Stereotypes in Recovery by Rose Lockinger

We’ve all experienced - or are at least aware of the many stereotypes that go along with addiction. People who aren’t educated make all kinds of assumptions about the person who is addicted to substances. For example, the stereotype that all drug addicts are criminals, or the stereotypical image of the “wino” sitting in the alleyway, clutching a brown paper bag.

We know full well that all types of people can become addicted. No matter where they come from, what their race, education level or status in the community, there are plenty of addicts who defy stereotypes. There is also the assumption that states, 'once an addict, always an addict,' that implies the person addicted to substances is permanently broken and can’t recover. Of course, this isn't true. Recovery is possible. We’ve seen it. Whether it is through treatment or a 12-step program it is possible to recover from any type of substance addiction. 

Stereotypes and roles don’t end with active addiction, though. There is plenty of that going on within the recovery community. We can poke fun of it and nod our heads in recognition if we see ourselves in these stereotypes, but we should also be aware that there are pitfalls to separation within our community.

Common Characters You’ll Find In Recovery:

  1. The Book Thumper Crew: These are the “I carry my Big Book with me wherever I go, quote it copiously and will beat you over the head with it if need be” folks you may find yourself shying away from.  The AA “Big Book” is a well-known and well-loved text and a rich resource of information and support for anyone, anywhere on their journey to recovery. With that said, there are some members who can’t seem to have a conversation without quoting from the text, or referring to it for guidance on any topic. These people feel that the answers to all their problems (and yours) lie in the Big Book, and will often criticize or ridicule those who aren’t as devoted to the text.

  2. The Life Managers Disguised As Sponsors:  Sponsors are another wonderful source of support. Each sponsor/sponsee relationship is different. The main purpose of a sponsor is to help their sponsee get through the steps. For many though, a sponsor is also a friend and a mentor of sorts, and someone to bounce thoughts and ideas off of. Ideally, this person has good recovery, has worked all twelve steps at least once and often (although not always!) has more time in recovery than their sponsee.  However, there are some that take their role to the extreme. These folks may mistake micromanaging and controlling behavior for sponsorship. They may become overly involved in their sponsors lives, and even become intrusive or harass their sponsees.  Another variety of life managers in recovery are those that like to “Call you on your sh*t” in an effort to “help” you. While it’s always good to have honest friends, these particular people are really just overly critical control freaks who disguise their need to gleefully point out your character defects as being a concerned friend, when really they would just rather point out your defects rather than work on their own.
  3. The Thirteenth Steppers And Serial Daters: The term “Thirteenth stepper” isn’t necessarily an official term, but most people with any time in recovery knows exactly what it means. Unfortunately, not everyone in recovery has good intentions, and some are sicker than others. The thirteenth stepper is a predator of sorts, and often has years of time in recovery. This person will often pursue people who are brand new in recovery, often with only days or weeks sober. This is a balance of power issue, and the results of this behavior can be disastrous. Men and women are both guilty of this, and it can be a very serious problem for all involved. This is also an ethics issue. The person new in recovery is vulnerable, and generally hasn’t had time to develop the coping skills and support system necessary to get through the heartache and grief that comes with the end of a relationship. Many newcomers who get “Thirteenth-Stepped” relapse, and many never come back. Less insidious, but sometimes just as much a problem is the serial dater. This person goes full speed ahead into each relationship as though they’ve just found their soul mate, only to have things fall apart in a few short weeks or months, sometimes longer. Then they are at it again, often with no break in between (or sometimes they overlap). This goes on repeatedly. It’s not unusual for the serial dater to walk into a meeting and realize they’ve dated half the people in the room. It makes for some awkward situations, to be sure.

  4. The “No Matter What Club”: These shining members of the recovery community are heroes. Just ask them. These are people, who if given the choice, would undergo open heart surgery without anesthesia or pain medication. These are the people who fire their psychiatrists and stop taking their meds, and who refuse pain medication no matter how many teeth they get pulled out. They don’t use mind-altering substances, NO MATTER WHAT. And they make sure everyone knows it. There is a subtle, and sometimes not so subtle attitude that people who do take medication are somehow “less recovered” than they are.  The danger in this type of thinking is that there are those who must take meds. This is particularly the case with those who are prescribed psychiatric medications. While it’s true that psych meds are often overprescribed, there are many recovering people who are also struggling with mental illness, and who must take medication in order to remain healthy, productive members of society. Too many well-meaning sponsors in this club try to play doctor and tell people that they shouldn’t take medication. Or, they may even try to dictate whether someone is truly sober based on their taking prescribed medication.  This is a type of bullying, really, and another danger is that people may be less likely to come forward and talk about their medication with friends or sponsors. This secrecy is what can lead to relapse.

  5. The Twelve-Step Police:  The twelve step police generally know the literature inside and out. Although twelve step programs don’t really have “rules” they are happy to make them anyway. Much of this policing is around terminology. The two main twelve step programs are Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Their main difference lies in their primary purpose. AA is about helping members to abstain from drinking alcohol. NA considers alcohol to be a drug, and does not distinguish one drug from another. If you are abstinent from alcohol, you are sober, and if you are a member of NA who abstains from all drugs you are clean. Nothing rattles the twelve step police quite like hearing someone accidentally say “sober” at an NA meeting or “clean” at an AA meeting. You’ll recognize them immediately, because when this transgression occurs they turn beet red and may start shaking.

  6. Marijuana Maintenance Crew:  Usually, these are AA members, for obvious reasons. Because they are “sober” they are okay with smoking a little marijuana. You can’t tell them that they aren’t sober, because they haven’t had a drink in years. This creates some issues and some confusion. They are often quick to point fingers at relapsers or those that don’t work a good program. Just relax, man.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

As you can see, there are some distinct divides in the recovery community. People who take medications or don’t use the right terminology may feel intimidated or excluded in meetings. People who come into the rooms vulnerable and new may feel pressured by “old-timers” to engage in sexual relationships. And, some people have not yet learned to curb their need to control others and may inadvertently run a person right out of the rooms with their zealous nature. It’s important that we stay open-minded to these issues, and try to be kind to one another. Twelve step programs save lives, every single day. But, they are not perfect, and there is no such thing as working a “perfect program.”

Whether you are a member of AA or NA, or -- gasp -- both fellowships, you are a member of the recovery community. We need to support each other, and recognize that each of us has our own journey. We should never hinder another member’s journey by pressuring them or bullying them. We should also always be aware that there are plenty of people out there who are more than happy to judge us, so let’s avoid judging each other. We should make sure our meeting rooms are a safe place for everyone. Our lives depend on it.


Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

 

How Social Media is Revolutionizing the Recovery Community

Technology is an amazing thing. Advances in just the last 50 years have given us Star Trek level gadgets and the internet has opened up new frontiers in the realm of communication, education and employment. The advances show no signs of slowing down, and who knows where we’ll be in another 50 years?

Another recent invention that has revolutionized the way we communicate and connect with one another is social media. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and recent additions like Snapchat are now firmly rooted in our society.

How Social Media Impacts the Recovery Community

As a recovering addict, I’m well aware that anything can become a problem, and the internet is an especially tricky realm. Internet addiction is real, and social media is sometimes seen as a barrier to connection; a cheap replacement for face to face interaction.

That aside, I’m going to talk about the positive aspects of social media, because there are plenty. Specifically, I’m going to talk about how social media and hyper-connectivity have benefited recovery. I’m going to talk about how social media is helping to connect people in recovery and how it’s even helping to combat stigma.

My Experience w/ Social Media & Recovery

Currently, I belong to three different Facebook groups that are recovery-oriented. One is a group specifically for women in recovery, the other is a support group for mothers. Another is one that provides support for those in recovery or struggling with addiction.  An advantage of this group is I have seen posts where people are searching for drug detoxes and treatment. Often individuals in recovery can provide them with suggestions based on personal experience with a center.These are private Facebook groups that are not visible in my feed. I do realize that social media does present some privacy and anonymity issues, however.

