Thursday, February 23, 2017


     The disease of addiction is a war gamer and the recovering addict is the disease's opponent. There are many dangerous games addiction plays with those new in recovery, and one of the many is "I never got in trouble with [Insert drug name], so maybe I could safely use that."
      When  I came into the program I was a rank amateur as a drug addict. My drugs were alcohol and prescription medications. Beginning in rehab, talking with the other patients, and later in meetings and talking with my brothers and sisters in Narcotics Anonymous, I learned about the world of drugs, the overwhelming majority of which  I had never used.
     A drug is a drug, I knew. Using or substituting one for another triggers the craving all over again, sending the addict back into the nightmare. It's right there in the readings, the literature, what the old-timers share during meetings.

Yeah, but. . . .
     But I never even tried pot, or Coors, or wine spritzers. Cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, crack . . . There had to be something I could use and not get addicted. 
     There were other newcomers in my home group, and my disease had me go to them for counsel rather than to those with time clean. After all, we learned as children not to ask permission from those we knew were going to say "No." Still, during one such parking lot discussion at night after a meeting, an old-timer was listening to the conversation. We all knew who it was when he laughed, his laugh being very distinctive.
    "Sorry," he said. "Just remembering something. Back when I was new in the program the old-timers called what you're planning 'riding pogo sticks through a minefield'. A couple days ago at a meeting I heard it called 'playing leapfrog with a unicorn'."


Monday, February 20, 2017


The Russian optimist says: "Things cannot get any worse."
The addict optimist says: "Yes they can!"

     It is said a grateful addict never uses. When feeling down, sponsors will often suggest making a gratitude list. In one or two previous posts on this blog I've written on how to do a gratitude list. It is a good first step in pulling oneself out of the self-pity chasm.
     The disease knows if my attitude goes down and stays down long enough, I'll use. There is nothing I can gain from using, not even a temporary relief from pain. If I think it through, I remember all of the pain I was enduring as an active addict. I didn't get clean because everything was going great in my life. So, what's the alternative?
     When you are feeling down there are a great many alternatives to using: gratitude lists, meetings, telephone another addict, talk to your sponsor (and if you don't have one, get one!), help someone else, get into program service work, read program literature, work on your Steps with your sponsor, or begin your day over.
     One thing is to live in the solution rather than living in the problem. What does that mean?
     Living in the problem: "Look at what happened to me!"
     Living in the solution: "Okay, what am I going to do about it?"
     Your attitude, how you feel, is your choice as long as you remain clean and in recovery. The moment you pick up you zero out your choices.
      Thanks for looking in and pick a great day for yourself.


Thursday, February 16, 2017


Walking into an NA meeting doesn't make you a recovering addict any more than walking into a mosque makes you a Muslim. Both depend on what you do when you are there and when you are not there.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017


Experience is the thing you have left
when everything else is gone.

 When I was new in recovery, I had a disease blowing dragon smoke in my ear. There were lots of drugs I'd never tried, and therefore hadn't gotten into trouble with. And in those days, Cocaine and pot were considered "only psychologically addictive." And a couple beers on a hot day, some wine or a cocktail at dinner —I mean, it was the compulsive use, the overuse of drugs that was the problem, right? Right?

All this NA "is a program of complete abstinence from all drugs" is bullshit, right? Don't some cardiac patients have to take drugs? Diabetics? Those with cancer? So there are exceptions, right?
So . . . maybe I can go use recreationally without triggering off my addiction. Whadya think?
I heard a newcomer say something like that to an old-timer in the program. The old-timer snorted, shrugged and said, "Anything's possible. You might just be the first."

I recently got a message from someone new in recovery to the effect that alcohol might not be a problem for that person. Time to bail out of the program and experiment.

Yeah. This is a mistake. You know the person is an accident going someplace to happen. What you never know is if they will live long enough to make it back into recovery. It's not like that person didn't know. You know that person has heard those lines a hundred times or more at the beginning of every NA meeting:

"Thinking of alcohol as different from other drugs has caused a great many addicts to relapse . . . we cannot afford to be confused about this. Alcohol is a drug. We are people with the disease of addiction who must abstain from all drugs in order to recover." [Narcotics Anonymous, 6th Ed, p.18]

There are NA groups in Maine who make it a practice during that particular reading to shout "duh!" after the word relapse above, and shout period! after the word recover.

