The “Sober Donut” Challenge: How I Managed to Fall Off the Wagon

  • By Hannah P.
  • 19 Dec, 2017
Editor’s Note: The author, whose son is in recovery, lives in Israel. She has given Desert Rose permission to share the story of her personal holiday challenge.
So, I have been following my own Jewish Version of the #sobercookie challenge. Cookies are not really a big deal here [in Israel] at any time of year, but at Hanukkah, there are donuts.

Everywhere. Lots and lots of donuts. And when Hanukkah is over, so are the donuts... until next year, so for me, donuts are kind of a Big Deal. I was managing to resist the ubiquitous fragrance of fried dough, in my face, everywhere — until yesterday. That loud thump you heard was me, falling off The Wagon.

Here is how I managed to fail. I woke up in the morning, feeling not sick, but headachy, with a slight headache and a mild sore throat. It was cold, and I just felt weary and listless, so I just decided to stay in bed and rest. I got out my trusty oil box, and Peppermint-ed, Lavender-ed and Digize-d myself properly. I made some tea and dry toast, and then I just pulled the covers over my head and tried to shake the depression and anxiety that were standing around, waiting for an opportunity to poison my already weakened mental and emotional state. I finally fell back asleep, and mostly just dozed off and on all day, still feeling queasy.

By 4:00 pm, my mild headache had morphed into a full-blown migraine, and I still hadn't been able to eat anything more than the dry toast I had eaten in the morning. My depression was deepening, and I was feeling very close to the point of full-blown Defcon 5 Anxiety Attack Mode.

At around 5:00 my son-in-law arrived (bless him) with a big bag full of falafel sandwiches and french fries. And a box of donuts.

My head was pounding, but I decided I should try to eat half a falafel and a few chips, to see if it would help my headache. It did — to a point, but when I have a migraine, I need to eat something sweet, or the headache and the nausea get worse. So, I caved. I literally snorted a jelly donut, and I felt better physically — but emotionally, I felt guilty. I crashed. I caved in. I sold out... and I could have prevented it.

Today is one year to the day since my husband passed away. I foolishly thought I could just "suck it up" and breeze through the anniversary of one of the most traumatic experiences of my life by the sheer force of my incredible willpower and my overall lack of enthusiasm at the thought of spending yet another day sobbing into my journal. So I "stuffed it", and "stuffing it" always, always either backfires or blows up in my face.

Really, really long story short — the fact that I inhaled a donut after agreeing not to isn't such a big deal... but, suppose if, in my attempt to self-medicate, I had faced the struggle that people in addiction deal with every day, and taken that drink, that pill, that needle, that pipe — it would have been a disaster.

Bottom line: We need to be aware of and accountable for the things in our lives that might cause us to slip — whatever they may be — and reach out. Ask for help. Find someone you trust who will just listen to what you are feeling. You will never be able to "Man Up" enough to handle some things alone, and that is more than okay. It is the way it should be. Recovery is not a "One-Man Show."

Lastly, please don't forget — [nearly] everyone falls off The Wagon at some point in their recovery from addiction. It is a necessary part of the process. You just have to decide whether to lie there in the dust, covered in guilt and "shoulda’s," or stand up, dust yourself off and climb back into the driver's seat.

Desert Rose is sponsoring the Sober Cookie™ Challenge to build awareness of the difficulty of life in recovery. If you (or someone you know) is ready for sobriety, please call us at 844.338.5587 .

10 Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Drug Rehab Treatment Center

One of the most critical decisions a person can make is which treatment center to trust their own life, or the life of a loved one. 

Sign up to our newsletter

By Jenny Hunt 22 Jan, 2018
So often I talk about the big blessings of sobriety – great job, great life, great friends, great relationship with my family, and that feeling of inner peace and contentment. Sometimes I forget about the little things. Little things that were so out of my reach in addiction, I didn’t even believe they were possible. So here are some of those things, in no particular order:
By Jodi MacNeal 22 Jan, 2018
By Aaron Mills 20 Jan, 2018
By Jodi MacNeal 20 Jan, 2018
Two days after the 1986 NBA draft, No. 2 pick Len Bias was dead of cardiac arrest after of a cocaine overdose.

Len Bias: Best player Maryland had ever seen (maybe the best Maryland player ever, depending on how you feel about Juan Dixon). The future of the Celtics. About to sign an endorsement deal with Reebok. Life was perfect.

Cocaine killed that. He was 22.

Bias hadn’t left home to play college ball; he was a home-grown talent who came up just outside D.C. and played ball in Maryland so he wouldn’t have to leave his family. He had a future as wide-open and promising as any kid, ever. Already a star, a freak of athletic power and poise, he might have changed the world of professional basketball. He’d fueled the dreams of a thousand city kids who wanted to play like him, be him. He swaggered, Len Bias did. His opponents couldn’t fathom him: “He’d jump and his knees would be in my teeth.” He dunked on guys, whether he needed to or not, just because he could. Len Bias could fly.

