Episode 138: Courtney Friel, Substance Abuse Awareness
On this episode, Karen speaks with Courtney Friel, an anchor and reporter for KTLA in Los Angeles, California, and the author of a memoir, “Tonight At 10: Kicking Booze and Breaking News,” which details her ascent in the news business while dealing with alcohol and drug addiction. Courtney is here to share her story and her journey to recovery.
Courtney Friel is best known for her work as Courtney Friel is anchor and reporter at KTLA in Los Angeles. She previously worked as a national correspondent for Fox News Channel and hosted the “World Poker Tour." She is more than 13 years sober and speaks on the topic all around the country. Courtney grew up in Philadelphia PA, but now lives in LA with her husband, son and daughter. She is the author of the book: “Tonight at 10: Kicking Booze and Breaking News”
Intro Voices 00:04
Where do I go? It only happened once. I was singled out. The phone calls began about one month ago. What is hazing? Something happened to me when I was a girl. I'm worried about my safety. He said he was sorry, can someone help me? Where can I get help? Can someone help me?
Karen Ortman 00:30
This is you matter, a podcast for the NYU community developed by the Department of campus safety. Hi, everyone, and welcome back to you matter, a podcast created to teach, inspire and motivate members of the NYU community who have been victimized in some form or fashion and to identify resources both on and off campus that can help. I'm your host Karen Orman, Associate Vice President of campus safety operations at the Department of campus safety, and a retired law enforcement professional today I welcome Courtney Friel, an anchor and reporter for KTLA in Los Angeles, California, and the author of a memoir, tonight at 10, kicking booze and breaking news, which details her ascent in the news business while dealing with alcohol and drug addiction. Courtney is here to share her story and her journey to recovery. Courtney, welcome to you matter.
Courtney Friel 01:27
Karen, thank you so much for having me. And thank you for doing what you do.
Karen Ortman 01:32
Well, thank you very much. Let's start by talking about you and your childhood. Where did you grow up? Tell me,
Courtney Friel 01:41
I'm an east coaster. Originally, I'm from Philly. So I spent many trips in New York City. And then I eventually lived there for five years as well. And the honor that you asked me to be on this show, but you probably want to know a little bit about my story and my 15 year party career, which Yeah, kind of developed because I was really shy. And I was extremely bullied and I didn't know how to stick up for myself. And then when alcohol was introduced to me at 15. And I first tried it, I loved that it just numbed out that feeling of hurt from not being liked by anyone. And it also helped me come out of my shell and I became this fun and funny person who suddenly had all these party friends and I had a group of people who liked me. But at the same time, I was also since third grade really interested in getting into the news business. So I helped this work hard play hard mentality. And I would live in the TV studio at high school and college like till 10 at night and work on my career ambitions. And then I would just go out and party with alcohol and drugs. And I'm sure for your job. It must be so scary now with fentanyl and kids not worrying or worrying like what could possibly be and all this stuff. I always say I'm just so glad I'm sober now and I don't have to worry about that anymore. I've 13 years sober.
Karen Ortman 03:16
Congratulations. So let's go back to high school. So you said that you were bullied. And isn't it amazing that we're still talking about bullying even today? I mean, I know that years ago glad
Courtney Friel 03:29
that there wasn't social media because when I was coming up honestly there would have been like I hate Courtney Friel websites. I mean, it's so violating how people can just DM you their hate or public put it out there so yeah, and and also I'm glad that a lot of my partying antics were not
Karen Ortman 03:48
captured on capture Sophos. Yeah. Which is a whole new form of of bullying today. It's really awful how it has not only that as continuing, but that it's evolved.
Courtney Friel 03:59
But there are benefits to the fact that we can reach people in this podcast or Yeah, I'm sure we'll discuss that further down on, you know how there's online AAA meetings and how people can get help. Exactly, exactly. Sigma.
Karen Ortman 04:14
You started drinking alcohol when you were 15. And when did you start using drugs?
