Author: Justin Mckibben
This past Tuesday, Academy Award-winning actor, screenwriter and producer Ben Affleck made a powerful and inspiring announcement to his fans and friends via social media. Since then the internet has lit up with articles and insights on how this public admission could be seen as a heroic moment to so many people all over the country.
Ben Affleck has the honor of being the new face of Bruce Wayne, bringing the Batman to life in the most recent installments to DC’s feature films. So he is no stranger to the role of a hero with a dark past.
Being open and honest with the world Affleck publicized he had completed treatment for alcoholism, and so many in the recovery community and advocates for addiction have found it as a beacon… or “BAT SIGNAL” if you will… (I will)… for all those struggling to overcome the stigma and see they are not alone.
In an emotionally-charged note to his fans, Ben posted on Facebook stating:
“I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront. I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step. I’m lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.”
This is also not the first time Affleck has done battle with alcoholism. The 44-year-old actor has faced his own alcohol addiction in the past, while his childhood was also impacted by the influence of alcoholism on his father.
Alcoholism in the Family
In 2012 Ben Affleck did an interview with Barbra Walters discussing his parent’s divorce when he was 12 years old. During the interview Affleck stated:
“[My father] was an alcoholic… I did know that as a child. He drank a lot. My father was a — what did they call him — a real alcoholic. He, you know, drank all day, drank every day, and to his credit, he got sober ultimately,”
“He’s been sober for several decades, which I think is pretty impressive.”
At this time he credited his brother and his closest friends, including Matt Damon, of helping him through a difficult childhood. After Ben Affleck earned his place in Hollywood for his work with Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting in 1997, he gave up drinking at 24-years-old.
Ben Affleck’s First Time in Rehab
In July of 2001, Ben Affleck completed a 30-day residential rehabilitation program for alcohol abuse. But this experience didn’t seem to convince Affleck at the time he was in danger of real alcoholism. In a 2012 statement, he had said,
“I went to rehab for being 29 and partying too much and not having a lot of boundaries and to clear my head and try to get some idea of who I wanted to be.”
Not saying it wasn’t an important experience, but this statement seems to lean closer to the ‘I’m not as bad as some people’ line.
In 2004, Ben Affleck married Jennifer Garner, his co-star from another comic hero film Daredevil. Sources at the time said Affleck’s new married put a halt on all the hard partying. Batfleck began to settle down and start up a family. The two were later blessed with 3 children: Violet, age 11, Seraphina, age 8, and Sam, age 5. Affleck says,
“I think becoming a father makes you see the world differently and it’s good.”
However, Jennifer and Ben did eventually split in 2015. Still, early reports are indicating Jennifer is an important part of Ben’s current path to sobriety.
While Ben Affleck has been more private about his time in rehab this time around, speculation began when Batfleck was spotted with woman while out and about in Los Angeles that a source later told ET was actually a sober coach Ben had been working with named Elizabeth Weaver.
Other sources have indicated to ET reporters that while Affleck no longer works with Weaver, he was supported by another sober companion while showing up to the 2017 Oscars to support his brother Casey Affleck who won Best Actor.
Looking forward a bit, it’s interesting that the next Batman solo movie starring Ben Affleck is also set to star Joe Manganiello as the infamous villain Deathstroke. Joe Manganiello has also had his struggles with alcohol. In a past interview Manganiello stated,
“My life was ruined. I was homeless, careless and broke with no career.”
The former “Magic Mike” and “True Blood” star has been sober over twelve years! In a 2015 interview Joe Manganiello said his sobriety was “very close to [his] heart.” With him starring as a rival assassin and all out bad mofo in the next Batman against Affleck, one has to wonder if a sober bro-mance might blossom between the two Hollywood action heroes.
Heroes and Alcoholism
One inspiring aspect of all this is that it not only gives us a reason to see past the stigma of alcoholism and addiction, but it also makes those who suffer feel more connected to the people who they may look up to; more connected to their heroes.
