Amber Tozer Gives Recovery an Illustrated Twist With ‘Sober Stick Figure’

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Amber Tozer’s memoir uses child-like drawings her journey into alcohol addiction and subsequent recovery. Although she had a decent amount distance from her addiction when writing the book since she was seven years sober, the refreshing honesty with which she portrays her lowest moments and hilarious candor with which she discusses navigating newfound sobriety is sure to resonate with readers.

In her exclusive interview with Recovery.org, Tozer talks about dishing on family secrets, the catalyst for her getting sober and performing stand-up comedy sober in alcohol-fueled environments.

One of the things that struck me about the book is that you go into very specific detail about addiction in your family. Were there any reservations about making that so public?

Amber:  That was one of my main concerns. I sent it to my mom and siblings way before it was going to come out and with enough time for them to edit it. I asked if it was okay if I talked about the tragic alcoholic side and they were very supportive and thought maybe other people could relate. They were very cool about it.

When did your own drug use first begin?

Amber: It began when I was a teenager, but kept it under control because I was an athlete in high school and college. But every time I drank, I drank like an alcoholic. It really sunk its teeth in when I turned 21 and started becoming a nightly thing the year after that. It turned a little dark in my mid-20s and I couldn’t stop, but I got sober when I was 30.

Was there a specific moment when you knew something had to change?

Amber: I had a moment of clarity that I talk about the book., which was an out-of-body experience. I had known for years that I needed to get sober, but there was a specific night where I knew right then that I was done drinking. I knew that I had to be done, but also knew that I had to ask for help. I thought about my dad because he died from alcoholism, so I was inspired by his tragic life in a very sick way.

Now that you perform stand-up comedy, which is so often done in bars or venues where alcohol is very present, how do you manage that without it being a problem?

Amber: It was weird at first, almost like I was on another planet. But I told myself that if I have to drink to do stand-up comedy, then I’m going to quit comedy. It’s ridiculous if you have to be drunk to do a craft, even if it’s very socially acceptable. It was almost like I was experimenting with sobriety when I would go to bars and do comedy. [Laughs]. I had to grow into it, but eventually I just stopped thinking about it. I also reached out to other sober comics and found that to be helpful.

I don’t do stand-up as much now, but it has nothing to do with alcohol, just more with getting older and knowing what you want.

One of the things you’ve said helped you is reading the stories of other people who are also in recovery. Are there any other books you would recommend?

Amber: My agent says not to recommend any other books because people will go buy those and not mine. [Laughs]. But I love hearing and reading about other alcoholics talking about their lives. I really enjoyed Dry by Augusten Burroughs and also loved Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp. She’s a beautiful writer.

Image Courtesy of Amber Tozer

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