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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 36 years of experience as a licensed addictions counselor and 38 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 or at or 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.

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Use of Spiritual Disciplines to Support Recovery from Addiction

Addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling, the internet (Facebook, games, pornography, etc.) is so powerful that many find that seeking a spiritual source of strength can enhance other measures such as therapy and counseling. We are, of course, speaking here of spirituality that can be found in organized religion but often is found outside of religions.

The 12 Step Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Gamblers Anonymous, to name a few, wisely refer to a source of spiritual strength, as God (as you understand God), a Higher Power, or a power greater than myself; so that each individual can approach spirituality in his or her own way.

Rather than trying to figure out the what, who, how of a Higher Power, my suggestion is to avoid definitions and to just go ahead with a leap of faith and begin reaching out to a spiritual source of strength. The motivation for this leap of faith usually comes from pain and suffering caused by addiction and repeatedly failed efforts to stop alcohol or other drug use or other addictive behavior through will power, therapy and/or counseling. Attendance of 12 Step meetings can also provide a demonstration of spiritual strength evidenced by members of these programs who have stopped their addictive behaviors for significant periods of time.

Spiritual disciplines, as defined here, along with abstinence and attendance of 12 Step meetings, can, over time, result in the individual coming to believe in their efficacy. So, consider setting aside a quiet time every morning to focus on the fact that you are in recovery and to make a conscious commitment to yourself each morning to be abstinent from drug or alcohol use, or other addictive behavior, for that day. If appropriate for you, add a request (prayer) to your source of spiritual strength for the ability to be clean and sober that day.

At night before retiring for the day, take a few minutes for some quiet time to review the day. If you have not picked up an alcoholic drink or a drug, or engaged in other addictive behaviors, you can be grateful for that miracle regardless of whatever negative or positive events that have occurred. It is indeed a miracle for an addict or alcoholic to get through a day without using. Again, if appropriate, add a thanks to your source of spiritual strength for a day of abstinence.

These daily disciplines on awakening and before sleeping can become basic recovery tools for you and form the basis for a spiritual awakening and evidence to you of the power of spiritual disciplines. As always, comments are invited.

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams., 11/14/2015

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More on Powerlessness as a Spiritual Tool in Recovery from Addiction

The First Step of the 12 Step Programs for alcoholics and addicts (Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous) involves admitting that "we were powerless" over alcohol or other drugs and that "our lives had become unmanageable." This admission of powerlessness and unmanageability lays the basis for abstinence and recovery from addiction via a journey through the 12 Steps. Steps Two ("Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity") and Three ("Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him") provide a spiritual foundation for recovery. These three Steps have been given this shorthand: "I can't handle it; God (or other source of spiritual strength) can; I think I'll let God (or other spiritual source) do so.

This post suggests that learning to be on the lookout for incidents of powerlessness and unmanageability during a recovering individual's life can, by use of the spiritual principles summarized in the first paragraph, become a vital tool in maintaining emotional and spiritual balance, and, of course, abstinence and sobriety. Thus, the goal here is to try to recognize life situations over which one has little power and then to apply spiritual principles to those situations.

As everyone soon discovers, recovery from addiction does not provide immunity from the sometimes trying and traumatic realities of life. We all face such realities just like those fortunate enough to have avoided addiction. However, the point here is that recognition of incidents of powerlessness and unmanageability can trigger the individual to apply spiritual tools that worked in recovery from addiction. When serious life difficulties, such as, job loss, loss of a relationship, or diagnosis of a serious medical condition, occur, as they will, the recovering alcoholic or addict can recognize the situation as one where application of the well-learned spiritual lesson of Step One's powerlessness is appropriate; can take whatever action is indicated (look for a job, couples counseling, consult a physician); and then apply the spiritual principles embodied in Steps One, Two and Three: "Having take appropriate action, I now recognize I am powerless over the result of the situation and turn it over to God, a Higher Power, or other source of spiritual strength."

Not to be forgotten as an important spiritual tool is the value of sharing one's trials and tribulations with another trustworthy person. A passage in the meditation reader of Al-Anon (Courage to Change: One Day at a Time in Al-Anon II, October 1) has some helpful language applicable to this post:
"If problems arise today, I will try to acknowledge them--and then put a little spiritual space between my problems and myself. If I can share about them with another person, I will further diminish their power. Recognizing that my life is unmanageable is the first step toward managing it."

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams,, 10/01/2015.

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Another Look at the Issue of Drug Addicts Attending Meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous

Should drug addicts attend meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous? My answer is, "Yes." However, I am aware of the controversial nature of this subject and that there are some complicated issues involved in drug addicts attending AA, including whether a drug addict who has not diagnosed himself to be an alcoholic, qualifies for AA membership.

I think a key point is this: The AA Traditions (Number 3) state that the only requirement for membership in AA is a "desire to stop drinking."; so, just on that authority, in my opinion, a drug addict without any history of problematic alcohol use, can become a member of AA without doing any violence to the AA traditions. For the following reasons, a drug addict in, or desiring to have. a solid recovery should have a desire to stop drinking: 1) alcohol is a drug; 2) use of alcohol will impair the recovering addict's judgment thereby making him/her more vulnerable to thoughts or occasions to use drugs; 3) either you are abstinent from all drugs of abuse, or you are not; and 4) use of any psychoactive agent including alcohol will tend to interfere with any spiritual relationship the recovering addict may have with a source of spiritual strength (Higher Power).

Bill Wilson, a co-founder of AA, however, came down on the side of not including non-alcoholic drug addicts as AA members, stating in a pamphlet titled, Problems Other than Alcohol (The AA Grapevine, Inc., February 1958):

Our first duty, as a society, is to insure our own survival. Therefore, we have to avoid distractions and multipurpose activity. An A.A. group, as such, cannot take on all the personal problems of its members, let alone the problems of the whole world. Sobriety — freedom from alcohol — through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps is the sole purpose of an A.A. group. Groups have repeatedly tried other activities, and they have always failed. It has also been learned that there is no possible way to make nonalcoholics into A.A. members."

