Tag Archives: Sobriety

Tag Archives: Sobriety

For six years, Jason Isbell was drunk at every show he played.

During his tenure with beloved Southern rockers Drive-By Truckers, Isbell planned his drinking to keep him on his feet for the duration of the band’s marathon live shows – barely.

Something More Than Free: Jason Isbell's Journey to His Most Popular Album | Grammy Awards 2016, Individual Class“I had it timed where, by the very end of the show, I’d done just about all I could do standing up,” he told NPR in 2013. “I knew I needed two or three before I went on, and then during the show, we’d just pass a bottle around between the band.” The routine totaled about a fifth of Jack Daniels per show.

And Jack and Jason didn’t get along well: “Some people get drunk and become kind of sweet,” Patterson Hood, Drive-By Truckers founder and singer-songwriter, told The New York Times Magazine in 2013. “Jason wasn’t one of those people.” It didn’t help that the younger Isbell, a virtuoso guitarist with a proclivity for fast and fiery licks, was also a stellar songwriter, whose finely wrought and frequently heartbreaking character sketches were obviously on par with those of the older and principal Truckers, Hood and guitarist/singer-songwriter Mike Cooley. Isbell, who also managed to marry and divorce then-Truckers bassist Shonna Tucker during his time with the band, left in 2007. At the time, it was portrayed as amicable; in 2013, Isbell revealed he’d been forced out, mostly because of his drinking.

After his dismissal from DBT, Isbell went off the rails a little bit. He was arrested for public drunkenness and at one point accused Dierks Bentley of plagiarizing one of his songs on Twitter. He knew he needed help, and told his then-girlfriend, fellow musician Amanda Shires, he had to go to rehab. Unfortunately, both times he said it, he was drunk. “I only got to do that twice, I think,” he told NPR. The second time, Shires told him, “You’re telling the wrong person.”

Isbell got the message, and in February 2012, spent two weeks in Cumberland Heights, a rehab center in Nashville. Coming out, he started playing live again, dropped 40 lbs. and started writing the songs that would make up 2013’sSoutheastern. That September, Isbell’s song “Alabama Pines” won song of the year at the Americana Music Awards, kick-starting a wave of critical appreciation that Southeastern built upon when it was released in July 2013. The album contains Isbell’s most-streamed song on Spotify, “Cover Me Up,” and the devastating “Elephant” – coined by one music writer as “the saddest song of the millennium” – a quiet ballad about a cancer patient that concludes, “no one dies with dignity.”

Isbell toured steadily behind Southeastern, backed by a crack band named the 400 Unit – after the psychiatric ward of a hospital near Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where Isbell grew up – that included his now-wife Shires. (“She has a big conscience, a big heart,” he told Rolling Stone in 2013. “Essentially, she’s just a good person.”)

Southeastern was rewarded with a near-sweep at the 2014 Americana Music Awards that saw Isbell take the honors for album, song (“Cover Me Up”) and artist of the year. But none of that weighed on his mind when he returned to the studio for his follow-up, 2015’s Something More Than Free. “I have so many people ask me… ‘Did you feel pressure to follow up Southeastern?” Isbell told Stereogum in 2015. “That same question every damn time! No, that’s not an actual problem to have. I know people who can’t pay their f—ing bills. Following up a successful piece of work with another piece of work is the most ridiculous first-world problem I can think of.”

Sure enough, Something More Than Free was a mature, confident continuation of the work Isbell started with Southeastern. Anchored by the stellar lead single, “24 Frames,” it debuted at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Top Rock, Top Country Albums and Top Folk Albums charts, and No. 5 on the Billboard200. By way of comparison, Southeastern peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard200.

Giving Thanks

By Stan B M. Div., Counselor

Cumberland Heights fog -28Earlier this month we celebrated Veteran’s Day, the one day a year we recognize the sacrifice and courage of America’s military and their families.  This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, the one day a year we overeat with family and friends to commemorate the first full year Europeans survived in the New World. Next month we will celebrate Christmas, the one day a year we recognize the birth of Christ born to create hope in a better world.

What’s with these one-day celebrations? We begin the year with New Year’s Day, followed by Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, the list goes on. I suppose marking one day a year on the calendar to recognize our partners and parents is better than forgetting them, but all the special days seem artificial to me.

Today our lives are busy and incredibly distracted, but what would it be like if we sincerely endorsed creating hope in a better world every day? Or committed ourselves to making our loved ones and parents feel special all the time? What would our lives be like if we started each day by giving thanks for the amazing world in which we live?

In recovery, I’ve learned how self-centered I can be. It’s disturbing to me. When things don’t go exactly as I think they should and people don’t act the way I want, I become frustrated. If I’m not working my program, this leads me to a mental state referred to as the “Mean Reds” by Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

For me, the Mean Reds is a depressive state of fear and lethargy which is difficult to shake. The world including everyone and everything in it is flawed. I become inexplicably afraid of everything. However, when I am open to the experience, this is when the miracle can happen.

