Sunday, February 18, 2018

10 QUESTIONS ON PROBLEM DRINKING AND ADDICTIONS

As someone who's very open about the fact I'm in Recovery - or "achieved sobriety" - I get asked many questions on a daily basis about the disease of Alcoholism. In the just-past three years since I made the "life change", I've learned SO MUCH about what was afflicting me my whole adult life, and for a lot of my teen years.

This blog was designed to help people; whether they are battling addictions themselves, or their loved ones or co-workers who seek a deeper understanding of the Disease of Addiction.

I'd also like to thank Saputo Dairy's Milk2Go Sport for coming on board with sponsorship. They believe in what I'm doing.

So here goes:

#1. WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO STOP DRINKING? HOW DID YOU KNOW WHEN IT WAS TIME?

That decision was made for me. After several failed attempts at quitting drinking (on my own), I had eventually quit quitting and gave up on myself. When I'd made the decision that I was a lost cause, the roof caved in pretty quickly and I hit rock bottom on January 26/2015.

So it was then that my bosses staged an Intervention and a document was shoved in front of me that said if I didn't get help for my drinking, I would be terminated. That was a very emotional day. They weren't giving up on me, but they'd had enough of my crap.

Over the years in sobriety, I've seen it over and over again; people don't quit drinking or abusing drugs until push-comes-to-shove.

I'm not fond of a lot of the sayings that are popular in Recovery but there are a few that are really true. One of my favourites is:

Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes

For me, it was Hammer Time.

#2. DO YOU STILL THINK ABOUT DRINKING?

Of course! That's why they call this a lifelong battle.

I was in Mexico just a few weeks ago and on the first day of the trip a conversation was going on in my head that went like this:

RIGHT EAR: "This is an all-inclusive resort! It would be a shame if you didn't have a few drinks!"

LEFT EAR: "But you don't want just a few drinks. You want a lot of drinks, and then people will know you're smashed."

RIGHT EAR: "Who cares! We'll figure that out later. Let's just start with a few drinks and see what happens!"

LEFT EAR: "There's a lot of people back home who are counting on you and looking up to you. You can't let them down."

RIGHT EAR: "........"

I never thought about drinking for the rest of the trip after that conversation in my head. We had a fabulous time!

But I'll never forget at one support group meeting I was in, an oldtimer who had over 40 years sobriety told us that he had a "drinking dream" the night before (a dream in which you are drinking).

I've had those dreams too. I thought to myself, "Oh man! I'm going to have this damned disease FOREVER!"

But you know what? Of all the lifelong incurable diseases that are out there, I'll take Alcoholism 10 times out of 10. If I abstain from it, I can have an excellent life.

#3. DON'T YOU FIND IT BORING?

Does my life look boring to you?

I'll tell you what's NOT boring!:
- Not having to apologize for your behaviour.
- Not being in fights with my wife over my drinking, or anything else for that matter.
- Remembering everything that happened the night before, and what was said by everyone.
- Having peoples' trust.
- Not having to line up a ride, an expensive cab, an Uber, etc.
- Having my sh*t together.
- Being invited to great events rather than being uninvited because no one wanted me around for fear of what I might do or say.
- Waking up everyday not knowing what's going to happen in my life, but knowing it's going to be extra special because I work every 24 hours to be the best person I can be.

I don't think there's any substance in the world that could replicate that rush of adrenaline and wave of good feelings that I get everyday.

#4. WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT FOR SOMEONE TO STOP DRINKING?

Because you're addicted to it. You. Love. It.

It's not about willpower or intelligence. When Alcoholism or Addiction has you in its clutches, it's very difficult to be aware of anything else in your life.

On a daily basis I see people choose alcohol or drugs over their families or job. Sometimes I can't understand how someone could make that choice and then I'm reminded that at one point in my life, I would've chosen alcohol over everything so I get it.

Those stories rarely end well.

#5. WHAT WAS THE "LIGHT BULB" MOMENT FOR YOU?

