Blog, we think

T or F: German reality TV show follows alcoholic as he chooses sobriety vs bottle

From page 32, the Weird and Wacky Workbook for Recovery (

true or false trivia

True/false question #1.  Is there really a German reality TV-show that show-cases a person battling addiction, with the public cheering them on for sobriety?

Weird and Wacky hasn’t hit the market yet, so Appendix C isn’t commercially available.  No worries.  We won’t leave you hanging.  You have a question, at least the one, and we promised an answer.

The scene

A crew of TV-show producers, film-makers, prompt-writers, and the make-up artists shadow 63-year-old Adelbert, a gentleman with yellow eyes and a kind smile.  Adelbert has stopped at the bar.  He pulls aside a stool.  He sits with nobility and reflects on life.  It is early.  He is still sober.  “Do I quit?  Do I not quit?  Perhaps it’s time to quit.  Why, yes, thank you, I will.”

He says this is German, of course, but the statement is momentous, and a roar of delight is heard from1,324,000 living rooms from all over the country.  That same roar is matched in 2263 living rooms in Spain and a dozen sofas in the United States, Italy, and South Africa.

Why does Adelbert quit drinking?  Is it the public support that drives him to save his own life, knowing the world cheers each time he makes a good decision?   (What if he relapses?  Does this German reality show have a take two?)  Whatever the case, the episode ends with Adelbert stepping into rehab.  He waves good bye, his skin icteric in the light and his smile a gracious thing of beauty.  The camera zooms out.  Then “cut!” and it’s over.

True or false?

Is this reality TV show real?  A google search for Adelbert — or a German reality TV-show centered around people with alcoholism — reveals nothing.    This statement is false.

We like Adelbert’s tale, though.  Although he never existed, in our book he never drinks again.  He becomes the Face of Recovery, a powerful force in the universe, and he earns millions of dollars by his smile alone.  He devotes his life to helping other alcoholics, talking them through the most important decision in their lives:  “Do you quit?  Do you not quit?  Perhaps it’s time to quit.  Why, yes, thank you… you will?”

Are you curious about the other questions?  About the CIA, laced cocaine, and infested tobacco?  Appendix A will eventually be available, we promise.

If you are a dreamer, come in

This article is wacky enough to belong to this website.  Take a deep breath and keep reading.  Good luck.

You have a burning question.

There’s something painful in your life, and you stay awake long into the night looking for an answer. It’s urgent, and the emotion is killing you.

Maybe it’s a daughter who uses drugs.  Or you’re coping with an illness, stuck with out-of-control anger, or trying to decide whether to drop out of school.  Sometimes it’s just an emotional jumble of noise in your head, indecisive and hurting.  Whatever the case, today you’ve agreed to use imagery to make sense out of it.

The Feeling.

new-doc-2018-01-21-11-30-27_1.jpgImagine you’re sitting in a comfortable chair.  At your elbows stands a smoothed-over, mahogany table.  Across from you, an empty seat.  The walls are a gentle cream color, the windows reveal vast fields of flowers, and perhaps there’s music tickling at your ear, a gentle melody that relaxes your muscles and allows you a chance to rest.

The painful emotion is still there.  You study it indifferently, examining it from different angles, noting the color and texture and size.  What does it look like?  How does it feel?  Does it have a sound or scent?  Ask yourself: where did this emotion come from?  Think, and think more.  The answer to that question is the Problem.

The Problem & the Question.

The music is a delight at the ear, and sunlight plays lacework shadows across the floor.  This is a safe place — but the emotion remains all-encompassing.

You’ve identified the Problem.  Now consider it objectively, examining it from different angles, noting the color and texture and size.  What does it look like?  How does it feel?  Does it have a sound or scent?  Ask yourself: what is this problem?  What is it I want to know?  What question do I have about this problem?