A good majority of my Facebook friends are in recovery. On any given day I will see numerous posts talking about recovery topics. I also follow a few people in recovery on Instagram and Twitter, and I’ve watched convention speakers on YouTube.

Since I moved to Virginia, I was able to keep up with my recovery friends via Facebook, and Facebook messenger. I’ve even face-timed with my previous sponsors a few times. 

While I think most people will agree that social media recovery is no substitute for face-to-face recovery, I do think it’s an important tool, especially for those who are isolated by either geography or other reasons. For example, although I am lucky to live in a town that although small offers at least 2 different meetings a day.  I know for many this is not always the case. For the person who lives in a more remote area, or who lives in a town with few meetings, it’s difficult to stay connected to recovery. But with social media, it’s possible to “plug in”  to a robust, active and welcoming community of like-minded individuals who are available for support regardless of where they live.

If you think about it, this is truly amazing.

Other situations that may make it difficult for a person to get to meetings or otherwise interact in person may include both physical and mental health disabilities. For the person who has barriers to regular meeting attendance or support, social media tools can provide the lifeline that may keep them clean and sober one more day. Tools like Skype , Facetime and Google Hangouts can allow interaction with sponsors and support groups, and could even be used to host meetings and speaker events. The possibilities really are endless!

Which Social Media Channels are the Most Recovery-Friendly?

While any social media platform can be used to encourage interaction among the recovery community, Facebook is probably the most versatile and commonly used. Facebook allows for the creation of private groups and events. My recovery community is fairly active, and regularly puts on parties, get-togethers, volunteer events, recovery birthday celebrations and outdoor activities. These are often announced via Facebook events.

Staying Balanced

While social media can be a useful tool in recovery, it can also be detrimental. It shouldn’t be used as a substitute for in-person interaction. It’s all too easy to do. I’ve been guilty of limiting my interaction with friends to “Facebook stalking” many times. In other words, I see that my friends are doing well, I “Like” their posts and I send them birthday greetings, but I haven’t seen them or talked to them on the phone in months. Still, it feels like we are connected because of our online interactions.

This is dangerous, because recovering addicts can easily become isolated and not realize it. Lulled into thinking that I am staying connected, I may go days without picking up the phone or seeing someone in person. Not good. I need to make eye contact with my friends. I need to hear their voices and I need their hugs. Social media is wonderful, but it’s not a substitute.

Squashing Stigma

Finally, another way that social media and the internet is helping addicts, both recovering and non, is by playing a role in ending addiction stigma. Social media puts stuff out there. It raisesawareness. Thanks to social media, people have access to information they never had before. In the past, all you had to rely on for information was radio and television media, books and your known circle of people. Now, we have access to an endless supply of people’s experiences, opinions and discoveries. People, including public figures, are coming out online to talk about their personal addiction and recovery experiences. There are blogs, there are educational journals, there are websites devoted to addiction and recovery topics. The list goes on, but the point is that we have access to information that previous generations didn’t. Information is power, and it breaks down barriers and helps to raise awareness and end stigma that comes from a lack of good information. This is the power of social media. We can spread the word and help end misinformation, lack of education and stigma through our stories. We can reach out to the still-suffering addict in ways we never could before.

What ways can you utilize social media in your recovery? How can you reach out, stay connected or spread the word? 


Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

 

Moving In Recovery: It’s Possible, Not Easy!

by Guest Blogger, Rose Lockinger

Moving is a huge change. This is especially true if you are moving a significant distance, such as out of state. Which is exactly what I did.  Six months prior I had decided that it was time to move home to Virginia.  I had to leave! The safe little cocoon I had made in South Florida was over and it was time for a metamorphosis.  A change.  A word that I have never been fond of but am learning to appreciate and accept in recovery. I was scared, actually petrified is a better word.

People underestimate how traumatic a move can be, even one that you are happy about! Under normal circumstances, it’s a huge adjustment, but for those of us in recovery, it can be even more challenging.  Especially if you're like me, I needed a schedule it gave a me sense of order and security.  Prior to getting sober my life had been chaos and a schedule gave me a routine something I had never known before.

One thing, I heard over and over in early recovery,  is how important a support group is. I know, I know, it’s important, and a huge part of recovery. But it’s so hard and makes me feel really, really uncomfortable.

Building a support group requires time and effort. Lots of, feeling like an awkward human, not something I enjoy or probably anyone for that matter.  I mean they do say that life happens out of your comfort zone.  Moving for me meant starting again though to be honest. I must disclose that I knew people in the rooms in Virginia.

I spent 4 months attending meetings everyday and trying to work with a sponsor. Except there’s a catch (you can’t do much step work when you can’t stay sober). I finally gave in and asked for help going away to a drug detox and treatment.I knew people at home, but that didn’t take away the fear of judgement. This, thank god, was not the case.

Although, I left my sober support behind in Florida, I found that within the first two weeks; I had a new sponsor, a home group and reconnected with old friends. You know what's even more amazing that almost 30 days into my relocation I have a support system that rivals the one I had in Florida.  The best thing is that it's not as bad as I thought it would be. Wow! Imagine that I catastrophize--but I’m not an alcoholic, right? 

 Normal people struggle with big life changes, do you really think that we ie (alcoholics) can handle them without having to work really hard.  Just saying. It’s good to keep in mind big changes are frequent catalysts to struggles, and possibly relapsing. It doesn’t have to be that way.  Being prepared, having a plan and staying proactive are all effective coping tools to deal with change.

Preparation can smooth the way as you transition into your new environment. This gives you time and space for you to develop a new support group, and staying in contact with your old one and being proactive in your recovery.

I am not saying it was easy.  This month has included a lot of tears, quite a few pity parties and lots of phone calls.  I spent a lot of time reaching out and talking about my F@#$ing feelings.  I’m not a huge fan of feelings.  But it's hard to argue with results.  When I talk about and process my feelings.  A miracle happens I can move on with my day and don’t stay stuck in my head.

Moving is a busy time, and stressful time.  A lot needs to be done to get ready.   A lot of work is required for the actual move.  Honestly I f#$@ing hate moving.  I’ve moved a lot, you would think I would be used to it by now.  No that’s definitely not the case unfortunately it hasn’t gotten any better, maybe a little worse. I had a nice routine going and now it's changing and I’m not exactly thrilled.

I planned my move six months in advance, I went to meetings at home in Virginia, I got phone numbers and I even got a temporary sponsor before I left Florida.  I also finished my steps.  I found a therapist. I also agreed to go to 5 or more meetings a week no matter what.

 All of these are proactive and helped make this move successful.  Like I said before, it's still been difficult and challenging. At times I questioned why I had even thought I could do this. In the end like everything else when you face your fears you gain confidence and break the bars that held you back.

I moved home and my parents graciously offered a place to stay until I got my own apartment. I know! I wasn't thrilled about it. But it actually hasn’t been that bad.  Amazing how being sober changes a relationship.  I actually contribute to their lives instead of taking away. Like I used too.

I was lucky my job is letting me work from home so I didn't have to get a new one. I had to take a chance and start to make new friends. I started calling people and setting up lunches, coffee dates or just chatting.  It’s uncomfortable but it's getting better.  I have my kids on the weekends so I’m thrilled about this part. This is why I moved home. It was time for me to come home a be a mom.  This was an answer to many a prayer.  I am also studying for my licensing exam for massage therapy. So overall I feel exhausted, overwhelmed and really, really busy. But really happy.

So what are specific things you can take if you are moving as well?

