Sashi Tozzi started drinking at 15 years old as a way to overcome her shyness and social anxiety. By the time she turned 20, things had escalated to the point where her family staged an intervention with her about her drug and alcohol use. After 6 more years of heavy partying, she made the decision to give sobriety a try and hasn’t turned back since. Now, Sasha is a writer, recovery coach and rapid transformational therapist who wants nothing more than to help others find the same “joy, passion, love, and purpose” that she found. Sasha shares her story with Annie and they discuss how she is now able to function in social settings without the crutch of drugs or alcohol. Sasha also gives some great advice on how to talk to a loved one who might be drinking too much from the perspective of her own personal journey.
Welcome Sasha Tozzi
Today I’m really excited, because I am here with Sasha Tozzi. Sasha and I sort of met through mutual friends and it’s just awesome. So what I’d like to do is just kind of start really with your story. So as far back as you want to go, I’d love to hear it.
Sasha Tozzi’s Story
I’m 32 now and it came to my attention that I had a problem, I had problematic drinking habits and behaviors from the first time I ever drank at like 15. When I was 20 years old my family sort of staged an informal intervention on me for really my cocaine use, but the alcohol was in the mix of course, and every time I drank I wanted to use drugs. So it was both of them. People would confront me like, “You have a problem. You need to get a hold of this.” And I was 20 years old. and I just thought to myself, “I’m too young to have a problem. This is what kids my age are doing. This is what people in college do, they binge drink.” Because I was a binger. I was a partier and a binger and I could go days without doing anything.
Definition of Alcoholic
It wasn’t in my definition of what an alcoholic, well, if you even use the term “alcoholic”, what an alcoholic looks like. So I wasn’t convinced that I had an issue. I was convinced that I could control it. I grew up in a Catholic Italian. My dad was very strict and very “where there’s a will there’s a way”. So I thought that I just had to try harder to control it. I thought that I was the problem and that I just had to figure out a way to control my intake. But every time I tried I failed. So I just felt like a failure.
I had gone back to school to finish my psychology degree and I was seeing a therapist. The therapist, in our session, she handed me an AA pamphlet and I really liked this particular therapist. I felt like I was vulnerable with her. I felt like I could let my guard down, I wasn’t being judged. She wasn’t super, “You have to do this.” Or like, “You have a problem and you need to get help.” She was very gentle. That’s just the approach that worked for me. I was able to really hear what she was saying. And she didn’t say much. She just kind of handed me the pamphlet and I decided to check out a meeting.
So that was my introduction to sobriety, was through AA. AA doesn’t work for everybody, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. I didn’t really like it in the beginning. But I grew to respect the foundations and the fundamentals that I learned in AA, and I really adopted the idea of, like, “Take what you want and leave the rest.” So I just saw it as another tool in a box of tools, not really the end all be all, but just like, “Oh, I can go to this place that has a lot of people that are sharing authentically from their hearts and just see myself in their stories and just connect.” That’s what I really loved about it. Even though I didn’t like going and I was super socially anxious, I liked hearing, I liked listening to people’s stories, like how people do now on podcasts. Just listening to people’s stories and hearing bits of your own in there and really getting to feel understood.
At 26 is when I was finally were like, “Okay. I’m going to give this a try.” It stuck, and I wasn’t necessarily planning on it long-term. I just wanted to get out of my pain and out of the shame. A lot of times the things that I would do drunk or high, for that matter, would leave me in such shame and pain that I would become suicidal. And I was already battling depression anyway, so it was just a compounding effect.
I’ll have seven years in September. It’s changed shapes so much. It’s just really evolved. And every day that I stay sober and kind of … it’s not just about being sober, it’s about kind of being in my life, being present to my life. So being sober enables me to do that. So I get to learn and grow so much and have things today that I never would have had if I didn’t first decide to just let go of that way of life.
Listen to the complete podcast to find out what Sasha Tozzi has to say about talking to a loved one about their addiction and more of her story and how she helps others now.
Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License