What You Don’t Know About Ambien + Alcohol Addiction
If you’ve ever struggled with sleep and talked with a doctor, you’ve likely been given a script for a sleep aid like Ambien, one of the most popular medicines prescribed for insomnia.
When I was in my 30s, struggling with anxiety and opening a bottle of wine after work to unwind from the day, I went to my doctor for help. I was sleeping terribly and most nights I would wake up at 3 am with a racing mind and tingling body.
At the time I didn’t know the impact of alcohol on my sleep, or that 3 am wakeups are common for most drinkers. I didn’t tell my doctor that I was drinking 3 or 4 glasses of wine a night and I don’t remember if she asked about how much alcohol I was consuming.
I was happy and relieved when my doctor prescribed Ambien for my insomnia. It seemed like a perfect solution for my anxiety and my 3 am wakeups. Now I could go to work, come home, drink a bottle of wine and still sleep through the night.
Most people prescribed Ambien are not aware of the addiction risk that comes with long-term use. I know I wasn’t.
Ambien is a powerful sedative which comes with the risk of dependence, abuse, addiction and severe withdrawal symptoms. And more than 10 million prescriptions are written for Ambien (zolpidem) or Ambien CR every year.
In this powerful episode, we dive into Laura Cathcart Robbins’ moving memoir, Stash, in which Laura shares her personal story of addiction to Ambien and alcohol and the lengths she went to in order to hide it from those around her, from stockpiling pills to meticulously scheduling withdrawals between PTA meetings, baby showers and tennis matches.
Through her courageous storytelling, Laura reveals how she began the long and difficult journey towards sobriety as the mother of two young kids in the middle of a divorce and her journey to reestablishing her life and finding new love.
Throughout the episode, we discuss the power of vulnerability and the importance of telling our stories, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable they may be. We discuss accountability and the tools Laura used to stay sober, as well as the support that helped her the most. Laura talks about what she had to change in her life to stay on the path of sobriety and how her life has improved since she stopped using.
Laura talks about her drug of choice, Ambien, and why it worked for her as a way to avoid, escape, and ultimately not think about her problems. She also shares what stopped her from seeking help for so long, and what finally drove her to go to treatment. Finally, she offers advice to those who may be struggling with addiction and want to seek help.
We also explore the impact of internalized racism and how it can affect our mental health and relationships. Robbins’ journey towards sobriety and self-love serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for anyone struggling with addiction, mental health, or self-sabotage.
The journey of addiction and imposter syndrome is not an easy one, but it is important to recognize and address it. Laura’s story is a reminder that with courage and determination, we can overcome these challenges and lead fulfilling lives. We hope that her story inspires others who may be going through similar struggles to seek help and support.
Tune in to hear Casey and Laura discuss:
Is Ambien addictive?
- Why no amount of privilege protects you from addiction.
- How Laura’s addiction developed and the day-to-day work required to avoid painful and dangerous withdrawals
- Why the combination of alcohol and Ambien initially seemed to solve a problem and then became the problem
- The fears that stopped Laura from getting support
- Laura’s journey towards healing and recovery, including the role of therapy, inpatient treatment and support groups
- What Laura needed to change in her life to stay on the sobriety path
- The power of storytelling and how it can bring people together and create empathy and understanding
- Advice for anyone struggling with addiction or mental health
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Articles related Ambien addiction and withdrawal
Ambien is a medication that is commonly prescribed for anxiety-related insomnia and other sleeping difficulties.
Ambien is classified as a sedative-hypnotic that works to quiet and slow brain activity to induce sleep.
Why You Should Never Go Through Ambien Withdrawal Alone
Ambien addiction and anxiety
Long Term Side Effects of Ambien
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Ambien – Drugs.com
Ambien: Is dependence a concern? – Mayo Clinic
Connect with Laura Cathcart Robbins
Laura Cathcart Robbins is the host of the popular podcast, The Only One In The Room, and author of her memoir, STASH. She has been active for many years as a speaker and school trustee and is credited for creating The Buckley School’s nationally recognized committee on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice.
Her recent articles in Huffpo and The Temper on the subjects of race, recovery, and divorce have garnered her worldwide acclaim. She is a LA Moth StorySlam winner and currently sits on the advisory boards of the San Diego Writer’s Festival and the Outliers HQ podcast Festival.
Find out more about her on her website, https://theonlyonepod.com/
Purchase her book, Stash at https://theonlyonepod.com/book/
Follow Laura on Facebook @theonlyoneintheroom and Instagram @theonlyoneintheroom
Listen & Subscribe to her podcast, The Only One In The Room
Most people prescribed Ambien are not aware of the severe addiction risk that comes with long-term use.
The American Addiction Centers illustrates the risks of Ambien abuse and addiction in the image below.
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Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page.
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READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PODCAST INTERVIEW
Is Ambien Addictive? STASH With Laura Cathcart Robbins
drinking, people, felt, life, read, book, addiction, stopped, rock bottom, write, memoir, stash, night, pills, kids, women, substances, day, podcast, sober, self-care, self-examination
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Laura Cathcart Robbins
Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.
In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.
Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a buzz, how to sit with your emotions when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.
Hi there. Today we’re talking with Laura Cathcart Robbins, who’s the host of the amazing podcast, The Only One In The Room, and the author of a memoir called, STASH. That is coming out right now. So, I have been binging on her memoir for this entire week. It’s one of those that you read in its impossibly hard to put down. And we’ll just dive into it. So, Laura, welcome.
Casey, thank you so much for having me. And, and for the kind words about the memoir STASH, which I love to hear. It was a riveting read.
