Loved ones are often at a loss about what they should be buying addicts come holiday time, particularly when those addicts are new to sobriety. In recovery, we've entered this whole new world -- often a world they don't completely understand -- and those outside the circle can feel daunted by the task of trying to get how we now tick. Case in point: When I was in early sobriety, my mom had no idea how to shop for the "new" me, so that first Christmas, she went onto my Amazon wish list and purchased every book I'd selected. The only problem? She'd actually accessed the wish list for another Anna David, and since the books were all used (she'd gone for quantity over quality), we were stuck with the oddest assortment of tomes you can possibly imagine. Luckily, we could laugh about it -- and marvel over just how eclectic my namesake's book taste was.
I'd like to point those seeking recovery-related presents toward a pair of gift bags specifically tailored toward someone in recovery.
The Top of the World Bag contains a one-year subscription to the Grapevine (the AA "meeting in a magazine," which has been published since 1944) and a few AA and 12-step books as well as Audiology earphones, a Moleskine Wellness Journal, two meditation/relaxation CDs and other odds and ends.
A Serenity Bag, meanwhile, is more geared toward women so it contains a yoga bag, a yoga mat, a candle, the meditation/relaxation CDs, the headphones, the notebook, the Grapevine subscription and the AA and 12-step books.
Both packages (which each cost $265) manage to encompass the most positive elements of recovery while subtly urging the addict to grow further. Need to write out step work? Here's a journal. Speaking of steps, how about a nudge to start getting into the 11th step with a meditation CD? Intimidated by the thought of jumping into meditation? Why not start with yoga? How about a candle and some AA reading to get you in the mood? These bags basically provide an entire holiday's worth of gifts while promoting the sort of peaceful serenity an addict wanting to avoid temptation could surely use.
If an entire package is out of the budget, consider any one of the following gifts:
A T-shirt from the Sober is Sexy Line:
Now there are all sorts of ways for a person to proclaim devotion to abstaining from chemicals -- from this Sober Mom tee to a shirt filled with a bunch of 12-step slogans. But just because someone's sober doesn't mean they need to become overly earnest or lose their edge. The edgiest shirts we know about are from Sober is Sexy -- and they include tees and tanks that declare "The Only Coke I Do is Diet," "Heroin Killed the Radio Star" and simply "Sober Is Sexy" in the shape of a pair of lips. The shirts have been seen decorating the chests of Demi Lovato and Russell Brand, among many others, and prices are between $26 and $40.
A Jerry Stahl book:
Pushcart prize-winning author Jerry Stahl shot to prominence with the 2005 release of his junkie memoir Permanent Midnight (later made into a not-as-good movie starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson). He's written a slew of hilarious, nihilistic novels since, including I, Fatty (written from the point of view of early Hollywood addict and scandal-plagued Fatty Arbuckle), Pain Killers (which features a prison inmate who claims to be Nazi war criminal Dr. Josef Mengele) and his latest, Happy Mutant Baby Pills (about a pregnant woman who tries to ingest every bad chemical and substance she can as a protest against capitalism). Though not necessarily recommended for newcomers who might be easily triggered by heroin use, the Jerry Stahl books are a bright, shiny example of an addict's sober mind -- and some serious talent -- at work.
A Meditation Course with Jeff Kober:
As we mentioned, most folks in recovery are intimidated by the idea of a meditation practice, whether they start with a CD or not. That's where sober addict Jeff Kober comes in. Kober's spent the past 30 years studying metaphysics and meditation and he now teaches Vedic meditation in Los Angeles, New York, Billings, Montana and Ojai, Calif. (He also writes a Daily Thought on his site, which we love so much that we occasionally re-publish them on AfterPartyChat.) While attendance at one of his one-hour Introduction to Meditation talks is absolutely free, those who are interested in learning Vedic Meditation and receiving a mantra from him are asked to donate a week's earnings. Locating an Introduction talk that works for your loved one and covering the cost might be the best gift you could give them (and possibly yourself, when meditation brings them newfound serenity).
A Tonx Coffee subscription:
With illegal stimulants off the table, many sober addicts become quite obsessive about -- and dedicated to -- their morning (and afternoon and evening) coffee. Out of all the coffee subscriptions out there, Tonx seems to have the best buzz, in every sense of the word. They deliver a Half Sack (six ounces), Standard (12 ounces) or Double (24 ounces) every two weeks, with subscriptions starting at $24. Though coffee fanatics say their roasting is a bit on the light side, everyone seems to agree that they're the best beans around. And Tonx's aim is to "follow the tilt of the Earth and the harvest cycles of all corners of the coffee growing world to hunt down the most transcendent and interesting green coffees from top roasters," which sounds like the kind of perfectionism any addict worth their obsessiveness would surely appreciate.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.