Guinevere Gets Sober

Recovery news, reviews and stories, by Jennifer Matesa.

Getting Sober Online Or In Real Life

Can you get sober online? or does it have to be IRL?

More and more people are using the Internet to look for help with their addictions. I’m getting mail every day from people who are desperate for help. We heard from the American woman staying in a little town overseas with no meetings; according to the comment she wrote this morning, she cannot put down the booze, and she’d like some help.

Where can she get help?

Here are some other examples:

I’m a single mom, divorcing an abusive alcoholic husband, I have a pill problem and started Suboxone and can’t get off, I’m afraid of depression; what should I do?

I tried tapering off pills and went from 90mg to 15mg but now I’m up to 60mg again, is any benefit I got from tapering lost now that I’ve gone back up, I don’t know where to turn for help; what should I do?

I love an alcoholic who is artistic and sensitive and intense and highly self-aware, here’s the situation: he’s stopped drinking but he still smokes weed every day, and I’m not sure whether his weed thing matters, I just wish he’d place a higher value on himself, I also wish he’d love me more, because I love him so much, I see so many beautiful things inside him that he doesn’t even see; what should I do?


Caveat: This blog has its limitations. It is strictly a place where I share personal experience, strength and hope. I’m not a professional, I don’t have all the answers. Quite often I don’t have even one answer. I’m just another addict trying to stay sober today.

But I do know how I got sober.

The first place I reached out was online, at Opiate Detox Recovery. (Fantastic resource for anyone dealing with an opioid drug problem; excellent moderators who protect the community; please check in if you’re trying to quit painkillers or dope.) I was two days into an outpatient medically-overseen detox, I was sick, I was (quite literally) kicking, and I had a shitload of stuff to get done. My first post was all about how I was a pain patient and trying to make my life manageable by reducing my tolerance a bit and how I was in the middle of painting the dining room, how it was Labor Day and I had a bunch of people coming for dinner, I had to cook, I had to clean, I had to take care of my kid and my husband and maybe I’d fucked up my brain chemistry forever with drugs, and blah blah blah poor me, please please please help me.

I got replies right away. Within 20 minutes, in fact. From Jay, who told me yes, I’d fucked up my brain chemistry, but that if I got off drugs it would heal, and from Arlene who told me to drop the fuckin superwoman act.

“It will only lead to continued rationalization to use,” she wrote.

“I don’t know what you mean by the superwoman act,” I wrote back, all high and mighty.

It took me three more weeks to accept the truth in her statement and admit to myself and to one other person that I was an addict. And that person was a person who lives in my city, who met with me in the flesh, whose brown eyes and calm voice conveyed concern and care.

I started going to meetings.

Meanwhile Gettingbetter and Allgood and Sluggo and OnMyWay and a bunch of other awesome people had started writing. Also Bonita, who was detoxing at the same time and who “jumped” (quit taking drugs) on my birthday that year, a couple days ahead of me. My Jump Buddy: we were paratroopers into the Land of the Clean and Sober. (Rough landing for both of us, but we’re both still alive, and both sober.)

Sluggo wrote me a taper schedule that I followed, along with the doctor’s supervision. The doctor, of course, was IRL, and in real life he did not take insurance, so he was expensive.

But how much is my life worth? how much money? how much time? I paid him about $700 to detox me. Cheap at the price.

I’m alive today.

It was after I jumped that the online support became important and ingrained in my daily life. I jumped Nov. 1, 2008, and that Thanksgiving Day I went upstairs every hour or so to write posts to those folks, because I had five house guests and because I felt draggy, restless, irritable and discontent, I had very little recovery, I had no faith, and those online folks answered. Same with Christmas. Same when my first sponsor relapsed; same when my second sponsor ditched me. I could always go to those people, and I’d always get an answer.


So in April, while visiting New York, I met OnMyWay, still sober, living in Brooklyn, working in Midtown. It’s ALWAYS amazing to see the faces of people with whom I have shared an online connection. Her face was round and sweet; her eyes were like large peaceful ponds in the fall, after the leaves have dropped and the sun shines into the water and the surface of the water is calm.

Then just before Memorial Day I met Allgood.

Allgood and Dani on either side of G.