Casey McGuire Davidson 01:57
And just so we get started, since it’s just coming out now and most people haven’t read it. Will you give us a quick intro to what the memoir is about?
Yeah, it’s about a 10 month period in my life, where I was losing a marriage, or failing in a marriage. And I was kind of circling the drain with an alcohol and pill addiction. I had two young boys and I more than anything, I wanted to make sure that I was able to stay in their lives the way that I had been. At the same time, I was the parent association president at their school, I had just been asked to join the board at their school. So, I had this kind of, like impossibly big impostor syndrome. But I had this really big life, I was on a high profile marriage, I had these duties, these commitments, and I was a mom. And I was kind of in a leadership position and all those communities. And I felt like, I needed pills and alcohol in order to show up for it. So, it’s my journey to recognizing that and then what I do afterward.
Casey McGuire Davidson 03:11
Yeah, and one of the things that I noticed right away, was the idea that addiction can happen to anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, or income, or what everything looks like on the outside.
Yeah, yeah, it’s, I think one of the lines and the book jacket is,
Privileged doesn’t protect you from pain.
And so, there was this, it’s written from this place. I write it as a black woman. I also write it as a woman who recognizes her privilege, and her status, and I also write it as an addict. And, and you’re right, I was, you know, I kind of went my whole young adulthood except for like, there was one year where, well, it’s a year where I indulged in substances, but besides that, I had a pretty normal 20s and 30s. And thought that, you know, people who over drank or overused that that was their problem. And certainly, someone of my status in my community couldn’t have a problem because I wouldn’t be allowed to have problems, right? What would I have to drink and use over it? Because I had this beautiful life. I had these beautiful kids. For a long time, I had this beautiful marriage, and it didn’t stop it. It, you know, the, the addiction that that was, that is mine. Did not respect any of those boundaries. It was like nope, there is no barrier to entry. It’s time. It’s time for you to look at this and it’s time for you to recognize it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 04:49
Yeah. And I think that’s something that so many women can relate to, where they’re struggling with an addiction or they’re struggling with drinking too much or taking pills and feeling awful. And yet, the fact that they from external appearances are still holding on to job and responsibilities and taking care of their kids. Both gives them a reason to keep going and say there’s nothing to see here. There’s no problem, and also stops people from intervening and being honest with them as well. And I use that. And since you read the memoir, you’ve heard me talk about it. I, as long as everybody, thought I was okay. If I were impossibly put together, if there was no, if I showed it for my tennis lessons. If I was at every lunch and jewelry show and showed up for my, you know, appointments with my shopper at Barneys then nobody could say there’s a problem, because how could there be?
Yeah, you know, and it’s, it was such like, I thought everybody else was doing it for real. And I was the only one who was, you know, kind of trying to keep up the whole time?
Casey McGuire Davidson 06:06
No, definitely. I mean, I know when I was drinking, the constant thought going through my head was, why can I cope with life? Like it worked? Why can everyone else do this? And I can’t. And yet, the more I’ve done this work, I know you’re a podcast host. The more I’ve talked to people on the podcast, I’ve realized that most people aren’t doing it or aren’t doing it. Well. It’s just this like silent epidemic of it doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO, or a stay at home mom with everything in place. There’s this huge vein of maladaptive coping strategies with substances.
Yeah, I mean, I had some feedback from someone who read STASH the other day, she and I knew each other years ago, haven’t talked in years. And she’s like, and she doesn’t have a problem with drinking. But she’s like, I think everyone will connect to two kids under five. You know what that life looks like the demands of that life. And you know, how it starts for me is I want to treat myself, right? I deserve something. At the end of this, at the end of this day, at the end of this week, don’t I deserve something I need? I need some relief. And who would blame me? Honestly, it’s if you, if you saw my life, you would not blame me for needing a drink at the end of the day, or a glass of wine with dinner, or a sleeping pill to go to sleep at night. It’s all perfectly reasonable. But for me, that treat became more and more frequent until it was my norm. And then that’s when I crossed that invisible line and things started going. So, my solution, you know, which was a glass of wine, or a sleeping pill became my problem. But I still had the original problem. Right, that I needed the solution for in the first place.
Casey McGuire Davidson 08:09
Yeah, I relate to that so much, because I was always a drinker. I mean, I loved it from right when I started, but I started really worrying about it when my son was six months old, and kind of writing the notes to myself that oh, God, I think I have a problem. And I need to make rules and all that. Yeah, I stopped for the first time when he was five, and then went back to drinking after that, and stopped for the second time when he was eight, and my daughter was almost two. And it you know, at the same time, I was like, exactly, I deserve this. This makes sense. I have a big job. I have two kids, my husband, you know, doesn’t help me as much he’s away. And we’re told that it’s okay. We’re told, you know, here have a glass of wine.
I mean, everything that we see in the media tells us how important it is. Not only important, but as beautiful as glamorous. It is, you know. It is, what I mean for, I’m 58. So, do you remember the commercials that ended with it’s Miller time, right? Yes. They had this amazingly packed day or a good time with friends. And now, it’s Miller time. That’s Miller beer, and you crack one open and it’s like, it just enhances everything that you’re already experiencing. It’s not even telling you to drink when you’re down, or you’re you know, agitated or whatever, is not to settle down. It’s to enhance Yes, you know, and so all that messaging is really effective. Not just for selling booze, but for creating a mindset like a worldwide mindset. Yeah. This is something that people do.
