There is no doubt that the scope of how we do things as a Western society is changing (and has been changing) rapidly through the miracles of technology. Prior to 1935, alcoholics were sent to hospitals or sanitariums (if not to jail) to get treatment for their illness, which typically consisted of administering heavy narcotics, various chemical injections and, of course, the famed frontal lobotomy.
After the book Alcoholics Anonymous hit the shelves, more people became aware of 12-step and started to accept it as a viable alternative for dealing with addiction that didn’t involve a medical team and a straight jacket. Since then, various other methods of quitting drinking and drugging have come to fruition, one of them being Internet recovery. There is no formal or organized structure behind it; Internet recovery simply consists of reaching out for support via the web. This could be in a forum, an online rehab program or through a blog. After the overwhelming response to our 20 Best Recovery Blogs story last year, we’ve decided to make this an annual thing; with that, we give you our list of the 20 best recovery blogs of 2016 (in no particular order):
Truly an amazing woman and one hell of an example of strength in sobriety, Ellie Schoenberger (co-founder of Crying Out Now and The Bubble Hour) uses her site to blog about life and her ups and downs as a sober woman and mom. Her book, Let Me Get This Straight, is a compilation of her best posts from 2009-2012, some of which include her battle with cancer and the loss of her dad. More recently, Ellie shared about the finalization of her divorce. If you are looking for inspiration to walk through fear and handle what life throws at you, this is the blog to follow.
Mr. SponsorPants is a great resource for sober relatability and comic relief. Presented as a blog from the sponsor’s point-of-view, there are tons of entertaining yet honest posts about what it’s like to be sober (28 years), sponsor people and work a 12-step program. Though some of the daily blogs tend to be Tumblr-like quickies—inspirational graphics and such—many of Mr. SponsorPants’ more poignant entries offer a lot of self-refection and revelation (and did we mention humor?) And let’s face it, we all like a sponsor who wears pants.
Women all around the world really need to thank Ethlie Ann Vare for being the one to step up to the plate and talk openly and honestly about sex and love addiction. (She has already done that on our pages, both as a guest on AfterPartyPod and in our Ask the Experts section.) Though there are some resources out there about this underground epidemic, most are penned by therapists and other addiction experts. In Affection Deficit Disorder, Vare has the unique advantage of the first person perspective; she’s been there, done him and lives to share her stories and recovery so that other women may come out of the shadows and follow her on the path to self-love. For sober, actively using or even otherwise chemically un-addicted women alike, feeling enslaved to low self-esteem and a desperate need for validation from others is something many of us don’t want to admit we can relate to. The pain of loneliness can be overwhelming and with limited resources, this blog (and the accompanying book, Love Addict) can act as your port in the storm.
4) Bye Bye Beer
A great example of paying it forward, the author of Bye Bye Beer has been blogging since 2011, immediately after she got sober—largely due to the support she garnered from the online sober community. A married woman and mother of two, BBB continues to blog anonymously about her recovery and how being sober has allowed her to build a new, enriched and full sober life. BBB is a great blog to follow if you are a sober wife, mom, mom-to-be or wife/mom-to-be sober.
