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The Gift of Alcohol Dependence

A Gateway to Sobriety

Prior to me playing tonight, I wanted to give an update on my sobriety and thank you for your support, your messages, and your love.

Social media, for all of its faults, can also be a great way to stay connected to people who you may have otherwise lost touch with. In fact, I’m sure that’s the reason most of us got on in the first place. No one went in saying, “Sweet! Now I can argue about politics with people I barely knew in high school!”

My life has been a series of high highs and low lows, and none more extreme than 2020. I’ve learned to embrace this, and even when I was in the depths of misery I recall saying to myself, “Goddamn, I sure am alive!” Feeling pain is a part of life, and while my go-to is to try and run from it, when I allow myself to feel it, it makes the joy of living that much sweeter.

I’m currently at 68 days sober. I never celebrated anniversaries, even when I had been sober for years, but I plan on remembering this date for the rest of my life. It’s tax day, April 15th, so that will make it easy.

The day I had to pay the piper.

68 days doesn’t seem very long to me, but some miraculous things have happened in that short period of time. If I think about what’s occurred in the country over the last 68 days, it has even more significance. There’s been a paradigm shift in our collective conscious that will never be undone. 2020 will be a year that none of us will ever forget.

I’ve felt joy, happiness, and freedom that I haven’t felt in years. But I’ve also felt anger, frustration and anxiety. I’m more likely to post photos of me feeling the former, so I’m trying to keep it real right now, because the latter is always looming.

I had made the decision to keep social media at a minimum, just a day or two before the murder of George Floyd. We all know what happened next, and I found it impossible to keep quiet. So, I wound up spending more time on social media than I normally would have, engaging in conversations that sometimes became arguments. Some were heated.

I really don’t like to argue. In fact, I hate it, and it’s generally not the best way to stay sober. Resentment is a huge trigger for me, so I have to pick my battles and know when I am letting resentment consume me. It’s ok to be angry sometimes, but people like me with dependency issues tend to let negative feelings and emotions run amok. I can’t afford to do that anymore.

Some know this about me. I have a mood disorder, Cyclothymia. Getting a grip on it has been the most important part of my sobriety. As I said, my swings would happen in two month increments that you could set your calendar to. And for the last year and a half, like clockwork, they would always end with me going on a 3-4 day bender.

Making it to 68 days is symbolic to me because I’ve broken through the two month barrier without taking a drink. The swing is still there, but with the right medication and therapy it was much less pronounced this time, and easier to manage.

Theoretically, these swings will become even less pronounced over time, provided I do what I need to do to stay sober. I find this very encouraging, as my desire to have a drink has all but vanished – for now.

Anyone in long term recovery will tell you that you have to remain vigilant. Once we get complacent, as I am prone to do, that opens up the door to relapse. I just can’t afford to be complacent any more.

In the meantime, I have had a number of friends (who shall remain nameless) reach out who have been struggling with alcohol and other drugs, or they have a loved one who is. I can’t remember a time when alcohol abuse has been so prevalent. These are truly unprecedented times, and the ripple effect has hit every corner of society in the worst ways.

This is why I consider my own alcohol dependence a gift.

[Related Article: The Positive Takeaways From The Pandemic]

I can’t even count the number of people who were there for me at my lowest (and still are), so to be able to listen to others is something I consider my responsibility. It’s not for me to “fix” them or to have all the answers, but just to listen and hear them. If I can offer some guidance without injecting my own (non-professional) opinion, that’s even better. It helps ME to stay sober.

If you’re reading this and you are struggling, or love someone who is, there is no shame in asking for help. My best advice would be to talk to a professional, someone who specializes in addiction and treatment. I have decades of experience in sobriety and abuse, but I’m still not qualified to diagnose you.

Talk to someone who is.

You are bound to get the opinions and advice of well-meaning people when you are struggling, but the only advice I feel qualified to give you is to seek professional help. Once I cut through the chatter and listened to someone who has a degree and does it for a living, I began to see real results. You should settle for no less.

In the meantime, you can always message me on Facebook if you have no clue where to start. I’m happy to provide you with some information and options, and I can always listen. That’s one thing I am definitely qualified to do.

Now I can jump off my soap box and focus on my setlist for tonight. Nothing has been more powerful for me than playing music, and enjoying it again.

Thank you for listening to me, both verbally and musically.

The LEAST I can do is to return the favor.

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Dave Tieff
Dave Tieff is a singer songwriter best known as the lead singer of Laughing Colors. Dave earned a degree in “chemistry” touring with the Grateful Dead, and has been instrumental on the independent research project responsible for carbon dating Keith Richards. Dave also wrote this bio.

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