Surviving the EMOTIONAL DESTRUCTION of living with an ADDICT

Sarah Mabry is the wife of our former guest, John Mabry (SHAIR 165). John has been sober for two and a half years and now hosts the High Sobriety Podcast, but before he got clean, his addiction put Sarah and his kids through unimaginable emotional destruction.

This is Sarah’s first podcast. For the first time she gets to share her story out loud. Sarah is not a recovering addict or alcoholic, but drugs and alcohol still took her over her life. She is here to talk about what it was like being the wife of an addict and what it is like now living with a spouse who is in recovery.

Listen to Sarah’s story!

Here are a few highlights from our interview. To get the full story please join us on the podcast now!

Sarah’s Story

Sarah was born into a conservative family and never experienced alcoholism or drug addiction in her upbringing. She met John in college when he was her cousin’s roommate. She remembers her cousin telling her that his friend had been in a horrible car accident and that he was having his leg amputated. She was horrified. Little did she know that the man he was speaking about would be her future husband.

Both Sarah’s mom and her aunt had condos in Destin. John Mabry happened to be staying with her cousin at her aunt’s condo. They started spending a lot of time together, but when John said he was going to marry her in two years and take her to Europe on a honeymoon for a month, she thought he was crazy.

I was like, “Who is this guy?”

Fast forward two years, and they did get married. Sarah had no idea that John had any sort of problem. During the first two years of courtship, they would only see each other for a few days a month until she finished school. He was able to hide his addiction, and if there was any over-the-top behavior, it didn’t raise any red flags. They were in the early twenties, so it was to be expected.

As they got into their marriage routine after the wedding, Sarah noticed strange things. The wine rack was always empty. John’s behavior was erratic. She felt that something was not right. A year into the marriage, she went to his parents to seek their help. She was scared, but they refused to accept he was an addict. They told her she was overreacting and not to worry.

Within two years, it got much worse. John quit his job and moved to LA to be an extra in a show. This problem with this was that he didn’t even consult with Sarah. She had a job and couldn’t move. She didn’t know what to do and thought about giving up. In desperation, she went to her parents for advice, but her dad to told her to do anything she could to save her a marriage.

Sarah followed John to LA. He began doing some acting and she began teaching preschool.Hollywood was one place she never wanted to live, and it was the last place and addict should be, but the next few years actually turned out to be fun. During this time, John was cast in the movie Superbad.

Sarah was still pretty naïve and did not know what addiction truly was. To her, an alcoholic was someone on the couch in a wife beater who was too drunk to work. Her husband was a blond, successful, hardworking Christian man with degrees. She was so oblivious to addiction, she could only guess his strange behavior was due to undiagnosed brain damage from his accident.

John was on about thirteen medications, including Adderall and Vicodin. When she told a friend about John’s strange behavior, she recommended that Sarah count John’s Vicodin. Sarah did start checking John’s pills and realized that his Adderall and Vicodin were disappearing quickly. This meant he binged for a few weeks and then went through withdrawals until he got his refills and explained why he seemed normal sometimes and at other times she didn’t know who he was.

They had been going to Christian therapy since they were married, but the therapist told her that she and John just needed to have better communication. Sarah was told to trust her husband more, and John was told not to drink so much. Sarah felt like she was gong crazy. John would manipulate and twist things. No one could see that the relationship was emotionally destructive.

Then John’s cocaine-addicted brother overdosed. He found the dead body. It was too hard to stay in LA after the tragedy, so on a whim, they moved to Nashville. They had no jobs there, no family. They started over, but John’s drinking and drugs got the best of him and Sarah and her children were cornered by his addiction-fueled choices. People told her to get out of the situation, but it wasn’t that easy.

In July 2011, John was fired from his job with financial guru Dave Ramsey. Sarah remembers John finally said, “I think it’s time for me to get some help.” He went into treatment at a luxury rehab for 45 days. Sarah took the kids and went to her parents’ house. She thought it would be easier to cope with her family near, but she was resentful. She was also embarrassed.

I only thought celebrities went to treatment.

John would call her from rehab and tell her all about the wonderful massages he was getting and which celebrities he was meeting there. Meanwhile, she was infuriated, trying to maintain the bills, the house, and the kids.

Fear, sadness, depression. They all just got the best of me.

Within a week of getting out, John was drinking again. He would go through treatment 3 more times within the next 5 years.

Sarah was at the end of her rope. It had been ten years of putting up with John’s disease, but just as she was about to tell him she was done, she discovered she was pregnant.

Their daughter was born May 22, 2014. John was sober at the birth. He finally started fighting addiction harder than he ever had before. Sarah and John started blogging together as a path to healing.

Unfortunately, John relapsed again. Sarah’s heart was broken so many times already, that the pain was unbearable, but a warrior had awoken within her. She decided that addiction had taken enough away from her. This time she was determined to go on with her life no matter what and to seek joy wherever she could.

The Aha Moment

The last time John went went into treatment, Sarah knew from the previous times that she let her negative emotions get the best of her. She was short-tempered with her kids and miserable. She knew that her children didn’t deserve to experience this kind of emotional turmoil. She didn’t have to submit to the anger and resentment. She could take her life back by focusing on the good things in life and being a good mother to her kids.

Best Suggestion

Be content in all circumstances and seek joy.


Find the warrior within you who wants to fight for his or her own needs instead of constantly giving selflessly. Find something you’re passionate about to distract you from letting those dark emotions take over your soul.

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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.