Why the Hell Am I Still Sober?

by Bill Brenner August 3, 2016 Addiction

This is the second in a series of posts about navigating through the unexpected. It’s based on experiences I’ve had since my father’s death last year. A lot of legal paper pushing, hand-holding and arguing has gone into managing the building my late father left in my care. I’ve never dealt with lawyers so much in my life. Sorting out the various trusts, deeds, real-estate negotiations and environmental cleanup tasks has been a full-time job on…  [Read More]

Layne Staley, 14 Years Later

by Bill Brenner April 5, 2016 Addiction

“What’s my drug of choice? Well, what have you got?” —Layne Staley, Alice in Chains This week marks 14 years since Alice In Chains frontman Layne Staley was found dead. Mood music: Like Kurt Cobain, Staley had a big impact on me in the early 1990s. But while I identified with Cobain’s depression, I identified with Staley for his inability to keep his addictive demons at bay. I can’t tell you how many times I listened…  [Read More]

22 Years Ago: The Day Kurt Cobain Died

by Bill Brenner April 4, 2016 Addiction

I remember exactly where I was 22 years ago this week, when I saw the news flash about Kurt Cobain’s suicide. I was lying in bed, depressed and reclusive because of frequent fear. Mood music:  I was living in Lynnfield, Mass., at the time. I had a room in the basement, just like I had in Revere. But this space was much smaller — a jail cell with a nice blue carpet. But I did have…  [Read More]

Skinny Like A Fool

by Bill Brenner August 22, 2015 Addiction

At dinner with friends one night, a conversation about weight control got started. It reminded me of how hard I used to work to stay thin, and how dangerous some of my methods were. Examples: –In my late teens, I got the bright idea that I could party and drink all I wanted on the weekends with no danger of weight gain if I starved myself during the week, often living on one cheese sandwich a…  [Read More]

The Feel-Good Complex: A Chronicle of Bad Choices

by Bill Brenner July 20, 2015 Addiction

With all the death and drama in my life recently, I tell people that I regret quitting drinking a few years ago. Few things appeal to me more right now than the sweet buzz a bottle of wine would give me. I have no intention of falling off the wagon. I know where it would take me. But the fact is that I’m desperate to feel good lately. For now, I cling tightly to my vapor pipe….  [Read More]

A Priest Comes Clean About Binge Eating

by Bill Brenner March 31, 2015 Addiction

I’ve written at length about two things in this blog: my struggle with compulsive binge eating and my faith. My faith helps me deal with my demons, including the eating. So when a priest comes forward and admits he has a similar demon to fight, I take notice. Mood music: Rev. Ryan Rooney, a parochial vicar at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish in Springfield, Mass., did just that in an article he wrote about…  [Read More]

The Lost Generation of Revere, Mass.

by Bill Brenner November 22, 2014 Addiction

An old friend from the Point of Pines, Revere, sent me a note some time ago. He came across my post on Zane Mead and another on the Bridge Rats gang. For him, they brought up more memories of kids from the neighborhood who died young. Mood music: I’ll keep his name and certain details out to protect his privacy, but here’s some of what he wrote to me: I came across your piece in…  [Read More]

40 Years Ago in Amityville

by Bill Brenner November 12, 2014 Addiction

Some of you have seen the “Amityville Horror” and instantly think of it as the story of a haunted house. I never believed it, but I’ve always been drawn to the murders that started the whole thing off. This week marks the 40th anniversary of the murders, in which Ronald “Butch” DeFeo was convicted of killing his parents, two brothers and two sisters. I’ve always had an interest in it because at its bare core, this…  [Read More]

Addicted to Accolades

by Bill Brenner April 30, 2014 Addiction

Last year, David McCullough Jr. — longtime Wellesley High School English teacher and son of one of my favorite authors — gave a commencement speech in which he told graduates the hard truth: They’re not special. Mood music: You can see the whole speech here, but here’s a key passage for me: In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another — which springs, I think, from our fear of our own…  [Read More]

The Addict Still Has a Responsibility

by Bill Brenner February 5, 2014 Addiction

Mötley Crüe and Sixx AM bassist Nikki Sixx has always been a hero of mine, largely because of the raw honesty he displays when writing about his addictions. Yesterday on his radio show, he discussed the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Mood music: The hardest thing for Sixx to swallow is that Hoffman was clean and sober for more than 20 years before he relapsed. Sixx has been sober since 2001. Before that, he had…  [Read More]