Casey McGuire Davidson 10:04
Yeah. You know, I mean, I’m dating myself as well, I’m 47. But I spent 20 years in marketing, communications, and digital marketing. And I remember is a business case study presented as a positive, the way that Michelob VHS marketing plan went, which was, at first, the weekends belonged to Michelob. Right, then the Knights belong to Michelob, then SES belonged to Michelob. And then finally, some days are better than others, you know. Wow. And the idea was, hey, we need to increase year over year, our profits. And we do that by increasing our share of wallet amongst loyal customers, which basically translates to get people to drink, and get people to drink more often of this highly, highly addictive substance and make it seem like they’re doing it for themselves.
Yes, this is something. This is self-care. Yeah. Right. This is part of your self care regimen. Yeah. And, you know, and I’ve seen as I’m sure you have so many different news stories about how alcohol is alcohol is great for you. Because it I don’t even remember what you’re supposed to do. But it
Casey McGuire Davidson 11:23
Oh, yeah. Something about like, our talent groups are healthier. Yeah, painters and all those studies that are crap.
Exactly, exactly. And then there’s the other studies that show how detrimental It is to your health, but it’s poison is what it is.
And I remember going to my psychiatrist, and somewhat being oblivious, but also being embarrassed. And I told her that I was waking up every night at 3:00am. And that I was so stressed and that my job was just, you know, completely overwhelming to me, of course, did not mention I was drinking a bottle of wine a night I gave the standard answer of a couple glasses a couple of times a week. And she prescribed me Ambien. So, then I was drinking a bottle of wine a night and taking Ambien, which I don’t have to tell you how dangerous that is.
Oh, it’s first of all, that makes me go like, yes.
Casey McGuire Davidson 12:23
That you’re not the only one in the room. Yeah, no, just
like that sounds fun.
Casey McGuire Davidson 12:31
Why not? Like this problem, I can get drunk and then the night and it’s not a problem.
Right? But no, it is. I mean, that’s what the end of my drinking and using was I was drinking and taking lethal amounts of, of booze and pills by the end. And I really felt like I had no choice because there would be no sleep for me otherwise, and I had this, you know, I had a Filofax and so again, dating myself, this is before smartphones. And maybe smartphones were around I had a Blackberry but that was my calendar. And you know, I would pour over my calendar at night thinking, What can I cancel? What can I cancel? And if I couldn’t cancel anything, I had to get sleep. So, I could show up for everything. There was no possibility of not sleeping that night.
Casey McGuire Davidson 13:23
So, but it was sleeping. And when I read your memoir, at some point, it was also just not shaking, right? And getting Yes, various moments. Yes, the withdrawal was I mean, it the addiction is, is a monster, or my addiction is a monster. I think of it as a dragon sleeping in the back of a cage behind me. And I’m doing everything I can not to wake it up again. It’s been sleeping for, you know, little over 14 years now. So, we’re trying to, you know, keep that lullaby going. But the withdrawal, the detox that I would go through and more and more frequently, the more and more dependent I was on everything was a juggernaut. Like it was. It was why I stayed is why I didn’t get help. Which sounds really weird, but I knew that asking for help would mean I’d have to stop and then the withdrawal would intensify to a point where I didn’t know if I would survive. Yeah, in fact, I was I had to be medically detoxed. I could not have just stopped on my own. And I talked about the time where I ran out for a week in the book, and there were horrific consequences to that. So, I had to be detox so that I could have a chance of abstaining.
Casey McGuire Davidson
Hi there. If you’re listening to this episode, and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, The Sobriety Starter Kit.
The Sobriety Starter Kit is an online self study sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step by step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one on one coaching. And the sobriety starter kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it. And when it fits into your schedule. You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time.
This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step by step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking, from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better. You’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach, you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course
Casey McGuire Davidson 14:48
Yeah. And I think that’s really important for people to hear because, depending on how much you’re consuming, whether it’s pills or whether it’s alcohol, it is incredibly dangerous and sometimes lethal to detox around. So, there is help available. But not everyone can just go cold turkey and be it, you know, feel like shit, and have the shakes and the sweats and the brutal hangover. You know, it’s often you do need medical help, and it’s dangerous.
Yeah, people die. Trying to do that the people have not made it into the E.R. is where they belong and died at home or died on the way.
Casey McGuire Davidson 15:32
So, and because there’s so much judgment around it as well. Like, I’ve talked to so many women who are like, I don’t want to tell my doctor, I don’t want people in the community to know, I am a judge, a doctor a, you know, elected official. I, the board of a school, you know, my community, small or big or whatever.
Yeah, yeah. And, and that’s, and that’s the other thing that I hope this book helps with, is reducing the stigma around what addiction looks like. And, and I’m talking addiction to whatever it is, but specifically substances here. And because like you said, if someone like me, you know, someone who was coming from this, this place of privilege, who held this status, and her community could fall prey to this insidious, you know, addiction, then then really, it could be true for your best friend, or it could be true for you or your parents or your children. And, and to know that they’re not bad people because of that. They’re not weak people because of that. But certainly, there are people who when they ask for it are deserving of help.
Casey McGuire Davidson 16:53
Yes, absolutely. And compassion. Yes. Yes. So, I mean, I think for most of us, who end up, you know, having a truly unhappy and unhealthy relationship with substances. Yes, we start taking it for a reason. But there’s some reason that it works for us, that we don’t have to think about things or deal with things or we are better able to cope, or happier when were under the influence, at least in the beginning. So, you titled your memoir, STASH. And I know there are a couple reasons for that. Can you tell us about that?
Yes. I mean, picking a title for a book is a really interesting thing. It had maybe 20 titles before this. And they were all too long. They were all like, you know, two or three sentences. And, and then I whittled them down, but nothing quite fit. And I was going over the pages that my agent, my agent was my first editor. So, you know, the way it worked is I had sent 30 or so pages, actually to Holly Whitaker, who I know is also a guest on your show. And she’s a really good friend of mine. And she read them, sent them to her agent who loved them, sign me that Monday. She got them on a Saturday, signed me that Monday. And that was in November of 2020. November 2020.
