Sasha Tozzi is a recovery lifestyle coach, a Y12SR (Yoga for 12 Step Recovery) instructor, a Reiki practitioner, and a writer. She helps individuals with physical and emotional sobriety, self-sabotage, and codependent relationships.

As a teenager, Sasha suffered from clinical depression and social anxiety. When she found alcohol, she thought it was the answer to all her problems. Later, she coupled her binge drinking with an addiction to cocaine, which led her to nights of blacking out, reckless behavior, and a shame cycle she could not escape.

Sasha eventually accepted the fact that she had a problem, and got help, but that wasn’t the end of her journey. After she got sober, she discovered she had deeper problems with food and codependency underneath it all.

Listen to Sasha’s empowering story of how she took ownership of her recovery and how she now helps other people to do the same.

CLEAN DATE: September 2nd, 2011

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

Sasha’s Recovery Routine

Sasha thrives off having a routine and a structure, and because she is self-employed with her own coaching business, it’s doubly important for her to cultivate the discipline. She is her own boss and answers to herself, and it’s challenging to rely on yourself for your motivation and time management.

It’s easy to fall into morbid thoughts and rumination.

Sasha goes to bed and wakes up at the same time every day. She starts her morning with daily readers and a prayer. From there, her daytime schedule varies. Sometimes she goes to yoga in the morning. She may start with clients early, or do something with the backend of her business, like content creation or administrative work. It’s different every day, but she makes self-care and recovery her priorities by making time for exercise, setting aside quiet reflective time, and planning three regular meals each day to keep energy level up and regulate her mood. She also goes to several meetings a week.

Maintaining a Spiritual Condition

Sasha likes to practice conscious contact with a group and goes to 11 Step meetings, where they do meditation in the meeting. She relies heavily on her readers to put her into alignment. Her favorites are by Melody Beattie, Journey to the Heart and The Language of Letting Go. Then she tries to be mindful throughout the day. Short sitting meditation. At night, she enjoys quiet reflective time by taking hot baths. She calls these her spiritual bookends, starting and ending her day with some sort of connection.

When I have a good morning, I usually have a good day.

The First Time

The first time Sasha drank was when she was a fourteen-year-old freshman. She wanted to feel comfortable in her skin, and she liked alcohol instantly because it did just that.

The Battle, Wreckage, Rock Bottom, and Recovery

The allure of alcohol was to soothe her social anxiety. Sasha was shy, and in order to make friends, be social, and fit in, she discovered alcohol would get her there. She loved it and relied on it immediately just to talk to people, especially guys. It reduced her inhibitions. When she drank, she was the life of the party on got all this attention. Her ego loved it.

Other than that, Sasha was a good girl. She was a perfectionist, a straight A student, the captain of the tennis team, and the yearbook editor. Despite that, she battled clinical depression that made it difficult for her to fulfill all her obligations. She was already seeing a therapist and was on medication. She would binge drink throughout high school. She never saw a problem. It was the culture.

Then Sasha went to college. She didn’t drink at all, but she was unsure of herself. She isolated and didn’t make any friends. She did her work and was a loner. After the semester, she left and went back home to figure out what she wanted to do.

She took a break before going to a new college. This was where she first tried cocaine and fell instantly in love with it. She got so addicted that he friends tried to notify her parents. She was pulled from school and went back home again.

After that, she moved to a small beach town, one where her family vacationed when she was little. She started waiting tables there and learned about food and wine. She got heavily involved in the late nights and the restaurant party culture. She still did her job, but she got severely addicted to coke again. She was reckless and drove drunk all the time. She’d blackout and not remember what or who she did.

Sasha was only twenty years old when she got banned from the only bar in town for being under age and taking off her clothes. The owner of the bar even told her she was an alcoholic and that she needed help. She almost died when she climbed outside of a guy’s house to get into his room to look for drugs and fell from the second story, getting so injured she couldn’t walk for a week. Her work called her sister and mom, and they staged an intervention, but she didn’t go to rehab. Her family took her home and kept her in captivity until she detoxed.

Sasha still didn’t think alcohol was a problem for her. She was twenty and went to three AA meetings. In her mind, alcoholics had to abuse every day and she concluded that she couldn’t possibly have a problem because she was too young. It never crossed her mind that blacking out and turning into a different person was not normal. She thought she had to just try harder to control herself.

Her detox didn’t stick. She went back out drinking and tried to behave, and it worked for a while. She had gone back to finish college, but every summer she spent at the beach working and partying.

When she saw her therapist, she talked about all the shame she had, all the guys she slept with that she couldn’t remember, all the awful things she did that weren’t her. It was baffling to her. She also knew that some people believe when you’re drinking the truth comes out and, that scared her most of all. Was this who she truly was? She was suffocating in shame and couldn’t understand why she kept on doing it.

