My Top 12 Recovery Blogs
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There is a blog for everything. Politics, sewing, religion, hobbies, lifestyle choices (mommy blogs, vegetarians, athletes, etc.), and just about anything else you can think of. And if you think of one that is not out there, or you just want to add your voice to the chorus, you can start a simple blog without a great deal of high-tech training.
The number of "sober" or "recovery" blogs increases every day. The anonymity—and shame—that once shrouded people affected by substance abuse is slowly slipping away. Some blog posts read like journal entries—a diary on the web, in a sense.
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I have read many recovery blogs. I am often very moved by the genuineness and honesty that, perhaps, the faceless Internet allows. These writers are sharing some of their deepest secrets and most shamed-filled experiences with, well, everyone. Often the sites almost sound like intimate conversations the writer is having with themselves or a loved one and I, the reader, am eavesdropping.
I compiled a list of 12 of my favorite recovery blogs and had the opportunity to talk with the bloggers, yet this list can never be all-inclusive. I have read posts on many blogs that have stayed with me, written by people who I will never meet, and who have no idea they have touched me so deeply.
Below (in no particular order) are my 12 favorite recovery blogs.
Daniel Maurer told me his site was originally designed to support his book, Sobriety: A Graphic Novel (Hazelden Publishing, 2014), but it has grown into a great deal more than that. The site is focused not only on Daniel’s experiences, but the experiences of many others, with the focus on life transformations. Daniel features individuals who have surmounted significant obstacles, whether they be addiction, abuse, mental illness, or other challenges. The stories offer hope without appearing contrived or overly simplistic.
Daniel is a former Lutheran minister. "I struggled with depression stemming back to a traumatic event in my childhood," he told me. "I used alcohol at first, then opiates. The latter was the real candy I wanted, because they made me feel the way I wanted to feel—as if my mother had retrieved a warm blanket from the dryer and wrapped it around me while I watched Sesame Street on TV as a six-year-old. As my condition progressed, I drank and used more. I went to two inpatient treatments and many, many outpatients. Eventually, in a blackout caused by simultaneous alcohol and benzodiazepines, I was arrested for felony trespass in early 2011. This all happened when I was supposed to be serving others as a pastor. I've been sober now for five-and-a-half years after having spent three months inpatient, and seven in a sober house. I wouldn't trade this life for anything now, because now I'm helping others as I was meant to."
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I asked Daniel if maintaining the website has factored into his own recovery process. "It has allowed me to connect with the online recovery community, which was also a surprise—it's huge and an enormous support for me and others," he said. "Also, I've grown to understand that my transformation from a person living actively in addiction isn't particularly unique. Personal change and transformation is everywhere. The blog has shaped me to understand that recovery from addiction is only one aspect of transformation."
Dan remarked that the only negative feedback he has received is from other people in recovery. "I simply don't get it—people begin to quote the Big Book and the Traditions to try to change me, to make me tone down my response. Well, I'm sorry, personal transformation (and recovery) doesn't belong to any one group. Although I continue to participate in a 12-step group in my personal life, I've had my fair share of complaints from other Twelve Steppers. The irony with this is that other people not associated or acquainted with the 12 steps see it as bizarre."
Chris Aguirre has created a multimedia experience that includes podcasts, resources, personal stories, recovery fiction, artwork, and more. Entering his website is like being invited to a hot club that changes and evolves with each subsequent visit. I asked Chris about his own experience with addiction and why he set out to create The Recovery Revolution. "I’d had a few tokes (on both cigarettes and weed) and a couple of drinks, but I didn’t begin drinking and smoking in earnest until the night of my high school graduation and continued on that manner—picking up cocaine and ecstasy habits along the way—for 13 years." On what motivated him to start the blog he said, "I had had a couple of years of feeling completely helpless as friends and family followed their own addictions into the spiral. I realized that after 16 years of sobriety, I still had a lot to learn about both sobriety and recovery, and I was taken by the idea that if I couldn’t help those I loved I’d at least share my experience with others." Chris said the site has "absolutely" been a part of his own recovery process. "The site and the podcast have had an immeasurable impact on my sense of self, and my sense of my place in the world at large as someone in recovery."
When I visit Mark Goodson’s site, I feel like I am talking to someone I know well. He is a skilled writer without the bells and whistles, and simply tells it as he sees it. As the title of his blog suggests, he hones in on the everyday, each average moment, to highlight the beauty and awe that most of us miss. His musings on addiction and recovery (as well as his poetry) are deeply genuine and touching. Sober for eight years, Mark said that during his active addiction, he was "addicted to things that would affect my mood." He identified alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana as his primary substances but says that even now "I still experience addiction everyday." He continued, "I'm hooked on what makes me feel good. For that reason, I try to surround myself by worthwhile endeavors."