That's still a very clear moment for me.

It was in my Addiction Counselor's office and he told me I had a disease. I snapped and screamed, "No it's not! You can't take a pill for it and it goes away! It's not a tumor that you can have removed!"

He calmed me down and explained that Alcoholism has been recognized as a disease since the 1950's by the American Medical Assocation. He said, "It's a Mental Illness, Rod. You have it."

In that moment, my life changed.

I realized that with daily care, I could beat this.

So based on the daily battle, I am 1118-0 against Alcohol.

#6. WHAT DOES "ONE DAY AT A TIME" MEAN?

For someone not battling Addiction or any other Mental Illness (Anxiety, Depression, O.C.D., etc.), I know the concept of One Day At A Time can be very hard to grasp.

I wear a bracelet with that mantra and when "Earthlings" or "Normies" ask me what that means, they act like it's written in Chinese. They just don't understand.

In simple terms, it's a daily battle against your demons because the sons-of-bitches never go away.

But if you do daily things to arrest them or keep them at bay, you've at least got a chance.

I truly feel that if you can quit for a day, you can quit for a lifetime.

#7. WHAT'S YOUR DAILY SELF-CARE RITUAL?

Let me first say that when I first got into Recovery, all of the things I'm about to say sounded like complete BS. Very flaky. But as each day went by and I eventually came out of the Alcoholic Fog, I noticed the people around me were having great success in Recovery using methods like these.

Here are some of them:
- Upon awakening, I say this prayer aloud, "I arise, Oh Lord, to do thy will". It's the simplest, shortest prayer for a dummy like me to remember. Early on if I'd forgotten to say it in the morning, I'd say it as soon as I remembered. Now, it's automatically the first thing in my head.
- Because of the extensive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy I've received from world-renowned yogi Sadhguru, I repeat this phrase aloud, "I awake to create a loving world."
- I repeat outloud the following Affirmations: "I am Happy. I am Safe. I am Healthy. I have Peace. I am Strong."
- I then read a short daily reading from two Apps: My Spiritual Tookit and The Secret.
- This whole process only takes about 1-2 minutes.
- I don't go three days without working out, and try to go daily at Evolution Fitness.
- I go to at least one meeting per week.
- As you'll see, most of this stuff is completed by 10:00 am and I'm ready to tackle the world with strength, confidence and a great frame of mind.
- In the evening, I'm able to fall asleep within seconds using the art of Meditation.
- When my mind and heart are racing and I can feel Anxiety building up inside me like a hurricane, I automatically go into Meditation. My awareness immediately focuses on the NOW, and the realization that all is perfectly fine in my life at that specific moment.
- I go to a weekly Yoga class and will for the rest of my life. It's great for the body but even better for the mind.
- I have successfully trained my mind by doing these daily rituals without fail. IT WORKS.

*Recently a lady asked me what her husband (a problem drinker) could do to slow down his mind and not have to reach for the bottle. I mentioned some of these rituals and she said, "Oh he'll never do that."

My response?: "Fine. Keep struggling then."

#8. ARE YOU AGAINST ALCOHOL?

Absolutely not! Some of my best friends and associates work in the beer industry. As a matter of fact, beer companies are some of the biggest sponsors of the sports teams, leagues, and broadcasts that I'm associated with. Coors Light sponsors my sports blog and radio show!

It would be career suicide for me to tell the whole world not to drink. The simple fact is some of us just can't handle it.

Addictions and Alcoholism are a personal problem.

I heard a guy once complain that there should be no strip clubs because he's a sex addict and that cost him his family, job and finances. That's similar to saying there should be no casinos because you're hooked on gambling and have no money for groceries or rent.

That's your problem, not everybody else's.

Drinking was my problem and mine alone.

I will never, ever judge other people for their personal choices (unless they live under my roof) and that's mostly because I hated being judged for so many years.

Do what you want! But if and when the partying becomes a problem, look me up.