In fact, I remember watching Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne in the recent Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice movie. In one scene Bruce Wayne wakes up, fighting back his nightmares, and reaches to a nightstand cluttered by wine bottles to get a bottle of pills. Moments later his butler Alfred Pennyworth, played by the amazing Jeremy Iron, even comments on hoping:
“- the next generation of Waynes won’t inherit an empty wine cellar.”
I related in a big way to the idea even Batman is drinking and popping pills to escape. As a recovering alcoholic and lifelong Batman buff, I felt connected to a feeling I believe is unspoken but relevant to the character, the actor, and the reality of addiction.
It’s almost ironic to me, looking back. To see a well-known and highly celebrated actor like Ben Affleck play my lifelong hero, and in the midst of critical divisiveness over his recent projects still have the strength to speak out about his hardship with alcoholism and the love of his family getting him through, it’s an interesting sense of empathy. Again, when his post says,
“… I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step…”
That is a strong statement. Batfleck has put himself out there with solidarity and compassion for those who are struggling with alcoholism and addiction. He may not be the first, but he is still a pretty prominent voice in Hollywood today, and that means something. He wants his own kids, and everyone else, to know they should never be afraid to ask for help.
A big piece of this we can all appreciate is that when successful professionals, artists or family-oriented individuals take a public approach to acknowledging addiction, it gives us all another perspective. Those on the outside looking in can see it in the men and women they admire. Their peers can be inspired to take a similar stand on self-improvement and raising awareness. Batman himself has said,
“I have one power. I never give up.”
Bruce Wayne is a man who dedicated himself to being a symbol. Ben Affleck is a man who has struggles and is choosing to have a voice. If more of us chose to have a voice, to take a stance and not give up, we could help others still who don’t know there is a choice.
It can be surprising to see so many successful people are recovering alcoholics and addicts. Sometimes we don’t realize our favorite artists and actors have dealt with something so difficult to get through. The more heroes we have every day that step up and share their message of hope, the more hope we may have that people seek the help they desperately need. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Probably one of the biggest misconceptions of recovery for people on the outside looking in, whether they are spectators or potential members, is that sobriety is boring. Many people believe that in recovery there is no room for excitement and adventure in the night life. Some people think it is hiding in meetings and holding onto a “Big Book” like a life preserver. So when we talk about the sober club life, people are frequently confused, sometimes even terrified for us.
But the truth is sobriety is about freedom. Some of us experience our recovery in different ways, and not everyone is the same. There is freedom in the fact you can practice your recovery in ways only you may have that intrinsic connection to. So the sober club life is not an theoretical concept, it is a gift some find in sobriety.
Now, as more young people are becoming active in the recovery community, the search for the night life in recovery is taking new form. New sober clubs are making waves and gaining fans all over the world. Now, one of the hottest Miami clubs is starting its own sober club life.
Sober Club Life: Daybreaker in Miami
In a city known for its nightlife, the sober club life finding such an exclusive spot something entirely new. Daybreaker, the early morning dance party, debuted at LIV nightclub this past Wednesday morning with a great deal of success. While it isn’t exactly a “nightlife” event, since it’s going down while the sun is coming up, it is a unique clubbing experience.
After over 4,000 people emailed Daybreaker about coming to Miami to bring its brand of sober club life to South Florida, co-founder Radha Agrawal told the Miami New Times,
“LIV then approached us to partner, and we are excited to help tell a different story and define a new way to connect and self-express.”
Instead of dark and brooding music, the soundtrack is fun and uplifting. Soul house, funk house, disco house. The goal is to start the day off right, with high energy and inspiration. The environment emphasizes joy, mindfulness, and intention. Last year Brimer went into detail about this, stating:
“We want to take out all the bad stuff associated with clubbing: the drinking and self-destructive behavior and mean bouncers, and just bring people together,”
The sober club life event begins at 6am. Tickets for the Daybreaker morning run around $20-$35. With growing popularity, some events have reached a crowd of around 400-500 attendees.
