Ask Me Anything about being an Addict in the White House.

Joshua Lamont
Aug 23, 2018

We often hear in Sobriety that "Relapse is a part of Recovery." It has certainly been part of my Recovery, which for 8 years I have worked on, one day at a time.

My story is simple to me: I am an addict and must treat my addiction to survive. Addiction and substance abuse are everywhere -- more than we accept. And one thing I know for sure, each day I peel away another layer toward my true self.

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After being disappointed by your then partner, how has this affected your ability to love or possibly enter relationships without wondering if the person is worth your trust or not? Do you find yourself second guessing every relationship and possibly not giving your all to avoid being hurt again?
Aug 25, 12:12PM EDT2

Do I find myself second guessing or not giving my all to avoid being hurt again?  YES. For better or worse, YES, YES, YES. And in what has a become a period I jokingly refer to as "involuntary celibacy," I haven't been in a serious relationship since, and haven't been on a date since my 40th birthday.

Sep 5, 7:37AM EDT1

Do you think, one day when you are ready, you will pen down all your ups and downs as a motivation and possibly constant reminder to those going through what you did not to give up?

Aug 25, 8:31AM EDT2

Do you mean, "write a book"? I don't know how much interest there would be, but I often find myself daydreaming about putting pen to paper on a series of short stories from my life. Or leaning in and telling my story. Something like: "The Art of Forest Gumping Thru Life" ;)

Sep 5, 7:41AM EDT1
You have a story to tell and you probably would have great influence on decisions made by young people on drug use and abuse. When ready, do you think you would like to talk to the youth about your experience to help them make informed decisions when it comes to alcohol and drug abuse?
Aug 25, 8:28AM EDT3

I don't know how much influence I may be, but making this the central topic for my first AMA was rooted in two things:  1) Sharing my story keeps me Humble AND keeps my Healthy; and 2) Maybe someone will relate to some part that is helpful (or interesting).  

I'll share with you the picture that is my mousepad. A not so subtle reminder and mantra.

Last edited @ Sep 5, 10:58AM EDT.
Sep 5, 9:02AM EDT1
What was it that created your vulnerability towards drugs?
Aug 25, 5:43AM EDT2

This is not suprisingly THE  most common question I get (including in this AMA). I share more details of my own experience and what I am learning are my "triggers" as well as how self-care is connected to my sobriety. For me, I may never fully answer this question, but I know that only living a healthy, sober life makes it worth even looking. 

Sep 5, 7:46AM EDT1
What role does one's mindset play when it comes to fighting addiction?
Aug 24, 11:52PM EDT32

Wow, such a critical element to my recovery and I am SO GLAD you bring this to the conversation: MINDSET.

I can look at my time before my first drink (at 21), my first time with a drug (ecstasy, 25), the first time I tried cocaine (32) and first trying[with an Intervention to boot] to kick cocaine and alcohol out of my life (35) and see how my Mindset played a part in my decisions, and how those decisions impacted me. Having a healthy mindset  (even when I tried ecstasy for the first time -- in a safe environment with my first boyfriend) tends to go with healthier and more positive outcomes. 

Looking back to times of relapse, I can see clearly how my Mindset just prior to relapse was so negative. I felt being sober was "punishment" for a period of substance abuse. When my Mindset is more positive, seeing sobriety as one factor, along with others, toward living my best life: the fight tends to go a little better...

Last edited @ Sep 5, 8:04AM EDT.
Sep 5, 8:01AM EDT1
What did you learn or discover about yourself during the physical and emotional challenges you faced?
Aug 24, 11:51PM EDT65

When I'm done learning and discovering, I'll circle back with you ;)

Sep 5, 8:04AM EDT1
Some people underestimate the power of positive thinking, often assuming it is a myth. What are your thoughts on this and how important has it been for you to maintain positive thoughts?
Aug 24, 10:19PM EDT2

Let the secret out: The POWER of positive thinking is no myth. Its legit. And is a big reason I am alive today.