Successful entrepreneur Marilyn Spiller has lived a life most of us only dream of—a thriving career, kids and a true partnership in marriage and business, all with a backdrop of gorgeous San Marco, Florida. But like many of us know, life can take unexpected turns and Spillers, now a semi-retired divorcee, landed in the Bahamas where the breakfast of choice is wine in the sunshine. By 60, Spiller felt like a bloated sponge of chardonnay and knew something needed to change. Scared of feeling like a fish out of water in her Caribbean town, she created Waking Up the Ghost to document her journey through sobriety. Coming up on three years now, Waking Up the Ghost has been written about by The Florida Times Union and continues to inspire people with daily posts of “Today I am not drinking because…”
The brainchild of Caren Osten Gerszberg and Leah Odze Epstein, Drinking Diaries is a blog about all things alcohol—including posts from the founders as well as a forum for other women to submit stories about ways that drinking has affected their lives. Contributors don’t need to be sober, per se, or even have a drinking problem—the only qualification is to have been a victim of alcohol in some way, whether that is by their drinking or someone else’s. (Both Gersberg and Epstein were raised by alcoholic mothers and explore their own relationships with alcohol while also bringing sober-related current events commentary to their readers.) Now also a book, Drinking Diaries is a compilation of some of the best essays on the site.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Stacy Rosenfeld started this self-explanatory blog as a way of workshopping and building an audience and community for her book by the same name. Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? is a focused conversation about the relationship that many women (possibly every woman) has with food. Going beyond the black and white diagnosis of bulimia, anorexia and binge eating, Rosenfeld addresses the nuanced and often not talked about habits and feelings that women have around what they eat, how they look and the way these factors affect their self-esteem in relentless and unhealthy ways. A glaringly under-exposed issue within the addiction community and beyond, Rosenfeld’s blog is a non-pretentious and relatable resource for any woman struggling with body image.
With so many resources, both on and off the net, for struggling and recovering addicts, Dawn Clancy’s Growing Up Chaotic is a much-needed forum for the lesser-recognized (yet probably more wide spread) issue of those traumatized by alcoholism, drug abuse and the utter dysfunction that goes along with them. Though not an addict herself, Clancy (one of AfterParty’s original writers) has had to work just as hard to save herself from the debilitating state of depression, anxiety, anger, shame and fear that her alcoholic and physically abusive home left her in. Clancy’s voice is honest and straightforward; she puts herself, her stories and her experiences out there so that others can understand that recovery from chaos is not only possible but hopeful.
Amy Eden is cool. And god damn it, so is her website. Adorned with hipster fonts and a perfectly androgynous color scheme, Eden uses her blog, Guess What Normal Is, to promote the way to “Transform Self-Loathing Into Self-Love.” An adult child of an alcoholic, Eden has cleared her own path to healing and serenity, inviting her readers to follow. The author of The Kind Self-Healing Book, a super non-scary or fruit loopy looking book designed to get other ACOAs out of the shadows and into the limelight of their true potential, Eden is also available as a coach.
Steve K provides a refreshing and much-needed resource to the world of online recovery. In a realm dominated by the female voice, 12-Step Philosophy not only speaks from the male perspective but from the POV of an agnostic who is sober through 12-step recovery. With so much misunderstanding (and criticism) about the spiritual aspect of 12-step groups, the importance of this blog for those struggling to stay sober and/or with the concept of a Higher Power is paramount.
For anyone who has been a victim of childhood trauma and abuse, Heal Write Now is the blog you need to follow. Having emerged from her own personal war zone at age 22, Cissy White started on her path of healing desperate for a role model—someone who had been through what she had been through, recovered and was thriving. But in 1989, without the miracle of the World Wide Web, finding women like her wasn’t an easy task. That is why White started Heal Write Now: to help people connect and break out of the prison of loneliness and alienation that abuse victims often find themselves in.
Though I am not a mother nor do I love an active addict, I am still deeply affected by the blog posts of Susan Mansfield, the struggling parent of a teenage drug addict. While I often find my head screaming for Alanon solutions as I read her pain, I can also wholeheartedly understand the internal conflicts of being a parent of a child who is still a child, making the concept of “detaching with love” a bit more complicated. Like many of us, Mansfield’s son also battles mental health issues and doesn’t have access to the level of treatment he needs. The UK-based mom’s honest and expressive process through her blog is a resource for anyone who is or loves an active alcoholic or addict.
