Light Hustler: Looking for Light in All the Dark Places

Tawny Lara is an entrepreneur, writer and public speaker. She’s the founder of SobrieTea Party and Readings on Recovery™ and an award-winning filmmaker of her recovery documentary, Fixed Up. She's also the co-host (along with previous podcast guest and all-around bad ass Lisa Smith) of the hot new podcast Recovery Rocks podcast.

But she's also someone who started documenting her sobriety journey from the beginning. With so many people out there wanting to tell their story but scared to jump into the fray, Tawny serves as the perfect example of someone just getting out there, making her mark and, well...rocking it.

In this episode, we talked about growing up as a rocker, what to tell people who are thinking of sharing their stories and our random meeting at a Macklemore concert, among many other topics.

Direct download: TAWNY_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Murphy Jensen is an entrepreneur, former professional tennis player and French Open Champion. He’s also the Founder & EVP of Business Development for WEconnect Recovery, an addiction relapse prevention and real-time outcomes data platform that just raised 6 million (yep). He was ALSO one of my first friends in early recovery, back when we would hang out at our friend Allison’s place and really just wander around trying to make sense of our new lives.

In this episode (which was taken from this Facebook Live interview), Murphy and I talk about what it was like to go to meetings in pajamas, realizing you were meant to do more than teach rich people how to play tennis and whether or not those psychic readings we got in 2000 turned out to be true, among many other topics.

Direct download: murphy_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

As one of the world’s leading recovery advocates, Tim Ryan tirelessly tours the country speaking to addicts and their families. The star of A&E’s Dope Man and bestselling author of From Dope to Hope: A Man in Recovery, Ryan found recovery in prison and is committed to sharing a message of hope after losing his son to an overdose soon after finding sobriety himself.

The creator of the 501c3 A Man in Recovery, Tim is a regular subject on national media, a Global Goodwill Ambassador and was an invited guest to the State of the Union address.

He has been a featured thought leader on numerous television shows and publications, including Fox & Friends, Varney & Company, Martha MacCallumUSA Today, Newsweek, The Chicago TribuneThe Doctorsand The Steve Harvey Show, among many others.

A regular on WGN radio, Tim has also appeared repeatedly on CNN and HLN, spoken on TEDx stages and was named one of the top 100 visionary leaders in the world by Real Leaders magazine in January, 2018.

But in this episode, we didn’t talk about his resume. We talked about turning from the Dope Man into the Hope Man and the importance of sharing your story, among many other topics.

Direct download: tim_ryan_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Anna David is, well, the person writing this. In addition to writing in the third person, she's the New York Times bestselling author of six books, a contributor to The New York Times, Time, Playboy and more, a writing coach and the creator of this site/podcast/storytelling show.

In this episode, she/I tell a story about living in West Hollywood in the 90s, giving your front door key to every coke addict in the vicinity and calling the cops on yourself when you become convinced that your neighbor is trying to kill you.

To find out if you should be sharing your story, go to www.lighthustler.com/quiz.

Direct download: Anna_neighbor.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Darren Prince is a sports and celebrity agent who has represented Muhammad Ali, Magic Johnson, Pele, Joe Montana, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, Dennis Rodman and Hulk Hogan, among many others.

He's also sober for a decade after a brutal struggle with opiate addiction.

Finally (and most importantly—to me), he's a friend.

We've spent the past year working on his memoir, Aiming High: How a Prominent Sports and Celebrity Agent Hit Bottom at the Top, and I'm thrilled to say that it's the first release from the Light Hustler Publishing imprint. Already an international bestseller in four countries, the book has been making waves all over.

In this episode, we discuss what role trauma plays in addiction, why to wait until you have some sobriety under your belt before going public and how Magic Johnson saved Darren's life, among many other things.

Direct download: DARREN_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Bucky Sinister is a stand-up comedian and author of nine books, including Black Hole: A Novel and Get Up: A 12-Step Guide to Recovery for Misfits, Freaks and Weirdos.

In this episode (which is from the Light Hustler live storytelling show in LA), he veers from his planned story to regale the audience about what it was like to go to poetry readings completely wasted.

To find out if you should be sharing your story, go to www.lighthustler.com/quiz.

Direct download: Bucky_poetry.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Kane Holloway is a Seattle native who resides in sunny L.A. Kane is a nationally touring comedian, podcast host and he has performed on Laughs on Fox. He has appeared on VH1's Walk of Shame Shuttle, FNX Comedy Experience and started the Podaholics comedy network. You can hear his comedy album "See What I Did There?" On iTunes.

In this episode (from the Light Hustler monthly live storytelling show), he talks about how funny it was when he drunkenly slapped someone he didn't know (spoiler alert: it wasn't funny at all).

