EP 19 – Finding Strength in Stoicism: Derek Castleman’s Recovery Story

Join us in this powerful episode as we delve into the gripping story of Derek Castleman, a remarkable individual who battled and conquered addiction. In this candid conversation, Derek opens up about his personal experiences, shedding light on the dark and challenging path that addiction can lead us down.

Through his raw and honest account, Derek takes us on a journey of self-discovery, resilience, and ultimately, redemption. He shares the pivotal moments that led him to confront his addiction head-on, offering invaluable insights into the complexities of addiction and the immense strength required to overcome it.

As we navigate through Derek’s story, we also explore the various factors that contribute to addiction, including societal pressures, personal struggles, and the importance of a supportive network. Derek’s unwavering determination to break free from the chains of addiction serves as an inspiration to anyone facing similar challenges, reminding us that recovery is possible, and a brighter future awaits.

Tune in to this episode as we uncover the profound lessons and strategies Derek employed to regain control of his life. From seeking professional help to finding solace in support groups, his journey serves as a beacon of hope for those grappling with addiction.

Whether you or someone you know has been affected by addiction, this episode provides a wealth of knowledge, compassion, and guidance. Join us as we shed light on the path to recovery, empowering listeners to take the first steps towards a healthier, happier, and addiction-free life.

Don’t miss this transformative episode, as Derek Castleman’s story of triumph over addiction will leave you inspired, enlightened, and ready to embark on your own personal journey of recovery. 


The views and opinions expressed by our guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the stand or beliefs of the host or the podcast. We aim to provide a diverse range of perspectives and ideas, fostering open and respectful discussions. We encourage critical thinking and forming your own conclusions. Enjoy the show!

About Our Guest (Derek Castleman)

Derek Castleman is a renowned author and the creative mind behind “A Stoic Guidebook for Recovery.” With his insightful and empowering words, Derek has become a beacon of hope for individuals seeking guidance on their journey to recovery. Through his unique blend of Stoic philosophy and personal experiences, he offers a fresh perspective on overcoming challenges and finding inner strength. Follow Derek Castleman on Instagram at @thesoberstoic for daily doses of inspiration and wisdom. Join his growing community and embark on a transformative path towards a more fulfilling and resilient life.

Show Notes

  • [02:33] Derek Castleman shares his upbringing in a rural town in southern California, his parents’ contrasting personalities, and how his obsession with excelling in school turned into an addiction, leading him to try substances for the first time in high school. 
  • [08:02] Derek shares his personal struggle with addiction, and how his addiction to cocaine made him realize he had an addiction problem, leading him to try to quit cocaine and go back to smoking weed and drinking alcohol as a substitute. 
  • [11:23] Derek discusses how it affected his academic and professional life, as well as his thoughts on society’s attitude towards marijuana use. 
  • [16:23] Derek shares his personal journey of struggling with alcoholism, abusive behavior, and multiple trips to rehab, highlighting the importance of recognizing and accepting addiction as a disease. 
  • [22:22] Derek shares his personal experience of going to rehab multiple times, relapsing, and how he initially believed he could control his drinking after 30 days of sobriety, leading to losing his job, getting his credentials stripped, and ultimately realizing he had a problem with alcohol and weed. 
  • [24:49] Derek highlights the destructive impact substances had on his life and how he finally realized the root of his problems. 
  • [29:53] Derek shares his journey of self-destruction, realization of step one in recovery, and the pivotal moment when he sought help from the police to get his bipolar disorder under control and find an inpatient rehab that would work for him. 
  • [35:14] Derek shares his experience of getting cited for driving under the influence on psychiatric meds, hitting a rock, and being remanded into custody for 30 days, which led him to choose sober living as a way to rebuild his life and relationship with his daughter. 
  • [38:39] Derek shares about rebuilding his life, and providing a stable home for his daughter through education and data analysis. 
  • [41:12] Derek discusses his journey of discovering stoicism and how it has helped him in his recovery from addiction. 
  • [45:24] Derek discusses the power of personal control and choice in addiction recovery, emphasizing the importance of accepting others’ actions and words, as well as the impact it has on reducing negative emotions. 
  • [49:19] Derek discusses the stoic philosophy of not letting others’ negative actions or words control one’s emotions. 
  • [51:16] Derek shares two strategies for dealing with people who irritate or anger us: “expect the expected” when it comes to people we know and “consider the source” when it comes to people we don’t know. 
  • [54:18] Derek shares how the Stoic philosophy of negative visualization has helped him in his recovery. 
  • [58:21] Derek and Gary discuss the concept of negative visualization and living in the present, drawing connections to stoicism and recovery principles, emphasizing progress over perfection.
  • [01:03:12] Derek Castleman shares his final thoughts for listeners who are early in recovery, emphasizing the importance of patience and growth, and assuring them that life does get better with time.

For more incredible and inspiring stories of those who have overcome alcoholism and addiction, tune in to the next episodes of The Begin Again Podcast through:

About Gary Menkes

Gary Menkes was born and raised in Port Washington, NY and struggled with alcoholism since his early teens which took him to places he never wants to go again and which took a toll on his health, relationships and professional endeavors. However, Gary completely transformed his life when he was given the gift of sobriety on May 13, 2006. Determined to break free from the cycle of self-destruction, he embarked on a remarkable journey of recovery.

Today, Gary is an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous in New York, married to the love of his life and father of two amazing children of which he owes all to his sobriety. Gary is now launching his own podcast, The Begin Again Podcast.