Thursday, December 25, 2008

Triple Whammy Season

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve - A Member Shares (45 Years in AA and 39 Years in Al-Anon)

For about 18 years I have been “working” at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the substance abuse field as an unpaid Volunteer counselor.

I’ve been able to work in that capacity for free because I am a retired federal law enforcement officer with an excellent annuity.

The year 2008 marked my 39th year in Al-Anon, the organization for the family of an alcoholic addict…I guess that qualifies me as a member of Al-Anon, wouldn’t you say?

Year 2008 also marked my 45th year overall in Alcoholics Anonymous without relapse. That surely attests that I am deeply rooted in and knowledgeable of each side of the issue.

So, I am very aware that right now we are in THE most difficult and challenging time of the year for all of us.

This is the season that can be called the “TRIPLE WHAMMY SEASON”…that is, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve. (We’ve now made it past the Thanksgiving “whammy”!!!)

It is THE most dangerous season, especially for the recently-sober alcoholic…and for the not so recently sober one….AS WELL AS FOR THE FAMILY OF THE ALCOHOLIC…

Maybe it is the toughest for the family members…because they are the innocent, blameless ones who suffer from the trauma visited upon them by the alcoholic.

I have been in the 12 Step Fellowship for FIVE DECADES…that is, in the 1960s, the 70s, the 80s, the 90s and now the unit numbers of this decade….

Over that period of time I have seen any number of wonderful success stories unfold.

I have also witnessed many horrendous tragedies…tragedies that need not have occurred.

Many of the worst tragedies…all brought on by alcohol…have happened during THIS time of the year.

The reason for this is because there are so many parties….so many “festive occasions” at Thanksgiving, at Christmas and of course at New Years.

All such occasions involve drinking some sort of alcoholic beverages.

It is often just too tempting for the problem drinker to resist…


Al-Anon has a blue “ODAT daily reader (ODAT being an acronym for” One Day At a Time”) …Page 133 and page 94 of that Reader are THE most relevant and helpful of all the pages of the ODAT…in my opinion.

The gist of page 133 says “The key figure in my Al-Anon work is I, me, myself”…and not George or Georgine the drinker!

So, the book tells family members to think of themselves first of all….


I’ll give them just one guess…and then I ask them why then shouldn’t they think of themselves first??

They should do so!!! Absolutely.

Family members should stop “bailing out” the alcoholic from the messes he makes and stop making excuses for him to his boss when he is too hung over to go to work.

Stop paying HIS bills! Above all, I tell the wife if she has a joint bank account with him, to CLOSE IT OUT AND ALSO CLOSE OUT ALL OTHER MEANS BY WHICH HE CAN ACCESS HER OWN MONEY…HER OWN FUNDS…

If she does not do that, he can clean her out during one of his binges and later weakly say he is “sorry”…and cannot remember why he did it …but that he must have needed money!!


So, I tell the wife to” wise up” and protect herself…insulate herself from him, so people to whom he owes money cannot get at HER money to pay HIS debts.

She will thus protect herself and her children.

Then I say just a few words about why it is so futile and frustrating to try to “reason” with the still-drinking alcoholic.

The active alcoholic has been described as being an insecure, self-centered , ego-maniacal individual who is primarily concerned with the satisfaction of what he perceives to be his own wants and needs…to the utter disregard of the wants and needs of anyone else.

He does not think of his own drinking as a disease…and of course does not think of the trauma his drinking causes his wife and children.

His denial is too great to do that…and this is not necessarily malicious on his part…he has a disease…

In my opinion, alcoholism is primarily a mental disorder. It is impossible for me to distinguish between the active alcoholic and the sociopath, the psychopath.

This goes to the heart of the question of why it is so difficult to live with the active alcoholic.

Bear with me and let us see how psychiatry defines “ psychopathic personality”…. Next I read just a few lines from a psychiatry textbook and I will then ask the listener to decide if it fits the active alcoholic.

