Grateful Dead

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August West Wharf Rat's picture
Joined: Nov 1 2013
Hope it's gotten better for ya...

Your story makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. Love the grit... I hope that when the chips are down for me I don't waiver. It's good to know you were able to keep your chin up and walk w/ your head held high... it must've felt great to see the looks on the Cops faces when blood test came back clean!!!
Keep on keepin' on, wish the best for you!

August West Wharf Rat's picture
Joined: Nov 1 2013
I'm new to this forum and feeling good about being sober!

I am so glad to know this forum is here~! The local AA meetings are OK, and it helps me to attend sporadically, but I feel I am a "lone wolf" and this group seems more up my ally... over 70 dead shows under my belt,quite a few very sober... but seeing JGB and seeing Garcia/Gris acoustic at the Warfield was like going to church for me... I am not nor was I ever very convinced by organized religion (other than Buddhism...) but that seeing JGB and Jerry w/ GRIS AT THE WARFIELD WAS SOMETHING MAGICAL AND SPIRITUAL FOR ME... the drunk college kids behind us kinda spoiled it one night until the Heads in residency in the front row shut em up...

more later!


I still go to shows around New Orleans and BR, but enjoy them better now w/o spending my hard earned cheese on beer. Shout if you out there. Captain Green (Zappa cover band) plays Chelsea's 9/11

AMERICAN AQUARIUM plays Varsity in BR this SAT night. ANY BATON ROUGE WHARF RATS OUT THERE??? These guys are supposed to really do it right.

marye's picture
Joined: May 26 2007
cool mona

thanks for posting that.

mona's picture
Joined: Sep 28 2008
From Don Bryant

Food For thought for those who may not KNOW: Here is a little HISTORY OF THE WHARF RATS for some of you new comers. I wrote these words fourteen years ago. They stand true today. YOU ARE A WHARF RAT IF YOU SAY YOU ARE-NO JUDGEMENT-NO REQUIREMENT!The Wharf Rats were founded by primarily clean and sober recovering addicts and alcoholics. What you find in the shows and generally throughout the wharf rat scene in no way resembles what the Wharf Rat scene started out as. The Wharf Rats have evolved and maturated if you will.
Wharf Rats started out as a group of people in recovery on tour. It began as friendships by Deadheads bonded by Grateful Dead music and mutual recovery from Drug and Alcohol addiction. Some of us feared disclosing our status as Deadheads at our AA and NA meetings. We also had to be extremely vigilant at Dead shows. Some of us realized that Unity is one of the greatest healing powers that we have in recovery. We knew that there were other clean and sober Deadheads around but where were they and how could we get them together? The catalyst for the Wharf Rat Group was the overwhelming since of isolation that addicts and alcoholics were subjected to in Dead shows when we had to go it alone.This was an extreme environment swirling with temptation. Many people fell through the cracks and got wasted.
The Grateful Dead created a home for Deadheads that could not be duplicated. The music and scene was much too fun to let it go of just because we sobered up and could no longer indulge our addictions. People blessed with recovery still went to shows. We danced and twirled but somehow a desire for those special bonds that we experienced in the rooms extended to tour. " TOO MUCH OF EVERYTHING IS JUST ENOUGH" is one verse in the song " I NEED A MIRACLE". Our Twelve Steps tell us to " practice these principles in all of our affairs". It only seemed natural that we should gather together, hang out and have fun on tour. We typically would all descend on some local AA or NA meeting during our off days where we would continue to support each other. We began to organize, tour together and find strength in our connections to one another as Deadheads in Recovery. Those early days were much different than the way things are now. We gathered initially to party together drug free. No Table, No meetings and no real purpose other than to get together,have fun and stay clean. Initially, We called the group"The Wharf Rat Group of Alcoholics Anonymous. " That didn't last long. AA General Service Office would have nothing to do with us which was a blessing in disguise. We met out in the open at Grateful Dead shows during the set breaks. Nothing Anonymous about that! We did not meet the criteria of holding an established regular meeting or singularity of purpose that the General Service office wanted. I think the fact that we met at only at Dead shows really freaked them out. We dropped our affiliations and just called ourselves Wharf Rats.
Early on a very different problem emerged which helped to define what we became. There were many Deadheads who saw our presence and spirit and wanted to be Wharf Rats some of whom had no problem with drugs or alcohol. Some had never used anything. Others were addicted to food , sex, gambling and the like but had no problem with chemicals. Still others were our family and friends who loved and supported us. This led to our very inclusive membership qualification "You are a Wharf Rat if you say you are". Many ,many people would be very surprised if they really understood how well integrated the Wharf Rats are into the whole Grateful Dead scene, helping out in all sorts of circumstances and striking a unique source of Concert going magic for a myriad of Deadheads.
Several well-intentioned attempts to fashion the group in the mold of a traditional AA or NA 12 step group fell by the wayside. We really could not replace AA or NA in a meaningful way for most people nor should we. People need more than they can get on tour and at shows. Our niche became an entry point for Deadheads in crisis or a sort of safe zone for recovering Heads to support and love each other. Deadheads in recovery who had felt misunderstood in both Recovery meetings and by drug using folks at shows finally had a place of their own where we belonged. Some of us were such Big Addicts and such Big Deadheads that those infamous words in "TENNESSEE JED" became our Mantra! "THERE AIN'T NO PLACE I'D RATHER BE". We became Wharf Rats to the core.
Who could of known that the synergy between recovery from addiction and The Grateful Dead Mojo would have so much power and meaning? So many of the lyrics we sang and danced to at shows became fixed in our minds as symbolic of another aspect of the new life with which we had been SO blessed to receive. Great old music took on entirely new dimensions. The beautiful music of the GRATEFUL DEAD with its' multi-faceted authenticity rocked us into happy destiny as it soothed our souls. The musical truth blanketed our minds in light of the twelve steps for living. "I NEED A MIRACLE" ,"WHARF RAT", "SCARLET BEGONIAS", "THE WHEEL" and ""BLACK PETER" became Wharf Rat Anthems synonymous with various spiritual axioms of recovery. Deep lifelong friendships formed within the group. We became a Fellowship within a Fellowship. Yes, We began to enjoy the music even more than ever and we began to have more fun than we ever dreamed humanly possible all without the thought of using anything except our God, our Love, The Grateful Dead and Ourselves. What could be better? It really is"all about the music". Don Bryant

marye's picture
Joined: May 26 2007

Thanks, congrats and continued good travels along the path!