I rememberedwhat I did when I was brand-new in recovery? What did I do? 

When I left inpatient treatment, I took a deep breath and I dove in.

I went to meetings every day, I got a service commitment. I went to an IOP program (This is one that did not apply). I started to meet people and all of those choices helped build a foundation for my sobriety.  They allowed me to grow and build my life again in a new place.  Well not really new actually my old stomping grounds. 

No matter where you are in recovery now, you know what it was like in the beginning.

Here are some simple steps I took:

  •  I called people a lot of people. I called new people, and I called my old support group.
  •   I accept invitations to coffee, dinner and activities. But I also invited people that I connected to go to coffee or lunch.  You may feel awkward push past that!
  •  I got a service commitment right away.
  •  I found a new sponsor before I moved.  Go to some meetings in the new place if you can.
  •  When I feel isolated, overwhelmed or even think of using.  I tell people. I tell on myself.  Talking about it gets it out of my head.

This program has given me a support system in 30 days.  People I can call anytime and they will help!  Wow that’s pretty impressive.  Don’t know of many other people that can say that happened!

Don’t Put Off What Needs To Be Done

Moving to a new place and making friends is scary. It’s easy to find a thousand excuses to keep me at home. I was tired, I needed to unpack, I just wanted a quiet night at home.  What I really needed to remember is whatever I put front of my recovery I would lose. So I kept the momentum going.  A month in, andI have to say, I’m shocked and grateful at how welcome and connectedI feel.  I know that as time passes things will change again and that’s ok!  I am starting to learn that change is good not bad.  I don’t have to be afraid, in my life today.  Change holds nothing but promises and possibilities. All the changes in the last year have always led to something better, even when I couldn't see it.


Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing. 

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

 

Healthy Sex In Recovery: What Does It Mean?

by Guest Blogger, Rose Lockinger

Sex is a complicated issue and there is a lot of variability as to what is normal.  Prior to drug addiction or alcohol addiction, people may struggle with sexuality; what constitutes healthy sex, and what their feelings about sex are. There are many reasons that contribute to this confusion around this issue: perhaps sex wasn’t talked about at home, perhaps sexual abuse occurred, or perhaps sexuality was considered immoral or “dirty” due to religious or cultural beliefs.

Sex in Addiction vs. Sex in Recovery

Addiction has a significant impact on our behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs about sexuality-- for many reasons. Sex is often used as a means to support addiction, or a way of getting others to give the addict drugs, and drug use can lead to erratic behaviors, which can lead to sexual violence and abuse.   It is common for addicts to feel guilt and shame around drug use, sexual behaviors, and habits, which can lead to body issues and low self-esteem.  They also lead to a lack of boundaries and fear of intimacy, which adds to the confusion and frustration. By the time a person gets into recovery, sex and sexuality is often seriously distorted.

What Happens When You Get Sober?

When someone gets sober issues around sex and sexuality are not automatically resolved, and for some, may seem more difficult to cope with. Let’s look at some of the reasons why.

Sober Sex Can Feel Scary

It is not uncommon for people to become sexually active around the same time they begin using alcohol and drugs. This is partly because both tend to occur in adolescence, and partly because drug and alcohol use often leads to premature sexual activity. The problem is that the person who becomes an addict may rarely or possibly never experience sex when sober, which is why sober sex can lead to feelings of awkwardness, inadequateness, and intense fear.  

Trauma and PTSD are real issues

A recent study stated that up 70% of people entering treatment for substance use had experienced trauma, and many in early recovery have experienced trauma and PTSD as a result of sexual violence.  If left unaddressed childhood sexual abuse and other issues may lead to continued substance abuse. Sexual violence can range from sexual assault at the hands of strangers and acquaintances, to sexual violence within a relationship. When entering recovery trauma creates challenges to staying sober, but can also contribute problems in new relationships. It is strongly advised that individuals seek support in order to heal from their past experiences. Some treatment centers offer EMDR which helps with PTSD and trauma.

Lack of boundaries creates bad relationships and unhealthy sexual relationships

Boundaries are a common issue for newly recovering people. Active addiction creates unhealthy and unsafe behaviors that don’t just go away when you stop using. Some examples of poor boundaries include:

  • Having unprotected sex
  •  Engaging in sexual activity when you don’t really want to
  • Using sex as a means to gain love, affection and approval
  • Engaging in sexual behaviors you don’t feel comfortable with because you feel     unable to say no
  •  Alternately, it also creates abusive and predatory behaviors, such as: Coercing, intimidating or manipulating people into having sexual relations
  • Not taking no for an answer
  • Ridiculing, spreading rumors, bullying or other forms of sexual harassment Using sex to manipulate or control people

 Using Sex as a Substitute

Addiction isn’t just about drugs or alcohol. It can manifest itself in a variety of ways. It’s not uncommon for the newly recovering person to quit using and then find other ways to feed their addiction. Common replacements include food, shopping, gambling, working, exercise...and sex.

Acting out sexually has consequences. It can create additional guilt and shame, damage self-esteem and create wreckage.

Difficulty with real intimacy

Most people long for a romantic connection, lifelong love and meaningful relationships. The problem is that many of us are ill-equipped to actually create these things. It takes time to undo years of damage, and to learn the skills of communication, respect, honesty and openness necessary to actually have those relationships. Yet, we tend to barrel, head first, into relationships that we have no idea how to manage, searching for our soulmate, only to be disappointed time and time again, or worse, to end up relapsing over heartbreak or unhealthy or abusive relationships.

Real intimacy is a challenge for addicts who have repeatedly been hurt, who have built up sturdy walls to keep themselves safe, or who don’t know how to have a real, honest relationship, because they don’t even really know what that looks like.

So, what does healthy sex In recovery look like?

This isn’t an easy question to answer, because each person is different and has a different story, different needs and different values.

At its most simplistic, one could say that healthy sex in recovery is consensual sex that doesn’t violate either party’s personal values, that doesn’t manipulate, harm or cause wreckage. In other words, a real, adult relationship based on love and respect, not fear-based self-centeredness. But how does this happen? It takes work, and patience.

Doing the work necessary to allow yourself to get to a place where healthy relationships are possible is not easy, but it’s so worth it!

Consider temporary celibacy

This is something that is strongly advised in early recovery. We are told to “avoid relationships.” Some people take this to mean “avoid relationships, but casual sex is fine.” The idea of being celibate, even for a brief time, is often met with alarm. We want what we want, and we want it now! Fear of missing out tends to drive many recovering addicts to act without regard to consequences. Impulse control also plays a part. But, there are huge rewards to reap when you take a break from sex, and romantic relationships, including:

  •  You get a chance to actually work on yourself.
  •  You are less likely to harm yourself or others.
  • You are more likely to maintain long-term sobriety.
  • You are more likely to attract a quality relationship when you do decide to start dating again
  • You will quickly find that exercising these boundaries increases your overall self-esteem, self-worth and self-trus t.

And, here’s the deal: You aren’t going to miss out on anything. Sex, relationships and love will still be there, so don’t worry.

Work on you!

et help for yourself. Yes, participating in recovery, working steps and the help of a sponsor and support group can work wonders, but there are some issues that do require some outside help in the form of therapy. If you have been sexually abused or assaulted, or have other unaddressed trauma, or behavior patterns that you just can’t quite shake, know that they won’t just fade away with time. Do yourself and any future partners a favor and get some help.

Figure out what you want

If you have never entertained this seriously, it’s time to. What do you want? Often, people get so hung up on trying to be everything to everyone else and trying to please others that they never even bother trying to figure out what they want, what they need and just as important, what they don’t want. Take your time and explore this.

