Tag Archives: Alcoholics Anonymous

Addiction Recovery Asks Us to Give Back

Addiction recovery involves taking care of yourself and then turning your attention toward helping others find the courage to do the same. It is a simple formula that can produce remarkable results. Seeking assistance, breaking the cycle of self-destructive behaviors, and working a program is a second chance. No one takes the journey alone; together we have an opportunity to strive for a productive future.

In the realm of Alcoholics Anonymous, there exist a list of 12 Promises. Number three reads as follows, ’We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.’ Instead, people in recovery learn from it; our past experiences serve as a reminder of where we hope never to be again. Men and women can share their story with heads held high to inspire courage in the newcomer.

Individuals who traverse addiction treatment and dedicate themselves to a program of recovery have enormous potential. Early on, people learn that if they stay the course they will have few limitations. College degrees, dream jobs, and starting families are some prime examples. No matter which path one chooses, there is a constant: long-term recovery depends on finding some avenue of giving back. Whether it be in the Rooms, or volunteering to share at a treatment center, each person’s story is the embodiment of hope.

Upon completing treatment, persons often decide to take steps to work in the field of addiction recovery. Their experience proves invaluable in serving as behavioral technicians, counselors, or doctors. However, there are other lines of work – outside of rehab centers – that people get into to “pay it forward.”

A Different Kind of Barber Shop

Naturally, not everyone desires to work in a substance use disorder treatment center. It is possible to help people struggling with addiction beyond rehab. Some individuals, who provide services that every person needs, are using their unique forums to help others overcome the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol.

Two young people in recovery who have a passion for cutting men’s hair also believe in the power of community. Luke Noreen and Rocco Danieli own and operate Over The Top Barbershop in Wakefield, Massachusetts, NBC 10 reports. On the surface, Over The Top appears to be similar to other urban barbershops. Although, closer observation reveals that more than hair is being cut in Noreen and Danieli’s business. These men are shearing the stigma of addiction plaguing people in their area, and helping others break free.

Mr. Noreen and Danieli are in addiction recovery. They do not shy from taking the risk of hiring people with similar stories. While most barbers display family photos on their mirrors, these two men feature pictures of young overdose death victims, according to the article. They both understand the dangers of substance use and relapse. At Over The Top, the overdose reversal drug Naloxone is on hand in case of an emergency.

Unfortunately, one of the barber chairs in the shop is currently unmanned. In the seat, there is a picture of a former employee named Dean who recently died of an overdose. Noreen and Danieli supported Dean in his recovery, and now they are helping Dean’s father overcome grief.

With the epidemic it is crazy out here I got I don’t know how many. This is happening all around us," said Danieli.

Giving Back In Addiction Recovery

Mr. Danieli is sober from alcohol now for three years, and he keeps his “Big Book” on hand at the shop. He’s played witness to the devastating effects of drug addiction on more than just people in the community. His brother is also in recovery, the article reports. Sadly, his two sisters are victims of fatal overdoses.

Being a barber is about taking care of the people.” – Anthony Hamilton

Co-founder, Luke Noreen, has a similar story to tell; although, his path involved drug use. He starting using as a teenager and almost didn't make it out; but, today he has a vision thanks to working a program. He has a future and helps others realize similar prospects.

We are always looking out for one another. We know everyone by their first name. We know their families. We know what their cousin is going through. We are making phone calls trying to get their friends their family member into a detox into a rehab," said Noreen.

Down the road, the two young men hope to do even more for their community. They envision a place to host meetings; where people can talk about the epidemic, without stigma.

"I was given a second chance, and I am not going to waste it. I want to help others," Danieli said.

Addiction Treatment for Men

At PACE Recovery Center, our clinical staff can help you or a loved one take steps to lead a life that is happy, joyous and free. We specialize in the treatment of addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Please reach out to us today to learn more about our programs.

Recovery: A Great Liberation Movement

recovery

America has had a tumultuous relationship with alcohol since before we declared independence from Great Britain. In many ways, alcohol helped shape the nation we would become. After all, it was the whiskey drinking frontiersman that helped us achieve, at great moral costs, our manifest destiny. Over the centuries, the substance, and how it affected people, tested our humanity forcing us to take a hard look in the mirror.

The general public's perception of the alcoholic has taken many forms over the course of our history. From the godless and morally weak individual to the person suffering from a debilitating mental illness whom we see today. As with any mental health disorder, society's response to it over the decades has been anything but humane until the last few decades. But the story of alcoholism in America is as much about sobriety as it is about self-destruction. What’s more, every now and again we should pause. Take a moment, and consider the centuries’ long road to get where we are today regarding the disease of addiction in America.