Yeah. And then she asked me how quickly can you write this? So, I was like, you know, I was elated. I was signed by a literary agent that was like my dream. And so, I got to work, and I wrote it, turned it into her, final in April. But in between there, I was sending her pages and she was editing. We would always go back and forth on the title during that time. And I was going over that last pass before I sent it to her for the very last time and just noticed how important my Stashes were. And this has been my stash of booze, which I kept in my rain boots and my closet. My pills which I kept everywhere. I had little hiding places for my pills, not only in the house but in the car in my clothes and my purses. The you know, just, I had I had stashes literally everywhere. I know that people who have stashes would totally get that title.
Yeah. And then the other thing is, and I think you and I talked about this just for a minute. I had stashed away pieces of myself. I had a you know a stepfather who when I was the way that I when I when I was authentic when I was my authentic self-authentic six year old seven year old eight year old Laura. It rubbed him the wrong way. And things got weird in my house. So, I Started stashing those pieces away, that irritated him or annoyed him, or that he didn’t value. And that way I was able to make my house more peaceful. I did the same thing in my marriage, without asking, you know, is this something that bothers you? Is this something that we need to talk about, I would see a reaction, and I would immediately make an adjustment, and stash those pieces of my personality away, which I feared, might not be valued by him, him being my husband in the marriage, and it really was, it was really that, you know that that was the big my biggest problem. But I couldn’t get to that until I stopped drinking and stop taking pills. I couldn’t even see any of that, until I did that. And that may not be true for everybody. I know, a lot of people who have, even without a therapist, who have, you know, done some self-examination and discovered those things about themselves. But it wasn’t my story. I needed to go through everything that I went through in order to be able to look at any of that and see how I continue to course correct my life based on, you know, my perception of what I thought others needed or wanted from me, so that I was liked, so that I wasn’t uncomfortable, so that I could, you know, kind of sail under the radar.
Casey McGuire Davidson 21:25
Yeah, I mean, I think so much of that people talk about you, your inner critic voice that you internalized when you’re young to keep you safe and secure. Because you have so little power control over your life, you’re sort of taught who you need to be, and then carry that through adulthood when it’s really good to release that, because you don’t need it anymore. And yet, you’re almost doing it to yourself what other people have taught you or told you growing up.
Yeah. I mean, I, it wasn’t almost I was doing it to myself. There was there was no one in my life who was asking this of me. You know, when I look back, I can see that at the time. I thought everyone was asking me. Yeah, and, and that’s just how it felt. But that wasn’t the reality. I had no mirror to reflect back to me what was actually happening. I had no perspective. Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 22:25
Yeah. I mean, I remember that, even with my husband, we got together when we were 23. And his girlfriend prior to me, had some mental health issues, and, you know, some serious ones. And one of the reasons when we got together, he told me he loved being with me, was because I was good and confident and competent, and independent, and basically didn’t struggle with mental health. And so, 14 years later, we’ve been married 14 years. And I, you know, he had never said this, but felt like he wouldn’t love me. If I told him I was struggling with this, and therefore I just drank and then it got worse, you know?
Right, right. No, I totally understand that. It makes perfect sense to me. Why you would not reveal that and why you would just drink instead? Because, like I said earlier, that’s a solution for that. Right? It’s, I can treat it this way for a while. Yeah, maybe for the rest of my life. If I can have a couple of drinks or a bottle or whatever it is. And no one has to know. Yes, I’m taking that option, please.
Casey McGuire Davidson 23:39
Yeah, exactly. Well, what finally made you stop made you be like, I can’t function this way anymore.
So, the chapter I write about that, and it’s called rock bottom, I think it should be anyway, back to look, go back and look. And when the first readers when my editor and my agent read it, they’re like, this doesn’t really sound like a rock bottom. And I was like, I understand but it was, this was my moment of clarity. Because I had had incidents earlier on in my life and in the book, that might have been a better rock bottom for some people. Like this happened, you know, you’re hospitalized. That’s a big rock bottom. This humiliation happened. That’s a big rock bottom. But what happened was, it was Fourth of July, my I was by myself with the kids. I was out at our house in Malibu, and we were supposed to wait till it got dark and then go see the fireworks and I was in withdrawal, and I couldn’t wait, and I couldn’t go see them with them. And so, I sent them off with the neighbors and I had this experience there that was not I’m trying to think of the word is it. It just wasn’t like a big explosion of experience, even though there were a lot of exploding fireworks outside, it was just me settling into a surrender and going, I can’t continue like this anymore.
Yeah. And the admission that I was going to have to tell people, I needed help to myself, I needed to admit to myself that this was something that I was going to have to do, I was going to have to take action on it and not just, you know, kind of take care of it. And it’s very self-contained way that I had been doing. I needed to go outside of myself. And if I had been a single woman, I guarantee you, nobody would have known, I would have said I was going away for a vacation, I would have probably gone to some kind of lovely treatment center and been back. But I wasn’t I was I was still married, even though I was, you know, at the tail end of my divorce. I had two young kids; I had all these commitments. So, I had to tell people that I needed to go away. And so that was that was my rock bottom.
Casey McGuire Davidson 26:04
Yeah. And I know, in reading your book, there were some very legitimate reasons why you didn’t want to go to treatment or why it would have been hard for you, including that you were going through a divorce and your lawyer said don’t do this. You might lose your kids, or you know, you’ll lose leverage. I mean, that for every mother is terrifying.