Spiral Gypsy's picture
Joined: Aug 17 2013

Hello People,

Good to see some life here on this group. I can relate to many of the posts.

I have been sober 12 years. I had a strange journey to getting sober and had other periods of recovery as well.

I had the good luck and fortune to attend a Wharf Rat meeting at a Dead show in the late 90's. It was very empowering. I attended all my shows sober. I am sure it would have been fun to be high at a show but my drinking & using reached a point where it was no longer "fun".

I could relate to one poster talking about life changing. I am a father now with a 15 year old son. My son appreciates the Dead even though he is young in years. I taught him to be patient when listening to a live Dead show because sometimes you have to sit through some noodling before the magic happens.

My life is very regimented now. After all the years I have a good job and a career. For most of my life I struggled financially. I spent much of my life with heavy debt and behind the eight ball so to speak. Things are good now from a material standpoint.

I'd like to have more time for concerts and sitting in a room with a candle listening to the Dead. Right now sometimes a half hour late at night is the only free time I get. I enjoy listening to concerts while I drive. I do have a few friends of mine who appreciate the Dead. I reached a point of acceptance that I am just at a busy stage of life. Right now I have four days off. Free time is precious to me - especially as I get older. I turn 47 in a few days... That's a trip.

Sobriety is far from perfect. I don't think it is natural to not be able to escape your problems. I have found escapes besides drugs though. Long walks with the Ipod, reading, meditation, staring at the stars - these are some of the ways I escape the stress of life. Being sober keeps me in the game and keeps me from getting dysfunctional. My first year of sobriety sucked. Things didn't get better until year 3. In my first year of sobriety I got divorced, lost a house, and filed bankruptcy. It was a traumatic year. I got real hard. I worked out like crazy. I got away from my Deadhead roots.

Sobriety has been a journey. I had to cultivate my spirituality to make it bearable. I have grown to believe in the existence of a higher power. It is hard for me to believe something like a bird's wing just occurred through random mutations. A feather is a marvel of engineering - remarkably strong and yet light.

My new wife isn't a Deadhead but she is a good life partner. I don't have any magic answers for those struggling. My experience has been that it gets better. Sometimes I have to do foot work or take risks. My higher power doesn't read the want ads for me for jobs and he doesn't pay my bills. He helps though and those trippy coincidences happen sometimes. I have to stay teachable. Even though I have my musical sub-culture I still need to operate in the world at large with people who see things differently than me.

I am going to go back to the concert I am listening too and enjoy a great version of "Fire on the Mountain".

Good night.

bohdihippy's picture
Joined: Jun 22 2014

Hey guys in new to the site, looking for connections in Indiana, Lafayette area. Anyone around there gimme a holler

Joined: Jun 10 2014
23 Days Clean and Sober

I knew about this group during my drinking and drugging days, and I respected it's purpose, though I didn't believe I would ever be interested in considering myself a WharfRat.

So far, AA is working for me, but I'm Grateful that there's a sober group that I can relate to on more than one level.

SeattleZelda's picture
Joined: Jun 4 2014

Well, I have a new clean date. Really struggling to stay clean. I've had problems in the past with staying on track but now it just seems that my lack of community is killing me. I go to meetings but there are few people that I truly relate to or trust. Growing up on the streets of Seattle and San Fransisco really took their toll and while I have done a lot to heal those periods in my life I find myself trying to periodically return to the familiar. The Haight is still the Haight with me there or not. I joined this group with the hopes that someone would recognize me or my name and I could find out how some of the kids I grew up with are doing. "Normal" people have high school forums they can participate in but since my High Schools were Larkin Street Youth Center and the Orion Center in Seattle... I don't have many places to get to meet people I can really relate to. I currently work in the legal field as a paralegal. Kind of unbelievable really. My son is almost eighteen and ready to move out. He's the polar opposite of me in so many ways. I pray for that he survives his adolescence and young adulthood better than I did but it's not looking promising. All that being said, I am on my second step. I'm grateful for so many things, my car, my apartment... on and on. I always told myself that there were so many things I was going to try and do when I grew up but it only seems that I'm caught in the grind of trying to provide for my son and provide for my needs or superfluous wants. I want to step back into the Dead community but I don't want to get loaded. Being away has changed me... some things I'm proud of... others, not so much. I am writing my story one line at a time... my life that is. I had a different profile name but I am deactivating that account. There was someone from my past that was stalking my posts and making comments about schizophrenia. Such a serious illness and super not cool to use against someone. Very childish, immature, hurtful... But using addicts are often just that...


Dudeist Tom's picture
Joined: Apr 25 2014
New to this...

I've been smoking (not tobacco) for about the past 25 years, and have been clean and sober for 1 week. I REALLY need some support right now, this is much more difficult than I thought it would be, and right now I just want to smoke. I realize that if I do, my job is gone, but right now the desire to get high is almost overwhelming. I have appointments scheduled next week, but that's not helping me now. What can I do?


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