I asked Mark, why a blog? "I had been writing for years before I launched my website. I wrote for myself. I filled journals, computer folders of documents. I wrote poetry. I wrote my life story. I wrote whatever random musings came to mind. I tried to get a few things published, and with the exception of a few poems in online journals, no one bit." Mark had a great deal of support from his family and said, "My wife bought me a book on 'how to blog' for Christmas. Also for Christmas, my mom and stepdad bought me the domain name for the site to inspire me to keep at it. I knew this was a sure sign that it was time to take my work public." I asked Mark what type of reactions he has received from his blog. "The online recovery community has been a great means of support. I can't always make that meeting, or even find time to call my sponsor. I carry my recovery community in my pocket today. And that is a huge relief."
Olivia Penelle is a UK-based blogger who described food as her first drug. Her blog is unique in that she shares her journey in recovery since age 32 from multiple addictions to a place of greater health, both physical and mental. Olivia describes her site as a key component in her recovery process: "In sharing my journey, it not only kept me accountable, but helped me to process my experience. I discovered the cathartic release in writing and I was hooked. Now, I share all of my experiences in recovery—from dating to depression. And in doing so, I process my feelings and marshal my thoughts. I feel like there is such power in the transfer of thoughts to paper. Henry Ward Beecher says that, ‘The pen is the tongue of the hand; a silent utterer of words for the eye.’" Olivia updates readers on the process she is engaged in to lose the 140 pounds she gained during her active addiction. She interviews experts in the nutrition and wellness field and offers a guide for others struggling to live a healthier, well-balanced life. Her recipes and food photography is reason alone to visit this varied and inspired site.
Sondra Primeaux has created a site that focuses on the unleashing of creativity, and how art and her many varied interests and eclectic interests is allowing for a full, rich, sober life. "I thought I should start a blog where I could focus on that, creative pursuits in recovery, and maybe it would help those that were looking for something like this to help them in their recovery." Sondra acknowledged that after getting sober, there was a feeling of ‘now what?’ She emphasizes the importance of staying in the ‘now’ (Sondra got sober at age 44). "I like to explore how creativity is helping someone in their recovery stay sober, how it is helping them evolve and thrive. I also like to explore how creativity in someone's life has changed, as in, how someone used to approach their creative pursuits prior to getting sober and how they approach them now."
Laura Silverman is the woman behind this dynamic website. Laura shares her story of addiction and mental health issues following her decision to get sober in 2007 after her second hospitalization for alcohol poisoning. Laura teams up with others in the cyber recovery community and offers podcasts, blog posts, profiles of others in recovery, and a resource list for those seeking help. Laura commented, "I created what I needed for me. Everything it has become is an outgrowth of that process."
7. Buzzkill Pod
The site offers podcasts, blog entries, resources, and even a "question of the day" for readers by Canadian writer Paul Silva. Paul told me that he got sober at 40 after drinking for 25 years, and has been sober for over five years. His site is friendly, inviting, and often funny. On the topic of online support for sobriety, Paul said, "I have connected with more people in the online recovery community than I ever could in meetings or other face-to-face encounters. There is a richness and diversity that really adds to my own recovery. I have been able to interview some fantastic people, and even meet some of these recovery warriors in person. In return, I have been able to share my own experiences and seeking with others, and to create meaningful discussions, which have really added to my recovery and spiritual growth."
The founder of this blog goes by the name Belle Robertson. She describes herself as a "high bottom, over-drinker" who couldn’t get past nine days of sobriety. Belle told me that starting and maintaining the blog is what has allowed her to remain sober. "In desperation on Day 9 of Dry July, I thought, 'Okay, if I don’t try something different, I’m not going to make it.' So I started the blog. I tried something different. And it worked."
Along with personal writings and podcasts, Belle is a sober pen pal to over 2,500 people who have connected with her through her site. Unlike many of the other bloggers, Belle chooses to remain anonymous, "I haven’t shared my experience. My blog is mostly anonymous, and I’ve told people in my life that I’m not drinking these days or something along those lines. I personally wouldn’t have found blogging helpful unless it was anonymous."