I’ve noticed when the Mean Reds overtake me they are talking about gratitude in every 12-Step meeting I attend. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. I want to run from the rooms screaming, “Enough with the gratitude already!”

But practicing gratitude is the one sure antidote I’ve found to the Mean Reds. If left to my own devices, I can forget to be grateful about anything. I need practice every day.

When practicing gratitude I begin to recognize all the gifts in my life. It is difficult to sustain self-pity and fear when considering my friends, loved ones, co-workers, my church community, my children and my home. It doesn’t take long for me to begin appreciating how good my life really is.

Thanksgiving is a noun. It defines the family holiday of sibling dysfunction, overeating and watching football games with uncles who loosen their belts and recline in Lazy Boys. We should probably be thankful it only happens once a year.

Giving thanks, that’s a verb. It takes action. It’s not enough to merely say we are grateful, we have to show it. We may give thanks every day by praying and meditating in the morning, being kind and loving to those closest to us as well as perfect strangers and surrendering to the idea we are brought into this world to make it a more hopeful place. Then we must shoulder the work which will make it happen.  Not just once a year in November, but one day at a time all year long.

Stan graduated from Vanderbilt Divinity School in 2006 and worked for the Tennessee Association of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services teaching ministers across the state. This led him to become an alcohol and drug counselor, a position he currently holds as primary counselor for the Cumberland Heights Extended Care program for men. Stan is a regular speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Clarksville, the father of thirteen-year-old twins and active in his own 12-Step recovery.

Masking Addiction

By Stan Bumgarner M. Div., Counselor

Art MaskIn a matter of days I will open my front door to find small groups of witches, zombies, Captain Americas, and princesses on my porch. Faces, hidden by masks or make-up, will shout “trick or treat,” greeting me with plastic pumpkins or expectant pillow cases. I will dutifully share equal amounts of treats with each child. It’s fun. I love seeing all the different costumes, and I eat more than my share of the candy.

The kids’ costumes do seem more elaborate these days. When I was a kid we were pirates or hobos. I recall my fifth grade year my best friend and I decided to go as mummies. We wrapped ourselves from head-to-toe in toilet paper then, one foot dragging, an arm raised, moaning, went door-to-door doing our best impression of Boris Karloff. It was a damp night in Birmingham. Our costumes didn’t last long. What didn’t melt right onto our clothes unraveled two blocks into the night.

I’ve worn masks as an adult that are made of much stronger material, but worked about as well as my fifth grade mummy costume. I found it helpful to hide behind them—the sports hero, the happy frat boy, the successful business guy, Don Juan the famous lover, the guy whose feelings are never hurt, the guy who has all the answers, the guy who never makes mistakes, the funny guy, the serious guy—my masks go on ad nauseam. I wore them to mask the real me: the self-doubter, the one who is never good enough or who is afraid to be exposed as a fraud. This seemed like a successful strategy until I discovered the most powerful masks of all, alcohol and marijuana. Overtime, these became the most destructive masks.

They weren’t as easy to shed as a toilet paper mummy costume. Alcohol and marijuana became a second skin. They were so integral to my life they became part of who I was at a cellular level. It was a painful way to live. Thank goodness there were people who had the skills to see beyond the masks and pull me out of the morass I had created. Through outpatient treatment, individual therapy and immersion in the 12-Step recovery community my true self began to slowly emerge and continues to grow.

Those old masks still live in my closet though. On occasion I will pull one out, put it on and wear it for days without realizing it. Then, one of my recovery friends will hold up a mirror helping me see what I’m doing. What a gift! Today, I am blessed to have a network of sober people in my life. They love me, imperfect as I am. I plan to remind myself of that as I hand out candy on Halloween this year—my friends in recovery are the greatest treat I’ve ever received. All I had to do was quit trying to trick them.


Stan graduated from Vanderbilt Divinity School in 2006 and worked for the Tennessee Association of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services teaching ministers across the state. This led him to become an alcohol and drug counselor, a position he currently holds as primary counselor for the Cumberland Heights Extended Care program for men. Stan is a regular speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Clarksville, the father of thirteen-year-old twins and active in his own 12-Step recovery.

5th step 2 sm

The 5th Step – “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

By Brandie R.

Completing the 4th Step was an arduous task. The process revealed feelings of anger, hurt and betrayal in the list of wrongs I felt others had committed against me. However, working through this step made me feel prepared for my upcoming 5th Step.

The 5th Step in Alcoholics Anonymous requires you to reveal to another human being the complete list of wrongs prepared in the 4th Step.