We still have a long way to go, but addiction recovery in America is something to marvel over. The fact that we have recovery programs today rooted in compassion rather than punishment came at great pains. The history of which, is absolutely fascinating. It is worth remembering that Americans have been trying to recover from alcoholism since the 1700’s. We might consider this a nearly impossible task given the stigma that has long been attached to anyone who could not control their drinking. Given the terrible treatments imposed upon such people, right on into the twentieth century. And yet, in the wake of World War I, two people stumbled upon a method to achieve the goal of sobriety. Spawning a movement that would reshape public opinion about addiction.

Recovery in America, A Great Liberation Movement

You are in a 12-Step meeting today, looking around at people working towards the common goal of recovery, it can be hard to fully grasp how this all came to be. If you have spent some time reading the Big Book you know a little bit about the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. You learned what worked for people and what didn't. It is a program that works, and everyone working the program should be grateful for the thousands of people who helped make it what it is today. But there is more to the story of recovery in America than meets the eye. A subject matter that one author decided to tackle.

Drunks: An American History, by Christopher M. Finan, was published last week by Beacon Press, VICE News reports. Beginning in the 17th century, the book tells the story of the many movements over the years to encourage sobriety in America. Believe it or not, Finan found the first evidence of prohibition in America dating back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1633. From Native Americans battling the grips of whiskey introduced by settlers right on through Betty Ford’s new treatment center in the 1980’s.

The author himself comes from a long line of alcoholics, according to the article. Finan points out that the modern view of addiction is the byproduct of centuries of advocates and alcoholics putting up the good fight. The book talks about the doctors who had an important role in showing that alcoholism was not a moral failing, but a disease from which it was possible to recover. Finan calls sobriety one of the "great liberation movements."

Drunks: A History of People Trying to Get Free

Naturally, it would be impossible to cover all that is included in the book in this short article. But we would be remiss if we didn’t include a few tidbits from an interview Finan gave to VICE writer Rachel Riederer. One of the more interesting points of the book includes a quote from Abraham Lincoln that the news organization asked about.

I love the Abraham Lincoln quotation that you include about the "heads and hearts of habitual drunkards." It's a warm description—very different from the way that many others talk about drunks.

"It is a constant theme, to push back against the image of them as the town drunks, the degenerates, and to make the point that alcoholism affects all classes of society and it afflicts the best and brightest. It's often a reaction to how terrible the stigma was against alcoholics: the idea that alcoholics deserved to suffer because they were bad people, they were criminals, they were weaklings, they were sinners. The tremendous humanitarianism of Lincoln is well-known, but I hadn't known until I started working on this book that it extended to drunks."

The final interview question touched on treating addiction in America today.

I'm curious about what you think about the current culture around drinking and sobriety.

"I think that a lot of the progress we've made is permanent. As long as people are staying sober and can remember what it was like for them, whether in AA or some other sobriety group, this is one of the defining experiences of their lives and they aren't about to let anybody deny or diminish the truth of what they've experienced. [But] alcoholism is still a tremendous problem, and the amount of treatment is completely inadequate…"

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

Anyone who has been touched by the disease of addiction, or has a loved one struggling with it may want to pick up a copy of the book. It is a history that led to the effective methods of treatment that are utilized today across the country. Methods that are still being enhanced and improved upon. If you or family members are in need of help for an alcohol use disorder, please contact PACE Recovery Center today. Our highly trained staff employs scientific, evidence-based techniques to help break the cycle of addiction. In conjunction with the 12-Steps, clients have the best chance of achieving continued, long-term sobriety from alcohol. Going on to live fulfilling and productive lives.

Addiction Recovery After Relapse

relapse

July 4th has come and gone, once again. For many of you working a program of addiction recovery, it is probably a relief. Especially for those of you who kept your recovery intact over the long holiday weekend. On the other hand, there are a number of recovery community members who relapsed at some point between Friday and yesterday. It happens every year. In many ways, our Independence Day is inextricably linked to pervasive heavy alcohol consumption. The temptation is especially great around this time of year.

If you relapsed this weekend, you are probably laden with feelings of guilt and shame. It is, in many ways, a natural response to picking up a drink or drug after acquiring some sober and clean time. Anyone who acquires some length of time in the program knows that it resulted from hard work and dedication. After a relapse, it can be easy to feel like it was all for naught. However, that is not necessarily the case, assuming one doesn’t go from a relapse to full-blown active addiction.

You are right to feel upset after relapsing. That is, to feel like you let yourself and others down due to a decision that was hardly worth it. Any one of our readers whose recovery story includes a relapse, knows that taking that first drink or drug is never accompanied by relief. It is hard to enjoy a belly full of beer with a head full of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). They will also agree that while it was humbling to have to identify as a newcomer again, it was worth it. The alternative to getting back up onto the recovery horse after a fall is never beneficial. But, and sadly, a large percentage of people who relapse, continue down the perilous path driven by shame and guilt.

Committing Yourself to Addiction Recovery, Again

It may seem like your relapse came out of nowhere. Just an unexpected event that jeopardized your program. Please keep in mind, nobody working a program just accidentally trips and falls into a pool of alcohol. A relapse usually begins long before taking that first drink or drug. Happening gradually and incrementally. Taking the form of isolating behavior, not calling your sponsor as much or going to fewer meetings. Then, often when it is least expected, one finds themselves in a position of vulnerability.

One begins to think that they have their disease under control; that their addiction recovery is strong, even while going to events typified by alcohol use, or hanging out with people who are using. For a time, resistance may be possible, but more times than not a relapse is fast approaching. One only need a holiday, which is already fairly stressful, to be pushed over the edge.

While the road to relapse may zig and zig in different ways, from one person to the next, the road back to recovery should be fairly consistent in nature. If you relapsed and have not called your sponsor, please do so immediately. And do so knowing that your sponsor will not judge or look down on you. Addiction recovery is rooted in compassion, not shaming or guilting people about a decision that comes naturally. Make no mistake, drinking and drugging is the alcoholic and addict’s natural state. News of relapse, while unfortunate, is not cause for making a person smaller than they already feel.

So call your sponsor and get to a meeting. Identify as a newcomer and grab a chip. Doing so will let your “homegroup” know that you are recommitting yourself to the program. You may be inclined to think that your peers will look at your differently. Conversely, what is likelier is that they will reach out to offer their support and commend you for taking the courageous step of re-identifying as a newcomer.

Listen to what they have to say, following direction in early recovery is crucial for not repeating the same errors again. Be open and honest with your sponsor about what is going on with you, so you two can determine what kind of adjustments should be made to avoid another relapse. Remember, you are not the first person working a program of addiction recovery to relapse. What’s more, it is not uncommon for people to go on from relapse to acquire significant time in the program—decades even. There isn’t any reason why your return to the program from a relapse can’t have a fruitful outcome.

Addiction Treatment Might Be Needed

In some cases, a weekend relapse may morph into continued use for weeks and even months. Just going back into the recovery rooms in such cases may not be enough. Detox and residential treatment might be needed to ensure positive results. If you are a young adult male who feels like you need extra support, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We can help you address what led to your relapse and to better ensure that it does not happen again.

Alcoholics Anonymous Sues for The Big Book

alcoholics anonymous

It is probably fair to say that the when Dr. Bob and Bill W met for the first time, they did not have even the faintest of idea as to the impact their mission would have on history. Two newly sober drunks just trying to live a life free from alcohol, who realized that the only way to keep what they had was to give it away. To help others experience the gift through fellowship, community and all that is possible free from the fog of inebriation.

From small beginnings, and a serious learning curve, a small group of people would go on to lay the framework for what would become a lifesaving gift for not just alcoholics, but society. Their fellowship was free from monetary incentives or prestige, designed to function in relative obscurity for decades before an invitation into the light by the ever-changing culture. The program was breaking down the stigma that has accompanied addiction for time immemorial, forcing the world to see that alcoholics and addicts were not morally bankrupt individuals, unable to control their selfish wants and desires. But, rather, millions of people who were sick, needed treatment and compassion. Not jail cells, sanatoriums or being castaway as social pariahs.

Over the last 82 years, the program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has undergone several changes in how meetings are conducted, but one thing has remained relatively unchanged—the 12 steps and the book that explains how to work them. Wording has changed, but the traditions and principles have held true. The program could work for anything that makes one’s life unmanageable. As testament to the power of the program, you can remove the word alcohol and replace it with anything that you are powerless over. And if you work the program honestly, recovery is possible.

The Big Book

If you have ever attended a meeting of AA, then you probably noticed a number of texts sitting up on the front table. Books approved by the Alcoholics Anonymous World Services (AAWS), deemed to be beneficial in the effort to stay sober—no matter what. The most important book happens to be the biggest, hence the working manuscripts moniker the “Big Book.” It includes within the writing instructions for working the program with the help of others, followed by several personal stories that recovering alcoholics can relate to.