For the declaration that there is no possible way to make nonalcoholics into AA members, Bill Wilson cited how family members and nonalcoholic friends of AA were unable to relate to AA members and would have difficulty doing Twelfth Step work, not an argument seemingly relevant to the issue of non-alcoholic or alcoholic drug addicts as AA members.

Although not wishing to appear presumptuous in arguing against a position taken by the founder of AA, an organization that has saved many lives including my own, I will go ahead and briefly address Bill Wilson's justifications of his position and apologize in advance for the lack of scientific research to bring to bear on this matter (there is very little).

Although citing the AA Traditions to support his position on non-alcoholics not being AA members, Bill Wilson does not even mention Tradition Three: "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking."

In the 57 years since Bill Wilson's monograph on this subject (the 12 Traditions were adopted in 1950), there has been, at least anecdotally, a significant increase in young AA members, an increase in young AA members with a history of both drug and alcohol addiction, and an increase in young members in AA who are non-alcoholic drug addicts. There is also some research (not altogether scientific) suggesting that the number of AA members under the age of 40 has grown to 26% (Alcoholics Anonymous Membership Survey 2014). AA does not have statistics on how many of the AA members under 40 have a diagnosis of both alcoholism and drug addiction or how many may be non-alcoholic drug addict members. There are data that document (available on request) that the vast majority of individuals 30-40 years of age or younger with a primary diagnosis of alcohol addiction have histories of problematic drug use (often marijuana) and that those in that age range with
a primary diagnosis of drug addiction have histories of problematic alcohol use. So, one can postulate that a significant number of the 26% of AA members under the age of 40 (AA Membership Survey) probably have a history of problematic use of both alcohol and other drugs.

AA seems to have absorbed the increase in younger members with both alcohol and drug addiction without any of the threats to its survival that Bill Wilson feared over 57 years ago. There are over 115,000 AA groups worldwide, with an estimated 2,040,629 members (AA statistics). Anecdotally, in my experience, AA members with significant drug histories either place the emphasis on the alcohol portion of their stories when sharing at AA meetings or speak generally about their non-alcohol addiction. Some meetings make a statement at the beginning of the meeting that those present should confine their remarks to their experience with alcohol. This admonition seems, in my experience, to be effective.

I have not made an exhaustive study of AA literature and historical documentation and, of course, do not have data about the AA experience with alcoholic drug addict and non-alcoholic drug addict members across the U.S. I invite those with additional evidence, scientific or anecdotal, to add to this, now unduly long. post about the issue of drug addicts attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.

As always, comments are invited, Jan Edward Williams,, 09/06/2015.

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Another "Quick Fix" Treatment for Addiction: Erase Memories that Can Trigger Relapse

A major cause of relapse in individuals recovering from drug addiction, specifically in the situation under discussion here, methamphetamine addiction, involves triggers associated with memories of past drug use.

A recent animal study, summarized in ScienceDaily for August 04, 2015, reports on an experiment involving injection of a chemical called blebbistatin into animals with laboratory induced methamphetamine addiction. One injection resulted in erasure of memories pertaining to use of methamphetamine. Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida stated that "The results [of the study] showed that a single injection of blebbistatin successfully disrupted long-term storage of drug-related memories--and blocked relapse for at least a month in animal models of methamphetamine addiction."

The scientists were excited because "... the effect of this novel treatment approach was specific to drug-associated memories (not affecting other memories), and the animals were still able to form new recollections."

In my opinion, drug companies and allied medical organizations tend to seek development of drugs that will quickly fix the problem of addiction. The most objectionable examples, in my view, include methadone and suboxone maintenance that approach treatment of opiate addiction through use of legal opiate substances. Less objectionable are approaches that involve administration of opiate antagonists such as naltrexone that block the ability of opiates to produce their addictive effects and seem to also help reduce cravings in recovering alcoholics. The advantage of opiate antagonists is that they do not produce a "high", as do methadone and suboxone.

The approach reported on in this post seems like science fiction but is consistent with the attempts by science to offer a quick fix for addiction. My preference for long term recovery is, of course, to aim for abstinence through the hard work involved in therapy and use of spiritual principles in the 12 Step Programs.

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams,, 08/08/2015.

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The Serenity Prayer: A Powerful Recovery Tool

Addictive disease, be it cocaine, heroin, alcohol, gambling, or other addiction, has a powerful grip on those suffering from it. Therefore, recovery from addiction must harness powerful measures to combat the power of addiction. Recovery tools can be lifesaving measures for recovering individuals. The Serenity Prayer is one such powerful recovery tool:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can, and
The wisdom to know the difference.

In my view, the Serenity Prayer, properly interpreted and used, can not only be a tool for addiction recovery but also a tool for ongoing mental health. Here is the way I interpret the Serenity Prayer and try to use it on a daily basis:


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 PEOPLE AND EVENTS IN MY LIFE, 

and the wisdom to know the difference.

A recovering individual will face frustration and ultimately relapse by focusing on changing other people and many events in life and should focus on what he/she can change, namely, how he/she reacts to people and life. We always have the ability to address our own thinking (cognitions) and emotional and behavioral reactions to people and events. The folks in Al-Anon have a short phrase that encapsulates some of this: mind your own business. The wisdom comes from daily attempts, with success and failure, to apply the Serenity Prayer tool, from doing so without use of alcohol or other drugs, and from seeking the strength from God, or other source of spiritual strength, to persevere in the task.

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams,, 07/27/2015.

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