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

Addictions Recovery Blog
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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.

Key to Spirituality in 12 Step Addiction Recovery

Is it necessary to believe in God to recover from an addiction through use of the 12 Step Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon (12 Step Program for those in a relationship with an alcoholic), Nar-Anon (addict), and other such programs? My answer is: "No, you do not, at least in the beginning." However, I suggest that one's chances of developing and maintaining a long term mentally healthy, balanced, and serene recovery will be enhanced with willingness to seek and find a source of spiritual strength.

First a word about those new to recovery who take the position that they know all about God, theology, and organized religion and have had an excellent relationship with God, and, therefore, need not work to improve their relationship with God in order to stop use of drugs of alcohol; often these folks are clergy or religious who have developed a drug or alcohol addiction. I suggest to these individuals that they look at how, by definition, addiction had proved more powerful than their own efforts to control it, and has proved somehow resistant to their requests for help from God to do so. Usually, with guidance, these individuals will come to see that drug or alcohol use has come between them and God because of their own self-centeredness that is powered by the relentless demands of addiction. It is almost impossible for a drug or alcohol addicted individual to have an intimate relationship with another person or with God; drugs or alcohol become the addicted individual's God.

The key for all individuals suffering from addiction, including clergy, to beginning a successful recovery through the 12 Step Programs using spiritual principles can be found in Appendix II of the book Alcoholics Anonymous; this quotation from that Appendix sums up in a few words what is needed:

"Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial. We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable.

'There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.' (Herbert Spencer).”

In my experience anyone can find recovery support in the 12 Step programs, if he or she is willing to have an open mind and is willing to seek a source of spiritual strength, or, as phrased in 12 Step circles, a higher power, or God as you may understand him. It is vital to success in 12 Step programs that the new person put to one side any negative experiences and thoughts about organized religion; indeed, prior negative experiences do not have to be an obstacle to spiritual recovery in the 12 Step programs. One need only approach 12 Step meetings as a place to learn practical tools, including spiritual tools, to stay away from the first drink or drug one day at a time. or to avoid, one day at a time, trying to control another person's behavior (Al-Anon or Nar-Anon).

The best mind set or way of thinking for the newcomer to have is one of a student who seeks to find information that he/she can relate to, not looking for information that he/she cannot relate to; that is, to seek to compare in, not out. After attending, say, ten or so 12 Step meetings with an open mind, one should have had the awesome experience of hearing real people share real feelings that he/she can relate to, maybe even hearing a part of one's own story. The ability to relate to stories, experiences, feelings, in 12 Step meetings is in my view a spiritual experience that is the essence of spiritual recovery. In my personal journey in 12 Step recovery, I was intellectually opposed to anything I heard in meetings that even remotely sounded like God or religion. That intellectual position almost resulted in my death through drinking. At some point, I was able to really hear and relate to (and get chills of recognition) when listening to real people sharing from the heart. Being able to connect through the sharing in 12 Step meetings can be the gateway to finding a source of spiritual strength.

I invite comments from others about their experiences with spirituality in recovery. Jan Williams, 06/15/2016.

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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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