Her therapist at the time wasn’t pushy. She handed Sasha an AA pamphlet and suggested it might be a good idea.

It was the right time. Sasha was ready to change. She was in so much pain, that she basically wanted to kill herself.

She went to her meetings on campus in Friday nights, a speaker meeting for young people, which was the perfect fit for her because she didn’t have to share. She just listened. Asha never heard people being so honest. It scared her but it also kept her going back for more. She needed to be around the honestly. It was instantly healing, the same instant relief that alcohol had been providing.

After graduation, Sasha moved back to the DC area. She still went to meetings, but she hated to talk because of her social anxiety. This was when she got into yoga. Yoga helped her physically reconnect with herself and helped her to regain her self-respect. If she couldn’t make a meeting, she’d go to yoga and she’d do them interchangeably. Both were equally important to maintaining her sobriety.

Still, it wasn’t all perfect. She thought that if she got rid of her drinking and drug problem, she’d be good. But no, all the things that troubled her were still lying underneath. Everything that was hidden came out. She started using food to self-medicate in the same way and had to go to rehab for binge eating.

Two years ago, in her new sober life, Sasha hit another emotional bottom trying to control family members’ drinking. She was going crazy, making herself responsible for a situation that was beyond her control. She wasn’t trusting God to handle it. This marked another period of growth for Sasha as she began to address her codependent tendencies. She unearthed yet another layer of issues and unraveled that. Her codependency was another addiction, an addiction to people and control. This is now the primary focus of her recovery.

After all Sasha went through, she wanted to be a voice for what is possible. She wanted to help in overcoming stigma of addiction. Sasha looks like an ordinary person, not the typical image of a junkie on the street. She believes that her coming out and sharing her story is a step in the direction of defying stereotypes surrounding addiction.

What kept Sasha from staying clean?

“I thought I was too young to be labeled an alcoholic and I just wrote it off as being a college kid, even though I wasn’t actually in college at the time, because I failed out due to the cocaine addiction. But really, I was in denial and my excuse was that I was in phase and this is what kids my age do.”

I thought I was too young to be labeled an alcoholic

The aha moment

“A year and a half into being sober, I finally stopped questioning whether I really had a problem, that I really couldn’t control. I just gave in. I surrendered. I felt a wave of peace once I finally accepted it, just stopping. I finally just stopped fighting what I knew to be true. The ironic thing is that as soon as I accepted my powerlessness I felt empowered.”

I finally just stopped fighting what I knew to be true.

Favorite books

“I recommend (it’s not self-helpy) but The Alchemist. It’s because it’s not one that I read in early recovery, but it’s one of my all-time favorite books. It’s about following your inner compass and believing in yourself. Because recovery, the process of recovery is self-discovery, it really captures that in a beautiful way. I think those in recovery and even those considering getting clean and sober who aren’t in recovery yet, will find it really inspiring. I want to read it again this summer just so I can get re-inspired by just following your heart and being true to yourself. That’s what the book is about and that’s what recovery is about.”

Also, Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go.

Best suggestion ever received

“Just say thank you. This was from somebody, I was new to the program. This was actually from my grand sponsor. She gave me a compliment on my outfit or something, and I started to argue with her. I don’t remember what I said exactly, but I couldn’t take a compliment because I still didn’t really have much self-love. She said, “Just say thank you Sasha.”

Just say thank you.

It really was so profound in that moment. I’ll never forget it, the way that it imprinted in my brain. From that moment on I would start saying thank you even if I wanted to argue or disagree or whatever. Now I say thank you and I really can receive the compliment.

Those of us in addiction recovery are needing to learn how to love ourselves and learn how to receive love. That’s one of the ways to practice it and being able to be humble enough but also confident enough to really accept a compliment I think it’s something that recovery has taught me how to do.

Suggestion to newcomer

I don’t want to say a slogan, but this one slogan has helped me so, so, so much. More will be revealed. That is a major suggestion for the newcomer to not make any impulsive decisions today, not needing to know everything. By nature, I think at least for me, I have this tendency to be compulsive, impulsive. It’s just about holding off on some of those impulses and relaxing and waiting for more to be revealed when I want to know things now or I get impatient or I don’t know how some day is supposed to work out or whatever. It’s really comforting to me.

More will be revealed.

There’s that, and then also don’t be afraid to follow your own path. I mean that in the way that getting sober can be an alternative way to live in our culture. Don’t be afraid to do it because it’s not what you see your friends doing. Don’t be afraid to make your recovery yours, and make it look like whatever you want it to look like, as long as it works and you use whatever tools you have and always be learning more.

Don’t be afraid to follow your own path.

 

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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.