Sober Club Life: Daybreaker Lineup
The lineup for the Miami launch is currently a short list, but seems pretty legit. It’s not just for shaking respective groove things, but for a high energy start to the day. The big lineup included:
- 6am to 7am- Yoga with “rockstar yogi” Pablo Lucero
- 7am to 9am- Signature dance party with beats from DJ Alyx Ander
The idea is to wrap it all up in time for plenty of people to head to work. Since it is a morning affair, the menu makes sense.
- Instead of a liquor bar, there is coffee and fresh juice (of the orange or fruit variety)
- Instead of drugs, the club offers breakfast
The idea is to get the morning kicked off with dancing and movement, because these activities releases endorphins and other happy chemicals in the body. The Eventbrite for the Daybreaker states:
“Our goal is to bring Miami together with more mindfulness, wellness, mischief, self-expression and camaraderie.”
“With everything going on in the world these days, we need it more than ever.”
So, for those who want to start the day with sober clubbing, the Daybreaker give you yoga, dancing and good food for your good vibes.
Sober Club Life: My Experience
While I have not had the opportunity to check out the sober club life via Daybreakers, I was very fortunate to begin my journey in sobriety with a similar concept. A few years ago I was lucky enough to receive treatment at Palm Partners Recovery Center in Delray Beach, Florida. Every day starts off in pretty much the same way. After breakfast I was given a chance to dance with the community, with a colorful light show and live DJ. It was pretty counter-intuitive at first, but quickly became a highlight of the day. Over three years later, I am the DJ.
There is absolutely something to be said about getting up and active in the morning and what it does to set the tone for your day. I can only imagine Daybreakers is getting plenty of people looking for a sober club off to a great start.
Since my initial experience at Palm Partners, I can say I have continued the habit of being expressed, energetic and active in sobriety. I have been to raves with hundreds upon hundreds of people in Miami. I’ve had the chance to see a lot of awesome performers live in various venues across South Florida, and I have taken many opportunities to experience the fun that comes from the freedom of sobriety. All this makes me want to focus on one important concept.
Sober Club Life: The Freedom of Sobriety
There is a passage in the primary text of the 12 Step Fellowship that speaks on the freedom sobriety provides to those who seek it with honesty and thoroughness. It is possibly one of my favorite passages, and it states:
“He [the alcoholic] can go anywhere on this earth where other free men may go without disaster, provided he remains willing to maintain a certain simple attitude.”
There are those who would debate the interpretation of these words. In the context, the quote is referring to an individual who was once considered an utterly hopeless alcoholic by a great physician. This expert opinion tells him he will never regain his position in society. However, the paragraphs following the pages further express the incredible phenomena of “spiritual experiences” that create exceptions to the most hopeless cases.
Some may take this story as one of warning. I, however, have a different perspective. These few sentences give me great hope, because they assure me I am a free man in sobriety.
The important piece for me is the “simple attitude” I keep. I believe that for me to keep this amazing gift of freedom, I have to maintain my understanding of who I am, what my experience has taught me, and how I impact others. The design for living to me means being introspective in personal inventory, faithfully accountable to those I can help, and willing to seek more extraordinary experiences that will inspire a new perspective. That same 12 Step literature tells me:
“We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality – safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us.”
In this position of neutrality, I feel safe. The problems of the past, the obsession, have been removed. So I go where any other free man can go; clubs, concerts, anywhere that this new and amazing life has given me the opportunity to be, because I am a free man. A sober club life is nothing abstract at all; it is simply what some of us chose to do with the freedom recovery blesses us with.
Not drinking or using drugs is only the beginning. Life is so much more. I, as a man in recovery, must be willing to do more if I am to fulfill my life. That, in turn, has given me freedom. Taking the first steps can be the hardest part, but we want to help. You are not alone. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Alcoholism is a term that has been around for quite a long time, but over the generations it has been understood and treated in a variety of ways. Perhaps as the world and society evolves, so does the average alcoholic.