Don’t compare yourself to others

This is a dangerous trap. What seems to work for someone else may not work for you. Take the time to find out what makes you happy. Don’t worry about what others are doing. Some people are more naturally open and free with their bodies, some are more reserved. Some don’t get as emotionally attached, and some do quickly. Some people aren’t interested in monogamy. One person may be excited about the prospect of finally exploring their sexuality, while the next person may benefit from a period of extended celibacy in order to give their attention to other areas of their lives. Some may need more time to heal, and some may bounce back quickly. You are an individual, and it’s important that you respect your journey.

Be kind to yourself

Learn how to be content and comfortable with yourself. Do things that inspire confidence, self-worth and self-trust. Don’t depend on outside validation from others, it will never fulfill you.

Here’s the good news: Healthy sexual relationships when you are in recovery will be a completely new experience and worth waiting for. You are completely present in the moment.  It’s also important to note, that wow, you will be able to feel the whole process both physically and emotionally. You can have the open, honest, satisfying and intimate connection you’ve always been searching for.  First you have to work on you, get the healing you deserve and need, so that your past does not become your future again!


Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram.

 

 

 

 

SOBER EXPERIENCES: From Addict to Author, Shannon Egan

Sobriety Date: January 28, 2011

Sober Experiences is happy to have Shannon Egan’s journey from addiction to published author; she’s made quite the turn around since becoming sober. She does not shy away from being a convicted felon, in fact, she uses her experiences to fuel her current success.

WHAT IT WAS LIKE

“Hi, my name is Shannon, and I was an alcoholic and addict for nearly fifteen years of my life. Today, I have five years in long-term recovery, and I’m not just sober, but I’m happy, healthy, and thriving both professionally and personally.

I’ve been able to transform my life from an experience of shame and darkness to one filled with light, love, forgiveness, and acceptance. I’ve come a long way considering that in 2011 I woke up in a jail cell (for the fourth time in my life) with a horrific hangover, still slightly intoxicated, and refusing to believe that I had an addiction problem.

But for me, the process of eliminating shame from my life wasn’t easy.  Even after two years in recovery, only a handful of close family members really knew the extent of my addiction, that it was once so debilitating I couldn’t go a few minutes without a drink in my system or I’d be in extreme mental, physical, and emotional pain.  Very few people knew that when I got drunk and high for the first time at age of seventeen, I was immediately hooked. They didn’t know that by the age of 21, I was a hardcore alcoholic and opiate addict with one DUI under my belt. They didn’t know I’d done jail time or been court-ordered to 60 days of house arrest and three years of probation, or that I was a felon and couldn’t operate a vehicle without an interlock.

I was ashamed and embarrassed. I feared isolation, rejection, and judgement by my peers and community members.”

THE JOURNEY

After a couple years in recovery Shannon took a leap of faith. She decided that sharing her story would be the catalyst to positive change in her life as well as others.

“I was ashamed and embarrassed. I feared isolation, rejection, and judgement by my peers and community members.

In 2012, after two years in recovery, I realized that even though I was sober and had come very far in my recovery process, I was stuck emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. One night before bed I realized why: I was hiding a huge part of my life journey, and through this one seemingly small act I was, in a sense, isolating, rejecting, and judging myself.

That night I decided to take a risk and spill my guts in a 500-word status update on Facebook. In my update I shared my addiction story, including many of the things I was most ashamed of. My ugly past was finally out there for everyone to like or dislike and even comment on. It was terrifying, but at the same time I felt so incredibly free.  The next day I woke up to find that the post had been shared around the world, and in less than eight hours, it had garnered over 400 likes, 140 comments, and spurred a ton of messages in my inbox from people I knew and didn’t know. Their feedback pretty much all said the same thing:

Thank you for sharing your story. You’ve given me hope that recovery is possible.

I couldn’t believe it. Many of the people I thought would judge me were accepting and supportive. They had family members and friends struggling with addiction too, and some were trying to find recovery themselves.

This experience helped me to recognize something truly life changing: all human beings suffer.”

TO BE CONTINUED...

Check back in next week for part two of Shannon’s story, as she talks about her life now and discusses her book, No Tourists Allowed.

Subscribe to our emails below and we’ll let you know when her follow up is published. Also, follow us on social media to find out more!

Pro tip: check out Shannon’s instagram, it’s amazing.

The Importance Of Creativity In Recovery by Rose Landes

Throughout historysome of the most famous musicians, painters, authors and poets have shared a common thread. They all battle with personal demons that haunt them and are evident in their life and work. Whether it be mental illness, addiction or a combination of both they all share the theme of tortured soul. This is something that one can see both in past and current time.  Perhapsthere is some sort of connection between creativity and substance abuse and mental illness.  I could name numerous individuals whose personal struggles were reflected in their lives and works.

Which Came First?

One rather pervasive belief is that substance use enhances creativity. As someone who was also under this belief, myself.  I get it.  Perhaps in certain situations there could be a case for this. Looking at the fact that many great songs, poem and works of art and literature were conceived during bouts of substance use, it’s easy to see how that belief has been enforce. But, is it true?

There is no evidence that substance use increases levels of creativity. If anything, it simply lowers inhibitions, which can possibly make creating easier for those who suffer performance anxiety or lack of confidence. However, the creativity is already there. Accessing it feels difficult sometimes, but a lot of it is a personal block. The idea of creative “blocks” is something that people talk about, but is often simply the need to take a break and recharge, or do something different to get inspired.

Addiction Kills Creativity

Unfortunately, many of the artists who have relied on substance abuse have later found it to be their downfall. Addiction is a progressive disease. While many people go on for years abusing drugs and alcohol, it does catch up. In some cases, the isolation, constant craving and the drama that goes with addiction ultimately leads artists away from creating and into a life of degradation, depression and poverty. Often, it leads to death. The music world is a perfect example of this, with so many of our legends gone too soon.

Are Addicts More Creative People?

In childhood many addicts prior to substance use were sensitive, inventive individuals who felt a pull towards creativity in all its form in childhood. Drugs and alcohol did not nurture this aspect of them.  Perhaps it allowed them to feel less inhibition during the creative process. While each person is an individual, it seems overwhelmingly clear that a good majority of addicts share a creative, sensitive and intelligent mind, that too often becomes tortured. This is something that in addiction treatment programs is a well accepted aspect for someone suffering from substance abuse.  As most offer some type of creative therapy to help them get back in touch with this aspect of themselves.

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues among addicted people is common. It is not uncommon for individuals who struggle with mental illness to turn to substance use to self medicate.  Again, this has nothing to do with creativity, this is simply unaddressed mental health problems which are compounded with the use of substances.

Unfortunately, many artists feel if they get treatment for their mental illness, or stop using drugs and alcohol, they will lose their “creative edge.” This myth is so widely accepted that sometimes it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Recovery And Creativity

Addiction changes the brain. It altersneural pathways, and it wreaks havoc with the neurotransmitters that create that feelings of well being. When addicts stop using, the brain undergoes tremendous changes.  Over time the brain works to heal the damage done by addiction.

For the creative person, there is probably a time where it may be that their creativity is enhanced through substance use.  However this time period is short due to the progressive nature of this disease.  As the disease takes over the creative output dwindles and eventually dies.  Sometimes it may be hard f to realize it just takes times for the brain to re-balance itself.

The Importance Of Creativity In Recovery

Whether you think of yourself as an artist or not is not important.  Take the time to find out what you like.  A Lot of people are surprised by abilities that they did not know they even had.  Expressing yourself is vital to a healthy recovery.  The more new experiences that you have the more new neural pathways you create. When you do this you are helping your brain not only heal but also grow.  Often you can get in touch with, and feel emotions a way that is more difficult if you were just talking about them. This is why Art Therapy is often offered as an option in treatment.