Yes. And I’m laughing because she was so emphatic. She’s, she’s such a great character. She was, it was actually in retrospect, it was really fun to write about her because I have a different appreciation for our dynamic now than I did at the time. And you know, and she was right, so much, like so often. Rather, she was right about what she was telling me. I think she and I had different goals for the outcome, different priorities for the outcome of my divorce. And they weren’t always aligned. But at that moment, she was she had gotten all of her ducks lined up. She had no idea that there was an addiction.
And so, yeah, when I told her, she felt blindsided, she was just like, how can we fix this? How can we, let’s, you know, let’s wait and then I’ll send you to a spa to be very discreet, like, you know, like, but we can’t you cannot wave the white flag and go to treatment. Now, that’s out of the question. Because we will lose all these ducks that I’ve so neatly lined up for you to get the best outcome from this divorce. Yeah.
Yeah. And, and boy, I want it to do what she said, I really want it to be like, oh, yeah, maybe. Maybe I could wait, and just go to a spa later, which I don’t know what spa that is. Yeah, I think it would have had to have been a treatment center, whatever it looked like, but I knew because I’d had that decision in that rock bottom moment where I admitted to myself that this was the path forward for me. I couldn’t wait. And I pissed her off. You know, she was very unhappy with me. And I was very unhappy with me. But I didn’t feel like I had another choice.
Casey McGuire Davidson 28:23
You know, what I thought was interesting in reading it. I mean, I know that one of the biggest challenges for so many women in getting well is needing to draw boundaries and advocate for themselves in ways they never have before. I mean, so many women, I work with our high achieving people pleasers, which is very unique combination. That actually is right for addiction. And the biggest boundary that I saw you draw in the book when I was reading it was with your lawyer. And that’s kind of amazing.
Yeah, is thank you for noticing that high achieving people pleasers. I’ve never heard that that Oh, yeah. So, I’m so using that. I don’t have a pen, but I’m going to write it down afterwards.
Casey McGuire Davidson 29:13
You’re more than welcome to.
Yeah, thank you. Yeah, I again, we were at one of those impasses where she saw things one way and I saw things another and it was around finances, which is always tricky. Anyway, I don’t like to talk about I don’t, I will pay the check for 20 people, so I don’t have to haggle over the check. Like, I don’t ever want to talk about money. And I don’t want to talk about your money. I don’t want you talking about mine. And we were in a situation with a forensic accountant. And that’s someone who is hired specifically to go through finances, not just what’s in ledgers but go back through bank accounts and contracts and look at everything that’s marked as income and everything to allocate I mean to what’s the word I’m looking for, where you trace where that money is gone. Basically, you see where it was spent and, and maybe where it’s, it’s being banked or wherever. And it’s a really thorough examination. I think people compare it to like, a proctologist. You don’t want that examination. It’s like an audit. And so, the forensic accountant and my attorney and me we were going over these, these documents, and I mean, I probably had a panic attack. I’m not sure because I had no name for that then. But I was overwhelmed by the, no, this is not cool. I don’t want to be going over all this is this, this feels like Volturi to me, like, we can pick this, and we can pick that, and it just didn’t feel right to me. And I did, I had this surge of power. And I was able to draw a boundary with her about how I want it to go through that part of the process. And it astonished me. I know, it astonished her. She didn’t like that, either. But I was astonished by it. Because I hadn’t felt that way. You know, in maybe decades. At that point.
Yeah. Yeah. You know, I loved when you described in writing the book that that folks were like, that doesn’t sound like a rock bottom. Because, you know, me included, I felt like it wasn’t necessarily any particular incident that happened. It was like, the death of 1000 cuts, where I finally laid in bed and was like, I’m going to fuck up my kids and my life and my marriage and my health. And it’s going to be my own fault. You know? And, I mean, yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 32:00
I mean, my rock bottom was like, throwing up in the bathroom red wine at the age of 38 of a hotel in trying to not have my husband’s or kids wake up, you know? Yeah, having him say we were growing up the night before not remembering any piece of it. And literally, like, Is he fucking with me? And like, trying to play it off, you know, things like that, that. Finally, you’re just like, I can’t live this way anymore.
No, it’s exhausting. Yes, it’s the cover up. is so exhausting. Yeah. And that is and their paranoia and all that stuff.
Yeah. And then the trying to piece together like I was a pharmacist and a detective and a bartender, and, you know, and a mom and a driver and a wife and, you know, a tennis partner and all those things. But the, that detective thing, that sleuthing that I had to do when somebody brought up something I didn’t remember. Yeah. Or I didn’t remember it like that. Like, oh, wait, she was there? Or like trying to play it off, you know? Yeah, yeah. So, in my head, I’m having all these like revelations. But outwardly, I’m nodding along like, oh, yeah, I remember that. Oh, yeah. That was funny. And like, you just said, are they fucking with me? Did that really happen? Yeah, it’s crazy. That’s why I wrote.
Casey McGuire Davidson 33:27
Anyway, I don’t know. I genuinely don’t know. Have Noma and Ambien man. Ambien is, which is the pill that I was addicted to. It’s, I mean, it’s, it’s known for its interference with short term memory. When it’s taken longer than prescribed, which is usually a 10 day run a one 110 pill, you know, one pill per day for 10 days. And that’s, that’s what’s recommended for him. I don’t know, who takes Ambien, who’s like, Oh, it’s a 10 day run like it’s an MRI showing like, I have trouble sleeping. Yeah, where I take Ambien.