To find out if you should be sharing your story, go to www.lighthustler.com/quiz.

Direct download: Kane_slap.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Eddie Pepitone is the subject of The Bitter Buddha, the critically acclaimed documentary about his life, and is also occasionally a part of his stand-up act. As a comedian and actor, he’s been on WTF and Conan repeatedly, as well as on The Last Comic Standing, The Sarah Silverman Program, Happy Endings, Flight of the Concords, 2 Broke Girls, It’s Always Sunny and so many more.

In this episode—which is from the Light Hustler live storytelling show in Los Angeles—he (hilariously) talks about why having commitments in AA is silly, how love went out a long time ago and so much more.

To find out if you should be sharing your story, go to www.lighthustler.com/quiz.

Direct download: Eddie_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Amy Dresner is a former professional stand-up comic, having appeared at The Comedy Store, The Laugh Factory, and The Improv. Since 2012, she has been a contributing editor of the online addiction and recovery magazine TheFix.com. She’s also written for the Good Men Project, The Frisky, Refinery 29, and has been a regular contributor to Addiction.com and PsychologyToday.com, where she has her own addiction blog entitled “Coming Clean.” Her first book, My Fair Junkie, was released in 2017 and is now available in paperback.

In this episode (from the Light Hustler live storytelling show in LA), Amy talks about one of her visits to the psych ward—explaining what group therapy was like, what other residents had as goals for the day and the fellow patient who was smarter than the doctors, among other things.

To find out if you should be sharing your story, go to www.lighthustler.com/quiz.

Direct download: Amy_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Kristi Coulter holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan. She is a former Ragdale Foundation resident and the recipient of a grant from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, The Awl, GlamourVoxThe Mississippi ReviewLongreads, and elsewhere. Her debut essay collection, Nothing Good Can Come from This, was published by MCD Books/FSG Originals in August 2018. She lives in Seattle, where she is working on her next book. 

We talked about Nothing Good Can Come From This, being a high-functioning alcoholic and what happens when a story you write goes viral, among many other things.

To find out if you should be sharing your story, go to www.lighthustler.com/quiz.

Direct download: kristi_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Dr. Jamie Marich is an EMDR bad-ass. Sure, that's a kind of crazy way to identify someone but it's what our medical consultant (and previous podcast guest) Dr. Josh Lichtman (not to mention everyone else) says about her.

Her are her stats: she travels internationally teaching on EMDR therapy, trauma, addiction, expressive arts, yoga and mindfulness while maintaining a private practice in her home base of Warren, OH. She is the founder and director of The Institute for Creative Mindfulness, developer of the Dancing Mindfulness practice and co-developer of the Yoga Unchained approach to trauma-informed yoga. She is also the author of five books on trauma recovery, most recently EMDR Therapy and Mindfulness for Trauma Focused Care (with previous podcast guest Dr. Stephen Dansiger).

She's also over 16 years sober.

If you’re asking yourself at this point, “What in God’s name is she talking about and what is this EMDR thing,” EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and while it doesn’t tend to involve much eye movement anymore, it is a form of trauma therapy that helps people to reprocess their past.

If you ever go to my Facebook page, you may have seen me sharing lately about how I've started doing EMDR. It's been changing my life so I was thrilled to be able to interview one of the world's leading experts on the topic. This episode is a can't miss, folks. Who knew talking about trauma could be so fun?

Direct download: jamie_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Today’s episode features a very special guest: me. Since I’m releasing episodes that contain stories from my live storytelling show and I perform in this show, sometimes these episodes are going to feature—well, me.

The story I tell here is about the journey I took from two-pack-a-day smoker to the most self-righteous ex-smoker the world has ever seen. If you want to feel better about your own self-righteousness, I highly recommend giving this a listen.

Direct download: Anna_smoking_copy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Gayle Saks-Rodriguez has been a writer since filling her fourth grade diary with such perfectly crafted sentences as: “Ricky is getting confirmed tomorrow. Since I’m Jewish, I’m not really sure what it does. I should congradulate [sic] him though.”

She has graduated to being published in places like The Fix, The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog and Salon and has appeared on HuffPost Live. Now she's working on her memoir, You Ain't No Soccer Mom, about her work with female inmates and at an all male sober living. She was also a contributor to Light Hustler's first anthology, Darkness Before Light: 12 Writers on Addiction, Sobriety and Recovery.

In this interview (which originally took place over Facebook Live), we talk about being the only contributor to the anthology who's not in recovery, shelving one book proposal to work on another and her experiences in my coaching program for writers, among many other topics. We also—spoiler alert—had a lot of fun. Listen here.

Direct download: gayle_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Dr. Lauren Casey has a fascinating story. The international recovery coach, award-winning author and public speaker specializing in sex industry work, women’s health, substance abuse and trauma hasn’t just learned her area of expertise by studying.