Sometimes, people get so caught up in the mechanics of their recovery that they forget to do this. They are busy going to meetings, groups and being of service. They are trying to find jobs and become productive members of society. Particularly for those who feel they have “taken” a lot in their addiction, there is a sense of responsibility. Playtime is over, it’s time to be a grown up, and do grown up things.

But, creativity is part of who we are. And, it can help your recovery. Living creatively allows recovery to stay fresh and keep dissatisfaction and restlessness at bay.

How To Be Creative In Recovery

Creativity like a muscle needs to be used and it important that you use the it even when you are not feeling creative. Surrounding yourself with other clean and sober creative people is one way. Building community in recovery is one of the most powerful things you can do to protect your sobriety.

Search for like-minded people. Take a group painting or sculpting class. Go to a play or a symphony. Find other people that share similar interests and visit a museum. Host a weekly writing group. You are not the only one who may be struggling with creativity, or who is yearning for a creative outlet, so put it out there and you will see results.

How To Boost Your Creativity

It’s important to remember that creativity is a process.  While you cannot make yourself become creative you can nurture it with practice.  If you are a writer, artist or musician, you may panic when you find you can’t write the songs or your inspiration has left you. The temptation to use may hit you if you don’t step back and realize your creativity hasn’t abandoned you. It needs to be nurtured and practiced over time.  Just like everything else in life the more you do it the better you will become at it.

First, start with taking away expectations and putting pressure on yourself to perform. It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time. Getting sober is a shock to your system in so many ways.  Cut yourself some slack and as Nike says “Just do it”. Good self-care is important for your brain to be able to.  Take breaks to allow the ideas to simmer and marinate.  You may be surprised by what you come up with.  Eat good foods, sleep well, surround yourself with supportive people who respect you and who value creativity. This last one is so important, one surefire way to have your creativity squelched is by spending time with naysayers who don’t support you!

Finally, expose yourself to art. Sometimes, the well does run a bit dry. When this happens, it’s time to refill your cup. Don’t limit yourself to your own type of creativity. If you are a musician, don’t just listen to great music, read some poetry. If you are a poet, go to a rock concert. If you are a painter, go take a walk in nature. 

_______________________________________________________________________________

Rose Landes is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing. You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

 

 

 

The Recovery Source Blog: No Tourists Allowed: Seeking Inner Peace and Sobriety in War-Torn Sudan

Published on the Recovery Source Blog 2/13/16

As I sit here soaking in lavender oil and the ease of Sunday morning, I reflect fondly on the irreverent way I left war-torn Sudan. I was, in every sense, a heartbroken girl fleeing in a panic, and due to my PTSD I was headed for the super-nova of downward spirals. According to Hollywood—and its promise of a cookie cutter ending—I had failed the quest.

It wasn’t until rewriting this story after I had nearly four years of consecutive recovery time under my belt that I saw the beauty in the true story, the one about struggle and darkness, the story that told of a real person on a real mission to find inner peace. This type of expedition is mainly foul and insufferable, but at least it gets your blood pumping and heart racing. Today I know that asking questions and not fitting in doesn’t make me rebellious or a bad person; it makes me a soul who was born to break the mold and to challenge what is. Sudan, with all its harrowing experiences, helped mold me into a talented and strategic writer, and now I utilize this skill to spread the message of hope to those seeking for recovery from addiction, too.

But I only obtained this clarity after immense suffering. When I first landed a contract for this book I was still a punk kid, a real royal egomaniac. The first draft of the story, as my agent, Carolyn, told me, was filled with anecdotes, but lacked depth of character. Carolyn was, in her roundabout way, saying that in my current state of active addiction, I lacked depth of character. Of course, as an alcoholic, I was sure she was wrong and I was right, and so I pressed on writing and drinking the night away. What happened afterward—the multiple DUIs, the loss of my dream job and book contract, the four years of court-ordered probation—led to experiences of incredible humiliation, rejection, and despair. At rock bottom, I nearly lost my life several nights while drunk driving (and could’ve harmed another). Fewer than five years ago, I was in a maroon jumpsuit in the Salt Lake County Jail with very little hope of ever making it this far.

At the time I couldn’t see it, but my fall from grace was a gift. Ultimately, the suffering led to the obliteration of my ego, that mask we all wear to appear tough and unbreakable but really serves to hide our insecurities and suffocate the budding potential within.

Suffering was the conduit that led to the inner peace I’d been searching for all my life.

I’m still Indy—intent on taking out the bad guy—but instead of focusing my efforts on the hoodlums of the external world, I focus on the only one I’m responsible for: my ego. The good news is that the hooligan within is less lethal, and knowing that my dark side is the catalyst to unleashing my great potential allows me to enjoy the experience of being an imperfect human in this rowdy, haphazard world. Hostility and peace-making—these are the contrasts inside all of us. The true battle of good versus evil does indeed lie within. As warriors on Earth we’re here only to conquer our own perceptions so that they are beacons of love and compassion for everyone. In our own way we are all ships battling the harsh and lonely waters of life, desperate for a space to rest our weary heads and experience peace. By transforming our perceptions from judgement to love we transcend ourselves and heal the planet. This is our great work.

And so, my friends, let us heed the call.

Editor’s note: Shannon Egan lives in Salt Lake City and is an author, international freelance journalist, and advocate for addiction recovery. Despite training as a writer on humanitarian issues for the United Nations, Shannon prefers sharing her personal stories of addiction and recovery to infuse hope in those still struggling.

Shannon Egan
Author, Journalist, Addiction Recovery Advocate

www.ShannonEgan.com

author@shannonegan.com

Twitter: @ShannonEgan101

Facebook: ShannonMaeEgan

Instagram: @ShannonMaeEgan

Gripping. Vivid. Thought-Provoking. Get your copy of Shannon's first book for only $1.99

No Tourists Allowed: Seeking Inner Peace and Sobriety in War-Torn Sudan.

  

Shannon Egan Celebrates 5 Years in Recovery

Five years ago I crashed my parent’s car into a ditch and ended up in jail with my 3rd DUI-- and with that I became a convicted felon. Today, I am a public face and voice for recovery in my community and the National Recovery Movement, and I’m so honored to carry the message in order to#SquashStigma and infuse hope. However, after publishing my first addiction memoir, No Tourists Allowed, I was reminded that I am not just a woman in long-term recovery, but much more. 

Prior to my felony, I was writing about sexual and reproductive health issues in emergency settings for the UN Population Fund in NYC, which required an in-depth understanding of how the ‘culture of silence’ surrounding sex further exacerbated life threatening situations for families and communities around the world. I was an avid reader and researcher, and I had dreams of traveling the world, and writing many books that empowered readers and challenged the status quo in creativity, spirituality, sex, addiction, religion, and so forth. 

At five years, the time has come for me to live a more balanced and authentic life. Besides working for USARA and advocating for recovery nationally, I want to take my creativity and sensuality (gasp! 😱) to the next level through #Cosplay, and develop more networks outside of the recovery community. 

This year, I will publish my second memoir, Sex, Drugs & Recovery (which picks up after Africa and takes place in NYC), and in 2017, I’ll publish a third: Girl Gone Global, which will feature a variety of travel stories and humanitarian issues that didn’t make the first two. One day, I hope to go back out into the world and wander for a while (with my cats in tow, won’t that be interesting!) 

I hope you’ll join me in the quest to live more authentically--despite the judgements of others. I believe it’s an opportunity for individuals to practice tolerance —if they’re awake—and gain a deeper understanding of the concept of multiple pathways in all things. 

As Steve Jobs put it, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” 

💫 As for me, I choose to live my life boldly and with great passion. 💫

Thank you for sharing the journey with me, Shan. 

