So when I could go to Catholic school, we lived out of the district and my mom had to drive us. So it was just feeling like we didn’t fit in there. And I had no friends because the kids that I went to school with didn’t live in my neighborhood. We were one of two divorced families in the entire school. There wasn’t much going on with minorities. And I was just always that really curious kid in religion class when there’s this talk of God. And Jesus can do all these things I was like, but how and why and it didn’t make sense. And I was one of those kids that was like, raise my hand and ask these questions and I will
wasn’t feeling the effects that they were talking about of being, you know, joyous and free. So again, I mean, that led to a lot of conflict. Looking back on all of it. I just kind of say to myself, it’s all BS. But again, understanding that when we go through these things, that is still my story to tell, I can’t change the past, I can’t change how I perceived the world around me. I can’t change any of that. All I can really do is somewhat understand it today and go forward. But the way that I really wrap it up is in one word is that I felt shame. I felt shamed for who I was. I felt shame because I believed I didn’t fit into the world. I felt shame because I was just awkward basically. And I took like the world’s problems on my shoulders. So fast forward, but I started acting out horribly as a child and I have an older brother and I wanted to always get my way I was in terror. I would be you know, fight with my mom. I would fight with my brother like physically fight with my brother and siblings.
Do that. And then I would have these temper tantrums. I didn’t do anything that my mother said. And then I go in front of my dad and I was this quiet little child and I just had these emotional outbursts all the time, and how my mother kept it together in any way, shape, or form. I have no clue. So that was one of the first signs was, I think the first time was like, my quietness, I’d have bouts of not eating. My mom had started sending me to a counselor and I was about eight at this time. And by eight, I mean, I was having suicidal thoughts. You know, that’s, that is like the thing of shame of believing I, the world would be, you know, better off without me. So I started having suicidal thoughts at about eight and I started acting out really bad. My mom was taking me to a counselor. And then I was about 10. And my mom was a smoker. And I think there’s just this thing of seeing stuff on TV of what older kids do and it was like, just go smoke and in fifth grade, I was suspended from school for smoking on school premises, and I got some other girl in trouble. And my mom being the enabler that she is, and she had to pick me up from
Catholic school and fifth grade poor, she’s mortified, but it was just Well, let’s let’s go to McDonald’s and let’s go to the mall. Because what else are we going to do with our day? My mom is the quintessential enabler, I can get more into, you know, my relationship with her later. You know, she just didn’t know what to do. And so that eventually, I told my mom, I wanted to leave Catholic school and be around other kids. You know, who were in my grade. So I started going to public school, and from fifth to sixth grade, I had to basically reinvent myself. So there’s this reinventing because nobody in the neighborhood knew me. I was just the girl that went to Catholic school and no one knew her. So when I got into junior high, I put on that tough, fully exterior, because I was so scared again, the shame that if people knew me, and you found out that I was fearful, you just you wouldn’t like me. So I became this horrible believer and just really kept on this tough face. started picking on other girls. Basically, my
next door neighbor. So how kind of, you know, drugs get into this and wanting to fit in my next door neighbor had an older brother and we’d hang out over there. And her mom were like three jobs. And you know, one day there’s there’s pot that’s there and someone passes it. And I’m not going to say no, because I want to fit in with these kids. So you know, I do it. nothing really happens. I don’t think the first time in a couple weeks later there’s there’s alcohol there. And the first time I ever really got drunk that night, I was also like,
alcohol was never present at my mom’s alcohol was president my dad’s house. And the thing that I knew about alcohol was when it came out, everyone acted differently. The party started when the bottle of Bacardi and there’s a little bat on the Bacardi bottle. When that bat came out, the party started at my dad’s, and everyone got loud and everyone started laughing and people are jumping in the pool and doing all this other stuff in
Things got crazy. And I wanted that I could tell that there was a difference from a very young age when alcohol was around how people acted.
And I was attracted to that. What I also could tell with alcohol was that on vacations with my dad and my stepmom, on a Saturday or Sunday night when that bottle of Bacardi came out vacation was ending early, because they would end up getting into a blow up flight. And we’d have to drive hours home from our property in Wisconsin, and complete silence because they had gotten into a massive fight. When I my first drunk, there were cases of 14 of MTD. And I had this mask on of like, I can do anything. I’m, I’m whatever you want me to be. And so I started drinking 40s and I don’t even remember how many I drank on my first drunk. I mean, it was probably six beers on my first drunk at 11 years old, and blacked out the first time. You know, woke up in, woke up in a bed and God only knows what happens and all that
I remember thinking, and I was sick too. And of course, I’d acted like a jerk. I don’t remember what I did. But you know, my girlfriends weren’t happy with me. And it was just like this moment of like, you know, and the 12 steps are in the book where it talks about like, I had arrived. And I felt like it was gone. People liked me.
I didn’t have that knot in my stomach for just, you know, a few minutes. And when I woke up, a lot of that shame was still there because people are telling me like, you know, what did you do but and I’m like, I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.
But the party was there and that’s what I wanted. I wanted to be around those older kids. I just, you know, I wanted I wanted to fit in. And
I won’t I won’t go through it slowly. I will just say that from that first drunk of being blacked out, it went into stealing from my mom’s you know, already small purse every single day to buy weed or to somehow get alcohol or to have something
My bias cigarettes, hanging around all of the older kids to get what I wanted. And if that meant, you know, having sex with someone that meant having sex with someone, I wasn’t known for being a prude in the neighborhood, that’s for certain. And I feel like as a woman, that is something that’s important to talk about, because as women even in recovery, it’s something that we look at, and it’s something that we don’t want to talk about, but it’s still part of our story. And it’s still something that we do, and we can’t change it. It’s just one of those things that we did what we had to do, because it’s what we knew, it’s what we knew at the time. It’s It’s neither right nor wrong. It’s just what we did. And there’s probably a lot of worse things that we could have done than to like physically use our bodies to like have some 18 year old guy buy us, you know, a handle of jack daniels within that. I mean, it was any I was one of those if it was around, I was doing it if I had to break into your house to get it. I was doing it by choice.
years old, I had a I was facing a burglary case for literally breaking into someone’s house to get alcohol. You know, the cops were over. I was not I was the girl that friends, their parents didn’t want me over there. If again, if it was around, I was going to do it anything to help me escape. And looking back at it now, none of that stuff really helped me escape. I was just always chasing, always chasing, always chasing, always chasing. I believe that there’s this massive misconception in a way that maybe this is just for me like that drugs and alcohol somehow numbed a lot of my pain. It just gave me something else to focus on. It gave me something to you know, project my energy toward than focusing on that not that was in my stomach. The thoughts that were swirling around in my head of everyone else is better than me. I’m never going to get these grades. I’m never going to do this and never be able to do that. I was just able to project my thoughts somewhere else and not focus
With what was going on with me, I truly don’t believe that it was like known in any way and maybe that’s just like a word that we use because we don’t know how to describe it. I just was able to focus my energy on something else. So, you know, to go through it, it was you know, I was drinking alcohol luckily by 13 and kicked out of two schools. Final it was freshman year of high school, I was kicked out on assault on a teacher because she was trying to stop me from assaulting someone else and I ended up hitting her. I mean, I would drink at school I would drink after school drink before school. Alcohol is just I loved it because it did. It was able to send me into oblivion basically. And of course me like, like the life of the party, too, because I like to have stuff. So, you know, I was at I was at a party one night with some friends and heroin happened to be around and kind of just like alcohol. I hadn’t seen
Some of the negative side effects of it, because I was dating a guy that was doing heroin, and his best friend was doing heroin, and they were injecting and I just thought it was the most disgusting thing ever. It was just disgusting what they were doing. And I remember asking, my friend Glenn one time said, Glenn, why don’t you just stop? It goes, it’s not that easy case. And that is a line that will stick with me, I think for the rest of my life. When I’m doing certain things or when I’m expecting someone to do something that seems so easy, of, it’s just not that easy case. You know, remembering what the still suffering addict goes through remembering what it’s like to live in limiting beliefs or in shame. I was at this party one night and I thought I was doing a line of cocaine and it turned out to be heroin that just led to boosting things and selling it and doing horrible returns at a big box store. won’t go into the details of that, but I was official
10 year old heroin addict I was shooting $120 a day where the heroin, I’d cut back on my drinking because like a good addict, you know that those two don’t mix all that well. And what had happened was I was facing a battery case and I could not drop clean for the life of me from that battery case I was sent to juvie still couldn’t stay clean afterwards. And then they ended up sending me in to downstate Illinois to a treatment facility to an adolescent treatment facility. And kind of, like I said, of just wanting to always fit in and this thing of shame, and perfectionism. You know, it’s like, my shame came from my perfectionism. I believe that everything that I had to do is 100% perfect. And if I wasn’t, then I was wrong. I went to this treatment facility and to be 100% honest, at the time, I wanted to stop. I had, I had infections in my arm, my best friend who I was using with at the time, she had gone into treatment a couple of weeks before me I was really broken and beaten. And it was at that point where I wanted to
Stop, but I didn’t know-how. So going to that treatment facility really was the best thing for me. And I got down there and just completely excelled for six months. I was, you know, one of those that was like the star of the treatment center, you know, you’re a coordinator and all this other stuff. But really what it was I was also just feeding back into the addiction of the shame, and the perfectionism. If I don’t do everything perfect. People are going to judge me, I am absolutely worthless. And as much as I was physically clean at the time, I mean, I was 16 years old. I can’t blame myself for not knowing I really wasn’t working on some of those core things of Who Am I some of the real like mental health things. It wasn’t working through a lot of that childhood stuff. I was just kind of going through the gauntlet of what happens in treatment. What did come out of that was, I learned to journal that was probably one of the biggest things I would journal every single day pages a day, and I was still extremely depressed. But what that did is I was able to find this outlet.
of writing, which I had loved to do when I was younger and somewhat gifted and expressing myself in that way. Luckily I journaled every single day and being able to look back on it and finding that outlet and really looking at my thoughts on paper and saying, What is going on here? This isn’t true, but why am I thinking it so being able to analyze all of that, so I get out of treatment, I had went to a 12 step meeting, and it was a bunch of older men. And again, I was 16 was a noon meeting, it was out in West suburbs of Chicago. And I think every man in there must have been like, 60 plus years old. And I remember that sat down, and this guy has asked me, you know, how old are you are 16 because you’re not even old enough to drink, get out. And I just looked at him and he just kept saying, Get out. And luckily having six months of treatment under my belt, and knowing, you know, traditions of 12 step programs, I thought, you know, the only requirement for membership is a desire to you know, it’s a desire to stop basically
I just kept repeating that in my head. And I thought if this man doesn’t know me, I deserve to be here. But from that it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth and but I knew I wanted to stay sober. So I just said, You know what, I’m not going back to that meeting and and I went to a different meeting, ended up staying clean for two years and met like a wonderful fellowship of people did all this just crazy stuff that clean addicts still do. We were not boring. It’s not we just didn’t go to work and like, keep our heads down. You know, we had a lot of fun. So it was a great introduction for me. I ended up relapsing after two years from that what I can say, I think to put it usually how I put it in the simplest terms is that, you know, from living in Chicago, we have some rough neighborhoods, and I would go to meetings and some rough neighborhood and some of those rough neighborhoods just to kind of get out and you hear some pretty scary stuff. When you walk into those meetings.
And there’s that saying of, there’s yes in the program. And when I realized
All of those yet that I had heard about came true for me. It wasn’t just juvie anymore, or any of these things. I mean, it was being homeless, ending up in BRAC houses ending up in strange places wondering, am I going to get out of here alive? Is this person calling going to be enraged me? How did I even get here in the first place? I would think all the time in these situations, what have I done, I was awake. And it was like I was living this physical nightmare, thinking how am I going to get out of here alive? And when I say that I literally thinking, how am I going to get out of here alive? waking up in some of those homes or neighborhoods? constantly just doing it over and over and over again, that thing of insanity and then wondering what the heck am I doing and then there were times when it was good. And I would drink with Chicago police officers and Chicago firefighters constantly just carrying this mask of everything’s good. Everything’s good. Every
Things good, everything’s good. I think if you were to have met me on the street when I was drinking a bottle a day and doing $100 worth of heroin a day, you probably would not have assumed that I was an addict. Maybe besides like some of my physical characteristics. I was a master manipulator and things. And I think that’s probably one of the ways that I was able to get out of some of this stuff alive is that they’re like, you know, maybe they just thought like, this person. There she goes, this I don’t know. I literally have no clue.
On the surface, it seemed like you were holding it together even though your life was insanely out of control from what it sounds Yeah, those people that knew me they obviously knew what I was going through. I think that caused a lot of the shame it was it was like how could this woman just continue to do all of that stuff and you know, I no different than any other addict when it comes to that and when it comes, I guess I’ll wrap this up when it comes to like the you know, the physical consequences of that.
four year relapse
in and out of institutions in and out of hospitals three I believe three times going TO to prison to like to I do see on on drug felony charges you know I wasn’t the most stealthy
heroin user there and even you know even I was just a bad criminal in that way and it was just a thing of like I didn’t care you know you just you go there you act as if
you know even going into the penitentiary It’s not like I was some hard nose. But it really was just like, what are you doing here? And I don’t I look at that today. If I ever question my worth or my value today, I look at how well I was able to get along and fully function with people in
in the penitentiary. And be that just the kind of actress that I was
If those people like kind of didn’t view me as a criminal of like, really, you really don’t belong here, I get it, but you really don’t belong here. Those people could see it. Like, why can’t I see that in myself?
So, there was one fateful nights of,
of getting arrested and it’s kind of like the universe works itself out perfectly. Where I was driving to my from my mom’s house, I can’t remember. I was in the suburbs, and I had open alcohol in the car, had drugs in the car had gotten pulled over. Being in the suburbs. The the county jail system is a little bit different. I’m on parole at the time. I think I’ve been out of prison for about, I don’t know, two, three months. Maybe it wasn’t long. And I had I was drunk like nobody’s business. I mean, just absolutely lick and I get pulled over.
And they take me in.
They did not get the drugs on my person they were hitting. So I have drugs when I’m in jail. I’m in a blackout drunk. And I wake up and apparently I had written some, it was like two three pages this like, life story of how I was what I felt how I was ready to get help all of this other stuff. And I didn’t see it until I think two days later, my parole officer had come to see me. And I was just like, Casey, what are you doing? Like I can only help you if you really want to get this but I can’t I can’t get you out of this one. And he shows me this, this handwritten thing and I’m like, I did not write that. But here I am staring at it is my handwriting is, you know, it is my story. And it’s my signature on the thing and I’m just blown away because I have no recollection of writing this thing. And what what my parole officer had said to me was like, if you really
Want to do this like I will fight for you because I believe that you know, an addicts place is not in prison like an addict places in treatment. But he knew the hurdles that we were going to have to that that we were going to have to try to jump here on. Given my background, I’m considered a wall so any sort of like treatment is off the table because you let me out of handcuffs, I will run from you, you know, a trial of these things before so he didn’t really see it happening thank the universe. I had the P o that I did that believed in treatment for addicts and not just you know, penal institutions. So he had to go to his supervisor, which was a huge know.
Then once he was able to tell his supervisor, yes, then we had to go through like a state board to have him fight for me. And then even once that was approved, then we had to go through the county in which I was being held, to fight with them to try to get me treatment and all of this
This entire process took six months of sitting in county jail waiting for this when I could have taken a prison sentence and been out in, you know, a couple of months. But it was this thing of waking up in the jail cell. And just saying to myself, it was almost like this. That moment, you know, that moment of clarity of something’s got to change, and I’m going to take action.
And I think when I woke up, my sobriety date is 917 2005. I gotten arrested on the 14th. As I said, I had some drugs and stuff in there for the first couple of days. So you know, on it was like on 917, when, when all of that ran out, or on the 16th, and all of it ran out. It was just what action Are you going to take? What are you going to do? And I made a conscious decision to say, I don’t care what happens, I will get treatment, because that is where I belong. Going back and forth to prison will not help me and I thought for that and
Most inmates pretty much all of them who knew my story thought I was absolutely insane. Like, why would you sit in county jail for a minute longer than you have to? And all I could say to them was, I need treatment, I need treatment, I need treatment. So I was ended up I had gotten drug courts, which led me to, you know, transitional housing, I op all of that other stuff. And
and then just kind of, you know, into 12 step programs and into different recovery and counseling.
What was different this time versus the other time when you had a couple years before like, what’s what’s making this one stick now coming up on 14 years, the biggest thing would be taking, you know, taking the action. It wasn’t just
I think before when I was in the program, granted, you know, I was a little bit younger, but it was still just this thing of wanting to fit in. One thing that really stuck with me this time.
When I started going to, I was doing this for me. I wasn’t doing this to please anyone else. The mask had to come off of like, my life is all together. I’m wonderful. That had to go. And those first couple of years in the program, it was still like doing it for other people even though you know, I didn’t realize it at the time. I didn’t I did not realize it at the time. But I also wasn’t talking about insecurities. I wasn’t talking about fears I wasn’t humbling myself I guess enough to say I’m not perfect. And I need help here. This You know, this time it really was It was truly me saying I need help. I have no fucking clue how to manage my life. I have no fucking clue how to manage my emotions. I don’t know how to stop shooting dope and drinking. I need someone to show me the way and before it was kind of just like a social events.
And when you know this, this time
I was 21 when I got sober. And I remember going to meetings and I would see other 21 year olds and they were hanging out and they’re socializing, they’re smoking their cigarettes and everybody’s like dating each other. And I wanted so bad to fit into that crowd. I think most people could understand I wanted to fit into that crowd so bad, but coming from my insecurities.
I didn’t want I don’t think I wanted anything more than to fit into that crowd than my sobriety. And I would look over at the parking lot and see them chatting it up and
think of like, oh, who’s dating Who? And then I would go into the meeting. And I would hang out with like the 55 year olds who taught me about life. I think that’s one of those things, though. And it comes down to a lot of getting out of our comfort zone. And when you see people your same age, all doing the same thing. I mean, it’s difficult to tell somebody you shouldn’t be hanging out with the people.
Who are where you are because you can’t grow. If you’re not stretching yourself outside of your comfort zone and you’re not going to be learning, you know, I like to equate it with kids playing t ball. So you could be emulating the kid who is the best at t ball. But if you have a major league player right next door, who’s saying, this is how you get into the majors, everybody’s going to want to flock to the T ball player because he’s close enough to their level. But the reality is, if you want to get substantial results, you need to be doing things that are substantially different than what you’ve currently been doing. And I touch on that a lot with my clients when we’re doing business coaching, and they’ll be they’ll be kind of stuck in the mindset of, here’s how I always do things therefore
This is the way that they need to get done. And I’ll open their eyes to just things that are completely, completely out of their comfort zone completely. Just opposite and backwards, of how they’ve been raised everything that they think they know, will just turn things completely upside down, like you should hire people to do the work for you get percentages instead of, you know, 100% it’s better to take 10% of a watermelon than it is to take 100% of a grape and you’ve been eating grapes your whole life, it’s time to eat watermelon. So how did you get into life coaching? It seems to me that the beginning of your life, you were not really in a position to be giving advice. So what?
Well, yeah, and I mean, I can even say that for a long time in my recovery too. So part of the big thing with my story of like going into coaching
Was that I had worked, you know, just kind of did like the normal recovery thing kind of did like the normal life thing I had, you know, I went back to school, I wanted to go into social work, and then I realized, like, I really don’t want to go into social work and, you know, make that money and, you know, and it I felt like it just overlaps too much with what I was doing. You know, in, in a program like this, you know, it’s not what I want to do. And, and I was working at a restaurant and it’s a great restaurant here in the Chicagoland area and
 I decided to stick with them and to move to move up with them.
Because they have like, you know, like, you know, leadership training, stuff like that, that people just kind of walk to in a way. So I was very fortunate to have to have just even started with that company and I stayed with that company for 10 years. And in management there I learned so many skills of just this, you know of coaching of leaders.
of talking to people from all different backgrounds of you know, the 50 employees on any given day that are there, and managing those people in it in an extremely stressful environment, and really getting to know them, how to tailor the talk to them how to be really 100% honest, how do how am I authentic that when I show up to these people every single day, they know what to expect from me, whether I’m having something personal go on at home, whether they’re having something personal going, when they show up to work, they they know that Casey is Casey. That’s it. So from that I learned, you know, authenticity. I learned how to be accountable to people, I learned how to really just truly be myself and not be ashamed of that any longer. But even within that, it was I don’t know, it was maybe eight years into doing and I was just like,
not, not what I want to do for the rest of my life. And I looked at all the things
Of You know, it’s a great company, great reputation, you know, I got a bunch of zeros on my paycheck, it’s, you know, filled that kind of very the extremely empathetic part of me of coaching and leadership until I just decided like this is truly is not what what I want to do and, and then all the limiting beliefs come in of well, I never finished my degree because of this job and I’m an addict and I have, you know, my background of, you know, multiple felonies and so all of that stuff started coming back in about 10 years into sobriety. And, and I was going through a divorce at the time and just, you know, all of these things. And I think my from my divorce it was, it was one of the best things that happened to me because I learned, I really learned my own inner strengths. I really learned I do truly have control over my emotions, maybe not immediately when they happen. But if I sit on something for more than five seconds
Like, that’s my choice, emotions are going to happen. We’re just human. And from that I learned so much of just how to overcome things and not let outside you know circumstances affect who I am. So I ended up leaving that management job to go travel. So I spent was about 11 months out of the country. And from that I had met a lot of coaches who were just like crazily doing the deal. And
I’m like, my god like this. I love you loved what they were about. And I was so drawn to what they were doing of not because they were trying to do it for a paycheck, like I mean, I met some extremely authentic coaches where it was just they had a message of what you know about yourself, what you believe about yourself, is pretty much bullshit. Like, let’s uncover that bullshit and
Let’s get down to the real you as a human being which qualities,
stop telling yourself the Bs, because they had gone through it too, and they had suffered through it. So for me, my draw to go into coaching was to, you know, break down those lies. It wasn’t too. It was like to end you know, to end human suffering.
it is you, you have a profound impact on the people that you’re coaching and the ability to basically hop into somebody’s brain and rewire the way that they think and the way that they view and all the things that happen on the inside to be able to do that and be effective. I mean, that really does completely change somebody’s outlook on life and how they handle the world and it’s it’s like the idea behind 12 step recovery.
You have your life is a complete wreck, and you play a giant role in it. And you can translate that into coaching where your life not necessarily has gone to crap, although a lot of times it has. But the idea that you can rewire that and you can take control of what’s going on in your life and impact your destiny, those are all really really impactful things that people can’t just pull out. Without getting assistance from some sort of outside force. I kind of look at it, like the sponsor sponsee relationship, but it’s in a more professional way. And I think it’s really great that you can get in with people and erase the suffering or at least get it to a point where it’s manageable. What was one of the things that’s really stood out to you since you become a coach, something like one of those big wins? I think one of the things that really stands out is that most, most people know what they need to do.
They’re just not willing to take action. And there’s, you know, there’s probably many reasons why people are not willing to take action. And I think it’s one reason to why people even question like, why do I really need a coach for this? You know, what, why do I need a life coach, recovery coach, transitional coach, a business coach, you know, I know what I need to do. It’s like, well, if you know what you need to do, then why aren’t you doing it? You know, so that’s one of the basic things I think that’s one of like, the big aha moments, is it’s not that these people are stupid.
That is not the case, or that they’re, you know, ignorant to a lot of the things that actually needs to happen. It’s that they don’t know how a but the reasons why they don’t do them are a little bit greater. So that could be, you know, their, their past beliefs that they don’t even realize those subconscious things of, you know, when the fear comes in a little bit of having to go to, you know, either it’s going to the gym or maybe like going to a networking group or asking the boss for a raise.
You know, starting their own company, whatever it might be, you know, when the amygdala goes off, and they’re thinking that it is the end of the world, when really all they’re doing is asking to have their needs to be met. They know us somewhere they know that all I’m really doing is asking to have my needs to be met. But then we go into that fight or flight mode, and you think it’s the end of the world. And because of past situations, we shrink back from doing those things, and then we just stay in our comfort zone. So yeah, I probably say that’s, that’s one of the biggest thing is that a lot of people will come and it’s not that, you know, come to me, it’s not that they don’t know what they need to do. They just don’t take the action for whatever reason, and that’s, you know, that I think that’s the greatest thing about coaching is having someone there to basically kind of like in early sobriety, I had, you know, a sponsor, I had counselors, I have these people in my life to like, hold my hand basically. And they didn’t write out the paperwork for me, but they were there to hold my hand.
Give me those little tidbits of information that I needed to hear and walk me through the process. And then if there was something that I wasn’t aware of, because they had been doing this a little bit longer than they would throw me that information.
Yeah, and that’s one of the things that really drew me to the coaching world in general. It was a lot like 12 step work. But it wasn’t just impacting Well, if I do this, I get to stay sober. But you can apply these things to so many different aspects in your life. And I think growing up, you know, our parents hold us accountable. Our teachers hold us accountable. And we kind of just go through life with, okay, give me the assignment. Now yell at me until I do it. And then Welcome to the real world. You get to make decisions, and we kind of fall back to I’ll go work for somebody, tell me what to do. I don’t want to make decisions. And then when we have the
opportunity to do something impactful and do something big and different, then we fall into, but nobody told me to do this and nobody’s going to hold me accountable. So it’s, you know, we’ve got this epidemic of obesity in America. And it’s not because we haven’t been told to eat healthy and exercise like that’s, that’s all you have to do. And it goes back to well case it’s not that easy. But it right. But it literally is, though, the action is just that easy. But if we don’t have a big enough why, then you know, maybe we’ll do it for a couple weeks, couple months, but push comes to shove and eating healthy is not that fun, every single day. And you eat a pizza and you get away with it and then it’s like, I didn’t even want to be healthy anyway.
But we can have that same mindset with our lives, like you said, asking for a raise, going out and making the jump into entrepreneurship, all of these things. It’s not super, super difficult and especially like the asking for a raise, like you just go ask a question. No one’s ever been like, now you’re fired. Like, the worst case is back to work. And you ask the question, it’s really not going to be as devastating one of my coaches, he always says, it’s never going to go as bad as you want it to.
And I think that’s how we all just jump to immediate worst case scenario. And it’s usually not even that bad. Yeah, I had when before I left the country, and I was I was considering traveling and again, I mean, I had kicked around the idea of leaving this job for two years beforehand. And
I had vacation I had solo vacation to Puerto Rico and
I had met this guy, and him and his wife had started a brewery there, which Puerto Rico did not have. And they had honeymoons there. They fell in love with it. And they had left their jobs here in the actual states, I guess. To start this, he’s like, everyone thought we were crazy. And so I had told him, you know, what was going on with me. And he’s just in Syria, because everyone is going to tell you, you were fucking crazy. You just do it. But his thing was, he just looked at me said, What is the worst that can happen? Is it really what what’s the worst that could happen? I said, Well, by the time I return, you know, I’ll be 35 and what if I’m broke and I can’t get a job and, and I’m living in my mom’s, you know, second bedroom goes, Well, if that is the case, if that’s where you physically are, and you and other people are judging you. Let them judge like you’re the one that took a risk of leaving this extremely stable job to go travel and experience the world and do all this other stuff. Forget them. You’re the one that’s going to have, you know, years of memories
of, of traveling in crazy places. So what and I, you know, thinking of that what is the worst that is going to happen? What is the worst that’s going to happen if, if I don’t hang out with those 20 year olds when I get sober when I’m 20? And I’m going to a 12 step meeting, what’s the worst that’s going to happen if, if I tell myself, you know, I’m going to make a commitment to go to the gym? Two days a week for 30 minutes, and I actually get over there and I hate it. So what can you go back home and sit on the couch if you want to? But really, and I’ve asked myself that question so many times and I use it a lot in coaching to, to really draw out what the person is thinking, what is their mindset, what is their biggest fear? Because that’s what this guy did with me basically, not kind of, you know, not knowing that he was coaching me, but drawing that out, what is the what is the mindset of, you know, of the coach, he basically what is their projected scenario here and when a coach can kind
tap into that, then they can start, you know, backpedaling that that worst case scenario. All right, well, let’s realistically look at what could happen here.
So I’ve used that a lot of what’s the worst that could happen?
Yeah, when I started my IT company that was the exact conversation that I had with myself, and it was a whole lot of things had lined up perfectly for me to make the jump and, and basically, the conclusion I came to was, the worst possible case scenario is it doesn’t work, I empty my retirement and I’m like, 28 living with my parents, which I did for the first 20 some years of my life anyway, it’s not really going to be this terrible thing, even if it doesn’t work. And I mean, my goal initially was just to be able to pay the bills in my own work, doing some
thing that I enjoyed. And I mean it grew to way, way bigger than I thought it ever could. And I hadn’t even considered what if something better than I imagined happens and that’s kind of that happens in recovery where one of the quotes that I hear a lot is if I had my craziest dreams come true when I first got in the rooms I would be selling myself so short and that was definitely my experience with coming into the rooms because all I wanted to do I didn’t even want to stop drinking but like I wanted to stop getting in trouble for drinking and then just kind of did a fake it till you make it kind of deal.
But it’s been just such a crazy journey to see where I was when I was starting out, facing that fear and I still run into it all the time. I’ve got a couple of
opportunities in the pipeline that are just big and, you know, I’m thinking, What if it doesn’t work out? What if it doesn’t work out? And if if I just play the tape, worst thing that happens, it doesn’t work and I lose some money and I can get money again. Like that’s, that’s most of the big problems that I run into now is I pay for something that isn’t what I hoped it was, and then I just have to earn it again. That’s that’s 99% of worst case scenarios at this point. Yeah, and it’s speaking of like money, I mean, that was a huge that was a huge like, self limiting belief for me, because I, you know, mentioned like, with my childhood, there was, you know, there was poverty and living with my mom and then at my dad’s you my dad had money, but he wasn’t willing to fork over any of that. And there was always this battle with money with my mom and my dad and it happens to be
through my brother and myself. It never went directly
Was my mom, my dad because they didn’t speak it always was directed at us. So I felt like I was not worthy of money basically. And so I would save and I would save and I would save.
And I just the scarcity mentality. So that came into play of like, you know, going into workshops when when I was overseas and really like treating myself or you know, having my own coach doing those things, you know, to benefit myself if there’s anything that I need to spend money on now, it’s like looking at is like, it will come back. This is an investment. And it’s not to say that you we don’t spend money on things and it doesn’t turn out but the bottom line is having to have that belief that this will work out because if I don’t spend the money, then it won’t. Then I just I literally will never know because I have never even attempted to do that. So it comes down to you know that simple saying like it’s better to, you know, try and to fail than to have never tried it all. Whatever
botching that one. But you get the point. That’s one of those things when they ask people on their deathbed, do you have any regrets anything you wish you did over?
You can’t take that money with you. And no one’s thinking, I wish I had saved more. I wish I had. You know, it’s always the regret of a wish I’d taken that chance. I wish I had spent more time with my family. It’s never something along the lines of
I’m glad I played it safe and nothing exciting happened. But that’s how we live our lives. And if we don’t have somebody pushing us, all the people that live in mediocre land, which by definition is a majority of the people. They will all cosine it. You shouldn’t do your startup that’s risky. You shouldn’t travel the world. What if there’s a terrorist attack? I think that’s one of the craziest, one of the craziest things like what if there’s a terrorist attack in America in your
Your hometown like that. That can also happen it’s not like they’re scheduled out and you’re just planning to be there wrong place wrong time like it. It can hell I had learned playing safe from my mom and she did not like the idea of me traveling whatsoever and I would say to her mom, I drive 80 miles per hour on the highway every single day or you know, it was like 60 miles to and from work and like that right there is the most dangerous thing and we all do it and we don’t think twice about it. So and with that she like a terrorist attack. I lived with a family in in Palestine for about three weeks. And you know, when we think of these things can I’ll Weren’t you scared? And this and this.
They were the most wonderful people ever.
You know, it’s not to say that I wasn’t kind of, you know, on the lookout, but it was they were the most wonderful country community. hospitable people that would
Literally just say, you know, come in coffee, tea, coffee tea, because it’s kind of what some of them just knew in English, and they just want it to be around you. And so when I look at that, it’s I never would have had that sort of experience right there. I would never have had that understanding about culture and community, and curiosity that they almost have had I stayed here and gotten out of that comfort zone, and thought, Oh, well, it’s too scary over there. But having like, again, really recognizing what we do, what is the worst thing that can happen? Well, I, you know, I think is that I can get into my car, the most dangerous thing that I do every single day, and I could get into an accident, but no one wants to look at that because for some reason we trust because we feel like we’re in control. We trust that it’s, you know, because it’s comfortable for us. You know, getting into the car and driving is comfortable. The statistics are staggering to have how many people dying
accidents. But so often we just kind of take life for granted. And just kind of assume that our time is just an infinite thing. And I know that I just personally am. I am more risk tolerant than the average bear. Like, I’ll come out and say it. But at the same time, we’re all on earth for a set amount of years. And it’s I look at it like a movie, you know, it’s eventually going to end. And I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but I don’t want to be sitting on my deathbed. Thinking. Glad I played it safe in didn’t try that startup. There’s just so many experiences so many things that I’m extremely grateful that once I took the plunge and got extremely uncomfortable, and then realized on the other side of it, running your own business really isn’t that scary in the first couple of
months it’s like, but I mean, it’s kind of just like any other job except for at this job if it goes wrong, you can lose everything versus just getting fired and stopping income it can go the other way, but it’s just another job and the day to day doesn’t mean it’s it’s crazy different all the time. But it’s, I don’t know, I guess it’s the kind of chaos that I like. But Casey in in wrapping up, what advice would you have for someone that’s struggling with addiction trying to get sober or just starting out? If they’re just starting out in, in recovery, you know, ask for the help. Like, there’s a simple thing of you know, there’s no, there are no stupid questions.
And just, you know, what I always think to have a newcomer coming in is that it’s it’s scary. It’s unknown territory. It looks like
Everyone has all of their stuff together. And just to keep in the forefront of your mind, everyone was new. At one point, everyone had to walk into their first meeting at some point. They didn’t come in with this host of friends. They didn’t come in because their life was great they came in because they needed help. And how uncomfortable that is, you know, when we really think about how uncomfortable it is to walk into a room of strangers and ask for help. Like that is truly like a cry of desperation when we walk into a room of strangers and ask for help. But this just shows where we’re at in our life. So just remembering everyone was new ones everyone is starting out doing these things.
You know, what is what is the end goal and keep that keep that in the in the forefront of your mind is that you know, maybe you just want to quit drinking. Maybe you don’t want to, you know, start a business or do all this other stuff. Maybe you just want to quit drinking. And but if that is your end goal, I just want to quit drinking. People say
That a 12 step meeting or a coach or, you know, this facility can help me do that. Keep that in the forefront of your mind. Like, that’s what worked. For me. It wasn’t about being popular. It wasn’t about making money. It wasn’t about anything else. It was just, I need to stop doing this stuff. And I’m willing to do whatever it takes. And I think that sometimes it’s a lot easier said than done. But just like anything with, you know, talking about coaching or business as long as I know, my purpose and my intent, why I’m doing this, no matter what I do in the middle, I can’t fail. I think of the first couple of years of sobriety, and it ties in a lot to my coaching with, you know, with mental health, too, is that I suffered from severe depression, so it wasn’t just probably coming off the drugs too, but like severe depression the first couple of years and I like to talk about this because people go through it and they think that they’re crazy and they think that they’re different in that they’re never going to get this sobriety thing. But also there is a you know, the biochemical component to all of this too. I would cry
Like in fetal position, sometimes it just like rocking and shaking and it’s not that I wanted to use drugs or alcohol, but I knew drugs or alcohol would know me for a little bit basically. And I would just sit there and like, sometimes pull my hair out and just say like, I’m not like completely out but you know, like pulling my hair and just say, it’s gonna be okay. Like you don’t want to use you don’t want to use you don’t want to use and that wasn’t because I was physically addicted to something else like that had to do with my mental health too. And but my, the, you know, my thing was when I first got sober, I said, Nothing is going to get me high. Nothing. I am doing this for me. And years into sobriety. I would just repeat that when things really got tough. So set like, set the intention. What do I intend to do? If it’s at the beginning, just to get sober and not pick up a drink than you, then nothing will get in your way, is what it comes down to. Like keep it simple, stupid.
Love that. And what advice would you give somebody who’s maybe on the edge wants to get into entrepreneurship, but they’ve been at their job for the last 10 years, and they’ve invested a whole lot of time in it. What advice would you give for that person who’s on the edge? Well,
go back to that guy saying, What’s the worst that’s going to happen? I would say, if someone isn’t really ready to take that big leap, you know, for me, it was a little bit different. I had financial stability at the time. You know, I was able to just up and quit my job and do some soul searching and stuff. I understand that not everyone is in that position. But there were also things that led up to it. There was just this curiosity of what is what is it like to go out by myself? And I would start to do things just kind of spontaneously, you know, I go for like, you know, runs along the Lakeshore that I had not done before. I was
Go to different tours, I would go to shows by myself, I would learn to just kind of build up my self esteem of what did I like I was curious and maybe an entrepreneur, maybe they don’t even know what they want to do. They just know that they don’t want to work that nine to five, but they don’t really know what they like they don’t have their purpose. They don’t have you know, there’s plenty of people that go into it, they like they know they have it inside of them. They just don’t know what the actual product is going to be. So my first advice on that is get out and do things and that might take a year of discovering yourself, you know, go Google things that are going on in your area and do those things and do a lot of them alone. Don’t have your best friend there to tell you how great it is or how horrible it is that it’s boring. Go and do those things by yourself. You want to get outside your comfort zone and know what it feels like to be lonely. You know, wondering, am I running my business correctly? Go out there for a year and do go to meetups by yourself. Go to networking
yourself, go on tours by yourself, go to shows by yourself, do that stuff alone and get comfortable with you. Because that’s where you start to find out what who you are and what you like, and what drives you
to people that you can help. So you know, when you’re talking about entrepreneurship, it could go so many different ways, not just coaching.
So I would say if someone isn’t in that financial position, where they don’t know what they want to do, do something by yourself for the first year, go on meetup, go on event, right? Go on, you know, Facebook, whatever it is, and find out things that are going on in your area, but do them by yourself. And then once you start getting into that, and you say, hey, these are the people that I want to help. If you’re like me, you want to do everything all at once. And you know, I don’t know exactly at the beginning. It’s, you know, I want to do this and I want to start this nonprofit and I want coach and I want to have this Incorporated, learning to slow down and network with a lot of other people, right, who are maybe who have gone before.
You in certain areas,
you know, see what see what’s out there, you know, get outside your comfort zone at the beginning, you know, go to, you know, go to some networking groups see what the market is that’s out there. See, this is what one thing that I actually do. I will go to networking groups and see what just as more like to kind of perfect my coaching skills, find out what the mindset is of some of these people when they’re transitioning in a job, or they’re going to do a startup know some of this stuff. I already know what to hear it from a vast majority of people, I can then get easier into the mind of a client, right? If that makes sense. And you know, going to some of those, I’m a talker and again, you know, I said like, always putting on this face that everything is good. Well, once you start to figure out what your business is going to be
About, yeah, go to those meetups and just say, What do I have to lose? Like, I don’t owe these people anything, but there could be a client in there, there could be $10,000 in there. I don’t know, there could be a potential business partner in there.
You know, go to go to mastermind, you know, find someone find a group of people who are really doing the deal and that are going to lift you up, hold you accountable, give you the business ideas that you may not have even thought of yet. That’s so great. And where can listeners find you? I am at Ryan. Life. coaching.com. Perfect. All right, Casey, thank you so much for being on the show. And guys, if you liked the episode, please subscribe. Check out Casey online. She’s doing great things. And Casey, thank you so much for being on the show. Thanks, Andrew