Exactly, exactly. But it does. It robs you of your short term memory. If you if you stay awake, once the pill is effective, you’re not going to remember, or I didn’t remember anything after the effects started. Yeah, so I that’s what I liked, though. I liked that feeling. So, I would try to stay awake. But then I would have no memory. So, I would have to I had to do it at night. You know, I had to make sure I was in bed. That I had to use the bathroom that my kids were asleep like it because I knew that there was going to be this period where I was, I was gone. And I was not I would not be able to respond. Should Anybody need me or want me during that is probably 10 minutes before it actually was effective enough to put me to sleep. And you know what a risky thing to do all that prep work for 10 minutes of a high before I fall asleep.
Casey McGuire Davidson 34:59
Yeah, I mean, I remember just the amount of work that went into keeping it all together when I was essentially like, knocking myself unconscious every night. I mean, I also remember very vividly knowing that I needed to set my alarms and make the coffee for the next morning, before I had my third glass of wine, like just, yeah, you know, setting five alarms and making sure that my emails were sent. And for high achieving women, I feel like, you know, we always think we don’t have any willpower or any determination when we’re caught in addiction. But you’ve been essentially running a marathon with a ball and chain around your ankle, like, you’re doing so much more work than the average person, because you are trying to do it all with this substance in your life.
Yeah, and I think for you said that so beautifully. It’s so true. And I think for many, while just speak for myself, for me, the abrupt juxtaposition of living that, you know, got to hustle life to not having to hustle for whatever it was anymore, but just living. It felt really uncomfortable. You know, because I had been so busy with my actual life and then controlling everything. Yeah, you know, on the side, that once that controlling everything factor was removed, controlling everything you just said, making the coffee, sending the emails, you know, setting the alarms, I forgot about that. I used to do that, too. I had two alarms that I was set, I had a nightstand alarm, like an actual alarm clock, and then my phone and not having to do that anymore was eventually a relief. But at first, I was just like, it’s like me now when I go on vacation. I need like a day. Yeah, to get into it. Because I’m, I’m, it’s like when you’re running down a hill when you’re little and you’re late, just keep going even when you want to stop, like, just can’t stop. I’m just in this momentum. And I need that time. But it was like that for me.
Casey McGuire Davidson 37:14
Yeah. Well, so tell me what treatment was like for you? Because I haven’t been, and I know that a lot of women who probably could benefit from it are terrified.
It’s terrifying. Yeah. No, it’s not. My experience was I had done enough research. I’m a really good researcher. I had done enough research to understand that I was going to be in a world of discomfort when I got there. I did not account for how I’m not a joiner. You know, I, I’m not I mean, even though I was in these leadership positions, I was not somebody who liked to join clubs or groups of any kind. And these, the treatment center that I went to was very communal. You for women sharing one bathroom was something entirely foreign to me. I was like, I hadn’t shared a bathroom with anybody. I mean, I barely, even my husband before I left. We, anyway, but I just in to sleep in a room with other people. Oh, my goodness, I and I couldn’t sleep. So, I was just up all night in these rooms with other people.
A lot of people, including Scott, my boyfriend, who was making all the noise when this podcast first started with his phone. He and I met the hour. I met him at the hour after I checked in and he was my dear friend while we were there. And then later on, boyfriend and now he’s my person, but he felt very safe there. He got there. And it was like, you know those cartoons where they run in and close the door and lean against it and go. Yeah, like, that’s what it was like for him. He was like, I don’t have to worry about drinking in here. I can just be for 30 days and not that’s off the table. I felt sentenced. I felt like this was, I felt like I failed. I felt like I was a bad person. I felt like I was the worst mom, the worst mom and leaving my kids. I never left my kids for that long. I hated it. I hated leaving them behind. I just, it felt all kinds of wrong for me. And I will say that it was a good experience because what happened next was it set me up for the sobriety that I needed but didn’t want. But had I not had that break had I not had the tools that they gave me in there. I might not have taken the path where I never took a drink or a drug again, you know, again, 14 plus years later.
So, I’m not down on treatment at all my experience there was I was kicking and screaming the whole time. I don’t know if I did that, literally, I might have but not the whole time, but at some point, but I just I was the one with my arms folded, and finding all the differences, taking everybody’s inventory. I was the only black one there, including the folks that work there, except for one guy that checked me and who I didn’t see again after that. And it was just, you know, it felt very isolating. For me, it was Wickenburg, Arizona, no shade on Wickenburg, Hello of your throne there. But it was hot. It was fucking 114 degrees when I did. And I say it was like breathing like the sucking on the business end of a blow dryer the whole time. There were tumbleweeds that kind of ran alongside me as I walked. It was stark, an environment that felt very unfriendly and hostile. And one, which I had no experience with. I was not happy there. But like I said, I, I believe it to be a good experience for me. And they took really good care of people, you know, when you needed to medically detox, right?
So, that I had to. Yes, I had to medically detox but beyond, beyond the actual detox and the medical part of it, they treated it, they just took really good care of people. And, you know, I was allowed to call my kids, which not everybody was like starting that first night. Because I was so devastated by it. And I think they recognize that my kids came to visit me halfway, which was extremely hard and wonderful. And also, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done is still is saying goodbye to them when they left that time. But the other moms that were there, I think they felt really supported. And like their decision to go was validated over and over and over again, like this is the right thing to do. Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson 42:13
And when you got out, it sounded to me and reading in reading your memoir that you had a lot of requirements because of your divorce that helped you not immediately go back to using Is that true? Like therapy and testing and some other stuff?
