JoAnn Miller is a recovery advocate and the founder of Holy Addiction. And this is her story…
“If you had told me the day I snuck in that window that I would own a blog with traffic, would be working with a radio station and three of the coolest guys in the recovery community, I wouldn’t have believed you.
The past year of my life has been one crazy ride. I gave up drugs and picked up a mission. The day I typed addiction into the search bar on Facebook, I was shocked. I was an active regular social Facebook user, and I had no idea that this world, our world, even existed. You would think I would have run into a meme or something, but no, nothing.
Within one year this community has turned my life around. You gave me the strength to give up the Suboxone. I learned that I am a whole lot tougher than I thought I was. I found skills that I didn’t know I had and self-worth that I never had. I have a resume that doesn’t have one single lie on it, and it still looks impressive. I sold a business and opened three more. I got two incredible opportunities to continue doing awareness work, but now I can eat too.”
Join us now as JoAnn takes us through her battle with Drugs and Alcohol, the wreckage it caused in her life, when she hit rock bottom, and her journey into recovery up until today.
Clean Date: March 17, 2016
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Omar: So JoAnn, let’s get started now. First of all, take us into your normal daily routine including recovery?
JoAnn: Okay. I literally spend all of my time on Facebook, in social media. I’m basically part of a movement, I guess you could say, in the recovery world. What we’re trying to do is I work with Rj Vied with Reliance Treatment Center in Florida, and lots of other people. Rich Walters, just numerous people that are trying to change the way that people think about addiction, the normies, how they feel about it, and then also how us addicts feel about ourselves, and what does that … Since I’m an addict, what does that mean? Because Rj, I’ll probably say his name a lot, but he always says that there’s so many people out there that are in recovery that we have no idea who they are.
It could be anyone. Anyone that you look up to. They might be in recovery, but they’re too ashamed to come out and say it, and if everyone that was actually in recovery came out and said it, it would be pretty powerful. We work real hard to do that and what we’re doing is we’re on Silence Kills, it’s a Facebook page, we’re running almost like a TV station, and we’re having people come out and tell their stories, people that have never told their stories, they do it live, and they can interact with the audience and it’s real raw, getting down to the nitty gritty of addiction, but then also showing what their successes are now. It’s been really amazing to watch. The recovery world, some of them like it, but the whole anonymity things, there’s a little bit of backlash.
Omar: So then, when did this idea for Holy Addiction come into play? Like, when did you decide that you wanted to get vocal?
JoAnn: I was doing an intensive outpatient program through Our Lady of Peace in [inaudible 00:02:07], Kentucky, and it’s a free program and they told me that I needed to write. They thought that that would help me, would be to write, and so I thought, “Well.” Someone mentioned, “Maybe you should start a blog. You don’t have to share it with anybody, just write what you want to write,” and so I started off with just a little free blog, and as soon as I started writing, it was just like I couldn’t stop. I just kept writing and writing and writing. It was like all this stuff came out, and people found it. I didn’t share it with anyone. First it was totally private, and then I decided to make it public which was a scary step, and then one person found it and they started sharing it.
I had one article go viral and when the Huffington Post contacted me and wanted to put one of my articles in their paper I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I should start a Facebook page. If it’s helping people this much, then I need to try to share it,” you know? Because I was making no effort to get it out there and it was already had gotten so big, and so I purchased the domain and I attached it to the free WordPress site and it just took off from there.
Omar: Tell us, JoAnn, how much clean time do you have and when is your anniversary date?
JoAnn: My anniversary date is actually March 17th, but I’ve never counted it up, so it’s not quite a year. It’s not quite a year. I mean, you have to realize with [inaudible 00:03:37] and all that stuff, I mean, I’m still feeling the effects of it a little bit, as far as the withdrawals and stuff. My body has not healed all the way.
Omar: Number one, what was keeping you from getting clean or staying clean when you first got introduced to recovery?
JoAnn: I was just scared of withdrawal. I was scared of withdrawal and I was scared of what life would be like without the warm fuzzies that I thought that the drugs were giving me, but mainly, with opiate addiction literally your whole addiction is running away from that withdrawal.
Omar: Absolutely, absolutely. No question about it. Number two, at one point did you have a spiritual awakening, that “Ah-huh” moment in recovery when you accepted that you were powerless over drugs and alcohol, but for the first time had developed a hope that you could recover?
JoAnn: When I was arrested for prostitution.
Omar: Yeah. If that isn’t a white light moment, I don’t know what is. Wow. Wow, that’s yeah, that’s one of those things you never forget.
JoAnn: No, no.
Omar: Number three, do you have a favorite book that you would recommend to a newcomer that you read in early recovery?
JoAnn: I do, and it’s actually kind of an odd book, but it’s the “Adult Children of an Alcoholic.” A lot of us in recovery, most of us use to cover up pain of some sort, and many of us, our parents used. Many of us they didn’t, but even if our parents didn’t use, their parents may have used, so maybe the addict’s parents are adult children of alcoholics or whatever, but I read the “Adult Children of Alcoholics” book and it was just really powerful for me. I would definitely, anyone, especially if your parent was an alcoholic needs to definitely read it, and I can’t think of the name of the author, but it’s a really popular book in recovery world. It helped me to understand myself, how I might have fell into addiction, and that’s important for us to … Because we beat ourselves up so much.
Adult Children of Alcoholics – Janet G. Woititz
Omar: Oh yeah.
JoAnn: If we can forgive ourselves for making that first choice, then we can let go of it, I think.
Omar: No question about it. Now, you know what I didn’t ask you about is your dad. Your dad’s got how much time clean?
JoAnn: I think he’s got about 29 years. He’s getting ready to have 30.
Omar: Wow. That’s amazing. You know, what is your relationship like with your dad today?
JoAnn: Oh, it’s really good. I mean, because he’s worked the steps and all that, I have someone, Rj always says that Reliance treats the whole family, not just the addict, and he says that’s because you can’t take your kid away and teach them French and then send them back home, and now the kid speaks French, because the family’s still speaking English so you have to treat the whole family. It’s nice to have someone else speak in French in the house. Not in the house, in the family.
Omar: Oh, that’s a great analogy. Beautiful, beautiful. All right, so number four, what is the best suggestion you have ever received?
JoAnn: Probably to get in the car with nobody else and turn a song on that you really like and just enjoy you. Kind of almost like a meditation, to look at the grass, feel the grass, feel the wind, get outside. We’re all in a rush. None of us take time to do the important things, just to enjoy just ourselves. I think that’s probably a big thing.
Omar: Beautiful, beautiful. All right, then number five, if you could give our newcomers only one suggestion, what would that be?
JoAnn: Don’t give up. At first, it’s like I said, it’s like French. At first, you’re not going to understand what any of these people … You’re going to think everyone’s crazy, and “What language are they speaking?” But if you just give it some time and I don’t want to say fake it ’til you make it, but just if you just give it some time and just listen, you just have to really listen, and you’re going to hear your story, and get a sponsor, and work hard on the steps, but the main thing is just don’t give up.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER
“Don’t give up.”
See you then!
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Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.