Check out this episode!

Darren Littlejohn – From Hard Knocks to Compassionate Recovery

Find Andrew on the Web: www.selfmade-coaching.com

Join Andrew’s Facebook Group! SMCMastermind

Find Darren Littlejohn on the web:

Online: www.compassionaterecovery.net

Podcast: The 12-Step Buddhist Podcast

Facebook: Compassionate Recovery

Instagram: 12stepbuddhist

Twitter: @12stepbuddhist

The Book: The 12-Step Buddhist: Enhance Recovery from Any Addiction – Darren Littlejohn

Other information referenced:

Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction – Noah Levine 

Dharma Punx – Noah Levine 

Against the Stream: A Buddhist Manual for Spiritual Revolutionaries – Noah Levine

Darren’s teacher: Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Bestselling author Darren Littlejohn dropped out of school in the eighth grade in order to “pursue drugs and alcohol as a full-time endeavor.” After a long, rough road to sobriety, he earned a BA in Psychology from California State University, Long Beach, and has completed all coursework but the final theses for the MA Pre-Doctoral Research Program.

In his personal journey, he studied Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, later integrating all of his life experience, beliefs, credentials and true passion into his work. As part of the journey he founded “Compassionate Recovery” and wrote “The 12-Step Buddhist” as well as many other books. 

02:17 – Early onset learning and social challenges led to him to “actively teach his brain how to hijack the reward system”

06:15 – The lessons he learned in recovery were ‘mind blowing’ which led to his spiritual awakening

11:20 – Pushing his academic life aside he decided to move to Texas to pursue a career as a Jazz musician which led to his experimentation with psychedelics which led to relapse and depression

13:47 – He reluctantly rekindled his relationship with 12-step program with Noah Levine as his sponsor but he began to see the cracks in the program

16:05 – You gotta know about “The Funnel”

23:59 – This is why he wrote, “The 12-Step Buddhist” and why it wasn’t written to become a new program

33:45 – Does 12-step work for everybody?