#9. HOW DID YOU GET INTO SOBER COACHING?

One of North America's top sober coaches was attending a meeting I was at and heard me sharing. He had no clue who I was or what I did for a living.

He checked me out and called a few hours later asking if I'd be interested in working with him. He said it's clear that, for some reason, people listen when I speak. I jumped at the chance but he said I had to get some education in the field so I earned a Diploma as a Drug & Alcohol Treatment Specialist.

This spring I'll officially be an Interventionist after receiving training from Hightower Associates in Orange County, CA.

It's progressing very rapidly and that's no surprise because the Addiction Crisis is out of control on this continent.

Surprise, surprise, I deal almost exclusively with athletes and broadcasters battling Addictions.
That's right in my wheelhouse.

To see someone get their job back, or their family, or their LIFE, and to know you had a hand in it is the greatest feeling I've ever had in my life. BAR NONE.

Some say this is my calling in life but I still feel I'm pretty good at broadcasting football and hockey games. That gives me great pleasure too.

The two careers intertwine beautifully.

#10. DO YOU THINK YOU'LL EVER DRINK AGAIN?

I know I won't drink today.

I don't want to.

RP
Twitter: @pedersenrecover
Instagram: @pedersenrecovery

Monday, February 12, 2018

PEDERSEN RECOVERY RODCAST: CLINT MALARCHUK

We're back for Round 2 of the Pedersen Recovery Rodcast!

As we continue to bring together the worlds of Recovery and professional sports, we chat on this episode with All Star NHL goaltender Clint Malarchuk.

We're also proud to announce the Rodcast is sponsored by Fine Foods and Saputo Dairy's Milk2Go Sport! To perform like a Pro you need to recover like a Pro.

Clint Malarchuk is a product of Grande Prairie, Alberta and played in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks before being drafted in the 7th Round of the NHL Draft by the Quebec Nordiques.
Clint was in the NHL between 1981-1992 with the Nordiques, Sabres and Capitals and was named an NHL All-Star.

He also was the victim of one of the most tragic events in NHL history when his throat was slashed by an opponent's skate and he nearly bled to death at the Auditorium in Buffalo. That was one of many traumatic events Clint has experienced in his life and he turned to alcohol to "self-medicate" with disastrous consequences.

Clint also wrote the book The Crazy Game in which he tells stories from the crease but also of his lifelong battle with Mental Illness.

Listen to Clint's interview here, and hopefully you find some inspiration like I did from Clint's story!


Rod & Clint at Recovery Day Regina

Saturday, February 3, 2018

CBC COVERS SOBER BOWL CANADA


By: Ashleigh Mattern, CBC.ca

Rod Pedersen has many memories of past Super Bowl parties, but not all of those memories are good — and that's why he's brought a new way to celebrate the big game to Regina fans who have struggled with alcohol addiction.

"Super Bowl was always not just a football game — it was a reason to drink, to be honest with you, for a guy that was suffering from alcoholism and active alcoholism," said Pedersen, who recently celebrated his third year sober.

The voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders for the past 20 years, Pedersen said he knew he had to change when his workplace staged an intervention.

Being sober doesn't mean an end to having fun, though, so when Pedersen heard about Sober Bowl parties, he was intrigued.

"I'd still like to have a Super Bowl party. Why can't we have sober one with no alcohol?"

Sober Bowl parties are being hosted in cities like New York, Houston, and Minneapolis, and now Pedersen is bringing the idea of an alcohol-free Super Bowl celebration to Regina.

"We need these in Saskatchewan. We need to bring families together for a sporting event like this, and make it safe and know that they're going to drive home. We have this embarrassing stat of the highest drunk driving [rate] in the nation — like, very embarrassing."

Featuring a nacho and chili bar, Regina's Sober Bowl party will be held on Sunday at Tony Roma's Restaurant on Albert Street. Tickets are $30 for adults and $20 for kids, and the money raised will go to Oxford House, a sober-living facility for people who are newly out of treatment.