What is your question?  Perhaps it’s “How do I get through this?” or “What can I do to improve my situation?”  Maybe it’s more specific: “Do I want to keep this baby?”  “How do I get over this depression?”  or “What can I do to stop these intrusive memories?”  Take a deep breath and ask yourself: what is the basic question here?

The Visitor

You hear the rustle of cloth and soft steps as someone enters the room.  They take a seat, and wise eyes fall upon you from across the table.

Perhaps the visitor is someone who knows you well.  It might be someone you recognize or a kind stranger who lends you comfort and solace.  Stranger or not, you see a person you trust.

“Talk to me,” they say.  Their words are enough, and you speak, and you speak genuinely.

Your words

Perhaps you complain.  We all need to complain sometimes.  You scream and cry and pace and cry some more, because that’s what you need to do.  Or maybe your words are a whisper, a confession, monotone and unfeeling, because that’s what you need to do.  Fellow with lots of problemsThe explanation is a personal one and you say all that needs to be said.  The visitor listens closely, nodding from time to time, chuckling at your jokes, handing you a Kleenex during the rough moments, curious and interested, because that’s what they want to do.

You tell your story until every word, every emotion and problem and question is spread out clearly across the table before you.

Visitor’s help

As you fall silent, your story coming to a close, the visitor leans forward and speaks.  Their voice is a song of hope, a fulfillment of answers, the words you seek and need and so desperately long to hear.

But what does the visitor say?

(1) Imagine the listener is someone you admire.  Knowing all they know about life, what would they recommend, what would they do in your situation?  Think!  Who do you admire?  Why?  Is it their integrity, taking a stand, flexibility, humility, strong opinions, computer savvy, or music?  Would taking on their ability help you approach your dilemma in a new way?  Ask the person you admire, and listen to what they have to say.

(2) The stranger cares about you, a confidant and soul-friend.  They know you well, both your weaknesses and strengths, and they admire you for them.  How would a soul-friend respond to your plight?  What would they encourage you to do?  Again, think!  The luxury of a soul-friend is a rare find.  They lend you their eyes to help see the world from a different perspective.

Think of the thousand ways to get past a wall: climb over, dig a hole under, walk around, break through, imagine it gone, fly over in a helicopter…

There are a thousand ways to solve a problem too, and your friend knows this.  They grant you ideas you’ve never considered.  What are those ideas.  Ask, and listen!

We have questions and answers(3) The visitor isn’t a stranger. Their face is like yours, their hands too, a familiar soul, far too familiar.  In their eyes you see yourself, a distant “future you” who knows your feelings, who’s lived through your experiences, and, yes, who knows your future.  A well-lived, contented sage sits before you.  That might be surprising, but that’s where you’re going, and this person is proof that it’s true.  This “future you” knows how to deal with your dilemma, and they offer ready advice.  Ask, and listen.  Think: in ten years from now, looking back, what would you have liked to see yourself do?


Your visitor congratulates you, reminds you of your worth, and lends you a sense of life you haven’t felt for a while.

They step out of the room.

A sigh, a happy sigh, before you stand up and leave that chair and table behind, all feelings, problems, and questions left sitting firmly on that table.  A doorway gives way to a spiral stairway leading up, up, up, and as you reach the top floor, your reality kicks back in, the REAL reality, a place you’re ready to handle and apt to conquer.

You have your answers.

“If you are a dreamer come in
If you are a dreamer a wisher a liar
A hoper a pray-er a magic-bean-buyer
If youre [sic] a pretender com [sic] sit by my fire
For we have some flax golden tales to spin
Come in!
Come in!”

Shel Silverstein

For more imagery readings, check out Imagery: the man who reads part one and Imagery: the man who reads part two.

Puzzle: 12-step inspiration, oddlike

The following is Handout 87 from the Weird and Wacky Workbook for Recovery. Remember that inner kid, the one who loves life and imagines a brilliant future?  Okay, now imagine that same child in school learning consonants & vowels, and have a go at the following homework.

website 12 step program jpeg

* The Weird and Wacky Workbook for Recovery has more than 40 activity pages, some more cerebral than others.  Why have activities like this in a manual for recovery?