Now sober, Casey is a former high-end escort who found sobriety and then, to her utter surprise, found herself falling in love with a prisoner she began writing in prison. They’re still together decades later and now Casey has a book coming out about her entire story. I’m proud to say that she wrote the proposal for Breaking the Chains: Drugs, Millionaires and the Prisoner Who Set Me Free in my All the Write Movescoaching program and that the book will be released by Zephyr Bookshelf in 2019.

This episode is from one of my Facebook Live interviews and it’s a juicy one.

Direct download: Lauren_Casey_episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Brian Finkelstein is a writer who has been nominated for two Emmys. He is also a regular performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and is a host/storyteller for The Moth. You can read his story “Perfect Moments” in the Moth’s first book, 50 True Stories.

He has performed eight solo shows in a variety of venues, from the HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen to the Summer Nights Festival in Perth, Australia and New Zealand. Brian’s told stories on public radio shows including Good Food, The Business, UnFictional, Marketplace and many more.

At the Light Hustler storytelling show, he told a story about wild nights at a Brooklyn speakeasy called Kokie's where you could buy cocaine, a roommate named Babyface, dating a Muslim girl and quitting hookers, among many other topics.

Direct download: Brian_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:43pm PST

Ken Garr is a graduate of Second City who has performed at The Laugh Factory, MGM Grand and Hollywood Improv, among many other places, and has been seen on Hulu, Playboy and Funny Or Die. His comedy album, So I’m Sitting in Jail, is now available on the DASH Radio app.

In this episode from my live storytelling show, he talks about competing in the Special Olympics, feeling all your feelings in sobriety and burying an idea three levels into someone’s head, among many other topics.

Direct download: Ken_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Today’s episode features the one and only Ally Weinhold.

Ally is a Los Angeles-based comedian, writer, and alcoholic. She hosts a monthly stand up show at Bar Lubitsch, called Awkward & Aggressive and recently co-produced a pilot called Murder Roommates with her sketch team, BadAssKnitties, and WhoHaha.

This story is about the time she realized she needed to get sober and so she did the most logical thing she could think of to bring on the spiritual experience that she thought getting sober would require: she took a bunch of acid.

Want to know what happened next? You best listen.

Direct download: Ally_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

In a rather short period of time, Joe Polish has become one of my favorite people around.

The genius marketer (who presides over The Genius Network) and I met in early 2017 and connected over the fact that we were both trying to change the message around addiction. (Related: we also connected over the fact that we were both once active drug addicts.)

And so we partnered with Hal Elrod and Honoree Corder on creating a book in the Miracle Morning series that focused on addiction recovery. You can get it here!

If you're not familiar with The Miracle Morning, it started as a book written by Hal Elrod. Published in 2012, it quickly became one of the highest rated books on Amazon, with over 2500 five-star reviews.

The premise: changing your life starts with following certain habits and tactics every morning. I'll be honest: when this opportunity first came up, I thought, "Look, I already meditate and pray in the morning. What could this book tell me that I don't already know?" Well, here's what I learned: the day after reading it, I changed my morning routine, incorporating movement, affirmations and much more into it. There's something magical in Hal's message—perhaps because he's one of the kindest people ever, perhaps because he's experienced events that would have destroyed most of us...and come out with the most hopeful attitude I've ever experienced.

Here's the concept of our particular book in the series. As many of us know, addiction can be fatal, and while it may sound glib to say something simple like attending to your morning can magically influence the course of your recovery, implementing this Miracle Morning practice can help you transform any area of your life...all before 8 am. The Miracle Morning for Addiction Recovery outlines cutting-edge research, all designed to support your recovery.

Here's some of what we cover in the book: Why mornings are critically important to an addict’s success, how your alarm can be a gift, challenge, and opportunity, the Five-Minute Five-Step Snooze-Proof Wake-Up Strategy, how the Six-Minute Miracle Morning can be the remedy for an overly packed schedule and much more. (Bonus: we've included morning routines from some of our favorite folks in recovery, including Recovery 2.0's Tommy Rosen, Wes Geer from Korn, actress Mackenzie Phillips and more.)

In this episode, Joe and I interview each other about our respective morning routines and how we strive to live miraculous lives.

Direct download: Joe_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

You could call Tina Alexis Allen an actor. After all, she recently starred in the hit WGN series Outsiders.

You could call her a playwright. After all, she wrote and starred in the critically acclaimed solo show Secrets of a Holy Father and the 12-character one-woman show Irresistible.

You could also call her a writer. After all, she's the author of the un put down-able new release Hiding Out: A Memoir of Drugs, Deception and Double Lives.

