Why Sobriety is a Green Light with Jeff Graham


Jeff Graham founded the Bac2Zero sobriety group.  Like many of us in the recovery space, Jeff’s initial sobriety goal was simply to quit drinking.  As he recovered his health, energy and creativity he decided he wanted to help others to do the same.

He describes sobriety as freedom – freedom from a world that was once filled with dread, regret and fear.  Although his goal started out simply as one of abstinence, his life has since grown into a life filled with dreams, hope and happiness.

In this Episode

  • Jeff enjoyed his first beer at the age of 16 – it wasn’t so much the buzz he enjoyed as the status – he felt like he “fitted in”.
  • As much as he enjoyed the social side of drinking, he also discovered that he loved to drink alone – he would come home from a night out and have some drinks on his own – he felt like he needed some “Jeff time” as he put it.
  • Many of us are like this – and even in sobriety some of us can still get triggered when we get home from a social event – even when we were drinking AF drinks!
  • I would work hard to behave myself at a social event and then down a bottle of wine when I got home!
  • Jeff was into beer and from the age of 23 and was drinking a case of beer a day – of course his friends were all drinkers as well.
  • His parents were both alcoholics and that’s why he was drawn to beer rather than spirits – he thought it was “better” – but of course it’s all ethanol!
  • He started hiding his beers in the garage – so his wife and kids had no idea how much he was drinking or quite how bad it had got.
  • Someone asked him recently if sobriety was “hard” – it made him reflect on just how “hard” it was to be a functioning alcoholic – how hard it was to hold everything together.
  • He got to the point when he knew he would have to cut down but he couldn’t face it – so he just started hiding his drinks more effectively!
  • We talked about the buzz and how us drinkers love to maintain the buzz – in fact recent research has shown that the buzz only lasts for 20 minutes and then we carry on drinking to top it up.
  • As Jeff explained, after some beers he would not go back to “normal” – he would feel lower than normal and reach for the beer to compensate
  • He was starting to drink earlier in the day but always telling himself that “tomorrow” would be different.
  • Eventually he ran out of lies – admitted defeat and booked himself into rehab for a week.
  • He needed this stay in rehab to draw a line under his drinking and to make a statement to his friends and family that he wanted to make a change.
  • We find that many of the people who come to our workshops are able to make use of the tools and community to draw that line under their drinking habits and to make a change.
  • Jeff needed the accountability that came with rehab – he just couldn’t do this alone.
  • He didn’t actually learn much in rehab but he did a lot of self-reflection and of course met other people with the same problems.
  • When he was sharing his story he heard himself saying things that he hadn’t really registered before – that happens at our workshops – people get emotional when they share because they only realise just how unhappy alcohol has been making them when they tell their story out loud.
  • Three months out of rehab he had a relapse – he wanted a reward, a last “hurrah” as he put it.
  • That did indicate that he still had work to do on his mindset – if we still see alcohol as a reward then it means it will always be hard to resist and we will suffer from FOMO.
  • Once we see alcohol for the addictive toxin it really is we will lose our desire for it which is the key to sustaining our sobriety.
  • After his relapse, Jeff took his recovery more seriously – he started to listen more and began journaling to process his thoughts and emotions.
  • He feels that it’s really important to get the negative thoughts on paper so then we can analyse them – it’s all part of being honest with ourselves.
  • Of course when he stopped drinking he had to find other things to do – he learned that he couldn’t just wait until he had a craving and then find something else to do – he had to plan it in advance.
  • Jeff learned that he needed a schedule of activities and I think that’s great advice.
  • Try lots of different things and keep yourself busy until you find a routine that really works for you.
  • As he says it’s no good telling him to call someone if he gets a craving – it’s too late by then!
  • Like myself he loves talking to people in recovery and getting new insights.
  • We talked about discovering purpose and the way we have both found more purpose in our lives from running sobriety groups – he set up Bac2Zero to inspire others on the journey.
  • Interviewing people for Bac2Zero keeps his schedule busy!
  • He has some great analogies – sobriety is like a haunted house – scary to enter alone but can even be fun if you are with someone else!
  • And the traffic lights! – sobriety is not a red traffic light!  It’s a green light to freedom, health and happiness – yes there may be a while stopped at the amber light going through an adjustment period but the green light will appear!   Love that one!
  • Two years into sobriety Jeff is experiencing lots of benefits – increase in his self-worth, reduction of anxiety and closer connection to his family are just some…
  • We talked about how many of us thought we were ok because we were not the homeless guy on the park bench – but Jeff advises that instead of comparing ourselves with the homeless guy, we should compare ourselves with the person that we could be…
  • Even if alcohol doesn’t destroy us it will certainly prevent us from reaching our potential!
  • We agreed that community is the essential thing that all sobriety groups have in common because connection is the opposite of addiction.
  • You can find out more about Jeff by going to gettingbac2zero.com website – he’s on Instagram as well.

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