Courtney Friel 04:21
Well, I think my senior year of high school, we were all doing ecstasy, which is now I guess what the kids do, it's called Molly. I loved that drug, that's for sure. And then when I went to my freshman year of college in North Carolina, that's when I first dabbled with cocaine. Mm hmm. And I moved out to Los Angeles and 99 for my sophomore year of college and I worked at this tanning salon and my boss just gave my roommate and I copious amounts of free cocaine on on a CD and so we were just like every day that year, I did cocaine every single day to wake up. I did it in the school bathroom. room's during class and studying and the sad thing is is that that's the one year of school I actually got straight A's Wow. But at the end of that year I thought I was having a heart attack and went to the hospital and mean that just started my love for cocaine in addition to not being able to drink alcoholic a regular person and then towards the end it was all pills in the mix Adderall and Xanax and Ambien things that were priests were prescribed to me it wasn't like I was buying them off the streets or anything, but I was just abusing it. And I had so many chemicals in me all the time. I just, it's so much better being off of all those things. Oh, yeah. It might take a minute to like, find out who you are off that stuff. But I love that I don't need that. I love that. I don't have all that anxiety and the things that I needed the pills for. I don't need those things now. And your body just works wonders off of chemical.
Karen Ortman 06:01
Yeah, yeah. Did anybody know that you were using these substances every day?
Courtney Friel 06:06
Well, it was very obvious that I was like class drunk. And I took pride in that I was always super sloppy, like I'd be crying or throwing up or disappearing or arguing, losing, you know, my my keys because I hid them drunk somewhere. And just lots of drama and gossip and hooking up with people and feeling, you know, regretting things in the morning. And then the cocaine thing. I did have some friends trying to intervene when it was bad that year. And then further down the line. I got in trouble at work for it and tried to do a nine month stint of just cutting cold turkey for that which didn't work. But my parents you know, to this day, they never knew about the cocaine at all, or any I think they might have been in denial. And they honestly were not even that into talking about my sobriety until I had like many years down the road. And then they became proud of it. Yeah. Because it's like my my family, the way we grew up, we just swept feelings under the rug. Like nobody talked about that my grandma died at 96 last year. And she still like never knew the story about me having over a decade sober. My parents wouldn't tell her we didn't talk about this a different era. And that's why like now I feel so great fit. So many people are coming forward to talk about Bernie's and mental illness, all of that.
Karen Ortman 07:29
But I don't know that it's always necessarily related to the era in which you were born or when you grew up, because I think that this is very common in families, regardless of time, you know,
Courtney Friel 07:42
and different cultures.
Karen Ortman 07:44
Sure that too, was a big element. Show you you were under the influence. It sounds like every day when you were in college,
Courtney Friel 07:51
okay. Oh, yes. Okay. Yes. There was always a reason to drink every single night.
Karen Ortman 07:55
Yeah, yeah. And then you graduate college? And did you get a job right after graduating college?
Courtney Friel 08:02
I did. I went to Jackson, Tennessee, which I didn't even know was a city. In the country there. I didn't do too much cocaine, but like, I definitely would do my job. And then I would drink to excess and be hungover. I never drank before going to work. But I was there were times like when I worked at Fox News Channel where I'd still be drunk from the night before, because I just didn't sleep it off. And yeah, that would affect my performance. And I'd be like slurring and just promising myself over and over again that I wasn't going to do that again.
Karen Ortman 08:33
Were you ever concerned that your work would find out and you'd lose your job?
Courtney Friel 08:38
Well, I actually had several bosses tell me that I had a reputation for being a party girl. But the other thing is, is that so many people in my industry do drink a lot and hard a lot. I did cocaine with so many people that worked at Fox? Really? I think it was it's part of the culture. Yeah, it is part of the culture. Every industry, I'm sure has that as part of their culture. But when you're dealing with such negative content all the time, it's challenging. I mean, this past decade, I've been out on the streets in LA covering horrible mass shootings and dead kids and hit and runs and fires and it's like death all the time. It's honestly taken a toll on my health mentally like I just have to obviously find other ways to cope with it, but sounds like law enforcement. Yeah. Oh, yeah. And paramedics. I mean, gosh, like people who have to like clean up crime scenes and everything and hospital workers, everyone dealing with COVID It's tough. There's so much stress, just gosh, like going to the grocery store stresses me out seeing how expensive everything is so stressful. So I get like I get why people want to numb out I just have to meditate in journal and do mantras and listen to you know, positive encouraged. Yeah, love and I just have to disk one step at a time. Sometimes it's Like I just gotta get through today yeah, get sharper and go to bed and start fresh the next day, after
Karen Ortman 10:05
you graduate college, you get your first job in Tennessee, for how long? During your professional career did the alcohol and drug use continue,
Courtney Friel 10:15
I started working in Tennessee in 2003. And then towards the end of 2009, is when I got sober. So about six years professionally. And like, I mean, when I was working in Palm Springs, I vividly remember taking beer into a McDonald's cup and like editing my story and drinking and spilling it on the equipment. That's just so messed up. I actually was drinking at work, I was doing cocaine in my office, I was, you know, taking Ambien like, the second I would leave the building, because I knew that it would, you know, start working right when I got home. I mean, honestly, Ambiens kind of what took me down in the end, because I would just take it and then decided want to go out to a club and I was living in like this constant state of a blackout. I was buying coke from shady people in New York, and I just thought, oh my gosh, I'm gonna get caught and then I'm gonna lose my job. Because at the time, my job is most important thing in my life. Thankfully, now I have a 10 and 11 year old and I have a lot of balance between my work life and home life. But back then it was all work hard and party. And so when I got sober, I kind of both of those things were ripped away from me. And I had to like figure out who I was without those things. My identity was just shaken.
