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and the Moms Who Live Here

Rejecting, then Embracing, The Sober Cookie Challenge™

What is the Sober Cookie Challenge™?

When my friend Jodi MacNeal told me the idea of the Sober Cookie Challenge™, I did not like it.  Jodi is the Creative Director at Desert Rose Recovery – a faith-based drug addiction treatment program in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  The challenge?  To promote understanding and empathy for those who struggle with addiction, by abstaining from Christmas cookies this holiday season.  You can read about the challenge here – www.sobercookie.com.

My reaction when Jodi told me about the challenge?  Um, no thanks! Who wants to give up Christmas cookies?  Christmas cookies are delicious.  I told Jodi I didn’t think anyone would buy in.

Seeking confirmation of my initial reaction, I ran the idea past my brother, fully expecting him to agree that the challenge, while well-intentioned, was not likely to make much of a difference to a recovering addict.

Boy was I wrong.  

The Elephant in the Room.

When you have an addict in your family, you don’t just ignore the elephant in the room.  You spend your whole life dancing around it.  Artfully dodging it.  Doing anything you can to convince yourself and those around you that this big, fat, destructive pachyderm rampaging through your life and destroying everything you love doesn’t actually exist. 

Intervention requires you to walk right up to that elephant and call it by name.  “You are a drug addict, and you need to get help.”  Simple words, but the complexity of emotion involved in actually speaking those words to someone you love is nearly paralyzing.

By the time my family spoke those words to my brother, the fear of losing him to a drug overdose outweighed the fear of his rejection or anger over being called out.  He was so close to the edge.  He weighed less than I did.  His legs were the thickness of my forearms.  His face was gaunt and bloated at the same time.  I truly believe to this day he wouldn’t have lasted another six months the way he was living.  If you can call it living.

The good news is, we did speak those words.  The elephant was not only called by name, but thrust into center ring under a giant, blinding spotlight.  When it was over, my brother gratefully surrendered and willingly accepted our offer of help, because it turns out he didn’t want to live that way any longer either.

Now, over six years later, you wouldn’t recognize the walking skeleton from my story as my brother.  He embraced his sobriety and held out for the promise of a better life.  He just started his own business. He got engaged, and he and his fiancée are committed to service in their church.  His life is so full, has so much meaning.  I could not be prouder.

Jumping in with Both Feet.

When we talked about the challenge, my brother agreed giving up Christmas cookies for a few weeks is clearly not the same as giving up a 20-year drug addiction.  However, he loved the notion that a non-addict would want to understand, even a little, what it was like to relinquish an addiction – to face withdrawals, cravings, and temptations.  He said it would make him feel supported.  That was all I needed to buy in, big time.  I immediately signed on for the challenge, and added my own personal addiction – I have given up caffeine for the duration of the challenge as well.

My brother is amazing.  His recovery has been miraculous, but it has also been an arduous odyssey I will never fully understand.  This is a small way in which I can show him how proud I am of his perseverance, his hard work and his heart. 

You can learn more about the Sober Cookie Challenge™ and how to join us by following the hashtag #sobercookie on Instagram and Facebook.  You can also like and follow the Desert Rose Recovery page on Facebook for more stories from the Sober Cookie files.

If someone you love needs help, please don’t wait.  Speak the words. Find the help.  Call Desert Rose Recovery Center at (844) 337-7673.

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