From Blackouts to Breakthroughs

June 12, 20244 min read

Discover how Jonathan Hunt-Glassman's personal narrative sheds light on the broad topic of alcohol use disorder and the practical steps toward a life in recovery.


Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a pervasive problem that affects millions globally. However, pathways to recovery and stories of hope often ignite the possibility of change for many. In a recent episode of our podcast, Cracking Addiction, Dr. Ferghal Armstrong interviewed Jonathan Hunt-Glassman, the CEO of Oar Health, who shared his personal journey and path to overcoming alcohol addiction. Their conversation offered instrumental insights into dealing with alcohol misuse, the importance of social connections, and strategies for sustained recovery.

I'm one example of that. But there are millions more.

Understanding the Pain Behind the Addiction

Jonathan Hunt-Glassman’s struggle with alcohol misuse began in his teenage years, extending well into his twenties. He detailed how his drinking evolved from binge drinking to multi-day blackouts, contributing to both physical and mental health issues. Tackling the "why" behind the addiction is crucial. Drawing inspiration from Gabor Mate's philosophy, "Ask not why the drug, but why the pain," Jonathan identified social anxiety and insecurity in fundamental relationships as significant triggers for his alcohol use.

The Post-Covid Impact and Social Anxiety

Dr. Armstrong emphasised a rising concern post-Covid. The pandemic fostered an environment where social interactions became predominantly digital, potentially exacerbating social anxiety, particularly among younger generations. Jonathan pointed to the book "The Anxious Generation" by Jonathan Haidt, which explores how pervasive social media and reduced real-world interactions are breeding anxiety and social disconnection. This scenario might fuel an increase in substance misuse, emphasizing the interconnectedness of social anxiety and alcohol use disorder.

Reaching Rock Bottom and the Importance of Medical Support

Often, individuals dealing with AUD need a nudge to seek help. For Jonathan, a physical health scare following a binge drinking session acted as a wake-up call. Medical intervention, particularly a compassionate and non-judgmental approach by healthcare professionals, played a pivotal role in his journey. Jonathan underlines how essential the first welcoming smile and a supportive healthcare environment are in breaking down barriers of fear, shame, and stigma.

Dr. Armstrong concurs, noting that often the most effective therapeutic intervention can simply be empathy and understanding from healthcare practitioners. Jonathan's experience with a nurse practitioner and subsequently a clinician who specialized in addiction showed how medical support coupled with empathy can foster a conducive environment for initiating recovery.

Therapies and Self-Strategies: Crafting a Toolkit for Recovery

The journey to recovery is multifaceted and personalized. For Jonathan, the road began with a prescription that sat unused for two months. Changing his mindset to a more curious and less do-or-die attitude towards recovery helped him get started.

His toolkit for recovery included:

  • Setting clear goals: Avoiding blackout experiences became his bright line.

  • Personal strategies: Limiting alcohol intake based on prior experiences (e.g., no more than one drink before eating, no shots).

  • Medication and professional therapy:** Overcoming social anxiety through therapy and reframing cognitive thought patterns.

  • Support system: Engaging support from a partner and friends, who provided accountability and new social activities like morning hikes instead of late-night drinking..

Social Connection: The Antidote to Isolation in Recovery

Both Jonathan and Dr. Armstrong agree on the importance of a strong support network. Quoting Johann Hari, Dr. Armstrong reinforced the idea that "the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but social connection." Friends and supportive relationships play a critical role in maintaining recovery, providing non-judgmental support, and helping restructure social activities that no longer revolve around alcohol.

Message of Hope: Recovery is Possible

For anyone struggling with alcohol use disorder, Jonathan's story offers a powerful message of hope: "Recovery is possible. There are millions of examples, and a wide range of tools are available to help you." It’s crucial to explore options, build a supportive toolkit, and remember it’s never too late or too early to start the recovery journey.


Jonathan Hunt-Glassman’s journey from alcohol misuse to recovery underscores the importance of understanding the underlying pain, leveraging medical and therapeutic support, and maintaining strong social connections. His story offers hope and a practical framework for anyone looking to overcome alcohol addiction. The essence of recovery lies in the combined efforts of medical support, a solid personal strategy, and the unwavering support of loved ones.

“We can work with that,” a phrase resonated deeply throughout Jonathan’s recovery journey, serves as a reminder that no matter where you start, there is always a path to a brighter tomorrow.

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