Karen Ortman 11:35
Yeah, what was your rock bottom in 2009?
Courtney Friel 11:38
It ended with seven people surrounding my bed and impromptu intervention. And my husband at the time had said, you need to kick this Ambien thing. You know, if you don't go to rehab, we're getting a divorce. We were in Florida, and I had taken a bunch of pills. And my friends at that weekend in Florida, like couldn't wake me up. And so they surrounded the bed and just gave me all the reasons why they thought I should go. And it was it was couples from like, high school, college and work and what they said was all very, you know, it all made sense. And in that moment of my horrendous hangover, I knew like, Okay, I was like, it's time. If I do this, I know, it'll be the best thing that I could do for myself. And I know that I have more to offer this world. And I know I deserve more for my life. So thankfully, I knew those three thoughts in that moment, and ready to go.
Karen Ortman 12:35
Yeah. And had you ever had a intervention prior to this point?
Courtney Friel 12:41
No, I had had some friends email me their concerns, which I kind of blew off. Obviously, the work thing I was working for World Poker Tour and I the crew caught me like, passed out in my pasta 4am falling off and told on me. So there were other little interventions, like I gone to therapists, and she was like, the only you know, the road is jails, institutions and death if you don't cut this out. I think so much of it is a rite of passage when you're younger, so you maybe don't think it's a problem, then it but I knew okay, I'm on air nationally. I can't be it's I'm going to be 30 it's not cool to be dancing on bars anymore. Yeah. I mean, I have friends that that are still my friends that didn't stop. And now they're like, almost 45 They're still doing that. And they look, they look horrible firsthand, because alcohol and drugs are not great or tremble, skin. It's sad. Almost. Yeah. They didn't get married or have kids and that's their life. And you see that their circle of friends that ages just keep getting younger, younger because young young people parties, right, right. But look, I don't judge I don't reach I don't try to convert anyone. I don't really care what anyone else does. I just know that they worked for me. And And now everyone thinks I'm like 10 years younger.
Karen Ortman 14:10
That's wonderful. It's good for you. In previous interviews, you reference something called a pink cloud.
Courtney Friel 14:17
Oh, yeah. Well, that's a lot of times something that happens to people when they newly get sober because it is like, wow, you're coming into this new state of consciousness and you're suddenly aware and your body feels so much better because the chemicals are out of your system.
Karen Ortman 14:34
And it's like a high right, like a high on life.
Courtney Friel 14:37
Yeah, yeah. Although, for me, I actually feel like the pink cloud happened a little later on. I think I was on a pink cloud when I started meditating. That kind of really amped things up for me even to this day, like you go through periods of pink clouds and then you go through periods of where it sucks like, frankly, I'm kind of in like, a depressing bubble right? now and I just I just have to keep working on my sobriety because that's the most important thing to me. And it's not like you just cut off the alcohol. And I don't think people stay sober, or people that just go cold turkey, and then they never drink again. And yeah, good for them. But there are other ways to evolve your life for the better. And that's in the 12 step program, or, you know, seeking other spiritual journeys. I think there's different ways to get sober. But it'd be very easy to just pick up a drink again, but I know like, I have other tools and people who just quit cold turkey, they're not going to find any other tools that help them. That and probably, it's easier to just pick up again.