"It's just a party to watch the football game, that's all it is," Pedersen said. "Nothing too extravagant."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/sober-bowl-super-bowl-roughriders-rod-pedersen-1.4515493

Thursday, January 18, 2018

SOBER BOWL TICKETS ON SALE NOW


NFL cities New York, Houston and Minneapolis are holding their annual Sober Bowl parties on February 4 and now the popular event is coming to Canada!

The inaugural Sober Bowl Canada party will be held at Tony Roma's Regina on Sunday, February 4 as football fans are invited to a family-friendly, alcohol-free event to watch the NFL's Big Game.

It's your chance to mingle with CFL personalities, enjoy a nacho and chili bar and win great prizes!

Tickets are advance sale only, and are $30 for adults and $20 for kids.

For ticket info or to purchase, email pedersenrecovery@aol.com.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

PEDERSEN RECOVERY RODCAST: CRIS CARTER

Pro Football Hall of Famer and Person In Recovery Cris Carter is the debut guest on the inaugural edition of the Pedersen Recovery RODCAST with host Rod Pedersen.

The 8-time Pro Bowler and long-time ESPN and Fox NFL analyst gives a shockingly raw account of his history with Addictions and Mental Illness, and holds nothing back in this interview.

Carter answers with amazing candor and honesty:

- What's your Recovery story?

- What was life like before, and what's it like now?

- How do you deal with social pressures around drinking?

- What's your Self-Care regimen?

- What advice would you give the still-suffering Alcoholic or Addict?

- What advice would you give young people in the same position you were?

Listen to the show by clicking on the link below. If you have any suggestions for future podcast interviews, please email me or post in the Comment section!

For more information or sponsorship inquiries for Pedersen Recovery Inc., please email Director of Business Development Joe Gunnis at gunny@sasktel.net or Rod Pedersen at pedersenrecovery@aol.com. For more information on the Pedersen Recovery Right Place, Right Time Tour, click here.

Follow our Social Media links at:
Facebook: Pedersen Recovery Coaching Inc.
Twitter: @pedersenrecover
Instagram: @pedersenrecovery

The Pedersen Recovery RODCAST is produced by Jordan McRae. (@jmcraeradio)

LINK: https://soundcloud.com/ridervoice/pedersen-recovery-rodcast-ep-1-cris-carter


Sunday, December 24, 2017

10 THINGS: SOBER IN SoCAL

This column began in early-December in Los Angeles and ends in late-December back home in Saskatchewan. Hopefully it provides some insightful Holiday reading:

1 - We find ourselves back in the Los Angeles area for the first time since December of 2014. Once again, I'm hosting 60 sports fans and listeners of my radio show back in Canada and we've come to enjoy sun, ocean, and some NFL and NHL games. But navigating this week would turn out to be as rocky as trying to catch a wave along the Golden Coast.

2 - You see, the last time we were here, I was just six weeks away from hitting my rock bottom and getting into Recovery. Frankly a lot of that trip was a blur. I was in for quite a few surprises this time around; some pleasant and others not so pleasant.

3 - Shortly after landing at LAX, catching a tour bus to our hotel and grabbing a rental car, my wife and I set off to tour Newport Beach and find a nice place for supper. I was immediately hit with shockwaves ... WHAT FREEDOM! Not being handcuffed to the bottle or bellied up to a bar meant we were free to roam up and down the coast, roll the windows down and crank up the tunes! It hit me very early on this trip that we would have oodles and oodles of time to do whatever the heck we wanted and the freedom to do it whenever we wanted.

4 - Some are reading this and thinking: What's so special or different about that? That's because you've never battled Alcoholism and/or Addictions. See, in the past, once that plane landed I'd have been scouring the landscape for cold beer stores and dingy lounges that looked to have the best happy hours. It would have completely distracted me and, frankly, ruined Day 1 because I'd have already had several drinks on the plane, been unable to drive, and have found reasons to bicker with my wife.

