sober Archives -

Usual Suspect Gabriel Byrne Talks 21 Years of Recovery from Alcohol

Usual Suspect Gabriel Byrne Talks About 21 Years of Recovery from Alcohol

Most people who own a television have probably seen Gabriel Byrne at work, but just in case you haven’t, go watch The Usual Suspects. In fact, if you haven’t seen that movie in a few months, go watch it again. Totally worth it. Or you may recognize him from one of many other roles, including:

  • Stigmata (movie)
  • End of Days (movie)
  • Vikings (series)
  • Marco Polo (series)

Gabriel Byrne is Irish born actor who has also a grown into a successful film director, film producer, writer, cultural ambassador and audiobook narrator. Since the beginning of his acting career in 1979, he has struck the silver screen and small screen a multitude of times with powerful and intense performances.

He won a Golden Globe Award back in the HBO drama In Treatment, which aired from 2008 to 2011. That role also earned him nominations for various other awards.

But just last week the 67-year-old actor accepted another awesome honor- a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA). The following night, he took the time to reflect on what he considers one of his biggest victories– his 21 years of recovery from alcohol.

Gabriel Byrne on Drinking and Recovery

During an interview on Ireland’s The Late Late Show,

“I think like a lot of people, I drank to escape from myself and to escape from the pressure that I felt around me. But I knew that I could never handle it, I was absolutely allergic to it. It was not a good thing for me to do.”

He continued,

“With this lifetime achievement thing, it’s not about the work, it’s of a life and one of the biggest victories to me in my life was that personal one of stopping that and saying I’m not going to be that person anymore.”

But Gabriel Byrne didn’t stop with discussing his own issues with alcohol. He also spoke about his feeling toward the culture in Ireland which endorses drinking.

“That kind of thing became to me kind of frightening because my drinking was spiraling into a place where I couldn’t remember what I did.”

“One day I woke up and said, ‘If I don’t stop this, I am going to die.’”

Byrne admits that it took him a long time to be brave enough to admit he had a problem and needed help. His agent of 30 years, Teri Hayden, was instrumental in getting him the help he needed. She was the first person he went to for help. Describing walking into a room full of strangers looking for help with his drinking Gabriel Byrne says,

“It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.”

After over two decades in sobriety, it seems Gabriel Byrne seems committed to his work as both an actor, an activist and an advocate for recovery. He also acknowledges that a lot has changed since he left Ireland for the United States, adding that he is actually encouraged by how the culture is shifting. He is happy to see now that it is no longer strange in Ireland for people to recognize their drinking problems and ask for help.

We love sharing celebrity recovery stories because they remind us that anyone can be impacted by addiction. Actors, artists and musicians often experience the same devastation that can be caused when drugs take hold of their lives, and their stories of overcoming fear and stigma to get help can be inspiring. Everyone might not have access to the same resources as celebrities, but there are still effective treatment options. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

  CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 9

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 9

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

With only a few days let, we finally touch on Step 9 of the 12 Steps of Christmas series! This step takes more action, but for such an important time of year it helps us re-establish some very important connections.

By the way, tell your true love they are getting the hang of the gift giving thing. They threw a party and there are at least 9 ladies on the dance floor! Throw on jingle bell rock and get your collective grooves on.

Step 9: Made amends when it wouldn’t ruin someone else’s Christmas

After making our naughty list in Step 8 we realized that we had done plenty throughout the year to cause some grief to some people we cherish, and for the holiday we have a chance to be a better version of ourselves while spending time together.

While this might not be the appropriate venue to try and make all the wrongs we have done throughout our drug or alcohol use, it is a good opportunity to give as much of yourself as you can. As long as we are not in danger of ruining anyone’s Christmas, we can try to offer our amends to family or friends for the wrongs of Christmas past. Although sometimes it is best we not turn the celebration into a trip down bad-memory-lane. We should not make Christmas about us, but we can also try to do right in the holiday spirit.

Maybe your friend still isn’t over that time you caught his tree on fire last year. Don’t tell him to go deck his halls. Seriously, it’s just rude. Sometimes it isn’t as simple as going to someone and trying to make it right, because some people just aren’t ready for that yet.

