Andrew: I have the distinct pleasure of sitting with Dr. Allen Berger, Ph.D., practicing in Hermosa Beach and in Westlake Village, California. Author of the awesome books, 12 Hidden Rewards of Making Amends, 12 Stupid Things That Mess Up Recovery, and coming in the spring, 12 More Stupid Things That Mess Up Your Recovery. Thank you so much Dr. Berger for joining us at Serene Scene Magazine today.

Dr. Berger: Well, thank you, Andrew. And the other book I just want to mention because it’s on a topic that’s so important is 12 Smart Things to do when the Booze and Drugs Are Gone. Which is really addressing this whole issue of emotional sobriety, which I’m sure we’ll be talking about.

Andrew: I want to talk to you about emotional sobriety in the interview today, because that is the area that you have tremendous expertise. You’ve been able to condense the information down into informative, bite size chunks that people can understand.

Dr. Berger: We’re finding that this issue of emotional sobriety is just so critical, because the whole concept is based on people learning how to deal with life on life’s terms. And that’s the hardest thing for those of us that have had an addiction because we’re typically into wanting life to happen the way we want it to happen. We want life on our terms, not on life’s terms. And when it didn’t unfold the way that we expected, then we drink or use to deal with our disappointment, our frustration, or whatever the case may be. And so, here we’re talking about learning a healthy way of self-regulation. Of learning how to modulate our emotional reactions so that we can develop that true serenity and peace of mind that we would all love to have in our lives.

Andrew: I have to ask, when you’re working with someone to try to get them to move more towards being accountable for their own emotions, for taking responsibility for their own life’s actions, these are things an addict doesn’t want to have to deal with?

Dr. Berger: Well, that’s not true. You see, I think big part of the problem here is that, what addicts expect is that life should be on their terms. So there is this process that they have to go through to surrender what we call this special status, meaning that I get to dictate the terms of life. And that’s, obviously when I say it, you can hear the arrogance in it, the narcissism in it, and all of the issues that accompany that. But that’s the big thing, is the first step is, first of all, to become aware of it. But that’s a big part of emotional sobriety, is to become aware of these unenforceable rules.


An Excerpt from Serene Scene Magazine