As mentioned, recovery is more than quitting drugs and alcohol.  It’s about surviving cravings, painful emotion, broken bridges, scattered thoughts, and stress.  It also marks the start of a new life narrative as a person in recovery.  The painful and the amazing.  Weird and Wacky‘s activity section offers mindless tasks and distraction for the bad times, plus a conduit for creativity, playfulness, and (hopefully) joy for the “new.”

Cravings aren’t all or nothing

Put cravings into context.

Urges aren’t all or nothing.  You might feel like an urge is all-encompassing, but if you stop to think about it, there are a thousand levels of desire between zero and 100.  Put the craving into context.  Do you feel it come in waves?  There will be good days and bad days.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of surviving the moment.  If you’ve been clean a while, are the cravings better and less frequent than they were earlier in your recovery?  You’ll likely find the answer is “yes.”  Maybe the craving oscillate between 100% and 40%, and 40% is more tolerable.  Knowing that will help get you through the 100% days.  Hold onto that.  Recognizing that cravings aren’t black and white make them easier to deal with.


Getting to know yourself after recovery

weird art - telephone on wheels - used intro
From the Weird and Wacky Workbook for Recovery

You’ve just quit, or did so recently, and the big question comes flooding at you: who are you without drugs and alcohol?    Use the handout below to create and celebrate a drug-free identity.

getting to know yourself after recovery p1getting to know yourself aftr recovery p2

That’s a beginning.  Stay tuned for more.


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Flying cash registers and you

This was supposed to be a “Frequently asked questions” sheet about our book, Weird and Wacky Workbook for Recovery.  But we got distracted.  You are so very interesting.   So today we answer FAQ’s about you, not us.

Disclaimer: you realize we’re a group of psychiatrists, or course?  Shrinks are good at questions, and we’re (supposed to be) even better at finding answers.  We should be more than qualified to tell you all about…well, you.  Whether that’s true remains a mystery.

Even then, we need your help.  For each question or statement, choose an option.  We’ll base our answers on your answers.

FAQ 1. “How are you today?”  Which of the following would likely be your response?new doc 2017-12-11 07.53.46_2

(a) “Fine, thank you.”
(b) “Fine, thank you.  And you?”
(c) “Fine, thank you.  And you?  I mean, is it okay for me to ask a psychiatrist that?”
(d) “How do you think I’m doing?  You’re the psychiatrist.  You tell me.  What do you think I’m paying you for?”
(e) &D^%%*__?

How’d it go?

→ 33%, 33%, and 33% of patients answer (a), (b), and (c), respectively.  These are super answers.  If you chose one of the first three, you’re a stunning picture of mental health.  We admire your progress in life.  (And we’re doing fine too.  Thanks for asking.)
→But did you choose (d)?  If so, it will unfortunately require extensive psychodynamic existential psychosurgery to determine whether you’re fine or not.  You’re the perfect patient.  We’ll see you tomorrow morning at 10AM.  For an extra 199 dollars, we’ll review your ego strengths and take you bowling.
If you chose (e), our response is 55h4&^#*%–?78  45*4.

FAQ 2.  “So what have you been doing lately?” 

weird art - flying cash register(a) “Those little cash registers are back, the ones that fly around and hide behind the fridge.  They read my mind and send messages to the government.”
(b) “I was out partying last night when I realized I’d broken curfew.  I ran so fast I lost my shoe.  Then my carriage turned into a pumpkin.”
(c) “I made a pumpkin pie.  It tasted like a carriage but, hell, it was worth it.  The Fairy Godmother was pissed.”
(d) “Last night?  I spent the night researching my psychiatrist online, why?”
(e) “I told you, &^#H&&%#.”

Here are our answers to your answers.  