Yes, I, there’s a part in the book where I call my Lawyer, Dr. Nancy, because she gives me this prescription for my life. Since I didn’t get the good prescriptions anymore, she gave me this terrible one, which was that I had to do all these things, like you said, and number one was drug testing, and no one had asked for it. She just thought for us to be you know, as prepared as possible for the mediation that she would like to have proof. Should anybody say well, I don’t even know if she’s been sober this whole time or whatever. She’d be like, Ah, she’s been drug testing twice a week ever since she left treatment and everything’s clean, which was great strategy. It was never called into question, but it was great strategy. But it was also the foiling of my plan, which was to pick up a prescription that had refilled while I was in treatment. I was always waiting for refills to be ready to come up. Like I have a refill on this date. I have a refill on this date. And I was waiting for that refill. Couldn’t get it before I went in it. It had come up while I was in treatment, and I wanted to go get it and you know and take them as prescribed.
Yeah, that’s what that was. My dream is and it was. It was a daydream. It was an evening dream. It was what I sat up all night thinking about. And she said we’re going to do twice a week drug testing. And I knew I couldn’t beat that. I didn’t know how like, I’m really crafty. But I actually didn’t know a lot of these things like how to do anything that was kind of the workaround. So, I probably could have done some more research and figured it out. But I was just like, I’m beat I and she’s telling me I got to go to meetings, and I got to get chips and I had to get a sponsor and I had to go to therapy twice a week and reengage with my life. You know, these are all things that I would probably have probably told people that have recently stopped drinking to do to show up, you know, in their lives again, to take the action to not let their feelings dictate their actions, which is huge. Meaning that if there’s if you have priorities if you have non negotiables that you need to meet, and you don’t feel like doing them do them anyway. Yeah, it doesn’t matter how You feel just do them anyway. And that’s what that’s what Nancy was telling me.
Then she was saying, I don’t care how you feel. These are the things you need to do. And they worked. You know, I didn’t pick up the refill. I ended up getting engaged in my recovery. I ended up reconnecting with my friends, I ended up doing some uncovering and discovering about my myself that self-examination I did with my therapist. Which was brand new for me, too. I had seen psychiatrist to get drugs before, but I had never been in therapy. So, it was it was like, I came to scoff for sure. I was like, this is not going to work therapy’s bullshit. And she was she was just I don’t like the word magical. But she was.
Casey McGuire Davidson 45:46
Yeah. Well, I had done therapy before I stopped drinking and went and talked about everything except my drinking, which was a huge elephant in my life that I was keeping hidden. And once I stopped drinking, I was about four months sober, I went to therapy. And it was so helpful, but I couldn’t have done it, honestly, while I was still hiding this huge portion of my life that was impacting everything.
Isn’t that funny how we do that? Yeah, we like to edit what we’re going to bring to the people that we’re hiring, to help us.
Casey McGuire Davidson 46:27
And you know, it’s funny, when you were talking about all the things you were doing, you know, I did all the things to make me better, or to help me drink less. That wasn’t actually stopping. Like, I would sign up for, like, 5:30am Boot Camp classes, so I wouldn’t drink the night before I still drink the night before I would write sign up for like running classes at 7:00pm. So, I wouldn’t drink and then I just go running come home, open a bottle. Like, oh, I’m going to do hold 30 because I can’t drink. Like, that didn’t work, either. You know, I was like, counting everything else. And they’d be like, well, you know, so we do all these things to stop drinking, or to drink less, or like you said to just like, manage it. So, you’re like, a “normal” person somehow not getting addicted to this addictive substance?
Well, if when one participates in society, or at least the society in which I live this little ecosystem, when I’m invited out, not anymore, but then it was either for drinks. Yeah, or for dinner or lunch, where drinks were to be had, what are you having? You know, if it was water, that was a disappointment. Oh, you’re not drinking, you just have a cocktail, you know, just like have something. And so, the pressure is on if you’re not, you know, imbibing or participating the way other people are so that, that resolve to do whole 30 or to not have a hangover in your 5:30am Boot Camp. Is it goes out the window?
Casey McGuire Davidson 48:09
Yeah. Yeah. And people are uncomfortable. If you don’t, they want to know why. Or they feel like, well, then I can’t drink in. That’s right. It’s threatening. Yes, yes. Or they’re like, Well, you’re not that bad, because they don’t see half of what you do. And you know, it’s just confusing to them, because it’s so much a part of our society. I know your life has changed incredibly, since you stopped drinking your personal life, your work, writing this book, your podcast. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re doing now and how you got there?
Yeah, I think the thing that’s most important is that when, during my first year of sobriety, I was just hanging on. Everything was like, let me just get through this. I was still enduring everything, just without the award reward rather, at the end of the day. I’m a voracious reader. I read all the time. When I was a kid, I wrote all the time. I’ve always journaled when I got sober, I lost my appetite for reading and writing. And my therapist said, this, this is normal. You know, some people stop having sex, like you’re reevaluating, like things are healing, and it’ll come back. And you know, around five years sober, it hadn’t come back. And I started to get really worried. I didn’t read anymore. I mean, I read I read emails I you know, I wrote thank you cards I did. That’s incredible. Five years, but no reading for pleasure at all, and no writing for pleasure. And I thought I lost it. So, and during this time, Scott and I were dating. We didn’t live together yet. We had this batting order where our recovery came first and our respective families came second, meaning his kids, my kids, he has two girls, I have two boys, and then everything else came third.
And so, we really kept the boundary around that. And I concentrated on that recovery and my kids for those first five years, and that’s it. Like, that’s really all I did. And then when I started to look around it five years, and I still didn’t feel like reading or writing ever. And people still sent me books, because they know I love books, but they were just piling up and I wasn’t reading any of them. I started to get worried. So, I took some action, and I started taking these classes. The other thing about me is I didn’t graduate from High School. I never went to college. So, I don’t have a formal education.
