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Daily Addiction Recovery Tips

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"[HUMAN BEINGS] ARE NOT DESTROYED BY SUFFERING.
[THEY] ARE DESTROYED BY SUFFERING WITHOUT MEANING."
VICTOR FRANKL

Addictions Recovery Blog

Jan Edward Williams, MS, JD, LCADC
AlcoholDrugSOS Services, Ltd.
janwsos@hushmail.com
jwilliams@alcoholdrugsos.com

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From Jan Williams, MS, JD, LCADC, site owner:

Online Addictions Services

Through this site, I offer free addictions information and professional services based on my 37 years of experience as a licensed addictions counselor and 39 years of personal recovery. Payment for Daily Addiction Recovery Tips is done through PayPal and is secure, and encrypted. Please contact me at 443-610-3569 or at janwsos@hushmail.com with any questions or concerns about my services. As you can see by reading my blog posts, I favor a spiritually based approach to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, but recognize there are many paths to recovery and will support any rationally based approach to seeking abstinence. Out of respect for the Traditions of the 12 Step Programs, I strive to avoid any specific personal references to my membership in 12 Step Programs.


Addictions Recovery Blog

I offer through the blog portion of the site an opportunity for discussion, by me and the public, of addiction, addiction treatment, recovery, support services, 12 Step Programs, and any other material relevant to addictions and recovery. Newcomers to recovery, old timers, addictions professionals, significant others of a person with a drug or alcohol problem, are all welcome. Registration is required to cut down on spam and other unsavory intrusions.

The rules for blog participation are simple:

  • You must register and login in order to activate the comment functionality
  • Be respectful in your comments
  • Do not use profanity.

    Email Jan Williams at janwsos@hushmail.com or call him at 443-610-3569, with any questions about this site, the blog, or services.

Recovery Tip: Live in the here and now.

In one of the daily meditation books that I read, I came across a quote that is familiar in its message to those in recovery from addiction who are guided by Twelve Step principles:

"The real enemies of our life are the 'oughts' and the 'ifs.' They pull us backward into the unalterable past and forward into the unpredictable future. But real life takes place in the here and now. God is a God of the present. God is always in the moment be that moment hard or easy, joyful or painful." --Nouwen, Henri. (1994). Here and Now: Living in the Spirit. Crossroad Publishing Company, page 18.

Of course, the Twelve Step programs talk about living one day at a time, at first, suggesting that the newcomer not take a drink or a drug just for today (or maybe just for this hour). Eventually, experience in applying spiritual principles leads one to realize that attending to the present, to what is happening in the moment, can be the key to serenity. A favorite question I try to remember when I am pestered by fear of the future or pain from the past is to ask: What bad thing is happening at this very moment? Usually the question brings awareness that the issue bothering me is from the past or the future, resulting in perspective and distance from the problem and the opportunity to apply spiritual principles, such as turning the problem over to God (my source of spiritual strength).

Over time in recovery and experience in use of spiritual principles, I have found the Nouwen quote to be true. The hard part is remembering to seek God's help in the moment of emotional, physical, or spiritual upset.

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, 04/27/2016.

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Selfishness, Self-centeredness Is the Root of the Troubles of the Alcoholic

An article in Science Daily, published on the March 31, 2016, summarizing the results of a scientific study done at Case Western Reserve University, supports the frequently quoted statement from the basic text of the 12 Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous (known as the Big Book or Alcoholics Anonymous) written around 1938, that self-centeredness is the fundamental problem of alcoholics, and also supports what has become a key to the success of the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous from 1938 to date, namely, altruism, or, one alcoholic helping another.

Here is a quote from the article:

"Developmental psychologist Maria Pagano, PhD, found adolescents with severe alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems have a low regard for others, as indicated by higher rates of driving under the influence and having unprotected sex with a history of sexually transmitted disease. The findings also showed that they are less likely to volunteer their time helping others, an activity that she has been shown to help adult alcoholics stay sober."

The AA Big Book states:

"Whatever our protestations, are not most of us concerned with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity? Selfishness - self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt. So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so. (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 62)."

