Saturday, May 31, 2008


If you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. March down there and turn it on yourself.

action is the key to success in any endeavor

while patience is a virtue, some things just don't happen
on their own.

the past is prologue; learn from it

plan for the future; you shape it

live the present; you're in it

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Friday, May 30, 2008

if at first...

Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.

for those of us who did not stay sober the first time around,
the slogan "you are not alone" certainly applies.

while I commend the rare person who can stay clean
and sober at 1st attempt, I will challenge their
presumption that most should be able to do so.

it is merely the nature of addiction that resists
treatment and continued recovery.
our primitive mid-brain has no conscience, fear
or lack of appetite for excess.

meetings, sponsors, prayers and steps are all
positive reinforcements; yet they can't always
prevent a slip.

the important thing for me was, letting go of any
guilt, shame or feelings of inadequacy.
sure there was disappointment; but that was
eased by the welcoming reception given by
most of those who really cared.

never allow anyone to demean, dismiss or deny
your sincerity, if you should relapse.
by the same token, show empathy and encourage
anyone who does, that it is a normal response,
and no one is immune to slipping.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

do the work

The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work

reminds me of leaving rehab and asking friends,
please don't wish me luck; because luck has nothing
to do with success in my recovery.

action is the key that unlocks the doors to
progressive wellness.
standing still on this path is regressing.

no matter how slow or insignificant the improvement seems,
as long as I continue to walk away from former negativity,
I can fully appreciate my gains, no matter how small.

it would be fair to say; "the harder you work, the luckier you get"

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

finding happiness

"If you want happiness for an hour- take a nap.

If you want happiness for a day- go fishing.

If you want happiness for a month- get married.

If you want happiness for a year-inherit a fortune.

If you want happiness for a lifetime- help others."

an excellent perspective of the sometimes elusive feeling of happiness.
although part of "the promises", this new happiness is entirely
based on the individual's view of what makes them happy.

a common difficulty for us in recovery, is the instant
gratification we were used to. there was the ever-present
risk/reward daily drama.

it's a mystery at times, to actually realize what true
happiness is.
there are as many definitions of it, as there are

while I still attempt to define it for myself,
I trust that it does NOT come in a bottle, pill or potion.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

another day in the bank

a holiday weekend sober; what a concept!

for a while it seemed almost odd to enjoy myself
without adding booze.

it is refreshing to be able to interact, entertain
and have a good time with folks without the
formerly standard supply of alcohol.

while this comfy feeling hasn't come quickly,
it kind of gradually happened over time.

all the old "romancing the high" thoughts have
finally faded into near obscurity.

I try to never judge those who drink,
and I'm never ashamed to admit I enjoyed it,
but now just explain that; "what used to turn me on,
turned on me"!

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Thursday, May 22, 2008


kind of a humorous simplification about the stages of alcoholism.

of course, the time element and severity differs widely among us.

a common element, the slow to progress share, is the inability to see it.

in the rare instance when we do become aware, we try the "control method".

it can be quite the eye-opener, to accept there is no going back point.

while it would have been nice to accept sooner, it had to take every failed
try at control, to get where i am today...

and caring.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

religion vs. spirituality

so true!!
I laugh at the debate and combat that some religions engage in.

although I did appreciate my catholic upbringing, it did not
translate well to gaining spirituality.

it is nice to be out of the debate today, and just live my life
honestly, with concern for my fellows.

an afterlife has become way too much for me to truly fathom.

thought for today;

Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; Responsibility for all your actions.

this just in...


ATHEISTS and agnostics are decent people whose tormented souls will burn for all eternity in the scorching fires of hell, Britain's biggest catholic said last night.

another country heard from!

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Nature vs. Nurture

The consensus among modern health care professionals, including the American Medical Association (AMA), is that drug addiction is a disease. Theories concerning its origins embody the classic "nature vs. nurture" arguments: Does one become an addict because of genetics, environment and upbringing, or a combination thereof? It may be safely concluded that the origins of drug addiction are many, and complex.

There is no real evidence of the dominance of one over the other.
this is a difficult diagnosis to make, considering the various paths
alcoholics and addicts take throughout their experience with substance

I am encouraged that the research is geared to exploring every
avenue, and not just concluding "it's just this, or only that".

The bottom line for me is, it doesn't really matter.
Spending years analyzing how and why I progressed
to the point of no return, was an exercise in futility.

curiosity still exists as to the how and why, but today
my research is done through our sober house and
from a myriad of experts in the fields of psychology,
sociology, medicine and good old fashioned trial
and error.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

enjoy the ride

Yes, it's bound to be bumpy, frightening, exhilarating and satisfying.

I have no clue what it's like to have 5 years clean & sober.
however if I continue my journey "out of the woods", I guess
I will find out in about 6 months.

The question asked of me by counselors with each return
to rehab, was "what's going to be different this time?"
Each time I had no logical answer; my response would be,
"I don't know, but I'm here!"

Looking back there were many reasons for ultimate relapse.
Part of it was returning to home, job, old friends and haunts.
The familiarity and temptations associated with it all, were
just too much to handle.