I read from an excerpt taken from the 1994 Third Edition of the Psychiatric Press “Textbook of Psychiatry” and I quote:

“The central characteristic of (the psychopathic) personality disorder is a long-standing pattern of socially irresponsible behavior that reflects a disregard for the rights of others”…”the more prevailing personality characteristics include a lack of interest in or concern for the feelings of others…deceitfulness and most notably a lack of remorse over the harm they may
cause others”…. “This personality disorder is associated with high rates of substance abuse….”



Finally, I close by saying in my many years in the 12 Step Fellowship I have indeed seen several GENUINE MIRACLES, like those mentioned on page 94 of that Blue ODAT reader.

For example , in the other Program (AA) I have seen a hopeless, helpless drunk whose lowest point was lying face down , drunk in the gutter of a foreign city…I have seen him transformed into a functioning, contributing member of society who is looked UP to by many friends and no longer looked down upon. (I was that drunk.)

Any program that can bring about such a lasting transformation is indeed a most powerful and miraculous program.

Equally, I have seen newcomers to Al-Anon who had little or no hope for a better life, come into the Al-Anon Program and after a while BLOSSOM into individuals who are able to laugh and have fun…and who have HOPE!!!

There is HOPE both for the rummie who has lived inside his or her whiskey bottle and there is HOPE for the innocent, blameless members of the alcoholic’s family.

In the Al-Anon Program the newcomer soon senses that there IS this hope and this power.



- Allen Anderson. (Submitted by Allen Anderson. Thanks Allen!)

You can read Allen's book online - "Memoir of an Alcoholic American Spy"

Monday, December 15, 2008

Surviving Marcia Brady

Brady Bunch star Maureen McCormick recovers from drug addiction and bulimia

"I was an example of the cliche that says an addict can't just do a little. One line was too many, one ounce was not enough. I thought of little else until I was in a position to get more."

"It was a crazy time ... The '70s, the '80s ... an all-out drug revolution. I have a very addictive personality. I think I would have gotten addicted to drugs no matter what."

"I've made a lot of mistakes. I've been through a lot of hard things. But it's okay to be open about it. It's okay to be human, to be imperfect."

"Well, I was pretty good at hiding it ... I hid behind that smile for years."

"Being able to quit drugs and finding belief in a higher power gave me the tools to end the bulimia."

- quotes by Brady Bunch star Maureen McCormick

Maureen McCormick Interviews:

MSNBC Interview with Videos

Toronto Star Interview

Surviving Marcia Brady Book Excerpt

Weird Al Satires 70's TV & The Brady Bunch

Stars M.I.A.

Drinking Economy

Beer Money

She told me we couldn't afford beer anymore and I'd have to quit.

Then I caught her spending $65 on makeup.

So I asked how come I had to give up stuff and she didn't.

She said she needed the makeup to look pretty for me.

I told her that was what the beer was for.

I don't think she's coming back.

Economic Recession = More Drinking

Andy Capp and Free Drinks

Click for Daily Andy Capp Comics

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Recovery Film

Blank Canvas
This documentary short film examines the experiences of six women who have a history of drug abuse, through interviews and intimate reflections of their artwork. The director, Ashley Phelps, is no stranger to addiction and recovery. She has been down that road and back to apply a wealth of perception, nuance and humor to her documentary. Blank Canvas offers inspiration and challenges stereotypes, showing portraits of women who have faced their addiction and gone on to lead productive lives:

Blank Canvas Website with Movie Clip

Monday, September 15, 2008

Grey's Anatomy and House

Chasing the High
"In the hospital, we see addiction every day. It's shocking how many kinds of addiction exist. It would be too easy if it were just drugs and booze and cigarettes. I think the hardest part of kicking a habit is wanting to kick it. I mean, we get addicted for a reason, right? Often, too often, things that start out as just a normal part of your life at some point cross the line to obsessive, compulsive, out of control. It's the high we're chasing, the high that makes everything else fade away." - quote from Grey's Anatomy, American TV Show

Grey's Anatomy Diagnosis
Which Grey's Anatomy character are you most like?

