Torn Together
Torn Together
One Family's Journey Through Addiction, Treatment, & the Restaurant Industry.
Perfect Bound Softcover
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Torn Together is a memoir, written by recovering alcoholic and addict husband, Scott Magnuson, and codependent wife, Shaaren Pine.

Torn Together chronicles Scott’s addiction as his illness infects everyone around him, his eventual treatment, and the recovery process the whole family undertakes.

It is also the story of The Argonaut, one of revitalized H Street, NE’s first restaurants, the struggle to get off the ground, rebuild after a terrible fire, and to keep going as the family is falling apart.

Chapter 1 Scott I should have been happy—we had successfully reopened the Argonaut after the fire and business was better than expected. But being constantly hung over, needing drugs just to function, and working so hard to hide everything about my addiction, made me extremely irritable. Shaaren couldn’t figure out why I was getting so belligerent. Of course, I was supposed to be sober and it didn't make sense as to why I was getting worse. The more I tried to cover up everything, the angrier I got. I began to pick fights with just about everyone: staff, customers, and especially Shaaren. I had become an asshole, a monster. I was full of rage. I was so unhappy. But I hid all my thoughts and emotions from everyone. I simply closed off the world. Shaaren * * * * April 12, 2011—Despair. Most of the year I was carried through by the love we received after the fire, but here we are, back to regular life, and I'm failing miserably. I'm angry. And AH [program speak for Alcoholic Husband], is worse than he was a year ago. I wanted (a month ago) to believe that things were getting worse because they were on their way to getting better. But now I'm not so sure. He’s mean all the time. His actions seem only to be based on spite. He's unreliable and untrustworthy. But of course he is, right? He's an addict and an alcoholic! I'm sad. I feel like crying all the time. I'm tired. I feel like Ara is the only light in my life. I want a partner. I want a husband. I want somebody I can count on. If it weren't for his issues of addiction, I swear, there would be very few issues in our marriage. Almost none, in fact. And I know that sounds ridiculous....But it's true! I just want him to choose me! I want him to choose us! To see that we're worth it. That what he'll be gaining with us is so much better than what he'd be giving up by not using. I don't know how to balance not having expectations (premeditated resentments) without losing all hope of a better life. Reality is banging on my door constantly—finding pills, drinking again, being an asshole, resisting positive change, not having a marriage….And I find it nearly impossible to cope. To have hope that things will ever get better. Because at the end of the day, I do love him. Did love him? Do love him. And I want him to be the person I want him to be. And the person he could be. Which, again, is an expectation. And not embracing Step One [We admit we are powerless over alcohol—that our lives have become unmanageable]. Do you see my dilemma? * * * * Scott July 11, 2011 Like we normally did, Shaaren, Ara and I went over to Argo for dinner. But it had been a long drive back from Massachusetts and my nerves were shot. I was already mad - I wouldn't have even had to go up there if Shaaren hadn't run away with our daughter. Even though I had been attending AA meetings for years, I walked behind the bar like I usually did and poured half a beer. I put the beer down and waited for Shaaren to turn her back, a trick I thought I had perfected. But Shaaren turned around as soon as I started chugging. Predictably, she went home with Ara. I was so pissed when the two of them walked out! I was so angry at Shaaren for catching me that I decided to go for broke. I started drinking heavily and taking more and more Adderall - even snorting it. What did I have to lose? I knew my marriage was over anyway. I was certain this was the end of my family life. My wife could no longer put up with me. I would probably never see my daughter again. What kind of life did I want? Did I want a family and a business—a real life? Or did I want to continue with the constant turmoil, the shell of a life I was living, working just to get fucked up, not caring about anyone or anything? Did I want to be alone, just me, trying to finish off the job I started many years ago: a slow and painful death? Or did I want Shaaren and Ara? Once more, I was on the verge of losing the people I loved because of my addiction. Here I was, eleven years after killing my mom, and nothing had changed. I was torn.

Scott Magnuson has been doing two things longer than most: Working in bars & restaurants, and drinking & drugging. An addict at 14, Scott got his first job in a bar - an industry that would allow him to focus on his first true loves, drugs and alcohol.

It was a good life, for a while. Evading the law, skirting the consequences of his actions, and leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. His world finally started crashing down around him 18 years later, and he was on the verge of losing his family, his business, and himself.

That was July 12, 2011.

Now, with several years of recovery under his belt, Scott is continuing his career in the restaurant industry, and is dedicated to helping others out of addiction's darkness.


Shaaren Pine has been learning the ins and outs of the restaurant business since starting her first restaurant job in 2005. Now, as a manager and business owner, and with help from her Earlham College education, she is committed to bridging the gap between business and community, and changing restaurant culture.

Shaaren is passionate about adoptee rights, and advocating for the families of addicts. She writes about her adoption from a social justice perspective, and about addiction through a spousal lens.

Together, Scott and Shaaren run two businesses, have created a non-profit*, serve on two boards, and are raising their daughter, Ara.

They live in Washington, DC, and this is their first book.

*A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Torn Together will go to support their non-profit, Restaurant Recovery™.

The mission of Restaurant Recovery is to provide comprehensive solutions to address addiction and its effects on restaurant employees, their families and the restaurant industry.

Restaurant Recovery helps restaurant workers find and pay for drug and alcohol treatment, and helps loved ones get the assistance they need.

Creating support networks, Restaurant Recovery is devoted to the continuing care of restaurant workers who are struggling with addiction, seeking sobriety or are in recovery.

Restaurant Recovery advocates for change in the restaurant industry through increased awareness of its unique culture.


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