 

SOBER NATION: New Memoir Advocates that Self-Direction is Critical to Healing and Personal Success

ShannonEganFeatured1.jpg

sober nation blog January 22, 2016

by Brittney Evans 

Upcoming author and addiction recovery advocate, Shannon Egan, recently published her first memoir, No Tourists Allowed: Seeking Inner Peace and Sobriety in War-Torn Sudan.

The book highlights Egan’s struggles growing up in a Mormon community in Utah, and her life in Sudan where she worked as a freelance journalist for the United Nations, reporting on events like the Darfur genocide.

The opportunity to travel to Africa was the native Salt Laker’s childhood dream. Sudan was also a place where, under Sharia law, alcohol was prohibited. For a woman already struggling with alcohol issues, she hoped it would help her stay sober.

“Sudan was hard to overcome. It was in the middle of a genocide and civil war, and after writing about humanitarian crises for two years, I returned home traumatized. This led to an epic downward spiral into addiction.”

Upon returning stateside, Egan wrote on humanitarian crises for the U.N. Population Fund in New York City while her own addiction issues grew to include prescription drugs. Eventually, her addictions cost her both her job and a book contract. In 2011, she ended up in jail with a Felony DUI.

Addiction and Trauma

Egan says she left for Africa not only to sober up, but to escape Utah’s unique religious culture where oppression and persecution against non-Mormons is still very prevalent. She grew up in a Mormon household and says as a young person her desire to seek God differently than the predominant religion caused great heartache. After years of being bullied and ostracized ‘in the name of God’ she turned to drugs and alcohol in order to cope.

Following her 2nd DUI, Egan was court-ordered to attend AA groups, and since the AA program is based on God or a Higher Power, she relapsed after each meeting. While today she has no problem with these concepts, back then–due to her strict religious upbringing– she associated both with humiliation, rejection, and manipulation. Egan tried to explain to the judge that she needed individualized counseling so she could deal with these issues in private, but her request was ignored.

“Throughout most of my life, I had to deal with one adult authority figure after another telling me, rather forcibly, what my relationship with God was supposed to look like, and being denied the right to self-direct as a struggling alcoholic seeking recovery within the criminal justice system further exacerbated the original wound.”

Educating about Multiple Pathways

Now, nearly five years in recovery and working as a Recovery Advocate for the National Recovery Movement, and as the Development Director for USARA, Utah’s recovery community organization, Egan says she is passionate about educating both the government and the recovering community that there are multiple pathways to recovery, such as SMART Recovery, LifeRing Secular Recovery, trauma counseling, nutrition, and many more.

Instead of the traditional twelve-step or treatment approach, Egan’s personal recovery journey has included reading, meditation, journaling, and fitness. For this, Egan has received a great deal of judgment from the recovery community regarding which path is the “right” path — just as she did growing up within her Mormon-dominated community.

“Life is tough enough and figuring out how to quit drugs and alcohol can be an excruciating process for individuals who are already demoralized and heartbroken. Why project our method of recovery onto someone without considering their personal traumas and goals?” Egan writes in No Tourists Allowed.

Self-Direction is Critical to Healing and Personal Success

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is charged with improving the quality and availability of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitative services, recognizes that every individual’s life is unique right down to his or her trauma experiences, and that these experiences affect and determine an individual’s pathway to recovery, and that at the core of each person’s recovery path is first and foremost: the right to self-direct it.

SAMSHA even defines recovery as a ‘process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.’

Egan says, “By sharing my story, I hope to facilitate a positive conversation around addiction, recovery, and religion throughout the world. It’s time for us, as community members, to accept that there are a variety of well-proven methods to establish health and well-being. Perhaps there are even multiple ways to connect with God or spirituality or a higher awareness or whatever one prefers to call it or not call it. The point is: if it is not our life, it is not up to us, and therefore it is not our place to judge.”

In No Tourists Allowed, Shannon Egan weaves through tough issues of addiction, amdition, spirituality, altruism, culture shock, and trauma with grace and honesty. Individuals who have never struggled with addiction have found this story completely relatable. It is a story of coming into oneself in a big, complex world.

Readers have deemed No Tourists Allowed the “ultimate solo travel adventure,” and compared it to Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling addiction memoir, Wild. Available in paperback and eBook: www.shannonegan.com.

Watch Shannon on Good Morning Utah: Learn More About the National Recovery Movement and No Tourists Allowed

Contact Information:

When Tragedy Hits Home, We MUST Do More

Addiction is a deadly epidemic affecting every community across our great nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more Americans die each year from drug overdoses than in car crashes. While Faces & Voices of Recovery leads the way in raising the profile of the recovery community by demonstrating and celebrating long-term recovery, we are also compelled to tell the stories of lost loved ones, to put a public face on addiction.

2015 has also been a year of change at Faces & Voices of Recovery. While the organization has made considerable strides in strengthening our structure and governance, we also suffered a terrible setback by the sudden death of our beloved friend and Director of Operations, Jerry L. Gillen.

Jerry died of an accidental drug overdose within days after our phenomenal annual awards gala, America Honors Recovery, in July. Although those close to him knew some of the details, none of us knew the official cause of his death until just recently after his family had been informed by the medical examiner: a lethal combination of heroin and methamphetamine.

I am sharing this with you, our members, with a very heavy heart. While we debated about whether we would share this sensitive information publicly, in the end, the importance of the work and our mission was the deciding factor. We must not allow the shame and stigma that has historically kept our friends and families shrouded in a cloak of secrecy to regain any traction. We are a recovery movement founded on the value of sharing our stories to help the public better understand addiction and recovery. We work hard to eliminate negative public perception and to reduce the discrimination that keeps people from seeking recovery or moving on to better lives once they achieve it. We are reminded how precious life and recovery are and of the reality of relapse in the chronic nature of addiction.

Jerry Gillen found a better life in recovery. We will remember him as a tireless recovery advocate, a compassionate friend and a dedicated, loyal and skilled professional. Jerry had a natural ability to make everyone feel welcome, whether on the phone or at a Faces & Voices event. He was an incredible event coordinator and a trusted colleague; he was a fast-talker and he had an uncanny sense of humor. Jerry made us all laugh; he loved his Potbelly milkshakes and his Dr. Pepper; his favorite source of self-care was shopping at DSW to buy more shoes! Jerry was deeply committed to the mission of Faces & Voices of Recovery; he was like family to so many of us who knew him well.

When tragedy hits home we MUST do more to make long-term recovery possible for even more individuals and families. We MUST continue to mobilize and organize to raise the profile of the organized recovery community and help more people find recovery by demonstrating that over 23 million Americans from all walks of life have found recovery. We MUST continue to promote widespread understanding that long-term recovery is a reality and a process that takes time and support.

Faces & Voices of Recovery is dedicating 2016 to Jerry Gillen as the “Year of Recovery.” It will be a year of celebration of our history and for all of our leaders, staff, board members and supporters who have touched Faces & Voices of Recovery over the years. It will be a year of new friendships and new faces emerging within the organization and within the recovery advocacy movement.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!

Yours in recovery,

Patty McCarthy Metcalf 

Executive Director

Faces & Voices of Recovery

CITY WEEKLY 5 SPOT: A Chat with Shannon Egan, Author and Addiction Recovery Advocate

After arriving in Sudan in her 20s, Shannon Egan worked as teacher and then as a freelance journalist for the United Nations, reporting on events like the Darfur genocide. The opportunity to travel to Africa was the native Salt Laker's childhood dream. Sudan was also a place where, under Sharia law, alcohol was prohibited. For a woman already struggling with alcohol issues, she hoped it would help her stay sober. Upon returning stateside, she wrote on humanitarian crises for the U.N. Population Fund in New York City while her own addiction issues grew to include prescription drugs. By 2007, her addictions cost her both her job and a book contract. Now, five years into sobriety and working for the Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness (USARA), a statewide recovery community organization, Egan is pushing for change from the government to reduce stigma around addiction and barriers to long-term recovery. This past August, Egan published a memoir, No Tourists Allowed: Seeking Inner Peace & Sobriety in War-Torn Sudan, and is now beginning her second book.