Sep 5, 8:06AM EDT1
As an addict, what do you feel society does wrong that results in further decline in an addicts life?
Aug 24, 9:48PM EDT2

This is a big question....  BIG -- and I preface only with a reminder my thoughts are my own personal opinons, rooted in personal experience (and occasionally additional supporting evidence). With that:

While I take responsibility for the laundry list of hurt and pain I inflicted on those around me (even if I have yet to fully make amends for them all), I have certainly experienced a stigma and marginalization since getting sober, from society at large and among the evolving nature of my "family" (including closest personal friends). Where I once was seen as "at the center of my large, diverse social circles," and living at the intersection of some pretty fabulous worlds, today....  life is quieter, and I am far from the center of anything, other than my own life.

For me, after a burst of support, love and unconditional offers of help, over time my closeness to many people, activities, and even places simply changed. At times, this has been hurtful, requiring periods to "grieve" the losses. But perspective is important: LIFE EVOLVES. 

What I mean by that is, look at how people come and go throuhg our lives. The love and care is there, but LIFE CHANGES. I remember that nerd camp I went too in 10th grade, or the late nights at Cornell with similarly wide-eyed students in disbelief that YES, we can order Chinese takeout 24/7 and don't have to ask permission from anyone. THESE were my people! LIFE WILL ALWAYS REVOLVE AROUND THESE THINGS! 

Those nerds from Camp and my Cornell crew (hey Ladies Of The Lake) are still 'my people'. But I haven't been in touch with any of 'these people' today. Or this month. 

LIFE CHANGES. 

Still: STIGMA. I am no stranger to stigmatizing addicts, judging 12-step AA people as part of some 'cult' and I've made lots of assumptions about people who "can't carry their liquor". We all do. Society does.

DISCUSS. When I hear the word "Addict" today, a "face" (other than my own) or "image" no longer comes to mind. Addiction does NOT discriminate and is all around us, from the White House to corporate board rooms to living rooms in every neighborhood. And it is in our streets, fills our soup kitchens and homeless shelters. These latter images are tough to look at (and so we look away) -- but its this latter image, an IMPORTANT image, that many associate alone with the face of the addict. I am NO better and NO worse than an addict suffering on the street.

When you hear the word ADDICT, what comes to mind?

Sep 5, 8:41AM EDT1
When starting out, drinking and using drugs looks like a social activity. This is why many people claim they are social drinkers or possibly social drug users. At what point does it stop being all about something you do with friends? Does one ever really know or even notice when they stop doing it only when in the company of friends to needing a fix when alone?
Aug 24, 6:24PM EDT2

This is such a great question. Again, speaking only to my own experience -- I started drinking and using drugs alone when the REASON to do so was to numb pain or take me away. Initially, drinking (or with my partner, doing cocaine) was with people and I did it to FEEL GOOD. When I was alone, I drank or used to NOT FEEL BAD.

Aug 24, 9:09PM EDT2
Lots of questions have surrounded the actual causes of an addiction. Where do you think the blame should be placed?
Aug 24, 5:19PM EDT2

First, I should note that I am not a doctor or clinician with experience to answer this broadly. I can, howerver, speak to my experience.

For me, in recovery I have worked to better understand what in the past has triggered my abusive drinking and drug use. I have come to understood the connection for me between trauma-induced anxiety and substance abuse (I write about this in my contribution to a #MeToo-inspired best-selling book YOU ARE NOT ALONE).

I wouldn't be able to understand this, however, if I wasn't sober -- which means focusing #1 on self-care and health. For any person living with a disease or illness -- Diabetes, AIDS, Parkinson's Disease, etc -- the FIRST priority is treating the person; the secondary priority (for the patient) is finding the cause. Just as we now KNOW what causes Diabetes, and we know largely the beginnings of AIDS, we do NOT know what causes Parkinson's Disease....  and I don't believe we  KNOW FOR SURE what causes addiction.

Last edited @ Sep 5, 11:02AM EDT.
Aug 24, 9:06PM EDT2

I am delightedly overwhelmed that well over 500 unique people have been part of my first AMA. #Serenity:  AMA - Extended to Saturday 8pm

Aug 24, 4:36PM EDT101
What has been the biggest changes you’ve undergone from moving from New York, to Washington, and now San Francisco?
Aug 24, 10:19AM EDT2

Obviously each move has been driven by work and family, and so that's enormous change in itself. Regarding my Recovery, the greatest change has been how I've learned to make Self-Care and my Recovery a higher priority. 