Again, we don’t want to make the family gathering about everyone forgiving us or not. It might stir up unwanted hostility. Christmas is about sharing love and joy for everyone, so maybe make some indirect amends for your own naughty-by-nature Christmas past in the form of colorfully wrapped goodies.

The gifts we can give…

Material things aren’t really what the recovery community typically focuses on when it comes to making an amends. While financial amends or amends pertaining to property may sometimes be in someone’s experience, Christmas isn’t always the venue for that.

Still, who doesn’t enjoy a good gift? For those of us in recovery who have the opportunity and the resources, we can make an honest effort to do something nice for those we owe an amends. Everyone loves a good Christmas present, so some of us actually go out of our way to be a slightly less qualified Santa. But material things aren’t really what makes the difference. We have so much to give of ourselves.

We cannot say it enough, Christmas is about love and compassion; joy and humility; gratitude and hope. So give as much of that as you can to those you have harmed on your naughty list. Even if you go over the top with presents, the best gift is always the gift of your love and compassion.

So go through your naughty list and look for the opportunity to give to those you have wronged. When appropriate, you may even take this opportunity to make amends for your naughty ways. Just try your best to show that true gratitude and generosity in your actions and in your presence.

Spending Christmas facing the impacts of addiction on others can be extremely difficult, but take this opportunity to be more aware of what truly matters and what that means for your recovery. For those struggling this holiday season, ask for help; not just for your family but, for yourself. Give yourself and those who love you the most the best gift you can. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 4

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 4

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Yes, it is time for the next part of the 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery series!

In the 12 Steps of many recovery fellowships, step 4 is all about being honest with yourself about the past and the defects of character that have led to some difficult times. It is an emotional examination of the self.

But in an effort to point the conversation in a different direction for Christmas, we present our own edit to this very important piece of the recovery process.

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 4

Step 4: Made a Searching and Fearless Christmas List

Well, now we start to get into some more exciting stuff. While normally people in recovery start to get a little nervous about step 4 of the 12 Step program, this list is sure to be a lot more entertaining. Instead of doing the searching and fearless moral inventory of one’s own actions and appraising the wreckage of the past, we will actually make our version a little more about the hope in the future.

In most 12 Step recovery fellowships, the 4th step is a detailed look at an inventory of things like resentments, fears, harms and character defects that can seem a little daunting to some. However, in my personal experience, it is NEVER as serious as some people would have you believe. It is just a list!

So to lighten up we are going to instead make this a searching and fearless Christmas list of goals or gifts just for you. You can start grandiose if you like; writing a Christmas list that looks more like a bucket list. You might imagine yourself in your dream car driving to the career of a lifetime. It might not seem possible right now, but a little bit of imagination and ambition might just give us the spark of inspiration to keep working hard and dreaming big. But it does not necessarily have to be material items.

Try some real searching inside yourself to see what kind of life you are looking for in recovery. What kind of person would you be if you chased your hopes and your dreams fearlessly? How would you treat the ones closest to you if you loved fearlessly?

What else would be possible if you were actively seeking out the thoughts and experiences and feelings on this list?

Give yourself the gift of hope…

While we have been talking about letting go of control over the holiday, we also have to remind you that it’s still your job to control your actions, which means you’re still responsible for your future. Set some obtainable goals for the season ahead. Making a fearless Christmas list is about asking yourself what you’re going to do with your new found freedom in sobriety. Then seek hope for that future.

For some of us, that list can be as simple as spending quality time with our families and friends, trying to make the most out of the holiday. So if you’re giving yourself the gift of hope, give others the gift of your presence.

But you can also stay focused on the now, making your list more about what you want to do now to be a better friend, spouse, sibling, parent or child. Do you want to reconnect and reconcile some of the ghosts of Christmas past? Do you want to grow stronger bonds with those in your life? Maybe you just want to be able to get through the presents, avoid emotional eating and family feuds without the urge to get hammered.

Whatever you decide you want to put on your Christmas wish-list, when you look back at it (checking it twice) it might give you a glimpse of where you are in your journey, and how far you have come.

Check yourself…

So in a way, we tricked you! It is kind of a personal inventory. If you made this an introspective list, it might remind you of where your character defects a showing through during the holidays. This could set the tone for some more in-depth reflection on how you’re handling the occasion. You might realize that the things you used to think mattered most don’t really measure up to the gifts of sobriety you have received.