36:13 – Lama Zopa Rinpoche is Darren’s current Buddhist teacher, he encouraged him to teach people about compassion which led to the formation of a new model for recovery

40:54 – There is a tremendous amount of new data out there and understanding of what trauma does to the brain that isn’t being utilized by the mainstream recovery community

45:17 – Compassionate Recovery is a new model of recovery that is based on principles and an understanding of what to do when someone is in acute psychic pain

52:59 – Darren describes what the new Compassionate Recovery meetings will look like and how they will be formed

57:36 – Darren shares some actionable tips for aspiring writers in the audience

Matt Gallagher – Stumbling in the Woods and Sobriety

Matt Gallagher’s Links



A Stumble in the Woods: https://www.amazon.com/Matt-Gallagher-Stumble-Woods/dp/B07LGCRD7H

Andrew’s Links




Like there were guys out at beers game and you’re like okay be while you did have 18 beers never made it to the game you’re like I have like four

And with me today is comedian Matt Gallagher. Matt has a hilarious special on Amazon right now. It’s called Matt Gallagher a stumble in the woods. And that’s the best known for his comedy career which started in New York in sobriety. Matt, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you.
Thanks. Thanks for having me.
When I was listening to the special just like man, this guy is just nailing it, you know, 10 minutes in Jesus Christ this guy is on fire is so cool to listen to. Well, why don’t you give us a little background on you know how, how everything started and, you know, we can get into your sobriety and things like that. But what’s what’s kind of the background of Matt Gallagher,
thanks for watching this special by the way I got he sent me a text and that that made me happy. Yeah, that’s special is really kind of my story. I both sides of my family were Irish Catholic bar owners back east. My mom’s family had a bar called the Aaron in Atlantic City in my dad’s family had a bar called Gallagher’s in South Philly, I six sisters, I was young boy, you know, Irish Prince. Drinking wasn’t like, it was expected, you know. And I was I felt lost as a kid. I mean, I had all girls running around the house. I was like, you know, just in my own dream world, felt confused all the time. Didn’t understand, like, the real religious people in my family. And, man, once I started drinking, it was like, you know, here we go. And I made that my identity. Like, I’m like, this is my thing. You know, like, I’m the guy who drinks and you guys guy you wanted it. You know what I when I went to parties, it was like, you’re so different than when you’re at school. And it’s like, yeah, I’m sober and scared at school. You know, and then, you know, I’ll dance and tell jokes and act crazy. And, and that worked for me that like gave me some kind of identity. I was like, never allowed to drive. Like, I think I was a designated driver once and I, you know, I got hammered, and through the keys. And my friends were like, you’re never going to drive again. But I always had like a keg tap. And, like, I would always challenge people to like, I practice doing rip cords. When I was a kid, in the basements, my sisters were much older than me. And I really did make it like, my Danny, like, this is who I want to be. I loved being in the bars and seeing people like my uncles, and the guys who, you know, had the big red noses and these like, great war stories, and just were able to hold court. And I was like, they that’s, that’s what I want. I was never someone who was like, man, I want a big fancy car, I want to have, you know, clothes or this. Like, I wanted to be somebody who could hold court and, like, walk into a room and feel a you know, and
you know, had immediate downsides. Like my high school memories, I wrote, I did what like I was I was blacking out from a very early age. And I, you know, went to go to college, and in Boston, and I got had 13 alcohol violations in three months. Like, I just, I didn’t get it, you know what I mean? I was like, I’m a college like, I’m, of course, I’m going to drink in the shower, I’m, you know, I’m going to walk, you know, beer breakfast at the missile, like, they were just writing me up left and right. And I was just like, I got more freedom at home, you know, what I mean? Like, and school was getting in the way of what I wanted to do, you know what I mean? And I dropped out of school, and I went back to New Jersey, and, you know, things get real, then, you know, it’s like, Okay, you got to get a job, I became a house painter. And that was a place where it was like, people show up, hung hung over, you paint until, you know, five o’clock and maybe have a beer in the van. And then you know, repeat, repeat, repeat. And I, you know, I that was also a thing where my drinking was getting in the way that you know, it’s hard, you know, I felt for roof. You know, one time I was just from being like hungover and lazy one time because I was still a little buzzed.
I felt trapped, you know, and I was just drinking with abandon. And that was some of the times when I started. Like morning, drinking was like a joke. You know what I mean? It’s like, Hey, you know, hair, the dog. And that’s when I kind of started, you know, having a beer with breakfast a lot. And no lunch break beers. And I was working basically, to make sure I had cash in my pocket to get a 12 pack right after work, and let the chips fall where they may each day. And then I decided, or a guy asked me say you want to get out of this town, you want to go west. And I never been west of Philadelphia. And I’m like, yep, let’s go. So I ended up in Arizona. And, you know, the way I was brought up like Irish Catholic drinking was encouraged and like, you know, expected, I remember people saying that people don’t drink hard in any form. And I didn’t know anything about sobriety or anybody not drinking. But a couple times, my parents would say stuff to me, like when they knew I was, you know, hitting it a little harder than the average Joe, like, you know, your uncle’s liver exploded in South Philly, in cirrhosis. And that’s how I lost the bar. Okay. And then you find other little tidbits, you know, about people who died from alcoholism. So I go to end but drugs, were not an option. Like that. The idea was, if you drank great if you did drugs, you know, you should go to jail. It should be boiled in oil. And then I had a couple of cousins die from drugs. This is like Jordan aids, when the AIDS epidemic it some people got a two cousins who were, you know, whatever that the effects of that. But I move out west and I’m 20 years old, I had already bars, I’d started bartending when I was 19. I had a relative get me a job at a dive bar. So I go into the nightclub business. And this is like a whole new world for me. Because I’m like a bar back in a nightclub in Scottsdale, Arizona. And it’s like, it’s not working class New Jersey at all. It’s a lot of, you know, breast implants and tanning salons and guys in suits. And I was like, wow, like, what, what is this world, and I was making money. I had friends, I was drinking, I was smoking pot at that time, like, you know, 20 years old smoking some pot. And I, like literally one night of all my things like, I’m never going to do drugs, the guy turns me goes like sniff and I went, and I snorted some coke. And, you know, I didn’t burst into flames as a good. So page, you know. And I also knew that I had, I was still driving, you know, you had to drive everywhere. And I was I was starting to blackout all the time. And I was scared at the wise and my brain said you got to find ways to stay alert and awake. And that led me into powders. It was it was not a tough leap to make you know what I mean? Like all the sudden it was just like an added thing to my drinking regimen. So short time after that I met a girl. I think you saw this special, you know, it turned out she was Yeah, she was a street you know, she was like a specialty stripper escort. And I met her because one of the door men’s girlfriends did crystal meth. And I was they were in a fight. And I was up with her late at night drinking and she’s like, you want to try this. And I thought it was coke. And I did some speed. And I was like, holy man, I can drink as long as I want on this stuff. I just I needed it. Like, I was like, I got my beers. I got to find some of this because I’m going out. And then I found a girl who sold it. And I was dating her. And it became an everyday thing for you know, pretty much, six years, seven years, something like that. And, you know that
that really
took me down as far as
at least when I was drinking occasionally I’d pass out and sleep for six hours, you know, but yeah, that to it. And you know, you do three, five day runs where you’re drinking ungodly amounts, and you’re just not sleeping, you start to go crazy, you know, and your life looks crazy. And you get into crazy situations. My friends, I became like, that was the first time I was really unemployable. You know, look where I had a guy tell me is still my friend today. He’s like, I can’t hire you. I can’t have you behind the bar. Like, you know, I wouldn’t show up. I show up. If I showed up. I was drunk. I’d be drinking behind the bar. It was I always wanted to make everything a party to like, It’s on me. It’s on me. You know, I just disaster. And yeah, it just, it just kept going. You know, I mean, I was trying to hold on to this party. And it just kept getting less and less fun and more and more work. You know, I hear that a lot. I go to meetings and you know, it feels like calling it a parties a joke. I mean, it at some point, it becomes so much work to keep it going. And I just started doing like geographics. Like I kind of bottomed out in Arizona. So I moved to California to become an actor, you know, and I got it together for a little while. And, you know, you know, eventually I’m Dana can be from going on stage. I was doing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. And I was hammered. Like the character was supposed to be drunk. I was drunker than drunk, you know, running into people on stage. It was just, I could not drink. And
when I look back on it now, it just seems like
like a blur that had to happen the way it did. Like, it just I had to be shown everything. Like if something went right, I drank and I destroyed if something was going wrong, I just kept making it worse. I was just, you know, calling the airstrikes in on myself. I mean, I actually I gotta I graduated from acting school. And I got a pilot for a show, you know, with somebody who’s pretty well known. And I mean, I I just destroyed it. I was a mess. I go into meetings, after being up for three days, having a drink in the parking lot, and then be shocked when they weren’t excited to, you know, talk about the future. They’re like, All right, see ya. You know, Hollywood. And then, you know, la was the problem. And I moved to New York. And then you know, New York is where I really, really hit the ground hard. As far as I didn’t have to drive anymore. I got a bartending job two blocks from my house. There was a drug dealer working at the restaurant. I mean, like, all the elements were there for me to have a, you know, a nasty bottom. And I did, you know, I got fired. I was getting kicked out of all the local bars right around my house, like I had to make bigger circles to find places that, you know, we’re okay with the way I drank. And I got suicidal. And,
yeah, I had a suicide attempt.
You know, I made a call on the blackout. And the next, you know, my family, my sister husband came and got me and took me to rehab. And that was in 2001. And my life, you know, completely changed after that.
Yeah. So when when you reached out to your family was, was this just a random occurrence or had it just kind of clicked for you? That just, I can’t keep doing this, what’s going through your head.
my family was aware, like times where I would go home. Um, you know, I was just, they were like, it was obvious, like, I’d come home 25 pounds less than I was the last time I was home. One time I stayed at my sister’s house, she put a portable fridge next to the couch, and just stopped it full of beer. And I put on like, 13 pounds in like, eight days. I just slept on the couch drinking beer. And one of my sisters, like, had me go to a meeting with a therapist, you know, she’s like, why your home Monday meets my friend. And, you know, the therapist was like, how much do you drink? And I, you know, I was trying to like, make it sound. Okay. And, you know, like, how many days do you drink? Like, I drink every day? But you know?
And like, how much and I was like, every day, but you
know, yeah,
like, just, you know, like with dinner.
With dinner, everyone blacks out at dinner. Come on. And when you wake up at work? Yeah.
Yeah, I mean it like, as I’m talking to her, she’s just like, also, you could just see the wheels going alcoholic, alcoholic alcoholic? And, like, how much do you drink it? I’m just like, six, you know, I was like, having everything or, you know, making it sound palette, which is still on the
checklist of like, How much? How much is too much to drink? Like, if you get five, it’s like a disaster. What do you mean? If I do five, like, you mean, in the morning or the afternoon? Like, I didn’t even understand those questionnaires. It was just like, all of this is just sort of normal. Like, what do you mean? Do I drink more than five? Do I drink every day? Like, what are you supposed to do? Just not do that? Like that? Doesn’t even that doesn’t even register when I’m when I’m out there.
Like in hindsight, you look at it and you go like, I you kind of know you’re an alcoholic if, especially when you’re younger, like the guys, when they’re lying about how much they drink and adding numbers to it. And you’re cutting it in half. Like you’re like on a different path. Like there were guys out at beers game and you’re like, Okay, well, you did have 18 beers never made it to the game. You’re like, I have like four, you know?
Yeah, I had a doctor once. The doctor had said to me, do you think he I had a seizure and I was in the hospital. The doctor comes in, he says, How often do you drink? And I said about eight times a week. He says eight? I said yeah, well I drink every single day. But on Sundays, I wake up early to watch football blackout, wake up and get drunk again for the for the eight o’clock game. So I get drunk twice on Sunday. He’s like, wow, that’s, that’s a lot. I was like, so what should I be shooting for? Like someone in my level? Like maybe four or five times a night? He’s like, he’s like, do you do it by yourself? I was like, kind of question is that of course I do it by myself. Yeah. It’s like, maybe just in social situations. I was like, I don’t get those. What am I supposed to do?
I tell people, like, people think they drink a lot, who don’t have this? And, um, you know, they’re like, try and drink with you for night. And I’m like, good job, do it. Let’s do it 10 times in a row. You know what I mean? Like the the big commitment to it shows you that there really isn’t an option. like nobody would do that to themselves. People who are trying to get I was like, the go to guy to call, like, if you were just got out of a relationship. Or like, you know, you you’re having a bad day, people will call me like, what do you do it? Like, come on it, you know, I mean, just jump on. You don’t mean destroy yourself for a day. And then they go away? Like, I’ll see you, you know, you know, I was the last person girlfriends wanted their boyfriends to call you know what I mean? Just because there wasn’t like I was going to be like, the, it wasn’t like debauchery warehouse and stuff like that. It was just like, Who knows when they’re coming back, you know. But yet with the time when I called my sister, so I was in a position where I was, I wanted to stop drinking, and I couldn’t, every day I’d wake up and and be like, I’m not drinking today. That’s it. And you know, it was I’m never drinking again, I’m not drinking for a year, I’m not drinking for a month, I’m not drinking this week, I’m not drinking till dark. And then I’d have a beer with a ham sandwich. And it’s just the enemy. That was that was part of like the soul crushing nature of the disease. You know what I mean? I mean, just letting yourself down every day. And just like watching me mentally lower the bar for my expectations from you know, never year, week, day, five minutes drunk, you know. So I was fired from a job for drinking on the job at a nice restaurant. And I in a blackout I called. And once that, that chain of events happened, I kind of had to hold on for it. Because I, I didn’t want to disappoint my sister and her husband, they were like we’re coming. There had been a suicide in the family the year before with someone who was couldn’t get sober. And so I was like, I’m going to try this out. Like I got, I have no options anyway, like, I can’t pay rent, I can’t get out of the house, I don’t have enough money for it. I was collecting coins from my house, I wasn’t doing laundry. And I was getting this some malt liquor that was like it was literally like $1, nine at the corner store in Manhattan. And that’s what I was like, basically living on. And so when we headed towards this rehab, you know, halfway there, I kind of did, you know, I drank on the way they bought me drinks. So I wouldn’t go into, you know, whatever the manual said, but I you know, halfway there, I’m like, I think I’m good. You know, I’d gotten like four shots and me and a couple beers. And they were like, nope, we’re going and they show up at the rehab. And all my sisters and my mom and dad are there.
they were like, okay, you know, they everybody kind of knew this day was coming except me. And I go in, and then I find out that my cousin had 15 years clean. And he was gonna come up to talk to me. And then you start hearing like, it was like this big secret that I didn’t know about all the people in my family on the fringes, and the generation before that had alcoholism, and then drug addiction and all this stuff.
So it was kind of cool. Like, I felt like
I had somebody to talk to and who understood it. And this was a cousin, I’d known forever. And I never knew that he was in, you know, doing 12 step recovery work for years. And he kind of looked me dead in the eyes. And it’s just like, you ready to, you know, put an end to this, and I’ll be your sponsor. And I was like, Okay. And like halfway through the rehab, I called him and said, I want to go home, he’s like, nope, you’re going to finish something you started this time. You’ve committed to you sign that paper, when you went in there said 28 days, you got to stay for 28 days. That’s that’s how you do stuff. Now. You finish what you’re doing. And that was like kind of the, the beginning of the, you know, intentions are nice, but actions are better.
You know,
you’re going to start doing what you say. And I had some great
moments in that rehab.
I had two people go into seizures that I was with. I mean, I caught a lady on the stairs, she just like out. And there was a lady like we’re doing like a walk around the like garden or something. And she started seizure. And I got her and like so that made it crystal clear that like this is serious. Especially when they ruin I told my story with other people and with the counselors. I was like that level alcoholic where it’s not going to turn out well, like I knew about my uncle’s now. I was like, yeah, this is not a game. I had super high liver and I’m counts like so the very beginning. This is it.
31 years old, I had, you know, the
the very beginnings of cirrhosis of the liver. And yeah, things got you know, crystal clear for me, and I decided to take it seriously. And plus you listening to people in rehab who were in there to, you know, try and keep their job or try and get out of their 50 why and all this kind of stuff. I was like, What are they doing? Why are they even here, I’m going to take this seriously. And
I did I became like,
enthusiastic about trying stuff open in my you know, mind. Plus I was I didn’t want to be bored. I didn’t want to be the guy sat there. And just itching to get out like a prison sentence. I didn’t want to waste the opportunity. I’d always had a problem with like religion and spirituality and praying and all this stuff. And a counselor there gave me that that’s where the name for my special came to stumble in the woods. He gave me a pass and said you need to go off and meditate, like learn how to be still. And I you know, I did. I mean, I couldn’t sleep a lot. I was a basket case, like running around being crazy. I did some. You know, I had like a mental breakdown in the rehab.
I don’t I don’t know if I told you this. But like,
I ran out into a thunderstorm but like took off my shirt, like ran out of a rehab and was in the middle of a field. Like because I was didn’t want to pray. They were having like prayer time. And I just like lost my mind. And like took a shirt ran off the front porch into a field. And I was standing in the middle of the night, screaming God like God, and like the sky just opened up with thunder, like, mag and lightning was hitting all over the place. And yeah, I come welcome back in and the first thing I noticed was, you know, everybody in the rehab, like, give them room, you know what I mean? Like, he’s, he’s crossed over to the other side here. And they were like, you know, you’re the only tall object out there. You’re lucky to be alive. You’re like, I’m lucky. Like, I was like, man at the vet it I was like, He’s lucky. I’m like yelling at God. You know, I was just I, I had to find something, you know, I was really looking. And when I went out into the woods that was that the the impetus for the guy saying you need to get still. So he let me go out into the woods. And I just, I wandered off into the woods of New Jersey, found a tree stump sat on it and tried to meditate, you know, breathe and close my eyes. And you know, when I when I opened my eyes, I don’t know how long I was sitting there. But when I opened my eyes, there was a wild turkey like 15 feet in front of me. Like just staring at me. And I’d never seen a wild turkey I didn’t know they existed. And I was like bullet, but you know, like, hey,
I’ve seen this on a bottle, but I’ve never seen it in person.
I like I’m out there by myself in the woods. I mean, I probably hadn’t been out at in the daytime in nature in 12 years, you know, Jesus. So there’s like cobwebs all across the trees, you know, there’s do glistening there was butterflies. And I was just like, Oh my God, look at this nature. And I go running back in. And the guy I’m like, the the counselor, I’m like, there’s turkey out there. You know, it’s all Bunny, you know, I was super like, a doozy of a stick. And he’s like that stuff’s always been there. You know, and it’s just, you know, you got to put down and drink it over your eyes. It’s all there, you know. And that, like, carried me through, like, I got out of rehab. And I came I went back to New York. And I mean, I immediately found a meeting. And as you know, luck would have it in Manhattan. One of the best 12 step. workshop areas is one and a half blocks from my house. Like I could see it from my corner, and then been there all the time. So all the sudden I’m in, you know, I’m doing all the meetings, I’m meeting people. I’d met a guy in rehab, who was a comedian from Bronx. He said, look me up when you get out, I got out I called him. I mean, my life just I was I was lucky because that was the fear. Like, I want to be living in New York, I can’t drink or can’t do drugs, what do you do? And I immediately got into, like, a community. I had a purpose. And my life just it, it got good. You know what I mean? It got good and exciting and, you know, scary. And, but every step of the way I had I started learning how to ask people for help vise never did that. I’ll figure it out on my own, you know, and I just won’t do anything. And, you know, once I got got it together, it was great. I mean, I I started performing in New York City as a comedian night, I had a bunch of friends in Hell’s Kitchen, all these like, you know, guys that I’d want to hang out with when I was a kid who are now, you know, had changed their lives to but they were still like, you know, gangsters and boxers and teamsters. And, you know, and actors. And it was, it was, it was great. You know, I was super enthusiastic about being sober. And I, I went with it, you know, I was 31 years old. And I felt like I was 18. Again, like, I just like, I came out of the gates. And I was just like, I’m going to, I’m going to do it. And
so you you started comedy after you got sober.
Yeah, I mean, I
I done comedy a few times. I mean, like I said, I was, I was acting, you know, I had done some plays. I had done some, you know, little films that didn’t go anywhere. And I had done stand up a handful of times. And I had a good response to it. But that’s kind of like hobbyist stuff that people will talk about comedy like I did it, you know, I took a class or something, whatever they do. That’s like saying, you know, I parachuted once tied to a guy who’s a professional Paris shooter, and you know, claiming your, you know, an aerialist. I had had done a few stand up shows, I did one in Arizona, like a contest, and I got like, first runner up, it was like for the best Phoenix never followed through with that. When I was in LA, I, I did like the open mic. Night at the Comedy Store, which is like the rite of passage where a lot of people have to do that, to, you know, to get to the next level. I got past as far as being able to audition to see Mitzi shore. But I was drunk when I did the first time. The second time, I tried to capture that same buzz, and I just flopped on stage. And as a guy, that’s comedy. But when I got sober that’s what I did it for real. And doing it for real means you’re getting up every night, as many times as you can, in whatever room you can find. And, you know, I average for those seven years about 350 shows a year, which that’s like, the average, you know, when you first start and you’re doing open mics, and you’re hoping to get on like shows or two in a little spot. And then you move up and then you start getting booked on shows. And then you have to get booked on multiple shows per night and you just do like it was great in New York, it would be like, you know, I got a spot at 10 o’clock here. I got a spot at 1045 there I got a spot a midnight there. And you would just you know, hustled from show to show. And, you know, just constantly working on material. And yeah, and I could only do that in sobriety for sure. The last show I did before I went to rehab, I blacked out. I don’t remember the show. Because I was put Well, here’s an excuse for you. I was supposed to go in second. And they bumped me to like 10. So, you know, I was nice and buzzed at the beginning by the time of what he’s gonna
do for the next day. So I
was to sit here like a chump and not drink while
I’m waiting. is a beer per comic. A good average. You know what I mean?
Yeah, exactly. What are you supposed to do? Just stop? Yeah, it’s not even an option. Although for normal people from what I understand, that actually is an option. You can Oh, I just gotta wait. Okay.
Yeah, restraint. You know, I mean, like, I feel good, and I want to feel better. So I’m nervous. And I don’t want to be nervous. Whatever it was, it was a Gotham comedy club is a great comedy club. And I use her name all the time. She’s Jessica, Kirsten was at the time, the person running that show. She’s, she’s a big comedian now. And I went on stage. And, you know, my style then was to kind of just, you know, be me at a party, you know, I mean, I was just talking nonsense and, you know, thrown in little, very physical. And she called me when I was in rehab, she didn’t know I was in rehab. She’s like, you had a great show. I’ve, somebody asked me to recommend some comedians for a new club that’s opening up in midtown Manhattan. And I thought of you. And I’m like, Well, I’m in rehab. When I get out, can I go? And she’s like, yeah. And so I got out of rehab. And I’m this, this how great this was, this new club was on 46th Street, I lived on 48 Street. And they needed people there all the time. So now I’m like, sober, I got the meetings, one block over, I’ve got a brand new comedy club, two blocks south of my house. And they’re like, you can perform as much as you want, if you’re working here. So now I’m like that it became my life. And I did more shows in that amount of time, then it would almost be physically impossible to do more shows, because they had to show rooms, and we were doing six shows a night, and they would let me be on all six. So I mean, I would go to show room one and open the show, run the show room to be the third person on run back. You know, it was it was amazing. And, you know, then I, you know, I outgrew that club, and I started performing it, you know, better venues in Manhattan. And it was, it was amazing, you know, I mean, you get to go up, you know, I’m going on between David telling Jim Galligan, you know, like, I was moving up the levels moving up the hierarchy, there wasn’t like a big comic, but I was a New York Comic, and I was getting paid to do spots. And that was like, my goal, you know, and,