Much like Susan Mansfield, Marybeth Cichoki lives with the daily agony of being a mother of a drug addicted son. In and out of psych wards, her son’s addiction drags Cichoki and her family through the mud with drama and dealers showing up at her home. Written as essay-style diary entries (rather than the standard journaling feel of a personal blog), Mother’s Heartbreak highlights Cichoki’s ever-present anger, resentment and despair as the parent of an addict. A great reprieve for those at a loss with what to do about the addict in their life, Mother’s Heartbreak is also ideal for those new to Alanon who are really in the thick of things. (Note: On August 7, 2016, Marybeth reported that Matt passed away and her post includes a letter to him that is extremely moving. With heavy hearts, we send our deepest condolences for her loss.)
Another parent of an addict, this time a dad, My Life as 3D follows the regular musings of a father of a boy who began his recovery as an adolescent but has continued to struggle with depression, anxiety and many of the issues we face in sobriety (not to mention in adolescence). After psych wards, suicide attempts and every bit of toxic drama in between, My Life as 3D has morphed into a seven-year journey of been-there-done-that, becoming a solid resource for any parent whose child has gotten sober and gone on medication, but still struggles.
While many of my blog recommendations are geared towards people needing a sober or sane port in a drunken and chaotic storm, Sober Julie is a great site to bookmark for the lighter side of things. Since 2010, Sober Julie has grown from an online journal about one woman’s recovery from alcoholism and a life-altering car accident to a totally upbeat lifestyle site from a sober woman’s perspective. Complete with posts about spiritual health and recipes for non-alcoholic mojitos, Sober Julie is an ideal place to connect to the fun and kinda normal side of being sober that is often under-represented online.
Though not an addict herself, Gayle Saks-Rodriguez has spent the last five years as a substance abuse counselor, working with incarcerated woman and men coming out of the prison system. As someone who had been through her own fair share of shit (mother’s suicide, meth addict BFF), Saks-Rodriguez found herself drawn to helping people find hope. Life in the Middle Ages is a wealth of goodness, running the gamut on topics from depression, dating and just being a Jewish, middle-aged woman and mom.
Just like her site promises, Nicola O’Hanlon (also an original AfterParty writer) loves recovery and all her sober sisters and brothers. I Love Recovery, which is part of the InTheRooms empire, makes me feel like I am in my high school parking lot where all the cool kids hung out. Packed with posts from some of the most notable and honest voices in online recovery, O’Hanlon does a kick ass job gathering the talent (including herself) and bringing a variety of recovery-oriented topics to the table—including lesser-addressed issues like gambling, sex addiction and codependence. There is also space to touch upon music, poetry and other arts as it relates to the sober community.
Not to pick favorites (because I am totally not picking favorites) but I love, love, love this site. Though definitely a recovery blog, Twelve Wellness takes a completely new approach to the genre by providing the sober community with an invaluable resource—nutrition! While much of our early recovery can focus on simply putting the plug in the jug, a lifestyle of coffee, cigarettes and donuts should probably be shed as quickly as possible. Matthew Lovitt, a sober holistic nutritionist, makes a generous contribution by blogging about the specific nutritional needs of recovering addicts (many of whom have major issues with blood sugar balance). It is truly a must-follow for anyone looking to build whole body wellness.
Mom, teacher, self-admitted lover of Jesus and regular AfterParty contributor Dana Bowman is another one of these hip sober ladies that makes recovery, spirituality and parenting look like a sting of breezy imperfections riddled with quirky humor and charm. In addition to her general talent with the written word, Bowman brings her experiences as a later in life mom to Momsie Blog and her subsequent book, Bottled: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery.
I would venture to say that when it comes to addiction recovery, unity and fellowship are probably the two most important elements of success. Those of us who have been gifted with a chance at sobriety will tell you that we could not have done it alone; a large reason why the online community has become such a powerful tool for recovery worldwide. Heroes in Recovery is a glowing example of this principle. A collaboration of sober writers blogging about what it’s like to be sober, this site is one I highly recommend to people at any stage of recovery. In some ways, it provides the affect of AA’s Grapevine (a meeting in a magazine) where you can plug into to a variety of sober people from all over—an especially valuable resource for those days when you need a meeting but can’t get to one.