Okay, it's not all drugs. You may take your heart medication. It is all mood-altering drugs. Is alcohol a mood altering drug? Yes! The organization that fathered all Twelve Step programs, Alcoholics Anonymous, figured that out in the Nineteen thirties, the medical community getting the message some time later.

A drug is a drug.
Alcohol is a drug.
Picking up and using any mood altering drug sends recovering addicts back into the nightmare.

So, what did I do in early recovery trying to decide if I'm really an addict, and if there were any of those mood-altering formulas that might not get me into trouble? Staying clean and in the program struck me as the most sensible place to gather evidence, learn what I could, and then make a decision.

You have doubts about being an addict, reservations about giving up certain drugs, afraid you might be missing out on the good life? Clean and in the program is where to gather evidence and make such decisions. You can take advantage of the experiences of those recovering addicts sitting in the circle. You don't have to lose everything, including your life, to figure out addiction is your problem and safely using mood-altering drugs is not a possibility.

One of the first AA slogans was "Think." Then came, "Think First," and "Think It Through." Another question to ask yourself when contemplating using a drug or substituting one for another, is this:
"What could possibly go wrong?"

Saturday, February 04, 2017


Ralph, new in the program, was walking in the woods thinking about his new sponsor's urging that he think seriously about getting a Higher Power. After a life of atheism, Ralph decided taking up a faith in some kind of deity would be rank hypocrisy, so he decided to do without. Besides, it was a beautiful day in the woods, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, the leaves on the trees above him whispering in soft warm breezes. Wasn't that spiritual?
Just then Ralph heard rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned and saw an eight foot grizzly bear charge toward him. Running as fast as he could, Ralph glanced over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing on him. Just then he tripped on an exposed root and fell on the ground. He rolled over and saw that the bear was over him, roaring, its huge clawed paws waving over its head the bear ready to strike.
"Oh, my god!" cried Ralph.
Time stopped.
The bear froze.
All was silent.
As a bright light came from the sky, Ralph heard a voice say, "Didn't your sponsor tell you to get a Higher Power? Are you ready for one now?"
Ralph was consistent, if not sensible. "It would be hypocritical of me to change my whole life and suddenly ask a god, which you seem to think you are, to protect me." The bear was still up there, however, claws poised to tear Ralph to pieces, drool still dangling from the tips of the beast's teeth. Ralph happened upon a way to work around all the Higher Power/menacing bear stuff.
"So," prompted the voice, "am I your Higher Power now?"
"No. I'm not ready for that just yet. But maybe you could make the bear a Christian?"
"Very well," said the voice."
The light dimmed.
The sounds of the forest resumed.
The bear looked confused for a moment, then bowed its head, put its paws together, and said, "Lord bless this food, which I am about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen."


Sunday, January 29, 2017


A lady goes to her priest one day and tells him, "Father, I have a problem. I have two female talking parrots, but they only ever say one thing."
"What do they say?" the priest inquired.
"They say, 'Hi, we're hookers! Do you want to have some fun?'"
"That's obscene!" the priest exclaimed. Then he thought for a moment. "You know," he said, "I may have a solution to your problem. I have two male talking parrots, who I have taught to pray and read the Bible. Bring your two parrots over to my house, and we'll put them in the cage with Francis and Peter. My parrots can teach your parrots to praise and worship, and your parrots will surely stop saying that awful phrase."
The next day, She brought her female parrots to the priest's house. As the priest ushered her in, she saw that his two male parrots were inside their cage holding rosary beads and praying. Very impressed, she walked over and placed her parrots in with them.
After a long moment, the female parrots cried out in unison to the male parrots:  "Hi, we're hookers. Do you want to have some fun?"
There was stunned silence as the woman and the priest waited to see what would happen.
Then one male parrot turned and looked at the other male parrot. "My god, Frank, the program really works," he said. "Our prayers have been answered."

Saturday, January 28, 2017