Karen Ortman 15:43
Yeah, I assume in 2009, following the intervention, you did go to a rehab.
Courtney Friel 15:49
Yes, I went to silver Hill, in New Canaan, Connecticut, I did 28 days. And then I did I did three months of outpatient after, though I would go like after work, I feel like it started out three nights a week for three hours a night for the first month, and then two nights a week for three hours for the second month. And then one night a week for three hours for the third month. It was a lot and I think I I feel like I'm also like a frugal person. So I knew that like so much money had been invested into it to that I was like, Okay, I'm gonna get my money's worth out of this. And I'm gonna do this. And I think too, I was just surrendered. I was like, Fine, like, I'm doing this, I might as well like, sit at the front of the class and take notes and absorb it and just keep doing it. And I think as people get more time sober, then that's when it's like, oh, okay, well, I'm actually kind of proud of myself that I am badass and can live life on life's terms. And I didn't relapse over that. And then you're like, I'm not going to relapse, like, my, my time over this stupid, like, argument was so and so. And I like and that's why I want to share the message too, because it's something that very proud of and I hold very sacred, and I'm very open in my life anyways. So I don't understand why would I keep the best thing that's ever happened to me? Like, it's the best decision I ever made? Like, why would I not help people in the process or share that? Sure. rehab
Karen Ortman 17:15
does not work for many people. Sometimes people go into rehab several times, and still struggle.
Courtney Friel 17:23
But why seeds are planted, the seeds get planted. And the same for people going to a meetings and stuff to like, a lot of people their journeys include even going to AAA meetings drunk or you know, going every few days and drinking and I think that you just have to get to that place where you're done, or want more or one more for your life, but be like, okay, you know, I deserve this for myself.
Karen Ortman 17:47
So why did it work for you? Well, I
Courtney Friel 17:49
definitely think rehab and I always suggest rehab people because the consequences are so much greater. Like I don't know if I would have gotten sober if I was doing outpatient To be honest, I really I really don't I there's ways that you can suggest people that are like, Oh, I don't have money. First of all, there are free rehabs, but Okay, so if you can't do rehab, then go to three a meetings a day. And now really, there's no excuse, because there are meetings online every single hour, and you can go on and you can be anonymous, and you can leave your screen black and you can just listen. And there's like a 24 hours Women's International Meeting, where women all around the world are just talking about sobriety and there's a speaker every single hour, and you can just listen and and that's what they say like keep coming back. Like you're just going to hear things and and take what you take what you like, leave the rest. It works if you work it as we say, I mean, look, a lot of times I don't want to do the work, but I know that it's important for me like I know meditation, that's my number one tool that helps me stay sober. And I know when I have an anger issue with something, someone or something like I know that I set my phone timer for 20 minutes and I just journal it out. And then guess what, I feel better about it. Those are just tools that that work for you. Nothing gets better by drinking, like if I was to drink like the problem would still be there and then I would just feel worse. So that's another thing I always say like look nothing, you know, of course we see it on TV on TV, everything everyone deals with everything by drinking alcohol.
Karen Ortman 19:19
So why how did you come to that realization now that nothing would improve based upon taking a drink which I'm sure intellectually you knew back when you were drinking? But what what was the switch that turned on for you to realize that that's your truth. Now, you know, taking a drink or consuming drugs are not going to change my current situation or what's causing me anxiety or
Courtney Friel 19:45
well that's that's the number one thing that they drilled into our head of rehab. They just kept saying that over and over and over again. So I feel like that's the number one thing that I take away so I just I just remember that okay, and obviously like just working through okay, in The situation I'm in right now, there would be first of all, if I was to drink, I'd give up 13 years of sobriety, and then I lose my power to some jerk contractor that I'm dealing with right now. Like, what? I'm gonna I'm not giving him my 13 years of sobriety. And then like, if I drink, okay, so what? Like, I'm gonna wake up and the problem is still gonna be there tomorrow. And then I'm gonna be hungover and I'm going to feel awful. So it's just kind of like common sense. I don't want to say like, Oh, am I strong? Yeah, I'm strong. But I also like, have a zillion tools that I use, and I really work it like, you know, I go to meetings, I speak at meetings. I meditate. I pray. I do like all the steps. You know, I'm constantly like, the journaling is like, looking. It's not just writing about my resentments on people. It's like, okay, what is my part in this? What am I learning from this? What's the best and worst case scenario? Like, what do I want to see happen? And then I turn it to gratitude constantly. Like, I'm grateful. I'm grateful. I'm grateful. Like, even when I'm not I do that job. Yeah, like, I think with news, working in the news business, you see so much horrible stuff that I'm just grateful that I get from point A to point B in my car, honestly, because there's so many accidents and freak things that happen just on the road. And like, every time I fly, or that I walk home in a shady, dark area, like I didn't get stabbed, or I've Yeah, LA, you would think we live with the most horrendous. I'm always like, people in the city are so awful. And you know, it's like that in New York to like stuff we cover. It's just like, What the heck is wrong with this world? You got to try to find light where you can and just be grateful. I'm just grateful I wake up every day.