Click to Get Diagnosed

House on Drug Addiction
"Pretty much all the drugs I prescribe are addictive and dangerous."
"On average, drug addicts are stupid... I believe drug addicts get sick. Actually, for some reason they tend to get sick more often than non-drug addicts." - quotes from House MD, American TV Show

House MD American TV Show Official Website

Fall Preview

Good Living Topics of Spirituality, Love, Arts

Recovery Blog Radio

Addiction Alchemy: Beyond Sobriety
Internet radio talk show hosted by Renee Bledsoe, the creator of Addiction Alchemy, a holistic, self-help journey for addiction recovery, based on the Medicine Wheel model, for insights, info and inspiration.
Tune in online or play archived shows in your own media player.

Visit the radio show site: Beyond Sobriety

Check out the website: Addiction Alchemy

Or you can listen now:

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sobriety Test and Tips

You can check your sobriety with this simple picture test

Click for a good list of tips that have helped others stay sober

Alcohol warning graphics

Addiction Info and Recovery Trivia

Addictive Substances
Updated information and stats about drugs and drug war policies

Addictive Substances

Meth Project Videos
View the research-based videos portraying the ravages of meth

The Meth Project

Alcoholics Anonymous Timeline
AA history timeline module by the AA GSO archive staff

Alcoholics Anonymous Timeline

AA Trivia Quiz

NA Trivia Quiz

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Morning After

Humor might be the best medicine...

But if you're often sick and tired in the morning because of drinking or drug use, there's nothing funny about that. Free help is always available. See here:

AA: Help with Alcoholism

NA: Help with Drug Abuse

Al-Anon: For Family & Friends of alcoholics

Nar-Anon: Family & Friends of drug addicts

Drink and Drugs Comedy

Robin Williams Stand-up comedy about Drinking and Drugs:

Robin Williams comedy about alcohol and marijuana

Video of Robin Williams comedy about using cocaine

Bill Cosby Comedy about Drinking and Drugs:

Bill Cosby video comedy about drinking

Bill Cosby comedy on video about drugs

Drink and Drug E-Cards

Create your own e-cards - sample categories below:

Create Your Own E-Cards

Click the e-cards below for some sample categories:

Drinking E-Cards

Encouragement E-Cards

Weekend E-Cards

Drinking Decathlon

Hurling: Participants are judged on distance, consistency and odour in this projectile event.

Front Crawl: After losing the ability to walk, the athlete must crawl home without losing his keys or mobile.

Shot: Competitors must down the most measures without passing out, hallucinating, or vomiting.

100 Litres: Staying power and incredible bladder control are essential in this event.

Asymmetric Bars: Combines "propping up the bar" with a tricky reaching maneuver. Points are awarded on style and posture.

Rowing: With barely a nod to the Marquis of Queensbury rules, competitors must ensure that no one looks at their woman.

110m Hurdles: Often following the rowing event, the ability to out-run the law over any obstacles is tested here.

Weight Lifting: A test of both strength and friendship, participants must move their unconscious companion into a taxi.

Discuss: Competitors must talk on subjects about which they have no real knowledge. The winner is the last one to be able to form

3 Day Event: The purest of all endurance events, the action occurs between periods of unconsciousness.

Drunk Olympics

Drunk Olympic Games
Satire of athletic intoxication to beyond the breaking point:

Countries Worldwide send their Drunkest Athletes

Sober Olympics

Beijing AA Fellowship
Beijing AA offers English-speaking meetings:

AA Fellowship in 2008 Olympic Games Host City

Olympic Events Animations

Info about Olympic Events

Lords of the Olympic Rings
Like the fair young Faramir did in Lord of the Rings lore, is your country showing its quality?
Click for Olympic Medal Standings

Games or no games, medals or no medals,
always remember: Easy Does It!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Call Your Sponsor

When did you last call your sponsor?