and I’m racking up years clean, you know, what I mean? And
having to do things to take it to that next level. One of the things I didn’t like was being on the road, you know, it’s one thing to have your nice little comfortable area, and you know, all the people you need to in your, you know, heard and, but, you know, those were those times when, like things got tested, like, okay, you’re going to spend a weekend with a sex addicts, drug addict, you know, comedian, sharing a condo, in the middle of nowhere, see how see how comfortable that is, you know, and I quickly realized I didn’t like being on the road. I didn’t like being away from my, you know, my sponsor, you know, all that all those things that made me feel
comfortable and safe.
So how did you get through times like that with, you know, with the temptation and things like that, right there? What were some of the strategies that you were using to get through it?
You know, brownies, milkshakes, walks, and I remember walking, and I use the phone, you know, I mean, I that was a habit that really has paid off for me is that I would call people and I really feel that you can’t call people when you’ve got all the guns pointed at you, and you’re handcuffed. That can’t be the first time you make a phone call the fact that I talked to people almost every day in my neighborhood. And if I wasn’t there, I you know, I would call to Hey, what’s up what’s happening? That made those times when I felt like, man, I am uncomfortable. And I’m uncomfortable to the point where I may do something stupid, that I would make a phone call.
And it wasn’t like the phone didn’t feel like a way to thousand pounds. I was like, Hey, you know, Steve, this guy is smoking weed in the next room. And he just wants to keep talking. And that it and I’m just, I just, I just want to get the hell out of here. And he’s like, well, you got show tomorrow, right? And like, and he goes, is there diner, I’m like, I think there’s one he goes, go for a walk, you know, and he would just talk me down, you know, to me, and I was in a Providence or Hartford or somewhere, I left this casino to find a diner. And there was only freeway between this casino and everything. So I’m walking on the shoulder of the road, there’s no sidewalk, and I’m like walking, you know, you know, down the freeway, just to get to a diner so I can be alone, have coffee, just get out of my head. So that whatever it takes attitude, you were just, you were taking suggestions, like you said earlier, you were willing to just follow what other people who were successful, were saying and I like also that you touched on, you got comfortable using the phone and asking for help, like you are flexing that muscle soul so that when you really needed it, it was there. And like you said the phone didn’t weigh 1000 pounds. And I know for some people, they kind of just coast on everything’s good, everything’s good, everything’s good. And then everything’s not good. And you’ve forgotten the things that you did early on. That got you to where you were in moving forward with your career. What serve going on down the line, how sober Are you around at this point?
Oh, I’m I’m in it like I am. I’d always Secretary meetings, I’d gone through the step work. And, you know, it wasn’t like I came out of the house one time on 48 Street. Pretty sure I was going to get a beer in a panic, like, I can’t deal with it. Part of the things when you move up and do things. I wasn’t used to dealing with tough moments in life sober, I had no reference for it. So whether my boss yelled at me, or someone said, we’re inviting you to do this showcase for you know, casting people or you know, a comedy festival, I’d have anxiety. You know, I’m like, I don’t deal with anxiety. Well, the new or the uncomfortable. I walked out of my house, and I’m walking I think down eighth or ninth Avenue. And I’m like, something’s going to something’s going to happen. And boom, like turns a corner. This guy Bobby, who since passed. He’s like a local legend in Hell’s Kitchen is a team series with a couple other burly guys. Are you doing okay? My man and I’m like, No, come with us went to a diner, they I start telling them what I’m nervous about. They’re laughing their asses off and just totally defuse the situation. And that was that gave me the ability to get through those times where I didn’t just pull the, you know, call the air strike in on myself again, you know what I mean? Like, I just like, okay, it’s not that big a deal. Like, I can do it. I did things like, you know, audition for the comic strip. And, you know, do my first show of Caroline’s go on the road and do radio, you know, stuff like that. stuff that I’m glad I did. But also it was okay, if I didn’t enjoy it. You know what I mean? Like, there were certain things in the business that I wasn’t a fan of, like, you know, there’s some people like, I got 40 weeks booked on the road. And I’m like, that’s my nightmare. Like, I want to leave Manhattan for 40 weeks, and drive everywhere. I hate driving. I hate hotel rooms. Like, that’s a nightmare for me. So I started becoming okay with what I really wanted, you know, like, What I wanted was, you know, to perform and, you know, started relationship at that time, you know, I met my eventual wife, I didn’t meet her. I, I, I known her. She knew me when I was drinking and partying. She’s an actress, and she came to New York to do a play. And we reconnected as friends. And it turned into a relationship. So you know, I’ve it’s like a full long grown up, you know, I mean, like, all the sudden, I had a girlfriend. I had a little bloody, burgeoning career, you know what I mean, I was getting known in comedy. I still had a regular job, I’d always worked in restaurants my whole life. That made sure I had the bills paid. And, you know, I did a play on 42nd Street, which was great, you know, I got to see what that was all about doing eight shows a week. You know, seeing your, your your name up at Ticketmaster. And, you know, in Times Square, cool things, nothing that’s super fancy over the superstar stuff. But really cool things were happening. Got to do a convention in Hartford. But it was like bikers, you know what I mean? Like just a hundreds of bikers got to do that show and kill it. I don’t know, there was there’s many times where I felt like I was living a fulfilled full life. And then those are times to when you get scared. You’re like, this is I’m not this, I’m not able to handle this. You know,
I remember I probably had four or five months sober. And I remember just kind of thinking like, this is the best My life has ever been, ever. And one of the fears that I know I had, I was just like, when is it going to crash? When is it going to crash. And then like months, six was even better. And then seven was even better. Eight and then nine, I did my first startup. And then year one, I’d started my first, like a real company. And then that thing, blew up multi millions and is just like, holy shit. Like, I’m just some dude that can’t stop drinking. And now, all of a sudden, I get my priorities straight. I stopped drinking and all those things that used to be getting in my way. It turns out, it was just me all along. I’ve got a million people to thank for getting me to where I’m at. But, you know, ultimately, I had to put in the work. And it sounds like that was that was part of your journey, too. So what are some of the things that you were doing? You were touching on, you just kept going show after show after show with all the people that are trying to break into the comedy scene, what sort of separates you from all of the others who are trying to get in it?
Well, listen, I I reached a certain level, the amount of desire to what that next level is, it’s something I didn’t possess. Like, I wasn’t willing to offer everything up in the name of my comedy career, or, you know, with my acting career, like whatever, you know, insert artist label here. And I didn’t have enough self belief, like when I would go on the few times I headlined on the road. Like if it wasn’t a full house, I felt like a complete failure. I looked, there’s waiters and waitresses, not making any money. The guy at the front door is mad, he’s not making money. There’s people who are opening for me who are looking at me, like he didn’t fill the room, I didn’t take those Well, guys still had low self worth galore, I was much happier being the feature, the second building, you know what I mean? Like, I didn’t have a desire to earn self belief to be like, I’m going to fill this room, anybody who doesn’t get it can go to hell, you know what I mean? I was still trying to people, please, I was working my material to fit into what I thought was like commercially acceptable, you know, there was a lot of things that weren’t going right for me in that sense, like how to get to that next level. And if whether I even wanted to, I don’t know, I kept the idea that it’s all about creating stuff, like so I would constantly be writing material and changing my material. There’s people I know, for 10 years have been doing a 10 minute set, trying to perfect that 10 minutes, because that could be the thing like back in the day, like, this is the set I’m going to do on The Tonight Show, you know, or whatever. And for me, it was more like I got things going through my head constantly that are trying to make me crazy. And I’m going to get them out every day. So I had built up a ton of material hours, the few times I’d have to do like half hour, 45 minute or hour sets. I had plenty of material, but I also got married, you know, I got into a relationship. And I decided to move to California that changed everything. You know, that was like a new area where I had to deal with my feelings of low self worth. I can’t do this. And that that’s what I eventually ended up in a relapse and had to start all over again.
You know what I mean? Like, how much time did you have? five, seven years? I know seven years. What would you say was the biggest downfall was it? It wasn’t just the relationship? Was it new stresses? What What do you think led to that?
I made the mistake of thinking I was fixed. You know?
That’s one of the biggest ones I hear one of the guys in my home group says the the scariest words are I got this.
Yeah. You know, I left New York. And like I said, when I was outside of New York, everything seemed bizarre to me at that time, you know, but you know, so I’m in LA, oh, that you know, everything’s different people do stuff differently. You can’t just walk to your meetings, I don’t like that this person has a mohawk. And, you know, I found reasons to not go or not stay connected. And then I’d stopped performing because, you know, I had a I had gotten past at, you know, the laugh factory in the Comedy Store right away when I moved here, which is huge people’s, the people spend years trying to get past at those clubs. I got past there. But it wasn’t like New York in the sense that they didn’t pay a lot. I wasn’t getting a ton of shows and I wasn’t making any enough money. So you know, now I got a wife, she wants to have a baby, I got new bills. I you know, I had never had a car payment before I’d lived in New York. So the all these bills are coming on me. And the only thing I knew that I’d always done is worked in bars and restaurants. So I start managing this fancy Steakhouse. Like I somehow I convert, I didn’t con my way into it, they met me and they knew I knew the business and I was good. I was nice with people. So I get this job. And slowly but surely, I’m not performing. I’m not going to meetings. I’m resentful that I’m, you know, working, you know, 60 hours a week, you know, selling people, you know, expensive food and wine. And, you know, one thing leads to another and I’m cased in life. You know, it was
Yes, the atmosphere and restaurants to that my background before I got sober. I did 10 years, in restaurants from dishwasher up through management, in in Corollas was like my, my hotspot. But the I mean, the, at least my experience, and I’ve worked at plenty of different restaurants. And correct me if I’m wrong, but the atmosphere pretty much in a restaurant is everybody over the age of 23 is pretty much an addict or alcoholic or something didn’t go right has been my experience.
Yeah, I mean, like I said, I grew up in the business. So I was where I’ve always felt comfortable. You want to find people to party with and you work at a restaurant, there’s going to be someone there who’s up for it. You know what I mean? So yeah, like that’s, it’s a target rich environment to use and abuse things. I was able to stay sober for seven years in New York, working in a restaurant, saw people all around me with, you know, different addictions or abuses. I was able to do it when I was in LA. And I’m the boss. I took away all the things that gave me that defense. Like, I wasn’t serious about it. I was living in like resentments and fear. And you know, you get scared and angry enough, a drink will seem like a good idea. Yeah. And so yeah, and then once I started, it became like a whole new awful kind of bottom. Because first of all, I became a wine now, which was never like never on my radar becoming a wine. Oh, so I’m drinking, you know, garbage wine, you know, bottles of it. But now I’m a father. I couldn’t get it together. Because I was like, doing like, what they call half measures. You know what I mean? Like, I drove home drunk last night, I’m never going to drink again. I’m going to go to a meeting or you know, I do this for like a day or two. But I never I didn’t get serious about it again. And then one day I did. And that’s been my second journey, which I had to get sober first had to get serious that guy Steve, I told you, I called when I was on the road in New York, I called him What do I do? Find a meeting with people with, you know, who know what they’re doing? got time. Boom, did that. Got a sponsor? Did 90 and 90. Got back on it? Then, okay, now I’m back in, I’m getting days, I’m ramping things up my mind starting to clear I’m starting to believe in myself, again, my relationships getting better. I’ve got two kids, it started coming back. Like I have stuff to share an offer. And my wife is amazing. My wife, you know, she never gives up. She’s got a movie. That’s one awards. She’s writing another script. Now she’s shooting something. And she is always been like you need to perform, you need to get out there. And so it started with a storytelling show. I had a friend moved from New York who was going through some stuff, personal stuff, like like tragedies. And she wanted to perform and I said, let’s do a storytelling show. And it was going to be one of one show. And the person who owned the venue said, Do you want the show to do it every week? She said yes. And I was like, I didn’t want to I sounded like a huge commitment to me. And I’m like, like, okay, we’ll do it every week. For eight months, I did a storytelling show. That was was great. I was writing new stories every week. The thing I didn’t like about standup comedy was that for me, it didn’t ring true. It sounded like I saw a lot of people doing finding it funny joke or punch line and trying to create a story that led to that or a setup, which is fine. That’s how you do it. It’s like watchmaking, you know what I mean? That’s how you do comedy. But this, the people that I really liked, or what I wanted to do, was to get as close to the truth I can, and just trust the fact that I’m nuts. And I’m funny, and people laugh. So that’s how it started that that’s what led me back into performing and doing stand up again. I’m performing at the Comedy Store, which is like first show I did, there was strong things were going to go great. It’s taken me years to get back there again. And to subvarieties, for the first time making it art I don’t like saying art, but yeah, it’s it’s an art form. I’m doing it the way I want to do it. And I’m not worried about the outside response to it. Fortunately, people like it, it’s been I’ve gotten a great response to it. And I keep getting asked to do shows. It’s all from getting serious about taking care of the biggest problem My life is that my brain wants me to drink and drug myself to death or to misery. Once I got a hold of that, and I keep that in the forefront, everything else has been falling into line. You know what I mean? It’s been good.
When, I mean, a stumble in the woods is absolutely hilarious. And that style you talked about of just, this was my life. And here is the craziness that happened. And it’s it’s a storytelling with with a punch line, but it doesn’t seem like you structured it to try to I can’t I can’t really put the words to it. But the just delivery and I guess you know, being an alcoholic, and just the stories that you’re telling you you had mentioned one about the bonding a bottle of was Southern Comfort. Yeah, yeah, bonding about our Southern Comfort and my jaw just dropped and I was like, Man, this guy’s he, he gets it. And I I completely related with just the the idea and the practicing sharpening beers and things like that. So what happened to get you started with with putting out a stumble in the woods, which is on Amazon, which I mean, everybody should check it out. It’s absolutely hilarious. But what was the rumblings of that will get you started on that?
Thank you. And here’s the thing, it didn’t seem structured because it wasn’t nobody in the world would suggest doing what I did. I hadn’t done hadn’t been doing comedy for seven years, I hadn’t been doing long sets for forever. I decided if I was going to start performing, and I’m like, I want to do it my way. Which means it’s not going to be all scripted and worked out. Plus the way my life was at the time, I couldn’t afford to go on the road and workshop, you know, an hour show, and get all these little jokes and stuff together. I was like, I’m going to step back into this world. And I’m going to do it my way, which means I want to first it was almost like reintroducing myself, I’m like, I’m going to just tell my story. I’m not going to have any jokes. That sounds like kind of corny, but I didn’t have like, this is my bit on relationships. And this is my bit on gun control. And this is my bit on the Borgia, you know, whatever. I was like, I’d only done it twice this that that show I had 15 friends come to that place where I did the storytelling shown like you guys bear with me and just listen. And I started talking and telling stories about my life. And that an hour and 45 minutes. I was 28 years old. As I already thanks. You know, I had I have a lot of stories. I know, I knew that I had a lot of stories to tell. The one good thing about my drinking history was I got into a lot of crazy situations.
Yeah, and those crazy stories, they definitely help especially. I mean, you can always put like a comedic twist on it. But like you were saying, when you were in school, and you got all those, all those problems with alcohol and all the times you got in trouble. And myself, I had something similar. Remember my my sophomore junior year college, I got two alcohol citations within a week of each other and ran away from a third. And you know, it’s just like, this doesn’t happen to normal people. But kind of when you structure the storytelling on it, it lands with people. You got it recorded, and then how do you get it on to Amazon? What’s that process look like? When I was originally going to do it?
I said, I got a friend. I just, I hadn’t really filmed any of my old stand up material. And I kind of regretted that. So I’m like, I want to do this. I want to record it. Let’s see what happens. My wife like I said he has she made an independent film called shmuley the death watcher. It was in like 14 festivals. She works with other indie people making films and things like that. She goes, Let’s film it for real. Like I don’t know. But here’s what ends up happening. I booked the El Cid which is like a, you know, a classic space in LA, this old theater space. It’s great. I love the way it looks. I saw my friend play music there and I’m like, man, I love the feel of this place. It’s like intimate but it’s a performance space. And Theresa goes, I got bow to film it. And Bo is her cinematographer from the film who’s like a Dutch Oscar shortlisted cinematographer. You know, I mean, this guy’s like, legit. He was working at the time from Vice News. You know, filming Pete, you know, these documentaries in the worst places in the world. He’s like, both going to film it. And I’m like, Okay, and then she, she she goes on like, looks up from her IMDb thing she finds like the one of the women who shot Sarah Silverman special and like, calls her like, Hey, you want to meet for lunch? Next thing I know, I got to a camera operators who were like pros who shot like comedy specials and all this stuff.
And I’m not even sure anybody’s going to show up for this thing.
It’s raining, it’s in LA. I’m like, it’s a rainy night. Nobody comes out in the rain. I go out and it’s standing room only. And it’s not a huge place. But there’s it’s, it’s full. Now there’s a dolly with like a Dutch cinematographer, you know, scrolling across the back of the, the venue. And I look and there’s two girls on like, major setup. And then I realized like, I haven’t rehearsed this, like, I don’t know what, like, what am I doing? Like as I couldn’t even get to the stage because it was full. So I had to go like when they announced me, I had to go out and go around the back. The comedian who introduced me is great Jackie Monahan. She’s, like waiting for me on stage. And she just leaves because I can’t get through the crowd. And I have to climb over cables. And I get up on stage. And I and I did I had to like, I used all the stuff that I’d learned in, you know, recovery. And like, this is it. You know, you’ve been scared in the past, you’ve walked through stuff. Just stick to what you wanted to do. And what I wanted to do is just tell the truth. Just tell the truth. And that’s that’s what it came out on that thing. It was so lucky that because most times you shoot a special you’re going to do multiple shots and multiple shows. And they edit it together and they make everything look good. I shot that. at it I had a watch on but I all I know is I decided before I went up because I ran it through brave brute so is a friend of mine who’s on the sopranos. He’s on transgender, I did a run through with him, just me and him in a comedy club alone. And we kind of decided, like, you got to start at the first day of school and end in rehab, like just just make it that like just that’s your parameters. Because otherwise if I go off on tangents, it’ll be a three hour show, everyone will be lost. So that’s what I did I go Alright, start with the first day school, and then end the show when you get your life together. And so that’s what we shot. And the editor who was at the show, it’s another person like you can’t believe it. She goes all edited. And I go, that’s the awesome she goes I’m doing Black Panther. Now, when we’re done shooting that, I’ll edit your special. She’s, yeah, her name’s Andrew Maxwell. She’s amazing. We’re shooting something this summer with our story. My wife and I wrote my wife and Jackie wrote, I did a little rewrite on to comedy fi it, you know, to me, but um, she goes, Yeah, let’s do it. And I go, Okay, so we get into the editing thing. And she’s like, there’s a lot of tricks you can do, we can do cutaways, you can take crowd shots, and we both kind of decided I’m like, I want people to really feel like they were there. And we hardly did any editing at all. We just left it the way it was and ever and I sent it to people in the business. And they said you should edit this down to 45 minutes, you should chop it down to a 30 minute special, take all the juicy spots, put in some laugh tracks, because I didn’t do any cutaways to the audience and a lot of specials do that go to a comedy club. Um, some, you know, shots of people laughing, get some big laughs and they’re like now? Nope, I’m not doing it. And that may have been a mistake. But I know at that moment, I was like, I wouldn’t feel good about myself if I did that. Because I watch comedy specials. People who aren’t comedians may not notice it. But I know when that’s a fake laugh. I know when that laugh doesn’t match that joke. I know if my reason for doing it was to really tell how I ended up being a nice kid who ended up a fall down, full blown alcoholic drug addict. I want to do it honestly. And so that’s what that’s what we did. And we got it in on Amazon Prime through like an independent film channel. I couldn’t be happier. Because it could have easily been like, boring long. This isn’t comedy. And I haven’t gotten any of that. If anything, I’ve gotten, like real responses where people remember what I was talking about. It wasn’t like a joke that went through their head and they forget like, Oh, I heard this joke the other night. People remember the stories. And they remember laughing real laughing. And that, that’s that that is the most fulfilling thing that I’ve ever wanted in comedy.
And that that was exactly my experience with it, too. I mean, it’s one of those things. And I’m sure if if people hadn’t recognized it, but a lot of times when you laugh out loud, it’ll be in a group setting if other people are laughing, but to laugh out loud by yourself something that has to really, really be hitting you. And when I was watching, I mean it just it. It just nailed me to a tee. I absolutely loved it. It was it was great watching it. And I mean, but at no point was I thinking, you know what? He should have done it. I mean, I’m obviously not a stand up comedian. So I don’t notice the nuances. But I mean, I watch shows and at no point was I thinking he should have done a cutaway or cut this down to 30 minutes or anything like that. I think a stumble in the woods is an absolute just, it is a great, great stand up special. Everyone should watch it and want to be respectful of your time. In wrapping up, what would you recommend to someone who is trying to get sober?
Yeah, listen, I have two people that are supposedly I’m helping that don’t call me. So one of the best things is to do what’s recommended.
You know,
it’s going to be uncomfortable, and you got to stop worrying about being cool. You got us try and stop maybe doing it your way.
I wish there was like a magic spell or a prayer or a sentence that would lead people to get this. But the fact of the matter is, I there’s people in my family that I haven’t been able to help. And then there’s people that I can’t believe they’ve they’ve gotten us clean and sober. So all I’m saying is we’re rooting for you. If you want help, it’s there. And it’s better than you you think it’s going to be like my life is. It’s not all flash and all this stuff like that. But I’ve become the person I kind of want to be. And I see that in my you know, my relationship with my wife and my kids. I have actual friends, people come to you know, take it take a chance on something different. The best thing I’ve heard about it is fear is five miles high 10 miles wide, and paper thin. If you take that first, you know, action or step and go like how do you do it? How did you do it? And you listen and you take simple direction at the beginning. Just see what happens. So like my advice to you is if you’re not if your life isn’t going the way you want it, and you think the problem is drugs and alcohol. The best way to see if it is really the problem is to eliminate it and see what happens. And the best way to eliminate it is to not do it alone. And I am not a joiner at all. But there does come a time when you need to be and for me when I when I try and do this alone. I am really set myself up for disaster. So
yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. So and everyone who’s trying to find you online, where can they find you, Matt? Um,
well, Matt Gallagher, comedy is an easy way to do it on Facebook, or, you know, Matt Gallagher on Facebook. m Gallagher comic. I think it’s my Twitter. I think I’ve been I’ve Instagram, Matt Gallagher stories on Instagram. I’m not a social media. But if you contact me, I will get get to you. Or if you want to find out what shows I’m doing. I post them. I perform pretty much the same places around here. I’m working on a new special which of course I was rehearse but I will work bits out as I go. And it’s going to be like that the next step and what I think is, you know, trying to live a happy life, you know, the lessons I’ve learned. And this is coming from like a pessimist. Like a you know, the world’s a mess guy. But I think within the the the storm you know I you can you can you can be happy. That’s what I found anyway. Yeah,
yeah. I couldn’t agree with you more. Matt, thank you so much for being on self made and sober. If you guys enjoyed the episode, please subscribe. Check out of stumble in the woods. I guarantee you will absolutely love it if you if you’re a fan of this show and the debauchery that people run into and there’s a million great stories that Matt has on it and we’ll look forward to your upcoming work. And thanks again that
thanks for having me and this is really nice.

