Mike Brown’s Official Guide to Sobriety

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Mike Brown’s steps to sobriety can be done in half the time as the traditional 12. Photo: Mike Abu

This January, I did something I haven’t done in a long time­—I got sober. I know what you must be thinking: This had to have been court ordered, right? No. There was no rock bottom, no moment of clarity, no family intervention and no admitting I was powerless over a liquid. It was just a simple New Year’s resolution to do a bit of self-reflection. Who knows, maybe I would save some money, too?

During January, I gave some friend-girls a ride home from the bar. They were both upset with their boyfriends’ drinking and acting retarded, so they decided to deal with that by going to the bar and getting drunk. On the ride home, one of them said, “Mike Brown, will you teach our boyfriends how not to drink? If you can do it, they can.” And gosh darn it, maybe she was right.

I have my own set of steps for obtaining a sober lifestyle—there are less than twelve and they are more specific. The twelve steps are somewhat vague and boring. My recipe for the word of wisdom might not work for you, but it’s a lot more fun than sitting through an AA meeting, listening to people talk about the dark side of the bottle. If it helps—it helps. If it doesn’t—fuck off. I don’t care—I’m not trying to sell the formula.

This doesn’t mean stop drinking. You can keep getting as fucked up as you want as long as you pick a day to stop. I wanted to keep rallying through the holidays. The amount of extra time I have to spend around my family during Christmas makes not drinking not an option—so I picked January 1.

This step may be optional, depending on your willingness to give something else up, but in a weird way, it’s easier to quit two addictive things at once. I chose cigarettes. Whenever I was jonesing for booze, I told myself I was jonesing for cigarettes, and when I was jonesing for cigarettes, I told myself I was jonesing for booze.

It works in a fucked up way. Mathematically, when you multiply two negatives you get a positive—the mass jonesings cancel each other out and you won’t crave either. It confuses your brain’s pleasure center into what it’s actually craving. Your brain says, “fuck it,” and you end up doing the dishes or something productive.

This means no going out to the bar or shows or anywhere else you like to crack a cold one. It may help to not tell any of your friends you plan on not drinking for a while. If your friends are like mine, they are mostly drunk assholes that will do their best to break you.

Stock up on the proper provisions to keep you in your apartment. For me, that included groceries, video games (Skyrim), pornography and a bunch of weed. The cravings throughout the first couple days are by far the strongest—counteract them with masturbation. Since you will be beating off a lot those first couple days, the self-quarantine is that much more important. Most people don’t want to be seen pulling their pud.

I don’t hold weed in high regard. I don’t put it on a pedestal or worship it. That’s what stupid hippies do. I see weed with the same eyes that I see coffee. If I drink too much coffee, I get the jitters and I need to pee a lot. If I smoke too much weed, I eat more chips than usual and I need a nap. But smoking weed is not getting fucked up.

You will probably have trouble sleeping that first week without whiskey, and you will need to zonk yourself out somehow. Most people in AA are on some sort of sleeping pill provided by a doctor. Provide yourself some healthy green bong rips before bed.

I didn’t even wait until my month was up. I bought a 47-inch flat screen after two weeks of not drinking. I used to almost always be drunk when I watched TV, making not having high def not that big of a deal. But trying to watch a fuzzy screen while sober just wasn’t cutting it. Saving money and buying material items can be a great motivator for sobriety. Remember that.

STEP 6: PLAN YOUR RELAPSE CAREFULLY AND HAVE FUN WITH IT. In drug rehab, all the therapists say that relapse is part of recovery. That being said, it’s probably important to plan it out and make a party of it. Who says you have to be alone talking to a full bottle, crying about how you’re powerless? Me? This was the funnest Super Bowl I’ve had in years.

Feel free to add your own steps before, after, or in between mine! But if you follow my six steps, you’ll get sober in half the time of following twelve! You’re fucking welcome.

As far as the self-reflection goes, here’s what I learned about myself this month: Sobriety makes me grumpy and lame to be around, and I really like soda pop and candy when I’m sober. I might have traded in liver failure for diabetes.