Please Allow Myself to Introduce… Myself

Very glad to see that the blog is not a smoldering mess. I’m noticing a little basset hound slobber here and there, but otherwise things seem to be going rather well, and thanks for keeping the place up and running, guys. I hope y’all will stick around.

Made it through a week-long detox at a very fine medical establishment, and let me assure you, next summer my vacation plans are going to be better or I am kicking my travel agent’s ass. In all honesty, it was not that terrible, but absolutely not an experience I would wish on anyone. Actually, that’s not true at all- there are a lot of people I would wish it on, and some of you are probably reading this right now and desperately need a similar vacation. All I can say is go do it.

For those of you who have never been through anything like this, I’ll walk you through my personal experience. When you finally find the right place to go, you walk through the ER doors, announce “I’m an alcoholic and I have pancreatitis and I am drinking myself to death and I need to be checked into rehab. Your move.” I’m not sure if that is protocol, but that’s what I did- I find blunt to be the most effective policy (I hate clothes shopping, and when I go to a store I just ask the greeter- “Where are you clothes for fat people?” so they can just point in the right direction and not waste my time).

There was an immediate flurry of activity, and I basically just surrendered myself to the medical establishment. Mentally, I guess I sort of treated it like Basic training and just let them do whatever they wanted and did what they told me, thinking my say in matters really doesn’t count for much anymore because I signed the dotted lines. There was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, multiple tests and poking and proddings, but I was assured when I checked out that the ER nurse will be ok.

At any rate, the ER made sure that I was medically able to go to detox, and by the time that was done I was pretty much a mess (it was going on 9 o’clock), and not only was I scared, and in pain, and embarrassed, and ashamed, but I was starting to get jittery and anxious and more irritable than usual. Some fine gentlemen with large firearms then escorted me a mile to the rehab facility, and I checked in. They took away everything I had packed, I gave them my daily meds, they threw me into a hospital gown and pants, and put me in a two bedroom suite. Got an IV (my third since getting to the ER, as I was dehydrated from the night before when I decided I was going to go out like a champion), and they gave me an ativan drip.

The next three days were basically a blur- I guess addicts all have their own specialty, and I can tell you that benzo’s and opiods are MOST assuredly not mine. I don’t know if you remember how much those opiods kicked my ass when I was going through my shoulder surgery, but ativan did the same thing to me. At any rate, I was on an ativan taper in which they basically dope you up with a benzo which masks the effects of alcohol, and then slowly ween you off the ativan over a course of a week. Like I said, the first three days were basically a blur. All I wanted to do was sleep, and that is basically what I did. All I really remember is sweating a bit, having my whole body feel like I had been beaten with a hose filled with sand, and feeling like my frontal lobe was covered with a wool sock. Every couple of hours they would wake me up and I would walk out to the nurse’s stand and thrust my left arm at them and grunt so they could take my vitals, then swallow a bunch of pills they gave me (anabuse, an anti-craving med, vitamin B, motrin, atavan, etc.), chug a liter of water, and then stumble back to my room.

The second night I got a roommate (his issue was heroin and pills), and even in my state I remember thinking “THIS GUY IS A MESS.” He coded and stopped breathing the next morning and they whisked him off to the ER an I never saw him again. The third night I got another roommate, and when I woke up the next morning (finally start to come out of my haze a little bit), he basically said fuck this and checked himself out, which I didn’t know you could do and I couldn’t figure out why you would. You’re here, you idiot. Someone is going to finally help you. Why are you leaving?

After that, it got a lot easier. Still was exhausted the entire time and basically had no appetite (and really still don’t have much of one), and spent the day going to different meetings and group sessions and one on one therapy sessions and so on. There were only twelve people on my unit, but it was a wide variety of people. A 60 year old mother, a couple junkies, a young college girl who had tried to kill herself, a guy who was addicted to shooting cocaine, a chef whose restaurant had failed and he went off the deep end with booze and pills, a HS teacher, etc. This is going to sound odd, or maybe it isn’t, but the junkies were invaluable to all us newbies. All of them had done detox several times, and all of them were quite concerned with everyone but themselves. They kept telling us you gotta do what they say or you are going to end up back here again like us.

And then they let me go yesterday morning. Shawn picked me up and we gave one of the guys I had befriended (a junkie) a ride to the homeless shelter that had been arranged for him and made sure he was situated and came home. It’s hard to describe how I feel right now.

To say that I am a little twitchy is to put things mildly. Steve walked into my office last night without me knowing and let out a big meow and I flew out of my chair like a cartoon character. Everything seems so bright and loud and colorful and I just feel like I need sunglasses for my whole body. My brain and body are re-working themselves right now, and I find myself walking from room to room trying to remember why I went into the other room. I will spare you the issues regarding the gastrointestinal distress, but I think it is safe to say that a couple decades of toxins want out of my body. And when I say they want out, I mean they want out RIGHT FUCKING NOW. And probably again in 15 minutes and again in an hour and who the hell knows maybe five minutes from now. And my breath could knock out a junkyard dog at 100 meters.

Sleep is also weird. As in I can’t, and that really has me off kilter. I am a WORLD CLASS sleeper. Well, was. I fell asleep last night at 3:30, and popped out of bed at 8 am and basically just forced myself to try to sleep until 11. I failed. And the dreams. Sweet dystopian Jeebus.

My appetite is all messed up too- I’ve been chugging pellegrino with lemon to replace the stuff leaving the back door, and over 8 days I lost 20 lbs. Yesterday I thought I would celebrate and bought two big ribeyes for dinner, and I cooked Shawn’s. I just looked at mine raw and thought how disgusting and unappealing it looked, and I ate some cherries and some almonds and raspberries and a banana instead. For some reason I have been craving fish, so I am going to go to the store and get something to make for dinner tonight.

Tomorrow I start outpatient and plan to do that for a month before maybe heading off to a 28 day to really tidy things up, but I think I am heading in the right direction. I have absolutely no cravings for booze whatsoever right now, I just feel weird and disjointed. So if I am weirder than normal, you know why. At any rate, It feels good to be back.

John Cole +0 for 9 days

*** Update ***

I forgot to mention this, but someone brought it up in the comments. I’m not sure how this happened, but at some point during my stay someone figured out a way to sneak in an extra 82 hours to every day. Yesterday felt like a week long.

341 replies
  1. 1
    Johannes says:

    Proud of you, Cole. Keep on keeping on.

  2. 2
    Joey Maloney says:

    Welcome back, John.

  3. 3

    Stay strong, brother.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    c u n d gulag says:

    Great start, Mr. Cole!

    We missed the shit out of you!!!

    Keep up the great work at healing yourself.

    Best wishes!

  6. 6
    wmd says:

    Well done – keep up the good work.

  7. 7
    tulip says:

    welcome back.

  8. 8
    Lokahi says:

    Congratulations. Hang in there. And aloha.

  9. 9
    c u n d gulag says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    And by that, I don’t mean the stuff exiting your back door! ;-)

  10. 10
    SammyV says:

    Great job, John. Welcome back!

  11. 11
    Betty Cracker says:

    Bravo, Cole! It sounds like you’re on the right track. The only addiction I ever successfully kicked was cigarettes two years ago, and I felt like I was gonna crawl outta my skin for awhile, but it gets easier. Stay strong, bro.

  12. 12

    Welcome back, sir. Your frank writing – including bodily excretion descriptions – has been missed. Good luck and stay awesome.

  13. 13

    Was just thinking this very morning that 3rd time was the charm, John, since we hadn’t heard from you in a week. Glad to hear things finally happened and you’re moving in the right direction. Sending you good thoughts, vibes and some twee fairy dust to aid your journey.

  14. 14
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    Congratulations, John. Strength to you.

  15. 15
    mellowjohn says:

    welcome back, big guy (but apparently not quite so big anymore). missed you and steve.
    hang in there and – as they say – “keep coming back.”

  16. 16
    greennotGreen says:

    Even those of us who don’t comment all that much (and probably most of the lurkers) are thinking about you and sending good thoughts your way.

  17. 17
    EZSmirkzz says:

    Hang in there John. You’re already doing junkie trigonometry – I’m better off than that guy, and that guys not near as sick as me. Just take it one day at a time, and stick to the plan. Email me if you need, I ain’t doing much besides reading blogs and answering emails once a day. There ain’t no door prizes to this dance, but then again, it’s your tune too.

  18. 18
    Cermet says:

    Very glad your back and doing well; some don’t and … well, best to not recall that now.

  19. 19
    Jebediah, RBG says:

    Good for you, and good luck with the next couple of steps. I wonder if the critters will notice any difference in you.
    Reading about this was a lovely way to start the day.

  20. 20

    Great to have you back.

  21. 21
    GregB says:

    If you are lucky the cravings for booze will never arise. However circumstances will occur that will want to lead you back into old habits.

    Recognize those moments and arm yourself.

    Relapses are a real hazard.

    Take it easy.

  22. 22
    Tiny Tim says:

    I’ve known a lot of problem drinkers who found it surprisingly easy to quit once they decided to. “Once they decided to” is obviously a high barrier to get over, but the point is that after a week or so they really weren’t craving booze. Of course because of that some of them would relapse. Not because they craved booze, really, but because they missed the social aspects, being a “normal person” etc and because getting/being sober wasn’t as hard as they thought they thought they could get away with being a reasonable drinker. Some could, some couldn’t.

  23. 23
    rikyrah says:


    Glad to hear from you and just continue to do the work.

  24. 24
    Kay (not the front-pager) says:

    I’m so proud of you, I just can’t say.

    The other front-pagers have been working really hard to keep this place populated with content. I suspect that’s a tribute to how much they like and respect you. I’ve been wondering how you were doing, and I’m glad to hear you are doing well. I hope and believe you will get accustomed to your un-anesthetized perceptions soon.

  25. 25
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    Good for you, JC.

  26. 26
    scav says:

    Don’t know if it’s Welcome Back or Welcome to Somewhere Different. Either or both ways, All the Best in exploring it and rearranging the cushions as you make it yours.

  27. 27
    metricpenny says:

    Welcome back Big Daddy Cole!

    And congratulations on a major accomplishment.

    It appears your snark meter wasn’t damaged. Thank the FSM for that.

    You’ll remain in my prayers, because now starts the hard part.

  28. 28
    thundermonkey says:

    Good job and keep at it, the blogosphere needs you around.

  29. 29
    Jay says:

    They gave you ANABUSE, Cole? I don’t drink and support efforts to get people to kick, but I really don’t know why Anabuse is still out there, given that one of the side-effects is known to be death.

    Anabuse has to be the medicinal equivalent of the Nation of Islam’s old policy of beating up addicts in their orbit who had relapsed. (Or is it their ONGOING policy? I’m thinking of that passage in Malcolm X’s autobiography in which Malcolm sees some NOIers throw a relapsing addict down a flight of stairs. I hate the NOI, however, even the DEA knew they meant business on the addiction front, as the DEA’s been known to swap ideas with NOI people about addiction-fighting methods,)

  30. 30
    gbear says:

    Hoping all the best for you John. When I quit drinking in ’84, I was overweight, but didn’t change any of my eating habits. Six months after I quit, my metabolism when through some kind of radical change and I lost over thirty pounds in a little over a month. It just fell off without me changing a thing.

  31. 31
    RobertDSC-Power Mac G5 Dual says:

    Welcome back, John. Keeping good thoughts for you and yours.

  32. 32
    Mohagan says:

    I’m another rare poster, but had to say how wonderful to hear from you and about your progress. Best wishes for continued success. We all support you.

  33. 33

    Good work, John! One day at a time from now on…

  34. 34
    MikeInSewickley says:

    Sounds real familiar…

    Even if 12-Step ain’t your thing, “One Day At A Time” makes a ton of sense.

    Good luck and we’re here to talk to.