One the major focal points of the program is the idea that while we all have different stories, inside each one can be found similarities. Powerlessness, unmanageability, surrender, acceptance and resolve. All of which can be found inside the stories in The Big Book. Like many other books that have served as spiritual compasses for humanity, the basic text of AA has helped people climb out of the abysmal depths of despair into the light of the spirit. Giving energy to those who have and are making the journey to help others out of the lonely cave of addiction.

The first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism (called The Big Book because of how thick the pages were) was published in 1939, written mainly by Bill Wilson. Much like the other spiritual texts of antiquity, The Big Book has outsold most writings to ever grace a printing press. To date, the basic text has sold over 30 million copies, according to the Akron Beacon Journal, and has served as footprint for numerous organizations whose aim is to help people recover from debilitating spiritual crises. The Library of Congress deemed the book one of 88 "Books that Shaped America." Some twenty-years after the creation of AA the American Medical Association (AMA) declared alcoholism a medical illness, so it was fitting when the thirty-millionth copy of The Big Book was presented to the AMA.

But, What Happened to The Original Manuscript?

Any Big Book, no matter the edition has the power to save lives, but who could not help but wonder where the original manuscript landed after 78 years. It turns out that very question is the subject of a lawsuit filed on Monday by AAWS. The organization is suing the auction house, Roberts and QuestRoyal Fine Art, a New York gallery, who have plans to auction the manuscript on June 8th, Reuters reports. The manuscript was intended to be gifted to AAWS but was purchased in 2007 for $992,000 at Sotheby's just three months before by one Ken Roberts. And according to the plaintiff, Roberts does not have the right to consign the manuscript because it had been gifted to AA in 1979.

The manuscript is an original, historical document of unique importance to AAWS, and undeniably is a critical piece of its history," and the defendants "are wrongfully detaining the manuscript for their own pecuniary gain," the complaint said.

For more information on the case: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. v Roberts et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 652676/2017.

Celebration of Founder’s Day

This court case may go on for quite a while; however, it is important to remember that Alcoholics Anonymous Founders’ Day 2017 will be celebrated in Akron, Ohio, on June 9, 10, and 11th. You may want to consider joining in the anniversary festivities.

12-Step Recovery Roots—Eighty-One Years

12-StepsIt is a common saying that alcoholics drink alone—but they get sober together. If you have ever attended a 12-Step meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), there is a good chance you have heard someone say something to that effect. Whether attending 12-Step meetings to help abstain from alcohol, other mind altering substances or for any one of a hundred unhealthy behaviors, it is by and large agreed upon that the 12-Step modality of recovery has proven to be the most effective method of recovery for the greatest number of people. Millions of people across the planet have been able to break the cycle of addiction, live a healthy productive life and help others do the same by using the principles laid out in 12-Step programs. It is fair to say, that many of those same people owe their lives to such programs of recovery. The acknowledgement of which is the catalyst which compels addicts and alcoholics in recovery to help the newcomer find the miracles of recovery through sponsorship and a deep rooted community.

Eighty-One Years of Recovery

No matter which “anonymous” program[s] you find yourself affiliated with, the modality of recovery can be traced back 81 years this month. In 1935, two hopeless alcoholics converged in Akron, Ohio. At which time Bill Wilson explained to Dr. Bob Smith how he had found a way to refrain from drinking, which led the two men to develop a program of sobriety through the support of other alcoholics. The meeting between Bill W. and Dr. Bob would be the spark setting off a chain reaction that was perhaps the first miracle of recovery. It was determined that only by giving the gift of sobriety away, could one keep their own recovery—becoming the “golden rule” of addiction recovery. Over the years, what started as a meeting of two alcoholics driven to abstain from alcohol, morphed into three—exponentially increasing its size with relative speed. Chapters were formed across the country and today AA meetings can be found in all fifty states. What’s more, you can find one alcoholic helping another through the principles of AA in approximately 170 countries worldwide, according to AA’s General Service Office.

12-Step Gateway

At PACE Recovery Center, we would like to acknowledge everyone who has come before and is working a program of recovery through the 12-Steps. Our mission is to provide our clients with a safe and supportive environment to help them overcome the challenges of addiction. We'll introduce you to the principles of 12-Step programs, by way of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), et. al. It is an introduction which will help you maintain your sobriety, upon completion of your stay with us.

