Three and a Half Years!

Posted on April 21, 2015

Personal Success
“Gentoo” – SMART Recovery FUNdraising Volunteer
(originally posted 1/28/2014)

“I got myself into this, and I wanted concrete, practical, science-based,
proven information about how I could get myself out – and for good.”

Gentoo PenguinI just celebrated 3.5 years as a non-drinker with SMART Recovery peer support, particularly SMART Recovery Online.

I drank heavily for decades. I developed a physical addiction to alcohol, where if I didn’t drink for an hour or two, I got shakes, sweats, anxiety. Then, drinking almost took my life. I had a serious fall when drinking, and it resulted in a traumatic brain injury. In ICU I was given a 50-50 chance to live. This caused pain to my husband and family. Thankfully, I made it. But I had to learn to walk again. And I had destroyed my career.

I attended an outpatient treatment center for alcohol and drugs where we were expected to attend one “outside” recovery meeting per week. We were given the choice of attending 12-step or SMART Recovery. And that’s how I learned about SMART.

I didn’t want to go to AA because I could not imagine standing up in front of a group and saying “Hi, I’m (real name) and I’m an alcoholic”. Although I go to church, I didn’t get the concept that just turning over my life to a “higher power” (and basically praying when I felt like drinking) is the solution, because I am “powerless”. I got myself into this, and I wanted concrete, practical, science-based, proven information about how I could get myself out – and for good, because another head trauma will almost certainly kill me. And so, I didn’t want someone like a “sponsor” telling me what to do, either.

SMART doesn’t tell you what to do; instead you are supported by great people in the same boat and pointed in the right direction.

I learned that I am the one who needs to do the work. I needed to read and learn and use the things I learned to quit drinking and stay quit.

SMART Recovery meetings are super-helpful. People share their personal experiences with the SMART tools and how they worked for them. The volunteer Meeting Facilitators guide the discussion. What you take and use is your choice. That’s why SMART stands for Self-Management and Recovery Training. Three and a half years later, without a single drink, I recently became a Meeting Facilitator myself. The training is very rigorous. And I deepen my commitment to my recovery by helping others the best I can.

The 24/7 support here online is fantastic. There’s always someone to talk with and share experiences or ask for support in getting through a tough moment without giving in. The website offers lots of meetings online every day. Tons of resources to read, learn and use for success! And good friendships, if you’d like that.

SMART was exactly what I needed. I think these SMART principles sum it up, for me:

Successfully recovered people:
:: Have a commitment to sobriety
:: Make a change in lifestyle
:: Prepare and plan for urges

Recovery takes the 3 P’s:
::Patience
::Practice
::Persistence

I wish everyone reading this the joy of recovery. It may not seem joyful at all when starting out, but I think you’ll agree one day – it is! You can recover your health, relationships, career, and more.



Gentoo’s recovery journey is an example of the importance of the services that SMART Recovery provides in assisting individuals seeking abstinence from addictive behaviors.

We need your help to bring SMART Recovery to even more people. More meetings require more volunteers. Find out how you can get involved, as a volunteer or as a supporter of volunteer training scholarships, or both. Thank you for your support!


Gentoo PenguinAbout the author: Gentoo ‘got SMART’ in 2010 and is a former Online Facilitator and Online Chat Volunteer. She currently serves as a FUNdraising Volunteer. Her other passion is penguins and she is known as Gentoo (a species of penguin) in the online SMART community. She is often heard to quote Joe Moore: “It’s practically impossible to look at a penguin and feel angry.”

4 thoughts on “Three and a Half Years!

  1. Julie F.

    Yes Change. My most important changes occurred at the base of who I thought I was.. Understanding that who I wanted to be was everything that I was.

    How excited I was the day I realized that the drunk in me was nothing more than a product of an alcohol based environment and artificially grown.

    The clean and Sober part of me was everything I dreamed and more.

  2. Colin P.

    Pretty much the same as that – just coming up 5 years dry with SR. Facilitator, Regional Coordinator, non-drinker. Loving life. 😉

  3. HughK

    Fantastic story of recovery and the power of choice!

    You are one of the worlds gentle people Gentoo and I have benefitted from your input on a number of occasions.

    Congratulations on 3 1/2 years and a life well lived.

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