Either way you look at it, alcoholism is a very real threat. National surveys of recent years indicate:
- Nearly 19 million people in the US abuse alcohol, or have an addiction to it.
- In Europe, it’s estimated that 23 million people are dependent on alcohol
- Estimates say more than two million deaths resulting from alcohol consumption a year internationally
History of Alcoholism
The term “alcoholism” was first used by a Swedish professor of medicine, Magnus Huss (1807-1890). Huss turned the phrase in 1849, to mean poisoning by alcohol. While today “alcohol poisoning” is a more direct classification, alcohol-ism is still a poison in the lives of those who is touches.
Huss distinguished between two types of alcoholism:
Huss’s definition says this is the result of the temporary effects of alcohol taken within a short period of time, such as intoxication. Basically, it is having too much to drink.
This Huss calls a pathological condition through the habitual use of alcoholic beverages in poisonous amounts over a long period of time. A pretty innovative idea, and something that would be debated for over a century.
Since 1849, the definition has changed endlessly.
Establishing a definitive “alcoholism” definition is difficult as there is little unanimity on the subject. The reason for such a variety of definitions is the different opinions each authority holds, and the year the definition was formed. We have the strictest definition the dictionary provides:
- An addiction to the consumption of alcoholic liquor or the mental illness and compulsive behavior resulting from alcohol
We also have the concept presented by the book Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which gives stories of struggle and strength, experience and hope; the lives of many alcoholics who developed a manner of living through a plan of action rooted in 12 Steps. Here alcoholism is often described as a “physical compulsion coupled with a mental obsession”. The disease model of alcoholism has evolved overtime.
Early on 12 Step fellowships like AA were cautious about trying to label the medical nature of alcoholism. However, many members believe alcoholism is a disease. In 1960 Bill Wilson, one of the founders of AA, explained why they had refrained from using the term “disease,” stating:
“We AAs have never called alcoholism a disease because, technically speaking, it is not a disease entity. For example, there is no such thing as heart disease. Instead there are many separate heart ailments or combinations of them. It is something like that with alcoholism. Therefore, we did not wish to get in wrong with the medical profession by pronouncing alcoholism a disease entity. Hence, we have always called it an illness or a malady—a far safer term for us to use.”
These days, the classification of disease is commonly applied to alcoholism or addiction. Some have called them brain disorders. While some dispute the disease label, many believe it is the truest portrayal of alcohol addiction in the most severe form. The idea of alcoholism being a disease has been around since as early as the 18th century.
Many of the more up-to-date medical definitions do describe it as a disease. These definitions say the alcohol problem is influenced by:
- Social factors
Treatment of Alcoholism
When asking how treatment for alcoholism is important, there are a few specifically important elements to consider. When it comes to health risks of trying to quit cold turkey, it can be a lot more painful or dangerous than you think. Also, lasting recovery has a lot more to do with learning new coping skills and behaviors than just giving up the substance.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs when the central nervous system (CNS) becomes overly excited. Alcohol suppressing the activity in the CNS, so the abrupt absence of alcohol causes the CNS to jump into overdrive. In essence, your system starts overcompensating.
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome symptoms include:
The severity of the alcohol withdrawal syndrome can range from mild to very severe and even life-threatening.
Most treatment programs understand the importance of therapy at different levels. Group therapy helps people fighting addiction receive peer support. Individual therapy lets you work more intimately on these issues with a professional.
Holistic programs such as Palm Partners Treatment Program help you develop a personalized recovery plan to guide you in your treatment, setting benchmarks and goals while you are in treatment.