Wet Drunks

The drunks in this video definitely need to dry out:

Recovery Prayer Room

Praying for Addiction Recovery
Have you known the pain of someone you love dying from drugs, or being a Jekyll and Hyde personality through drugs and alcohol? Are you being tempted into trying drugs yourself or do you binge drink to dull the pain and memories? You can pray for yourself here or for the person you know:

Online Prayer Room for Drugs and Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Rock 'n' Roll 'n' Rehab

Industry, Artists Coming to Grips with Addiction
Courtney Love , Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, Whitney Houston , Kelly Osbourne , Jo Dee Messina , Scott Weiland . The list goes on.

All are creative rock or pop stars and veterans of rehab for drug and/or alcohol addiction.

Is the drug-fueled rock era of the 1980s making a big comeback?

Highly doubtful, most counselors and doctors say. But the media's fascination with celebrity -- and all the pressure that it entails -- continues to fuel the highs and lows of an artist's life.

"In rock 'n' roll, you're supposed to be outrageous," says Dr. Lou Cox, a New York-based psychologist who specializes in addictions. "Being bad is good."

"The culture is not only supportive," he continues, "it's as if there is a demand for it -- like it's part of the credibility package."

Indeed, the long list of artists who have died of a drug overdose or a drug-related accident over the past 30 years includes some of the icons of rock 'n' roll.

The list ranges from the Doors' Jim Morrison , the Who's Keith Moon , the Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious, Jimi Hendrix , Janis Joplin and the Rolling Stones' Brian Jones to contemporary artists such as Sublime's Bradley Nowell and Blind Melon's Shannon Hoon .

Rising Awareness
But the culture of drug abuse is undergoing a major transition across the entire musical landscape, according to artists, managers and others in the industry.

"There is a higher degree of awareness," industry veteran and author Walter Yetnikoff says. "People know that recreational use can kill you."

And if it doesn't kill you, it can be a detriment to your career.
In today's climate, where the bottom line rules -- and everyone is accountable -- "the artists that keep it together are the winners," Atlantic Records chairman/CEO Jason Flom says.

In recent years, Natalie Cole , Ozzy Osbourne, Mary J. Blige , Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis, Michael Jackson and Dr. John, among other artists, have publicly dealt with their addictions.

"Today, there is a lot more demand for an artist's time," says Flom, who has been sober since 1987. "Artists must perform at the top of their game at all times."

For those with addiction issues, being at the top of their game means relapses are more often the rule than the exception, counselors confirm.

Nonesuch Records recently pushed back the release of Wilco's new album, "A Ghost Is Born," from June 8 to June 22. One of the reasons for this was to accommodate singer/songwriter Tweedy's rehab visit in April.

"Artists on drugs can definitely slow down the promotional process," Warner Bros. senior VP Liz Rosenberg says. "In the publicity world, this has a very strong impact."

Yetnikoff, who has been sober since 1989, chronicles his own substance-induced downfall in his newly published biography, "Howling at the Moon: The Odyssey of a Monstrous Music Mogul in an Age of Excess."

In the '80s, drug use was more prevalent, Yetnikoff notes. "Today, it's more spotty."

There are several reasons behind the trend. Artists have gone public with their sobriety in the past 20 years, communication about the dangers of addiction has improved, and rehab facilities have gotten better and are greater in number.

Rehab Goes Mainstream
Today's rehab centers -- Caron Foundation, Hazelden, Crossroads and others -- vary in terms of costs and services, which include interventions, detox treatments, 12-step programs and sober living environments.

Working hand in hand with some rehab centers are music industry-based organizations like MusiCares, Musicians' Assistance Program and Road Recovery.

In the ever-changing addiction scene, alcohol is a continuing problem. But doctors and counselors say such prescription painkillers as Vicodin and OxyContin have eclipsed street drugs (cocaine, heroin) during the past five years.

"You must be sensitive to potentially being arrested at border crossings while on tour," an artist manager says. "Prescription drugs are legal. Coke and heroin are not."

