You Need Help: How To Stay Sober


Hey homies!

Y’all may not get to this, but as someone who’s four days sober I found your sobriety series and loved it, so figured I’d reach out here!

TLDR; loooong history of substance abuse which I never saw as a problem until recently when I fucked shit up real bad because I am housed and can somewhat keep my life together.

I need help! I could have died! I could have killed or badly hurt other people! This shit is heavy!
The good news is I’m not asking you for medical advice: I have an awesome therapist, strong support circle and am seeing someone about joining a programme this week.

That said, the internet is big and there is so much gross and Christian advice out there for some of us on struggle street… do y’all have any podcasts or books or anything you’d recommend for someone who hasn’t been sober since they were thirteen? Bonus if anyone has any advice about coming back from abusing prescription medication, as apparently, that is a big deal and not a small deal.

Lots of love!


First and most importantly I have to say: CONGRATULATIONS!!

Getting sober is no small feat, as I’m sure you know, so any time sober is remarkable and I’m so happy for you. Also I think I organized the sobriety series you’re talking about and I love that you found it!

This is probably going to be short because it seems like you’re already on the right track (having a therapist, strong support circle, and possibly joining a program). That is all super good stuff. So the recommendations I have for you are minimal. I will say, before I dive in, this shit is heavy. Especially those of us who engaged with both drugs and alcohol knowing that combo can be deadly for yourself and others. I hope you have found some forgiveness for yourself around the ways you have “fucked shit up” to use your language.

That forgiveness is so important and will keep you from fucking things up further for yourself or for someone else. If we keep telling ourselves the story that we’re screw-ups that can’t do anything right… we will screw up. It’s like a negative feedback loop or something. Just speaking from my own experience here!

Really quickly, about abusing prescription meds: I was a Xanax hound, so I have some experience here.

You can absolutely come back from this, it just takes a lot of work and good ole forgiveness. I would say one important thing to do would be to see a doctor and talk to them about possible side effects or lasting effects of abusing prescription drugs. I know for me, I went and got some testing done on how my liver was functioning because like you I started drinking young. If they find something, it can be really scary and you can start to blame yourself for wrecking your health at a young age, but I urge you to resist that.

There’s a lot of talk about what causes substance abuse and I’m not gonna draw a line in the sand and say that this one thing is the cause, but I do believe having traumatic experiences at a young age plays a part. If that is part of your story, you may need to hear what someone told me. Drinking and drugging is a coping mechanism that may have served you at one point, it kept you from feeling the full extent of your pain, but now it has done its job and you can be free to feel that pain in a measured and healthy way, with the support of your community.

Okay, on to recommendations:

Sobriety narratives are often overwhelming white male oriented so I’m trying to find other narratives for you. I don’t know how you identify but if you are an Autostraddle reader I’m betting you’re not a cis white guy. Some of these books and podcasts I’ve read or listened to, others are on my list but come highly recommended.


The Only Worlds We Know – Michael Lee (poetry)
Calling a Wolf a Wolf – Kaveh Akbar (poetry)
A Piece of Cake – Cupcake Brown (memoir)
Punch Me Up to the Gods – Brian Broome (memoir)
Drinking: A Love Story – Caroline Knapp (memoir)


Sisters Who Followed the Yam/Sober Black Girls Club
The Sober Gay Podcast
Sober Curious
Sober Cast (this is audio AA meetings, they can be heavy on the God stuff but sometimes they have a funny gay person share their story and that’s always fun)

Other things I found helpful/enjoyed in my first couple months of sobriety:

Mango sorbet
Comedy podcasts
Making music playlists for my various moods
Pad Kee Mao
Taking pictures of flowers
Visiting your local botanical garden
Long walks in nature/as close to nature as you can get
Calling/listening to other sober people
Chocolate cake

My sugar cravings were off the charts the first few months and I say fuck diet culture, if replacing a drink with a scoop of sorbet is gonna help you feel better, do it.

Okay that’s all I have. Congrats again, sending so much love to you!


You can chime in with your advice in the comments and submit your own questions any time.

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Dani Janae is a poet and writer based out of Pittsburgh, PA. When she's not writing love poems for unavailable women, she's watching horror movies, hanging with her tarantula, and eating figs. Follow Dani Janae on Twitter and on Instagram.

danijanae has written 157 articles for us.


  1. I highly recommend the memoir We Are the Luckiest by Laura McKowen.

    Two other podcasts you might try:
    Seltzer Squad
    We Can Do Hard Things (not always about sobriety, but it comes up often)

    Finally, the Buddhist-based organization Recovery Dharma is a great alternative to traditional 12 step groups, if you want to try out some meetings (IRL or online) or look into their resources.

  2. First of all, heck yes! Four days is incredible and so is reaching out for help and support. I know Recovery can be a feelings frazzle but you are truly already doing great. There is so much good advice here already. For me, learning that literally anything could be a part of my recovery gave me so much room to be creative and build something that worked in my life. So whatever helps you through the day…the shows, the snacks, the naps, the coffee, the joining of a truly startling amount of clubs/activities, the laying on your floor staring at the wall…all of it is Recovery. It doesn’t have to look any which way to work as long as it works for you.

    One thing that helped was looking for queer sober ancestors has helped me feel part of a lineage. Substack is also a rad spot to find sober writers in an accessible way (ie you can generally get an idea of someone’s views and vibe before you sign up for paid posts so you can find folks who are helpful to you right now).

    I also wanted to share this free community for queers as well: The folks who run it are amazing, the calls are so welcoming, and they are inclusive of all Recovery modalities. There’s never pressure to talk or participate until you want to so it’s a great soft place to land.

    Sending big gay sober solidarity your way, friend.

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