Ten Years of Sobriety

Sir John Hargrave
4 min readSep 12, 2017


If you’ve read my book Mind Hacking, which comes out today in paperback, you know the crazy story of the last time I had a drink. (It involves Barack Obama and the Secret Service.) That was ten years ago.

I’ve learned a thing or two about alcoholism and addiction over the last decade, and since every time I read the news I see something about our “opioid epidemic,” here are a few things I’ve picked up since I put down.

Alcoholism and addiction are not moral failings. Perhaps because users are often found in seedy places like bars and Dunkin’ Donuts, we associate them with “poor upbringing” or a “lack of willpower.” Of course, there are plenty of “functioning alcoholics” with high-paying jobs and high morals. (I was one of them.)

It’s better to see alcoholism and addiction as a kind of allergy: if you drink a little bit, your body is going to want to drink it all. Seeing addictions as allergies means we help people with treatment, not judgement. (We don’t pass judgement on someone who’s allergic to shellfish.)

Treatment involves the whole person. Part of the reason for the “opioid epidemic” is that we want a pill for every problem. But sobriety cannot be achieved by a pill.

True sobriety is a holistic solution, which means it involves the physical, mental, and spiritual. Physical because you have to stop drinking (not just cut back). Mental because you have to “hack your mind” to learn new habits of thought. Spiritual because you need to believe in something larger than yourself.

We want modern medicine to solve our drug problems, but I’m not holding my breath, since modern medicine gave us our drug problems. We have the program to overcome alcoholism, and it’s drug-free. (You’ll find it in the phone directory under “A.”)

We are powerless over addiction (and that goes for America). The first thing you learn — if you’re lucky — is that you’re powerless over alcohol and drugs. You’ve got to believe it, then keep believing it.

This is tricky, because the mind has a tendency to rewrite history. If you were in an abusive relationship, you might think, “He wasn’t that bad. Maybe I’ll give him one more chance.” One of the helpful things about the Secret Service showing up on my front steps is that it helps me remember, Yes, it was that bad.

It would help us, as a society and a nation, to realize that we are powerless over the “opioid crisis.” There is no policy or law that will save us, just as there is no rule we can lay down for Aunt Betty to get her to stop drinking. The whole treatment is the whole solution.

Sobriety is tremendously rewarding. When I first stopped drinking, my only thought was, I will never have fun again. That could not be further from the truth. I still lead a ridiculously adventurous life, but I actually remember the adventures now.

One of my hobbies is seeking out the world’s most terrifying thrill rides. If it takes courage to get on these things, try doing it sober. Here I am flying down a mountain coaster in Switzerland this summer, which I vowed to do without using the hand brake:

It is rewarding to deal with life head-on. It is rewarding to be in good health. Most of all, it is rewarding to grow as a human being.

“Mind Hacking” made it possible. In a nutshell, mind hacking is about reprogramming your brain, and anyone can do it. You can create write new software for your mind, and since your mind creates your reality, you can rewrite your life.

For example, one of my mind hacks is being thankful about sobriety instead of being depressed by sobriety. In the beginning, I really felt my life was over. Eventually I began to reshuffle my mental playlist from, “I wish I could drink” to “I’m grateful for my sobriety.”

Slowly, gradually, by repeating that idea to myself a thousand times, I began to see the truth of it. As good things began to happen, I was able to be grateful for them. Today, I am convinced that my sobriety is the foundation of every good thing that has happened to me in the past ten years. My mind created my reality.

The urge to drink does go away. When I go to a party or a concert, I don’t really give it a second thought. But when my mind throws me the occasional temptation (“Hey, weed is legal in Massachusetts now”), I just repeat my mental loop: I am grateful for my sobriety. And it turns out, I am. That’s mind hacking.

It feels somehow fitting that on my ten-year anniversary, the paperback edition of Mind Hacking is being released in bookstores across the country. I’ve heard from so many people how the book has helped them hack their own mental struggles. I hope it hacks you, too.



Sir John Hargrave

CEO of Media Shower. Publisher of Bitcoin Market Journal. Author of Mind Hacking. Making things better.