Unwasted Blog

March 5, 2014

Why Ellen Was the Perfect Oscars Host

NEW ARTICLE AT THE NEW REPUBLIC: Ironically, the Academy Awards—which ostensibly celebrates the best in film—is all about telling, not showing. It is the inverse of film itself. Everything is “transformative,” “sublime,” “extraordinary,” “wonderfully talented,” “gifted,” “touching,” “wrenching,” “inspired.” It is an avalanche of adjectives, as though someone shook an enormous thesaurus over the theater and watched all the prettiest words sparkle and float downward while the presenters grasped at them.

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February 4, 2014

Could Drug-Replacement Therapy Have Saved Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Life?

NEW ARTICLE AT THE NEW REPUBLIC: Philip Seymour Hoffman was an artistic icon and, for me, a sober icon. According to The New York Times, Hoffman had spoken of having 23 years of sobriety under his belt before he relapsed on prescription drugs and then, ultimately, on heroin. From that moment of relapse on, one of the greatest actors of our generation was in mortal danger: Years of sobriety had reduced Hoffman’s tolerance, but his brain craved the drug as much as ever—and he had given that brain another taste. In May of 2013—perhaps realizing the disease was back in force—Hoffman checked himself into a detox facility for ten days, once again resetting his tolerance to zero. His brain was at war with itself: his healthy sobriety brain versus his voraciously hungry opiate receptors. It’s why, unfortunately, overdosing is tragically common for once-sober heroin addicts who relapse.

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September 9, 2013

HuffPost Live: Sober Socializing

In case you missed it, I talked socializing sober and general bad-assery with a few super cool women on “HuffPost Live” a few weeks ago:

Whether you’re a recovering alcoholic, or simply on a two-week detox, refraining from booze amongst friends can be a tall order. Has our society become over-reliant on adult beverages for socialization?

Click “READ MORE” for link.

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July 30, 2013


Do you love David Foster Wallace? Infinite Jest? Reading it now? Join me & the good folks at “Summer of Jest” for an evening of interdependence as we talk addicts on the page. Click through for “Unwasted/Jest” details.

We’re going to talk about alcoholism/addiction and recovery, reading and writing, and Sacha’s colorful fantasy life involving aliens, terrorists, time machines, Reagan and Gorbachev, and parallel universes.

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July 8, 2013

“Friend of Bill”: The secret, verbal handshake for alcoholics

NEW ARTICLE AT THE NEW REPUBLIC: In 1990s Washington, being known as a “friend of Bill” meant you were someone like Vernon Jordan or Mark Penn—a member of Bill Clinton’s inner circle. But long before Bill Clinton, there was Bill Wilson. And this Bill had a whole lot more friends.

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April 24, 2013


Join Sacha for a reading and conversation about all things Unwasted at the amazing downtown DC Busboys & Poets. The Caron Foundation will host this evening of stories at the hippest joint in town. Eat great food, drink great beverages (cocktails and/or mocktails!), listen to great tales about the sneaky surreality of sobriety in a super sloshy cityscape. Because, when the party winds down, that’s when things really get weird. Click “READ MORE” for details!

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April 9, 2013

Roger Ebert’s Other Illness

NEW ARTICLE AT THE NEW REPUBLIC: “This blog has become a venue for my truths,” Roger Ebert wrote in 2011 on his website, a must-read for those of us who loved the voice Ebert found once cancer robbed him of his ability to speak. That illness, which took his life on Thursday, became one of the main subjects of Ebert’s writing, from his quest for inflection in a computerized speech program to the mystical healing powers of Leonard Cohen. And he wrote, too, about his other illness: alcoholism.

In “My Name is Roger, and I’m an Alcoholic,” Ebert went on the record as a voice of addiction. He could have stopped there, but it would have only been a half-truth. After all, Ebert did not miraculously and spontaneously recover from his affliction. He had help. He went to A.A. and “it was the best thing that ever happened to me.” To exclude the journey A.A. led him on would be a desecration of his own truth and a disservice to the readers who looked to him for just that. It was the more complicated decision but also the right one.

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January 29, 2013

Why Rehab Fails

NEW ARTICLE AT THE NEW REPUBLIC: In Anne M. Fletcher’s excellent and exhaustive book, she finds that almost all rehabs adhere to an intransigent dogma. Some just have better views, higher thread counts, and more horses (you know, for equine therapy). There is no individualized treatment. You check in, detox, and then go to addiction-education lectures, group therapy, and AA twelve-step meetings. “I often found myself wondering, ‘Where’s the counseling?’” writes Fletcher. Patients attend these group gatherings for 28 to 90 days, and are then released back into the real world. Problem is, the real world is teeming with temptations, and most people relapse. So what do we do with them? More rehab! Because it isn’t the rehab that has failed; it is you. Fletcher’s multi-year-long dive into the realities of rehabs is deeply unsettling.

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January 28, 2013

Sacha’s on the Radio

In my continuing bid for total media saturation, I’m thrilled to say that I was The Bubble Hour’s special guest on #BlogTalkRadio last night. Great women, so much fun: We talk friends, fake pot, why drunks aren’t marriage material, and why sobriety is a laugh riot.
LISTEN: http://t.co/NKvIMOsk

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January 11, 2013

Meet the World’s Most Famous Interventionist

NEW ARTICLE AT THE FIX: In her seven years on Intervention, Candy Finnigan has seen it all. In this exclusive interview (with me!), she explains how her own intervention brought her to where she is today:

Candy Finnigan isn’t just an interventionist; she also plays one on TV. The tell-it-like-it-is broad from Kansas will be recognizable to any fan of the Emmy-winning TV show Intervention, A&E’s groundbreaking reality series. Intervention follows addicts struggling in the depths of their addictions for months, often bearing silent witness as addicts sneak alcohol, manipulate their families, scrounge for drugs, stagger into walls, emit primal tortured wails, get sick, get high, get mad, get off, and get undone. But then, the controversial and utterly compelling show follows these addicts even further, and we watch as they walk into the most terrifying room any addict can face: the intervention.

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