→If you answered (a), then please get rid of the cash registers as soon as possible.  They’re downright scary.
→(b) Cinderella, is that you?  Can you ask the Fairy Godmother if  she knows anything about flying cash registers?
→(c) Oh, dear.
→(d) Can you also research flying cash registers?  We hear they’re sending messages to the government.
(e) &^#H&&%#, really?  As I said before, the answer is no.  Absolutely not.  We’re not allowed to treat that sort of thing.

FAQ 3. “Do you ever think you have special powers?”

(a) “God tells me I’m here to save the world.  It’s got something to do with flying cash registers and stupid quizzes.”
(b) “I live life through a series of multiple choice questions.”
(c) “Sometimes I think I can heal people’s mental problems by looking at them in a smart way and asking ridiculous questions.”
(d) “Seriously, doctor, these FAQ questions are getting annoying.”

Which option did you choose?  If you answered:

→(a) [Doctors groan] Please, no more flying cash register jokes.  What’s this about a stupid quiz?
→(b) How do you feel about these multiple choice questions?  Choose one of the following: (1) sad, (2) angry, or (3) choose one of the following: (i) it stems from my childhood, (ii) it’s based on cognitive distortions, (iii) oh, never mind.
→(c) Delusions of grandeur?  We’re going to look at you in smart way, ask stupid questions, and give you a prescription for Haldol.  You should feel better by morning.
→(d) See question #4 about enhancing frustration-tolerance.

FAQ 4. How do you deal with annoying people?

(a) “I have a large assortment of coping skills.  In fact, I’ve been told I exhibit superior frustration-tolerance abilities.  Conflict management is my middle name.”
(b) “My thoughts are very violent, so I avoid the world and surf the web looking for FAQ articles.  It’s the only relief I get.”
(d) “I stalk people who are annoying.  I take hundreds of pictures, make notes on their every movement, eavesdrop on their conversations.  For example, this is a photo I took of you at 2 this morning…”

→Hmn, I’m sensing a bit of angst in the room.  Why don’t we bring the session to a close and try again next week? That’ll be 550 dollars please. [Wait, there’s more: please move onto FAQ#5).

FAQ 5. [Doctor sighs and shivers.]  “I’m terribly sorry to inform you that your health insurance has declined coverage.  They don’t pay for FAQ-laden group therapy sessions.  That’ll be 550 dollars.  Credit card or check?”

(a) “I’ll pay with credit card.”
(b) “I’ll pay with check.”
(c) “You’ve got to be kidding me.  It was better when the flying cash registers were still around.”
(d) [A stranger enters the room, face red, fists tight, anger in their eyes; they have a history of violence and property destruction.  Arson too.]  “What?  My insurance won’t pay?  Well, just tell them that if they don’t pay I’m heading over to their office, I know exactly where to find them, and… my face is red, my firsts tight, there’s anger in my eyes, I have a history of violence and property destruction, and arson too.  My visit won’t be good for them, Doc.  Tell them that.  You’ll see how fast they pay. It always works.” [Stranger slumps into doctors’ sofa and stares emphatically.  There is nothing but silence.]

If you chose:

(a) and (b). Great.  Please send 550 dollars to your favorite charity.  Personally, we recommend the American Association of Poor Psychiatrists Who Are Trying To Publish a Book, but the choice is up to you.  Thanks.
(c) No, not the cash registers again.  That’s it.  We can’t take anymore.  Ladies and gentleman, quiz is over.
(BTW, if you chose (d) there’s no charge.  Ever.  Just don’t hurt us.)

That’s enough FAQ for now.  Thanks for joining us today, and make sure to visit again.  Until next time.

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Missing addiction & moving forward

closeness 2 jpeg

Recovery is challenging.  You miss the past, parts of it at least, and the future can be downright scary.

This worksheet is a strange, colorful, and passionate 6-page toolkit to help the reader maneuver through mourning the loss of addiction, letting it go, and working towards a future worth living.

mourning addiction page 1mourning addiction page 2mourning addiction page 3mourning addiction page 4mourning addiction page 5mourning addiction page 6

Back to Weird and Wacky Workbook’s list of everything.