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @BettyPageisaBlonde: Completely OT: Nice portrait work on your blog. Saw a few faces I know. Hard to take a bad pic of Leila, isn’t it?

  36. 36
    askew says:

    Good job John. It seems like you have a great support team around you and hope you can continue getting the help you need.

  37. 37

    Damn, I’m glad to see/read you. Sending you a lot of light and strength to continue through this. Hugs, big guy!

  38. 38
    spudgun says:

    You’re on your way, John – good for you. Now the hard work begins.

    So proud of you! Keep going, I’m rooting for you!!

  39. 39
    KG says:

    Congrats, welcome back, stay strong, and lean on your support system whenever you can, that’s what they’re there for

  40. 40
    StringOnAStick says:

    Glad to see you’re out on the other side now. Hang in there, Steve and the Piglets need you!

  41. 41
    🚸 Martin says:

    Good job man. Proud of you.

  42. 42
    Mnemosyne says:

    Sounds like you’re right on track with what Cracked’s John Cheese said would happen. IOW, it’s all totally normal side effects of stopping the booze.

    As GregB and others said, the hard part isn’t necessarily going to be the cravings, it’s going to be forming new habits while giving up the habits of 20+ years. You may find yourself reflexively wanting a drink not because you’re craving it, but because you would always have a drink while watching TV/hanging out in the backyard/doing laundry/whatever. Those unconscious habits are going to be one of the hardest things to overcome, because your brain doesn’t even think about them anymore.

  43. 43
    geg6 says:

    Good thing I’m not an addict because I’d probably kill myself before doing any kind of therapy, especially of the group sort. No fucking way.

    But I’m glad you got the help you thought you needed and that you’re motivated to stick with it. I’ve got your back with lots of good vibes, Cole.

  44. 44
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    I hope today is a good day for you, John.

  45. 45
    Julia Grey says:


    Yes, I know, you guys don’t really say that. But I do.

    Also: U da man.


  46. 46
    theBuyjaysus says:


    You’re going to meet alotta cool, interesting people in recovery. You’re also going to meet a few flakes, con artists, and down right assholes. It goes with the territory.

    Slow and steady.

  47. 47
    gbear says:

    @Tiny Tim: I still remember the intersection I was at when I made ‘the decision’. There had been a couple of false starts, but somehow the time was right that night and I’ve managed to keep that moment in mind. I’ve never been much of a group person so I didn’t do AA, but this November will be my 30 years without alchohol. Keeping that moment when I decided to quit as sort of a ‘holy’ moment in my life really helped me to stay on track.

  48. 48

    Just get through today. Stay hydrated. Reach out when you need to. What spudgun said.

  49. 49

    @theBuyjaysus: Sounds like most comment threads around here…

  50. 50
    Elie says:

    I appreciate and support your journey, John. It is not easy but your struggle and effort will mark you and make you stronger — eventually. No easy path and I acknowledge that.

    You are cared for and loved. Think of everyone who is supporting you and sending you their good energy….

  51. 51
    Devore says:


  52. 52
    kindness says:

    Welcome John. Glad you’ve come out of it. Sorry I’ll never be able to have a beer with you (non-alcoholic beer sucks) but still am happy when you are happy.

  53. 53
    aimai says:

    Just tons of love for you John. When you finally get clear you are going to be amazed at how much time you seem to have–how much air, and light, and color, and new smells, and emotion.

  54. 54
    theBuyjaysus says:


    ain’t that the truth…

  55. 55
    Enrique says:

    Good to hear that first phase has come off for the most part ok. Hope you continue forward strong to your end destination on the road to recovery. Be well and pet Steve for us.

  56. 56
    cmorenc says:

    My father was for years a professional who for a long time (years) got away with being a high-functioning alchoholic until the progressively gradual deterioration in his function caught up with him and he did a stint in inpatient rehab. Though he kicked it for awhile, his demons were only rendered latent, not eliminated, and he gradually slid into drinking again until he had a second stint. And a third. He never did completely quit fooling himself that even though he’d had to give up liquor (vodka was his first choice) he could still handle beer – and bright a man as he was, once he started toying with the slippery slope, he’d also lose his ability to grasp how silly, then morose, then belligerent he got as one beer became two, three, and then four – as well as his ability to grasp how much he was losing control of the problem – until he hit some figurative wall and had to face needing rehab again.

    POINT IS: You are never, ever permanently cured of alcoholism (especially if you’re unfortunate enough to likely have a genetic component favoring it) – you only ever have it successfully contained one day at a time, until the day your demons talk you into just one drink or two, and if you give in it’s a slide back downhill until you finally realize you need inpatient rehab again (as he did). WATCH OUT for that demon whispering into your ear, talking you into how you can handle just a little exception now and then. (Not literally a demon, just the addictive tendencies in your mind tempting you).

  57. 57
    Comrade Carter says:

    Welcome back, John. Hope you see the better side of things, and keep on doing what you’ve been doing. We’re here for you.

  58. 58
    Anne Cole says:

    Welcome to recovery big brother! So proud of you. I love you!

  59. 59
    Tiny Tim says:

    @gbear: AA’s probably right that most people who hit a point where they’d better quit need to abstain for life (though I have known a few exceptions), but the AA model overall definitely isn’t for everybody. Group isn’t for everybody, and there’s too much of a universal narrative imposed on addicts which actually isn’t quite universal. It’s probably less of a good model for women (speaking very generally).

    Not anti-AA. It works for a lot of people. But it isn’t for everybody.

  60. 60
    Tommy T says:

    You were gone?

    Just kidding. Welcome back.

  61. 61
    CaseyL says:


    Oh, it is wonderful to hear from you! Welcome, welcome home! Congrats on finishing the first phase, and yeah, you’re gonna feel strange for a little while.

    Beware the sweet tooth. It seems that every reforming alcoholic I know develops one hell of a taste for sweets, which makes sense since booze is basically fermented sugar.

    The other FP’ers did yeoman work to keep the place hopping. Kudos and thanks to all of them (any chance we can keep TBogg?).

  62. 62
    Elizabelle says:

    Very proud of you, John.

    Interesting about the colors being brighter, etc, and the toxins leaving.

    Glad you’re doing outpatient, and then another extended program. And write, write, write, write about it. It’s a public service and you don’t know who you might help.

  63. 63
    JKC says:

    Keep up the good work, John. There are a lot of us rooting for you.

  64. 64
    NobodySpecial says:

    Congratulations on that first step, Mr. Cole – it IS a doozy.

  65. 65
    Bort says:

    Good for you John!

  66. 66
    2liberal says:

    glad to hear from you and best wishes for your continuing recovery.

  67. 67
    Unabogie says:

    Awesome job, John. The best part is that you know you’re doing the right thing. Now it’s just doing the hard work of staying the course. Best of luck!!!

    P.S. The blog without you is fine and all, but these front pagers are all too polite. Not one of them told anyone to fuck off.

  68. 68
    libarbarian says:

    Good luck. We’re pulling for you.

  69. 69
    Joel Hanes says:

    Active-culture yoghurt for the gastro-intestinal effects.
    Buy several kinds, alternate.

    Been there. It helps.

  70. 70
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I couldn’t have had a better birthday present than this post. Thank you, John.

  71. 71
    trollhattan says:

    Wow, that’s a stunning piece of storytelling. That it’s f’real life, your life, I can’t even begin to comprehend.

    Sounds like there’s a lot more mountain yet to climb, but you’re well over halfway to the summit of Mt JCole II. Be relentless, and you’ll be there.

  72. 72
    gbear says:

    @kindness: N/A beer doesn’t taste all that bad once you’ve forgotten what real beer tastes like, but you have to be careful that it doesn’t trigger a desire for real beer. The beverage that really set me off horribly was catuaba juice. I took one sip and I wound up having to leave a party and go home to sleep the feeling off. I wish John all the luck in the world to finding a N/A go-to beverage that satisfies.

  73. 73
    Birthmarker says:

    What everyone says above!

    When I quit smoking, the habit and social aspect was very hard, as stated above. It helped to try to avoid as many of the smoking situations as I could, though you can’t avoid them all.

  74. 74
    WereBear says:

    Every step to improve our lives comes with its own reward.

    May you feel better soon!

  75. 75
    Chickamin Slam says:

    Welcome Back Cole! (cues that Welcome back song)

    I’ve been trying to get out of a rut today, well the last week, or longer actually. Kudos on you stepping out to get better, enjoy the finer things in life.

  76. 76
    Scott S. says:

    You’re awesome. I could never do anything like that. Good luck with all of the rest of it going forward. :)

  77. 77
    Sir Laffs-a-Lot says:

    Great going, John!!……good to have you back.

  78. 78
    Joel Hanes says:

    The bright colors will go away, as will the feeling of strangeness.

    Soon you will need to figure out what to do with all the newly-free time during which you used to be incapacitated.
    (Drunks are always busy, and resent demands on their time)

    So find something that takes you out of yourself, and maybe out of your house.
    Volunteer at MARC, maybe, or get serious about gardening, or take up fly-fishing, volunteer at a veteran’s center, work for Nature Conservancy — there are a thousand things bigger than oneself that will give you something to look forward to.

  79. 79
    Kristine says:

    Pulling for you, John. It’s a brave thing you’re doing.

  80. 80
    Bill Arnold says:

    Good to see you back, John. (The +0 tag is nice to see.)

  81. 81
    Marc says:

    Welcome back.

  82. 82
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tiny Tim:

    There are definitely people out there who are problem drinkers/drug users for reasons other than being what is currently termed “alcoholics.” My nephew who is severely ADHD and bipolar was smoking too much pot, not because he was addicted to it, but to try and self-medicate. He did have to go to a few 12-step meetings while he was undergoing psychiatric treatment, but they didn’t do him nearly as much good as properly treating his bipolar disorder did.

    Some of the current research seems to indicate that alcoholism is related to OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), which is why true alcoholics have to quit completely — otherwise, their OCD-like compulsive streak sends them back down into the spiral where if one martini is good, finishing off the entire bottle of gin is even better.

  83. 83
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    A man of wealth and taste?

    Great to see you back, John. Now, don’t skimp on the followups, stay to the straight and narrow path, and don’t be afraid to lose even more excess poundage.

    We’re all very happy your rehab was fruitful and that you are back!

  84. 84
    The other Max says:

    Glad you made it this far. Keep on keepin’ on.

    And thanks for letting us know how you’re doing. Earlier today I found myself worrying about you a bit. There are a lot of people who care about you. To varying degrees, to be sure…but you have a lot of people pulling for you. Guess that’s what happens when you share.

  85. 85
    Lee says:

    Welcome back. Glad to hear your experience was good.

    I had a friend go to a 28 day program down in Belize, it was really good (and a nice location).

  86. 86
    trollhattan says:

    Confess that for my palate at least, the San Pellegrino he’s chugging tastes a hellofa lot better than near-beer, and is also oddly filling, but that’s just my palate. I’d be pretty pissed if I had to substitute NA beer or wine for the actual thing, because it would seem like a cruel joke–like bring a priest and dancing with a beautiful woman (yeah, I’m limiting the simile to women).

    The siren-infested shoals await our Cole, the where and when’s yet to be discovered.

  87. 87
    wmd says:

    @Tiny Tim:

    The transition from problem drinking to social (controlled) drinking is possible for some people. Those that try to do it soon after they initially stop seem to have the biggest problems. Stay dry for a long time John – 6 months at least. After that be extremely conscious of consumption should you try to make the transition – it’s very easy to lose sight of what is social drinking and what is uncontrolled drinking. Read some Stanton Peele at some point if that transition does have appeal to you.

    Of course if you never take another drink then that’s not a problem. And that works for a lot of alcoholics.