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JP Alexander – Being A Real Man & Avoiding Toxic Masculinity

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Fully-insured provider of exterior cleaning services such as Roof Cleaning, Window Cleaning, Power or Pressure Washing, Gutter Cleaning for both residential and commercial clients throughout New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts.

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Business Coaching Mastermind has 443 members. Members can help each other build their businesses and reach financial goals. You learn best by helping others and providing value. Feel free to post…

JP Alexander is the owner of North American Exterior company as well as a life coach.

1:50 Andrew and JP realize that 2013 was the best year to get sober

2:38 JP learns more an more about his sobriety and past as he sees it today. 

6:10 His Granddad hits him with the truth

8:20 JP gets sober in 2013 and starts a new life

9:50 Andrew explains 4th step and what it means

15:30 Willingness is an action word

18:01 Jerry puts his hat backwards to show his willingness

19:47 Everything you know is wrong

22:00 How to be a real man

24:15 If you don’t know how to register a LLC, do two

25:45 How to get out of a hole

29:10 Don’t separate different versions of yourself

30:10 Start a window cleaning business with zero experience

33:40 Old timers tell JP how it really is, no holds barred

37:35 The idea of hiring employees and the fear behind it

42:00 JP has always been perfect at hiring

47:00 Learning how to delegate

50:45 How to handle bad reviews

52:30 Starting a new company

56:00 Speaks on getting started on new customers

58:00 How to re-wire your brain without surgery

61:00 Wisdom on your inner circle

Todd Z Man Zalkins – Sublime, Recovery, and The Long Way Back

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The Long Way Back: The Story of Todd Z Man Zalkins

The Long Way Back: The Story of Todd Z-Man Zalkins

After losing his childhood friend Bradley Nowell of Sublime to a heroin overdose, Todd Zalkins (aka Z-Man) spirals into prescription pill addiction. His epic battle with opioid painkillers brings sharp focus to the nation’s Opioid Epidemic.


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Todd Zalkins is a Public Speaker, Interventionist, Author, and Documentary Filmmaker. He is the subject of the Award-Winning Documentary film “The Long Way Back” and the Author of the acclaimed book “Dying For Triplicate.” On the podcast Todd discusses everything from music to addiction and recovery, including heartfelt and hilarious interviews with friends and peers who have inspired him along the way.

