To escape fear… you have to go through it… not around!


Years ago, I was at the office and looked down at my hand and saw a red dot. I was convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that I had contracted AIDS or cancer or Ebola or what ever that disease was I’d heard about on National Public Radio that morning driving to work.

I knew that it was going to be a horribly shameful and agonizing death. I also knew that if anyone found out that I had the illness I’d be ostracized and quarantined from society. Dude… this death was going to be as horrible as anything that happened to Jesus or those in the Holocaust . It sucked to be me…

Every single day for the next 18 months I obsessed about the red dot. The red dot controlled me… it was an ever-present secret that was there to destroy me. I was so afraid of the red dot that I would not go to the doctor to have it checked. There was no blood or lab work, CAT scans or surgery because I couldn’t face the reality of the red dot. I didn’t need a second opinion because I wasn’t getting a first one. Don’t make the dot angry and it won’t kill…

Then one day I was talking to my mother and looked at her hand and there it was … a red dot! Damn! It must be contagious…

Immediately… I asked her what it was and I will never forget what she said…. “it’s a red dot!” “Everyone has them… you were born with one on your hand I think…”

Suddenly, every fear I had about the red dot was gone… 18 months of my life had been dedicated to dying instead of living. Cancer is real… AIDS is real… Ebola is real… the red dot is nothing!

Knowledge is power… fear is not…

Getting sober is one of the most terrifying acts an addict will ever attempt…   more terrifying than shooting unknown and potentially lethal chemicals into your veins, more terrifying than robbing depraved drug dealers or engaging in unprotected sex with strangers or endangering the ones you love in order to obtain your next high. It seems insane, and that is only because it truly is. While we are using we are so out of our minds that the true terror of certain situations does not even faze us. However, the concept of putting down our favored substance and facing reality sends most active addicts running for the hills.

  1. Fear of the unknown.

What we don’t know scares us. Moving to a new city, maybe even a new state, unsure as to how we’re going to support ourselves, all of these uncertainties combine to leave us with a gaping pit of fear deep in our stomachs. While the concept of a higher power is one that will need to be addressed eventually in order to maintain sobriety, calling on faith can prove exceptionally beneficial when addressing this fear. Trusting that everything will work out exactly the way it is supposed to will do you much more good than living in the fear of something inevitable.

  1. Fear of failure.

You may believe that relapsing is equivalent to failing. Fortunately, this is not the case. Although relapse is never necessary and can always be avoided, if it does happen to you the option to pick yourself back up and persist is always available. The only way you may “fail” yourself is if you throw in the towel entirely – so no matter what, don’t give up!

  1. Fear of reality.

The reality is, life is difficult sometimes. There are taxes and bills to pay, adult responsibilities to take care of, and unfortunate events that may transpire at any time. But reality is often, and more frequently, absolutely beautiful. If you numb reality with drugs and alcohol you will never experience the awe-inspiring beauty of life. And no problem is so big that you will be unable to handle it.

  1. Fear of becoming a lame prude.

People that don’t drink and don’t do drugs are lame prudes, right? Actually, people who are not actively drinking alcoholically and slowly (or rapidly) killing themselves with excessive drug use are pretty cool. Wetting your pants and punching strangers in the face is not where it’s at – neither is sitting alone in your basement and constantly shooting heroin till you pass out. Sober people tend to be exceedingly happy people. Why not give yourself a chance to find out?

  1. Fear of growing up.

The responsibilities of adulthood can be frightening, especially if you have successfully evaded them for years. If you are considering getting sober, it is time to man up in all regards and begin paying your bills again. Growing up does not mean ceasing to have fun. It simply means being responsible and taking care of yourself.

Fear is a horrible emotion … there is no reason to allow it to control your life… there is hope for everyone caught in the throes of addiction! But first you must reach out…

This is my journey … this is my life


High School …… sober and unafraid!

057It’s shocking what life can do … tomorrow is my high school reunion and I don’t even remember the kid that was class president so many decades ago… so many crashes … so many burns. How did I survive life for this long?

Like a lot of people, I get to feel inadequate several times a week.  A sense of not quite being up to par.  Disappointing, even.  You hear about people who have performed better, earned more, got more friends, seen more of the world, slept better, slept with better lovers, argued less, looked more appealing…and the list goes on.  Superhuman beings, who seem to attract success.  Or,  the ones that get on quietly with life and put temperamental, irritating people like me to shame. They are just better. Of course it’s possible to learn stuff from everyone we meet, even if it is how not to do things.