Two days ago I drove from Kingston to Providence to meet Gettingbetter, also known as Dani, along with Allgood, who live near each other. They drove two hours to see me, and two hours home. I knew Dani was one tough fellow beeyotch whose backbone had hauled my sorry ass through some difficult shit after detox. In my mind she had grown into a kind of super-neohippie-wisewoman; despite the fact that I’d seen photos of her, I had given her long Joni-Mitchell-style hair, only brown, and lots of suede, maybe even fringes and beads. In real life, Dani is about my height, about 8 years younger than I, and smooth-faced, with eyes the color of yellow topaz, or cat’s eye sapphire. She wore jeans and a T-shirt. She’s fit and strong and healthy and sober.

Allgood kept pushing plates of food my way (his family and mine come from opposite sides of the Adriatic; the custom is to feed those you love), but I just wanted to sit there and look at their faces and listen to their voices and soak it all up. Same with a few others I’ve met IRL who I first met online.

What can I say? They saved my life, man. They keep saving it.

So do the many real-life people in my sober community. It takes an entire village to get sober.


Can you get sober online? The answer for me was yes and no. Online support is a real bonus for people getting sober these days. But I need to see real people to be sober. I need to hold someone’s hand; I need to hear someone’s voice; I need to see the whites of their eyes as they help me get honest. We have bodies for a reason, after all.

Now I need to meet Sluggo.


  1. Hi there,
    I’ve just read a few of your articles. Loved them. I “jumped” many years ago, before Suboxone. I only knew about Methodone. I’ve never heard the term “jumped.” It seems like you could apply that to any addiction, but that might be uncool. 🙂

    I got sober from alcohol a year ago. Man, did that suck. I go to IRL AA meetings every day. I’ve never heard the term “IRL” either. Am I living in a box?

    I still suffer from an active eating disorder and real meetings are not so abundant in my area. I always turned up my nose at online meetings, thinking-“who is gonna give a crap?” I see from your post that my conceptions may be wrong. I’ll give it another try this very day.

    Thanks for the stuff about letting your own voice out. Man, that is hard. I want people to like me…. no, just not to hurt me, I guess. I hope it will come in time.

    You are very brave (and tough sounding!)


  2. Catherine,
    If you still read and blog in addition to Guinevere giving a crap. and she does so in every heart-felt written word, I believe all that read and care – care a lot. For me she has been the only one that has made sense of a problem raping us across our nation. Thank God you never went the Suboxone route. It is a difficult one to say the least. I no longer waste readers time with the insane things my doctor has said. We are all battling and many have already won. I am still in battle – but I know I am winning. Of course we must always be on high alert and ready to battle so this war stays dormant. I am just one really bad day and one really bad choice away from being right back where I was. I am getting ready to eat dinner. Something I do now on a regular basis. Three times a day. Then I am going to church where friends care and love me. I love them endlessly and they know EVERYTHING about me. I get to hold my good friends little girl through the service. She is four months old and they all refer to me as uncle. I am adopted into these family’s by love not blood. Our relationships are real and completely truthful. And they well know my cutting down slowly on suboxone before I jump. They have read about it and are supporting in every way.
    Keep reading and sharing you never know who’s heart you touch in great and supporting ways. HOPE – it is our mantra. Simply Black

  3. Jen, Every time I read articles you have written I am energized. These last couple days have been rough. I over did it physically by walking way too much and my physical therapist is wonderful though killing me softly. My brother and sister committing suicide some years ago always seem to come and linger in my mind during holidays or long week-ends. I watch families that are NORMAL getting together and seemingly are having fun. I blogged about it on face book and friends and pastors have reached out with comfort and prayers. There are times for me when friends reach out and do their best and still it leaves me numb. I told them being down physically for a couple days and the holiday week end just kinda of collided for a perfect storm. A PITY POT. I have dinner in the oven, clothes set out and forcing myself to eat well get a shower and meet with them at church this evening. Taking drugs was not a thought and surely not an answer. I guess this must be life, filled with both good and rough days. Funny how drugs could numb me from the tears I have ( probably needed ) shed these past few days. Then I read of you and others and thank God for being on and belonging to this team. A great band of brothers and sisters that teach me about recovery. Thank you Jen for this site and all of the comrades that share with it. You are the sanity in an insane struggle. I know no medical advice just experience. Sharing your experiences are in a way medical advice.
    God Bless you all. Simply Black

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