I'm so fortunate today to be away from all those people,
places and things.

Euphoric recall is a powerful stumbling block;
It's taken this long to finally play the tape ALL
the way to end...I don't want a decade of misery,
for a few moments of intoxication.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

My belief

Don't follow the crowd...stay true to yourself.

This is important for me; though the practice
is contrary to many program beliefs.
Conformity is the norm in AA, and any straying
from the group path is frowned upon.

While that was useful for me early on, I began
to question the value of some of the practices.

Today I don't conform to some of the outdated
and ineffective suggestions that are rarely
questioned by others.

My path has to be somewhat influenced by
various outside factors; but the bottom line
still rests on remaining true to myself.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Early sobriety & relationships

Any questions?

Physically, mentally, emotionally there are many differences.
The pic takes a humorous shot at the perceived simplicity of men's
lives compared to women's.

By nature a female is more complex, with a myriad of roles,
responsibilities and needs.
Though there may be some blurring between the distinction
of traditional male-female roles in society, they exist nonetheless.

Nowhere are these differences as evident as they are in recovery.

From my 7 year experience of operating a sober home, I can
attest to the overwhelming effect emotions have on women
trying to get and stay clean & sober.
While both sexes seek affection and attention, ladies tend to
devote their entire being to establishing a relationship.

This desire almost always has a negative effect on recovery.
As focus increases on the other person, it decreases on
any effort to remain sober.

I'm not saying it is impossible to have both; but in early
sobriety , whichever you concentrate on more will win out.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Priceless amends

Yes, I was a card carrying member.

Armed with my whiskey muscles and slurring charm;
I found myself without a conscience, seeking gratification
wherever it could be found.
No boundaries or concern for anyone's feelings.

Lies, deceit, immorality and selfishness were the norm.

The changes to those behaviors have been slow yet steady.
Today it is simpler to be honest in all areas of my life.
I don't have to remember to tell the truth.

Though this hasn't always been easy, it is rewarding.

Simple things remain just that; unlike my former
ways of complicating everything and constantly apologizing.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Quick fix?

My solution used to come in a bottle.
Wine became my constant companion.
I thought it was the answer to all my problems.

While initially it did work, drinking slowly became my master.
It is that point when "what used to turn me on,
turned on me".

The picture reminds me of the "quick-fix" society
we live in today.
Most folks are in a hurry in all areas of their lives.
Whether it's weight loss, driving or substance abuse,
the mentality is the same.

Today I have learned to slow down.
Rushing recovery was always prevalent for me.
Looking back, I realize I can't be 5 years sober,
in 1 or 2 years.

Wow , what a concept!
Making the comparison of walking far into the woods,
and traveling the same distance out.

Slowing down also allows me to enjoy what life
has to offer.
No need to be in a hurry to go anywhere.

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

King fire-baby

Yes this was me, fightin' fires and saving lives and property.
Part of the time I was just a kid, drinking with the boys, raising
hell and acting like a spoiled brat.

While I couldn't see it at the time, looking back there I was
full of pride, ego and fear all rolled into one.
I almost lost the one career I was good at.
Never good at any trade, hating college, I
finally found my niche. Here was a job with
forcible entry, rescue and fire suppression.
No degree required, or finesse.

Thankfully I was always able to get help
when I needed it.

I'm told to not regret the past; and I can
do that today. All my experiences good & bad
led me to where I am now...

clean, serene and content.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Addiction theories & realities

Stanton Peele challenging the flawed disease concept and the current tried and failed methods;
despite all the claims that AA is the only way. The reality is still a 95% FAIL rate, no better than those who just quit or "mature out" of addiction.

Addiction—Choice or Disease

Both views in the “addiction is a choice/disease” point-counterpoint (Psychiatric Times October 2002, p54) leave out critical aspects of addiction, without which it is not possible to make sense of the matter.

Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D.’s, view that addicts choose to use seems glib in the face of those addicts like David (son of Robert) Kennedy and Terry (daughter of George) McGovern who were children of privilege who killed themselves with chronic drug/alcohol use. These are extreme cases where the substance seemingly takes over the individual’s ability to choose.

However, I believe it is wrong to generalize their fates to all drug and alcohol misusers, including even quite compulsive users, for whom internal and environmental cues and options continue to play critical roles.

R. Brinkley Smithers: The Financier of the Modern Alcoholism Movement

The dominance of the disease view in America is due in good part to one man — R. Brinkley Smithers. Through his personal contributions and those of the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation he commanded, Smithers influenced the course of the major national groups concerned with alcohol problems in the United States.

One presentation at the conference, titled "What Works Best Is What We Do Least," reviews the evidence on alcoholism treatments.

The effective treatments are not the disease-based ones that dominate American treatment, the kind that Terry McGovern was exposed to and that Vaillant practices. The effective programs teach people life skills and enhance internal motivations to change, rather than convincing them they are lifelong alcoholics whose condition is incurable and who will relapse should they cease to be dependent on treatment.