But really the most interesting thing about Allen is her life story: the last of 13 children from a religious Catholic family, Allen ended up becoming her father's greatest confidant. This started with them each acknowledging that they were gay, moved on to wild notes out doing poppers at all the gayest clubs of DC and ended with...well, you've got to read the book to find out.

Direct download: Tina_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Today’s episode features a very special guest: me. Since I’m releasing episodes that contain stories from my live storytelling show and I perform in this show, sometimes these episodes are going to feature—well, me. (By the by, the show, which takes place every other month in LA, has been an LA Weekly pick of the week and is being developed into a video series.)

The story I tell here is about the three cocaine dealers I had during my using days, the different signature moves they had and how I ended up in rehab with one of them.

Direct download: Anna_dealers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

David Griggs has a JD, an MBA and extensive experience representing and advising clients in matters involving employment, contract, regulatory, licensing, eminent domain, business, injury and other areas of law.

But that's not what's interesting about him.

What's interesting about him is that he's a sober addict who decided to let some of his most shameful stories out—first through articles, then through a book proposal and now through a book—Taming the Wild Things in My Head, a memoir which will be released by Zephyr Bookshelf later in 2018.

In this interview—which happened over Facebook Live—he explains his descent into addiction, how he pieced his life back together and why he decided to share that journey with the world.

 

Direct download: david_FB_live_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Today’s episode features the one and only Ally Weinhold.

Ally is a Los Angeles-based comedian, writer, and alcoholic. She hosts a monthly stand up show at Bar Lubitsch called Awkward & Aggressive and recently co-produced a pilot called Murder Roommates with her sketch team, BadAssKnitties.

Her story asks a seemingly simple question: what happens if you bring a homeless man home for dinner?

If you’re Ally, you make that into a hilarious, ridiculous story.

Enjoy.

Direct download: Ally_homeless_man.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:03am PST

If there’s anyone who can make a ridiculous drinking story hilarious, it’s Laura House. A headlining comedian who has performed on HBO, Comedy Central, NBC, she is originally from Texas and moved to LA after starring in MTV’s cult-favorite Austin Stories. She’s written on the Emmy-winning shows Mom and Samantha Who, BAFTA-winning Secret Lives of Boys, as well as Nicole Byer’s Loosely, Exactly, NicoleThe George Lopez Show, Mad Love, Blue Collar TV and more.

This story is about what can happen when you marry a guy you shouldn't (spoiler alert: it doesn't go so well).

She told it at my live storytelling show, which happens on the last Friday of every month at Open Space Cafe (457 N. Fairfax Ave) in LA.

Direct download: Laura_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Ivana Grahovac is a wonder to behold. And she's even more wondrous once you know her story.

The Director of Advancement for Facing Addiction and former Executive Director for Transforming Youth Recovery wasn't always the poised spokesperson today. In fact, she's the girl who spent so long raving in Croatia that she decided to drop out of school and move to Milan to model. While living the so-called glamorous life (which she swears wasn't glam), her heroin addiction took hold.

Numerous stints in treatment followed, as did jail time after she stole a car.

And then, against all odds, Grahovac had a spiritual experience that not only got her sober but also made her not experience opiate withdrawals.

Hear about the entire journey by downloading this episode.

Direct download: ivana_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Kane Holloway is a Seattle native who resides in sunny L.A. Kane is a nationally touring comedian, podcast host and he has performed on "Laughs on Fox."

In this story, told at the live monthly Light Hustler storytelling show, he talks about a number of experiences—being bald at the wrong time, physical pain and what happens when the person rooting for you seems to be giving up on you. The overall theme: even the unlucky can find recovery. And, if that supposedly unlucky person is named Kane Holloway, he can make it into comedy gold.

Direct download: Kane_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:18am PST

Jules Posner cut his teeth in his hometown of San Francisco, where he honed his act by yelling over rowdy bar crowds, coffee grinders, and shouty vagrants that have become commonplace in the San Francisco comedy scene. Now based in Los Angeles, he is one of those comics whose writing and delivery make standup seem like it’s just a funny person talking off the top of their head. Reality isn’t far behind the illusion; his riffing paces his written material in quality.

This story, which had people screaming with laughter (and asking when he'd be back to perform again), covers the solo drinking games Jules liked to play, how having a bird shit on your head can be lucky and different reasons sobriety sucks and doesn't.

Direct download: Jules_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Today’s episode features the one and only Ally Weinhold.

Ally is a Los Angeles-based comedian, writer, and alcoholic. She hosts a monthly stand up show at Bar Lubitsch, called Awkward & Aggressive and recently co-produced a pilot called Murder Roommates with her sketch team, BadAssKnitties, and WhoHaha.

Her story asks a seemingly simple question: what happens if you hack your ex-boyfriend's email and then send the woman he's dating a break up email? And what if you follow that with a series of decisions that culminate in his feeling like you're a danger to his life?