At the end of the day, making a Christmas list is supposed to remind us of that youthful belief that anything is possible. We might not think Santa is going to drop a new career or car down the chimney, or stuff our stockings with a sense of purpose and serenity, but a kid can dream, right?

It might not be an inventory of our past, but it can give us a new respect for our growth and help us take stock in what we want out of our recovery.

As for the calling birds, we actually call that Tweeting now. It’s a thing.


Christmas in recovery can already seem like a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. Take some time during the holiday to pump yourself up for all you have gained so far, and get in the mindset to receive even more sooner than later. For those struggling this holiday season, ask for help; not just for your family but, for yourself. Give yourself and those who love you the most the best gift you can. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 1

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 1

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

In the spirit of the holiday season, we figure it is about time to not only celebrate love, giving and connection but also a time to celebrate the journey into sobriety many amazing people are on all around the world. As we reach the end of another interesting and exciting year, full of bittersweet memories as well as joy and hope, we thought it would be nice to give a sobering spin on one of the Christmas classics; the 12 days of Christmas. But honoring the legacy of 12 Step fellowships that have been such a life-changing foundation for many people recovering from drugs or alcohol.

We know that the holidays can also be a difficult time for those who may be separated from their loved ones for the season. They can certainly be a difficult time for those who are still struggling or who have loved ones suffering. So we want to spread a little bit of hope along with holiday cheer.

So for the days leading us to Christmas, we look forward to presenting all of our incredible followers and friends with our very own version of the 12 Steps of Christmas.

The 12 Steps of Christmas in Recovery: Step 1Step 1: Admitting that I am powerless over the Holidays and they can make my life unmanageable


Forget the partridge in the pear-tree for the first day… let’s start off slow.

The fact is, the holidays will come around whether we are ready for them or not. I’m still trying to figure out how I survived the turkey and stuffing from November. Then BOOM here comes Christmas, with the gift giving and the family time and all that fun stuff. With all the tinsel and toys (yes, I still ask Santa for Batman action figures for Christmas) there comes a lot of stress and temptations for some people in sobriety.

Remembering Christmas with drinking…

Sometimes they want to join in “merriment” is pretty tempting. I know personally, the temptation to drink during Christmas was pretty much the same as every other 24 hours in early recovery; a lot. Lucky me, I got to spend my first sober Christmas in a holistic addiction treatment program. NICE! In all seriousness, it probably did save my life.

But I can remember the days when I used to drink with my loved ones on Christmas. After getting through the presents and coming together in the afternoon to spend time together, we would have food and drink together. The only problem, maaaaaybe some of us (ME) drank a little too much of the eggnog.

Whether or not you are a fan of “eggnog”, which in some families (or maybe just my family) tends to have a hearty serving of whiskey in the mix, there can be plenty of things about the holiday season that are tough to tussle with, especially in early sobriety.

Powerless over family…

We have to remember that our families are out of our control. All that dysfunction and colorful history with all the characters you call relatives can be, to put it mildly, exhausting and stressful. Sometimes our family members want to remind us of all the time we spent last year nodding out at Christmas dinner…

…or the time we threw up on the snowman in the backyard…

…or the time we sold all the presents under the tree and disappeared for a week…

…No? Just me?

Anyway, the truth is that when aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings all come together with the parents and grandparents and so on, reminiscing is just part of the package. Maybe for some (me, apparently), it is more painful than others. Or perhaps, maybe you still have that family member that is struggling. Perhaps they are the ones disappearing for days, drinking too much cider or even causing conflict due to their distressed state in active addiction. It can be incredibly disheartening.

Either way, it is important to remember that we are not in control of our loved ones. Early recovery for a lot of us is about learning acceptance and working through the adversities we face with humility. Family support in the recovery process is more important than most people realize.

Plus, an abundance of Christmas cookies can go a long way.

Working with that unmanageability…

The most important part of any holiday, especially this time of year, is the compassion and goodwill toward others this season is meant to inspire in us. As troubling as life can be, our efforts to share love and connection are the best way to work through that obstinacy.