In February, country artist Jo Dee Messina entered a rehab facility in Utah for 10 weeks. She says she received some flack for "going public" with her alcohol addiction.

"People wanted to know why I would exploit the fact that I spent time in rehab," she says.

Bill Teuteberg, director of special projects for rehab center Caron Foundation, says the reaction is understandable.

"No one wants to be a poster child for recovery," he says. "It's not a role most artists assume on their own."

In addition, anonymity is key for the majority of people in recovery.

But Messina says she spoke out because she hoped her story "would help others who are dealing with their addictions."

Indeed, those inside the music industry -- artists, managers, agents, label executives, lawyers and others -- can relate (often secretly) to peers who openly acknowledge and deal with their demons. The same applies to music fans and enthusiasts.

Breaking Down Doors
Through the years, Dr. Cox has developed a system and workshop that addresses ego and teamwork.

"This gets to the root of the problem," he says. "Otherwise, it will resurface again and again."

Historically, addicts received all the attention -- they were viewed as the problem, Cox explains.

"But we learned that while the artist could be the outstanding problem, the entire system -- friends, family, business associates -- is hurting. Everyone needs to be involved in the process," he adds. "So, when the artist re-enters the system, those around him know exactly what's going on."

In the mid-1980s, Aerosmith broke down the door that made it OK for big-name artists to go public with their sobriety, according to industry observers.

In the years since, Eric Clapton , Boy George, Bonnie Raitt , James Taylor , Elton John and others have made their sobriety known.

"Aerosmith wears its sobriety on its sleeve," says Evolution Talent Agency co-founder Jonny Podell, who has been sober for 20 years. "The band has been a role model for thousands of others."

Podell and Cox were instrumental in helping the band change its addictive ways.

"Steven Tyler and Joe Perry began with interventions," Cox recalls. "After this, they realized they needed to be sober."

Cox worked with the band for nine years. In that time, he "got the whole Aerosmith system clean."

Los Angeles-based addictions specialist Bob Timmins says there is a correlation between addiction and the pressure to create that artists must withstand.

He says in reference to Tyler, "You have this wonderfully creative guy. The label sends him to a recording studio and says, 'Come back in three weeks with three hits.'"

Artists like Tyler feel this pressure, Timmins adds. "And people with a history of addiction will feel the need to get high to alleviate their feelings."

Warner Bros.' Rosenberg, who has worked with numerous superstars, acknowledges that artists are a special breed.

"Their highs and lows are more extreme," she says. "Imagine performing in front of 20,000 fans and then going back to your hotel room alone. For some artists, such extremes are not easy to deal with."

Which is one reason why former Porno for Pyros guitarist Peter DiStefano says he turned his back on the band in the late '90s.

"Everyone was smoking crack and doing heroin," DiStefano says of his Pyros days. "I tried every drug and all kinds of sex. I had to walk away from that money-making machine."

Seven years ago, DiStefano was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

"I was dying in many ways," he says. "So, I entered rehab for the eighth time and began chemotherapy treatment." He has been clean and sober -- and free of cancer -- since.

"It's about being completely honest with yourself," DiStefano adds. "Honesty keeps me sober."

DiStefano documents much of his journey on his new solo album, the aptly titled "Gratitude" (Sanctuary).

Traditionally, backstage areas were very toxic places, adds Neil Lasher, VP of promotion/marketing and artist relations at EMI Music Publishing.

"But that environment has changed over time," says Lasher, who is also a certified counselor.

New Services
In the '90s, Lasher, Timmins and others -- along with MusiCares -- came up with the idea for the Safe Harbor Room.

Instituted at the 39th annual Grammy Awards, the Safe Harbor Room is a backstage area that provides a support system to artists and crew members struggling with addiction issues.

Today, MusiCares has extended the Safe Harbor Room program to South by Southwest, the NAMM convention, Coachella, Ozzfest, the CMA Awards and other events.