Karen Ortman 21:31
Yeah, let me ask you, how did you learn to meditate?
Courtney Friel 21:35
I started by going to meditation center where we would literally be in the class for 30 minutes to 40 minutes, and the teacher would give us spiritual real talk. And she would just make all these points for how your mind works. And then she would lead us into meditation. And she would tell us what to do, like, are we doing a body scan? Are we doing mantras? Are we focusing on our breath, and every single time I just felt so relaxed, and I started to notice how all these things were changing in my life. And over the years, so I've been meditating since 2015. And I do 20 minutes every single day. I mean, I may miss one or two days a month, Max. That's it. Wow. And for me, like it's more important to do a mental workout than even a physical one, if I only have time for two and, and I've, the way I do it is I just I set my timer for 20 minutes, and I just do a body scan, I listen to my music and I just breathe through like every single body part. And I think it for working and I think it for not having cancer and I think it for its function that it does and very, very specific. And then usually, now you're going to have a zillion thoughts that come and go especially when you're like agitated over a situation but you just I just am like, Okay, where was it? I was on my knee. Okay, now I go to my femur. Now I go to my thighs, like hey, my pancreas, thank you for not having pancreatic cancer, thank you for not having pancreatitis. You know, I think like my lungs for breathing, I think you know, thank you thank my heart for not having like a heart attack and for beating and pumping and loving, like, I just have a whole routine. And then usually a lot of times I fall asleep and that's okay, and you just keep coming back. And then that's what I do in that meditation session. Obviously, it relaxes me, but it helps for all the other things in my life stops me from worrying. It gives me like reaction time it gives me patience gives you compassion. And I wrote a whole chapter you gotta read the book. And I have chapters on meditation one on one, because I was like, very anti. And I'm, like, I just I take notes all the time, in my phone, and I literally started taking notes on things that were how my life was changing. I'd be in line at the pharmacy, and it wouldn't be a long line and I I'd be like, Ah, they're taking too long. And then I'd be like, Oh, whatever. What's the rash? In addition to meditation, I'm constantly listening to like self help books. It's always about improving because life's really hard. I feel like with COVID It's gotten just way more difficult. And yeah, like, I'm really stressed about how expensive everything is. Everywhere I go, I went to like the mountains in Pennsylvania, in Pennsylvania and the mountains of California. Like, I don't understand how people afford things. And it really, it really makes me mad. And yeah, I gotta get over this, what's behind this and how are people living?
Karen Ortman 24:21
That's stressf ul. I hear you. So I'm gonna work on that. The meditation part the,
Courtney Friel 24:27
the there's a zillion there's a zillion YouTube apps, you can just be like, put a meditation and whatever an emotion x, y or z or meditation and problem this y and z. And just listen to it. The fact that you're sitting still, with your eyes closed and you're listening to it, and focusing on that you're meditating and yeah, there's gonna be like, you have 60 to 80,000 thoughts a day that are just going in your head but like, you just let them pass and you just come back to listening to what you're listening to or focusing on. You know, your mantra like in rehab, that's where I first learned about it. I created my own mantra like breathing, loving kindness, exhale, anger and resentment. And my kids know that one like I meditate with them.