Books were my education. You know, I just read everything I could get my hands on. That’s how I know anything about anything. But you know, besides my actual physical experience in the world is from is from reading books. And so, I started taking these classes, I went to UCLA Extension, which is here in Los Angeles, where I live, both in person and remotely. They were ahead of the game. And I started making myself right. And then so fast forward to like, you know, when I was 10 years, over 10 years later, it was starting to come back a little bit. Like, I was starting to enjoy it. But I couldn’t stop taking classes, I had to take classes all the time, I had to be writing all the time, because I wasn’t writing on my own. It was like having a trainer for exercise. Like I won’t exercise on my own, but I’ll exercise with a trainer.
And in 2018, I went to this Writer’s Retreat and wrote this article afterward about being the only one in the room, about being the only black person out of 600 people. And it was the first article that I’d written that ever got published. And it got published by HuffPo. And it went viral, which I didn’t really understand the impact of until that article. And the response was overwhelming. And basically, it was like we get it, and we want more. Like, that’s what people were saying to me. So, Hollywood hacker reached out to me, then that’s how I met her. And she’s like, I just read this article, can you write for the temper? So, I started writing for them. I was continuing to write for HuffPo. I started the podcast in 2019. As one of the foundations of the author’s platform, I was hoping to build and then the book in 2020, which I just told you about was that was November of 2020.
When that started and my agent signed me and then we sold it to Simon and Schuster the following summer September. And you know, now it’s out in the world, which is just crazy to me that this this. It is like a birth. It’s like an incubation like, like a pregnancy and then also like a birth. And so, my life looks like my two kids are grown. My older son is a Chef, my younger one is a Screenwriter and a student, kind of we’re working on the student parts still, he has just like a few more credits to graduate, I want him to get his degree. My ex-husband and I are super friendly. We’re still in each other’s lives, we still celebrate our kids together. Scott and I have lived together for the past eight or nine years. And he’s like I said, he’s, my person. He produces the podcast. He produces me like he’s really my brand builder. He does the videos, he makes graphics. He does like, he does the website. He does like all that stuff. And I get to be the Host, Creator of this podcast, and I get to write which is my now again, favorite thing to do.
Casey McGuire Davidson 53:50
Yeah, that’s incredible. Because you know, I know anyone who reads this book, you said it’s a 10 month period of your life. And you get so invested in then you’re like, Okay, what happened? Like how did it turn out? So, thank you for sharing that. Because I think it’s really interesting.
And I always read the acknowledgments because again, I’m curious about like, what happened.
And I wanted to talk to you even more, because there were, you know, various people in your acknowledgments that I was like, Oh, they played a huge part in my sobriety, too. So not only Holly Whitaker, who I took her Hip Sobriety Class when I was 60 days alcohol-free. And I also listened to her Home podcast back in the day with Laura McKowen walking before I ever stopped drinking, like just listening to them over and over again. But you also mentioned Stephanie Wilder Taylor, as one of the things so long before I quit drinking, I had my son I was like the queen of the mommy happy hours like I would buy her books, you know, sippy cups or not per Chardonnay, trying to be happier, like I gave them to my friends at baby showers. Like, I was so deep in the mom wine culture.
And then, when my son was maybe a year old, I went down to get coffee at my office. And I saw on the front page of the paper, this article that said, you know, The Queen of Mommy Drinking Culture Gets Sober and bought it, read it, snuck it up to my office, you know, found it online, copied it, put it in a Word doc, titled something else, you know, this is seven years before I finally stopped.
Wow. And I mean, she was so brave. When she had so much invested. I think she still had a book coming out that was mommy drink. She did. Yeah. And she announced that she had a problem with Alcon stopped, like, literally three days after she did it. I mean, for me, it took me more than 100 days to say anything more than I was doing a health challenge. And I’m friends with Sarah Dean, who you also mentioned in the acknowledgments live love. Yeah, I think for so many of us, there are these little divine breadcrumbs of just people who tell their story, that it may not stick for eight years, but the seed is planted. And like, you know, there’s someone else out there who has struggled with this. And that’s why I love your book, because you’re so honest, and vulnerable. And someone out there is going to read it, and they may not be ready for decades, but they’re going to remember what you said.
Thank you for that. That is so beautiful. And that’s for, That’s The Hope. That’s the hope is that, because I wanted a book like this when I was getting sober. I just didn’t see any that addressed. The issues I was dealing with, you know, certainly not no woman of color. Yeah, I could find that had anything like this going on, but also no one coming from this place of privilege, who was kind of, you know, showing up for her life the way that I was and, and I really appreciate that. And, and just a quick side note about Stephanie, because I love her, too. I love all the women you mentioned. She has a book coming out that she just turned in on sobriety. It’s funny. Oh my gosh, is so funny.
Casey McGuire Davidson 57:37
All right. I would love to have her on. So, I mean, I’ll connect you with her. She’s fantastic. But yes, I want to just give that, but I don’t even know the title. She maybe she doesn’t have a title yet. But the book is coming out. She just turned it in. We’re actually imprint mates at Simon and Schuster.
Casey McGuire Davidson 57:55
Oh, that’s awesome. I love hearing that. That gives me chills. Well, thank you so much for your time. If people want to obviously read the book, listen to their podcast, find out more about the work you’re doing where’s the best place?
The best place is our website which Scott maintains theonlyonepod.com And the opening page is STASH and then you’ll see all the podcasts episodes bios, all my speaking, if you want to book me for speaking that’s on there. Like every, it’s all housed in one area. It’s really super simple, super simple to navigate. So, theonlyonepod.com.
Casey McGuire Davidson 58:31
Great. And I’ll put that that link in our show notes along with your bio and all your information.
Thank you. Thank you.
Casey McGuire Davidson 58:38
Thanks so much for coming on.
Oh, of course, Casey, thank you for having me.
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more.