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Unwasted: An Interview with Sacha Scoblic on the Sober Life

As a recovering drunk myself, I was especially interested in the new memoir, Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Z. Scoblic, a writer in Washington, DC, and a contributing editor to The New Republic.

I thought I’d ask her more about what she thinks about life without booze.

1. If you knew all that you do today, what would you have done differently your first year of sobriety?

Sacha: The first year of sobriety is riddled with basic epiphanies most adults have sooner than do addicts (like: Paying bills is not optional and I don’t have to drink just because it’s Arbor Day) as well as turbulent emotions rising to the surface after years of self-medication through alcohol, drugs, and denial. And then there’s this feeling that no one understands your loss, cravings, or anxieties, because all of your friends and acquaintances are drinkers and users, which leaves you alone in the harsh glare of sobriety — chain-smoking and mainlining Diet Coke. So, if I could do my first year differently, I’d go to rehab.

9 Comments to
Unwasted: An Interview with Sacha Scoblic on the Sober Life

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  1. Love your writing and how both you ladies are candid about your addictions but just thought i would make a suggestion for you when you refer to yourself as ‘a drunk and lush’….i myself am actually an addictions counselor and have been free of alcohol/cocaine for 20 years…i was 21 when i got sober but i think you make yourself sound ‘less than’ i guess is the best way i could put it….i have a degree in psych , two amazing kids and a very happy life and i never downplay where i’ve come from….i would not be where i’m at if i did….

    • “when you refer to yourself as ‘a drunk and lush’….i think you make yourself sound ‘less than’”

      Well said, DebFales! Something was bothering me about this otherwise excellent post. I think we need to be careful and more compassionate with our language. Terms like “drunk,” “lush,” “wino,” etc., do not serve anyone.

      • When we use terms like that it’s because we never forget who we are. I don’t act like one today, but I am a drunk. Keeping that up front keeps me sober.

  2. Those things that you found surprising about sobriety were an epiphany to me…. Congratulations to you both for holding one. I am always aware, tho’of the mystery of how some can make such huge changes – and others ( am thinking of a friend’s now 55 yr old former significant other – once handsome, bright, fun and charming – far too charming) do rehab multiple times, 12 steps, detoxes, sober houses, and never ever can make it to sobriety for longer than maybe, oh, 3 months, while all of the rest of their life is been destroyed…also step by step. I know you can’t answer for someone else, but you must have seen folks like him. It made me think, too, that maybe a 28 day program would have been a blessing to you – or maybe you (this time Sacha)created some considerable strengths going it the way you did.

    I am also astounded at people like you two who can live with all of your friends and associates who do drink – I don’t mean abusively – but who regard it as part of normal life. Can’t imagine how difficult it must be to fend off desires in the face of the constant promotion of drinking as a major social activity.

    • Hi, to add to that comment, I am 52 and have done it both ways, alone but for a 12 step program, (which I knew I needed despite the never-ending cliches and God talk; it annoyed me and felt like home at the same time…. wait, that’s normal isn’t it?) but was still white knuckling, though sober. After a year of that I went to a rehab for 8 weeks and gained a huge amount of insight and fellow feeling with people, mostly younger, with all sorts of addictions. Rehab wasn’t perfect but it taught me heaps, moved me on and gave me a lot of people to like and laugh with. Its a work in progress with me but I wouldn’t have missed rehab for quids.

  3. Beautiful!! I’m sober 27-1/2 yeaers, and I love your article. Thanks for the intro to the book too, had never heard of it before.

  4. If anyone has difficulty getting sober and staying sober, the first step should not be going to rehab or a 12-step spiritual program. Alcohol dependence is not disease of spirit! The success rate for these programs is appalling (though they may work for some). The Sinclair Method (google it) has a 80% success rate and has helped the most severe cases of alcoholism. Why don’t more people know about this?

    • Yay, Jon! Thank you for bringing this up. I have been doing TSM for over a year now with great success. I don’t think it’s for everyone (neither are 12-step programs), but it has been a lifesaver for me.

    • um, not what I read-27%. I am a better person and have a content life — the Sinclair Method cannot give me either one.

  5. i, too, have been in and out of various levels of wasted and sober. today i am healthy in mind, body and soul. i am and will forever be a raging drunk or junkie if i drink or use drugs. i have proven that time and time again. those words are not pretty but neither am i when i use.

    i reckon if the 12 steps works for you–great. if the sinclair method works for you–great. if praying to a door knob keeps one sober and serene i dont think any of us are to judge. at the end of the day, percentages mean nothing, really. i believe there will always be the poor lost souls out there that will not find their way out of the yuck.

    for me i have found that rational recovery is the way forward. this is not to say i have not taken a bit from my stint in rehab, all of the 12 steps meetings i have attended, the many shrinks, all of the counseling and just normal everyday people that have loved me no matter what crap i was getting up to.

    each time i hear of a person getting their lives back from the desparity of what drugs and alcohol brought, i feel a warmth inside.

    i am looking forward to reading this book! it looks fab!



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