If you're Ally, you make that into a hilarious, ridiculous story.

Enjoy.

Direct download: Ally_W_Done_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

The comedian ANT has been everywhere: a regular on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Tyra Banks Show, he is the only comedian to appear on all five seasons of NBC’s hit series Last Comic Standing. He was the host of VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club and starred in the LOGO series, U.S. of ANT. His hit stand-up DVD, ANT: America’s Ready and comedy CD “Follow my ass!” have sold tens of thousands of copies. On his hit podcast Second Chances, he interviews people about their, you got it, second chances in life.

But he's much more than his resume. ANT, who's in recovery after a great deal of tragedy in his life, has an ability to turn even the darkest stories imaginable (say, this one, about his cat, partner and dad all dying) into touching hilarity.

 

Direct download: ANT_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Today’s episode features a very special guest: me. Since I’m releasing episodes that contain stories from my live storytelling show and I perform in this show, sometimes these episodes are going to feature—well, me. (By the by, the show, which takes place every other month in LA, has been an LA Weekly pick of the week and is being developed into a video series.)

The story I tell here is about why someone like me should have never smoked pot—let alone gone to Amsterdam to eat a succession of space cakes.  For more about who I am when I’m not eating space cakes and losing a day of my life, click here. For more about the workshops I lead where I teach people to take their most disturbing or interesting experiences and make them into stories, click here. For more information about my online writing classes and coaching programs, click here.

For a list of events, so you can stay up to date on future storytelling shows, click here. If you want to see live broadcasts of the show, go ahead and Like my Facebook page, since that's where we broadcast them!

Direct download: Anna_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

To say I was excited to interview John Taylor would be the understatement of the century. As an allegedly together adult, I resisted the urge to tell him that my adolescent bedroom was papered with his image (covered in lipstick kisses, despite the fact that I didn’t and still don’t wear lipstick). In short, my inner 14-year-old was having a conniption fit while my outer adult had a glorious, insightful conversation with a brilliant, thoughtful man with over two decades of sobriety.

Those who only think of Taylor solely as Duran Duran’s pretty boy will be delighted to hear what an analytical and kind guy he is—a man who speaks openly about what it was like to have worldwide fame while he was still living at home with his parents and talks about a recovery meeting as a place where he’s thrilled to be able to meet people from all walks of life.

In this episode, we talked about his must-read autobiography In The Pleasure Groove, what it’s like to go from blaming everyone to taking responsibility for yourself, how no one really acts their age and the joys of watching soccer, among many other topics.

Direct download: john_taylor_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:46am PST

Today’s episode features an absolute doll of a human being: Greg Behrendt.

In it, Greg tells a story from the Light Hustler live storytelling show which takes place the last Friday of every other month in LA.

His story veers from a night where he was wasted and cold and ended up with a burrito stuck to his hands but also touches on driving a car into the ocean and why we should bring our solutions and not our problems home.

When he’s not making Light Hustler audiences nearly pee their pants with laughter, Greg is performing (both as a comedian and musician) or writing (oh yeah; he’s the guy who co-wrote the seminal book He’s Just Not That Into You, among other bestselling books).

To see the calendar for future storytelling events, click here. To catch the live broadcasts of the shows, go ahead and give a like on Facebook, since we play every show on there.

Direct download: Greg_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Brad Vos is a mental health and addictions recovery advocate who, in his words, "promotes the opportunity, and not the sacrifice, that recovery provides." Canada-based, he's someone who's tried numerous roads to sobriety, including 12-step and SMART Recovery, but finds he has a "bad wolf" who can talk him out of staying on the right path.

But he's determined to let the good wolf take charge, something that's evident in his new project—the website Sobertunity, which also includes accounts on Instagram and Facebook.

Brad and I first got to know each other when he joined the accountability group I run with Sober Evolution's Austin Cooper and from day one, he's been active in the group—sharing updates, schedules, plans...and his struggles. He's therefore the ideal person to show the rest of the world the sort of stuff we do in there. He also happens to be very funny and as someone who's semi obsessed with people sharing their "light," I cherish any opportunity to let hilarity reign.

In this episode, we discuss escaping a soulless sales job, staying on the path and how animals can help with our recovery, among many other topics.

NOTE: This episode is from a Facebook Live interview that we did, which means that the audio isn’t as sharp as it is on regular episodes. Please bear with that! And please tune into my regular Facebook Live interviews. Make sure you Like my page so stay up on the info!

Direct download: Brad_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Most every addict who's been in therapy has lied to their therapist or psychiatrist.

The question is...do shrinks know when you're lying? We asked LA board certified psychiatrist Dr. Josh Lichtman for his take.