And then cocaine ended him.

Here’s how it went down: Bias and three buddies were snorting coke in a dorm room, suite 1103 in Washington Hall. Bias did a line, tried to get up, fell back on the bad and lapsed into seizure. One guy held his legs. Another one put the handle of a pair of scissors in Bias’s mouth, to keep him from biting his own tongue. The third somehow called 911 and mumbled, over and over, that his friend was in trouble. Kept saying his friend’s name, even when the emergency operator told him it didn’t matter. “This is Len Bias. You have to get him back to life. There’s no way he can die.”

But drugs don’t differentiate. Substance use, abuse and addiction have attacked athletes across the spectrum of sport.

By Emily Johanson 18 Jan, 2018
If a stranger in a gas station parking lot asks this question, it’s easy to assume what’s going on.

“Nope. I’m fine.”

“You sure?”

“Yep, thanks.”

After working a full day, then sitting through a 4-hour class, the last thing I was in the mood for was to be pestered by a drug dealer at 11 p.m. All I wanted was to get my Marlboro Smooths and go home.

As I got into my car, annoyed by the fact that I had to start it with pliers (broken car keys aren’t worth the $200 replacement), something told me to stop.

I reversed, and rolled down my window next to the mysterious black Toyota.

“What are you selling?”

He told me that he had whatever I needed: Weed, percs, Xanax, heroin, flakka, oxies, you name it.

Addiction was too close to home to keep from speaking up.

“Do you realize what you’re doing? Do you realize what you’re selling?”

He was silent for a minute, staring at me. After what felt like eternity looking into this man’s eyes, I decided that I had the freedom to continue. What else do I say? I began to tell some of my story. I served him my heart on a silver platter.

“You don’t have to do this. There are other ways to make money.”

He looked down in shame. I encouraged him to take a few of my Desert Rose company cards in case he knew someone who needed help. He got out of his car, took the cards from my hand and stood there, shaking his head. With tears in his eyes, he said, “They’re for me.”

I sat there with this guy for 45 minutes while he poured out his heart and story.

Gary told me he’s 49 years old, works on classic cars by day, and sells drugs by night for extra money. He has a beautiful son who he loves with all of his heart. When he removed his hat and pulled his shirt collar aside, his bald head and IV port revealed his personal nightmare: Gary was also fighting stage four colon cancer. He made it clear that his cancer was not an excuse for his behavior, or for his personal drug use.

I was caught off guard when Gary squeezed my hands and began to pray. He prayed against forces of the enemy. He prayed for blessing over my life. He prayed protection and favor over his son. For himself, he prayed for wisdom and strength to do the next right thing.

As he walked back to his car, he turned around and said, “It’s time for me to go home and kiss my son good night. Thank you for reminding me of what’s important.”

Every day, we pass people by, like they’re just part of the scenery. We have absolutely no clue what kind of story, beauty, and pain lie beneath the surface.

If you're in pain, please know we understand and we're ready to help. Call us today at (844) 338-5587. 
By Jodi MacNeal 18 Jan, 2018
By Jodi MacNeal 18 Jan, 2018
By Jodi MacNeal 18 Jan, 2018
By Jodi MacNeal 18 Jan, 2018
By Jodi MacNeal 16 Jan, 2018
How do you carry your recovery into the world? Do you pin it on daily, like a badge of honor? Do you bring it out just for special occasions, or do you keep it well and truly hidden?

Last month, a longtime acquaintance told me (in slightly hushed tones) that he’s in recovery. 

I was glad that I didn't hear any traces of shame or guilt in his voice. His long-ago drinking and drug use? It’s just the life he was living at the time. He’s not afraid of being judged, or of any stigma attached to substance abuse and recovery.

It’s just that he’s moved on. He’s private about being in recovery and it’s not particularly relevant to the life he's achieved – husband, father, business owner, artist, athlete. He sponsors people, even quietly mentions that he’s a former addict when he thinks it might help somebody. He probably won’t bring it up with his kids unless they ask him point-blank, once they’re old enough to understand. It’s a crazy-healthy way to be.

For some people, declaring their recovery to the world is a part of staying clean. It gives them a sense of identity and a tribe – their own #MeToo community. They’re vocal, active, engaged. These are the folks going into the prisons, leading the meetings, talking to groups of high school students and their parents. Walking though recovery means talking about recovery. They have no secrets.

Then there are others who’ve closed and locked the door. The subject is not open for discussion, and if you happen to touch upon it, everybody’s going to feel a little uncomfortable for a while. This happened to me not long ago, with a pastor friend. Trying to find a way to refuse a glass of prosecco I offered, he made a joke about being an overachiever in everything – including, at one time, drinking. He made his point in a way that made it clear that was all he was planning to say on the matter. His right, and I respect that.

It seems to me that there are a million ways to navigate long-term recovery. What’s your way?
More Posts
Share by: