Tuesday, October 27, 2015


A newcomer to Narcotics Anonymous, discouraged with his attempts at trying to get free of his addiction, said to an old-timer, "The NA program just doesn't work for me."

"That's no surprise," said the old-timer. "The program doesn't work for anybody. To get and stay clean, you have to work the program."

It's an action program. The work involved isn't anywhere near as exhausting as chasing and paying for that high, but there is work involved: Not picking up that drug, going to meetings, getting and using a sponsor, learning about the disease of addition, and reprogramming yourself back into being a human being through working the Twelve Steps. There is also getting and using a Higher Power.

Praying by itself simply didn't work for me nor any addict I ever met. As an old-timer years ago put it, "A Higher Power doesn't read want ads, ring doorbells, pay bills, make apologies, loan money, impress judges, or dig ditches. If you ask your HP for help as you do those things, however, you'll get it." 

For years we prayed for a particular person, the son of one of the members of our group, to see the light, put down the drug, get into the program, and live.

It didn't work; He died using.

It shook our faith a bit until an old-timer pointed out, "God can't cure someone who doesn't want the cure. It takes a team to keep you clean: Meetings, other recovering addicts, a sponsor, a program, a Higher Power, and you. If you are not on your own team, there is nothing anyone nor any power can do.

It is an Action, not a Traction, program. Get on your own team and do the work, or hang back and wallow in never ending nightmares.

Do you want to get clean? Stay clean?

Do you want it enough to work for it?

Your choice.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I was called into a local hospital by a drug counselor who said that there was an addict there "who asked for help." When I arrived at the counselor's office, he took me upstairs to the patient's room. I sat in a chair and the counselor tore off into a festival of rage at the young man for using and overdosing after he had promised promised! the counselor he would never use again.

The kid was in bed, urinating into a plastic bag, and being fed intravenously because his stomach as well as a few other organs had shut down. He was about twenty years old, skinny, sallow-faced, and patched up here and there with bandages, and could hardly stay awake. High on coke, he had gotten on his Harley, had a losing argument with a truck at an intersection, and had been defibrillated twice in the ambulance on the way to the hospital to keep him alive.

Finally the counselor stopped yelling at the kid, turned to me, and said, "Maybe you can do something with him." Then he stormed out of the room. It was pretty clear by then that the counselor and I had different definitions of "asking for help."

I asked the kid, "Do you think you have a problem with drugs?"

"No," he answered. "My only problem is the three thousand dollars I owe my dealer. Once I have that paid off, I'll be fine." Apparently his dealer was looking for him with a gun.

"Good luck," I said, then left the room.

The counselor wanted to know if that was the extent of the help I could offer. I answered that if that Mack Truck, peeing into a bag, being hit with the paddles twice, and being chased by a man with a gun hadn't convinced him he had a drug problem, what did he expect me to do? The only help I had to offer had and still has a prerequisite: as the venerable AA bumper sticker says: "You Gotta Wanna."

Three days after being released from the hospital, the young man mentioned above died from a drug overdose.

Got a drug problem? That's a very important question to answer correctly. If you have a drug problem, the right answer will open to you worlds of help and recovery, a rebirth into sanity and renewed membership in the human race. You'll go to meetings, work the Steps, get to know and be helped by some of the best people in the world. You'll get to become a human being.

Answer the question incorrectly, you get to go to other meetings but in either jail, insane asylum, or graveyard.

Had enough? Before answering that question, keep in mind that the overwhelming majority of active drug addicts land in either jails, institutions, or graveyards without allowing themselves to realize that their use of drugs was the problem, not the answer.

Have a great day, be good to yourself, and good luck.

Sunday, October 04, 2015


For two or three years every time I would pass a particular auto repair garage on my way to the Saturday morning Nineish Meeting ("If you show before eleven, you're on time") I would pass their sign that said, "We can fix it."

Depending on where my attitude was, I would either laugh, get angry, or feel bitter as I inventoried all of things going on in my life, and the lives of others, the owners of that establishment could not "fix." Often it would make me think of the origin of the word "fix," which did not have it's modern meaning of "repair."

It the times of ancient Rome, when you were really pissed off at someone, the curse was, "I'll fix you." The "fixing" involved writing down upon a small sheet of lead all of the horrible things one wanted the gods to inflict upon the cursed in the afterlife, folding the lead sheet, and "fixing" it or nailing it, onto the cursed's coffin or tomb after he or she died.

"I fixed her," eventually evolved to become, "I fixed that car." Considering some of the crappy repair jobs I've gotten on cars over the years, however, "fixed " apparently hasn't lost all of its original meaning.

"We can fix it." That sign messed with my mind so many times, I even had my sleuth in the Joe Torio series express frustration over it (in Rope, Paper, Scissors). There, too, was a situation that no one without a time machine could remedy, and there are no time machines in the Joe Torio universe.

Yesterday when I went to the Nineish Group Meeting, I passed the same auto repair garage, and their sign was advertising some deal: oil change, tune up, muffler, or some such, and I realized there was a part of me that missed the original sign. "We can fix it," was a hopeful but hopelessly naïve claim reminiscent of the "addiction cure" commercials I've seen on television over the years.

"We do not believe in the disease concept."
"This is not based on a Twelve Step program"
"And so-and-so cured my addiction!" 
. . . Nah, I don't think so.

Here is what "curing" addiction would mean: It would result in the "former" addict being able to "safely" use drugs(!): Recreational mainlining, smoking, snorting, popping, and chugging. Those who believe that and try it truly get "fixed."

No one can cure addiction, but through working a Twelve Step program of recovery, millions have repaired their lives and helped repair the lives of others.

When I was in aftercare, one of my groupmates said something quite profound: "I hope they never come up with a pill that cures alcoholism. If they ever did, the first thing I'd do is pop one of those pills, head for a bar, and get wasted."

Addiction can be arrested. Even science fiction hasn't come up with even a believable cure. Addiction is like playing chess with a computer set on "easy." The computer set for an easy game isn't very smart, but it will never miss and always take advantage of every one of your blunders. So, be careful out there.

California Clean and a Brief Peek at Reality

  Denial, that old Egyptian river. It is the principle symptom of active addiction. This is why addiction is often described as the disease...