The random & the odd

red and multicolored figure

Welcome to the Weird & Wacky Workbook‘s “Random & Odd” section.  That first sentence was a mouthful.  The authors apologize for any discomfort and encourage you to keep reading.

This website represents the Weird and Wacky Workbook for Recovery, a self-help manual for addiction that’ll hopefully be available in 2020.  If you appreciate the random and the odd, whether you have an addiction or not, then you’re in the right place.  You’ll find a list of random and odd articles below.

You’re still here?  Oh so cool.  Here’s that list.

This book does not include ostriches.
Flying cash registers and you
If you are a dreamer, come in
T or F: German reality TV show follows alcoholic as he chooses sobriety vs bottle

freud - note to self - list too short

(Ooop, only four articles.  As you can tell, we’re under construction — this website just launched a month ago.  Please standby while we enhance our selection.  Thanks)


Four ways to deal with cravings

running scaredOld Lady Addiction

You’re trying to escape addiction.

That could be food, drugs, alcohol, gambling, smoking, or something else.  One of the biggest challenges you’re dealing with, especially at the beginning of your recovery, are the urges to “feed” the addiction.  You’re bound to have cravings.  It happens to all recovering addicts, and it isn’t easy.  But remember, while the urges can be intense, they diminish with time.  Each minute you resist giving into the addiction, each time you decide not to use, the closer you get to long-term recovery.

Many people cope with their urges by gritting their teeth and “white-knuckling it,” but it doesn’t have to be done that way. You’ll find four urge-busting strategies below.

(Note: links lead to articles from Dr. Rosenthal’s other website.)

Method # 1. Get rid of those triggers.

Triggers jumpstart cravings. Some triggers are obvious, like watching people use drugs, having access to money, or seeing a beer commercial on TV.  Others aren’t so obvious.  Perhaps it’s something you’re hardly aware of, like a vague scent, song on the radio, or a stressful thought that inadvertently makes you want to relapse.

Whatever the case, identify the trigger and fix it.   How?  Here are some specific tips:
new doc 2017-12-07 12.05.32_2⇒ If possible, avoid triggers.  Stay away from places that push you in the wrong direction. Stay clear of addiction-friendly people, or those who make you emotional and more likely to relapse.

⇒ If you know an upcoming event or encounter is a trigger for you, plan ahead to minimize relapse.   How will you deal with the situation or person?  Consider having a support person accompany you, planning an early get away, and preparing catch phrases to use when necessary, even something ludicrous: “No, my shrink said I’d become aggressive and hurt people if I keep using, and I don’t want to hurt you.”

⇒ Sometimes you’ll run across a trigger unexpectedly.  If you find yourself in an unsettling place, leave.  If it’s something on the TV, change the channel. If you can’t leave, reach out to a support person, distract, or run some sort of safety mantra in your head, like “this ain’t gonna happen” or “I’m a recovered alcoholic now.”

⇒ Guard your conversations.  Sharing old drinking tales and other drug war-stories can quickly get you into trouble.

⇒ Guard your thoughts.  Practice mindfulness and meditate to enhance control over your thinking and decrease sensitivity to problem cognitions.  Learn to rewrite negative thoughts or change your perspective.

⇒ Are your cravings running you over like a herd of angry elephants? Take three breaths and move onto one of the strategies below.   Continue reading Four ways to deal with cravings

Recovery goes to the movies!

woman sitting inside a theater

For those of you just joining us: you’ve reached the Journey into Recovery: a Weird and Wacky Addiction Workbook for Recovery, or the book’s website at least.  Welcome, and hang out a while.  You don’t have to have an addiction to laugh at our bad jokes.  Below is a sample worksheet.

Based on narrative therapy, this worksheet gives the reader a chance to stand back and observe their relationship with addiction from a distance

movie jpeg

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