Light Hustler: Looking for Light in All the Dark Places

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

Austin Cooper didn’t want to live anymore.

Like many people suffering from addiction, he was at the too-scared-to-live, too-scared-to-die crossroads. He’d forgotten that he had people who loved him.

When those loved ones did an intervention, he knew he had a choice: to live or die.

He chose to live…and in less than five years, he’s become an outspoken recovery advocate. It all started when he discovered some inspiring quotes that changed his life. He thought maybe those quotes could help other people and so he started an Instagram account filled with them.

The account grew so rapidly that he soon found himself on 20/20 and working as a coach.

Now he and I have partnered on The Light Hustler Evolution, an accountability group that includes weekly assignments, webinars, coaching sheets, a book club and more. We talk all about it in this interview and explain that if you join before January 1st, you can get locked in at a 20% off discount. While this group will eventually be invitation and nomination only, for now it is open to anyone who wants to join. There is no obligation to stay in the group if you don’t want to so if you’ve ever struggled to meet a goal or want to interact with some cool folks (charter members include Golden Globe award winning producer Scott Steindorff, Girl Walks Out of a Bar author Lisa Smith and recovery advocate Ryan Hampton), we encourage you to join now. You can find out more about the group here and join here.

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 you can stay up on when they happen).

Direct download: austin_cooper_done.mp3
Category:Health -- posted at: 12:00am PST