Direct download: josh_lying_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

It’s hard to picture Paul Churchill as an active alcoholic. He’s nevertheless got the back story to prove it—including years of destructive drinking, a DUI and a suicide attempt.

Yet no one could accuse him of resting on his laurels once he found sobriety in September of 2016. No, sir. He launched the podcast Recovery Elevator soon after getting into recovery and then, 20 episodes in, decided to start an accountability group. Now Recovery Elevator is something of an empire—with retreats, groups and more.

Still, all didn’t become shiny and perfect overnight. Instead, Paul wrestled with plunging too quickly into projects destined to drown him. He’s now stepped back slightly but still has the sort of fire that has inspired his followers and fans. In this episode, we discuss the impact pets can have on recovery, how acceptance truly is the answer and launching businesses because we were looking for things that didn’t exist, among many other topics.

OTE: This episode is from a Facebook Live interview that we did, which means that the audio isn’t as sharp as it is on regular episodes. Please bear with that! And please tune into my regular Facebook Live interviews. Make sure you Like my page so stay up on the info!

Direct download: Paul_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Some people suffer from depression and other mental issues that doesn't respond to medication. What are they—and their doctors—supposed to do?

Double board certified psychiatrist Dr. Josh Lichtman lays out some options.

Direct download: treatment_resistent_josh_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

We all have stories. Some of us have funny ones. Others have tragic ones. If you're Natasha Vargas-Cooper, you have both.

If you listen to the podcast regularly, you know about Natasha but for anyone new around here...she is a wondrous sprite who graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a double major in history and public policy and has been published in such places as The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine and GQ, among many others. Her book, Mad Men Unbuttoned, was praised as “a well-versed primer” by The New Yorker and “likely to become a trivia-lover’s bible” by The New York Times. Oh and in her spare time, she created the popular LA storytelling show Public School.

In this story, she discusses taking Ambien and then driving to 7-11 for cigarettes, the emails she shouldn't have sent and why being addicted to people is so much worse than being addicted to substances, among other (funny) (and tragic) things.

This episode is from my live storytelling show, which happens on the last Friday of every month at Open Space Cafe (457 N. Fairfax Ave) in LA.

Direct download: Natasha_Bipolar_Love_Interest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Addicts are increasingly more comfortable coming forward and sharing about their problems. But the same doesn't seem to be true for those suffering from mental illness. What can we do about that?

Dr. Josh Lichtman, a Los Angeles-based board-certified psychiatrist, breaks down his thoughts.

Direct download: josh_stigma_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Stephanie Wittels Wachs has endured something a sister should never have to experience.

In February of 2015, she lost her brother Harris to a heroin overdose.

Her brother wasn’t some low-bottom, down-and-out guy. Quite the opposite. He was actually nothing short of a legend in the comedy business, having been hired as a writer on The Sarah Silverman Show a year after graduating from college. From there, his career was on fire—he wrote on numerous MTV Movie Awards and was a writer and actor on Parks and Rec. When he died, he was on the verge of moving to New York to write on and star in Master of None with his friend Aziz Ansari. (In his spare time, he invented the word #humblebrag and wrote a book about it.)

In order to process her grief, Stephanie turned to the page…specifically to Medium.com, where she wrote a piece called “The End of Empathy,” about a stranger’s reaction to their family’s grief. The post struck a cord and next thing Stephanie knew, she was writing a book. Well, that book, Everything is Horrible and Wonderful: A Tragicomic Memoir of Genius, Heroin, Love and Loss, is out now. And it is brilliant and juicy and wonderful and horrible and basically tells such a gripping tale of what it’s like to be the sister of a genius who just happens to be a drug addict that you will feel confident you actually knew Harris Wittels when you’ve put the book down.

In this episode, we talked about the surreality of talking about a book that only exists because your brother is gone, if there’s anything she would have done differently and the strange and even hopeful places her mourning has taken her, among many other topics.

Direct download: stephanie_wittels_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

We live in a world where everyone is diagnosing our president as narcissistic. So what, exactly, are we saying and are we allowed to diagnose someone we don't know based solely on their symptoms?

Dr. Josh Lichtman provides some answers.

Direct download: narcissism_josh_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

You surely know about Ryan Hampton by now. Not only has he become one of the world's leading recovery advocates, fighting to take down nefarious treatment centers and shady players but he's also the author of the upcoming book American Fix: Inside the American Opioid Addiction Crisis—And How to End It.

He's also one of my closer friends.

We work on a lot of things together but the one we're most excited about right now is our upcoming Light Switch: Turning on Your Inner Hustle retreat. It's happening the last weekend in April and will be a medley of workshops, treatments, bonding, laughter, panels and plenty of LA woo woo stuff. In this episode, we talk about the retreat (and our EARLY BIRD SPECIAL pricing which ends, alas, on March 8th) but also about the gifts that can come from bonding with our fellows in recovery (among many other topics).