The legendary buzzkill Ron Jeremy is is not only the judge of the film, but he’s also the guy who rapes me in jail.
With me today, we have a real treat. We have Todd z man.
Todd’s a certified family crisis interventionist, public speaker, host of the Z man podcast with Todd’s Elkins. He’s a best selling author with his book dying for triplicate. And on top of all this, he’s a documentary filmmaker and his award winning film the long way back the story of Todd z. Man Zalkins, can be seen on Hulu, Amazon, Google Play and iTunes. Todd, so grateful to have you on the show. How is everything? Everything’s good, man. Thank you for having me on today, Andrew, and looking. It’s like we’re in each other’s living room. It’s just by computer. Yeah. So basically, it’s the exact same thing as being in the living room when you’re
when you’re in the other side of the country. And over a computer, same thing. Yeah, man. I’m just I’m just hanging out here in my office doing this at my office here in Long Beach, California. And thank you for having me on. Definitely. So why don’t you give the
listeners a background of who you are, where you came from, and what sort of led to, you know where you ended up.
will do a short version here. I’m sure everybody wants to hear a short version. Well might. Yeah, my name is Todd Zalkins. And, you know, I’m thankful to be in recovery. The program, a 12 step program of recovery saved my life. I have a sobriety date of February 17 2007. And every day, those sober days I’ve had is because of something a lot bigger than me and a wonderful group of men who else saved my life and decided to do a couple of things around here in order to get it to keep it so I’m a little bit about my background. You know, I grew up here in Long Beach, California, little, little area called Belmont Shore, and it was one of those communities where, you know, most of us grew up surfing and really into like, punk
Rock music and backyard parties kind of dominated our landscape and you know some of my closest friends are some of the best musicians from around this area there’s just a ton of them so you know cake parties and surfing and chasing girls was just that was what we did and and it started out innocent you know as far as you know the the from the drinking perspective but boy boy around the corner were some things that that were much heavier and much more life threatening to me as time moved on.
I you saw me Jordan, just out of curiosity, we talked more about the story here what it was like growing up here and then what I got into what almost killed me. What do you want to talk to me? Yeah, that that’d be perfect. You know, like the if if say it were like a 12 step meeting and you’re given the experience, strength and hope, touch on you know, I mean, your story is one of those where it’s just like
Okay, what crazy part
will will you? Will you touch on but basically, whatever, whatever you would be comfortable sharing about just, you know growing up and what you guys started getting into and things like that. Okay, yeah, I’ll treat it just like that then First off, but for those of those who may be watching right now and listening later if you’re new to recovery, I want to welcome you. And I want you want you guys to know that recovery is possible. Thank goodness there’s lots of examples for us who are who are sick with with alcoholism and drug addiction and there’s a lot of people have come before us who can help pave the way to help us live differently. So if you’re struggling, there is help out there and I’ll certainly give you my contact information. You just want to talk or chat by email. It’s all good. But you know, I as I mentioned before, on the front end here, I grew up in Long Beach. I’m the
I’m a product of a really good
gnarly alcoholic father he was six foot four he box in the Marine Corps and he to grew up in Long Beach and, and, you know, with my dad, I just I never knew what I was going to get. I often say it was either a hug or a left hook. You know, and and I’ve often said that that left hook that I would get as a kid, it wouldn’t just hurt at the moment it hurt for years. The lasting impression that that type of fear that that occurs on a young person or for a young person is something that it’s tough to measure, but I’m sure that there’s some people who can probably relate. So I found myself as a young boy
as a young boy wanting really everyone to like me. I was I was certainly a class clown. And I’d like to consider or believe I’ve got a decent sense of humor, but I I really did want everybody to like me and
I could gel into any crowd and
Just alcohol certainly became that great persuader. And it allows one to be chameleon, like whether it’s the preppy upbeat parties or the parties where I mostly love, which is where the bunkers were, and the music scene and so I could adapt to anything. But I took my first drink. I was pretty young, I guess I could call it my first drink. My dad, my dad left my mom. And when I was seven, my older brother was 10. And he would pick us up when he would show up, he’d have a tall boy between his lap and he was living down the road and place called Huntington Harbor, which is this little beach town about 15 minutes south of Long Beach. And so when he would show up, which, by the way, it was often, I now know that to be a byproduct of alcoholism, that we’re not really present for people that we love when we’re in the disease, but so I get a big part of this the Schlitz tall boy or maybe a tomboy, you know, I’m like seven, you know, we go to his house and he loves
watch football the weekends and so I’d bring him beers he ultimately would pass out I would keep drinking his beers.
But I really wouldn’t consider that my first drunk my first drunken experience I was with my buddy George Andrew, may he rest in peace George and I were playing Little League Baseball we saw the the cool older dudes in this park man playing basketball and that all these hot chicks and they’re drinking this this keg beer and then these big cops they invited us over our uniforms are all dirty and and shit like that are like yeah, we’ll go over there and hang out you know i mean these are the guys are six seven years older and when you’re you know 12 these are like men you know that i big scary dudes, but I was a member. It’s like, they were the best surfers in town and they had the prettiest ladies and it’s like, Man, what are they doing? So next thing you know, George and I have about an hour and a half later we awaken this little park across the street we had thrown up over both of you from all over the place. Over
Each Other literally we’re all muddy and dirty and look like look like shit. And I remember to this day simultaneously we looked at each other we said man that was killer
with you This is great. Isn’t this great man and and to the people who are who are not alcoholic, they’re like, I would never do that again. And for for a punk like me it was like, Okay, let’s see, let’s do this again. And so I’d like to say that pretty much at that particular time that the switch for alcoholism was turned on. And I wasn’t a daily drinker at that age, certainly a big drinker. right around the corner in high school. You know, this this area was just dominated by it’s just a little beach town with all sorts of people have a backyard keg parties, and that’s what we did all the time. And it was very normal. It was there was nothing out of the ordinary about it.
My my mother had remarried and I can remember this one thing
happened I was 17 and I had been drinking I came home and and I always had a really early curfew was one of my primary resentments as a kid. I was like shit, I gotta be home like at 10:30am I, like 17. Everyone gets down to one in the morning but I get home and I got home in this particular instance in my step dad just lose. Have you been drinking? I just denied it. I’ve been drinking. And he says you’ve been drinking and he got really upset. He was a gnarly guy to dislike my father. And he slapped me around a bit and something that had never happened before. And with tears in his eyes, he said he looked at me and says I don’t want to lose you.
And when I when I look at times, like
when I think about things like that, it’s like the writing was already on the wall for me.
at such a young age and my my stepfather could tell it was already having a problem with
Alcohol and narcotics that already entered the picture I was I really became involved heavily in cocaine but everything changed in the in the late 80s when I was going to college in San Diego and the hurt my back and you know, this is the pill epidemic or the opioid epidemic wasn’t even being discussed at the time. I was prescribed Vicodin had this gnarly back surgery, and I fell in love with that drug, and it graduated to Norco. And then next, you know, I have multiple doctors and then I was introduced to oxy cotton and I was I was addicted to prescription painkillers for almost 17 years. And I don’t want to get too long winded on the problem here. But
along the way, one of the things that that what I know now is that you know, when when when drugs and alcohol are working, even though it’s a problem to people who are seeing it clearly on the outside. For a guy like myself if I’m getting the effect, and that’s produced by drugs and alcohol. It’s very difficult.
you to tell me up a problem. or excuse me, you can tell me, it’s just very difficult for me to take any action. And people, you know, there have been so many times where people, they will say, here are some black and white facts. And this is why I’ve come to the conclusion that you have a problem and I am telling you this because I love you. And I know for myself, my immediate defense was, you’re wrong or you can’t hang you. You don’t understand. I never I never even accepted that statement. Were you were you consciously aware that there was a problem? Or were you just sort of in that denial state? You know,
I always push I’m an extremist for sure. And so there was nothing casual about the way I drank or use. I wasn’t even one of these people. You know, they talk about this definition of insanity is repeating the same things over and over and expecting different results. I call bullshit on that man. For me personally, I I always knew
That when I drank what I was that it was going to end up just thrashed. I was never predicting a different result. In fact, I wanted to take it to, you know, as far as I could and so, you know, to kind of piggyback on what you just said, you know, people if there were a call, call you out on a problem, or this is an issue. My first thing is just stick it up your ass.
You know, f you, man. I didn’t want to hear it. However, alone, left alone.
Long enough especially I’d be like I I have an issue, man. But I just wasn’t there was no readiness. There was no readiness and certainly no willingness to to want to approach or broach the subject which certainly became life threatening for me later on.
So what was the catalyst that made you decide I need to do something? Yeah, I made two very weak attempts.
Prior to 2007 to get I wanted to get physically detoxed off of the painkillers, I just never wanted to touch painkillers again, I just, I just couldn’t get off of those damn things and the first two times if you want to call it rehab or detoxing and I laughed early against medical advice because the discomfort for me was so gnarly was so it was so indescribably
uncomfortable that I just left with my hospital bracelet and go straight to the dealers or whether it’s coke dealer pill dealer, I had to get everything that I had to get and just get back on that us. But in in, in towards the back end of 2006 I had really had lost I lost my mind. And something was seriously frying upstairs in my brain. And
a couple months later I was I was starting to see people behind the back of my home and these bushes. They weren’t even there. I was delusional. I was under total cocaine psychosis the opioids and completely fractured my my brain
And I couldn’t even conjugate sentences very well I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t speak articulately. You know, and and so one of the things that stands out for me was a moment where when I was having the seeing some guy in a bush who I thought wanted to kill me and I call the police and the second story window, my bedroom there, they’re like, we want to come talk to you. So there’s nobody here. I said, No, that’s okay. And I remember just crumbling to my knees crumbling on my, I went downstairs in my kitchen area on the tile floor and just was like, God, I, I don’t know what I’m doing. And I sure as hell don’t know how to get I don’t know how to help myself. That was the moment I knew that I needed to do something.
And I did not want my mother to get a phone call that her son had died from an overdose or from this disease. And to further that, I’m also convinced that people do die of broken hearts. And I think that if I would have died that way,
That my mother quite possibly could have died from a broken heart is we have a very special relationship.
So yeah, so on February 16 of 2007 I, I somehow managed to drive my car to a hospital in South Laguna Beach, brought them jars and jars of pills that I still had, I just I was just, I was inconsolable. I just could barely talk and handed them over all this shit. And I said that I’m dying from this. They said, that’s clear.
That is obvious. And that was my start. So my sobriety date was the following day, when you start to get sober. Is it an easy path for you? Or is there a lot of? Well, let’s Yeah, I’ll gladly touch on you know, my first year of recovery was was the most terrifying year of my life and to give the people who are listening or watching a snapshot I I did not sleep for 44 days. I was on you know, those
For a great deal those years of being addicted to the opioids, a lot of it was synthetic and I was on a great deal of fentanyl and the oxy cotton, the big 80 milligram pills, it’s very slow to to leave your system. And so my story is, is that I desperately wanted to sleep my body was just in shambles, but my mind would not slow down. So
it was absolutely terrifying for me, I just tossed and turned and just clobbered for the first few months of my sobriety, and I shook physically for almost nine months. I like you would think I’d be having a stroke. I was walking down the street.
What you know, I don’t think recovery that in life might the physical symptoms that I experienced, were very, very intense and and that’s what prompted me to write my memoir dying for triplicate, not because I wanted so much attention, but I had I felt this passion of helping others and my treating physicians and that people have got to hear the story because he had never seen anything like it.
gratefully speaking that the book has helped several thousand people find recovery. When you wrote that book, it wasn’t a like you said it wasn’t about getting attention. Or look at how crazy My story is that I went harder than everybody else. This was more of just a kind of reflection and you know you that you can help people with it. What’s going through your mind when you decided to start writing the book? Well, actually, I mean, I just started writing and I wrote the damn thing in 18 months sober and I had very little recovery in me. Certainly very little spirituality it was more about is more about the terror that we go through while addicted. And that’s, that’s why it has spoken to so many people who, who suffered with this disease.
I just I told the truth, right, wrong or indifferent. I told that the fucking truth and the truth sometimes sir, I’d say 95% of the people have gotten something out of it. You’re going to have people who bash you or want to do whatever and at the end of the day
I have hundreds of emails from moms and from people who read the book on, you know, my kid found treatment because those are, you know, some dude going, dude, I got six months sober because I felt like because you did it I could. That is what is all about. It’s kind of like,
you know, it’s funny in our rooms. It’s like anonymity is important. By the way, if you mentioned at the top of the show, I mentioned that I’m a proud member of a of a 12 step program. I’m not going to tell you which one it is, by way of, I’ll tell you privately, how about this. It’s the oldest one that exists.
But that’s not breaking tradition. And so I was always in a lot of fear when I wrote the book, Andrew, I was, you know, of course, I still have that mind of what are people going to think and all that stuff at the end of the day? It’s it’s been nothing but a positive. But yeah, it’s it’s been out for a handful of years now. And it’s it’s been read by a lot of people who I think needed to read it when they needed to read it.
Yeah, and I want to rewind a little bit. Why don’t you tell us a bit about the Long Beach music scene in the 80s 90s? And who you were running with and what was going on back then. So I think that’s a really cool perspective of even though, you know, at this point in the story, you’ve gotten sober, but if we rewind a bit to what was going on back then I think that’s a really, really interesting piece of your life. Oh, okay. Well, for sure. I mean, you know, we had a thriving scene here in Long Beach. And, and, and the band that I’ve, that I really fell into and fell in love with, at a very young age was called the falling idols. And that was a local punk band that, you know, today, two of those members are in much bigger bands. One of them’s a singer of a vandals, a world renowned punk band and then the bass players of bass player for penny wise today, and you probably heard of those bands.
You know, started with the following idols.
But there were so many other bands this area you know, we had, we have people like the vandals and secret hate and Rhino 39 and texts and a horse heads and these amazing players and crazy people. But, you know,
what came about later on was some guys that I grew up with formed a band called sublime. And a lot of people have a lot of people love their music, and I don’t know if you’ve heard of the band before but
vaguely familiar. vaguely. Okay, that’s good. So
are you a fan of the band? Yeah. Right on, um, you know, I had some of my best times with those guys with bud, bud, Eric and Brad and, and certainly some of the most heartbreaking times you know, it’s, it was a wild ride, watching them grow into what was going to become you know, a world renowned band. And for those of you lot of people know the story that Brad and all died on. Maybe
25th 1996 of a heroin overdose. And I was up in San Francisco when this happened. I wasn’t in the room, but I had just dropped him off after their last show. And, to my knowledge, I was the last person he tried to call it before he died. And I wasn’t able to wake up.
And yet
it disturbed me for many, many years. And my,
my, the progression of my disease, were in the darker and darker places it ate me alive because I didn’t have any coping skills. And we had lost a guy that that we cared deeply for, and we loved a lot. And, you know, one week prior to that we were at his wedding, one week prior, and he’s dead A week later, and he leaves behind, you know, this beautiful wife and had a baby boy named Jacob. But there’s a lot of good stuff to the story too much, much later. You know, Jacob was only 10 or 11 months old when he when Brad passed. So
You know, I had some incredibly insane times with them I mean, going all over the place with spending time with those guys on tour and I was in a bunch of their music videos but
if you haven’t seen it that the date rate date rape is a song that broke them on karaoke and bled out to the rest of the country and
the band was on tour they asked me if I wanted to start the video and I was like, Yeah, what the hell so we did the video was that when when you put the pieces together when I realized that that was you in it? Yes. Have you seen the video I’ve seen the video
went out Yeah, but describe what happens in the video. what’s what’s what’s what’s really funny, if you want to call it funny, but you know the the legendary buzzkill Ron Jeremy is, is not only the judge of the film, but he’s also the guy who rapes me in jail because the song is not about promoting date rape. It’s actually it’s an upbeat song.
But the underlying message is, is that there are some terrible consequences as a result of doing such a thing. And so I don’t just to be very clear, I don’t take that subject matter lightly at all but the but the song is on the lighter side. It’s a it’s a fun sounding song. And that’s a song that broke them. And they rarely even played it. So yeah, so I was in that video, it was absolutely insane and, and I was certainly not close to getting sober yet. I think we filmed that in 1995.
But But yeah, so you know, the the scene was just rich with a with a pretty, you know, a wealthy cast of characters who were who like to push the envelope the way I did, and I can tell you that one of the things that when doing neighbor, one of the things that I really loved about the guys and Sublime is that very, very few rules applied. And that fit fits fits for a guy like me just perfectly. It’s like, whatever, wherever we’re going if it’s not bolted down, we’re fucking
Taking it your girls, which the girls are coming with us. And whoever’s, you know, whoever’s left behind on the floor bleeding so be
so it was literally the sex drugs and rock and roll.
Oh my god to the empty Yeah, yeah and that was even before they were super famous gotta could even imagine what was I’ve been told the story a lot of people a few people know about it but Brad said this about nine months before he passed he said he said he’s any man he goes you have your pilot’s license, I go pilot’s license, I’m lucky to be able drive a car, you know, I’m lucky I can just drive the streets of California. He goes because when we make it big, I want us to be like Led Zeppelin and I want you to fly the 747 work and it was serious. And I was like, wait a minute. You want me to fly the plane that first and foremost Who the hell is gonna even allow me to fly and I’m not going to get on a plane. Right But used to be a running joke because
Maybe I could actually I can only imagine what things would have been like if we had an airplane running around and absolutely burning every village.
The insanity of you guys just on private jets on top of all the other craziness taking it to that next level. So you had touched on, Brad, Brad left behind his new wife and son, but you stayed in touch with them later on down the road. You want to get into what that relationship turned into? Well, I was always I was always had a very good kinship and a friendship with with Brad’s Father Jim known as Papa know. So Papa know and I’ve spent a great deal of time together over the last few decades. And so my relationship with him. To me he’s very much like a father figure. He’s one of the most respected men that in Long Beach here that you know, from my crew, we
We all have a great deal of respect and love and admiration for him as a, as a father as a businessman as just as a man who, who walks, walks the walk and talk the talk. He’s just an honest, good guy. And so with a huge heart, Jacob, when Jacob was a baby, he was living with his mother Troy down in San Diego, and I would see him sparingly I would definitely make the drive down to see him as he was growing up. But, you know, we all had our own lives, too. You know, I, you know, I was in a band I was in I was doing my shit up and in Long Beach San Clemente. I had a home in San Clemente, which is the furthest Southern it’s the southern most Little Town in South Orange County before you get to San Diego. So I was running a muck there and certainly just insane and so you know, some years you drift apart and stuff like that, but I was still relatively connected with my crew here in Long Beach.
Until my disease progressed, then I was very isolated, really isolated man for not just a couple weekends, a long time, Jacob kind of followed the path of his dad not apples to apples, but he ran into trouble as well. And didn’t you have some sort of some sort of impact on his life as well? Well, as you know, as he grew into a, you know, he started drinking at a young age and, and so, in time, you know, he developed that thing called alcoholism, you know, as well as, you know, addiction qualities as well. And so,
later on down the road, you fast forward a bunch of years me I ended up becoming the intervention work found me I was like, Oh, yeah, I’m sober. I’m gonna go to work for a treatment center.
I’ve never worked for a treatment center. That is a lot of people’s path. It’s a lot of people’s paths. And I’ve seen too many people make that their recovery. I’ve also seen them fall
And, and get her I, I’ve always put my my sobriety my own personal recovery is is is the first most important thing to me I still go to the low side five but usually the six to eight meetings a week still at 12 years and four months of sobriety I, I have this disease just as much today as a day that I came in I needed just as much. You’re taking that air quote medicine continually and one of the things that someone in in my circle had said, he says, you know, 12 step recovery, it’s not something that it worked and you got better. It is. It is working in my life. So he equates it to. He does. He’s a property manager. And he was like, they had hired a security guard in crime went down. And they were like, well, we can’t afford to keep paying this security guard and he was and crimes down so we don’t really need one and he’s like
It is working.
It worked and recovery it’s the same way. I really I can appreciate that for sure. You know, I’ve we’ve all seen it sounds like you’ve been around long enough to or maybe even longer than me but it’s just if you stick around the rooms of recovery long enough we see people who get a good life back. And and they D prioritize or re prioritize what’s most important. And so most people end up either dead or they’re out there drinking and then loaded again and they ended up coming back and and that scares me to pieces I haven’t you know, I’m thankful that hasn’t been my story at all. Up to this point. I haven’t drifted. I haven’t been like, oh, I’ll give it a month off. Dude, I get crazy and 14 hours, like, not not not the obsession about drinking or getting loaded, but I get emotionally displaced quite easily. And it’s just how I am wired. And so being amongst people like you and, you know, in the rooms of recovery worldwide, so long as I’m in one of those
Rose, I get more centered and I get closer to something much bigger than myself quickly. And I need it. I tend to find that when when I just sit down and listen at times it it just happens to be and call it coincidence for x years in a row over and over. But whenever I’m going through something, and I sit down in one of those rooms and I just listen, I always end up hearing the exact thing a that I don’t want to hear, and then be that I need to hear. And, you know, then I’m faced with do I do I act on this? Do I just keep that to myself and be like ha you said exactly. Because usually it’s something wrong with actually not even sometimes it’s always something wrong with me either internally, or something going on in my life. I have some sort of expectation on
Someone or something to act a certain way. And invariably every time and I own I own several companies and i’ll i’ll get upset with an employee. And then I just come back around to Well, what was my part in it, which I hate in 12 separate? My brain is now wired that way that I take accountability and responsibility for all the things that I’m not happy with, but I’ll be upset with someone. What’s this person doing at work there? You know, wasting money and wages, and all these things and it’s like, Well, have you clearly defined the expectations of the job or the role that they have? And it’s like, no, they should read my mind. And when that’s my my reasoning for being upset was I wanted it ultimately falls on me and as a sober man, and as a business owner and all these different things. Everything does rise and fall on my shoulders, but at the same time, that’s a blessing because
If I am part of the problem, I also have the ability to be part of the solution. And until until I got involved in recovery I just I blamed everybody else it was everyone else’s fault why my life had gone to hell and if you live the way that I lived with the people who I surrounded myself with you would drink the same way that I drank because you don’t even have a choice there’s there’s no alternative when you’re a victim
yeah you know a lot of this has to do with just the way I think my reaction to life and and there’s a classic story that’s my favorite my favorite my favorite pet couple paragraphs and that big book we have it’s about acceptance, whenever I am disturbed, when I am disturbed by find some person, place or thing some fact of my life unacceptable to me. And until I can find acceptance with that person, place or thing I can have no serenity that explains me perfectly.
Absolutely to a tee
So generally speaking, the problem with me is me. Now, if some guy cuts me off and flips me off, how am I spiritual? What’s my spiritual condition? Like in that particular day, I’ve had plenty of moments in sobriety where I have wanted to punch someone in the throat. I haven’t, I can tell you back in the day, I caused a lot of scenes that resulted in in very, very negative results. But I haven’t had to do that. And so, you know, want to come back the same with Jacob. And, you know, I became a family crisis interventionist. I facilitated over 400 of them all over the country of the last nine plus years, and I was trained appropriately. I didn’t just read a book I was taken under the wing of a master interventionists who had over 1000 interventions under under his belt. He said you know, I think that you can really connect well with people who have suffered like you so why don’t you want to give us a shot with me and I did and I, I learned the right way to facilitate intervention and I got myself
certification for drug and alcohol counseling and my licensing and all that stuff. But, you know, whoever would have thought that
I think it was four years ago. So I was eight years sober and I got a call from Jim Nall saying that his grandson Jacob is suffering with this disease. And he goes I, he said, verbatim he goes, I can’t go through it again. I can’t go through it again. And so but it’s a it was one of the most beautiful moments in my life to be able to actually take that call. Where before I wasn’t able to take Brad’s call because he just wanted to talk to a friend. At the time. I don’t know what he didn’t want don’t for me, he had dope. He didn’t want money for me. He had money. He just wanted to talk to someone so it kind of my thing it evens the playing field or the scales or even but being able to help Jacob get clean and sober has been one of the
true bright spots in my life.
And it’s great that you had you know, no one likes the negatives that come along with life and obviously
That was a huge, huge impact on you and all the people in that circle. And I mean, worldwide, I mean that just on the surface level of the music and things like that. I mean, it was it was a huge loss all around. But to be able to have that awareness that, you know, here is that same exact call, and that you now have the skills and ability to not only take that call, but be able to perform the way that I mean you just didn’t have any capacity or capability to handle back then but to be able to take those skills now and apply them and save his life. I mean, that’s effectively what we do when we help other other addicts and alcoholics you are saving a life. Yeah, that’s that’s exactly right. And there is no there is no greater purpose.
And then for us to be able to, you know,
yeah, pass on what was not only given to us. But at the same time we talked we talked about this often passing on what was freely given to us at the same time. I feel an extreme duty, an extreme sense of responsibility that for a new man, I need to be able to look that man in the eye until I tell you what, I love you, man. And I want to see you make some changes. I want to encourage that person to stick around you know, all those hardcore bullshit some of these old fuckers who just sit down and shut up and they don’t want to hear you know what the truth is. We need to hear the new man. In fact, there’s there’s there there there is written text in the book that states meetings are a place for the new man to come share his problems. Okay, now I’m not expecting to hear the solution from a new guy. However, I strongly suggest that someone who is new to share in meetings what’s going on with them because it allows
us to get to know them. And they get to know us shutting up and saying nothing to me is absolutely against a to me a principle of recovery, which is vital, which is transparency, Truth and Honesty amongst people who fucking understand.
And I’m seriously adamant about that man. And not to mention, I mean, if you’re trying to grow something in membership, take, take the recovery aspect out of it, but just just human principle in general, if you have a group and take, again, take the this is saving your life out of the equation, but the people don’t want to show up somewhere and then people say, You’re not welcome here. You can’t participate because you don’t know what you’re talking about. Listen to me, what would be your motivation to want to even go back to get to the point where you can where you can say the end, I mean, there’s there’s things that I’ll I’ll say this to my salesman.
Because sometimes we have these weird situations where things pan out, but statistically majority of the time, it doesn’t work. Like I had this this one guy who worked for me in, in tech, fixing computers, super, super abrasive guy. Really, really just fuck you, fuck you fuck you. But some people absolutely loved it and other people. I had received an email from a customer saying, I am willingly driving 25 miles to go to a competitor, instead of just calling you and having it done remotely because I am frightened that he will be the one that answers the phone. So we eventually got rid of them. But then other people were like, No, no, I love that. And it was like, you know, it was a minority of them. But so sometimes I think people, some people like that they show up and people say Shut up, don’t talk and they keep coming back because they like the pain or whatever it is.
But it’s it’s not the majority, it’s the minority. And I think people, they take things out of context and they say, look, here is that small percentage of the time where it worked. And we just use that confirmation bias that because it worked on this small percentage, that therefore it works all the time every time for these exact types of people but in the macro if you’re trying to you know, something works 80% of the time, the opposite way
Why stop doing it the way that encourages membership and encourages growth, which is ultimately what we’re what we need. Yeah, and you know, and you know, the rooms have evolved to its, you know, the text remains the same but the personnel, the people who are in the rooms, there’s gonna come a point in time, I hate to say it gang, but in certain groups, drugs are going to be a part of almost every
single person’s story in the group, the wild turkey Dre days and just a straight bourbon guys are going to be gone. Eventually. Sorry. It’s just the way you know, drugs are a big part of the story that part of the program where they don’t really talk about that that much, but it’s all a part of us. At the end of the day, you know what man at the other day, there’s groups for everyone everywhere. You know what I mean? You want the hard ass thing that the full Third Reich treatment where you have no say or
I don’t know where those are. But so being a man, I just want people to get sober to live better. I don’t care where you find it. And thank God is everywhere. You know? Yeah. So your book you had touched on you are able to help 10s of thousands of people through just that one thing and now with with the documentary, the long way back, how did that come about? You know,
I was not seeking like, hey, let me go find someone to make a movie about
I was contacted by a gentleman up in Canada, who had produced some films in the science based and learning areas. And he was privy to the epidemic is like your story needs to be told. flew up there a couple of times and we started going to some, some finance raising stages. And it kind of came to find that he wasn’t the right guy to tell the story. But along the road, some investors were like, meet this guy introduced me this guy was attached to some Sundance winning awards. name’s Mike Meeker, and he ended up producing the film and when you talk about uncomfortable, man, I mean, you really go through your mind thinking, Wait a minute, we’re going to let it all hang out here. And for me, there was no other way to tell the story. When I wrote my book. I still hadn’t tackled the demons. I got to talk about this because I don’t care anymore, but
about trauma sustained as a kid, you know, molestation, and having come from up being a victim to a survivor, and I was really
flipping coins on do I reveal that in the film at the end of the day, thank goodness I had grown enough as a grown up enough as a man to be able to share that experience and not worry about being judged. Because it’s all about at the end of the day, I can’t tell you how many people reached out to me going Dude, I was thought I was I’d be this tough guy etc etc. that happened to me as a kid too. And and and I’ve heard a lot of people along the way not molesting but I’ve heard others with my alcoholism because of a lot of the stuff that happened as a kid. So you know the film project in itself it got done in a year usually to take about two years on average to make a feature length we would 6070 hour weeks. We want a couple of awards for Best Documentary Film gratefully speaking and
the the people the orchard owned by Sony put it out and it’s, it’s available on basically every medium except Netflix.
It’s been a really good platform to speak at school.
To speak it, not just treatment centers, but a lot of universities, I go to high schools. So it’s been a really great thing to share with people and give a talk after it’s helped a bunch of people. It’s pretty cool.
And when you’re doing the the speaking gigs at colleges is, is that just something where you’ve been? Was that sort of part of your plan to speak at colleges? Or how did how did that come about?
When when the film came out, I just started getting people asking, you know, we’d love to have you come out and talk and I’ve always enjoyed giving talks about, about getting to the other side. You know, I also do a lot of 12 step talks to but speaking at an institutional levels different, you’re not gonna incorporate too much step talk, etc, because it’s such a foreign thing, but I gotta tell you, I can’t count the times I’ve been pulled aside and someone saying either need help right now. I’ve got a couple people like I was literally going to kill myself this week.
Gonna freakin kill myself. I remember we had a counselor, this one I was in Ohio, that this counselor to take this person over to the student center and they got that person into an institution like that night. I mean, this is real stuff, man. When people are breaking inside, and they’re not, they’re too scared to talk about it. I want to share with anyone who’s listening or watching whatever. It’s okay to talk about. If you’re breaking on the inside. Find someone who you trust someone who will care about what you have to hear, I assure you, there’s people who want to hear from you. Don’t don’t don’t leave because you’re going to be in the wrong person.
I think a lot of it to alcoholics and addicts kind of run into this thought process of I am, I am unique. Nobody else understands the kind of pain that I’m going through because I had this experience and if you had this experience, then you would understand but nobody has this experience and
I think that’s why, you know, when you’re talking about your trauma that so many people, I mean, it’s one of those things that it’s not, you’re not supposed to talk about it and having that guilt and shame trapped inside of you. And I believe you had said in the documentary that you had tried sharing it with people and they said they didn’t believe you. Was that part of the case also? Yeah, it’s what yeah, I shared it with my father. I was I was really young, I was only like nine years old. And and it happened again, I was very blanket statement because I was actually affected several times over a two year period as a general statement about it. So my father didn’t believe me. And so what that did to me to was it instill this, I’m really, really, really against authority. I’m really against it and I’m going to grow up one day, and I did and people will try to tell me what to do would not get the answer. They were looking for.
You know, it sets the stage, it shapes you and crafts you into something, I didn’t become a monster, by the way. In fact, I became I was a person who if I ever saw person getting picked on, I would lose my mind, you know, getting bullied or, you know, I was kind of like want to be like the Superman to help people, you know,
actively that’s that’s what has happened with the content that you’ve put out and with your work in, in doing interventions and things like that. I mean, that is sticking up for the person that is just suffering. And I know when I was at the end of my rope, and you know, I just needed a DUI and a judge to tell me that I needed help. But for all the times when people you know, it felt like family and friends were ganging up on me when I know now in retrospect, they were just trying to help but I felt like the guy who was just a big
Dumb the entire time because that’s what my brain told me. I was a victim. I was the underdog. I, I didn’t have anyone on my side. Yeah, that’s that’s a really good point. I, Andrew because, you know, my my take on on a lot of this is is that the person who is in the disease is truly not seeing the world clearly. And there’s people you know, obviously in your instance and a mind to where they’re observing you, me and like this, you are not right. They are seeing things much more much more clearly. And they see something that is either a crisis or situation that you got that something has to change. And so it’s getting you know, that’s why I love about the work is you always get this loving, determined group of people who is hell bent on saving their loved ones life. And so it’s essentially this emotional management of chess pieces that you’re dealing with with these people and personnel to get this person motivated to at least try
A change. And so it’s been rewarding work. It’s very taxing for me, I take it. You know, I do take it very, very seriously. I think you have to.
Yeah, I don’t think that’s the kind of job that you can just nine to five punch the clock and just
know you can’t you can’t do back to back interventions like yeah, there has to be breathing space between each one. I’ve made that mistake on two occasions and I paid for it dearly, becoming very off center, very,
not 100%. And so you have to catch up, get back into your own recovery, do some self care and get yourself back on that beam allow you to be more functional, but at least you have the awareness that you you made the mistake in the past you reflected on it and moving forward. You’re not just beating your head against the wall trying to do that insanity definition of the same thing expecting different results and when we can refer
Live on the mistakes that we’ve made, and then make decisions on the future, doing, doing the next right move, you know, this, this can apply for recovery, it can apply to business. I know when when we were growing the company and it was like, well, I just hired a bunch of random people, and they all happened to work out wonderfully. And so then my mentality was, we should always hire just random people. And it blowing up in my face that we kept having these terrible employees that would show up for like a day or two and quit. We had people they were in now I the company, everybody’s sober. But
we had people like nodding out at their desk, and it was just like, what is this? And I was like, well, maybe we should, maybe we should just add like, one step like one ounce of maybe just make sure that this person kind of has some of the same ideas.
But we could have kept going the same way. And the unfortunate thing in businesses, you know, if if I have 20 salesman and they’re all mediocre, we’re still probably making more money than we would if we had three people that were stellar. So it’s, it’s learning to sacrifice more money, which isn’t the ultimate scoreboard but doing the right thing. And knowing that you’re doing the right thing sticking behind it, even when you don’t get that financial reward for it. And so I don’t know how the the payment structure works in interventions. I would assume that if you did two in a day, you would get paid twice as much is that accurate? Or is it
Yeah, that would be impossible to do two in a day. I think I’d be hanging from a tree.
Just couldn’t do it. But yeah, I follow you. Yeah. So so in wrapping up what what what piece of advice would you give to somebody who is struggling with addiction looking to get out what would be the
Next best move for them to take
a look. The first thing that I want to say to anyone out there who’s suffering is that
it’s very difficult to do it alone. I don’t suggest it. That there. There’s a lot of people out there who want a professional level first off to get you started, specialize in getting you stabilized. That’s what treatments about to me. You don’t just go to treatment and you emerge and you’re good to go the rest of your life like it’s a great place to be safe for a while. There’s a lot of good ones a lot of bad ones, but there’s a lot of good places out there. People who know what they’re doing to get you started and and that it can be done but it’s just going to focus on the none of it’s done alone. And and if you felt alone, I’m sure you have if you’re suffering, that it’s a huge relief to know that you don’t have to be alone again. So I would encourage you to reach out and just it’s okay to say hi breaking man. I need some help. There’s nothing wrong with that.
One other thing that I had heard you you spoke about with.
I think it was in a David about Bradley’s house. Uh huh. You want to touch on that a bit? I think that’s that’s an incredible thing that you guys are putting together. Yeah, for sure if I could just touch on two quick things a Bradley’s house is is essentially under what’s called the no Family Foundation. And it’s something I co founded with Brad’s dad. We are, it’s a fully fully approved 501 c three company that’s nonprofit.
We are geared towards creating the first treatment center that’s kind which is to to help musicians who are suffering with substance use disorder who are broken, don’t have the financial means to get well. And so the residents will be called Bradley’s house. We’re still in the fundraising stage for it. And so it’s something that we’re very excited about getting actually the doors open which God willing, it will happen over the next year. The The other thing I want
Coming up really quick is I’m working on a project, it’s called the higher ground experience. And it’s an experiential learning platform for kids, for young people to reach them before before they start using before they start drinking. And it’s an incentivize learning program that we’re currently in the finance raising stage for which is going to have significant impact on helping young people to make the right decisions in peer pressure situations. So check it out, Andrew and you can go to higher ground experience calm, and we expect to help some kids avoid overdose and funerals.
That’s such a great cause. And I think it’s, it’s cool with
with the idea that you know, like the the niche down on the musicians with Bradley’s house where it’s,
we feel that no one else can understand exactly what we’re going through and for I mean, cool.
Better to be running this organization than people who have been directly involved in, in addiction and in the music scene and knowing that there’s the little, the little differences here and there that it’s not always going to be apples to apples. And that’s kind of what I was hoping to accomplish with the podcast was you can go to 12 step meeting and find people that have your same vice. However, for for myself, it was kind of scratching my own itch of I want to be not only with just the people in the rooms, but and it doesn’t have to just be people who are also in 12 step recovery, just people who are sober, you know, whatever method works for you works for you, but to to be able to network and meet with people that are doing big things that you can always just
walk into a room and find someone who is starting 501 c three and getting getting funding and all these things. So it’s really cool. And I really appreciate you taking the time and letting us letting us in on you know your story and the things you’ve been through and the triumphs and the wins and the losses. And tada in wrapping up, how can people find you and get more information? Thanks for asking. You can go to my website, it’s Todd Vulcans calm, t odd, z al kiss. Todd’s all calm. Also have a toll free number 888-604-7370. And I want to say one more thing to the first off. Thank you, Andrew for having me. I want to finish with for anyone out there who’s wondering if recovery is worth it. It is and if I didn’t have a joyful, meaningful existence in sobriety, I bail
would have failed a long time ago despite what life has thrown at me. So if you’re wondering can first off Yes, you can get there takes take some stuff takes a little bit of work, but I assure you that if you’re sick of it sick of it all, man, this is a lot better. It’s a lot better. Yeah, people don’t don’t end up there on accident, but the people that stay it was intentional. And that’s like that.
It’s not a, it’s not something that that just comes easy. It’s like you said with treatment, a lot of people think it’s like a 30 day thing, kind of like get surgery and then and then you’re fixed. It’s it’s just laying down the framework, get the foundation, but unfortunately, there’s work to be done ahead and it’s not going to just take one month to fix everything. It is a thing that it works, as long as you continue doing the things that cause
It to work and sometimes we we start taking credit for things that aren’t necessarily our doings but it’s it’s been great talking with you, Todd and
everyone who’s listening. Check out Todd and all the things that he’s been doing the long way back great documentary really, really digs into his story, the book, dying for triplicate all all the things that he’s doing it’s, it’s so great to to have this experience with you to have you share with the audience. And have a great day. Thank you so much for being and thanks, everyone for listening. Thanks for having me, Andrew. It’s been a pleasure man.

Jason Hyland – How To Stop Thinking Like That, No Matter What

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Jason Hyland – Stop Thinking Like That: No Matter What – https://www.amazon.com/dp/1984383515/?ref=exp_loc_pl_rushtechsupport

Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment https://www.amazon.com/dp/1577314808/?ref=exp_loc_pl_rushtechsupport 

Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements https://www.amazon.com/dp/1878424319/?ref=exp_loc_pl_rushtechsupport

Haters don’t hate you they hate themselves for you doing what they wish they were.