I’m not a particularly driven or focused person.  I just like to run with stuff, but I would like to plan better. I have never been one of those that work a seven-day week and gets a kick out of it. Writing is my thing and constantly seeking useless information. The more I learn… the less I know. The main element that  makes me feel inadequate in the face of people who are ‘better’ is something I have come to recognize as fear.  I used to label it anxiety, shyness, stress, tiredness, lots of things, frustration, resentment, bitterness – depending on my mood – but in the end it comes down to fear. Fear of not being able to pay the bills. Fear of getting ill. Fear of losing people.  Fear of being judged, or of not getting approval.  Always on the scary roller coaster. I used to drink or get stoned to push back the fear, but now it is here in all its sober glory. Just like a 3-D movie.

Someone mentioned to me a while ago the concept of giving myself permission to feel fear. Why wasn’t I giving myself permission not to be afraid?  What was the worst that could happen if I stopped being fearful? Why did I have to control everything on the planet? Who made me so important? Those are valid questions … once I thought about it, I realized … I’m not that important and neither are the things I fear. In fact, at this point in time I am trying really hard to believe in a new sober way forward, using the ‘give yourself permission’ criteria.  It’s OK  for me to change my mind about something I once believed in, because I have learned a better way. It’s OK to feel fear and do it anyway. It’s OK not to live like “everyone” (it’s never everyone) else is because it isn’t right for me. Above all, I don’t have to change the world. God made it and he can handle it.

Like many people, I would guess, I try to be ‘good’; grateful and kind.  I don’t always manage it because I am human. It’s OK not to be perfect, however.  No one else is, after all. Not everyone will approve of my life choices. It’s OK not to be liked by every single person in the world.  No one else is, after all. Sometimes it is hard to recognize that someone I really want to like me is never going to, but actually that is OK too. There will always be people who argue and people who agree.  That is life.

I’m sober … I’m happy and I am so grateful to still be here! Bring on that high school reunion …

Changing people, places & things in sobriety…

I am no stranger to drug rehab… I’ve “rehabbed” with the rich and famous and the hopelessly52749b827c495c9a39fa9bae10a08417 unemployed. I’ve  made pottery, watercolors and origami birds in drug treatment centers from Florida to California. In fact, one ashtray I “created” cost about $70,000. It’s a shame I don’t smoke. Going to drug or alcohol treatment is one of those things that you really only want to do once so it is very important that you find a treatment facility that will work for you and specialize in your needs. However, for some, even the rehab that seems to have everything, doesn’t work.

Statistically, for every 100 people who enter a drug and alcohol treatment center only 3 people will succeed and live a life free from the bondage of addiction. Think about that … 97 people will relapse and return to active addiction. When rehab doesn’t work there can be many different reasons and few options. One problem for many is that their stay in rehab was simply not long enough. They work well for detox but are not long enough to help some stay clean once they leave treatment. Sobriety requires a commitment to living a different type of life and that is too hard for some who return to their old and toxic environment.

As an addict, I shared my drug of choice with friends. Whether I was using alcohol, a prescription drug, or illegal drugs, I shared the experience. Misery really does love company. Some of my “friends” got me into using in the first place… others I found along the way. Regardless of how I came together with those friends, recovery depended on us going our separate ways.

Battling an addiction is one of the most difficult things you will do in your life, if not the6233e49004a06b4ad578cd8842a03dff most difficult. By keeping friends around who still use, I was setting myself up for failure. Even without them around, I am tempted to use again. With them still in my life, my temptations multiplied. Some of them actively tried to get me to use again because it helped to validate their addiction… even those using friends who were not actively antagonizing me still represented a temptation.

Leaving your friends will not be easy. Especially if you have using friends whom you have known for years, cutting them out of your life can rack you with guilt. Even if one of your friends has been with you since childhood, if they are using, you must leave them behind. You can try your best to get this friend to join you on your journey of recovery, but only they can make that decision. If they refuse to stop using, they will only hold you back.

If your recovery took a wrong turn, there’s only one way back: trying again. Relapse is disheartening but it doesn’t have to be tragic. What is tragic is that millions of people never seek help at all and endure a lifetime of suffering. Equally tragic are those who go to treatment, relapse and decide a life of sobriety must not be possible for them. Recovery is not a way of life reserved for the select few; it is possible for anyone who refuses to give up on themselves.


