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

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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Reflections on Freedoms in Recovery from Addiction

The life of the individual in the throes of addiction, including that of the significant others of the addict or alcoholic, undergoes a transformation from a life where the addicted individual delights in the perceived freedom experienced through the effects of alcohol or other drugs to an existence where every conscious thought is focused on that next drink or drug. Addiction extinguishes the basic freedoms of the individual and enslaves its victim in a seemingly endless journey of loneliness and pain that " *** many pursue to the gates of insanity or death (Alcoholics Anonymous, Chap. 3, More about Alcoholism)."

However, recovery from addiction can restore to the individual all of the freedoms lost to the power of addiction, and, in the case of those who pursue a spiritual recovery journey, can result in "*** a new freedom and a new happiness (Alcoholics Anonymous, Chap. 6, Into Action)." Here are are some of these freedoms (to name but a few):

Freedom From:

1. Use of alcohol or other drugs.
2. Fear.
3. Concern for what others think.
4. Overwhelming guilt.
5. Self-pity.
6. Selfishness and self-seeking.

Freedom To:

1. Love others, unselfishly.
2. Be of service to others.
3. Discover who I am and Whom I wish to become.
4. Seek to develop and improve my spiritual condition.

These are but a few of the freedoms that recovery from addiction can bring. I invite readers of this post to add their own recovery freedoms. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 07/14/2014.

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Recovery Tip: "Being Human Is Not A Character Defect"

Here is a Recovery Tip for those in recovery from addiction or from the effects of addiction due to a relationship with someone with addictive disease: "Being Human Is Not A Character Defect." This language is a quote from the Al-Anon (the !2 Step Program of recovery for those hurt by addiction in a significant other) publication, Courage to Change: One Day at a Time in Al-Anon II (1992, May 30, page 151).

Individuals in recovery tend to be perfectionists even in their recovery programs. Steps 6 and 7 of the Twelve Steps of recovery suggest the need to identify character defects and seek spiritual strength to remove them. The emphasis is on reducing self-centeredness which is said to be the root of the addiction problem. Recovering individuals with all positive intentions may consider all self-centered emotional reactions as negative reflections on their recovery progress, that is, that human emotional reactions are self-centered and, therefore, bad or wrong. Hence, the title of this Recovery Tip: Being Human Is Not A Character Defect!

Feelings are not good or bad; they are natural emotional reactions that all human beings, recovering from addiction or just "normal" people (earth people), have. Being fearful of serious surgery; feeling deep grief over the loss of a loved one; or experiencing anger at an unjust event, are all normal human reactions. The key, of course, is in how we recovering individuals react to these realities of life and resulting feelings. Fortunately, recovering individuals have many recovery tools to apply to these normal life problems and their emotions. Here are just a few tools: slogans such as, "this too shall pass", "turn it over", "live just for today"; sharing with another trustworthy individual or even group; and asking for spiritual strength.

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 06/24/2014.

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How the Painful Past Is an Asset in Recovery, Part I

Individuals with the disease of addiction have accumulated a vast reservoir of pain and consequences resulting from their behaviors while in active addiction. Indeed, many use drugs or alcohol to numb the pain and avoid having to deal with the consequences of addiction. One of the paradoxical rewards of recovery from addiction is that the pain and consequences of addiction become a positive resource not only for the individual addict or alcoholic responsible for the pain and consequences, but also for those in the throes of active addiction or seeking to recover from addiction whom the addict or alcoholic seeks to help.

Thus, the recovering addict or alcoholic can use the painful past as an asset by tapping into his/her reservoir of pain and consequences in two basic ways: 1) To aid in self-diagnosis as an addict or alcoholic, and internalize the concepts of the first of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, powerlessness and unmanageability; and 2) to help another alcoholic or addict to seek recovery using the twelve steps (the 12th Step, carrying the message). I will elaborate here on the first of these two ways in which the past is an asset in recovery. I will address the second way (use of the past to help others) in my next blog post, "How the Painful Past Is an Asset in Recovery, Part II."

1) Step One of the 12 Steps states: “we admitted we were powerless over alcohol” *** (AA), or “over our addiction *** (NA), and that “our lives had become unmanageable.” Basically, to successfully complete Step One and take the first, fundamental action that will begin recovery, that is, hopefully cessation of use of alcohol or other drugs, the individual must examine past use of his/her substances and the resulting pain and consequences to him/her and those around him/her, stemming from such use. This examination of the past, while painful, can help the individual to become willing to abstain from further drug or alcohol use and to begin the process of recovery using the remainder of the 12 Steps. Early recovery from addiction is exceedingly painful; individuals often feel overwhelmed with guilt, remorse, and shame, among other feelings. It can be helpful for the individual to be able to see how these “negative” feelings can in fact be used to reinforce ownership of the “powerlessness” required to complete Step One. Thus, as stated in the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous, referring to how the past can be of aid to alcoholics and families of alcoholics:

"Henry Ford once made a wise remark to the effect that experience is the thing of supreme value in life. That is true only if one is willing to turn the past to good account. We grow by our willingness to face and rectify errors and convert them into assets. The alcoholic's past thus becomes the principal asset of the family and frequently it is almost the only one! (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 124).”

"How the Painful Past Is an Asset in Recovery, Part II", will be coming soon in another post. As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 06/09/2014.

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