With me today is Jason Hyland, the author of the best selling book, stop thinking like that
No matter what. He’s a motivational speaker, he’s the host of the no matter what podcast. He’s a frequent blogger on sober nation. He’s the founder of motivational recovery. He’s given a TED talk at the TEDx Boston College recently completed the hundred 23rd. Boston Marathon, former minor league baseball player. Jason, what did I miss? Oh, my I’ve never heard it all out like that before. It’s I’m tired just hearing that.
That’s awesome. I’m a blessed man today. Needless to say, Yeah, well, I’m really happy you know that we got to arrange this and and get together because I know, when Michael introduced us and he was telling me a bit about your story. I was like, you have to make this connection. I mean, the exact it is the story of triumph and then losing it and then coming back stronger than ever. That’s what this whole podcast is about man giving hope to those people that you know, when you’re
Feeling like crap and you’re in treatment or even you’re not in treatment? Just everything’s going terrible and it looks like there’s no way out. There’s people and you know, spoiler alert, like things seem to get pretty good for you. But why don’t you give us a little background on growing up and what what sort of led to where you ended up? So as you obviously aware how we got introduced was a fellow friend, Michael, all that and he’s from Beverly mass where I’m from, and my brother is around his age, and I grew up in a family that I mean was normal to me, but there was a lot of chaos around and I didn’t realize that or really understand it until many years later. My father, May you Rest in peace, he was an alcoholic and he died from the disease on Christmas morning of 2016 with me by his side and so I saw firsthand what the toll that alcohol can have on someone. But what I had growing up that
Really he pushed on me and my older brother and sister as well was sports, sports, sports, sports, sports sports.
And you know, that was my my getaway. So I might have saw, you know, witness some some bad things happening at home. But it was all lost when I went out went on the field, whether it was baseball, football, basketball, and that was my refuge. And to this day baseball is my true love in life and it will forever be. I’ve experienced a lot of, you know, great, great things that not many people get you and it’s because of baseball. And really, even though I grew up in a really alcoholic home, and I don’t want to say abusive because it wasn’t like the physical type, but there was a lot of verbal abuse going on. And I didn’t fall into that trap, so to speak, until many years later and I always told myself, I will not become him. I will not become him. I’ll not become him. And my mother and I left when I was in fifth grade and we stayed in Beverly
Which was great. So I didn’t have to move schools anymore because I moved a bunch of times in the in like elementary school. And then when we permanently stayed in Beverly, you know, I had the same friends and that’s really good thing for me because I know so many situations where, you know, when parents get divorced or in my case, never married, separated, then, you know, kids are living in going to different school after school. But I told my mother in high school, we left it like I said, fifth grade, sixth grade, actually, that, I promise you, I’ll never become him and I will do everything within my power to make sure that you know, we are going to be financially stable. I’m going to buy us a house and I said I was going to, you know, like dribble cages and hamster cages where they have two different ones and then they’re connected in the top by like a little bridge. That was my vision.
Like a big farm pretty much because I love animals and I have two dogs, and that’s what I always I told her, but I started experiment in high school with just drinking my junior high school.
didn’t take long before it just took over my life and it took over, like everything I was doing. And, you know, that’s some of the stuff that I’ll be, you know, share with the, you know, the triumph, but soon, you know, severe tragedy. And that occurred started occurring in college pretty much. So when you first started drinking, were there consequences or anything like that? Or were you just sort of having fun? Definitely having fun, and, you know,
some of the things I did back then no, like, if I got in fights and stuff, if I did that today, I’m sure there would be consequences, like physical altercations, but it was more so fun, you know, doing the high school thing, we’re having a good time, you know, partying in the woods or someone’s parents were away, going to have a good time and party there. And I went to an all boys Catholic school, and North north of Boston. So we had I have friends from all over, you know, the area, which was great because, you know, I got to know a lot of different people and a lot of different groups of people.
So really
It was just, it was experimental, have some fun, and you know, do what teenagers do pretty much. So when did it start changing from just having fun too? Did you start noticing there were kind of rumblings of problems. The major incident that looking back now tells me
that was when I became an alcoholic. I don’t know if there’s if that’s even like a way to say it. But the incident was after my sophomore year in college, I was named MVP of the College World Series at the University of Tampa. We had just lost in the national championship to Central Missouri State. This is 2003. And so heading into my junior year, I’m told no I have I’m there’s no doubt about it. My My dream is right there. I can see it clearly. I’m going to get drafted and then it’s on me and how quickly I can get to the majors. And it was reality. There’s no doubt about about those realistic and little sides.
know, when I was on with Mike, he told me he heard when I was like 10 years old he was he that’s what was going to happen. Jason was the baseball player who was going to make it now because again, he was in high school with my brother. And so that was always the thought that was always what I believe. That’s always what everyone around here believes. My family. Absolutely my dad drilled in me that’s what had to happen. So it was my junior year early in and alcohol related incident where we had some recruits High School recruits staying with us, and we took him out in Tampa and one of my roommates got in a fight and I got involved and helped and unfortunately, I got a separated shoulder at me with a coach the next morning and just like that kicked off the team. No, not even six months removed from being named college drugs Series MVP and seeing everything I’ve worked so hard over the years, no come into fruition. And that was the moment so I was it was November 2003.
It would take many years before finally, you know, succumbing to my fate. What have you but that was the moment I started taking like that the incidences started piling up and there were, you know,
results, negative results and consequences.
So after basically your entire life, and I’m not I’m no therapist, I’m just on the surface level but your whole life it was Jason the baseball player Jason the baseball player, Jason the baseball player, and then you separate your shoulder and now it’s Jason.
Who are you all see that’s the thing people still knew me as Jason the baseball player because I end up even though I got kicked off that team, I transferred to a school in Northern California, who Chico State Division Two powerhouse or baseball and I knew of them because they lost in the College World Series championship the year before my team did and so
I had a decent junior year. And going into my senior year was when I taught I was told where I was going to your top 10 rounds is what my coach told me and my coach now is the head coach of University of Washington. So he’s certainly made his way up there. And I’ll never forget when he told me that, and I was like, he’s like, just going to do what you did. I was I was making a name for myself away from the incident that happened that I brought me to that school, but alcohol and drugs were just too much of a factor and they were becoming consistent in a daily thing. And that’s what ultimately, my senior year was just a complete mess. It was all about drugs and alcohol at that point. And so what did I had to find myself and it didn’t take another almost 15 years to do so. Because what for the next 1012 years after college, it was just a mess. That was when What trouble Can I get myself into now and and No, I’m just very fortunate that I never got into a significant
in trouble, even though I definitely should have had a number of occasions and now that I’m sitting here that I didn’t hurt anyone. No, I’m I’m very blessed in that regards. But it took its toll from you know, being Jason, the baseball player to Jason the partier pretty much up until I found sobriety which was July 24 of 2017. So what’s happening earlier in July 2017, that sort of brought you to treatment because if you’re just Jason the party or that guy is just having fun, I’m guessing probably something happened between the Jason’s just having fun to Jason’s got a problem? Well, there was no having fun for the last three, four or five years of my drinking and, and drugging. There’s no, there’s no fun. You know, it was the point where I was that stereotypical I had black curtains black shades tucked in my room were in the same hoodie, watching the same TV shows only leaving my house to go to
Paki which is a liquor store here in Boston. That was it. There was no fun I I very rarely would go out and when I did I wasn’t a good person to be around I was miserable. I surrounded you know, probably with misery loves company. So no one trying to go anywhere no one trying to really do anything with their their lives just blaming, you know their circumstances on everything else. And there was no fun for a long time. But what happened is divine intervention. I’m not a religious person by any means. But there’s no explanation for what happened on July 23rd. I got home from work at a bar. I was a bouncer. So I got home at like 130 in the morning on Sunday, the 23rd. And I just knew before I went to bed that tomorrow mean that day was it. I knew exactly what was going to happen. The circumstances that played out in my head actually unfolded. The next morning I knew I was going to get a knock on my door.
More More like a bang from my brother. And I knew he was going to ask to talk to me and confirmed me about some things that were missing. And I went to bed. I get that banging, and I know y’all, y’all Adam through the draw, why are you here so early? Like, get your ass up? It’s 130. And I was like,
I was I wanted to sleep and I really wasn’t even though I was, you know, a lazy bum. I did not sleep and I was like, Oh my. And so
I went downstairs I lived in. I’m in my three family house my family’s on since the 40s. My 97 year old grandmother, she’s on the first floor. I’m on the second floor and my dad did live with me for the last few years of his life because I moved back here to take care of him and then my sisters up on the third floor above me. So I went downstairs and talked with my brother. And you know, he basically
he asked me exactly what I know is going to going to ask in regards to some life submission
Missing money. And it took me a while but I saw the tears are coming in. He’s like, why are you crying? Why are you crying and then I just let it all out. And it was the most freeing experience of my life. I had finally just put the truth out there everything I’ve been holding it I just bought off my shoulders and hoes like,
I can breathe now. No, I wasn’t worried about what was going to happen next anymore. I knew at that moment I was saved. I knew that there was no way I was going to be going back and that I somehow I survived. And then now is about putting in the work to make sure I do never go back. And you know, the, probably the best part about that moment with my brother is, you know, he’s dropping f bomb after f bomb in the other room. And then he comes back and he said something to me that really was the pivotal moment telling me that I’m going to be okay as he goes. I’m really proud of you. And I couldn’t believe that. You know, this is one of the people that I’ve heard more than anyone in the world that I’ve lied to and lied to and lied to.
You know, created a lot of animosity between us and just resentments within our family. We have very small family. It’s only the four people that I named my brother, my sister, myself and my Nana now, and,
you know, him saying that gave me hope. And so I called my mother. We have separate mothers. She lives down the street, and
I knew she wasn’t home. So I went and I sat on her, on her
on a hill in her backyard, and I was looking at the water and crying and I called the first I called the detox and asked if there was a bed available, and then I called her because again, she wasn’t home. I wasn’t allowed there. No doubt about it. So I called her and let her know hey, this is for real. I go to bed tomorrow. Can you please drive me and she said, All right. And so I had the last drink and last drug I ever had was that that day, and the next morning, I walked into detox with
Open Arms just saying, Tell me what I need to do to assure that I never ever go back. I knew I’ve never feel any as much pain as I already did. I’ve never go through as much pain. All the tears I already shed. You know,
I’ve been through the worst of it. So now let’s, let’s go, what do we need to do? You basically surrender and just say, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve done my best at life up to this point. And it’s gotten me nowhere. And now I’m in treatment. And you’re just like, whatever you guys say, like I’m going to do. Where’s that willingness come from? And I wish I could tell you but all I know is I actually just before this, and I had a law of attraction session. There’s an it was an hour and a half, and it’s my first time going. And, you know,
it was just believing in the things that were occurring that there’s something bigger going on. And one of the things that I spoke about earlier today was that the no coincidence moments, they just kept piling up.
There was no no coincidence that these things are happening, there’s no way a human could have been in control of the things that were falling into place for me. And that just showed me that I was about, you know, becoming part of something far, far bigger than my journey. And I started, you know, few months and realizing my purpose, and that was to be able to be on a podcast like this and share my story to help spread hope and inspiration. And it just grew from there. The willingness was like, I could never go back to that life. There’s no way you wrote stop thinking like that while you were in treatment, right? Yes, I did. Yeah. Aren’t Aren’t you supposed to be miserable when you’re in rehab? You know,
that’s why motivational recovery was founded. I could,
I couldn’t understand. I was free. I could understand that I was free, but I could understand what everyone was so miserable. Even though they were sober. They were no longer you know, poisoning themselves. They were still miserable.
And I didn’t get it. And it still I don’t really
understand it. I know everyone goes into treatment at a different place in their life. But once I got to the link house, which is a six month program, I spent one month between the detox and holding and before finding long term treatment, and at the link house, everyone shows up at the same exact spot because you’re showing up you’re you’re getting the same exact tools, the same exact resources. You’re You’re already sober because you have to have gone through detox to go there.
Why not make the most of why not take advantage of the you know, the opportunity you have. But what I realized, is there a lot of people sometimes they’re on the second third 14th 25th 50th
time doing that. And that was mind boggling to me. That detox process was eight days of from what I remember because I was so drugged up on them getting me off. I was on opiates. I was doing upwards of three
$300 habit 300 milligrams a day of opiates at the end, and on top of my drinking. So I had to, you know, have some serious drugs to make sure I didn’t have the withdrawals. And there was like four days of that. So I don’t really remember the four days, but I just you know, that’s as bad as it could get not not remembering things that were going on and so forth. So I was,
when I arrived the windows, I was all gung ho, like, I’m not going back there. So what can I do? Tell me what to do. And for me, I found writing. And I wrote a lot for myself and you know, it was my therapy, and not gonna lie. A lot of people tried to slow me down and say, you know, you need to focus on your recovery. And what they didn’t understand is there was no recovery if I didn’t write and if I didn’t write there was no you know, if I there was no recovery if I didn’t write in vice versa. So that was my therapy. And that’s what got me got me going and getting better and realizing I’m writing for more than myself. Now. I gotta write to motivate these people. No, no
Just the people I was with, because I was showing them every single day I had that daily discipline of writing and going to the library and transferring whatever I was writing on the computer because at the program, we had no computer access except for two hours on a Saturday with no internet, no, no cell phones, and no cars, no jobs, you’re focusing on yourself and yourself only as it should be from that’s how I believe and so by focusing on myself, what was I doing, I was writing about things that you know, I’ve never shared with anyone in the world and research and in research and in studying positive people have overcome in very big adversity and inspirational books, positive books, positive mindset, I just jumped into that stuff and it brainwashed me for the better and I still use that that that mentality today because I could see that things starting to happen that you hear about, like putting the law of attraction, putting good things out there. Put in
what you want.
visualizing it and stuff like that where some people think it’s a gimmick No, I was seeing trance play in my life. And so I became a huge proponent of it and I still am and no, I was motivated to succeed and do whatever I possibly want, I finally could fulfill what my mom always told me as you can do anything you put your mind to. And I was I was testing that to the core and I was, you know, succeeding and doing so. And I was like, Well, I’m no one special. There’s no there’s nothing great about me. I’m just a man willing to do what it takes. So I never go back to drinking and drugging anymore. So if I can you can
It’s so cool that that because i mean i’ve i’ve been in the in the treatment industry, I’ve been to treatment myself. I have seen the motivation levels of people like week one, right? Most people, they just escaped death. They are so grateful to be out or or they’re just taking it for granted. They hate it because their parents forced the
To go and they don’t want to be there. So it is kind of all over the spectrum. But for someone to maintain that level of enthusiasm, how do you keep up with wanting to do that other than just, I’m going to do this because that pain was so recent, you know, Now, a couple a couple months in, how are you still motivated to keep doing this? Well, first things first is life still happens. So there’s going to be bad things that occurred just because I’m sober doesn’t mean that I’m not going to have to deal with some serious adversity. And first of all, is all the wreckage of my past, I have to face that I had to take accountability own up for, you know, the harm I may have caused, in particular, you’re my family, my mother, first and foremost. And I had to own up to that because if I didn’t do that, then I would always be carrying that baggage with me. And that’s one of the things when I work with individuals is trying to help them let go of that because it’s an anchor and it can hold people down forever, and I
see it happening, unfortunately. And so by it being able to deal with my past, and like I said, take ownership of it, I can now focus on the now and I really, it took a while. But once I grasped the concept of one day at a time, things started really clicking for me. And I became very excited to go to bed so I could wake up the next morning because I was starting to, you know, as a friend with said is manifesting my life for what I wanted. For the first time ever, I was seeing the manifestation taking place. So that was the enthusiasm all that I needed to be enthusiastic about because things are transpiring for the better. Now writing this book and being told it’s going to be published, I’ll never forget it was January 1 2018.
Found out and I was crying in my bed in this you know, this little room that there’s two twin size beds that I’m sharing with a 22 year old kid and
Realize all the hard work, what it can what it can bring, you know what can come up if you just believe in yourself and put in the work if you have the effort and not be lazy, because I was a certainly a very lazy person for a very long time, you know, we can have anything we wanted. And that’s where my enthusiasm came from. And what state and then when I dealt This is, I think one of the key parts is when I would face hardship,
I would now actually face it, instead of turning and running away and going to, you know, the to get to the nearest package store or to the, you know, to my dealer, I didn’t have to go that route anymore. And I can learn from these mistakes and paste them and take something from that and use it moving forward. So something ever of that nature. And again, I know how to handle it, other than putting a substance in my body. I know just for myself, in my own experience. I’ve seen people come into treatment. They’ve had these big hits.
audacious goals and years, obviously, you didn’t have a track record of success coming into this point. So were people supportive of you? Or were you getting like the Okay, Dude, chill, like, you’re not gonna, you’re not gonna make this book happen. I would say 99% of the people who are the latter were like, Who is this kid? 90 days in and saying he’s going to write a book, who’s this kid saying he’s gonna, you know, change the world. But I’ll say it until the day I die is why not me?
No, why not? Someone has to.
And that’s how I look at when I when I speak to groups is if I can just reach one person, that person could be the person that’s going to change the world. You don’t know unless you try. And, you know, the talking about different breakthroughs. Um, I’ll refrain from swearing. But I was walking from CVS down to the library in Newburyport.
What the town I was getting the treatment. And I was walking with my big brother, you have big brothers at the house. Basically, they’re your mentor, they show you the ropes that first month, you can’t leave without them. And they make sure you abide by the house rules and this and that very, very instrumental. And, you know, because you’re walking into a place where you don’t know anyone, there’s all these very strict rules you have anywhere from ages of 22 to 65, all these different personalities, so they help get you through that, you know, very vital and important first month, and he was so caught up in everyone else’s bullshit. It was really I was scared, he’s gonna have a heart attack. I truly was like, Man, you gotta just calm down and stop worrying about what everyone else is. You can’t make them do that. You can’t force them to do anything that they don’t want you. And it was that moment. I was like, holy shit. I am having that breakthrough. I’m like, Oh my God. I don’t care what anyone thinks anymore. And that was that big,
big breakthrough. Somebody
Now, as the more people who are saying like, you’re delusional, you’re delusional, delusional, you know, who the hell do you think you are? I just brushed that off. And because what I realized is, you know, the Serenity Prayer, you know,
I can only control what I can control. And that was that was the biggest breakthrough of the of the journey, for sure is not caring what people think anymore. And finally, just been able to focus on myself and just go after it is what I wanted and not live for anyone else. And it’s funny because sometimes addicts will come to that realization while they’re using and but it’ll be like on the other side of the spectrum of, I don’t care that I’m ruining everybody else’s life. Just Just let me do me. But you’re on the other side of that. And Mike actually talks about it in his in his new book, blueprint to business, I believe was the title. And it’s basically if you know you’re doing the right thing. Then stay in your lane. Don’t worry about what other people are talking about.
what other people think on what you’re doing? Because if you’re doing the right thing, and you’re passionate about it, and you can go to bed at night being like, yeah, I wrote this book that I want to change the world, you know who’s gonna, who’s going to get mad at you for doing that, like, all you’re trying to do is provide value to other people to help other people to get your message out there to as many people as possible like this podcast, like, initially, the idea behind it was just, I’ll interview big corporations, things like that get in touch with business owners, and then kind of as time went on, it was like, the people the Jason highlands of the world are the ones that can use this as a platform and getting to know people like you and your story. It’s just it’s really cool to see people just pushing through because like you, you know, with practically no sober time, and I mean, you know, a statistic is just a statistic, but you know,
know you’re in the minority for the people that say, I’m gonna do something early recovery, that’s audacious and like, you pulled it off, man.
Yeah, and that was the other thing is there’s always going to be someone who’s gonna, you know, go against the grain and prove prove those statistics wrong. No, I’m not a number. And no one else should feel like they are a number because that that’s just wrong one putting a number on and saying you’re just a statistic. You should never want to be you want to be yourself and do what you want to do and live your life. So I wasn’t going to let know these other people that I didn’t even know complete strangers define who I was. And definitely not going to be just another statistic I wanted to, I realized I didn’t have it wasn’t my second chance at life. It was no can be my 10th 1215.
Who knows. But I was. I knew that that the nightmare was over. And I had an opportunity to do things that I never thought were imaginable and that I have the power now to help people, not fall to
where I was, you know, not get to the spot I was. And just as importantly, I was being able to help parents and family members who were dealing with, you know, someone who was suffering someone they love suffering with substances, and being able to have that impact. I don’t care what anyone says about me anymore, because what’s what’s the worst that you could call me right now? You know, have at it. And there’s a great thing I heard from on one of the motivational videos I listened to is no haters don’t hate you, they hate themselves for you doing what they wish they were. And it’s so true. And you know,
I’m starting to get trolls online and that’s, that’s fine. And a one that shows me that if I’m making it, I’m making a name for myself and that’s a good thing I was told any publicity is good publicity. I think Mike told me that at the beginning and to you know, to embrace it. You know, the more success you do Garner that the more people are going to do.
jump aboard and want that they want to watch the train wreck, right? They want to see you fail. And it’s unfortunate but those are the people who need to be listened to this those are the people who need to be reading stop thinking like that. Those are the people who need to be you know, paying attention to the people who are doing it, rather than, you know,
just hate it and sitting behind a keyboard or locking themselves in a room like I was in the pitch black watching American pickers for 17 hours a day. You know, I,
I was that person and now I see that hating on someone who was doing good, what was just holding me back, you know, this delaying the inevitable. And so I embrace people who are going to hate or I’m going to, you know, talk down on because you know what, what it means I’m doing something right into is if they do have something to say that I could learn from, you know, because I am far from perfect, you know, as a recovery coach and a performance coach. There are three things I always tell
