The Badge, The Bottle and My Better Half

John and Tricia Monaghan talk about Alcoholism and how it impacted their relationship.


There are some people I encounter that I immediately get a good vibe from.  I met John Monaghan virtually on a call we were both on and he subtly mentioned that he had overcome an addiction to alcohol and spoke with passion about officer mental health and the impact on the family.  I mentioned something about vulnerability and taking off emotional armor on the call and he wrote in the chat that he loved Brene Brown.  I thought to myself…. Who is this guy?!?!  Then I found his TEDx talk about police reform starting in the therapist’s office.  The more I read about this retired police chief and former state trooper, the more I wanted him to come on and share his story.  Today, I speak with John and his wife Tricia, about his recognition of his problem with alcohol and the growth that came from recovery individually and as a couple.

3:50-7:50: John discusses the background of his TEDx Talk and gives a brief overview of his journey to recognizing he was an alcoholic.

10:01: As a law enforcement community, we need to remember that checking on retired officers is important. Retirement doesn’t mean that all your problems and stressors go away.

10:51: Tricia talks about not thinking John had a drinking problem because it wasn’t the alcoholism she knew from movies.

11:43: In a culture where drinking is acceptable, it is hard to see alcoholism as a problem. Especially when the individual is functional.

13:08: The realism of seeing that alcoholics weren’t “hobos on a train,” but professionals like lawyers, doctors, veterinarians etc.

15:03: Alcoholism is challenging and different for everyone. It could be 4 DWI’s for someone or it could be heavily drinking in your own home while still being able to function.

16:43: Two years of sobriety!

16:51: The first year of sobriety was about physical sobriety. How do I not pick up a drink? The second year was about emotional sobriety and not finding reasons to drink.

18:47: Tricia talks about her role as a life coach and how it impacted John’s sobriety.

22:14: After going to Al-Anon, Tricia learned that alcoholism is a disease, and she was powerless over it. “I can’t control it. I didn’t create it.”

22:34: In a career where power is important, it’s difficult to recognize the powerlessness of alcoholism and as spouses it’s difficult to watch your partner fall.

23:36: Coming together as a couple during recovery because there is a mutual acceptance that neither partner is in control of the disease and there is the potential for everything to be greater than either person imagined.

25:34: There are coping skills needed in recovery. John discusses what he needed or would have been helpful to know in the beginning of his recovery process.

27:17: Taking off the emotional armor for recovery can be conflictual to law enforcement officers and spouses.

31:37-32:17: Everyone in AA carries a bag of shame, but talking about years of struggling can create empowerment. You can move forward with a clean slate and stop regretting the past or worrying about moments you don’t remember.

33:00: Things happen, but recovery offers tools to deal with situations sober. “The softest pillow is a clean conscience.”

33:33: HALT during your spiral moments. If you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, you are not being your best self. HALT and check out what you need at the moment to be a better version of yourself.

34:48-36:44: John and Tricia talk about the changes in their relationship after sobriety.

37:07: One of the biggest things they both learned is that a big part of alcoholism is recognizing that a lot of behaviors are fear-based. As a couple, they have learned to stop and ask what they are feeling, where they are feeling it, and why.

39:54: The motivation behind the TEDx talk has two parts. The first part talks about stigma breaking and not shoving your thoughts down into little, tiny boxes inside other boxes.

42:15: The second part of the TEDx talk focuses on post-traumatic growth and on community building where healthy first responders are a part of public health. The healthier public servants are, the healthier public health is.

46:48: Alcoholism is not about shame. It’s about who you get to become, what you learned, and how to forgive yourself.

John is a retired police chief, a former state trooper, and a municipal officer. He currently teaches about mental health and post-traumatic growth to first responders. John holds a master’s degree from Antioch University in leadership and management and an undergraduate degree in resource management from Sterling College. John regularly teaches workshops and presented a Ted Talk on mental health and wellbeing for law enforcement.  John has been married to his rockstar wife Tricia, who is a life coach, for 10 years.

Deep Blue Compass.  

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The Badge, The Bottle and My Better Half

John and Tricia Monaghan talk about Alcoholism and how it impacted their relationship.