    You said you were naive about the conditions in Sudan when you left Utah. Do you wish you would have known what you were getting yourself into?

    No. I'm proud of the way I left. It was bold! That move taught me that, in order to achieve your wildest dreams, you must be willing to take huge risks.

    What is the biggest misconception people have about addicts?

    That they are morally flawed. This is not the case. Addiction is a health issue, not a moral issue, and it's time to stop the stigma and misinformation surrounding it in order to reduce the barriers facing recovering individuals. Rehabilitation is always a better treatment choice than punishment.

    How did you make the career shift from journalism to working at USARA?

    In 2012, after two years in recovery, I decided to blast my story on Facebook. At this point, only a handful of people really knew the extent of my addiction. Breaking my anonymity brought me to USARA, and I fell in love with its mission, which is to empower people to overcome shame and proudly proclaim their past in order to infuse hope in those still struggling.

    What is one thing you'd like to tell people with addictions or those in recovery?

    At my lowest point, I worked as a stripper and ended up in jail with a felony DUI. I had so much shame over this. But I am not my past. I want people to know that no matter what their story is, there is purpose and meaning in it. We all have light and dark within us. It really is OK to go through ugly times. Not only can we heal and persevere, but we were born to do so.

    Available on stands today or view online

    upcoming Author's Addiction Memoir Makes Waves Amongst readers and America's Recovery Community.

    Recently, Shannon Egan joined Good Morning Utah to talk about her new book, No Tourists Allowed: Seeking Inner Peace and Sobriety in War-Torn Sudan.  The book covers her journey seeking inner peace and sobriety in Utah, where Egan grew up in a Mormon community, and war-torn Sudan, where she worked for two years as a freelance journalist for the United Nations. 

    “I was an alcoholic for nearly fifteen years," Egan told Brian Carlson, newscaster for Good Morning Utah. "I have three DUIs, and at my lowest point I worked around town as a stripper. Eventually, I ended up in the Salt Lake County jail with a felony DUI.

     "I had so much shame about my past, which is why I'm passionate about this book. I hope it will help others find purpose and meaning in their struggle, and know for themselves that no matter what their story is, they have a place in our world, and healing and redemption are possible."

    Vivid. Gripping. Thought-provoking.

     No Tourists Allowed is the ultimate solo travel adventure. Talented author, Shannon Egan, weaves through tough issues of addiction, ambition, spirituality, altruism, culture shock, and trauma with grace and honesty. Individuals who have never struggled with addiction will find her story completely relatable. It is a story of coming into oneself in a big, complex world.

    Holiday Sale: Save up to 75%!  Hurry, limited-time offer: 

    $14.99 Amazon Paperback
    $2.99 Kindle, NookiBook, Kobo, page foundry

    Readers have given No Tourists Allowed rave reviews , and the book was recently featured as a 'recovery resource' by Faces and Voices of Recovery, our nation's Recovery Community Organization based in Washington D.C.  Check it out for yourself: Read the first two chapters online for free. 

    About the Author: Shannon Egan

    Shannon Egan is an author, international freelance journalist, and advocate for addiction recovery. Egan currently works as the Development Director for USARA, Utah’s statewide Recovery Community Organization, and as a Recovery Advocate for the National Recovery Movement in order to reduce the stigma surrounding addiction as well as barriers to sustaining long-term recovery.  Previously, she wrote for the United Nations in Africa New York City.  

    Despite training as a writer on humanitarian issues for the UN, Shannon prefers sharing her personal stories of addiction and recovery to infuse hope in those still struggling and spread the message that recovery is possible. Egan is available for interviews and appearances. For booking presentations, media appearances, interviews, and book-signings.

    Contact:

     



    Changing the Face of Addiction by Creating Positive Memes on social media

    On October 1st, 2015 I posted a picture of myself on Facebook holding a sign that read:

    I'm a convicted felon in recovery. Forgive me my past. Allow me my future.

    This photo was accompanied with a public statement about why I was going to the UNITE to Face Addiction Rally, a history-making day, which took place on October 4th, 2015, in the effort to face addiction in the public arena. At the rally, tens of thousands of people showed up and 700 partners joined together for the first-ever rally and concert on the National Mall in Washington DC.

    We called it: the day to end the silence. In a united front, with many faces and one voice, we shouted: NO MORE SHAME. NO MORE STIGMA.

    My post read, “I’m going to UNITE To Face Addiction in order to spread the message that recovery is possible. I’m a convicted felon, but I deserve a second chance. We all do. Today, I have nearly five years in long-term recovery, and I’m not just sober, but I’m happy, healthy, and thriving both professionally and personally. My life has been transformed from an experience of shame and darkness to one filled with love, forgiveness, and acceptance. I speak publicly about my experiences and write about them in my book No Tourists Allowed in order to drive the National Recovery Movement forward and to create a positive conversation around addiction and recovery throughout the world. No more shame. No more stigma.” –Shannon Egan, Salt Lake City, UT. 

    Today, I have 5 years in long-term recovery and I work at USARA as the Development and Communications Director. USARA is a Recovery Community Organization (RCO) located in Utah, and we advocate, celebrate, support and educate on behalf of addiction recovery and Utah’s recovering community. For my job I run our social media campaigns and I’ve seen firsthand the power of social media and how it can connect individuals in long-term recovery--and those currently seeking recovery from drug and alcohol addiction-- to their local recovery community. It’s also a powerful way to spread the message of recovery, eradicate shame, and stigma, advocate for change, and promote and strengthen the National Recovery Movement.

    For example, in one day my ‘felon’ post went viral with over 1,000 Likes, 800 shares, and hundreds of supportive comments. The meme was spreading like wild fire and this is a good thing because it had a positive and powerful message: we make mistakes, but we recovery, end of story! Here's some tips on how you can help be apart of the change! 

    Social Media: a Tool for Advocacy, Celebrating Recovery Community, and Promoting the National Recovery Movement:

    1. Share your successes: Always remember to choose content and photos that inspire and encourage as opposed to content that spreads fear and panic—no more posts about scary overdose epidemics! Yes, this is happening, but we don’t want to paralyze with our messaging. We want to empower, and the most effective way to do this is to spread hope. We must start eradicating the stigma by highlighting our personal successes—no matter how big or small. Tell your story!  My felon post is a great example of this.  #NotAnonymous #OurStoriesHavePower
    2.  Recovery focused hashtags: Hashtags are integral to the way we communicate online. Plus, they can be a fun! The same hashtags can and should be used for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The pound sign (or hash) turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link.  As individuals in recovery, we need a way to connect our messaging to one another so we can create a stronger and more unified network.  In order to turn our content into a searchable and powerful link, we must use one hashtag for all our posts, and that is: #NationalRecoveryMovement. Some other key hashtags America’s recovery community is currently using are: #FacesAndVoicesOfRecovery, #NotAnonymous, #WeCanRecover, #RecoveryAdvocates, and #OurVoicesHavePower
    3.  Create a powerful and positive meme. Then, watch it go viral!: My felon post went viral for two reasons: 1) the message was short, sweet and struck a chord with our target audience: people in recovery; 2) The message itself was visual (instead of just text). While at the UNITE to Face Addiction rally I put the same message on a poster, and many people stopped to take their picture with it. Why? Because they had a similar story and the message meant something to them. They wanted to pass the message or meme along. Don’t know what a meme is? It's an important word in the world of social media and according to the Urban Dictionary, a meme is a: pervasive thought or thought pattern that replicates itself via cultural means. Here are a few pictures of people borrowing my sign at the UNITE rally: 

