Podcast Review: Seasons of Sobriety

By Christopher Dale 01/10/20

Howard M.’s recovery-based podcast stays on message rather than focusing on war stories.

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Howard is refreshingly albeit sometimes blisteringly direct Photo by israel palacio on Unsplash

The first time I met Howard M. was in June of 2012, at a recovery retreat. Just eight months sober and sequestered among dozens of men with far more experience in recovery, I was over my head and out of my comfort zone. I had, apparently, come to a weekend-long gathering of fellow alcoholics only to feel alone and alienated.

Before one of the first breakout sessions, I fixed my eyes to my phone for fear of fixing them elsewhere. Over my shoulder, an authoritative voice pierced my self-preserving silence.

“Recovery isn’t on your phone.”

I hated Howard for five minutes, and have loved him ever since.

Howard is refreshingly albeit sometimes blisteringly direct. He is unwavering and disciplined, perhaps too rigid for some but a role model to many more. Howard is an endearing endurance test; I learn something valuable from him--if sometimes semi-begrudgingly--whenever we’re together.

Like me, in addition to being an alcoholic, Howard is a (slowly) recovering curmudgeon. One privilege of knowing him is seeing his inner eyeroll; he can’t help but notice when a meeting goes off on a well-intentioned tangent. In those moments his calm countenance undoubtedly belies a silent psychic scream--one begging the banter to return to progress-inspiring experience, strength, and hope.

He sat in plenty of speaker meetings looking forward to a message of hope and recovery, but would often hear of new and old ways of getting high or drunk.

Howard has taken this desire to stay on-message into his latest project. And irony of ironies, this little slice of recovery can indeed be found on your phone.

Seasons of Sobriety” is Howard M.’s resoundingly successful effort to focus and streamline the modern-day AA speaker meeting. It is an audible manifestation of the host himself, born of an undesirable trait noticed, analyzed and righted in fastidious fashion.

I work with media for a living and, in an online landscape increasingly crowded with amateurs, rarely does a novice nail a broadcast vehicle from the get-go. But that’s exactly what Seasons of Sobriety accomplishes, through a combination of its host’s intelligence, meticulousness, and big-heartedness.

As host, Howard is both in control and in the background. He is part guide, part guardrail – yielding his guests the wheel while keeping the conversation from veering off course. The podcast is interested in recovery rather than addiction, calm rather than chaos, and, above all, what we do with the most valuable gift ever received: freedom from drugs and alcohol. Howard, like anyone with decades of recovery, finds himself strategizing the long game. Per its homepage, the podcast is a deep dive into “what it takes to persevere through fears, resentment, sadness and joy.”

Howard M. is a man who has pushed through the plateaus of long-term recovery and committed to perpetual progress. His series of succinctly guided speaker meetings exemplifies and amplifies this dedication to growth, literally speaking volumes about the lifelong journey that is recovery from our shared disease.

Check out Seasons of Sobriety.

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Christopher Dale is a recovering alcoholic and freelance writer who frequently covers sobriety, parenting and politics. His work has appeared in Salon, The Daily Beast, New York Newsday and Parents.com, among other outlets. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisDaleWriter.