Keep it simple, Stupid

Entering a rehab facility was a sombre moment. March 9th, 2015.
Sign a few papers, agree to the terms and conditions of the treatment. Give your phone, wallet, medications, keys etc to be held in the rehab facility safe for the duration of your stay. 28 days.
You are now checked into treatment.

Doctor will see you. Entry assessment. Symptoms, if any, brief history of alcohol and drug use will be written down. Pee in a cup…drug test for what you have in your system. I have benzos and opioid in my system. Doctor says they will redo the test at some point.

Next an interview with the therapist. You talk about goals for treatment. You are explained what the treatment plan is like. What they expect from you. You are given a few books. A notebook and a workbook.

It’s a community treatment. Go meet the community. Alcoholics and addicts. Ages 18-80 (a rough estimation). You are assigned a “big brother” whose task is to show you around the facility and get you familiar with rules and customs.

In that workbook. There is a daily diary. On the bottom of the page there are emotions listed. About 30 emotions. sad, happy, hopeful, angry, resentful, ashamed, guilty, hopeful…etc.

Each day you were supposed to circle three emotions you felt during the day.

You graduate the treatment 28 days later. You’ve managed to identify your emotions on zero days of the treatment. The concept of emotions is lost to you. You’ve suppressed your emotions with alcohol for so long that you can’t fathom what does it mean to be sad. Or happy.
Each night when you handed your workbook to the staff, you’ve circled three emotions that you thought you were supposed to be feeling.

Fast forward some six years later.

I still remember how I felt during those days. I got my emotions back. Me emotions started coming back to me maybe four to six months after finally getting sober in early 2018.

Now I can name my emotions. I’ve been working on that. Today I’ve been baffled, angry, sad, frustrated, content, little scared, inadequate, ashamed, just to name a few. It’s been an emotional day.

This is my thread. This is how it begins. I hope I will get to journey through emotions in here. As well as remember the past and how I felt back then.


First entry

finding similarities.

Every Thursday at noon we would watch a recovery related movie. This time it was called “My Name Is Bill W.” It’s a story of a stock broker who keeps drinking even though he shouldn’t. Bad things happen to him each time he drinks. He loses his job, his relationships go downhill, his health deteriorates. he wakes up in the hospital many times over. He loses his will to live. He believes he can’t be sober.
Bill was a war veteran in 1930s in America.
Now I was a 34 year old man in Finland. I didn’t serve in the military. I worked in the restaurant industry. Certainly my world view was nothing like this Christian man in a foreign country. I am an atheist, Anti-theist. There was nothing we had in common.
I watched the movie. Found it pretty boring at that time. Didn’t relate to the story at all. I was nothing like this man.
I relapsed. Went back to rehab. They made me watch the same movie again. It’s part of the itinerary.
My attitude was not much better. I asked if I could be excused from watching the movie because I had already seen it. My therapist denied this request. I was a little angry at him. Watched it anyways.
Still couldn’t relate.

Now I’ve been to that same rehab five times. I’ve seen that movie maybe ten times. These days when I watch it, I do relate. I’ve finally understood to look for the similarities instead of the differences. Where I was living in a different part of the planet doing different work at a totally different time period. The similarity was that we both drank alcohol. And not only that. Watching the movie again, I started relating to why that poor man was drinking. He seemed to try and suppress his emotions. That was exactly what I was doing too. And we were getting the same exact results from drinking too. I lost my job, relationships, health, etc. too.
What an amazing change in perspective. To look at the same thing and see a totally different view. For me in recovery, it has been crucial to open my mind to see the similarities instead of the differences. It’s made it possible to start picking up pieces of little truths from other people’s experiences.


I can relate so much to you (and Bill W) about drinking to mask emotions and hide from them.

I’m so glad you finally started your own thread!! I’ll definitely be following along :slightly_smiling_face:



Entry two

Alcoholism, the gateway to addiction.

The group therapy room is a typical room in a hospital like surrounding. Chairs are comfortable, set in a circle like form. This way we all face each other. One chair is reserved for the therapist. When you enter your treatment your place is next to the therapist on his/her left side. Each time someone completes their 28 day program, their seat becomes vacant and you move one chair to the right. Eventually you will end up next to the therapist on their right side. This is where you graduate your treatment. The circle moves clockwise. In my home group, everyone gets to share. The speaking order also moves in a circle around the room, clockwise. This is to symbolize the direction in which we put the bottle cap on and twist it. So that it closes, instead of opening another one.

I was sitting in this room on my first week of rehab when I was introduced to something called Jellinek’s Curve.
E, Morton Jellinek was an American Biostatistian. He was born in 1890 in New York. His academic career lead him to study philosophy, philology, anthropology and theology. His most noted work was his research in alcoholism. His study resulted in a book called - Alcohol Addiction and Chronic Alcoholism. It was published in 1942. His study paved the way for the disease concept of alcoholism and how we see the disease even today.
Jellinek was not the first one to come up with the disease concept. In 1849 a Swedish physisian by the name of Magnus Huss came up with the term Alcoholism and described it as a “chronic, relapsing disease.”
Mr. Jellinek’s study as aimed at recognizing the stages of alcohol addiction. The end result of his study portrayed the progressive nature of the disease. In his model, he divided the progression into three phases.

  • Crucial phase
  • Chronic phase
  • Rehabilitation
    My therapist handed me a piece of paper with the following diagram.

I started reading the diagram from left to right….as you do. Surely as I went down the list of events described in the downward part of the curve, I could recognize that I had gone through every single one. Now I wasn’t ready to admit that this meant that I was an alcoholic quite then and there, but I remember thinking to myself that each and every step along the slide was familiar to me.
We often say in recovery communities that we had to hit rock bottom. According to this diagram there seemed to be an endless loop where that rock bottom was supposed to be located. This too felt realistic. It felt familiar.
I imagine that part of the reason why some people feel like they didn’t quite hit that rock bottom is that they chose to stop sliding down midway through the slide. I like the saying, “ Rock bottom is, where you choose to stop digging.” For people who said to themselves enough is enough way before, let’s say work/money problems, for example. Their rock bottom is as solid as a one dug much deeper.
Having got some sober time to my name, I have also had a chance at observing the other side of the curve.
And I can testify that what Mr. Jellinek found in his study in 1940s America still stands accurate in my experience today. One by one as I keep reading the diagram from the bottom to the right, I can recognize these stages from my own rehabilitation.
I titled this Friday journal entry “alcoholism, a gateway to addiction.” I did that because I believe mr Jellinek, how ever successful in describing the progression to addiction, fails to recognize the starting point to the curve. The diagram doesn’t address the “why” this curve begins. To me through my experience it is obvious that the reason is in my spiritual condition. I am emotionally broken way before I take those first drinks. It is because of this broken spiritual state that I am separated from the normal drinkers.
I call this broken emotional state alcoholism. Why do I call it alcoholism if it begins before I even start drinking? My reason is that I call it alcoholism, because this broken spiritual state has a symptom. That symptom is a need to escape my emotional state. For me, I came across alcohol, and my symptom became an obsession to drink. Had I come across drugs my obsession would have been that. If I had felt that sweet relief that alcohol gave me from over eating, that would have become my obsession. My point being, ultimately I believe that what we suffer from is the same thing. Symptoms might vary, even the end results. But deep down, the problem itself, it is the same.
Later on I’ve used Jellinek’s curve as a tool sometimes to reflect on my recovery. There are other scientific studies like his was.
I find it absolutely insanely cool that what was true in 1942, still stands true to me today on a Friday 22nd of October in the good year of 2021 of the Gregorian calendar.


Good stuff Tomi, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Indeed I feel I got out relatively early on the downward path, although the road is not as linear as described here I think. My rock bottom was in my mind. I think I’d never would have reached the rock bottom vicious cycle as described here, as I think I would have killed myself way earlier. The realization I was on a pretty fast road to suicide through my drinking is what made me stop, while I still had a steady job (although I did fuck that up a couple of times), ate well, wasn’t physically dependent (I think), worked out, and more.
Anyway, it isn’t all as precise of course. We’re all on our own roads. I think I was on mine towards being an addict from my very earliest years, isolating myself, not trusting people, thinking I had to do it all alone without any help from outside. That’s my disease.
As an aside, I worked at the aptly named Jellinek centre in Amsterdam as a clerk for five years, before I started training to be a mental health nurse, planning to go into addiction care at some point. Still hasn’t happened as I’ve been too busy with myself until now. Thanks for sharing again Tomi, you make me think.


