Profiles in Recovery

Tiffany Hall

When she first got sober, Hall was afraid of losing her identity. “I thought that I was this person who was a drinker,” she says in a video for the non-profit Recover Alaska. “But in fact, getting sober and being in recovery has really helped me figure out who I really am.”

Today, Hall sees herself as an optimist who loves to help others and is grateful for her own second chance. “My relationships have developed much more since I’ve been in recovery,” she says. “I have much closer bonds with my friends and my family than I used to and I hope that I can stay clean and sober for the rest of my life.”

A native of Anchorage, Hall was recently appointed Executive Director of Recover Alaska, which works to reduce excessive drinking and its harms around the state.

Day Jobs:
Executive Director of Recover Alaska; Chair, Anchorage Women’s Commission; board member, YWCA Alaska.  Mountain runner, dancer, social justice activist.

What I lost to addiction:
I lost my self-worth and ability to remember that who I am and what I want matters. I lost time. I lost self-respect.

What worked for me:
I could always get sober on my own and would often give up drinking for periods of time to prove to myself and everyone else that I didn’t have a problem. But I didn’t stay sober until I started seeing a mental health counselor and attending a 12-step program. That first year I did some group therapy, which was also really helpful.

Advice to my younger self:
Believe the online screening tools that tell you that you have a problem! Don’t be so ashamed to ask if blackouts are normal, or to confide to someone about the things that happened during those blackouts (or the fear of not knowing). Life without drinking isn’t boring! It’s even more fun and with far fewer regrets.

Rules I live by:
Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?

I don’t know anything; God’s will be done.

Hurt people hurt people. Sick people do sick things.

Acceptance does not equal approval; I don’t have to agree with everything in life.

Favorite inspirational quote:
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” ~ C.S. Lewis

When cravings come:
Thankfully I no longer get cravings specific to booze, but I do get times when I’m antsy, uncomfortable, irritated, or just want some kind of release after a hard day. I go running or turn on a dance mix. I force myself to do some kind of art/creative project. I listen to a 10-minute meditation on my phone (or an SOS 2 minute one if I’m really about to lose it!). Once I start these things they might be annoying at first, but I quickly get out of my head and into my body, which is always better.

What I value most in recovery:
Being able to remember every minute of life! I’m grateful for how I get through difficulties. Now if I’m hurting and sobbing on the bathroom floor, instead of looking for a substance to take the pain away I thank God for my ability to feel feelings at all. I’m also grateful for my relationships, and being able to really show up for other people. And I value being able to laugh at myself!

What saves me from myself:
Remembering that not only do I not have to be everything to everyone, but that I simply cannot. Remembering to put my own oxygen mask on before trying to help anyone else. Sometimes it feels like a fine line between self-care and self-centered, but I really cannot support anyone else if I don’t have my own feet on the ground.

On finding purpose:
My whole life I’d heard others talk about finding their passion and being excited to go to work every day. I thought those people were faking it. Then I got my current job, where I get to work in recovery – in prevention and education for youth, increasing access to information about treatment, advocating for better statewide policies around alcohol, decreasing stigma and starting conversations at the community level – and I realize I have arrived. This is what I am meant to do. I am grateful every day.

If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your

insights, please contact us at [email protected].