 

Direct download: ryan_retreat_episode.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

In this episode, I talk to addiction psychiatrist Dr. Josh Lichtman about how depression and anxiety manifest—and overlap.

Direct download: anxiety_vs_depression_josh_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

I've long admired Laura McKowen.

The sober mama is a prolific writer (you can see her many posts over at LauraMcKowen.com), podcaster (for years she co-hosted HOME, now she's co-hosting Spiritualish) and all-around honest person living in recovery.

What do I mean by honest? Well, follow her on Instagram and you'll see more than just Ghandi quotes and hot photos. The woman spills it out there—and people love her for it.

While we met at the Unite to Face Addiction rally in the fall of 2015, this is the first time we were able to chat one-on-one. And what a chat it was! Tune in to hear us get into losing our virginity, the stories we tell ourselves and developing healthy relationships with other women, among many other topics.

NOTE: This episode is from a Facebook Live interview that we did, which means that the audio isn’t as sharp as it is on regular episodes. Please bear with that! And please tune into my regular Facebook Live interviews. Make sure you Like my page so stay up on the info!

It's better with the lights on. So go out there and hustle your light, Light Hustler...

Direct download: laura_mckowen_Done_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

AA is a controversial topic within recovery circles. Some are all for it, some violently opposed.

So where does a prominent addiction psychiatrist stand? Does he tell all his patients who are addicts to go there?

The answer may surprise you.

Direct download: josh_aa_final_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Bucky Sinister is a poet, self-help author and comedian, he has published four books of poetry and two self-help books, including Get Up: A 12-Step Guide to Recovery for Misfists, Freaks, and Weirdos. His journalism, film reviews, and short stories have appeared on The Rumpus, The Bold Italic, and a number of other online and print publications. His novel, Black Hole, is flat out the funniest novel I've ever read about addiction.

He's been something of a regular in my world—a repeated podcast guest and performer at my live show. This episode is from one of those live shows and in this story, he talks about being terrified of small talk but not remotely scared to score drugs from strangers or get in fights.

This episode is from my live storytelling show, which happens on the last Friday of every month at Open Space Cafe (457 N. Fairfax Ave) in LA. Sign up for the newsletter to make sure you’re notified when shows are coming up and/or stay up to date on the schedule here. For more about the workshops I lead where I teach people to take their most disturbing or interesting experiences and make them into stories, click here. For more information about my online writing classes and coaching programs, click here.

Direct download: Bucky_Scared_of_Wrong_Things.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Jen Matesa is a recovery powerhouse.

Unafraid and unapologetic, she speaks out about two "s"'s that scare some others—namely, Suboxone and sex.

She's written extensively about both—Suboxone in blog posts like this one and the sex in two of her four books...especially her most recent one, Sex in Recovery: A Meeting between the Covers (her previous book for Hazelden, The Recovering Body: Physical and Spiritual Fitness for Living Clean and Sober, also got into meditation, exercise, nutrition and more).

She has spoken and written widely, teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh, is a psychotherapist in training and is currently working on her second master’s degree.

Sober since 2010, she was one of the first sober bloggers and she's been dedicated in that time to giving the public reliable information about addiction and recovery without advertising or paywalls. Her commitment to removing social stigma from addiction and recovery earned her a fellowship at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Plus, she talks sex...here we got into best vibrators, losing your sex drive when you're taking opiates and what constitutes good sex. Get some great sex (info) and more in this episode—just in time for Hallmark's favorite holiday.

NOTE: This episode is from a Facebook Live interview that we did, which means that the audio isn’t as sharp as it is on regular episodes. Please bear with that! And please tune into my regular Facebook Live interviews. Make sure you Like my page so stay up on the info!

Direct download: jen_matesa_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

If there’s anyone who can make a ridiculous drinking story hilarious, it’s Laura House. A headlining comedian who has performed on HBO, Comedy Central, NBC, she is originally from Texas and moved to LA after starring in MTV’s cult-favorite Austin Stories. She’s written on the Emmy-winning shows Mom and Samantha Who, BAFTA-winning Secret Lives of Boys, as well as Nicole Byer’s Loosely, Exactly, NicoleThe George Lopez Show, Mad Love, Blue Collar TV and more.

This story is about how she went from being a girl who knocked on doors trying to talk to strangers about Jesus to vomiting Pina Coladas all over a bus to peeing her name in the hallway outside of a teacher’s hotel room. Did she end up suffering consequences for being a host family’s worst nightmare? Well, no—and yes. It all makes sense if you listen.

This episode is from my live storytelling show, which happens on the last Friday of every month at Open Space Cafe (457 N. Fairfax Ave) in LA.