The Swan of Tuonela.

There is a river that separates the world of the living from the world of the dead. When you die, you will cross over to the other side of the river by a ferry or by crossing a bridge. The river is very dangerous. It runs wild with a strong current. Sometimes you’ll see the dead trying to swim back across the river. But the river is guarded by a black swan. Swan will sing songs of death.
The place where the dead reside is called Tuonela. The name comes from the name of the ruler of the place. God of the dead Tuoni.
When you die, you will enter Tuonela. No matter If you’re a good person, or not. In death, there’s equality.
Sometimes the living would try and enter Tuonela to gain knowledge of death. Tuoni would allow the living to enter, but not grant them exit. Though some have escaped death by tricking the guard.
It is believed that anyone who kills a Swan will die themselves.
Such is the story told from my cultures past.
A Swan is the national bird of my country and it is illegal to this day to kill one.
For me it is important to know my history. It helps me see my present. It’s in the past, the knowledge of why we do the things we do today.
In step four I looked into my past and made the most important realization. I saw the motive for my action. By admitting why I acted the way I did, I began to see the light. I now understood why I resented, hated, belittled and judged other people. The reason was not in them at all. It was in me.
My fear lead me to all those negative emotions.
Fear is the number one killer of alcoholics. Left untreated, it will make us stay still. It will keep us from a possibility to change.
To trick the guard. To fool the black swan of death, all we got to do is look into the past and admit what the reality is.
Cheat death, keep your past in your mind today,


I keep reading the checking in thread where I see a lot of suffering. People starting their sober journeys. A lot of times people literally scream unhappiness, discontent, isolation, despair, etc. Why can’t I just be happy? Seems to be the question.
I was having a conversation today with a teacher who deals with addicts on a regular basis. They are trying to quit but seem to keep relapsing. Teacher was saying that she doesn’t know how they should react to addicts who are trying to sober up, but keep falling, and that is making their studies suffer. The question became are they actually enabling the addict behavior with giving these students chance after chance after chance, of coming back to studies with some commitment to some kind of drug and alcohol counseling.
From my experience, and from experience of addicts around me who’ve gotten sober, I would like to share that it takes time.
We can’t expect the world to turn magically around, just by putting down the bottle. That is 100% unrealistic. If you keep expecting that to happen, you are going to be disappointed, very soon.
Disappointment is a nasty emotion for an addict. We all know that. It leads to resentment, and that leads to a relapse. We simply don’t want to do that.
So what can I do, when I’m starting my sober journey, to make it easier for myself. Stop being in a hurry.
Make a realistic plan. Remember that the addiction did render your life unmanageable. Now you need to learn to manage the simplest of things again, before you can start reaching for the stars.
When I got sober, I didn’t know how to sleep, eat, take care of my personal hygiene, maintain my physical health, maintain a clean surrounding, etc etc….
A person who is in that condition, will not be able to excel in society. No matter how much we wish we could.
It is 100% unrealistic to think that I can be a productive member of society, before I can even manage the simplest of things like mentioned above.
So be kind to yourself. When you are starting out your sobriety. Be HONEST with yourself and ACCEPT the reality of your situation. If it is problems like I faced in my early sobriety……Don’t waste your time reaching for the stars then and there……But build that foundation. Do the work. Relearn those simple things.
I hate to see some of you struggle so bad all the time. But you need to start to look at your reality a little more honestly and then readjust your expectations.
Life is too short to be living in misery. When one can set a realistic goal and be happy about reaching that.
In the beginning my goals were things like, eat breakfast, go for a walk, go to bed early….etc….Not reaching for a new career, new relationship, perfect physical condition, etc etc….
Happiness is in learning not to ask unrealistic things from yourself. So please try and learn to do that.
It takes work. But then, in life, everything does. Nothing is handed to you on a silver plate.

post scriptum…

I want to, is my enemy.

I want to have more money, I want to get a better job, I want to have a nicer house, a new car, this and that.

I deserve this and that.

At least more that person xyz.

I would be happy if I got what I wanted.

That’s what I tell myself.

And so I learn, I can’t be happy now.


