My Recovery | Frank: Staying Sober on Campus

College campuses can be minefields for recovering drinkers and drug users. Many of them are as well known for partying as for scholarship. Frank B. dodged that bullet when he registered at Georgia Southern University. With support from the Willingway Foundation, Georgia Southern opened a Center for Addiction Recovery, a program that serves the needs of students in recovery. It is one of a growing number of colleges where students in recovery can find a “safe harbor.” Here’s what Frank experienced.

I had quite a few concerns about transitioning from a halfway house into college. The main one was the fear of losing my newfound sobriety in an environment where a lot of students were probably there as much for a good time as for an education. I worried, too, that there’d be a stigma on campus to enrolling specifically in the university’s Center for Addiction Recovery (CAR). Good news. When the subject came up, fellow students just figured the CAR was a division of the psych department. They assumed I was majoring in the study of addiction and recovery. Continue Reading →

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Ask Dr. Al: Do people with addiction really need to “live in recovery”?

Do people with addiction really need to “live in recovery”? Can’t they just get sober and go on with their lives? Can’t they just go to treatment and get cured and move on?

Sobriety is just the first step in recovery. Treatment, too, is just the beginning. Recovery is really a lifelong process; like dealing with diabetes or another chronic disease, it is something that needs to be tended to every day.

Once a person gets sober, there is much more work to be done. The Recovery Book (2nd ed)They need to learn about their own personal triggers for relapse, and how to live their life in recovery while minimizing the risk of relapse. They need to restore their relationships and health; indeed, many need to rebuild their entire lives.

People in recovery also need to focus on different issues at different times. You can’t do everything at once in the first week that you get sober. For example, when you are in the fragile days of early sobriety, it is not the time to try to fix all of your relationships or go back to school. At that time, it’s best to focus solely on staying sober and learning about the cues and triggers that could lead you to a relapse.

Taking on all of these tasks and issues is part of “living in recovery.”

Learn all about recovery in The Recovery Book.


The Recovery Book


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Surviving the Holidays ~ Dr. Al chats with The Addict’s Mom ~ live on, Thursday, Nov 6

Join us Thursday, November 6, 7 pm eastern, for a live video meeting with The Addict’s Mom on

Al J. Mooney, MD, will be talking with Barbara Theodosiou, founder of The Addict’s Mom, about how families that are dealing with addiction can survive and even enjoy the holiday season.

Among the topics they’ll cover:

  • How to keep peace in the family during the holidays
  • How to have a joyful holiday even if your addicted child is absent
  • How your newly sober loved one can celebrate the holidays while staying sober
  • What you can do to help your loved ones that are new to sobriety

To join the meeting, go to and look for The Addict’s Mom video meeting. (You can remain anonymous or sign up as a member.) 


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37 Ideas to Help You Stay Sober During The Holidays (part 1)

For some people in recovery, the holidays can be tough. But you can make it to January with your sobriety intact. You don’t have to let unfulfilled expectations, stressful family dynamics, or crazy in-laws threaten your recovery. Not to mention all those holiday parties.cookies2

You just need a bit of preparation. Start planning your sobriety strategy now, with these tips from The Recovery Book.

Sober Holidays Tip #1:  Remind yourself every single morning how good it feels to be sober (and how great it will feel come January).

Plant that thought in your mind right now, and think about it every morning. Stick a note on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself to think about it every day. 

>Read the first 3 chapters of The Recovery Book FREE at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. <

Sober Holidays Tip #2:  Keep your expectations realistic, so you don’t set yourself up for an emotional letdown. 

Getting sober doesn’t mean life is instantly perfect. Other people in your life probably haven’t changed, and many of the conflicts that crop up at family reunions will doubtless crop up again. Accept it, roll with the punches, and rein in the urge to manipulate everything and everyone. It will be enough for you to take care of and control yourself.

Sober Holidays Tip #3:  Plan activities other than sitting around and gabbing.

In many families, getting together for the holidays means sitting around and drinking. Investigate other options now. Movies, museums, holiday concerts, skating, walks, sledding, sports events can all help fill the time and limit stress. If weather keeps you inside, suggest activities that will keep everyone busy and focused, such as decorating holiday cookies, board games, or old movies. 

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37 Ideas to Help You Stay Sober During the Holidays (part 2)

For tips 1-20, see 37 Tips to Help You Stay Sober During the Holidays (part 1).

Sober Holidays Tip #21 Bring your own beverage. 

If a holiday celebration includes the use of alcoholic beverages (such as wine at Passover), make sure in advance that there are substitutes (such as grape juice) for you and anyone else who doesn’t want to drink the harder stuff.

Sober Holidays Tip #22  Stay sober at the party: Don’t go it alone.IMG_1664

Bring along an AA buddy or a hired sober companion. Or take someone at the party into your confidence (the host, a friend, even a waiter); candor will serve you better than pride, embarrassment, or guilt. Tell them that you can’t drink, and enlist them as bodyguard. It will make the event easier for you, and will keep you from winding up in a relapse. If you can’t take someone with you, arrange to text with someone throughout the evening. Or make a plan to call your sponsor every hour on the hour. Build in some accountability, however you can.

Sober Holidays Tip #23  Stay sober at the party: Curb resentment.

You’re almost sure to run into someone who’ll say, “Do you mind if I have a drink?” Your automatic answer will most likely be “No, I don’t mind.” The truth is you probably do resent it. You’re as good as the other guy. If he can drink, why can’t you? If you feel resentment building, make your excuses and find your sober buddy, slip out to a meeting, or call or text your sponsor. Pull out your phone for a quick check-in with an online meeting or recovery forum. Or head home and immerse yourself in an online meeting. See Find A Meeting. Continue Reading →

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Ask Dr. Al: What’s new in the second edition of The Recovery Book?

What’s new in the second edition of The Recovery Book?

The entire book has been updated and revised.

It is now structured around the Recovery Zone System, an easy-to-follow, three-stage blueprint for getting into recovery, rebuilding a life, and staying sober for a lifetime. I developed this system over the last 20 years because I saw that too many people were relapsing—they either took on too much early in recovery, or they lost their focus a few years into sobriety. This new system helps to ensure that a person new to sobriety does not take on too much at once, takes the time to build a rock-solid foundation for a lifetime of recovery, and keeps a focus on recovery throughout his or her life. Continue Reading →

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