  88. 88
    jacy says:

    Keep on keeping on, Cole. :)

  89. 89
    Felonius Monk says:

    Good on you, John. Keep on truckin’. Wishing you the best for the rest of the trip.

  90. 90
    Mike Jones says:

    Glad you’re back. You’re one of the good guys, John, and doing what you did takes a lot of strength and courage. We’re all pulling for you.

  91. 91
    Phylllis says:

    Proud of you, big guy. Be gentle with yourself.

  92. 92
    JGabriel says:

    Glad to here you’re doing better, JC. Hang in there and be well..

  93. 93
    Mnemosyne says:


    Of course if you never take another drink then that’s not a problem. And that works for a lot of alcoholics.

    Well, sort of. The whole point of the 12 steps is that you need to consistently monitor yourself and make sure you’re not going overboard in any area of your life. I tell the story frequently of my recovering alcoholic friend who decided that she was going to get healthy and become a vegetarian. Then she became a vegan. Then she became an anorexic, because if restricting some food was good than not eating at all was even better!

    That’s what I mean about the OCD-like features of alcoholism that don’t go away just because you remove the booze. People who are alcoholics basically have to try and learn to monitor and moderate themselves because they don’t have a natural “off” switch to tell them when they’ve gone too far with something, whether that “something” is drinking or dieting. AA calls it being a “dry drunk” — you’re not drinking anymore, but you’ve switched your compulsive focus to something else.

  94. 94
    SIA says:

    I was the college girl who tried to kill herself. 34 years later, sober a day at a time. This post made me so fucking happy. So hard, but so simple. Like I was told. Don’t take the FIRST drink. ♡

  95. 95
    Anoniminous says:


    Everything seems so bright and loud and colorful and I just feel like I need sunglasses for my whole body.

    Alcohol depresses neurotransmitter release. Over the years you’ve trained your brain to produce extra quantities of neurotransmitters to get to “normal” functioning. Removing the alcohol means those extra neurotransmitters are on overdrive, pushing sensory, thus ‘as felt,’ inputs and processing to hyperawareness. Over time your neural circuits will learn they don’t have to work overtime and this will fade.

    The good news: this hyperactivity is a primary cause of neuron death so you are no longer drinking yourself to stupidity (at best) or schizophrenia (at worst.)

  96. 96
    shelley says:

    Crap-and-a-half , John. What an Odyssey, and it’s only been a week! But like you said, you’re on the right path.
    I’m assuming they got your pancreatitis cleared up okay? Maybe that’s been contributing to your digestive issues?

    Just try and take it easy, Hun.

  97. 97
    Steeplejack says:

    Congratulations, Cole! Keep on it, big man.

  98. 98
    Ruckus says:

    You will level out. It will get easier. It will get better. It really will.
    Remember you have to make a new normal, the old one had issues. This will take a bit of time, both to accomplish and to adjust to. You obviously have the strength, hell you’ve taken the huge first step, now keep applying that strength to keep going.

  99. 99
    everbluegreen says:

    Kick ass. Keep it up.

  100. 100
    Hawes says:

    Since I don’t really “know” you it’s odd to say how proud I am to know you. But that’s how I feel.

    I’m very impressed by Mr. John Cole right now.

  101. 101
    Chris T. says:

    Some (well … many) years ago I lost a whole bunch of weight in a relatively short time. Mostly by stamping out a lot of high-fructose-corn-syrup (ie sodas), really.

    With the weight loss came a general overall mild “being sick” feeling, sort of generic low grade illness. Eventually I realized that a big chunk of it was that I was burning off body fat, and with that, was dumping back into my bloodstream, in just a few months, whatever fat-soluble toxic stuff I had accumulated over many years.

    Once the weight-loss slowed (which it did, went from going down 10 lbs a month to, well, pretty much nothing, in less than 3 months) I felt a lot better. I now wonder just how much fat-soluble crap is stored in the average American. It’s probably going up fast in fracking-water states….

  102. 102

    Very proud of you, John. I don’t know you but I know where you’ve been.

  103. 103
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yep. I have a friend who has been sober for 20+ years, but he’s always got something he’s obsessed with — so far, always things that are healthier than booze, but he doesn’t go half-hog into anything, and his life revolves around whatever the current obsession is until he moves on to the next thing.

  104. 104
    everbluegreen says:

    p.s. And thank you for posting about it. As you well know, lots of us have been thinking about you and wondering how it was going.

  105. 105
    gogol's wife says:

    This whole thing is better’n any Russian novel I ever read, and I’ve read them all.

    You are a brave man. The physical stuff will sort itself out.

  106. 106

    @Joel Hanes:

    So find something that takes you out of yourself, and maybe out of your house

    If you hadn’t mentioned the “out of your house” part, I might suggest blogging.

  107. 107
    Josie says:

    It is so good to hear from you, John, and to know that you are coping. Breaking any addiction is a real struggle that takes courage and fortitude, both of which you have in abundance. I agree with some others here in saying you should keep writing about your experiences, the good, bad and ugly. It will give you insights and will help others who are struggling with their demons. Keep on putting one foot in front of the other.

  108. 108
    Svensker says:

    Blessings to you, Mr. Cole. You are a brave and good man.

  109. 109
    gogol's wife says:


    OT but I hope it’s okay, I keep looking for you on open threads but never catch you. TCM is going to do a big pre-Code festival in the month of September, all day every Friday that month.

  110. 110
    Tiny Tim says:

    @Mnemosyne: My bumper sticker view of AA is they take people who are addicted to alcohol and make them addicted to being sober. It works for a lot of people, but I just don’t think it covers all habitual drinkers. And there’s a bit too much of the narrative of “hitting bottom” and that everyone who is a drunk has probably destroyed their lives/relationships/etc. In truth there are a lot of high functioning “alcoholics” whose problem isn’t that they get in bar fights, or wake up in the gutter, or can’t get through the work day, or use the mortgage money for booze, or beat their spouses. Their problem is that they drink too much, they “need” to drink, and long term that can have horrible health consequences. Not saying that being that much of a drinker is going to do wonders for all aspects of your personality, but not all drunks are raging bulls in the china shop that is their life.

  111. 111
    everbluegreen says:

    Also, this:
    Shawn picked me up and we gave one of the guys I had befriended (a junkie) a ride to the homeless shelter that had been arranged for him and made sure he was situated and came home. It’s hard to describe how I feel right now.

    says everything about you.

  112. 112
    Schlemizel says:

    Glad to hear things went as well as they did, hopefully the other stuff will clear up as you go along. Brave is a word that gets overused these days but it took some courage to admit the problem & to take action against it, congratulations.

    I come from a long line of alcoholics, some never made the leap & some did. Some of those that did actually resumed drinking others never did, some that resumed handled it but others didn’t. I don’t see any reason why relatives fell into those different buckets. The heavy drinkers didn’t live very long though or ended up semi-vegetative in their 60s so you really want to not go down that road. We need you around here so take care of yourself as best you can.

  113. 113
    shelley says:

    So find something that takes you out of yourself

    Say…some pet pictures?

    I can just imagine how Lily and Rose greeted you when you got back home.

  114. 114
    jnfr says:

    So happy to hear from you. Other than terrifying Steve for meowing, how are the kids?

    And say thanks to Shawn from all of us.

  115. 115
    Schlemizel says:

    @Tiny Tim:
    There is an interesting book by a Yale Psychiatrist about recover. He has some problems with AA in large part because the blame the person for relapse and AA does not work for everyone. He stressed that people should try 12-step but if they find it does not work for them they should seek other help. His belief is that the drinking is a symptom of other problems & if you find out why you drink you can free yourself from the need to drink. I should scrounge around & see if I can find the author & title. I heard the guy on NPR and he made a lot of sense.

    So, don’t blame yourself for failure, don’t give up and if something does not work try something different.

  116. 116
    wmd says:


    The obsessive personality is present with some problem drinkers for sure, and your anecdotal vegan/anorectic is a great exemplar.

    The 12 step constant monitoring of oneself sounds a lot like being self aware – aka conscious of oneself. That’s something encouraged in many spiritual traditions.

  117. 117
    Emma says:

    Late to the party as usual but I want to just say bravo! Tough times but you’re tougher: you knew it was time to ask for help and you did. That, by any measure, makes you the smartest and toughest guy in the room.

  118. 118
    John says:

    I lurk a lot, but I have to say I actually got a little teary at “+0 for 9 days”. You should sign off all your posts with an update like that. There are a lot of us pulling for you. I am physically a lot like you, so your successes make me a little more hopeful. Keep it up.

  119. 119
  120. 120
    stibbert says:

    Welcome back, Mr. Cole – ev’ryone here has been concerned about you, ev’ryone here is pulling for you.

    I’m glad that your ornery determination has driven you this far, many people would have lost heart & given up if they’d suffered those several pre-admission false starts that you overcame.

    I’m glad that you’re unembarrassed to write about your experience, your posts & the comments they generate are a help to those who are either struggling personally or coping w/ a friend or family-member.

  121. 121
    Steve Finlay says:

    Wow. I can’t even count the number of lessons I’m getting from your story.

  122. 122
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    Yes, I saw that you posted that but didn’t have a chance to reply. I need to go through my list of what I already have and see what I need to record. Thanks!

  123. 123
    JaneE says:

    Congratulations on your first steps. Pulling for you all the way.

  124. 124
    some guy says:

    Hats off to you, John Cole. Keep fighting the good fight.

  125. 125
    Hungry Joe says:

    Though I was sure the experience would be more or less hell, I was just as sure you’d come out of it detoxed and ready for Phase II. Now, go get ’em again.

    (Is this a great telenovela, or what?)

  126. 126
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    John, I don’t know you though I hang out at your ‘place’ all the time. But I care about your happiness and welfare. Keep taking care of yourself. I want to keep tearing up when you write posts like this.

  127. 127
    wmd says:

    I’ll relate an anecdote of my own.

    Several members of my motorcycle club are alcoholics that have stopped drinking. A few years back one of them was in a very serious accident – in a coma for 3 weeks, multiple surgeries to repair bone damage before he regained consciousness. Subsequently in a lot of pain, and rehabilitation took about 4 months before he was reliably able to walk and do some of the activities of daily living. Pain continued and was managed as best the medical establishment is able to do – via opiates (and some cannabis).

    His parents moved him away from his extended family once he could walk – without him being able to speak up for himself. About 4 months later he wanted to get back to his people and I let him move into a spare room. When he arrived I was having a screwdriver and he asked for one. I told him I knew he’d been sober for 20 years and didn’t think it was a good idea… he assured me he’d started controlled drinking so he could use less opiates. After the third time he said it was OK I made him a screwdriver.

    About a month into his staying at my house I noticed that I couldn’t find coffee cups any more. And that some of my liquor bottles were a lot lower than normal. He’d been drinking on the sly out of coffee cups so I wouldn’t notice he was drinking. When I confronted him on the empty bottle he said he’d replace it – which he did… then proceeded to drink 500 ml of it before morning. I pointed out that his drinking was not controlled, and he was engaging in behavior to hide that from me and himself… this caused him to get very angry. He moved shortly thereafter.

    I guess the point is that there are a number of warning signs for problem drinking. The hiding how much you drink one is a pretty big tell that it is a problem.

  128. 128
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tiny Tim:

    My bumper sticker view of AA is they take people who are addicted to alcohol and make them addicted to being sober.

    I have a feeling that you’ve never really had to deal with a long-term mental illness. AA meetings are basically amateur group therapy for the mental illness we currently term “alcoholism.” If you knew someone who was bipolar and saw a therapist every week, would you say that s/he was “addicted to therapy”? Should they be able to eventually stop taking lithium because otherwise that proves they’re addicted to it?

    It works for a lot of people, but I just don’t think it covers all habitual drinkers.

    As I said above, that’s probably because not everyone who drinks too much has the OCD-like syndrome that we currently term “alcoholism,” just like not everyone who is in a psychotic state is schizophrenic — they could instead be severely depressed or in a severely manic phase.

  129. 129
    Slamhole says:

    Glad to hear you are doing alright. Recovering junkie here. You are on the right track. You sound very willing to change. Stay open to suggestions. Get a sponsor. Make new friends. Rooting for you

  130. 130
    J. says:

    Welcome back. I’ve missed you. Good luck with the detox.

  131. 131
    beabea says:

    This post made my day! John, you shouldn’t have had to go through what you did to try to get help, but so glad your persistence was finally rewarded–your persistence in seeking treatment, and then persisting through it once it finally began. We are all pulling for you as you continue along your new path.

  132. 132
    James E. Powell says:

    We are, all of us, so happy to hear good news from you, John Cole. “One day at a time” may be a cliche, but it’s also an effective way of thinking that will help you get where you want to go. The truth is, and you’ll see this soon enough, all that shit you were drinking was holding you back from the fuller, richer life you long for. Best wishes.

  133. 133
    Tiny Tim says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’ll say don’t make assumptions about my experiences and leave it at that.

  134. 134

    Welcome back. Wishing you much strength.

  135. 135
    dance around in your bones says:

    Wow, it’s so great to hear from you and know you are doing pretty well, considering. I think it’s very telling that you would have compassion for another soul and take that person back to their shelter – shelter from the storm. Even when you are suffering, you think of others.

    We all missed you mucho, it’s just not quite the same w/o you even though the other front pagers have done a stellar job. Keep Calm and Carry On, soldier!

  136. 136
    JPL says:

    John, I’m so pleased that you completed the first part of the program and I wish you continued success.

  137. 137
    WereBear says:

    @Schlemizel: His belief is that the drinking is a symptom of other problems & if you find out why you drink you can free yourself from the need to drink.

    That sums up my view; I see drinking and drugging and gambling and shopping all parts of the same problem. Especially when you see someone trying to kick something without addressing their coping skills or their issues… and wind up with a problem with something else.

  138. 138
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tiny Tim:

    Then I guess I don’t get why you seem to think that alcoholics should be able to get by without ongoing therapy. Or am I totally misunderstanding what you meant by “addicted to being sober”?

    We can use my situation as an example: I have ADHD. I see a therapist once a month and take medication for it. I will probably need to do both of those things for the rest of my life. Am I addicted to having ADHD, or am I getting treatment for a chronic mental health issue?

    ETA: I should say, the anti-therapy bias in our society drives me up the wall. There should be no shame in saying, Hey, I need help with this when you’re dealing with an ongoing mental health issue, any more than there should be shame attached to being an insulin-dependent diabetic.

  139. 139
    Jay C says:

    Good to hear from you, John: welcome back!

  140. 140
    Thor Heyerdahl says:

    All the best to you during your journey and it is nice to have you back.

  141. 141
    PhoenixRising says:

    Congrats on the 9 days.

    Hang in there with the reporting.

  142. 142
    Nellie in NZ says:

    Kia kaha, from New Zealand. Wiki says it is used by Maori but really it has spread through all populations here. (Stay strong – a Māori phrase used by the Māori people of New Zealand meaning stay strong, used as an affirmation. The phrase has significant meaning for the Māori: popularised through its usage by the 28th Māori Battalion during World War II, it is found in titles of books and songs, as well as a motto.

    Linguistically, kia kaha consists of the desiderative verbal particle kia, used here as ‘an encouragement to achieve the state named’,[1] that is, to achieve kaha or strength. Kaha derives from Proto-Polynesian *kafa, meaning “strong” or “great”; *kafa is also the Proto-Polynesian term for sennit rope, a strong rope made from coconut fibres and used for lashing canoes, weapons, and buildings together. Wiki)

  143. 143
    Mike in NC says:

    Good luck.

  144. 144
    Mnemosyne says:


    That article I linked to at #128 helped me understand better why AA works really well for some people, but doesn’t work for everyone. Basically, AA can work well for that population that has that OCD-like syndrome in the paper that they haven’t quite identified, but if you don’t have that syndrome, AA probably isn’t going to help all that much, because you have a different problem.

  145. 145
    Stephen Benson says:

    way to go john. the hard physical part is over. listen to your body cravings with food. we instinctively begin to get hungry for what our body needs. hang in there troop.

  146. 146
    PhoenixRising says:

    @Mnemosyne: AA, at least as practiced everywhere I’ve ever lived, has an anti-therapy bias too. And it ain’t therapy or medicine.

    My wife wrote a self-help book on the topic & she’s forgotten more than I plan to learn about just how strongly AA pushed against medication for addicts…regardless of what the meds fix.

  147. 147
    David Fud says:

    @Joel Hanes: Exactly what I was going to comment on regarding gastrointestinal problems, including bad breath, which is likely caused by a bad gut bug (heliobacter or some such name, can’t remember). Also, add infant probiotics that you can get from at least some high end groceries as well as some other fermented foods such as sour krout and kimchi. It will really make a huge difference in your gut, John. I had a round of food poisoning that killed off my good gut bacteria with exactly the symptoms you describe, and I cleared them up with this method. Glad to see you back and good luck

  148. 148
    Miki says:

    Good for you, John. Your description of detox is spot on. I tried to fight the urge to sleep at first but had to give in, finally, and sorta kinda enjoyed it. No appetite for me, either, which was sad considering I detoxed over Thanksgiving.

    Someone mentioned sugar craving – tru dat. Big time.

    And the brightness and color, etc.? Yep. I also felt extraordinarily clean – squeaky clean. Weird. But fair warning – for me, this was followed by the screetchy screamers as my brain was learning to live without the booze. It passes. And consuming copious amounts of coffee w/sugar makes it tough at times so watch that.

    Sleep will come. Not necessarily when you want it but it will come. I didn’t work during outpatient treatment – I needed to sleep.

    People are who will hold you up and help you out and have your back and teach you the most, John. BJ peeps are part of them and you’re about to meet a whole lot more.


  149. 149
    PhoenixRising says:

    Pro tip: sodas for adults make a great treat, chilled and from a grownup glass. They go well with fruits, which are your body’s craving because you’re used to glucose & fructose will do. Anecdotally, diet drinks that are sweet like HFCS-sweetened sodas seem to hit the liver/pancreas like a punch, but YMMV.

    We buy a lot of Dry brand cucumber soda around here. If your local store doesn’t carry that (Kroger brands are carrying it now) there’s a lot of variation in the low-sugar drink market that didn’t exist 10 years ago. So you’ve got that going for you. You can also try an Asian market–that’s where we used to get cucumber, lychee & other not-sweet drinks.

    /secondhand advice from Mrs. Phoenix, who has 11 years of sobriety next week>

  150. 150


    That sums up my view; I see drinking and drugging and gambling and shopping all parts of the same problem.

    They’re all signs of some underlying problem, and they can all be signs of the same underlying problems, but not every case is a response to the same thing. Some people have external problems and turn to problem behaviors like drinking, eating, or shopping as part of their coping mechanism. For them, you can usually eliminate the problem behavior by eliminating the external stress that they’re trying to cope with. Other people have neurochemical problems that make them prone to addictive behavior in any case, and they’re going to have a life-long struggle with it no matter what they do.

  151. 151
    Ruckus says:

    For me it was depression. But the underlying cause was anger and not knowing how to successfully/reasonably/safely express it. Was in weekly therapy for 5 yrs, working on it. And I still have to watch out for the depression. I can not imagine how my life would have gone without the therapy. More and more rapidly downhill I believe.

    My take on addiction is that some are physically addicted, some mentally and some both. OCD can certainly lead to destructive behavior, in the worst cases that’s true even without substance abuse. But substance abuse and OCD is a bad combination as one just feeds another. That we as humans continue to find ways to not help our fellow inhabitants of this place survive confounds me. Maybe it is survival of the whatever that drives us, that the weak can be cast off for the predators. It may be time to recognize that we don’t need to do that anymore.

  152. 152
    Suzanne says:

    Lots of love, Cole. You were missed.

  153. 153
    Ash Can says:

    Congratulations on a huge and successful first step. Here’s hoping all the subsequent ones turn out to be easier than you expected.

  154. 154
    Newdealfarmgrrrlll says:

    @John: same here, reading with a big lump in my throat.

    Like a lot of us, I was hoping no JGC posts meant admittance success, so YAY, good news indeed.

    Back in the day when I sobered up 30+ years ago, all the corny sayings helped me a lot. I’d always sneered at trite sayings, but damn! They sure helped. In the early days my biggest aid was “HALT,” as in, don’t get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely , or Tired. When I started spirally down, sure enough it would be one of the four that I’d ignored while bulling ahead on something or another.

  155. 155
    wmd says:


    I referenced Stanton Peele earlier, I think that’s who you’re thinking of in your post.

    Addiction is not a consequence of taking drugs and drinking. Rather, it arises from the way in which these and other compelling activities fit into people’s lives and meanings.

  156. 156
    WereBear says:

    @Mnemosyne: What I like about AA is the way it offers a template for maturity. I’ve seen people who sadly did not get a clue growing up take comfort in the rules they never got before.

    And their concept of a “dry drunk” is one who stops drinking, but does not address their emotional, or other, issues. That can be a very useful concept.

    I can see how the structure can be helpful in OCD, too. Likewise, I know people who are doing great with cognitive behavioral therapy; they needed a new way to think about things.

    I agree that therapy can be the answer to a lot of problems. We don’t expect people to take out their own appendix. Why is it expected that we figure out our own issues when we have our nose pressed against them?

  157. 157
    Chat Noir says:

    I’m glad you’re heading in the right direction, John. I wonder how you’re doing every time I log onto Balloon Juice; I always enjoy reading your posts and the comments they generate. I’m rooting for you to succeed in your detox program.

    On a sad personal note, my dolly 15-year old cat, Sherman, is suffering from pancreatitis. He stopped eating and drinking yesterday morning; I’ve given him some pain meds since our visit to the vet yesterday morning and now he’s just kind of in a zombie state. I’m going to take him to our vet tomorrow morning so he can “go home.” I lost his littermate, Natalie, just three months ago to the same ailment. Saying goodbye to a beloved pet is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced.

  158. 158
    Lee Hartmann says:

    Congrats on the strength to undertake this.

  159. 159
    RaflW says:

    @Tiny Tim:

    some of them would relapse. Not because they craved booze, really, but because they missed the social aspects, being a “normal person” etc

    That was certainly part of my issue for a while. Maybe being a bit older now (ohhh, almost 49!), I realize that a fair number of normal people don’t drink, or only rarely do. I used to think everyone did.

    I’ve been sober 12 years now, and go to plenty of social functions, my partner is a non-AA, “take it or leave it and really, just leave it” non-drinker. We host parties with BYOB, we travel to Italy and just smile and say “no thanks” when every restaurant offers wine (sometimes even included in the base price – that ne bugs the bargain-hunter in me!). It all works fine, IMO.

    The social pressure was all in my own mind-chatter.

    Anyway, congrats on completing phase one of debutante school, John. It’s disorienting, but that’s the point – our previous orientations got us to where we need the wacky charm school to help us press reset.

  160. 160
    RaflW says:

    Argh, moderation! Some sort of embedded no-no word above. FYWP.

  161. 161
    Dilbatt says:

    Glad to hear you are getting the help you need. I’ve been there myself. Hang in there. If you need any help, please reach out. One day at a time, brother.

  162. 162
    WereBear says:

    @Chat Noir: That’s rough, going through the same thing all over again. I’m sorry you are losing such lovely companions.

  163. 163
    Frivolous says:

    Delurking to say: Congratulations on going through rehab. I’m very glad for you. I hope you stay sober and get healthy, and that your pancreatitis resolves.

  164. 164
    satby says:

    @everbluegreen: yes it does. Cole is the best kind of a person. I don’t know him in meatspace but his unconsciously generous nature shows up in all his stories.

    Oh, hi John! As Ruckus and others have said, glad to hear from you, hang in there and it will get better. We love ya, not so big anymore guy!

  165. 165
    BGinCHI says:

    Checking in very late to say that we have missed your charm and elegance, John.

    Hang in there. One day at a time is not a cliche.

  166. 166


    Very brave, John. Good luck.

  167. 167
    Al Anderson says:

    Congratulations on making the decision to save yourself. Alcohol kills a lot of people. As a recovering alcoholic I was slowly dying also. You’ve a great attitude, it’s hard to stop an addiction. I found many sober friends to help me. AA works for me, maybe not for you but keep an open mind. My life since that day 26 years ago when I asked for help has been amazing. Bad things still happen, but I don’t have to drink over them or drink to celebrate the great times. All the best for you:)

  168. 168
    WaterGirl says:

    So happy to hear from you and read your most excellent post.

    I tried to step up while you were gone and did the “who’s the best doggie?” thing – in your honor – with my Tucker every morning. You might be overwhelmed by Lily if she gets the zooms, but I look forward to hearing about your reunion with all your furry guys.

    Love you, Cole!

  169. 169
    RaflW says:

    Oh, I also want to add, John, that not sleeping was one of my big fears of sobering up. And frankly, the first several weeks were not good. At least I did outpatient, so I could be restless in my own bed & home.

    But it passed. I’m not a great sleeper now, but it’s been 12 years, and occasional short nights or awake times at 4 am have not proven fatal or even particularly problematic. If I had to live a straight up 8-5 workday life, it might be a bit more of a problem, but I’m thinking that a college prof/blogger can work with it.

    And chances are, after really, really detoxing (ie: 90 to 180 days from now) you may be sleeping like a baby. Who knows? Booze is actually a terrible sleep remedy, but one that is self-prescribed by waaaaay to many of us.

  170. 170
    Fort Geek says:

    Welcome back, man.

  171. 171
    wasabi gasp says:

    Good for you, skinny bones.

    Stay strong and be nice to your mamma.

  172. 172
    mobile RoonieRoo says:

    I just want to jump in to reiterate how proud I am of you. My late husband was what they called black belt AA. Even after almost a decade of sobriety he fell off the wagon a couple of months before his death. It’s a brutal disease with a lifelong fight and we will be there with you as long as you will have us.

  173. 173
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    Cole, good to see you back man. Hi to all the critters and Shawn.

  174. 174
    kc says:

    Glad you’re back. Now how about some got-damn Steve pics.

  175. 175
    Richard Bottoms says:

    Welcome back. I had the advantage of my father being a cautionary tale, otherwise I might be right where you were.

    Do what ever it takes to get through one more day, and in time it will get easier. It’s never over, and it never goes away but all you need is enough strength to say, not today. If you need some strength for today, you can take a little of mine.

  176. 176
    WereBear says:

    @RaflW: I’m in the process of a major sleep revamp. There’s a lot of new information out there about improving our sleep. I urge you to look into it.

    I thought I was a natural night owl and was getting enough good sleep until the bottom fell out and I got viscous insomnia. Simple strategies like turning down the lights at sunset, minimizing or eliminating blue light from computers and televisions, and using a sleep mask did wonders.

    Also, studies show that a burst of intense exercise, as simple as ten pushups right before bed, can help a lot too.

  177. 177
    Beeb says:

    @Chat Noir: I’m so sorry.

  178. 178
    Citizen_X says:

    Welcome back, John. Good to see you getting well.

    On a more selfish note, I’m happy to see sobriety is not dulling your writing a bit. This,

    I just feel like I need sunglasses for my whole body.

    is a particularly wonderful turn of phrase.

    Keep steady, brother.

  179. 179
    Helen says:

    Welcome back Cole.

    Have patience with yourself regarding the sleeping thing. My guess is that you were not, in fact, a “WORLD CLASS sleeper” but really every night you were “passing out” and then every morning “coming to.” That is not sleeping. So now your brain is looking for the booze, not finding it, and does not know how the hell to put you to sleep on its own. Don’t worry. It will eventually recalibrate itself.

    Glad to have you back.

  180. 180
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Tiny Tim: Indeed. We should all refrain from making assumptions about the rest of us here.

    @PhoenixRising: And AA as I’ve seen it, at open meetings with the former M. Q., has an enormous anti-medication bias, which can be quite dangerous. The notion that addiction is not a disease and relapse is a failure does a tremendous disservice to many of the people AA seeks to help. It really seems to be a system based on the moral model of addition and other brain disorders.

    And I know I’m a broken record on the topic, but medical issues need medical advice. AA/NA can be helpful to some people, and disastrous for others. It’s had a cultish monopoly on addiction “treatment” for decades now, and it remains a radical statement that there are other methods, or flaws with the AA approach.

  181. 181
    Annamal says:

    Dude, welcome back, it’s going to be rough, be kind to yourself.

    you have an entire community hoping for you…

  182. 182
    Dee Loralei says:

    Glad you are back, John. Stay strong!

  183. 183
    MomSense says:

    So happy to hear your news today, John. I wish you all the best as you start this next phase of recovery. Like others have said, I hope you reach out for the support you need as you work through addiction recovery.

  184. 184
    Scamp Dog says:

    Glad to hear you got in and got the first step squared away!

  185. 185
    Tiny Tim says:

    You sleep if you’re “passed out” but REM sleep is inhibited which is a problem

  186. 186
    Bob In Portland says:

    John, good luck. Alcohol fucked up my family for a few generations. You will find your relief elsewhere. Good luck, and nice to see you back. You’ve got your own cheering section here.

  187. 187
    Genine says:

    Welcome back, John. I’m so glad you’re on the road to recovery.

  188. 188
    Mj_Oregon says:

    Thought about you all last week, John, hoping you were finally getting the help you wanted. I’m glad to see you weren’t slacking off while you were away. Blessings for your continuing journey to better health!

  189. 189
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Chat Noir: It’s never easy; they leave such big pawprints on our hearts. I’m sorry to hear of your losses.

  190. 190
    Jewish Steel says:

    Some fine gentlemen with large firearms then escorted me a mile to the rehab facility, and I checked in.

    Is this protocol? Or something special just for you?

  191. 191
    Lolis says:

    I am pleased to meet you. Welcome back.

  192. 192

    @Chat Noir: Very sorry to hear about Natalie and Sherman. 15 years is a good long time — but they leave us way too soon, no matter when that is.

  193. 193
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Chat Noir:

    I’m so sorry. It’s never easy.

  194. 194
    BubbaDave says:

    Good on ya, ya grumpy bastard. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. (Except on icy sidewalks when carrying Lily. That ends badly.)

  195. 195
    Nutella says:

    First, welcome back and congratulations for figuring out what to do to get the medical establishment to take you seriously. I will remember your story whenever I hear someone sneer about an addict that “Why don’t they just sign up for treatment?” It’s not as easy as that.



    Sounds like you’re right on track with what Cracked’s John Cheese said would happen. IOW, it’s all totally normal side effects of stopping the booze.

    I was amused to see in that article that the example for absent-mindedness was forgetting where the mustard is.

  196. 196
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    Good to hear you’re doing well JC. I know many people who gave up partying and none of them regret it. Hopefully your program didn’t push Jesus on you too bad. Take care of your self.

  197. 197
    Anne Laurie says:

    Welcome back, John!

    One advantage to being a hardcore “elder brother”, you’ve given so much to so many people, now you can give them the gift of returning the favor. Steve will always be glad to come sit on your lap & give your hands something to do, and Lily & Rosie will be good with going for a walk no matter how weird the hour. The humans in your life get the joy of doing for you, too also.

    Something I’ve heard a lot of alcoholics say is that they find it really really hard to ask for help, but it’s easier when they ask people who owe them for past favors. Just from your stories here, there’s plenty of those people right at your doorstep, so you’ve got that advantage!

  198. 198
    Funkula says:

    Welcome back, John. Was going to link the John Cheese article but it’s already been taken care of.

  199. 199
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Chat Noir: we lost two in four months two years ago. Bad feeling, very damn bad. Peace and strength to you and yours.

    And also to Cole.

  200. 200
    Delk says:

    Way to go!

    It took a while for my brain to rewire. Was very noticeable when I was reading a book. Spent more time rereading than reading.

    The big bonus besides feeling great and being an overall nicer person was having a hell of a lot more money in my checking account.

    Today is day 365 for me, tomorrow is the big one year mark.

  201. 201
    Juliet says:

    In my extended family we have alcoholics, social drinkers and non-drinkers (former alcoholics or on the path to heavy drinking). The drinkers are very good at not trying to get the non-drinkers to start. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family, and leave the drinkers who can’t leave you alone outside of your circle.

  202. 202
    COB says:

    Wait until you feel the joy of waking up without a hangover, day after day after day, week after week, month after month, then year after year. It really is liberating to feel clear-headed each morning when you open your eyes.
    Good luck on the path you’ve chosen. It may be perilous at the moment, but it does improve over time.

  203. 203
    J R in WV says:

    @Chat Noir:


    Sorry for your loss. Mrs J was in the hospital for a couple of months with spetic shock caused by pneumonia back in fall of 2012. While she was in there, I spent lots of time with her. I also had to deal with our two oldest cats, Rufus and Harvey, who both had kidney failure. Our vets are really good, empathic, love cat and dogs, so they helped me through it as much as they could.

    Rufus was thin and nearly 20, and he would creep into bed when I was asleep, and lay aginst my bald head to pick up the excess heat I was throwing off. When he failed and took his final trip, Harvey took his place. Then when Harvey went, I had no cat to keep my head warm.

    But Mrs J came home soon thereafter, and all the other critters were fine.

    JOHN COLE – welcome home. Don’t fool yourself about being detoxed and now having the strength to take your problems on by yourself. Get the help you need, don’t give up on the structured assistance you will require to get better and stay sober for the rest of your life.

    So glad to hear your detox worked OK. Obvious how far gone you were when you hit the ER, you wouldn’t have needed that level of medical intervention if you weren’t near the exit ramp from OD’ing on the alcohol.

    Take care, blog often. There is still a lot wrong with the world out here, and you can help by mustering your crew on B-J to fight off the lunatics!

    Best of luck!

    J R

  204. 204
    Elroy's Lunch says:

    Good for you John. Keep going.

  205. 205
    Ruckus says:

    I’d say I’m amazed at the number of people who have the same story but my experience tells me that being amazed would be all wrong. Different maybe in the small details but the same overall story of alcohol.
    Congrats to all of you who recognized that a change was necessary and making that happen. John may be one of the latest on that road but he is by far not the only one. I think that helps, that knowledge that others have been there and been successful and that the 5 things no one talks about is all part of the process.
    Especially congrats on the year. A big accomplishment.

  206. 206
    vapor says:

    Good for you. Your posts are eloquent and edifying and I appreciate your efforts. Take care, one day at a time.

  207. 207
    T says:

    You’re the reason I read this blog, Cole. I’ve been lurking on this blog for years, and this is my first foray into comments. This whole rehab thing? Okay: I guess if you can do it, I can do it.

  208. 208
    Mnemosyne says:

    Finally remembered where the headline is from! (Not “Sympathy for the Devil,” by the way.)

  209. 209
    msilaneous says:

    Welcome home, John! You were missed.

  210. 210
    Jane2 says:

    Welcome back, John, and I wish you continued success with your recovery.

    @Chat Noir: It’s so tough to lose pets. I feel for you losing two…I have brother and sister kitties and know they’ll go in relative proximity to each other. Not looking forward to it.

  211. 211
    KG says:

    @WereBear: I’ve fought insomnia off and on for a few years. I’ve always been a night owl, if left to my own devices I’d stay up until 3 and wake up around 10. Recently, I started trying to drink a lot more water (getting yo half your weight in ounces when you’re 265 us a chore). I realized I was probably dehydrated because with the increased water intake, I started sleeping much better; like I wasn’t tired when I woke up and wouldn’t wake up four times a night.

  212. 212
    Newdealfarmgrrrlll says:

    @Delk: congrats! That is a big accomplishment!

  213. 213
    Xenos says:


    glad to hear you got through the first week. This is heavy lifting, but you have got support and motivation, so I expect you will pull this off and keep it going.

    Hope you feel better soon, at least a bit more better each day until you feel the wind at your back. And I hope our words make it a bit easier, as this is a good bunch of people wishing the best for you.

    And pass our thanks to Shawn for being such a good friend!

  214. 214
    kideni says:

    Welcome back, John, and thanks for keeping us up to date. I’m glad you made it through the first stages of all this. It’s great to see that you’re able to talk about your experiences with your usual eloquence and grace.

  215. 215
    vapor says:

    Good for you John. Your posts are eloquent and edifying and I appreciate your efforts. Take care, one day at a time.

  216. 216
    Denali says:

    So good to hear from you – you were missed!

  217. 217
    utterdregs says:

    You are doing a really good thing, John. As ever, this lurker is rooting for you. You can – you WILL – do this.

    And if I may echo comments of others, the sleep thing will come. When I was drinking, I’d fall asleep (read: pass out) after dinner around 8, then wake up at 10 and stay up late with, of course, more drinking. Felt like I slept a lot overall, but it was pretty ineffective and I’d be nodding off at work mid-afternoon. 4 years on, that problem is long since gone.

  218. 218
    phoebes-in-santa fe says:

    Cole, I will merely echo the previous 212 comments and say, “you’re doing a great job”. BUT, could you maybe sneak in a picture of the animals before you go off. We missed you but we also miss your companions

  219. 219
    chopper says:

    And to think how hard you fought to have that experience. Glad you got out the other end, so to speak.

  220. 220
    Isua says:

    One more lurker chiming in that I’m thinking of you and so glad you finally got yourself into a rehab! You’ve got a ton of people rooting for you out here!

  221. 221
    Soonergrunt says:

    Welcome, home, John. It’s good to see you again.

  222. 222
    SarahT says:

    We nmissed you a lot, John Cole.

  223. 223
    Helena Montana says:

    I lost both my sibs to alcohol-related diseases (within 3 months of each other–one was 58, the other 66). There are no words sufficient to say how glad I am you’re doing this.

  224. 224
    kcr says:

    It’s good to have you back. Take care of yourself.

  225. 225
    Nina-the-first says:

    Path to sobriety–you’re doing it right :)

  226. 226
    MikeBoyScout says:

    U Da man Cole.
    And a big THANK-YOU to Shawn for being there for you.

  227. 227
    baquist says:

    Welcome back; missed you like crazy. Best wishes and stay strong!

  228. 228
    Tim in SF says:

    How did you manage to watch Divergent? It’s not out yet and I can’t find a blue ray torrent.

  229. 229
    FlyingToaster says:

    @Joel Hanes: Actually one good thing we did here was start making our own yoghurt every week.

    Half a gallon of milk (heat to 190, cool to 120), a 6-oz carton of plain Stonyfield Farms yoghurt, overnight in the preheated-to-warm-n-turned-off-with-light-on oven. We usually can use the previous yoghurt batch end to start the next, about every 4th batch start with a new carton.

    Not genetically disposed to alcoholism, but a fair amount of GI troubles on both sides mean that we try to pre-empt trouble.

  230. 230
    Bex says:

    Keep the journal going. It will help you and a lot of people you may never know. Great to see your post.

  231. 231
    Cain says:

    Congrats Cole, it is was great to hear your report. You’re week seems a lot more crazy than mine. Of course, I was at a confernce in France, and it’s kind of hard because I really hate eating so much outside food. Talking about bad diets… Looking forward to well cooked food at home.

  232. 232
    WereBear says:

    @KG: That’s great! I’m also making a point of hydrating.

  233. 233
    Yatsuno says:

    Welcome home. I hope you stay healthy & you be gentle on yourself.

  234. 234
    WaterGirl says:

    @T: Are you planning to follow in John’s footsteps? I didn’t want your comment to go unnoticed.

  235. 235
    Comradde PhysioProffe says:

    Good luck, holmes!

  236. 236
    Joe says:

    Congratulations from a lurker who cares about you more than you could have guessed. Stay strong.

  237. 237
    joel hanes says:

    BTW, big guy, you’ve probably noticed that your commentariat is eager to help.

    Rehab and continuing therapy ain’t free, in my experience.

    If the bills become a problem, put up a Donate button and allow us to help.

  238. 238
    Tommy says:

    Just got back from my town’s parade. Called Homecoming, or to be more accurate it is really a German type Oktoberfest in August. A time for two days the entire town shuts down and just parties. I feel a little bad saying that in this threat, but you can buy buckets of beer. Not bottles in a bucket, but in fact a bucket of draft beer.

    I don’t have any children myself, but what I love is the entire event is pretty family friendly. Last night I was at our park, and we have a lot of parks where I live, and I went on rides. Played games, well games where I could never win, but fun to play none the less. Trying not to look like a creep it was nice to just give one of the vendors $100 and saying let all the kids play for free please.

    Oh and the old car show, stunning. Folks really seem to like their rides ….

    Wish I could bring you all over to my house for today. It is pretty cool!

  239. 239
    John O says:

    Just got home from a no-wireless, no TV weekend, am whipped, and don’t feel at all like going through every comment, and I hope (and suspect) someone has brought this up already, but Anabuse is NOT really an “anti-craving” Rx. It’s an “instant hangover” Rx. You will feel like miserable shit if you combine ETOH and Anabuse. From Wikipedia, a snippet:

    As acetaldehyde is one of the major causes of the symptoms of a “hangover”, this produces immediate and severe negative reaction to alcohol intake. Some five to 10 minutes after alcohol intake, the patient may experience the effects of a severe hangover for a period of 30 minutes up to several hours. Symptoms include flushing of the skin, accelerated heart rate, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, throbbing headache, visual disturbance, mental confusion, postural syncope, and circulatory collapse.

  240. 240
    cbear says:

    Good work, Cole. Hang in there and just keep driving on.

  241. 241
    Tommy says:

    @joel hanes: Amen. I went through this years ago. It is very, very hard to walk into someplace and say I am powerless, I need help. People that have not dealt with addiction might not understand, but it is a hard, hard thing to do. You know in your heart what you are doing is wrong. But doesn’t really make it any easier.

  242. 242
    wvng says:

    Really good to “hear” your voice again in the house that Cole built. Everyone here loves you and has your back in your good fight. Stay strong.

  243. 243
    mtiffany says:

    Two things about falling off the wagon that I learned from my friend Swimmy: one, sometimes you can see the bumps in the road from a mile ahead and sometimes you never even see them coming, so keep a firm grip as best you can; two, if a bump in the road does knock you off the wagon (and it can happen), when you land at best you’re going to get the wind knocked out of you — so catch your breath, get up, dust yourself off, and then run like hell after it — there will always be at least one hand reaching out for you to grab hold of so you can climb back on.

    Now go hug your heterosexual life partner and play with the piglets. Some more Steve pics would be nice.

  244. 244
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    Detox is hell. Treatment is heaven (at least for me at the Mayo Clinc, it was)

    Do INPATIENT. As for sleep, benadryl and melatonin are they key. I quit Benadryl two months after quitting drinking, and I was able to quit melatonin after four months.

    Best of luck, man.

  245. 245
    Ricky says:

    Look on the bright side. You didn’t have a stroke in detox and wake up in a totally different need for for rehab.

    Nobody’s advice who went through this (and still is) fits anybody else perfectly, though it is offered freely and frequently.

    I am not going to say congratulations for waiting to act until you were staring death in the face. That was my situation as well. I will tell you for me, once sober, that is a thought it helps to keep in mind any time you want to say “Fuck it, one drink won’t hurt me.” Yes it will. It already did.

  246. 246
    tazj says:

    I’m glad you’re back and getting some help.

    As mainly a lurker here from about 2009, I wanted to thank you for this blog. I was directed over here by my brother during the healthcare debate. At the risk of sounding corny, I appreciate the fact that I can learn a lot from this blog because it’s not all snarky comments and insider jokes.

  247. 247
    wu ming says:

    hey john, been lurking here for years, and i just want to say that i’m really proud of you and relieved that you finally got somewhere to take you seriously and let you in. i’ve got a ton of alcoholics in my family (i count myself very lucky that the curse appears to have missed me, somehow), and i know how badly it can wreck lives if left untreated and unacknowledged.

  248. 248
    Ann Marie says:

    I’m so glad you’re back and made it through this first stage! Do try to eat, though, even if you have trouble keeping it down (or from leaving earlier than desirable).

  249. 249
    Comrade Mary says:

    Wow, it’s great to hear from you again! It sounds as if the detox experience was tough enough to be memorable but bearable enough to be, um, bearable.

    So how was the grand reunion of you and the piglets, apart from Steve scaring the toxins out of you?

  250. 250
    mark says:

    Welcome back. Like the last line in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest “I’ve been away a long time” You’ve already done the hard part. The mental subconscious part isn’t easy but I inverted my self-destructive part of me 180 degrees and instead of sadistically punishing myself, I masochistically denied myself every time I had the urge like this “you can’t have that, fucker!” instead of before which was “you deserve it, go ahead (which was really me saying “thank you sir may I have another”) ” .Go ahead and hate the alcohol purveyors, not yourself. You have the balls to do something about it. From one veteran to another “soldier on”.

    When you get a chance, see the beautiful movie “Boyhood”. It is the best American movie I’ve seen in 10 years at least. There is even a subtle anti-booze message as well. Saw it 3 hours ago and it is still with me.

    We all love you, John. You can do this.

    and btw, sober, you write better. You definitely do.

  251. 251
    SIA says:

    @ChatNoir: so sorry to hear that. My condolences.

  252. 252
    shelley says:

    and occasional short nights or awake times at 4 am have not proven fatal or even particularly problematic.

    At such times, TCM’s my friend.
    The other night they were showing Mel Brook’s version of ‘To Be Or Not To Be.” Loved this scene where he’s just gotten back from another trip to the Nazi Censors and been told of one more group they can’t depict on stage.
    “Sweetheart,’ he says frustratingly to his wife, ‘Without Gays, Jews or Gypsies, there IS no theater!”

  253. 253
    SIA says:


  254. 254
    WereBear says:

    @shelley: “But he’s world famous in Poland!”

  255. 255
    debbie says:

    Congratulations. You might want to try vitamin water as it really helps with rehydrating and flushing out the garbage in your cells.

  256. 256


    In Weight Watchers, we say, “Call it a vegetable and move on.” As in, don’t beat yourself up if you slip, just make note of why it happened, learn from it, and move on.

  257. 257
    SIA says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Hey! HAPPY BIRTHDAY SD! Hope you see this, and you’ve had a great birthday!

  258. 258
    Keith G says:

    John, I am glad you are on a path to healthier and better days.

    @T: It sounds like you are at the point of an important decision. Do you have someone to talk it over with?

  259. 259


    It’s not nearly as good as the Lubitsch original, but there’s some good stuff in there. The scene where Tura discovers the lieutenant sleeping in his bed is better in the Brooks version, IMO, if only because they didn’t have to deal with stupid censorship restrictions.

  260. 260
    TR says:

    Awesome. Be strong, man.

  261. 261
    Rome Again says:

    Good job John. Proud of you.