The ghost of fourteen hundred days.

This week I was sharing about my past with a group of teachers. There has been a growing concern about students showing up at school intoxicated. I did a similar seminar/meeting two years ago.
Instead of telling them about my progress deep into the depth of alcoholism, I started by explaining to them that I grew up not learning how to deal with my emotions.
I explained to them that it was because I felt out of place and inadequate, that I learned to use alcohol as a medicine to cure that emotional emptiness.
I progressed into explaining that everyone who drinks to change their emotional state, is effectively already using addictive behavior to cope with life.
I went on to explain that no matter what the substance is, the root causes for that emotional distress that I and others try to solve, is very similar.
Then I told them what kind of people might be at risk of falling into this behavioral trap.
Those who feel alone, inadequate, out of place. Those who have problems in their families. Those who have unsettled sorrow, those who are in pain, the ones who are bitter, resentful, angry.
Then I told them about how their positive association to drugs and alcohol is also a gateway to addiction.
I feel it was in the interaction though, that the best understanding was shared. A question was uttered “Do you think that smoking is similar to alcoholism…”
Heureka….That person got it. I replied that it is exactly like alcoholism.
We moved to a conversation of how a teacher can confront a student who is drunk or high. Much great conversation ensued.
Took an hour of my time. Gave me a ton of thoughts.
Also forced me to reflect once again on my whole journey from active addiction all the way to recovery. From where that emotional distress started…when I learned that unhealthy coping mechanism…to the ways I’ve made it to 1400 days….
It’s been a wild ride. I feel these days like I’m just holding on to the seat and letting the roller coaster take me to adventures. I don’t need to steer this ship….I can just enjoy the ride.
Gratitude is a great emotion. It’s a doorway. It leads to happiness.


8 step guide to problem solving by iowa university of human resources. I am sure that using these steps one can achieve sobriety, If one has it in them to execute these steps and analyse their situation.

Step 1: Define the Problem

  • What is the problem?
  • How did you discover the problem?
  • When did the problem start and how long has this problem been going on?
  • Is there enough data available to contain the problem and prevent it from getting passed to the next process step? If yes, contain the problem.

Step 2: Clarify the Problem

  • What data is available or needed to help clarify, or fully understand the problem?
  • Is it a top priority to resolve the problem at this point in time?
  • Are additional resources required to clarify the problem? If yes, elevate the problem to your leader to help locate the right resources and form a team.
  • Consider a Lean Event (Do-it, Burst, RPI, Project).
  • ∙Ensure the problem is contained and does not get passed to the next process step.

Step 3: Define the Goals

  • What is your end goal or desired future state?
  • What will you accomplish if you fix this problem?
  • What is the desired timeline for solving this problem?

Step 4: Identify Root Cause of the Problem

  • Identify possible causes of the problem.
  • Prioritize possible root causes of the problem.
  • What information or data is there to validate the root cause?

Step 5: Develop Action Plan

  • Generate a list of actions required to address the root cause and prevent problem from getting to others.
  • Assign an owner and timeline to each action.
  • Status actions to ensure completion.

Step 6: Execute Action Plan

  • Implement action plan to address the root cause.
  • Verify actions are completed.

Step 7: Evaluate the Results

  • Monitor and Collect Data.
  • Did you meet your goals defined in step 3? If not, repeate th 8-Step Process.
  • Were there any unforeseen consequences?
  • If problem is resolved, remove activities that were added previously to contain the problem.

Step 8: Continuously Improve

  • Look for additional opportunities to implement solution.
  • Ensure problem will not come back and communicate lessons learned.
  • If needed, repeat the 8-Step Problem Solving Process to drive further improvements.

So how does one start taking responsibility for their recovery?

I was in and out of being drunk and wanting to stop it for years. After I went into rehab I got random weeks to random few months of abstinence stints for a long time. I went in and out of different available help that was offered to me.

I heard the statement “you have to do this for yourself or it won’t happen.” “You got to start taking responsibility for your recovery.” I heard those uttered to me many many times. I heard the words, didn’t quite understand the message though.