Some groups are more educationally-structured in order to teach you very important aspects for understanding the nature alcoholism, as well as ways to make major lifestyle changes. Holistic recovery is about more than surviving your struggle, but actually outlining a way you can thrive and move forward with healthy life skills. Finding the right treatment option can make all the difference in how you define your alcoholism, versus how you let it define you.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Over the holiday season, I acquired a part time job working as a virtual reality demo associate. It was amazing to see the impact gaming software could have on a person’s life. I saw people in wheelchairs enjoy the feeling of entering a different reality. I saw senior citizens enjoy the immersion of climbing a virtual mountain or sculpting a cat. Technology like this helps take our imaginations to a new realm.
Therefore, when I read about a company using a joystick to help with alcoholism, it fascinated me. An ongoing study in Berlin is using joysticks and alcohol-related images to help prevent alcoholic relapse. Some of the participants have said that the image-related therapy helped keep them sober.
Miriam Sebold is the study’s lead psychologist. In the study, participants viewed images on a computer screen and were told to use a joystick to push alcohol-related images away. They were also instructed to engage the joystick and pull images of water and other non-alcoholic beverages closer to them,
Researcher Hanna Lesch visited Charité University in Berlin, Germany where the ongoing study took place. She described the parameters of the study:
“Every click of a joystick results in a new pair of images,” said Lesch. “Pushing the joystick forward makes an image grow smaller. Pull in toward you, and the image grows. Sebold’s patients react strongly to images of alcohol and that is the basis of her training.”
Images of alcohol can sometimes make an alcoholic vulnerable. In the same way that Pavlov’s dogs reacted to stimuli related to food, alcoholics can react to stimuli related to alcoholic beverages. Non-alcoholics do not respond any differently to a glass of orange soda or a shot of vodka.
Lesch spoke with a study participant named Freddy while she at the facility. Freddy discussed how after his divorce, he began drinking daily—consuming at least two liters of beer and a few shots of hard liquor per day.
“I’ve tried to take a break from it more than a few times,” said Freddy, “but it was two, three days at the most. Then, I did some rehab, and then I did some more rehab. I was even in long-term rehab.”
Time after time, Freddy kept relapsing. Lesch understand that this is one of the “greatest hurdles” in the alcohol treatment world. The attempt to rehabilitate an alcoholic is difficult, and nearly 85% cannot stay away from alcohol.
“What it really comes down to is that this addiction is such a powerful illness, that again and again, you have these cases where the patients say, ‘I was dry for 10 years, and then I treated myself to a beer because I figured I could treat myself to something.’ Then, they relapse right back into this very strong addiction, where they’re drinking a bottle of vodka every day. These are very strong mechanisms inside their head that they have very little control over.”
To control these thoughts in the brain, they must learn how to rewire their thinking. In the experiment using the joystick, the purpose was to rewire the way the brain reacted to alcohol stimuli. In the case of Freddy, he found that over time, it was effective in reducing the temptation to drink.
Lesch described Freddy’s experience:
“During the training, Freddy noticed no changes in his own behavior, but then, he did. Whenever he saw a bottle of alcohol inside a store, he was reminded of the images he’d seen during the training.”
Freddy found that the test helped him stay away from the dark days of active alcoholism. He was able to avoid temptation easier, and best of all stay sober.
“Freddy has remained sober and the 64-year-old was proud to say he was even able to land a normal job,” Lesch said.
Now that the joystick experiment has shown positive results, the future for more studies like this is endless. The hope is to use this same procedure for other addictions and compulsions.
“As soon as they find out exactly where and how this therapy affects the human brain,” said Lesch, “the discovery could help lead to the development of new medicinal-based therapies. For Freddy, participating in the study has been worth it. Today, he’s doing his best to avoid even talking about alcohol.”
While this is not the first joystick study ever done, it is a positive contribution to the pursuit of finding proven methods to keep alcoholics from relapsing. What other ways could gaming be utilized to treat addiction?