  262. 262
    Sasha says:

    When I quit smoking things were really surreal. I slept badly for days and had strange sensations: random pains in my legs and my finger tips felt like they had paper cuts. It passed, in time.

    I wish you well. It’s difficult to give up an addiction but I am a big fan of medication. I don’t know if I could have stopped smoking without it. Take everything they offer you.

  263. 263
    marianne19 says:

    John, so glad to see a post from you. Of course you feel raw. The alcohol put a damper on everything. We drink to get numb. For sleep, if you’re up to it, try some exercise. Even just getting out for a walk and getting some fresh air will help. You have so many of us wishing the best for you.

  264. 264
    The Very Reverend Crimson Fire of Compassion says:

    Growing sucks, doesn’t it? On the other hand, this aint yer first rodeo. Remember when you were a conservative? It’s gotta be obvious to you at this point, no matter how bad it sucks (and I’ve worked rehab and hospice for years, so I’ve had plenty of chances to see how bad it can get), it has to be obvious to you that you’re steadily becoming a better human being. The fact that it’s awful just makes it heroic. And that’s mostly what I want to tell you. You’re my hero, John Cole. You got this.

  265. 265
    xane says:

    thank you so much for sharing–this, and everything. sending healing energies…namaste @:)

  266. 266
    Gozer says:

    Good going JC. Glad to see you back.

    Though I lurk I’m looking forward to seeing you back in the saddle for good. I

  267. 267
    different-church-lady says:

    And here’s to +0 for ∞ days, if that’s what it takes.

  268. 268
    mai naem says:

    Hey, dude – I am just relieved to see this post. I’ve been thinking about you the past couple of days. I guess i misunderstood your last post. I thought they were going to stick you in the hospital for several days to get the pancreatitis resolved. Anyhoo, glad you are doing well so far. I say so far because I’m superstitious and don’t want to jinx anything. Maybe you should start doing yoga. That might help you with the sleep and twitching.

  269. 269
    zzyzx says:

    @Tiny Tim: Sounds like me and diabetes. Easy to avoid the bad food, harder to avoid the social aspects.

  270. 270
    Sandia Blanca says:

    So happy to hear from you so soon, John! I thought we would have to wait a whole month. But missing your posts is totally worth it, now that we know you’ve begun your healing process. So very happy for you.

  271. 271
    skyweaver says:

    Welcome back, John. We’re behind you 100%.

  272. 272
    Jinx says:

    Cole, I don’t know you personally nor do I comment much (or ever) on your blog. However, I do do read you and your commentariat. These folks, and I, adore you and want the best for you. I’ve got puppies and kitties in your calendars and live damn close, (Lex, KY). All I can say is that I’m so proud of you and I feel for you and what you are going through. I adore your pets and friends. Hold tight.

  273. 273
    Roy Greene says:

    Mr Cole,

    I will tell you a way be remain a social drinker. I take you have started your detox in a most serious manner. Now that you have started you must I will repeat must go now 40 days with no alcohol. Anything less than 40 days means you are not able to control your habit. After that limit yourself to 3 drinks a day. That first drink you will feel it race through your body, you feel it in your muscles. As you know the more you drink the less you feel the effects and the tolerance will start to build back up. Remember life is better through a controlled buzz if you must drink. Maintaining control means you must twice a year do 40 days you must in oder to know you maintain control. This goes for all habits. Trust me on this I speak from experience. I am 63 grew up during the 60’s followed by the drug and alcohol laden 70’s.

    I am a long time reader and greatly appreciate your work as wells as all the work those fine folks the that write with you. I salute your work with animals, truly above and beyond. A special place their is for those that try to keep animals safe.

    Keep on trukin’

  274. 274
    Violet says:

    Welcome back, John. Congrats on getting through this bit. I don’t know much about what you’re going through but it sounds like you’re doing all the right things and have found how to access the system. Best wishes going forward. Good to have you back.

  275. 275
    gbear says:

    @Roy Greene: I’m going to respond to your comment using a different subject but the meaning should be clear:

    “You know what they call men who practice that form of birth control?”


  276. 276
    mainsailset says:

    Good job John!
    A little insight into the no sleep, sleep, bright lights sensitivity and case of the nerves. Those are all symptoms of adrenal fatigue and surely you are a person that has had some adrenal pumping moments lately. Your regular supplement store has a variety of good adrenal support supplements, they work wonders and you probably won’t even finish a bottle up before you feel better. Just to be on safe side, one of the docs might give you the simple test if you have a followup to determine if you need anything more than the supplement. Ain’t it grand to know that you’re fixable!

  277. 277
    SuperHrefna says:

    I am so happy for you that you are finally getting the help you need to kick this thing! My life is all topsy turvey right now as I am on holiday in a Australia, but reading your post has absolutely made my morning. Good luck with the outpatient and 28 day, I think both are a very good idea, it is so hard to crack an addiction and the more support you have the more likely you are to learn the new habits of mind that will see you through this.

    As someone said above do pay attention to HALT ( hungry, angry, lonely, tired) they are four potent triggers. My own overriding problem is chronic anxiety and depression but I can testify that paying attention to those four seriously helps me look after myself without slipping into self destructive behavior.

    You are so caring to those around you, it is now time to look after yourself as if you’d just rescued yourself from a cage at the shelter. You can do this. You know how. You just have to know deep inside that you are worth it, every bit as worthy as Lily, or Rosie or Steve.

  278. 278
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Roy Greene:
    You cannot be serious. John Cole has only just begun to quit drinking, and isn’t even all the way through the process. This is plainly not the time for him to think about drinking again, even in moderation.

  279. 279
    SuperHrefna says:

    @Sasha: I was a complete lunatic for the first three months after I kicked cigarettes. I couldn’t have done it without nicotine replacement therapy and some really good friends and I still shudder to think of that time. I felt so ill, and every hour lasted a lifetime.

    Now everytime I am tempted to have just one puff I remind myself what kicking the habit was like and I turn away. I never want to go through that again. It’s been 13 years since my last cigarette and I truly hope and believe that I will never have another. I’m not tempted more than a few times a year these days, but I stay vigilant. I know myself and I know I would never stop with just one drag.

  280. 280
    ThalarctosMaritimus says:

    Congratulations, John. It’s good to see you back!

  281. 281
    sharl says:

    Very happy to see this post. Keep on rollin’ JGC.

  282. 282
    ellie says:

    You are very brave and I am glad that you got help. Best of luck to you.

  283. 283
    TFinSF says:

    Well done. Keep up the good work.

  284. 284
    drkrick says:

    Good luck and hang in there John.

    That first roommate sounds a little like Garcia making a “Bringing Mary Home” appearance.

  285. 285
    jharp says:

    Peace my friend.

    Sounds to me like you are in control.

  286. 286
    exlitigator says:

    Glad you are taking action. I have been a regular reader/lurker here for a while. I have watched your journey with it hitting a little too close to home. (as I finish the bottle of red while reading this). You are making me think. Best of luck, and I will try to lay off the scotch tonight.

  287. 287
    amk says:

    Best wishes going forward, cole.

  288. 288
    Carrie says:

    Welcome back, mister. We missed you :-)

  289. 289
    Dog On Porch says:

    “ I was dehydrated from the night before when I decided I was going to go out like a champion”.

    For no reason whatsoever: That statement reminds me of the scene in The Producers movie when Ken Mars explains to Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, “Now I zee ze problem. Zis is the problem– zis is the short fuse, not the long fuse..[pause]..THE SHORT FUSE”!!

  290. 290
    ilsalund41 says:

    Cole, I don’t know you, but this blog makes me feel as if I do. I am so rooting for you in this fight! You are a flawed human who loves his critters and cares for his friends and I can’t imagine a better person than you. You got this. We all know you do. I’m humbly grateful to have your blog as the first place I visit every day, allowing me to feel part of this amazing community that you, YOU, created. Thank you for letting us all in, for your honesty, for your strength when you don’t know it’s strength. You are a good man, John Cole. You got this. You got this for Lily, Rosie, Steve and you.

  291. 291
    bjkeefe says:

    Probably I’ll just be repeating what’s been said, so I’ll keep it short. I’ve been enjoying reading you and the rest of the Juicers for years. I salute you for your courage in taking the big first steps, especially when The System did not seem so welcoming, and I wish you all the best in working through the detox, staying sober, and coming out the other end feeling good about yourself. You probably already should, given the amount of support shown above, but I know how we sometimes get down on ourselves even when swimming in positive feedback.

  292. 292
    Joy in FL says:

    John Cole,
    I’m so glad you’re doing what you need to do. It was really good to see a post from you today.

  293. 293
    FoxinSocks says:

    You’ve definitely been missed! Congrats and keep at it. You’ve got a lot of people who care about you, even us lurkers.

  294. 294

    Well done so far and good luck with the rest of your journey.

  295. 295
    RosiesDad says:

    John Cole: You have definitely been missed but the inmates will survive without you. Keep doing what you need to do to get yourself well and know that a lot of people here are pulling for you.

  296. 296
    Whatsleft says:

    Congratulations, hugs and let us know anything we can do to help.

  297. 297
    Andy says:

    At any rate, it’s good to have you back.

  298. 298
    policomic says:

    Thanks for the status report. Keep on keeping on.

  299. 299
    Tehanu says:

    You have been missed and we’ve all been rooting for you, and good on you for doing this for yourself. I live thousands of miles away from you and we’ll probably never meet, but I think of you as a friend and I’m glad you’re back.

  300. 300
    Fake Irishman says:

    Hang in there. (and Welcome back.)

  301. 301
    Jacks mom says:

    Can’t tell you how much it means to be a part of this community that you have created JGC. As you have been told over and over in this thread we love you. That is all. Full stop

  302. 302
    nancydarling says:

    I’m late to the thread, but want to add my good wishes and positive vibes sent John’s way.

    I’m proud of you, John. You are such a mensch!

  303. 303
    BubbaDave says:

    @Chat Noir:

    Deepest sympathy. My 17-year-old with renal failure keeps teasing me. “I’m sick, I’m sick, this might be it– nah, I just wanted you to drop three bills at the vet and now I’m right as rain!” But I know it’s coming, and I dread it.

    So what I’m trying to tell you is, you’re not alone, and people you’ve never met are tearing up a little for Sherman.

  304. 304
    Schlemizel says:

    Nope, it was Lance Dodes

    Not sure about the book, the site makes it sound much harsher than he did when interviewed. He thought AA was fine for the folks it worked for but was not helpful for everyone and even harmful to those who saw their backsliding as a personal failure caused by weak character.

  305. 305
    Violet says:

    @Schlemizel: Diane Rehm recently had an interesting roundtable discussion show on new treatments for alcoholism.

    For more than 80 years, 12- step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have helped millions give up drinking for good. But today, more and more experts are calling for a change in how doctors and specialists approach the treatment of alcohol addiction. They say for some alcoholics, the cold-turkey just isn’t the answer. Many programs now advocate lifelong moderate drinking in combination with other treatments. At the same time, scientists are hot on the trail of brand-new drugs that could help those dependent on drinking. Rethinking the abstinence-only approach and a look at the changing perspectives on the treatment of alcohol addiction.

    Bankole Johnson
    Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Director of the Brain Science Research Consortium at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

    Carrie Wilkens
    co-founder and clinical director, the Center for Motivation and Change.

    Beth Kane-Davidson
    director of the Addiction Treatment Center at Suburban Hospital.

    Gabrielle Glaser
    journalist and author of “Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink — And How They Can Regain Control”.

    Show available at the link. Interesting discussion.

  306. 306
    mattH says:

    Good to see you. Take care of yourself

  307. 307
    Betsy says:

    Hey Cole. You sound different. Like yourself, but even more so and yet better and different. I hope everything works out just the way you need it to. Best wishes.

  308. 308
    VFX Lurker says:

    Welcome back, John Cole. Wishing you continued success.