This is all part of a blogpost or podcast I'll do in the future answering one of the most popular questions I get all the time: What does it mean to be Alcoholic? It means lots of things but topping the list is that booze is on your mind pretty much all of the time (in the mid-to-late stages of the disease). But you don't realize that until you're out from underneath its gargantuan grasp. (They call that 'coming out of the Alcoholic Fog').

5 - Just one more on this. Situated beside our hotel was a fabulous Outlet Mall (one of the best I've seen in America) and we spent an hour once we arrived. After we'd separately scoured the grounds for our favourite stores and then met up, I said to my wife, "You know in the past I'd have found the first lounge I could have and started drinking by now. By suppertime I'd be falling off my chair!"

She replied. "I know."

The thought pops into my mind that maybe she should write a guest column on this blog with her perspective on my drinking days.

Errrr, maybe not.

6 - Things were going along fantastically until the evening of Day 3 when, again, Alcoholism jumped up and grabbed my leg like a shark bite. Remember this is a vacation for everybody except me so there were a group of guys on a "Guys Trip". In the past, I'd have been in that group like a dirty shirt and these guys were nice enough to invite me out in the evenings most every night.

You have to understand that most times these days I can be out at functions and alcohol being present has absolutely no effect on me whatsoever. Do what you wanna do. But when you're in an old environment like this sports trip, panic attacks start to happen for an Alcoholic in Recovery.

I had three of them in Year 1 of my sobriety: 1) at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, 2) in a sportsbar in Las Vegas, and 3) at an NFL game in Miami.

What happens? Well your heart races, your tongue gets dry and your palms get sweaty. When you're IN IT, the last thing you thing about is calling a friend in Recovery. I surely would've relapsed in those instances but I always had someone with me to make sure that didn't happen.

Initially it was humiliating to need a sober companion in Year 1 but it worked out as planned. I didn't fall in the trap.

Now, I don't put myself in those situations at all if I can help it.

7 - Even as it was this time around, I could feel my Anxiety level rising. But I reached out with text messages to three sober friends and the Anxiety totally went away. I didn't even need to tell these guys what I was going through. Just to hear from them and know that things were going great in their lives at the moment was enough to settle my storm.

So when there was a reception on Day 4 and pitcher after pitcher of ice cold beer was served up to our listeners after our radio show at Hooters, I politely excused myself to the sanctity of my hotel room.

Crazy perhaps, but if you haven't lived it, you'll never understand. And those guys who invited me out each evening certainly didn't mean any harm. They were just being nice.

That's why I'm writing these columns: to explain the disease to the "Normies" or "Earthlings" (people who don't suffer from it) and to provide strength to those who do.

8 - But you can't please everybody. I recently got a DM on Twitter from a guy who said he was on one of my trips to Dallas in 2012. He was sober 10 months at the time but said I bullied him for not drinking, and he seems to be holding onto a big resentment for that.

What can I say? That's classic Alcoholic behaviour and I don't think anyone wants to be reminded of their actions while drinking.

The Best Apology Is Changed Behaviour.

It's over. And being so open about my Recovery keeps me accountable.

Do you know how I know I won't relapse today?

I don't want to.

9 - Now we're back home and in the Holiday Season. I heard someone in Recovery once say that Grey Cup in late-November kicked off their "Drinking Season" which lasted all through the Christmas Holidays and right through till Super Bowl. I'd say that's true for a lot of people.

I chuckled this week because I'd heard tell of the same people at the same parties and bars kicking back and celebrating the Holidays. It sounded like they were having a helluva a lot of fun.

I chuckled because it was shocking to look back at how much my life has changed over the past three years while theirs hasn't (from what I can see from the outside).

I say more power to them. My life had to change, not theirs.

10 - That includes our next trip. We had initially planned to go to New Orleans for New Years but some football friends warned, "There's not much there to do other than drink and party. It's not for you."

Early in Recovery I'd have found a way to take some offense to that statement but that's just me being defensive. They're trying to help.