Alcoholism is a serious disorder and there is temptation everywhere. Alcohol is difficult to avoid in a society that glorifies it as a social tool. However, a person who has alcoholism should avoid alcohol at all costs. Addiction is a serious disease that ruins lives and destroys families. Do not feel defeated. There is a way out. Call now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
For anyone who wasn’t influenced by the pop-punk rock music craze of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Sum 41 is a band from Ajax, Ontario, Canada that formed in 1996 and debuted their album All Killer, No Filler in 2001. They jumped to mainstream success with the smash hit “Fat Lip” scoring number-one on Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. That album went on to certify as platinum in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.
I know right… I had to listen to the song again just writing this. #2002 all over again!
They followed up with some periods of commercial and critical success. Their last project was Screaming Bloody Murder in 2011 which was met with mixed reception and never reached commercial success compared to previous works. Sum 41 was even nominated for a Grammy at one point. They still tour to this day, but not all original members are still on board.
The band’s leader singer, Deryck Jason Whibley is the longest-lasting member at this point. With the mid-June announcement that the band would be releasing their first studio album since 2011, titled 13 Voices, Whibley recently spoke about his latest work. He has attested it would be a single storyline about his journey through alcoholism. So now a popular punk-rock kid from the past is stepping in to speak out about substance abuse.
Rocking harder than it looks…
As a Grammy nominated band, Sum 41 had some rousing success. As a musician, it would seem Whibley had it all. He was married to Avril Lavigne, and was a success story in his career. But under all the hair dye, black shirts and ripped jeans he was torn up inside, too. At only 34 years old Deryck’s liver and kidneys shut down from drinking.
In one interview last year the Sum 41 singer opened up about being taken to the hospital and put into a medically-induced coma for a week. According to the musician he first woke up feeling great, but as he realized he had a collection of tubes sticking out of him the reality of the situation settled in. He told reporters,
“The doctors said I was lucky to be alive and that there was still a chance I could die.”
“Mentally, I don’t even want to drink again anyway. If I literally hadn’t done it to death, I might feel like I’ll be missing something, but I’m not missing anything. I’m done with it.”
His former wife, Avril Lavigne suggested that she helped Whibley stay off drugs since they got together. They stayed together about 3 years, and divorced in November 2010 on seemingly decent terms.
So if this story tells us anything, we have to understand that even for someone who found fame and fortune so young doing something he loved, drugs and alcohol still had the power over his happiness to some degree. Being wealthy and well-known doesn’t make you immune to addiction.
Moving forward in music…
Now that he is making a new move on his music, he talks about his choice to incorporate his addiction struggles into the writing the new Sum 41 album 13 Voices. The album is due for release in October. During one interview he stated,
“I would go as far as to say it’s a concept record about my entire experience. From beginning to end, I would say it’s chronologically laid out, which I didn’t intend to do at first. I just started writing and it came out. As it grew I realized what it was. At first, I didn’t want to do that. When you’re writing that personally, about yourself, you can fall into a thing or it just being a journal or a diary. As it started going I tried to find ways to make it sound more storytelling than journaling.”
So it would seem Whibley took his experience, strength and hope and laced it over gritty guitars. While he admits there may not be much warmheartedness on the album, it is a story about a dark time in his life. Not saying he hasn’t found some happiness in sobriety. Now sober, Whibley has remarried to model Ariana Cooper. Talking about his sobriety he said,
“There are so many exciting things now. So many things are new for me. I’d never done anything sober. Now there’s this whole world out there and things I’m realizing I’ve never done.”
This seems to be the same experience for a lot of people who stumble their way through a bottom to land themselves in sobriety. Somehow they are often surprised to discover the vastness of life they had been leaving unlived. Maybe for the first time in a while the band will be able to bring back some of that throw-back vibe and spread some message about adversity and overcoming. It’s cool for a blast from the past to pop up and make an effort to share their struggles in the name of their art.
Rock stars, actors and artists are among some of the amazing people who deal with the devastating disease of addiction and fight to overcome it and share their stories. You don’t have to be a celebrity to survive, or to make a difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135