Until the age of 38, Cristina Ferra abused alcohol. She initially started a Facebook page to share her experiences with her mental health issues. The popularity of the Facebook page grew and a blog seemed to be a natural progression. "I started getting messages from people telling me they loved the positive change in me and they looked forward to my posts every day. I was getting recognition and being complimented for being real. The more honest I got, the more I felt healing inside. While initially I was terrified of being completely transparent about my sobriety and everything recovery-related, I decided that starting a blog was the next logical step. I didn't really have a choice, it was something I knew needed to happen." The site is also in the process of building a not-for-profit section in which Cristina sells various items with the proceeds going to organizations assisting those in sobriety.
Kelly Fitzgerald grew up in an alcoholic home and followed that path throughout college and into her young adult life. She started her blog "as a platform of an American living abroad in Cancun." She was "scared" to write about her sobriety until she reached one year of abstinence. Her first post about her sobriety "A Year Without Alcohol" went viral, and from there, Kelly focused on writing about her experiences as a sober woman in the world. Kelly remarked, "I think what makes my site unique is that it's really all about my own personal life. It isn't a collection of recovery stories or guest blogs. It's about a real person, writing from their heart about their own experiences, and what it's like to live as a person in long-term recovery."
Damien DeVille is a gifted writer who examines his life and recovery with great openness. If "the unexamined life is not worth living" (Socrates), then Damien is safe. Damien told me that even though he was a heaving drinker in college, his problems with alcohol did not arise in full until "my son was born. The pressures of fatherhood hit me hard and I started to escape with the bottle. Within eight months of his birth, I was drinking daily."
Like many other bloggers, Damien acknowledged the value to his sobriety in maintaining his blog. "I process things by writing about them. I'm not good at keeping a journal, but when I have something on my mind, I almost always write about it. Sometimes, this is necessary for me to come to an answer. Sometimes, the process uncovers an answer that I'd already known but didn't want to face. In fact, the day I decided to address my drinking, I wrote an entry in my journal that ended with the line: 'it's time.'" Damien said he has not received any negative feedback from his blog, though "I'm sure that there will come a time when someone will come down on me and slap a tradition in my face, but I am prepared for that. It won't change my sharing of my experience, strength, and hope." Finally, I was curious about the title of the blog. "Boots provide more protection to your feet than shoes, I think of my recovery as protective in a way. I had traded in my 'drinking shoes' for a pair of sober boots. I titled the blog Walking in Sober Boots because I love to hike and I'm attracted to the idea of the Path in Buddhist teachings."
Louise Rowlinson began her blog "as a way of being socially accountable in my sobriety and because I had professional experience as a nurse, so I thought I might have something of value to add out in the sober blogosphere. Plus, as a public health nurse, I knew that very little was [available] here in the UK to help those like me—people who weren't physically addicted, like the patients I had cared for, but who were psychologically addicted and had very few support options available."
Louise told me she grew up with an alcoholic father, which first made her wary of drinking, but she "took to it like a duck to water in my twenties." Louise spent four years working "as a nurse on an alcoholic liver disease ward, so I experienced firsthand how the story ended with booze but couldn't quite manage to connect the dots at that point—denial at it's finest!" It wasn’t until the death of her father and the birth of her children that she realized she had to stop drinking.
"My experience with stopping drinking has been up and down over time. It was excruciatingly difficult at the beginning, as the urge to drink and the habit was so ingrained. But as time rolled by, it got easier. At coming up three years sober, I've done a lot of psychological housekeeping with the support of great therapists, both relational therapy and CBT. Whereas three years ago, my daily default setting was drinker, today it's non-drinker and I really don't give it much thought. I have gained so much from that single decision both relationally and professionally that I would never go back to that way of being again. I know it is so hard to step away from, but the rewards are so immense and my psychological core strength is so much more robust, that the idea of having a drink now just seems anathema to me. And also to my husband, who drank just like me and stopped at the same time and feels the same way about the decision. Most importantly, we are now role-modeling to our children that there are a million different other ways to self-care other than alcohol. In our ever-increasingly intoxigenic world, that is the best start we can give them in the hope that they won't take the path that we did."
One of the more common themes amongst these bloggers is the importance of the cyber recovery community. For a number of them, it is their primary sober support. And that is true not only for the many bloggers themselves, but for their countless readers and followers. The support, assistance, and connection provides a healing experience for so many, which may explain why sober blogs and sites are gaining such great popularity. You can be anonymous, do recovery your own way, gain support, and make friends—all from the safety of your computer screen.
Blogger Christina Ferri said, "Shortly after I started my blog, the networking and online recovery tribe became, almost overnight, my rock to stand on. I felt stronger than ever. People I've never met or heard of began reaching out to me, sharing more resources, sharing their stories and including me in collaborations to further our outreach in recovery. I've made true friends and have unlimited resources to assist me and strengthen me every day."