    4.  Highlight your family and friends who are in recovery: use your social media platform to celebrate the recovery milestones and contributions of your recovering friends and family. Keep the content brief (2-4 sentences max!) and always have a positive, fun picture to go with it. Include the hashtag: #NationalRecoveryMovement. Here’s a few examples of how we celebrate Utah's recovery community. Click on the picture to blow up the text:  

    Post a Fun, Recovery-Focused Selfie or Photo: The power of the selfie cannot be denied, especially since Facebook and its fans adore it. So, let’s jump on board and have some fun with it, shall we? Selfies and people-focused photos are essential ways to promote important concepts online, such as:

    • recovery community
    • fun in recovery
    • volunteering for recovery, service
    •  recovery community centers
    •  all pathways to recovery
    •  recovery-focused services and people
    selfie2.png

    Hopefully it's clear that as people in recovery, our social media platforms have the power to heal or harm, and paralyze or empower our communities-- and in a big way! With strategic social media messaging and visuals, we can play a critical role in offsetting the sensational and demeaning portrayals in the mass media of people caught in addiction’s downward spiral. Just remember, social media is about SOCIAL networks. Therefore, there must be an element of fun in your posts in order to promote social engagement. Without the ‘fun’, you will not be successful.

    So let’s get our hashtag and selfie on, shall we?  

    ***

    Shannon Egan is the author of No tourists allowed: Seeking Inner Peace and Sobriety in War-Torn Sudan. She’s also an international freelance journalist and advocate for the National Recovery Movement. Despite training as a writer on humanitarian issues for the United Nations, Shannon prefers sharing her personal stories of addiction and recovery to infuse hope in those still struggling and spread the message that recovery is possible.   

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    No Tourists Allowed: Reviews on amazon

    Check out the latest reviews on Amazon for my new addiction memoir and travel narrative, No Tourists Allowed: Seeking Inner Peace in War-Torn Sudan: 

    A courageous story of losing oneself to find oneself

    ByB. Burgesson October 7, 2015

    Format: Paperback

    This book is page-turner. With her soul-baring story, the author brings you right into her battle with addiction and her struggle to be a force for good inside war-torn Sudan. Her internal conversations are real and sometimes humorous but always insightful. I found myself fearing for her, then cheering for her more and more as the story progressed. Did she somehow know before choosing to go live in Sudan that the dangers she would face there, the suffering she would experience and see in the African people, along with the chance to serve and develop her career and life skills would eventually give her what she needed to get on the path of recovery?

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    5.0 out of 5 starsAn insightful and well written book, a journey for ...

    Bydebbie tronieron September 27, 2015

    Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

    An insightful and well written book, a journey for Shannon as she come to terms with her upbringing and her growth in that process. Definitely waiting for the next book!

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    5.0 out of 5 starsShannon Egan is an amazing writer, inspiring readers with her extraordinary spirit and ...

    ByMary Jo McMillenon September 25, 2015

    Format: Paperback

    In NO TOURISTS ALLOWED, Shannon Egan is an amazing writer, inspiring readers with her extraordinary spirit and wisdom to "see" the light and dark in the human experience. She courageously tells her story with honesty and acceptance of herself and others. She will undoubtedly inspire people to celebrate their own journey of recovery from addiction. 

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    5.0 out of 5 starsand a general feeling that can best be described as feeling like a square peg in ...

    ByBoyd Madsenon September 24, 2015

    Format: Paperback

    Shannon Egan's No Tourists Allowed is the deftly told and enthralling story of Ms. Egan's inner battles with her strict religious upbringing and ensuing issues with drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, coupled with a rich and touching memoir detailing her time spent in war-torn Sudan as a teacher and journalist.

    Ms. Egan superbly explains the cognitive dissonance and alienation she experienced growing up in a suburb of Salt Lake City, a city that is predominantly populated by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or, as they are informally known, the Mormons.

    Without being overly critical of the religion, culture, or her family, she vividly, and sometimes graphically, helps the reader understand her struggles from early childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood with guilt, shame, abuse, and a general feeling that can best be described as feeling like a square peg in a round hole.

    After helping the reader understand the lens through which she sees the world, she gets to what was, for me, the strongest part of her book, which was her decision to leave home and travel to Sudan as a teacher.

    Without going into details, it suffices to say that Ms. Egan's time spent in Africa, where she eventually landed a job as a journalist, included harrowing, gut wrenching, and downright touching moments that are told with eloquence and passion.

    What I found most heartwarming about the book was how lighthearted it was despite the very heavy subject matter. The author has a way of telling her story that had me laughing out loud many more times than I ever could have expected. Her free-flowing and conversational style of writing have the net effect of getting the reader to feel like he or she is sitting in a room with Shannon herself, listening to her tell amazing story after amazing story.

    The book ended powerfully, leaving me with a feeling of hopefulness and a warm affinity for the author. I recommend this book and can honestly say I loved it.

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    5.0 out of 5 starsHighly recommend to anyone struggling with addiction!

    ByMargoon September 24, 2015

    Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

    I emphathize with Shannon and her recovery journey on so many levels and am thankful she is sharing her story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this wonderful book and I look forward to reading Shannon's next one as she continues her story of recovery! "No Tourists Allowed" speaks to Shannon's courageous journey, the shame she feels, how fragile life (and recovery) is and can be and the pain she experiences, not only while dealing with trying to stay sober but in regards to what she witnesses in Sudan. This book also speaks to Shannon's strength and her ability to keep moving forward!

    I anxiously await the next book so I can continue to follow Shannon's journey of recovery!

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    5.0 out of 5 starsNo Tourists Allowed, an incredible feat of self discovery.

    ByRyLeeon September 11, 2015

    Format: Paperback

    Shannon Egan's ability to just lay everything out there for the reader to absorb is incredible. I found myself tearing up, laughing, and empathizing as she shared her experiences of growing up in a religious household and state, travelling the world to find oneself, but also making sense of how to push forward news stories, personal stories, and policies without taking advantage or forgetting what really matters: driving change for the better. I am so happy that Shannon has found her community, at last, with USARA. Thank you, Shannon, for sharing your recovery journey. I can't wait to read your next installment.

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    ByJoanne Petersenon September 4, 2015

    Format: Paperback

    One of the best books that I've read in a long time!!!! Couldn't put it down!!

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    5.0 out of 5 starsWhat a beautiful, scary

    ByAnthony Southwickon September 2, 2015

    Format: Paperback

    I couldn't put this down. What a beautiful, scary, adventure filled journey! Shannon shows such courage in her journey and in writing this book. I'm so glad it is out there to help others who are struggling. I can't wait for the next one to come out. Sending so much love to Shannon for being brave enough, strong enough, and caring enough to share her struggles so that it can help others. ❤Kim Southwick

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    5.0 out of 5 starsA Must Read For Everyone!

    ByMizMickeyon August 24, 2015

    Format: Paperback

    It has been so long since I have not been able to put a book down! Her words captured me from the very first page. I felt her emotions through her words. This is not only a good book for people in recovery, but also a book to understand that we are all going through something.

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    5.0 out of 5 starsAnxiously waiting for more...

    ByJulie Hardleon August 23, 2015

    Format: Paperback

    No Tourists Allowed is beautifully layered and intricate with many parallel themes. It speaks to a profound truth. Living a life of sobriety in recovery is much more than abstinence. Ms. Egan’s journey demonstrates that courageously walking the beast of addiction out of the shadows of shame is the pathway to healing. Her peace, during this chapter of her life, was fleeting. It does remind the reader there is much to be hopeful about in recovery and our world as we reach out and connect to our humanness and embrace our frailties together. Egan left me anxiously waiting for more of the story.

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