  309. 309
    Concerned Citizen says:

    Cole, I have a bunch of kids and two jobs. If I admitted weakness I’d be fucked. When I quit the booze, fucked up shit happens (violence, not with my kids, it’s shit on the highway). I can’t do what you did. Would you think about doing a blog about being a 40+ drunk?

  310. 310
    Rachel B says:

    Welcome back! You are doing one of the hardest things you will ever do. Just don’t give up on yourself. Plenty of people are rooting for you and supporting you.

    Eat well and be kind to yourself.

    I am so glad you asked for help when you needed it.

  311. 311
    Kake Giddy says:


    I have been looking at balloon juice most days for years and years. I haven’t commented more than a handful of times.

    I remember having to figure out way back then what John + 4 ( or +6) meant back then. I think I even copycatted it a little because I liked the the concept.

    I am really glad to see John plus zero

    You got this

  312. 312
    KS in MA says:

    All the best to you, Mr. Cole!

  313. 313
    Bill D. says:

    Good to hear you’re making progress, John!

  314. 314
    Beth in VA says:

    I admire you do much for your strength and honesty. Your heart is so open and caring, so I echo the comment above about caring for yourself–you so deserve it. You’re a great person; believe it mister. You are smart and a blessing to so many people, an amazing number of them you’ll never know.

  315. 315
    Gemina13 says:

    Everyone has said everything perfectly. I just want to add my 2 cents.

    Good for you. You’re going to make it. And you’re a fantastic person.

  316. 316
    EvolutionaryDesign says:

    Holy fuck dude. You are inspiring this here shut-in ATM. Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  317. 317
    Matt Smith says:

    Great to have you back.

  318. 318
    Mike Finnigan says:

    You’ve made a good start, and I congratulate you on your decision to choose life over alcohol. I went through the same self-imposed crisis you describe (minus the pancreatitis) 28 years ago. I just gave up on my plan as the answer to the problem and it saved my life. Early sobriety is a bitch, but getting through is possible. First it gets real, then it gets different, then it gets real different. I haven’t had to pick up another drink or drug since that first day in July of 1986. There’s a lot of well-meaning advice up above, but if you want to stay sober, go where the sober people are. They already know you.

  319. 319
    Valdivia says:

    Hope it’s not too late to say welcome back John and so proud of you.

  320. 320
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    Glad John made it this far. Hoping he can go the hard distance. I am sure I am not alone in wishing him well.

    For those of you who have never experienced serious alcohol detox (I have not, but have seen it in my son and other relatives), let me make one thing clear. IT CAN BE LIFE THREATENINGLY DANGEROUS. Withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as two hours after the last drink, persist for weeks, and range from mild anxiety and shakiness to severe complications, such as seizures and delirium tremens (also called DTs). In fact, so dangerous that the DEATH RATE is estimated by experts in the field at between 1% and 5%! (qutoing and paraphrasing from WebMD)

    Having a son who is a homeless alcoholic, who has pissed his entire life away at the age of 48, I just want to say to John Cole two things:

    1) You did the right thing, and though the rest of your life will be one day at a time, it will be better. Stay strong. Only you can make the decision to do this. Sadly, my son has not been able to make that decision to stop destroying himself. The only money we will give him is a gift card for food at to stores locally. And I pay for a flip phone for him on my account, so we can stay in touch. As for those GOPers who whine about the homeless who have a phone, idiots: it is because they are lucky enough to still have someone who loves them enough to pay for it.

    2) Thank you for your long post sharing your experience. Those who have not dealt with alcoholism directly, either in themselves or loved ones, really do not understand the beast that it is, and how incredibly addictive alcohol is for the chemistry of some people. It was not by accident that you found yourself in the company of heroin addicts.

    3) Yeah, I said two, but decided to add the snark I had originally thought about posting: JOHN JUST WENT TO THIS HOPING TO MEET SANDRA BULLOCK IN THE GROUP THERAPY SESSIONS! (So I am a Sandra Bullock fan. Sue me. I love the time travel move she made with Keanu Reeves, “The Lake House”. If you have not seen it, go get it.)

  321. 321
    MoXmas says:

    Keep at it, John Cole.

    And btw, I am also glad to hear you’ve got a solid pal like Shawn backing you up. Even the details like “I need a ride” being covered make dealing with the other shit easier.

  322. 322
    FrY10cK says:

    Another lurker taking the opportunity to say thanks for keeping up this blog.

  323. 323
    Trinity says:

    Much love and strength to you John. I finally had a difficult conversation with my husband last night and said out loud, “I need help.” It was scary but it felt good to be honest. I am tired of drinking myself into darkness. Life is too damn short to exist like this.

    Hang in there and thank you for being so blunt and honest about what you are going through.

  324. 324
    master c says:

    good to hear from you John, and everyone here.

  325. 325

    That sounds like a rougher week than I’ve ever had in my life, even if we add the two knee surgeries and the kidney stone episode together. This is far enough after the fact, that you probably won’t read it, but I am very happy that you completed the first part of your detox program. Thank you for working hard to put your life on the right track.

  326. 326
    Rockhead says:

    John – As someone who is going through the same thing you are, with pretty much the same schedule, I really appreciate your post. Your description of the physical challenges is spot-on. I tried an outpatient program, but it was poorly run and a waste of time and money, so I quit after one session. The good news is that it’s been 25 days for me, and like you, I have no real craving for alcohol. And life is definitely much better sober than it was drunk.

    So congratulations on making it this far, and keep on posting. Your’s is the most “real” description I’ve seen of what this journey is like.

  327. 327
    WayneL says:


    Welcome back. I’d like to help you. I’m a former Buddhist monk and a master of teaching (and living) vipassana meditation, mindfulness meditation. It works. It works for me, and it works for others. It’s not a cure for suffering, but a treatment. It makes life more bearable. Amazingly.

    It’s not that hard to do, but the results are impressive, both anecdotally and scientifically. I’d be happy to work with you, along with the other steps you’re taking. We can make it all make sense.

    I wish you success in your recovery, with a minimum of setbacks and suffering. If I can assist, it would be a good way to pay you back for the efforts you’ve put in here.

    To not only live, but live better. That’s the path.

    Formerly Ajahn Don Gatasaro


  328. 328

    Holy cow, John. You didn’t do this by halfsies, did you? Congratulations, and stick with it, man. It’s worth it.

  329. 329

    Hi John, I am very late posting due to travel, but also wanted to say hello and wish you ongoing recovery and health. You are such an amazing person and writer.

  330. 330
    Sad_Dem says:

    Good for you, Cole, for facing your demon. +0

  331. 331
    Manyakitty says:

    Ride ’em, cowboy! Keep putting one foot after the other and you’ll get there.

  332. 332
    bupalos says:

    @Amir Khalid: I don’t get what you’re talking about. He says 40 days (and presumably 40 nights,) if it’s good enough for Noah it ought to work for anyone. I understand consumption of alcohol at the +5,6,7 etc rate isn’t good for anybody on a bunch of levels and Cole sounds like he is definitely in an acute health state right now, but I’m not sure if people take seriously enough the benefits of moderate consumption (for him probably at least +1 maybe up to +4) for health, especially for older folks. Teetotaling is actually one of the higher risk factors out there for cardiovascular mortality.

    It is very bad not to drink. Not as bad as a sustained +5 maybe, but for a lot of folks it’s close. The disease isn’t in the bottle, it’s in the head.

  333. 333
    Barry says:

    Congratulations for surviving step 2 (where step 1 is going for it).


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    InternetDragons says:

    I could (metaphorically) just slap the people posting here about how bad AA may nor may not be…and feel that way even more strongly about the “moderate/controlled drinking” posts, regardless of whether they include “interesting” discussions, crazy suggestions (40 days, man, it’s good enough for Noah!), and other assorted rationalizations about how people really NEED to drink now and then. WTH is wrong with you? Do you have some sort of hidden agenda about hoping John will fail at this?

    John was well on the way to an alcohol-related death. You don’t seem to be able to get that through your assorted thick skulls, and most of you either have no clue, or you’ve forgotten, how brittle and tenuous those first days, weeks, and months of no drinking can be.

    Just try to STFU for awhile, put your various agendas aside for a bit, and let the man be. I’m coming up on 30 years without a drink or drugs, and I’ll happily engage in poking sacred cows in drug/alchol rehab – whether they be AA/NA, Schick, Antabuse, “controlled drinking”, or any of the other eight gazillion solutions people try to offer. But trying to play those games with someone in the very early months of recovery is crappy and selfish.

  335. 335
    Sad_Dem says:

    John, as someone who has known a few alcoholics, I say good for you, you are doing the right thing!

  336. 336
    bupalos says:

    @InternetDragons: I can’t even understand your slant of “playing a game.”No way do I want the man to fail in any way. I just honestly think the weird good/evil morality that’s grown up around alcohol in this country is harmful both on the macro and micro level. We’ve got as much of an alcohol problem as any country not in a former soviet territory despite per capita consumption rates like a third of France. It simply isn’t the substance itself that’s the problem, and since the optimal health outcome here at the individual level is probably 2-3 units a day, I don’t see the problem with ultimately shooting for that.

    I don’t think it’s ridiculous to have a regime that includes a period of proving you don’t need the substance at all and then seeing if you can return to the lower end of healthy moderate consumption. It isn’t selfish at all. I just like Cole’s work and I’m on the side of believing a lot of studies that show for a lot of people especially with higher genetic cardiovascular risk factors moderate drinking may well be about the best thing they can do for themselves, right up there with exercise and stopping smoking.

    We all read in our personal experiences. If I had had a problem with alcohol I’d probably be all “all-or-nothing” too, but all 4 grandparents were strict teetotalers that died of strokes and heart attacks between 55-70 despite being slim and fit, and my parents are both going strong at 78 and have been doing the regular glass of wine or 2 since their 40’s at least. That means nothing, but informs my own slant on the issue just as the personal experience of alcoholics and drug abusers that did the whole blackout treadmill informs their slant.

  337. 337
    Mnemosyne says:


    It simply isn’t the substance itself that’s the problem, and since the optimal health outcome here at the individual level is probably 2-3 units a day, I don’t see the problem with ultimately shooting for that.

    Moderate intake is 2 per day for men, 1 for women. Three is actually considered a high intake.

    Also, you will notice on page 2 of that article that pancreas trouble is a contraindication for any level of alcohol use, so your advice has now moved from useless to dangerous to John since he already has pancreatitis.

  338. 338

    Happy rebirth day, sir. Many, and I do mean many, happy returns.

  339. 339
    ThatDaleLyles says:

    What the rest of the universe has said here in previous comment:
    Good on you. Stay with us.

  340. 340
    bupalos says:

    @Mnemosyne: he has pancreatitis now. He won’t in 40 days of abstinence. Or he will, and then its contraindictated. The unit prescription is based on body weight and muscle mass which is the equation that creates BAL and I’m guessing from pictures, 3 is probably not excessive here. And the 1 and 2 levels are actually pretty arbitrary anyway. From the actual (flawed) (observational) studies, supposed benefits aren’t actually counterbalanced until numbers a lot more like 4 and 5.

    The reality is actual alcohol consumption is underreported in all these studies. My guess is jc’s +5’s were a lot closer to +10 because everyone EVERYONE in the U.S. under-reports by a factor of 2. If the reality is that alcohol sets someone off on a path they can’t control, they should abstain 100%. But you’re acting like you know something you don’t know here and making a moral case here out of something to that has no moral dimension at all. If JC can heal up and drink responsibly, that’s probably what he should do. If there are social or psychological or genetic reasons why that’s not in the cards, then abstinence is the next best thing.

  341. 341
    patty \ says:

    i’m so proud of you!!!! and you might want to buy some desitin for your butthole if it is burning.

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