The day I sat with my sponsor to begin this process I arrived early at her home and apprehensively placed my list in front of her. To my horror, she promptly picked up a pen and added a column to my list. Why would she do this? Was my list too short? Was I not searching or fearless enough? This column haunted me. Then it began.

The column represented the resentments I felt toward myself. My sponsor knew before I could manage healing and forgiveness for others I needed to begin the healing process with myself.

The resentments in this column were my real secrets. These wrongs didn’t involve others. I was the aggressor and the victim. The guilt, shame and pain resulting from them were kept inside me at all times. I was trapped by them.

It took several days to examine the resentments I held against myself. I would say out loud to my sponsor:

“I feel less than.” “I am not worthy of love.” “I judge myself against others on a daily, hourly and minute by minute basis.”

I could not forgive myself. After our frustrations became palpable, my sponsor asked me to take a walk. As we walked she began to illustrate negative patterns in my behavior. I thought to myself, “What is the point? This is stupid! I am wasting my time here.”

Finally, after a long, pregnant pause, my sponsor turned to me and said, “Do you know you are perfect? Do you know that God made you perfectly just the way you are right here in this moment? Perfect no matter what? No matter what!”

This was my breaking point. The arguments in my head were quieted and the only thing I could feel was love. A love for myself I hadn’t felt before. It was forgiveness of self.

This moment defied reason. God had just revealed himself to me in my step work. I had no plan to let go of the resentments I held against myself. The moment I heard the words from my sponsor I simultaneously FELT the words from my sponsor and it was amazing.

The remainder of my 5th step was built on that moment. I acknowledged my resentments and identified the consequences. More importantly, I found my part in it and I found forgiveness. I acknowledged that God had forgiven me a million times over, but I forgave myself and I could forgive others too.

This years picnic weekend is full of new things to do! You can participate in some of the unique experiential treatment sessions that we offer. Have you ever wanted to try out the ropes course, rock wall or walk the Labyrinth? We will also have sessions in the art and music rooms as well as lectures and other treatment highlights that you can be a part of.

We hope you and your families are able to come out and enjoy the weekend with us!


Women’s Day
Friday, Sept. 19 1-4 PM

Ladies Day will be held in the gymnasium 1:00 – 4:00 with interesting and fun exhibits for women. From jewelry, homemade soaps by Neon Soap, Essential Oils by Vitality, Chocolatier Laura Miller, Mini chair massages by Chiropractor Dr. Kyle Webb, Initials, Inc by Lori Gunn Quinn, It Works! Wraps and Supplements, Noels Hair Salon, Exercise by Design by Martha Lee and much more.

Fashion show by Flash and Trash and a little bit of Sass Clothing Store.

Alumni Weekend Cross Over
Friday, Sept. 19 at 7:45 – 9 PM
Frist Family Life Center Chapeltorium

Youth Speaker Meeting 7:45 PM

Traditions Play presented by the Friday Night Cross Over Steering Committee (they can’t act, so it’s a good thing this is a comedy!)

Picnic Lunch Registration Now Open

Have you ever tried to plan a party and didn’t know how many people were attending? Let alone FEED them? Here’s how you can help us out. Pre-register and save some cash on lunch.

$12 Adults ($15 at the door)
$7 Children 6-12 ($10 at the door)

NEW! Breakout Sessions
Experential Therapy

Session I: 10:30 to 12 Noon
Session II: 12:45 to 1:45
Fellowship Meetings: 11:15 to 1:00

Ropes Course, Equine, Music & Art Therapy, Medical Education and more..

Silent Auction

A Silent Auction will be taking place throughout the day.

If you would like to donate a good or service, please contact Jay Rowe atjayrowe@outlook.com

FREE Child Care

Free child care and children’s activities will be provided all day during the Alumni Picnic courtesy of the Alumni Association of Cumberland Heights.

Guest Speaker: Travis Meadows
Chapeltorium 2 PM

Singer songwriter Travis Meadows is an artist to the core, but his is not a story about music. It is a story about life; a story about religion and family; a story about addiction; a story about survival, sobriety and freedom, with music as the narrator.
Here’s what he says about himself:

An orphan who turned into a preacher

A preacher who turned into a songwriter

A songwriter who turned into a drunk

A drunk who is learning how to be a human being

Recovery is Possible

Recover Life.

Secure Contact: Confidential Email Form

Call Today: 800-646-9998

Stay in the Know

Signup for Emails

Get Confidential Help from Cumberland Heights Treatment Center


If you or a loved one would like to speak directly with one of our licensed admissions staff, please call us now at (800) 646-9998 or submit the following information. If outside business hours, we will get back to you the following day.

* Required Field


Why is it so meaningful to give to Cumberland Heights?

Your gift to Cumberland Heights through our annual and capital initiates gives immediate support to patients and their families. To make a longer term impact a gift to the endowment fund will provide patient assistance funding for years to come.