Refreshingly, since most researchers do not understand the basis for the effectiveness of AA, the Science Daily article reports that the author of the study, Dr. Pagano:

"...believes that alcoholics and drug addicts may be hindered by a low awareness of how their actions impact others. "The addict is like a tornado running through the lives of others," said Pagano. Even when they are in recovery there is little indication that they understand how their actions impact those around them. "This is part of the illness," she added. Helping young people to get out of that self-centeredness in the service of others helps them in the recovery process. Service to others is a big part of the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous programs."

I am always amazed at the wisdom and prescience of the authors of AA's basic text. Alcoholics Anonymous, who were able to capture the essence of alcoholism without the benefit of the modern science of the 21st century.

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, AlcoholDrugSOS Services, 04/03/2016.

 

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Basic Tips for Persons New to 12 Step Recovery

Most individuals who have been advised to attend 12 Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous or Al-Anon and Nar-Anon (the latter two are for those in relationship with an alcoholic or addict), will have conflicting thoughts and emotions. Some may think: "Oh, my God, so this is what I've come to, attending meetings with a bunch of losers." Or: "Not AA or NA; they'll be trying to convert me to religion." Fear, self-pity, anger, loneliness and a host of other negative feelings may be present. All of these thoughts and feelings are normal. I know of few who have welcomed the suggestion of attending 12 Step meetings with wholehearted enthusiasm.

After this sentence, I'll give some tips that I offer to those starting attendance of 12 Step meetings, but there are many more and I invite comments from anyone registered with this site.

1)The very first suggestion I have is that you, the newcomer, try not to drink or drug, or engage in any other  behavior bringing you to 12 Step recovery, before attending a meeting. The 12 Step Recovery Programs work better if you abstain.
2) Have an open mind. Try to listen without judgment to what you hear. If the information does not immediately appeal to you, just file it away in your mind; perhaps it will be useful later on in your recovery.
3) Compare in, not out. In other words, try to listen for information that you can relate to, rather than being on the lookout for information that you do not relate to.
4) Try to avoid an all or nothing reaction to what you see and hear. Remember that members of 12 Step Programs are not professional counselors but people like you who attend meetings to help themselves recover from drug or alcohol addictions.
5) Strive for willingness to stay away from the first drink or drug or the behavior you are powerless over (for example, rescuing the addict or alcoholic), just one day at a time.

There are many more tips I could provide here. I hope that members of this site and others who read the post will share their own tips for success in the 12 Step Programs. Jan Edward Williams, 02/22/2016, www.alcoholdrugsos.com.

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Recovery Resolution for 2016: Live Just for This Day

Happy New Year. It seems to me that no matter the past, present, or future concerns I may have about my age, health, relationships, employment, finances, or emotional status, referring to spiritual recovery tools will quiet those concerns. The single most effective tool that has aided me in my years (38) of recovery is the One Day at a Time concept. Add to this tool, daily reminders to seek to accept God's will.

So, in 2016, I resolve to attempt to remember to seek to live just for this day and be mindful to try to discern God's will in regard to any concerns that crop up.

In the One Day at a Time in Al-Anon daily reader for December 31, 2015, the following words seem applicable:

"Again I resolve to live the coming year One Day At a Time, easing myself of the burdens of the past and the uncertainties of the future. Whatever may come, I will meet it with a serene mind. 
'And we know that all things work together 
for good to them that love God (Romans)."

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 01/01/2016.

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More Recovery Tools

From time to time I will present here examples of my Addiction Recovery Tips. Here is one: "This too shall pass" is one of the tools of recovery that can help you to keep matters in perspective. The vast majority of issues that plague us are temporary and do pass. It is interesting to try to think about problems that were so consuming a few weeks or months ago, that now are no longer in the forefront of your mind.

A basic point of emphasis here is that whatever the current concern, picking up a drink or a drug will not only not resolve the problem, but for an alcoholic or addict will inevitably worsen the situation. Also involved in use of this tool is the fact that no matter what the situation may be that is causing you stress today, the emotional reactions you are having to it can be managed by sharing the issue with trustworthy persons or using a spiritual tool such as the Serenity Prayer. As I have noted here one several occasions, the Serenity Prayer, properly used, can be a marvelous key to mental and spiritual health. I break the prayer down this way:

God,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change: 
Other people and many events in my life;
Grant me the courage to change the things I can:
Me, and how I react to other people and events; and
The wisdom to know the difference.

As always, comments are invited.
Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 12/03/2015.

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