Aug 24, 4:42PM EDT2
Was there any one piece of advice or wisdom or element of treatment that helped you stay the course when the recovery process was daunting?
Aug 23, 5:10PM EDT2

Helping others.  Far and away, helping others. 

Similarly - and this sounds very simple, but not spending too much time alone and exercise helped me a lot.

Aug 23, 5:17PM EDT3
What was the impact of not having your partner get sober with you? Do you feel you are better off now?
Aug 23, 2:46PM EDT2

At the time, it was devastating. This was someone I loved, envisioned spending my life with and who openly spoke of us getting sober together. Instead, a call on a pay phone on Day 3 of treatment, I was dumped...  and it certainly distracted my initial work in recovery.

But, in hindsight, starting a recovery program was something better done on my own.

Aug 23, 2:51PM EDT2
Anonymous

So what exactly is it you DO for a living?

Aug 23, 1:31PM EDT2

Well, here's a 70 second summary that'll bring you up to date!  Or find me on LinkedIn

Aug 23, 1:33PM EDT2
What would you say lead to your addiction? What were you addicted to?
Aug 23, 1:18PM EDT2

My drugs of choice were cocaine, Xanax and alcohol. Scientists are still learning the causes of addiction -- why some people are more likely to be addicts and others not. Its hard when most addicts are never treated. So I don't know what caused me to be an addict -- genetics? mom-issues? being sexually abused? or maybe the cocaine was just fun until it wasn't?

I'm being a bit glib, when the truth is, I'm still learning what triggers my substance abuse -- resentments, lonliness, depression.  I'll keep learning, One Day At A Time.

Last edited @ Sep 5, 11:04AM EDT.
Aug 23, 1:29PM EDT95
How common was drug use or drinking with colleagues in your career?
Aug 23, 1:11PM EDT3

This is actually a tougher question than on first glance. The truth is: I don't really know.  While I often went out to happy hours with colleagues where everyone had a couple drinks, I've never done drugs with someone I worked with. I always kept that very separate.  

Aug 23, 1:18PM EDT2
At what point did you decide to become sober? What happened?
Aug 23, 7:38AM EDT2

I want to respect the privacy of those involved, but in short, I was in a relationship for a little over a year in 2008-2009 that for the first time included drugs. It all felt good for a long time -- I was hopelessly in love -- and then at the end of 2009, the drugs and being up late were impacting my job and my relationships.  THAT is when I decided to get sober.

I did not by any means do this on my own. In fact, at the same time I was starting to look at how I could get sober, save my relationship, AND keep it ALL secret....  thankfully a small group of friends WHO ARE NOT BLIND were planning an Intervention. March 1, 2010....  I was actually 8 days sober -- and I walked in to my surprise Intervention. I think they expected me to run. I cried with relief and joy -- It was time.

I had hoped my partner would join me....  we even talked about it -- but he did not.

Last edited @ Sep 5, 11:06AM EDT.
Aug 23, 8:38AM EDT2
I admire your courage and ability to talk about the ups and downs in your life. If you could go back, what advice would you give the younger Joshua, considering there are many younger "Joshua's" reading this?
Aug 23, 6:28AM EDT2

Someone asked this earlier and I've been thinking a lot about it since. I would say to young Josh (and any young person), not to wait until its too late for help.  Talk to your doctor (or any doctor); A friend, or go find ANY AA or 12-step meeting and just go. 

There will be no judgment -- and everyone in the room will know you, relate to your pain. And you will take Step #1....

Do NOT delay another minute if you need help. ASK for HELP.

Last edited @ Sep 5, 11:08AM EDT.
Aug 23, 8:33AM EDT2
How has your addiction impacted your career?
Aug 23, 4:03AM EDT2

The most obvious impact is during the time (2008-2010) when I was using regularly, and it eventually seeped into work. Ultimately, I lost a job because of my addiction. An extraorfinary job.

Since getting sober, however, my addiction and recovery work continue to impact my career -- in a good way. Now, I think more wholistically about work...  not just "salary and opportunity" but also "work-life balance," including time for self-care and health.

Ultimately, I started my own business, JRL Strategies, so I would have more flexibility with my time.  

More on my career here:

Aug 23, 8:44AM EDT2
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