So, we switched gears. Mrs. P. and I are going to Miami over New Years and that'll include some time in the Florida Keys and on South Beach.

Life is amazing.

Sober.

RP
@pedersenrecover

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF

This is the most difficult thing I've ever written. In fact, I came to tears a few times while writing it but there's one reason and one reason only why I'm doing it: I know for a fact there are young people out there going through the same things I did years ago. If this piece strikes a chord with just one of them and it spurs them to go make a change in their life, then it will have been worthwhile.

Here goes:

Dear Rod,

Look at you right now. Just look at you.

When you look in the mirror each morning, I know you don't like the young man who's staring back at you very much, do you? It's okay. I've walked in those shoes and realize they're very uncomfortable. I know you don't like looking in the mirror at all.

You think everyone hates you but you're wrong. The fact is everyone who knows you, loves you. When you're not drinking.

Deep, deep down, reallllly deep down, you know that's true but you don't want to do anything about it.

From the very first time you drank as a teenager, you loved it and hated it all at the same time. But you couldn't get enough of it, and still can't. Even though you know it turns you into a monster.

Eventually it will completely take over your life and nothing else will matter. But that's years away and you've still got plenty of damage left to do before then.

Really, the only thing saving your sorry ass right now is your work ethic and your talent. But one day that luck is going to run out too, just like a cat and its nine lives.

I have to ask you - because nobody else will - what the hell is wrong with you?

When somebody close to you like your parents, your brothers, your wife, your bosses or a coach offers you some friendly advice which might save your life, you immediately do exactly the opposite of what they say?

When somebody pays you a compliment, why does it go in one ear and out the other but when some no-name on the internet says the most horrible things about you, you not only hang onto it for days but you actually believe it?

You're killing yourself inside each day and everybody can see it but you. Eventually that spirit that everybody once loved will be totally dead. Why do you keep refusing peoples' gifts of help?

And don't say no one has offered to help. If you go back and think about it, I bet you can count dozens, if not hundreds, of times you've been offered a hand or seen or heard an ad about the warning signs that you're drowning in every day.

You are literally one step away from completely turning your life around for the better, and yet you keep taking the wrong step time after time.

People look to you to lead, but you don't want to lead. When it's time to step up, you want to run and hide, and if it's to a 12-pack of beer, that suits you just fine.

Rod, you have the world by the tail but all you see is what you don't have rather than the incredible things that you DO have. You were born with every possible advantage.

I just don't get it! Will you please open your eyes and wake up?

You don't know it but you've been battling Anxiety Disorder since you were in elementary school. Those suicidal thoughts you've had are NOT normal. But that's okay, it can be fixed. You think you're crazy, but you're not. You have a serious mental illness. I just wish you'd tell somebody.

Guess what? One day you're going to be going on doctor-prescribed anti-Depressants too.

No shit you're depressed! You've taken a flamethrower to every relationship and friendship you have and caused possibly irreparable damage to your career! The pills aren't going to fix that.

But, pick your chin up.

I mean it.

Your family and bosses aren't going to give up on you even though you've long since given up on yourself. They know the smart, kindhearted person you are beneath all of these problems and they are NOT going to let you to go down in flames.

Every single thing in your life can be repaired and you'll save an immense amount of pain if you start doing it right now.

You are going to be strong. You are not going to be bothered by what people say because you'll know exactly who you are for the first time in your life. You're never going to have to look over your shoulder again because you're always going to be in the right place, at the right time.

Best of all, God has given you another unbelievable gift which is the ability to connect with those who are still struggling. You are in flames now, but you know the road to sunshine and you'll have the ability to pass that on to those who are still lost. Helping others will make your heart explode with pride, more than anything you've ever done.

All I ask is, please do it today. Time's wasting.

10 QUESTIONS ON PROBLEM DRINKING AND ADDICTIONS

As someone who's very open about the fact I'm in Recovery - or "achieved sobriety" - I get asked many questions on a d...