No a potential person I support at the beginning one. I do not have all the answers Far, far from it. I’m going to be forever learning. It’s my favorite thing on my post earlier today. But you probably saw my knowledge brigade. I love just building that up, I want to learn as much as possible because it’s just, it’s a beautiful thing and it’s infinite. The second part is I am not perfect, I am the furthest thing from perfect, I’m going to fail, I’m going to fail and fail some more and I’m going to mess up. But I’m going to admit to it and I’m going to use whatever I can can from that situation to be better moving forward. And thirdly, those The important part is I know how to stay sober one day at a time and I can help you do the same. And you know, I say that right up front so that I’m transparent as can be I don’t have all the answers no one does. It’s be ridiculous. That’s why when I hear so called experts in the field of recovery, I’m sorry I don’t believe in that. No, I respect that you your knowledge and your opinions, but you say Aaron expect
An expert in a field where there’s millions and millions and millions of people that are just hurting. And no, there’s no such thing in my eyes. What got you into recovery coaching?
My my mom,
she saw an article in the local paper, and I graduated from the program I was in on February 23 of 2018. I started the recovery coach class on March 1, so the following Friday, and it was every Friday for eight hours for one month.
So I got my 30 hours to get my certification and Massachusetts and then
my that’s I released the book right there after and I kind of went on this like whirlwind of a tour of every week was either a podcast or I was going in studio did a couple of radio stations and a couple of
actual TV shows. I was on a guest of a senator. She asked me to be on our TV.
So again, these are things that were showing me, it’s far greater than me that my purpose is far beyond my own sobriety. And I was starting to, you know, see results from the work I was putting in with individuals, you know, the people who are reaching out to me in private, and I loved it, and I loved being able to see know, have the perspective from the other side now, because I, I, I’m an expert when it comes to using I’ll say that, no doubt about it. But on the other side, there’s so much that you see, and you start really peeling the onion of a person, different layers of individuals. And so I started a job with Paco Human Services. It’s a nonprofit, and I was working on this brand new thing that Massachusetts was implementing, through the Department of Mental Health and it’s a peer support, and the program’s called ACC at CS adult community clinical services. And what it is is moving from the old adage of clinical
Support of client and
like the doctor and client or doctor and patient. And doing now moving it towards peer support to where everyone’s equal, it’s a given take as a recovery coach or peer specialist, I didn’t get to learn something from the individuals that I’m working with. And vice versa because that gives them you know, if I’m someone who’s lost as can be and don’t have feel I have any value in the world, but I’m, I’m now I’m working with this recovery coach, and I can see I’m having benefit in the recovery coach, that’s a great thing that gives hope, and we all know that it’s just, there’s not much hope when we’re using and that little little sliver of hope can be the world of a difference because, again, I’m going off my personal experience, I felt it and I was living it. And so by joining them, I learned the the PR side of things and I got my certification as a certified peer specialist, which I don’t want to say one’s greater than the other when it comes to recovering. Go to peer specialist. Find a peer specialist. Your
You’re looking at like a whole greater spectrum recovery coach deal with people with substances. As a peer specialist now with people who have mental health challenges, some also have substance abuse, history and those layers that you start to unfailing as getting to know the person and bringing them all the way back to them as a human being to a lot of the time we just see someone, you know, on the corner, why don’t they just get a job? You know, there’s the button for change. Well, there’s a reason why that person’s there. Do you think they chose to be there? Absolutely not. No one in there, no one in their right mind, left mind, any mind would go and want to be in that situation. So we got to remember that that’s a human being to that they were once they’re there, someone’s son or daughter, you know, they’re there. They were someone’s friend, maybe someone’s husband or wife and so forth. There’s a reason why they’re there and it’s not their choice. And that really
really hit home for me seeing that. Okay, that part going all the way back to the individual. If I can just build a connection with that person, maybe I can give them a little hope. And at the very least, I’m giving them someone to talk to, you know, because there’s no human connection really, when you’re out there running and running and running. You know, it’s very rare. So no, that was a long answer to as how I became a recovery coach and you know, PR specialist and why I love the work that I do, because in every day is different. And I get to see the results firsthand of the work I’m putting in. Yeah, I know exactly what you mean, when you’re kind of on the same team. When I’m doing business coaching with clients and they’ll present me I’m running into issues with accountability with my employees doing this particular thing and I want them to be doing this, how do I solve this problem? And I feel like it’s just sort of human nature. It’s very easy for us to just give advice on
Yeah, so here’s how you can solve that problem. And then I look at my businesses, and then I’ll be like, you know what, perhaps we’re also and then I kind of peel it back and just selfishly, you know,
you tell your side and then just human beings, we just think like, how does this relate to me? How does this relate to me? And so my clients will say, I’m having issues with employee performance and accountability. And then I say, Oh, well, you could use a project management software and then organize all the steps that are supposed to happen. that’ll solve your problem. And then I look at mine, it’s like, you know what, I have that same problem. And that would actually solve my problem too. But we just it’s one of these things that Tony Robbins says he says, we know what to do, but we don’t do what we know. And you can look at just
you can you can look at just the epidemic of it. You can look at addicts. You can look at people being overweight. Everybody knows if you eat healthy and exercise every single
time if you burn more calories than you take in every single time it’ll work. It’s not a secret. It’s not well, you need to watch the macronutrients. And if you balance the correct protein, and we keto this, and if you’re in ketosis and do intermittent fasting, like all these tips and tricks for things to get short term relief, like the answer is just a calorie deficiency. And then that’s, that’s just science. But, you know, the whole country is morbidly obese and everyone’s blaming, oh, it’s the cookie manufacturers problem. It’s, it’s not their problem. And it’s not that we’re not educated, that these things are issues, but we don’t feel that short term. That short term pain because you eat one cookie, you don’t immediately get a heart attack. If that happened, people would stop eating them. It would be easy. Yeah. But it’s a long, slow progression, just like you can’t go to the gym.
Once and get in, get ripped. It’s a progression. It’s got to become a lifestyle. And when you’re dealing with people in recovery when your whole life has just been, how do I deal with this situation? I don’t like well, I’ll get high. How do I deal with life? I hate it I get high. What?
What do I do in any situation? I I just drink and drink and drink. And for me, you know, one of the things that that I questioned when I started when I was like, Well, what do you do for fun?
And then what I came to realize was you just keep living your life the exact same way without drinking because it wasn’t. I enjoyed going into hockey games in drinking. I enjoyed going to hockey games and I was an alcoholic, so I did that drunk. It wasn’t it wasn’t the I Have fun drinking and doing this. It was I’m just an alcoholic, and I can’t stop drinking. But I think it’s it’s funny though.
Kind of that that purse perspective that you touched on. So when you were writing stop thinking like that. Were were there times where you were like, you know what? Maybe everybody’s right. Maybe I should just, you know, who am I kidding? Did you have any of that self doubt?
I’m gonna be honest, I really did because. And I remember I said this to my stepdad. At the end of the day, when I finished writing the book, the worst worst case scenario was I wrote a book. If you think about it, that’s the worst case. Even if I only sold one copy, you know what, I still wrote a book. More importantly, what did that writing do for me? It kept me sober. So that was the absolute worst case scenario. And I kept that mentality. So no matter what I was, I was winning in my eyes. And if I if I failed, well, who did? What did I fail according to who standards? You know,
I didn’t fail myself and that all might go
standards that should matter my own. And I just wrote a book. So the self doubt and that’s part of the brainwashing I mentioned at the beginning, I just erase all self doubt and know right after, I’d say a few months after I wrote the book, I started writing workbooks, and I made my first motivational recovery workbook. Part one is on confidence. And because I saw the value of getting, you know, self care, to building up the self esteem, and the confidence that I what it brought to me, in early recovery, when again, everyone else is miserable, well, Why wasn’t I and I try, you know, try to use again, just off of what worked for me, this is what my personal experience to try to help help others because a little self esteem can go a long way because you start, you know,
doing things you didn’t know you could or you thought you never would be able to do again, and I think about the admirals story on making your bed and if you just make your bed
First thing in the morning, at the very least worst case, you’re going home at night to a nice freshly made that you’re also starting your day off with completing a task that Reese releases don’t mean, you know. But that’s how my mind thinks constantly is how can I make you know, turn something make it positive no matter what, are there any other books that you sort of reference that kind of get you through the day or things that have helped you in your journey? Yeah, the book The Four Agreements has been my Don Miguel Ruiz is instrumental and I try my best to live by those. It’s very, very difficult.
And the four agreements are, be impeccable with your word, which is basically have integrity. Always try your best in everything that you do. Don’t take anything personal. And the last one is, don’t make assumptions. I can do very well and not taking things personal because again, that’s putting if I’m taking everything personal, that’s being an egomaniac thing and everything’s about me and it’s not you know, I can
Not make assumptions. Because again, that’s being almost that’s being taking things personal is making it about you, but doing your best at everything you do, it’s difficult because there are days where you just don’t have it, you know, you just want to lay and lay around and do nothing. And so I do when I as best I can and try to follow those and Four Agreements and being impeccable with my word. You know, have I lied since I got sober? Of course I have. But have I followed it up with honesty is is a key.
Again, going back to I’m far from perfect, I’m still going to make mistakes, I’m still going to mess up. But it’s about owning those mistakes now. So I do my best at trying to follow the Four Agreements. And I think it’s a book every single person should read because it is it’s an easy read. It’s short, and it’s it’s straight to the point. A book on the opposite end of the spectrum in regards to I think a difficult read but has been super instrumental to is the power of now by Eckhart Tolle. Totally
That’s that moment of being able to live in right now. When I when I discussed how I got, I finally grasped the one day at a time concept. To me that’s like the power now, the past can’t do anything about it. Obviously nothing I can do today, nothing no matter what can change that in the future. I can only prepare for it. It’s a fantasy right now though. It hasn’t happened. So if I can just worry about what I’m doing right here right now. And for me right now, right here I am growing because I’m having this conversation with you. I’m being able to put out more of my truth. So I’m learning more about myself as I go to because there’s probably some things I forgot about, that I’ve mentioned. And I’m growing in the fact that I’m getting more comfortable speaking, you know, so all that is just from sitting here right now. That’s how I try to take everything as I know, make the most of every opportunity and in the now so that I’m preparing for that future that fantasy I want to have the best fantasy ever
You know, well, I can only have that if I take care of right here right now. And I believe and get better every day. motto. And today, no doubt about it. I’m doing so by having a conversation with someone like yourself and so interesting. You’re talking about getting comfortable speaking. So we go back a couple months, why don’t you tell us about what the background was on getting the TED talk at Boston College. So that’s
it goes hand in hand with writing in the very like the first four or five months of my sobriety where I knew that this was my I found my purpose because I was never one who would like to speak to groups, even if I knew the people. I also was never a writer. And something just told me I meant to do this. And I started going to Toastmasters, which are private, private, their public speaking groups, where you actually there’s only usually like a handful of people who go to them they every town has one, I’m pretty sure and then meet once once a month, twice a month, whatever. And you basically give speeches and you get graded.
on them and like live. So it’s great. You learn a lot from them. And I started slowly building up my platforms were getting bigger, the more success the book was having the bigger the platforms. And I got the chance to speak in front of roughly 1000 people on the Boston Common
for international overdose Awareness Day, which is August 31. And that’s a it’s in 500 cities worldwide, that it’s celebrated. And I was chosen to be one of eight speakers. And I was like, oh, my goodness, it was the most emotional event that I’ve been a part of, because there was like a big screen with people’s pictures who have passed away. Like we’re talking like a like a stadium size. Big Screen. I can’t think of the name right now.
But it was very emotional. And I one of my friends up there. I was speaking in honor of him and his family was there to support me. So that was only a five minute speech. But it showed me again that I’m doing what I’m
Supposed to be enjoying what I’m supposed to be at? Because continue. You know,
the more I do it, you’re the more comfortable you’re going to get, obviously, no matter what in that regards. And so what the TED talk I was my one month away from graduating the link house and my therapist in the house who was separate. She had worked for the house, she came in from a separate
company, and she told me to check out Bernie Browns book. Well, she gave me a book to read and said, check out her TED talk on vulnerability. And I was like, what’s a TED talk? I had no idea. And she’s like, well check it out. And then I meet with her once a week, I read the book and that week, I check out the TED Talk.
The following week on I’m with her. I told her, that was a note that book was amazing. It was a daring greatly. And GIFs a perfection. imperfection was the first one that you gave me. Dr. Great, I read both of them. And I told her, you know,
she said, Why don’t you go you know, see if there’s one in Boston and I’m like, why don’t I speak at one I just put it out there. You know what’s again, what’s the worst, I can
happened, I put it out there. And so I reached out to Boston College because they were the next one they were having in April, this was 2018. And I filled out the application and I made it to the second round. But I didn’t get chosen. and rightfully so I was, I was in no way shape or form, ready for that type of event. And I wasn’t I didn’t have any credibility at the time either. And not saying I have much now but I had a lot more to offer the second time around. And so I reached out to them, and the topic of the event was resiliency and I was like, who can speak better on resiliency than someone who’s overcome addiction? I don’t know. I mean, there’s obviously some people who will become much more adversity and massive odds than than I have in someone who’s overcome addiction in general, but I think we have a good grasp on what resiliency is and
so I I made it through the you know, the all the cuts and I had to write the speech up and they had to look it over and give it one last go of it.
Thumbs up, thumbs down. I got chosen and it was March 31, March 30. at Boston College, there was six speakers. Five of us were chosen through the online application process. We’re from all over the country from Tampa, Cincinnati,
a professor at Boston College, myself, and someone else, I’m not sure I forget where he was from. And then a girl from Boston College won their contest. So there’s six talks and it was all in resiliency. And it was, I would never been so stressed about something leading up to that, because I put so much pressure on myself because I knew this could be a life changing opportunity. I know it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. At the very least if I don’t do it, right. It’s that’s that’s it.
But one of the things they send you is a video on how to make a successful TED Talk. And it’s a TED talk on that and it was just needed to to watch I took a bunch of notes
on it and I’ll never forget she said, act as if this is only the first of many TED Talks you’re going to be making but this is the first but not the last. And I did that. And I probably rehearsed my speech a million times to my girlfriend. She got, you know, definitely got sick of hearing it. But no, I did what was necessary. She helped me a lot with writing because she’s a lot smarter than I am. And so to have that one that support where I could just kept, you know, rehearsing it to her, and then know sent it to my mother multiple times sent different versions. So my step dad, you know, having them behind me was great because it was nerve wracking, but once I was up there, I missed one sentence what I learned probably like three days before giving a bit speech and not supposed to memorize it, word for word. But that’s what I tried to do. So at the end of the day, it was an amazing experience. I cannot wait for it to come out. It’s not officially the official Ted videos not out. I did have eight minutes of the like roughly 12 minutes
The talk that my friend videotaped, and I had it on my YouTube channel, but they made me take it down Ted did because they have all the rights to it. So hopefully by the time this airs, it’ll be up there. And it was awesome. I can’t wait to do more like I want to absolutely apply to more and know who knows? I we don’t know anything unless we try. Yeah, and the resiliency that just addicts and alcoholics have in general, I think it’s also just kind of fitting the resiliency of you didn’t get accepted by them, and then we’re resilient and then apply it again, with your story and having a best selling book behind it. So what do you think led to stop thinking like that no matter what, being a best seller, I mean, most books just get published in poof. So what was the difference with yours?
I was very, I’m very candid. There’s no sugarcoating addiction and I make sure
sure that in the way I, I described things and I, I feel like I speak for the everyday person, I show what’s possible. And I’m no one special. I just put in the work I show if you put in the work, what is possible, and it’s anything. I know, I followed my heart and I went with it. And I was very truthful and honest with everything that I put it in there. And people can relate to that people like hearing the story of someone who’s, there’s no bullshit. They are who they say they are. They they not just talk the talk, they walk the walk. And I had a great support network, as I mentioned, between my girlfriend and my parents, but I know others, Mike who is huge in the process of just teaching me how to go about it. And at the end of the day, I took things I said I was going to do in 2018. And this is the power of the law of attraction and visualization. I sent my mother an email November, like a few months into my sobriety saying, I’m going to become a best selling author.
And then I told them
That therapist, I’m going to speak at the state level,
I did become a best selling author, multiple categories alcoholism and drug dependency, both as a new release and regular release. In the past, like three months ago, it became
a best seller one once again, on Kindle and in paperback. So I fulfilled that. And the second part is when I spoke at that international overdose awareness event on the Boston Common, the Boston Common is the line for the state, the State House here in Massachusetts. And I put it out there I believed in myself and I follow through with the action and that just anything’s possible if we do that. You got to believe in just conceive, believe, achieve, conceive, believe, achieve, conceive, believe achieve. I said that so many times, and I and I truly believed it and you know, I made it happen because I follow through with it. And so how did it become a best seller? I, like I said, I’m as honest as it gets, when it
comes to put in what I put in that book. There’s no BS and around it. I’m not trying to, you know, I know play the role of someone else. I ripped off all the mask possible and I’m just, I’m just who I am. And people respect that. I think I’ve come to find that people, especially when you’re dealing with talking about addiction and recovery, that people when I tell my story, I tell them, I got a DUI. I threw up all over myself threw up all over my car. I was telling the cops please don’t like this was right around. There was a whole bunch of like police brutality and it’s like don’t do police brutality on me. I don’t want to end up on YouTube. I’m just wasted saying all this stuff. And I blacked out getting arrested. I blacked out being in jail. I woke up the next morning and that’s that’s my truth. And I you know, it is what it is if down the road that comes back and I lose an opportunity because
Uh, the truth of what my past is, and, you know,
it is what it is. But I’d be willing to bet that more people have given me more chances and more opportunities as a result of not trying to be something that I’m not like my company.
This was three or four years back. We in like remote tech support, there were a million scams going on, and we’re still around because we weren’t one of them. However, if it looks like it looks like something smells like something, it’s located in the same area, so I get where they were coming from, and I had to meet with the state’s attorney and they were like, Well, how do you know this person? How do you know this person? I was like, from from a 12 step recovery. They’re like, like, Oh my god, oh my god, I turn off the recording, the recording, they’re like, You’re so brave for telling us your truth. You don’t have to do that though. You don’t have to feel pressured. I’m just like, it’s how I know him. Like it’s not a it’s not like this crazy secret that I’m like, so ashamed.
And, but like saying that they it, it changed it changed from like an interrogation to like you’re so brave
it changed the whole complexion of the of the the process it sounds like and that’s that’s what I love about where we’re going today is people are becoming more comfortable. And it’s still a very difficult process. I think asking for help is the most courageous and vulnerable act we can possibly do. Because we’re saying, I don’t have the answers. I can’t do it on my own. Please help me that is so difficult to do. But now that more and more people are doing it, it’s becoming almost mainstream. It’s beautiful because of the fact it’s showing those people that I’m sure you your You and I were here trying to do is show them that it’s okay. That it is okay, you can overcome it. There’s no shame and you can still live out whatever you want to do with your life. And that’s what I try to try to tell everyone who I’ve ever come across. Yeah, it’s definitely something that I think more people do need to embrace and I mean, you’re living proof of it man. Like
Your book, you just peel back all the layers and just here is Jason like, this is my truth and no one’s going to come out of the bushes and say, That’s not what happened. You know, like you tell your truth, you tell it like it is. And the universe is rewarding you for that. So in wrapping up, what’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone who’s trying to get sober? It’s okay, that you have baggage of your past. It’s okay. You’re not alone in the process. Everyone has it, everyone’s failed. As long as you keep putting foot one foot in front of the other, and believing in yourself. I there there’s there’s enough proof and evidence that you you can make it if you need any look any further. I’m that physical proof. I’m no one special, as I mentioned many times that anyone can do it. It’s just you got to believe in yourself and ignore all the noise because there’s going to be so much of it and just keep moving forward. No matter what if you mess up, you stub your toe. It happens
Learn from it move forward. I feel like that answer is going to hit to this next one too. But what what advice would you give someone who’s trying to write their first book or jump into entrepreneurship or coaching?
be okay with failure and don’t don’t like there’s so much negativity around fail failure. You can’t succeed unless you fail. The biggest advice then from that is make sure you learn as much as possible from all the failures that you inevitably will go through. And they’re only going to make you stronger moving forward in whatever the endeavor may be. Thank you so much. That’s great. And Jason, where can listeners find you online? Instagram’s the best place for me I actually shared account with my girlfriend so we get the best of both worlds reaching out, it’s at motivational recovery, which that one is where I try to show as much as the humanistic side that I’m just I’m just a person, I’m living my life, but I’m showing you what’s possible. Now. That’s why I like
Putting some personal stuff in there because I like to I want people to know that whom it really suffering right now really hope was lost they can go to a Red Sox game and have a blast sober. You know they can do all this great stuff sober.
Then at Jason are Highland. My last name is h y le nd that’s my Facebook. That’s where I put a lot of my bigger content where I’ll post my blogs and my podcast which is the no matter what podcast I’m actually I kind of taken a step back with the podcast and making shorter one to five minute videos so that I can produce a lot more content My goal is to bring push motivational recovery and the philosophy behind it to as many in as many ways as possible. And so I want to give as much value to that I’ve gone so freely back, you know, I want to give back as much as I possibly can and so I’m putting the know all the different videos I cannot there, boy
blogging Instagram motivation recovery as well. Jason dash Highland calm is my website. And please if anonymous or not you can reach out to at any point about any questions I am as you can probably sell as open as a book as possible as can be and I’m here to help I want people to be able to live their best life because I know I can say I am today. And I’m coming up on two years sober, which some people may like you’re only to yourself, well, in the past 22 months what I have accomplished, far outweighs the the last 35 the first 34 plus years of my life. Yeah, man, that was my experience to like the first nine months of sobriety, I had kept actually not even nine months. Well, it was probably like two, three months of sobriety like I had gotten further ahead in life than I ever had the previous 26 years and is like, you know, I’ve turned it over something else is in control and I can’t argue with the results. But Jason, it’s been such a pleasure.