Karen Ortman 25:10
That's cool. Speaking of your kids, do they know your story? And
Courtney Friel 25:15
they have not read my book? Well, they don't like to read anyways. Yes. They know mommy like celebrates her birthday every year not drinking. And they know my now my now has been he has 21 years sober. So they celebrate his birthday for not drinking. And I was during the pandemic, I was actually having a meetings like at my house, because there was nothing was open. And so people were coming. So they were like, super familiar with all of our sober friends. And I mean, not all of my friends are sober, tons of non sober friends. But yeah, they they know all about it. And the only thing that gives me faith is that, from what I've heard children of parents who are in like a program, then find it quicker than if not so like, I'm not going to spend time worrying, oh, my God, what if my daughter and son like become drug addicts, worrying is praying for what you don't want? First of all, like, it's just I'll deal with it. If the time comes, like I pray for them, I put out good vibes, I do what I can, but ultimately, like, you can't make anyone stop doing anything, they have to decide for themselves. Yeah. And I think if anyone's listening to this for like, another person, like, Oh, my God, my daughter's alcoholic, and I don't know what to do. There's programs for those people. It's called Al Anon. Like, you have to learn that you're powerless over someone else's situation and kind of work on yourself, and the situation will change. And I've suggested that to a million people who ask what to do. And the thing is, people don't want to work on themselves. They want an easy solution, you can only really rely on yourself anyways. So why not just clean up your side of the street and work on your issues? And then you just have to understand that addiction is kind of with the person in their body. And if you're enabling the situation, that's not good, either.
Karen Ortman 27:15
Yeah. But I think people also, you know, the conversation is stigmatized, people who have a loved one that has an addiction think that the resources such as Al Anon apply to the addicted person only, which is not true. It does apply to family members. And then you have adult children of alcoholics for which there are resources. But a lot of adult children don't realize that there is trauma related to growing up with an alcoholic parent. So there is help for them as well, all of these topics I love to cover in my podcast. And I have, and I continue to share even through our conversation, I'm glad you brought allanon up because people need to know that they do not have to be the person who is the addicted person to you know, find benefits in that resource.
Courtney Friel 28:10
Again, now that everything is on Zoom. Like it's awesome. So I had I was helping out a friend with her boyfriend who is addicted and we were on a trip when it happened. And I listened in on like three Al Anon meetings. And it's like talk therapy, or it's so good to have like a support system or some other thing to focus on besides that problem. I mean, if you're willing to do the work and make yourself feel better, I know, I'm the type of person that like, I don't want to feel bad. Like, I don't like to sit around, I'll definitely allow myself to like have a depressed day. Or allow myself to grieve a situation or be mad about a situation or sad about a situation, but it's just in my nature. I'm like, let's fix this. What's the problem? Let's fix it. Like I want to feel good. So if someone out there also wants to feel feel good, but they can't control the addict behavior, then try it out. I mean, what's if it's not, it's always like, if it's something's not working for you, if you have a problem, and your life sucks, and the way the way you're doing things isn't working, so why not? Try it out? Try dry January, see if you like how you feel by stopping doing it. And if and guess what? If you can't, then you probably have a problem. Yeah, it's gonna come down to what that person wants for their life. Right? And you can't control someone else. I mean, if someone they always said in rehab, I remember they'd be like, Okay, if you're here for someone else, it probably won't work. Like you need to be here for yourself, right? No, I think that's very helpful. And I even when I went to rehab, I was like, oh, I'll just do this for a year. And then I just was like, Oh, well, like, Okay, I feel so much better. And thankfully, eight months sober. I got pregnant with my son and then shortly after I had my son, I was pregnant with my daughter. So look, I always I don't know like, what I've stayed sober. If I didn't get pregnant with them right away. I don't know. Maybe I wouldn't have I feel like I got 18 months of like a fruit past of sobriety early on, because I knew like, well, I'm pregnant, I'm not going to do that anyways. And I had an excuse not to drink because I really felt like so many people cared about what I was drinking, when in fact, the only people who care about what you're putting in your body is someone with the problem themselves. Like, it was so much like, oh, I have to make it look like I'm drinking a drink. And it's just a matter. Like, who cares? But I used to pester everyone who wasn't drinking, I'd be like, are you pregnant? Are you going to work? Are you on antibiotics? Why aren't you