The mother of an addict tells it like it is …. (coming soon)

c285e7c6f06177db077ea2c10b0f5c08I’m excited that my mom is going to contribute to my blog in the upcoming days. No one has ever had to wonder what she thinks … believe me … the woman has no filters. She tells everything as she sees it and then a little more. After decades of dealing with me … she deserves to be heard. Hopefully, her words will benefit someone still suffering.

Her life was no magic carpet ride while I was in the depths of my addiction. If interested, I hope you’ll join the blog and ask her how she survived a dysfunctional family. If you or someone you know is living with an addict or alcoholic… there is hope.


No pill is gonna cure my ills…

IMG_20150302_160237077I knew with certainty that I was a teen alcoholic, not the kind that wrecked cars, slapped girls or wanted to fight.. I wanted to dance all night and pass out on your couch… after I spent hours hugging everyone and letting the world know “I love you, man” … I’m an irritating drunk.  Why did it take me 30 years to figure out no one likes “that guy”? Honestly, he’s a lonely guy to be …

At 16, my wisdom teeth were removed by a dentist that was also a friend of the family. I left his office that day with a prescription for 90 Fiorinal #3 (butalbital & codeine) with three refills. I believe somewhere between the first and second dose I realized I would never go a day again without painkillers… I loved them … I loved everything about them …. and I would do anything necessary to get them. For the next 30 years, every second of every day was devoted to getting and taking prescription drugs.

Anyone who is an addict or alcoholic will tell you maintaining a drug habit is the 5D3FF105-7A84-4115-9363-CE2F6029F001hardest job on earth. It does not take a day off … it does not care that you are physically and emotionally sick… it does not give a damn about your kids or family. You will do whatever is necessary to keep it under control. The nauseating part is watching your soul die a little more every day as you do things you never dreamed you’d be capable of doing. It is a nightmare that ends in one of two ways … recovery or death. Those are the only options. It is black or white. There is no grey.

I believe my first moment of clarity was when I learned addiction is a disease. It is not a sin or the devil controlling a person or a weakness of character. It is a sickness. Nothing more … nothing less. People that have the disease aren’t bad people needing to act “good”. We are sick people needing to get “better”.

I have to think of it this way…

If I’m a diabetic … I have a disease that if not controlled will kill me. I will always have the disease. If I am aware that I am a diabetic and I eat a box of Moon Pies and wash it down with 2 liters of Mountain Dew… I’ve screwed up. If I go into a sugar coma as a result of my action and die … I am responsible for my death. It’s not my responsibility that I was a diabetic. I didn’t ask for it.  It was my responsibility not to eat the Moon Pies and Mountain Dew. That’s all I have to do is realize there is a wonderful life if I’m willing to be a part of it … I want to dive head first into that life! I want to live without the “Moon Pies” that used to control me…

No one has to suffer from addiction alone. There is help available … you just have to reach out. I’d love to hear from you…

This is my journey… this is my life

Rob Cantrell

This is my life … This is my journey

IMG_20150309_183129319I’ve spent a lifetime self-destructing in very public ways. I’m hoping others will learn what it was like, what happened and what it is like now for me. It isn’t necessary to completely lose it all before saying … “this is where the madness ends”. Life is about more than breathing… it’s about feeling alive. Here starts the blog journey…

My “crash and burn” moment happened September 2013.  I was living in an oceanfront condo in Florida with a pug named Shmuli and not much else. I had destroyed my latest marriage and everything else that crossed my path…. no more wife, no more money, no more kids, no more friends…. just me, the pug, a Mercedes Benz and my best friend Anita! I thank God for Anita!

On September 29th, 2013 (my daughter’s birthday) I decided to do something I had not done in years. I picked up the phone and dialed my parents for help. My options were to get help or commit suicide. Something was going to happen and it was going to happen that day. I could not exist as I was for another 24 hours. Fortunately, my mother answered the phone and made arrangements for me to enter long term treatment. Anita packed a suitcase and my father and I flew off to Rancho Mirage, California where I began the process of recovery…

I’ve often said that “I’ve done everything except Micheal Jackson!” … early on I learned how to smoke, drink, drug and even steal ashtrays from hotel rooms where I committed adultery! My life is what it is and I make no apologies for it. My closets are empty by design… once I realized I had nothing to hide… I had nothing to fear…. I was free!

This blog is not about the past … I don’t live there any more …  it’s about living every moment that I’m given and hopefully contributing to others that struggle with addiction.

Feel free to ask me any question and I’ll answer it honestly as possible.

This is how my sober life began …

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