I went into the local alcoholics clinic for immediate medical assistance. I was assigned a team, with a doctor, a councilor and a nurse…or some combo like that. Councilor would be there for talking to regularly. Doctor would be needed to prescribe me all kinds of helping medication. Seroquel and Atarax for sleep, SSRI medication for panic, anxiety and what not….and all kinds of other medication. Nurse would be responsible for supervising my antabus intake etc…

Basically ALL I had to do was to show up.

Did I manage to do that. Hell no. I kept calling in sick when I had appointments and I had been drinking. I kept telling them bullshit stories of what I was up to, to hide what was really going on. I kept using the medication how ever I chose to, not as prescribed. I kept doing everything my way.

I went into rehab after rehab.

There I was assigned an even more extensive team of help and support. There were doctors, there were therapists, there were nurses, there were even priests at my service. Again. What was asked of me?

Show up to the assigned meetings on time. Do a bit of homework. Read a little bit of literature….

Did I manage to do that? Kinda…sorta… That was in an environment where there wasn’t really much else to do…so it was easier to follow the schedule. Also following the schedule meant graduating the program. Which meant liberation from anyone’s watching eyes. Freedom to go back to doing my thing.

So what happened when I left rehab. I was asked to go to meetings, to hook up with the alcohol clinics staff again and to do simple stuff like journaling my emotions, calling other people in recovery etc….Real simple stuff….

Did I do it. Hell no. I said to myself….that’s all cool….but I don’t need to do that.

And you know what? I kept drinking.

With all that help available to me. I could not muster the strength to admit that my way absolutely sucked.

I could not take responsibility of doing even the smallest bit of action to help myself get sober. Not show up to meetings. Not call anyone if I was in danger. Not take the medication I was prescribed, as prescribed, Not read what I was suggested to read, not journal those emotions…Not anything.

But I was still expecting to get sober. And the fact that I wasn’t able to do that. Well now that was the fault of those doctors, the nurses, the therapists, other sober people. The blame was anywhere, except in my inability to take responsibility of my own actions.

I keep reading on this forum from time to time some resentful messages about people who try and help with their experiences. A lot of the times these messages where the already sober people who offer their experience, they offer it in the form of suggestions. They suggest….hey, you know….I needed to start doing this and I needed to start doing that.

Those suggestions come from the place of love. People who got sober….they needed to ACTUALLY start doing stuff to keep them sober. Not just hang around expecting people to pat them on their backs. But actual work for their sobriety. And the things suggested. They are small little things. Literally anyone can do.

What then separates the people who will get sober from the ones who won’t.

Willingness. If you are willing to do the work. You will start taking responsibility. You will start making progress. You will remain sober.

As long as there is the attitude of……I won’t….

I’m sorry…no matter what kind of an army we gather to help you. We can’t help.


In recovery, if you are doing the work that it requires, there will come a time when you can say to yourself, I got this.
You will understand your past and you will understand your behavior. Your character defects will be diminished to non-existent and when they start appearing, you will instinctively know how to behave differently from how you did in the past.
You will regain control over your life.
You will start seeing a pattern to behavior of those who still suffer. You will understand their suffering beyond just feeling empathetic.
This is the time when you want to repay what you have been given.
It’s the circle of recovery. Those who walk before you pass on the knowledge and understanding to the next ones. If you are still struggling, be ready and willing to receive experience, strength and hope of those who walk before you.

Been on this forum for good amount of time. Seen the conversation go through these circles. One group beginning their journeys…then later on them becoming the ones who are sharing to the next ones.

This past year I’ve felt personally that I have had nothing more to add to this conversation. A few generations have already come after my beginning. Over the past year or so, been trying some times to add my input here and there. But I’ve felt that I’ve been missing peer support for myself. I have kind of wished there was more conversation to experiences after years of recovery. At some point I thought it was even kind of a problem of this place that the ones who have a lot of experience are not really sharing it any longer.

And then I reached this point where I am at right now. Where I feel like it’s no longer my experience that is needed on this platform. But much more fresh experience. And for a while that was kind of hard to grasp. But I’m ok with it now.

Through out the years I’ve been giving back to my local community by answering the local helping phone, by chairing meetings at rehab facilities and detox wards in hospitals. Been sharing my experience at schools, and clinics. volunteered as a peer support for other alcoholics and addicts.
That work will never stop. That is the duty that I feel I have. In the spirit of the 12th step.