drinking? Like, because I did. I did everything drunk. You know, I think so many people just aren't familiar. Obviously, with 12 Step programs, they're not familiar with what it's going to feel like off chemicals. And then when you realize like, wow, this is actually amazing. Like, there's this my favorite. My favorite quote is, I wish I never got sober said nobody ever heal. When you hear like, people come back and saying, Oh, I relapsed. I relapsed, you know, they're never like, Oh, my God, I went out and I got a job. And I made a million dollars. And I bought a house and I, you know, went on these vacations. They're never they never come back and see that. It's always just like, Oh, my God, everything fell apart. And I need to do this, this sober thing again, because my life was so much better when I was sober. And it's just not when I'm out. I mean, sobriety is amazing, if you know, but it does. It's constant work before I got up this morning. Like I said, I'm dealing with this a couple of different situations and I just journaled in. Sometimes I have to journal more, and it's not like I have to keep it like you can. You can, like, write it and rip it up or write it and burn it, or whatever. Like, I never go back and read anything that I journal, I fill up a journal, and then when it's filled up, I throw it out. Because it's just kind of like I've put rage on the page. And that's, that's a help more helpful tool than having a drink. Yeah,
Karen Ortman 31:57
that's interesting that you throw it out. I know, people that shave like accumulate a lot of journals filled with
Courtney Friel 32:03
their I mean, I guess it's good if you're gonna write a book and you want to look back at it one day. Yeah, for most of the stuff I don't like Dear Diary, this is what I did today. Like I come to, I come to my journal when something is bothering me. If it's an amazing day, I'm not journaling. Yeah, it's like, okay, I'm having this work problem at work, okay, like I'm having this issue or, or like, I'm feeling anxious, or I'm feeling depressed, or, you know, I'm nervous about this or whatnot. Like, oh, I got scammed. And so the reason I came into journaling, I'll tell you about that, is that first of all, I've had I have chronic pain. So I've had a headache for every day, for five and a half years. And I had in my early 20s, I also had three years of headaches. And it's like constantly there and it's like been a it's a whole that's a whole chapter in the book as well dealing with chronic pain and being sober. And so I read this book about the mind body prescription and it's by this guy, Dr. John Sarno. He also wrote heal your back pain. And his whole, his whole thing was like your subconscious has problems with a lot of things that your conscious might not so like, going back through your life, like writing about things like, oh, you know, am I mad that my mom had a sister and she took a lot of attention? No, am I've gotten over that and my conscious, but my subconscious might be bad about that, or like, little things like traffic and things that maybe don't bother you in your conscious, but they bother you. It's in your subconscious, and then that all get turns into cancer. And it turns into, like health problems. So I started journaling, because I was like, Okay, I'm gonna, like get rid of my chronic pain. And then it didn't help with chronic pain, but it helps in other ways. Everything else. Yeah. So like, this is just a tool that I that I use, and really helpful, right?
Karen Ortman 33:52
I do that too. I
Courtney Friel 33:53
feel like for some reason, like, I feel like when I, when I'm like, Oh, I hate this person, like okay, but I know that I shouldn't have worked with that guy. And I should have, you know, made a contract and I shouldn't have done this. Okay, so what am I learning from this? Well, I'm not doing that going forward. And like, that's what life is we you know, and hard work is like, you know, I'll look back though, you know, this too shall pass, you know, what's the lesson? And then it's like, you know, the head pain, but it's like, okay, at least my arms and legs work. At least I can see at least I can hear at least I can do my Pilates and yoga and all that stuff. So the universe isn't going to give you anything more if you are not already appreciative for what you have, and you can't handle what you already have. That's kind of my motto.
Karen Ortman 34:35
Let me ask you when you were doing the news, and you were still using drugs and alcohol, did you ever have concerns for yourself after a celebrity would die of a drug overdose?
Courtney Friel 34:47
Yes, or Yes. I mean, and that's honestly why I kind of agreed to go to rehab because Heath Ledger and DJ M had just died and they were like on five different things and That was my I constantly had alcohol, cocaine, Adderall, Xanax and Ambien in my system like sometimes all at once. And I think I was just like, I don't care if I die in my sleep. And that's awful like to think that way like to not care and what I mean, it's not like I have kids to live for anything else besides my stupid job. What's your job gonna give you at the end of the day? Certainly in my new in my business. They're like, Okay, peace out. Thanks for your service. Yeah,
Karen Ortman 35:29
see? So you, we talked about you, you went into rehab, you got sober. You've been sober for 13 years now? Yes. What?