Direct download: Laura_Done_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

I first met Drew Grant through friends, when we both lived in New York. She was a young, dynamic, cool, talented writer who'd worked at Salon and The New York Observer, among many other publications.

While I'd always found her somewhat fascinating, that feeling was only enhanced when, during a causal conversation, she mentioned that she had a brief addiction to Fentanyl. I was working at The Fix website at the time and so I did what I did whenever anyone mentioned drugs...promptly assigned her a story. While she wrote that piece under a pen name, a few years later—in the wake of the Philip Seymour Hoffman overdose—she came out under her own name.

Drew and I recently got in touch again, when she spoke to the students in my coaching program. She told me that her story with drugs had only gotten more Byzantine since we'd last spoken and so I did what I do whenever someone tells me that...promptly invited her to come on the podcast.

I knew it would be such a different story than the one my guests usually tell. This one didn't involve a bottom, a resurgence, church basements (well, there are some church basements in her story but not many) and eventual sobriety.

Instead it started with childhood chronic masturbation and ADD meds, Xanax tapering and much, much more. In this episode, we discuss what it was like to be on so many medications that you thought loved ones were out to get you, being intervened on by heroin addicts and how to handle doctor shopping across three states, among many other topics.

NOTE: This episode is from a Facebook Live interview that we did, which means that the audio isn’t as sharp as it is on regular episodes. Please bear with that! And please tune into my regular Facebook Live interviews. Make sure you Like my page so stay up on the info!

Direct download: Drew_interview_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Sean Paul Mahoney isn’t your average bear.

He isn’t your average human, either.

That’s because he’s much funnier than your average human.

As a blogger, playwright and podcaster, Sean shares his many witticisms with the world?—?including me, back when I used to edit his essays at AfterParty. Just over nine years sober, he’s now working in the mental health and recovery field…and as he says, it keeps life very “real.”

In this episode, we discuss hitting (and coming out of) an emotional bottom at seven years of sobriety, discovering that he was HIV positive, sitting with someone who’s overdosing and how his family sent him to church basements instead of a cushy Malibu rehab, among many other things. The interview got cut off at the end but he’s so great that it’s well worth the abrupt finish. This one’s a can’t miss, guys!

NOTE: This episode is from a Facebook Live interview that we did, which means that the audio isn’t as sharp as it is on regular episodes. Please bear with that! And please tune into my regular Facebook Live interviews. Make sure you Like my page so stay up on the info!

Direct download: sean_done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Gabe Zichermann is an unlikely hero in the addiction recovery world as he literally spent the first half of his career making sure we got hooked on tech. The world’s foremost expert and public speaker on the subject of gamification, user engagement and behavioral design, Zichermann is also the author of The Gamification Revolution (McGraw Hill, 2013), Gamification by Design (2011) and Game-Based Marketing (2010).

But, as he observed addictive tendencies in both himself and the people around him, Zichermann realized he was potentially part of the problem. Consider his new project, Onward, penance. Onward is an app he co-founded that brings together the latest data science and artificial intelligence to help people change their potentially addictive relationships with technology, pornography, gambling or shopping.

In this interview, we talked about his epiphany about his own addictive relationship with gaming (spoiler alert: don’t invite him to your party if he’s in the middle of a game), why cognitive behavioral therapy works for some people struggling with addiction and not for others and if his former tribe now considers him the enemy, among many other topics.

NOTE: This episode is from a Facebook Live interview that we did, which means that the audio isn’t as sharp as it is on regular episodes. Please bear with that! And please tune into my regular Facebook Live interviews. Make sure you Like my page so stay up on the info!

Direct download: gabe.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

Prolific TV and movie producer Scott Steindorff has convinced authors like Philip Roth and Gabriel Garcia Marquez to give up the film rights for their books. He's won Golden Globes and been nominated for Emmys. He's worked with Matthew McConaughey, Paul Newman and Nicole Kidman, among many others.

But his greatest passion in life doesn't have anything to do with the entertainment business. His greatest passion is related to the fact that, at over 30 years of sobriety, he's watching more and more people die as a result of addiction. He believes our current treatment methods—in particular AA—need to be modernized and he's devoting his time and passion to doing just that by putting together his own recovery program, Life Renewal.

In this episode, he and I get into a very heated debate about whether or not AA works. When this aired as a Facebook Live, the comments and questions were never-ending and I couldn't even begin to address all of them. A tame episode this is not. A lively one it is.

NOTE: This episode is from a Facebook Live interview that we did, which means that the audio isn’t as sharp as it is on regular episodes. Please bear with that! And please tune into my regular Facebook Live interviews. Make sure you Like my page so stay up on the info!

Direct download: scott_Done.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

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