This is not a good bye message. I’m not considering leaving. This is me, wanting to share what I’ve felt like for the past year or so in this online community. It’s been bothering me for so long that I figured that it’s time to just share it.

This is my thread, which I’ve reserved for talking about what my experience is and has been like. I figured this was the appropriate place for this update on how I feel now.

Have a nice sunday who ever made it to the end of this post.


I love what you wrote. I really appreciate the clear statement that we each have to actually do the work and actually take responsibility.

On top of all the reasons and situations that get us in trouble with addiction, we are living in a culture that has really undermined the importance of “doing the work” of whatever it is one wants to achieve. In my case, I want to be free of the control that alcohol has in my life, so I have to do the work of managing my sobriety. Thank you for reinforcing the message that I already knew deep down, there is no magic to this.

Enjoy your Sunday too!


Hi my friend! I just want you to know that I love your thoughtful posts and words of encouragement to members of this forum. I’m notoriously bad and not replying to such posts always, but please know they matter to this chick in Kansas City! The work you do locally is amazing, and I know you are fighting the good fight every day to help other alcoholics still lost trying to get on the right path. Again, thanks for all you contribute here, as it certainly matters to me.


A lot of excellent points here friend.

I was actually just thinking about the character defects thing myself yesterday. I was thinking about how amazing it is that so much (pretty much all) of my bad behavior in the past was due to alcohol even when I didn’t realize it; even when I wasn’t actively drunk I still wasn’t a great person. I feel like being sober has changed all of that. Sobriety has given me a real chance to be a better person.

I think a lot of that comes down to the fact that the journey of sobriety has to be much more than just “not drinking/using” and we really have to address the underlying issues that caused our addiction. Once that is started, you can work to better yourself as well.

I love that you help out so much in your community, that is truly great. We’re blessed to have you here!


"The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil. We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough. He is like the farmer who came up out of his cyclone cellar to find his home ruined. To his wife, he remarked, “Don’t see anything the matter here, Ma. Ain’t it grand the wind stopped blowin’?”

One who assumes that simply not drinking is enough…is sadly mistaken.

Thanks for your kind words.


thank you for your kind words.

Hi Tomi,
Your posts are eloquent, you have a real gift for observing your life and relating to us how the interior experience matches the outside actions.

There is a role for guys like you and @Thirdmonkey and @Yoda-Stevie and @Mno and @JasonFisher and @Englishd, even @Ray_M_C_Laren to fill in the life of this community. We need elder statesmen (not bleeding deacons!), we need a chorus of, in this case, men repeating the same message, staying on point with our own experience, strength and hope. (I quote from AA a lot because it’s what I know and how I got sober.) We also provide two other services. First, we can share how life is better but still an emotional challenge even years into sobriety, and that those challenges can be met and transcended. We need to continue to grow our sobriety and to share the fruits of it with the next generation, as you have well identified it. Second, beyond stability and realism, we help keep the addict focused on sobriety,not so much on consequences and drama. And even when there is upheaval in the addict’s life, we can support their sobriety by insisting that relative good and bad is a matter mostly of perspective.

Stability, focus, realism, continuity. Those are some of the gifts of sobriety we can bestow to our fellow travelers. Keep writing, I get a fulfillment from your work that I cannot find elsewhere. :pray:


I appreciate you sharing your experience, strength and hope more than you know. I’m that generation between the newcomers and the old timers. Sure I can help the newcomers but it’s people like you that I look up to when I’m struggling. I may not post about those struggles but I’m reading your responses to others and they honestly help me too. Even if it’s a just statement about what you’re doing to maintain your own sobriety or what you did to get to where you’re at now. Your input here is very valuable to a lot of us.


Why do you need to add new to that which you have so freely given? Always new folks here that need to hear it, and won’t go digging for it in old posts. To those who’ve been here awhile it might seem trite, but to those who are new, it’s wisdom to follow.

New folks need to hear just how simple sobriety really is. They think “simple” means “easy”, or there’s some secret magic incantation that once revealed to them, they will be free from addiction forever, with minimal fuss.

That’s why I hang around now. To remind myself that while simple, it ain’t easy. What’s easy is to fall back into once-familiar patterns of thinking and behavior, which leaves one vulnerable to relapse. My daily visits here remind me of this.