Recovery and Radicalism

A must-read for anyone with questions or doubts about the Judeo-Christian, patriarchal basis of 12-step programs. There ARE radical things about them. Which is amazing, considering when/by whom they were founded.

Emmi Bevensee...

(cover image by Carlie Johnson)

PRINTABLE ZINE FORMAT! >> Recovery and Radicalism zine

Big thanks to Kameron Fein for the amazing writing and love you put into this. Thanks to Beth Payne, Megan Walline, and Andrew Conway for your tireless help editing and critiquing despite my consistent and silly mistakes. Thanks to Carlie Johnson for doing the amazing art! Thanks to Jamal for encouraging and inspiring me to start this. A lot of other people have supported this piece whether directly or indirectly. I hope it serves a need and addresses some of what folks were struggling with or thinking about.  We are open to updating things as well if you, the reader, see something problematic or incorrect. 


    • Emmi
    • Kameron
    • What are Drugs?
    • What the Hell is an Addict?
    • What the Hell is Recovery?
    • Drug Use and Activism
      • Inebriation and Sexual Assault in Radical…

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18 Months

As of September 24th, I’ve been sober 18 months. I was hoping to do some sort of retrospective letter to my newly sober self, a la Off-Dry, but I’m feeling too disorganized for that. Maybe I’ll try again when I have two years. For now, here are some quick, sobriety-related developments :

  1. My guy and I got engaged. A year and a half ago, I didn’t quite believe this would ever happen. I wanted it to happen, but it seemed like there were all these big obstacles standing in our way. Turns out, the only real obstacle was me being an active alcoholic! Stay tuned for updates on being a sober bride.
  2. I still go to AA but am feeling less dependent on it. I also switched sponsors. I could write a long, emotional entry about my current feelings around AA, but it seems like I’m in a transitional period of some sort, so I’ll wait until things settle down. I’m interested in hearing from others, though–how has your relationship with AA changed throughout your recovery? Or if AA isn’t a part of your recovery, what do you do instead?
  3. I rarely crave alcohol anymore. When I’m hungry or tired, I’ll sometimes have some nostalgic feelings around getting buzzed, but for the most part, I have no desire to actually drink. I’m even sober in my dreams. Well, almost. I had a dream where I was hanging out with Mary Kate Olsen and told her I didn’t drink, but then I asked if she had any coke. So not totally there, but further along than when I was dreaming on a weekly basis that I was still secretly drinking.
  4. I’m on Twitter. When I was drinking, I had to essentially ban myself from social media because I kept doing dumb, drunk shit. But now that I can trust myself not to black out and post incoherent rants about Occupy Wall Street, I’m trying it out again. My other problem with social media is that it tends to trigger my addictive impulses (surprise!). I’m trying not to be too hard on myself around this. I consider myself openly sober online, meaning I don’t want to hide my sobriety. But I did remove an article I wrote for The Fix from my website after an old student started following me on Twitter. It was probably good to realize that I can’t keep my teaching and writing selves TOTALLY separate, as I would like. But while I don’t want my students to know all the dark details of my alcoholic past, I don’t see any reason to hide the fact that I’m sober.
  5. What’s new in your sober life? Or not sober life? I’m trying to catch up on my reading backlog but fear it’s overtaking me . . .

A History of Hangovers

Woman vomiting

I recently moved to a new apartment, which is why I haven’t written here since April. The move was tedious, so I’m not going to write about it. What I want to write about instead is my former toilet.

In the chaos of the move, I didn’t think to say goodbye to my toilet. I gave it a perfunctory scrubdown without tenderness or nostalgia and left it without looking back. But after moving in to our new place, it occurred to me that, in parting ways with my old toilet, I had undergone a notable transition. That toilet was the last one I was hungover in. I hope to never know another bowl so intimately. Continue reading

I Like Us Better When I’m Not Wasted

Ok, first of all, what is up with this song? Was it commissioned by Smirnoff or something? I like how it’s about drunk sex, but the video takes place at this faux empowered girl party in the 50s. I guess they didn’t have to worry about the date rape angle this way.

My guy and I heard this atrocity for the first time in a cab almost a year ago, when I was newly sober. It was playing on the radio as we guided the driver to the address of a birthday party. As we pulled up to the house, we looked at each other and said simultaneously: “Are you hearing this song?” It’s no secret our society pretends to love drunkenness while demonstrating little tolerance for alcoholism, but this song takes that paradox to a new level. Although nothing alcohol-related can really surprise my man and me at this point (he works in an emergency room, and I’m in AA) we were both a little stunned by how the song celebrates the thing that nearly destroyed us.

Continue reading

One Year


I have one year sober today. Fucking A. I would have liked to wake up this morning in a state of bliss, with scenes from the last year flashing through my brain in a touching slide show, but that’s not exactly what happened. I am actually feeling quite grumpy about several things, which are not really worth recording here, because if there’s anything I’ve learned this past year, it’s that my sources of grumpiness will soon pass. I will share one, though, since it’s kind of funny:

I have the day off and took the opportunity to sleep past 9am. Not even a great sleep-in in my book, but it felt fairly deserved, considering how efficiently and responsibly I’ve been working (and NOT DRINKING for A WHOLE YEAR). Continue reading

Blackout Drunks and Steve Urkel

I took myself verrry seriously when I was drinking. I was like the defensive dictator of a failing regime, unable to see myself through the lens of satire. But the best part about openly acknowledging your weaknesses is that other people can’t attack you with them! So now I laugh at myself and surround myself with people who do the same and freedom is the law of the land.

I got to see John Mulaney perform live recently, which was delightful. He didn’t talk about sobriety this show but has several hilarious bits about his former life as a blackout drinker. There’s the one above and my favorite, “Why I Don’t Drink Anymore,” which is for some reason no longer on YouTube but can be seen here: “And I had that thought, that only blackout drunks and Steve Urkel can have…” 

Sober Vacation


The first time I tried to get sober, I white-knuckled a trip to New Orleans. I compensated by eating everything in sight. I actually proposed a “weight-gain challenge” to my boyfriend, and although we never confirmed our progress on a scale, I was clearly the winner. I ate po’boys and alligator sausage and fried oysters and turtle soup and beignets until I thought I would burst. You can’t go to New Orleans without eating, but the fact that I had to make such a big thing of it, to actually propose “a challenge,” reveals how much sobriety scared me. I didn’t know how to be on vacation without overindulging in some way. Continue reading