The Safe Harbor Room is MusiCare's version of a hospitality suite. "Backstage areas can be a very intense environment," MusiCares director of addiction recovery services Harold Owens explains.

"It's the type of atmosphere where drug use and relapses are likely to occur," notes veteran guitarist Ricky Byrd, who has been sober for 17 years. "You play for 90 minutes and then have all this other time to do things."

Road Recovery co-founder Gene Bowen says one of Road Recovery's most popular services is its "sober road crew data base." Such a data base ensures that a sober artist is surrounded by a drug-free road crew.

Rosenberg says, "It's now considered hip for artists to take care of themselves. In previous years, drugs were more like a status symbol. Now, a healthy lifestyle is cooler than it used to be."

Michael Paoletta, Reuters/Billboard

Celebrity Rehab

VH1 Reality TV Show Official Site

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bloggers Anonymous

Blogging Addiction Satire
Do you check your blog stats a lot, occasionally getting up in the middle of the night to sneak a peak? Or do you binge-blog 3 or 4 posts at once only to feel guilty and empty afterward? Check yourself with these Mock 10 Signs of Blog Addiction:

Mock 10 Signs of Blogging Addiction

Twelve Steps to Blog Addiction Recovery (BAR)

BlogAnon - Husbands Against Blogging (HAG) and Wives Against Blogging (WAG)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Drugs and Dating

10 Reasons to Not Use Drugs on a Date

Emotional Health Tips

10 Things You Can Change
The next time you notice yourself feeling emotionally distressed — be it angry, anxious, sad, frustrated, guilty or ashamed — review these points and see if any apply to your situation. Being aware of these 10 common mental obstacles will allow you to take immediate, practical actions. Simply knowing how to go about solving your problems will make you feel in control of your life — putting you on the path to restoring your own emotional health:

10 Quick Tips for Change in Your Life

Mental Health Infomation and Resources

Monday, June 23, 2008

Comics about Alcoholism and Addiction

Captain Alcohol Comic Book about Alcoholism

Click to View this 1973 Issue of Captain Alcohol

AA and Al-anon Comics

Archived Collection of 1968-1974 AA and Al-anon Comics

Comics about Addiction and Social Problems

Drugs and other Social Issues Comic Books

Surviving Drug Addiction

True Story about Drug Addiction

"With all the beatings, injections, guns to my head, overdoses, needles, seizures, and surgeries, how could I still be alive? As I tramped the roadside gravel, I had no ready answer to this question. Every step sapped strength from my battered body. I began to comprehend the temporary nature of life and the finality of death. Death had tried to take me on several occasions, but thus far had failed. Would this be the night death triumphed? If so, bring it on!"
- quote from "Only Mortals Can Be Heroes" p 186

Only Mortals Can Be Heroes is a true story about a young boy, Adam Weaver, who experiences the pleasures and pains of the drug culture. Adam's adventure describes how he started drugging at age 12 because he wanted to fit in with his peers. After marijuana and beer came Ritalin, Oxycontin, Ecstasy, LSD, uppers, downers, cocaine and heroin, and everything in between, including a cocaine overdose at age 16 and a heroin overdose a few years later.

Click for the Only Mortals Can Be Heroes Website

Preview Video of this True Story about Drug Addiction

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Alcoholism and the Price of Beer and Gas

The Price of Beer and Gas

The Price of Alcoholism

In most places these days you'll pay more for gas than for beer. But for alcoholics the price of drinking includes a hidden cost.

There is s a popular belief among many in recovery from alcoholism that you can't change an alcoholic back into a social drinker. You can't change a pickle back into a cucumber. Once a pickle, always a pickle. For alcoholics, most attempts to return to social drinking are unsuccessful, sometimes with tragic or even fatal consequences.

Free Recovery Help

Through a program of recovery, many alcoholics are able to enjoy long-term sobriety.

You can read one man's stories on his blog about the Alcoholism Life Sentence

AA is a fellowship of men and women who offer Free Recovery Help Worldwide


Free Online Community and Tools to Indulge Healthy Living