No matter how unmanageable the family get-together can be, in recovery, we have to try and remind ourselves that all we are responsible for is giving as much love, compassion, and acceptance as we can, while still maintaining healthy boundaries.

So step 1 for the 12 Steps of Christmas is essentially trying to remember not to stress the small stuff, and to accept yourself and your loved ones.

As for the partridge… is that even a thing? Who has a spare pear tree these days anyway?

Spending Christmas facing the hurdles and hardships of addiction can be a daunting task, but take this opportunity to be more aware of what truly matters and what that means for your recovery. For those struggling this holiday season, ask for help; not just for your family but, for yourself. Give yourself and those who love you the most the best gift you can. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Professional Skateboarder Neen Williams Talks about Sobriety and Skating

Professional Skateboarder Neen Williams Talks about Sobriety and Skating

For many years Professional skateboarder Neen Williams lived a life of sleepless nights partying while creating a name for himself in the skater world. Born in Chicago, Illinois and currently shredding street tricks in his hometown of Los Angeles, California Williams has managed to attract sponsorship from several brands including:

  • Deathwish
  • Circa Footwear
  • Thunder Trucks

He also has a line of board designs that are all pretty slick. Neen Williams says he’s been skateboarding since he was about 13 years old, and with the territory he found himself smoking and drinking alcohol on a regular basis. Now, at age 31 he has turned his passion into his point of reference for a more sober approach to life.

Sobriety and Skating

Williams admits that he used to have a very different perspective of the life of a skateboarder himself. In a recent video with VICE he states,

“Skateboarding forever was like ‘drink boozes, smoke, we don’t stretch we don’t work out,’ and later in the interview he explains, “Back in the day I used to wake up late, eat like a burrito and slam a beer; go out and skate, manage to get a trick, and it would just be party time again.”

“It would never stop. It was just like a vicious cycle. There were a couple nights I would wake up at 6 or 7 (PM) and it would be dark outside.”

In that vicious cycle, Williams talks about needing days at a time to recover from drinking and partying, and on the last day when he finally felt good enough to get back to skating he would immediately go back to the partying as well.

He goes on to say that he wishes he had known all of this when he was a teenager, but even at 31 years old he is still learning so much. During part of the video interview Neen Williams says that he knows if you take care of yourself, you can skate forever. That, he says, is why he now makes the effort to eat so well and train his body,

“This is why I do all this healthy stuff for myself… because that is what I want, is to skate forever.”

That seems like a really legit reason to take care of yourself; to do what you love forever!

Originally Williams said he decided not to drink for the 6 to 8 month healing period he was told he would need for a torn ACL. Since then, it appears his lifestyle has changed dramatically to make his dream work.

Health Food and Fitness

Even though some may not immediately associate a balanced and healthy diet, along with regular exercise, it appears to have become a crucial element to Williams’ evolution as a skater.

On VICE Williams prepares a breakfast of acai bowls that honestly look stacked with natural goodness. Williams tops off one of the meals he makes- serious serving of what looks like well-blended fruits and vegetables- with diced pineapples and what I would guess to be barriers, almond butter, and granola, it looks like heaven.

You also get to see Williams break out a yoga mat and start stretching himself out. From there he said since Saturday isn’t a week day, he warms up with a quick 200 in to start the day.

When talking about his workout, he compares it to any other athlete. He says football players train to do what they do and they are covered in pads and protective gear. While he admits football players have 300lbs of muscle falling on them, he says the pro skater is usually out in the bare minimum, if anything, fighting sometimes face-first with concrete.

The Deathwish Team Manager, Jay Thorpe, makes a cameo during a street-side video shoot and says it is “really rad to see” when talking about Williams cleaning up his act and committing to the thing he wants to do for the rest of his life.

Williams says that while he doesn’t judge anyone, and doesn’t regret his party days, he has seen a lot of people fall because of it and he likes what he’s doing now. Probably a big inspiring part of Williams’ story is that he says he is glad he went through it and worked his way out of it to be the person he wants to be.

Athletes are put under a lot of pressure to succeed, even professional skateboarders and other extreme sports athletes. Sometimes the lifestyle of pro-sports stars can influence issues with substance use or addiction. Too many talented individuals are held back by these obstacles, but it never too late to get a fresh start toward a better, healthier expression of yourself. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Pin It on Pinterest