Stanton replied:

When an individual comes to AA, he/she knows some things are required for fundamental membership. Chief of these is to declare yourself an alcoholic. It may be friendly (although I have observed great hostility towards individuals who refused to declare themselves this way) but there is no backing out, and many people (especially the DWIs who quit as soon as they can) experience great anxiety around it. When people are compelled to take on a self-identification with which they disagree or about which they are unsure, when great group pressure is placed on this identification, what do you call it? Again, these tales are described in detail and at length in David Rudy's Becoming Alcoholic and Ken Ragge's More Revealed. (Room also recommended that I read Charles Bufe's book, Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure, which decided AA is not a cult. I replied: I know Bufe's book and I believe I am writing a preface to his new edition. Not being a cult -- for example not having a charismatic [living] leader or using physical coercion -- takes one out of one category, like Nazism, but leaves much room for mind control and psychological coercion.)

Of course, the claim is, this was a false alarm but now we have really discovered the site in the brain that governs addiction. In fact, this research tells us nothing about addiction:

  1. These findings do nothing to explain the most striking and commonplace observations about the street use of drugs. Most people who take "addictive" drugs do not become addicted. Most people who become addicted cease addiction, often simply cutting back on the drug. Vietnam soldiers addicted to heroin in one setting (Vietnam) were not able or were unwilling to be addicted when they returned home, even after resuming drug use. Those who fail to achieve remission from addictive drugs differ significantly in social and psychological profiles from those who do -- those with more ample resources achieve remission most readily and stably, even given continued exposure to the addictive substance.
  2. Such supposedly scientific discoveries immediately require whole new levels of supposition and hypothesis in order to account for data on actual drug use. The researchers who acknowledge reality and note that most drug users, even regular users, do not become addicted are immediately required to hypothesize inbred biological differences in the neurological mechanisms that predispose some people to addictive drug use -- although their own data show no such differences related to addictive drug use. That people recover from addiction and resume non-addictive use of the same drugs forces hypothesizing about complex neurological-situation interactions on which the researchers likewise have no data. That susceptibility to addiction and failure to achieve stable remission are related to systematic social differences could result in racist theories -- i.e., inner city addicts fail to escape addiction (to heroin, crack, cigarettes, and alcohol) as readily as middle class people because they are biologically predisposed to addiction.
  3. Those drugs now lumped in as addictive with heroin -- such as cocaine and amphetamines -- were for decades labelled by leading psychopharmacologists as non-addictive. Isn't it strange that now we discover biological hard wiring to explain cultural variations in labelling, such that leading psychopharmacologists averred unhesitatingly until the 1980s that cocaine and amphetamines, which are now said to stimulate the same pleasure centers as heroin, did not produce the addictive effects that heroin does? (see "Addiction as a cultural concept," Stanton Peele's Greatest Hits).
  4. The wide range of activities that stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain -- including sex, eating, working, chocolate -- should alert us that these brain theories tell us nothing about differences in behavior, let alone addiction. Most people experience orgasm as among the most pleasurable sensations -- yet how many people become addicted to orgasms? Chocolate stimulates the pleasure centers, but only a few people compulsively eat chocolates or sweets. Apparently, stimulation of a pleasure center is only one small component in the entire addiction syndrome. Moreover, if any activity can be pleasurable -- from work, to sex, to parenting and so on -- identifying activities as stimulating the pleasure center simply begs the questions: Why do people find different things pleasurable and Why do different people react in destructive, addictive ways to some of these things, while others incorporate them into a balanced overall lifestyle?

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Spirituality vs. Religion

The saying goes, "religion is for those afraid of hell;
spirituality is for those who have been there".

It amazes me how religious zealots will fight
and even kill to defend their beliefs.
How ironic, all that hate in the name of God.

What I appreciate about AA, is the practice of
choosing my own concept of a higher power.
No one tells me how or when to pray, or insists
that I subscribe to any religion

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Inspirational quotes

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast - you also miss the sense of where you are going and why. - Eddie Cantor

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. - Albert Schweitzer

No man can produce great things who is not thoroughly sincere in dealing with himself. (James Russell Lowell)

Practice yourself in little things, and thence proceed to greater. (Epictetus)

Every problem contains the seeds of its own solution. (Stanley Arnold)

Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. - William James

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. - Abraham Lincoln

Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams. - Ashley Smith

God gives every bird a worm, but he does not throw it into the nest. - Swedish Proverb

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Making amends

there is some apprehension with many of us,
when planning amends.
It is understandable to be uncomfortable when
confronting the prospect of making amends to
those we have harmed.

I actually learned something when first taking
this important step.
My first amends to my ex-wife went surprisingly well,
as she began confessing to behaviors similar to mine!
I was a bit shocked, but also relieved that we are only
human and subject to temptation.

The experience was a relief and quite cathartic.

What she urged me to do as my best amends for her
and my son, were not verbal; but just in continuing
to maintain my recovery. they had heard the "I'm sorry's"
too many times in the past.

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