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[THEY] ARE DESTROYED BY SUFFERING WITHOUT MEANING."
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Jan Edward Williams, MS, JD, LCADC
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From Jan Williams, MS, JD, LCADC, site owner:

Online Addictions Services

Through this site, I offer free addictions information as well as professional services based on my 34 years of experience as a licensed addictions counselor and 36 years of personal recovery. My DUI alcohol evaluation, counseling, recovery coaching, and educational services are presented through email, telephone, and Skype sessions. Payment for services is done through PayPal and is secure, and encrypted. Please contact me at 443-610-3569 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 12 Step Recovery.


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.

A New Freedom through Spiritually Based Recovery

Today, I came across a quotation in one of my daily readings that struck me as a beautiful way of describing the freedom from addiction and self-centered constraints available through the Twelve Step spiritual recovery programs (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and the like):

“Be like the bird that, passing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings.”---Victor Hugo

Initially, use of alcohol or other drugs seems to offer freedom from, among other things, fear and other self-centered feelings, escape from the bonds of misery caused by awful circumstances, and solace for emotional pain. For individuals whose drug or alcohol use progresses to addiction, use of these substances results in the opposite of freedom. Addicted individuals have lost their ability to make healthy choices for themselves or those around them; their primary motivation for action, in fact, their reason for being, is to satisfy the insatiable demands of their addiction through use of their substances. The freedom from fear, escape from misery, and relief of pain initially experienced through alcohol or other drugs are now in addiction no longer available. Indeed, addictive disease enslaves those suffering from it.

Recovery using the spiritual principles embodied in the Twelve Steps will provide the individual suffering from the disease of addiction not only freedom from the need to drink or drug, but also, as stated in the preceding paragraph, freedom from "... fear and other self-centered feelings, escape from the bonds of misery caused by awful circumstances, and solace for emotional pain..." The Basic Text of Alcoholics Anonymous states that those who recover using the spiritual principles in the Twelve Step Programs will " ... know a new freedom and a new happiness."

In my experience, developing a relationship with a source of spiritual strength creates the ability for one to say, and mean it, that "fundamentally all is well" even though life's realities may take away all that is important  to one. Or, as Victor Hugo said in the quotation, above, even though the bough may give way, the bird will sing knowing she has wings. Those in recovery have spiritual wings to lift them up and support them no matter what life may bring.

As always comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 10/13/2014.

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Loneliness and Addiction

"If there is one word that can capture the essence of the experience of the individual terminally trapped in the throes of addiction, I would suggest the word, loneliness. However, alcohol or other drug use, for almost everyone, including those destined to be alcoholics or addicts, usually begins as a positive social behavior tending to enhance interaction. The non-alcoholic or non-drug addict will continue to use in a social way with few negative consequences or, if experiencing negative consequences, will either stop use or successfully control use to avoid problems. The alcoholic or addict, of course, for complex reasons that will not be explored here, will continue use of  alcohol or other drugs despite devastating negative consequences. His/her world will shrink as those near and dear to the addicted individual are driven away by the irrational, cruel, perhaps immoral and criminal, behaviors resulting from the disease of addiction. Emotionally, the alcoholic and addict will eventually feel like an alien, alone, misunderstood, and isolated, and experience a profound soul sickness and loneliness.

The basic text of the Twelve Step Program (Alcoholics Anonymous, Chap. 11, page 151) describes the emotional state:

"The less people tolerated us, the more we withdrew from society, from life itself. As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settled down. It thickened, ever becoming blacker. Some of us sought out sordid places, hoping to find understanding companionship and approval. Momentarily we did - then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the hideous Four Horsemen - Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair."

The good news, thankfully, is that there are ways out of the loneliness and hell of addiction. I personally favor the spiritually based way out through the 12 Step Program known as Alcoholics Anonymous. The loneliness is initially lessened by the wonderful experience of finding other alcoholics and addicts who can share the pain of addiction and the hope of recovery. A more permanent and profound release from the loneliness and soul sickness of addiction comes from developing a relationship with a Higher Power, God, or other source of spiritual strength.