Courtney Friel 35:42
Oh, 90909, my sobriety date that I did not plan. I love it. Yeah, I don't want to mess it up.
Karen Ortman 35:48
So tell me about the decision to write your book.
Courtney Friel 35:53
Oh, so well. And we kind of talked about this before we went on the air with this podcast, how you get a lot of questions about things. So when I put it out there publicly on my page, I think I had six years sober. I was like, Hey, everybody, I'm celebrating six years of sobriety. And I started like, talking more about being sober. And I would get all these questions. And it was like, I can't respond to them in tweets or Instagram, like it was too much. So I was like, alright, well, there's a lot of interest about this. Like, I just want to have like, one place to send people. So that's kind of where it came about. And then I was like, All right, by the time I have a decade's sober, like, I want to have this book, and so that was the intention. And that's great. So it took a while. And I wanted to like just keep it really simple. And so it's, you know, most people who read it, honestly read it in one sitting, it's 10 chapters. It's not an I think it's like less than three hours on Audible. I thankfully did not write the book to make money or get fame. I wrote it to help people. And so when people say, hey, you know, your book really helped me or I have people tell me like, Oh, you were my Eskimo to like, get sober. And now I have three years like I love when people tell me like, you were the inspiration and now I have you know, X amount of time. Like it's, it's amazing. I mean, I'm very active and like, I think I in the next few weeks, I'm speaking like at four different meetings. So I'm constantly out there sharing my story and stuff like that's, that's my gift. Yeah, you're doing good work. I'm happy I love being sober doesn't mean that I still don't have problems. I mean, I've had I've had a headache for five and a half years. I really wish I didn't have that issue in my life. And I just keep saying, okay, like, I imagined myself headache free one day, like, I'm gonna be headache free. Like, that's my goal. I just tried it try to stay positive. And when I meditate on it, yeah, I just try to when I'm in a funk, I try to get out of it. So look, I mean, maybe maybe that I think every time I do a podcast or whatever, like I'm imprinting my message. So whoever you know your audience is different than audiences where I've done podcasts before whatever like yeah, I hope one person gets gets help from this be that's my goal. Okay, I just want one person every time I speak or share my story. I just I hope one person gets help out of it. Yes, I'm sure that message me at Courtney Friel. If you did listen to this and liked it.
Karen Ortman 38:18
There you go. What are you most proud of?
Courtney Friel 38:21
Well, my sobriety right now?
Karen Ortman 38:23
Is there anything that we have not talked about that you would like to share?
Courtney Friel 38:27
No, I feel like this has been a really great conversation and thank you for being willing to get deep I mean, I feel like most people are not evolved or interested in this and I bet anytime someone is struggling it ends up being a blessing if you work through it the two most difficult most difficult things in my entire life were getting sober and my divorce and then probably this headaches situation. And I'm really grateful for those times it really forced me to do a lot of work in my divorce I found meditation and now I have an amazing second husband and yeah, I just I'm kind of grateful that I'm in like a weird position right now because I'm like, I need to really I need to switch something up like I think I'm going to take a bit of quit social media in January like not quit but I'm going to do like a dry January I think with with social media. Social media January I don't know I feel like I've spent too much time on is negative like emotions, but then it's a catch 22 Because I kind of need to be on there for things to write. But I'm like something like I gotta change it up. Like you know, I think that's what is beautiful about life. You can constantly continue like that yourself and go deeper and learn new things. Yeah,
Karen Ortman 39:51
totally agree with you. Well, it was it was a pleasure. truly a pleasure to talk to you today. And I'm I'm so appreciative of the fact that you were He's willing to spend this time with me. So I thank you.
Courtney Friel 40:02
Well, maybe if I'm in New York because I come there once a year. That's where my husband's from I can we can meet and talk to your students in real life.
Karen Ortman 40:11
Yeah, absolutely. Let me know when you're in town.
Courtney Friel 40:13
Well, thank you for having me on your show. And thank you for doing what you're doing.
Karen Ortman 40:17
Well, thank you. My It's my pleasure. Thank you to my guest, Courtney, and to all of our listeners for joining us for today's episode. If any information presented was triggering or disturbing, please feel free to contact the wellness exchange at 212-443-9999 or NYU department of campus safety in their victim services unit at 212-998-2222. Please share, like and subscribe to you matter on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or tune in