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 10/11/2014.

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A Growth Experience: Technological Problems

Hello to all who read my blog posts. I have been muted these past weeks by a technological problem that barred my entering my site to post blogs. The problem has been solved and corrected by my intrepid and persistent site expert. So, I have not posted to the blog since the first week of August. You may be familiar with a non-12-Step-approved slogan, with the acronym, "AFGE", that stands for "Another F---ing Growth Experience." This slogan applies with vigor here. My inability to attend to my blog (all other aspects of my site continued to work, such as email) has been very frustrating, and, frankly, I find little redeeming growth opportunity from this experience, except, perhaps, the opportunity to share the AFGE tool with you. Being able to step back from an emotionally upsetting experience with a humorous application of the slogan, AFGE, is helpful, but after over a month, the tool does become less efficacious.

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 10/07/2014.

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Recovery Goal: "I'm Free To Be Me."

Most individuals who arrive at the beginning of their journey of recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, or from the effects of such an addiction in a significant other, tend to be insecure and very concerned with how others perceive them. In short, they tend to be focused on trying to live up to the expectations of others (not that anyone can read minds well enough to know them). The focus of recovery, of course, needs to be on that which we have the power to change, namely, ourselves; or, to put it appropriately in the first person: "The only person I can change is me (or "I", to be grammatically correct)."

So, the goal, after hard work, with the support of others in recovery, the 12 Steps of AA, NA, or Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, perhaps a therapist, and last but not least, a source of spiritual strength,  is to be able to truthfully say that "I am free to be me in almost all situations." Here is a wonderful quote I recently found in one of the meditation books I read that captures the state of mind that is available in recovery:

"I exist as I am;
that is enough, if no other in the world be aware, I sit content,
and if each and all be aware, I sit content." --Walt Whitman

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 08/04/2014.

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Should Persons in Recovery Stop Identifying themselves as Alcoholics or Addicts?

The medical director of a treatment center, a Doctor Neil Capretto, suggested in a recent article that using the terms "alcoholic" or "addict" to refer to individuals with an alcohol or drug addiction are similar to words such as "crippled" or "retarded" historically used to refer to those with a physical or developmental disability that have been abandoned because they are "...pejorative, harmful, and inflict pain." He opined that words such as "alcoholic, addict, drunk, or junky" "stigmatize" individuals with alcohol or drug addiction and may pose a barrier to their entering treatment.There was only one research study that was cited by Dr. Capretto to support his position that references to individuals with an alcohol or drug problem as alcoholics or addicts carry a harmful stigma. The study showed that treatment professionals tended to think individuals who violated a court order to abstain from use of alcohol or drugs who were referred to as being "substance abusers" should be punished but that those referred to as having a "substance use disorder" should be given treatment for their disorder. I do not find this study persuasive as it merely shows that treatment professionals are familiar with the term substance use disorder as indicating a problem in need of treatment.

In my view it IS vital that individuals in treatment or in recovery in the 12 Step Programs become quickly attuned to the fact that drug or alcohol addiction is a disease and not a moral or criminal problem. All treatment centers in the United States that I know subscribe to the approach of Alcoholics Anonymous that has been a integral part of 12 Step recovery since the nineteen thirties and forties, namely, that alcoholism and addiction are progressive, fatal diseases. The negative, criminal, immoral behaviors during active addiction are explained by the presence in the individual of the disease of addiction.

I find it almost ludicrous to suggest that the alcoholic or addict identify him/herself in 12 Step meetings this way: "My name is Moe and I have a substance use disorder." That is a technical term used by mental health professionals. In recovery, identification as an alcoholic or addict most often is in this form: "My name is [first name], and I'm an alcoholic or addict." Thus, usually, one is not saying that one's identity is "dictated" (suggested by Dr. Capretto) by the addiction. In my experience in treatment and in 12 Step recovery, identifying as an addict or alcoholic in recovery becomes a positive, even, proud declaration as the individual becomes comfortable with being in recovery from the disease of addiction.

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 08/01/2014.

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