Be Aware Of The Power Of Touch

The Power of Touch
The Power of Touch
When a friend of mine was a waitress in a local restaurant she said she could always tell when she was serving people who had just come from a Twelve Step meeting; "They are the ones that are always hugging each other!" she exclaimed. Those of us who have developed a high comfort level with physical contact, such as an arm around the shoulder or a hug, sometimes forget that we are part of a larger society that provides very complex and contradictory messages about touch. Physical contact between two people can have a powerful effect, positive or negative. There are several dynamics that play a role in a person's view of touch which are worth examining.

The Role Of Culture

The United States is generally considered to be a non-touch culture by most researchers. One study documented a very low rate of physical contact between pairs of Americans in a coffee shop setting, as compared to pairs from three other countries. The researchers observed of pairs of people as they engaged in routine conversations within the setting of a coffee shop. During a one-hour period of time, the average number of touch exchanges between the subjects ranged from 180 in San Juan (Puerto Rico) to 110 in Paris (France) to 2 in Gainesville, FL. (United States). Only the English engaged in less touch than the Americans (0 touches). From these results we can safety assume that many Americans will be uncomfortable with touch coming from a non-family member.

The Role Of Gender

It is common knowledge that males and females differ in their views of touch. The process of learning gender roles starts at a very young age. Studies of parents of infants found that touch was offered to female children with greater frequency than to male children of the same age. Mothers more frequently touched their sons than did fathers. Fathers more frequently touched their daughters than they did their sons. As children get older this trend continues. When 3-to-5-year-old children are dropped off at day care centers fewer expressions of physical affection such as hugging, cuddling, holding, or kissing take place between parents and boys than between girls and their parents. In addition to receiving less touch than girls, as boys grow into men they are socialized to become easily aroused sexually by physical contact and, therefore, they have a diminished capacity than women to view comforting touch as a goal in itself rather than the beginning of a sexual encounter. This view of any form of touch being sexual combined with a fear of being labeled homosexual leads to a high likelihood of males responding negatively to being touched by another man.

The Role Of Physical And Sexual Abuse

A history of physical and/or sexual abuse is commonly found in those who attend mutual-help groups. Both males and females who have experienced childhood abuse often have negative reactions to touch, particularly if it occurs without warning, such as someone coming from behind them. Those persons who have only experienced touch as violence or as sexual may be suspicious of any form of touch, regardless of the other person's good intentions.

The Role Of Addiction

Children who are born physically addicted to alcohol or other drugs commonly exhibit a decreased desire or an actual aversion for touch. Malfunctions in the addicted infant's nervous system frequently cause excessive sleeping or to crying. Many of these children shun physical contact, are non-responsive to being held, and experience difficulties in bonding with their caregivers. Such children can be extremely frustrating for even the most competent and well-intentioned adult, and it is common for caregivers to feel rejected, irritated, or incompetent when such children fail to respond to efforts to soothe or nurture them. Furthermore, if the adult caregiver is also an addict herself, chances are that she is a person who has diminished self-esteem, a low tolerance for stress, and difficulty forming intimate relationships, all of which increase the risk factor that a child in her care may be physically abused leading to even further problems related to touch as an adult.

Guidelines To Consider When Offering Touch To Others

Although even with the best intentions any touch may be misinterpreted, there are several factors to keep in mind when offering touch so that it will likely be viewed by others as both comforting and non-sexual.

Asking First

If at all in doubt, ask the person if a hug or other physical contact would be welcome. Do not merely assume because you would find a hug comforting that everyone shares your comfort with touch.

Having Already Formed A Relationship With The Person

The offer of a hug is more likely to be seen as a helpful gesture if you have already shown compassion for the suffering of another in ways other than the use of touch, for example, saying supportive things or taking time to listen to the person's problems. A hug or other form of physical contact is usually more meaningful from a trusted person than from a stranger. In other words, a hug ought to be the expression of a relationship that already exists rather than an attempt to form a relationship.

An Ability To Keep One's Ego At Bay

An ability to keep one's ego uninvolved in the process, which includes giving up any pre-determined agenda in order to be fully available for the needs of the other person is mandatory if the touch is to be for their benefit. In other words, if you take it personally whether another persons wants a hug or not the touch is more for your benefit than the other person's. This is particularly important for members of Al-anon to remember. New members often have a difficult time allowing others to experience the pain that is a part of the recovery process. They have a difficult time standing by and being present while another person expresses pain. They want to make it all better immediately. The hug is sometimes more about their own discomfort of seeing someone in pain than for the benefit of the other person.

Being Thoughtful About Touch

For a hug to be meaningful it has to be given in a thoughtful manner. The hug that is given out of habit rather than out of a sincere desire to be supportive has no effect at best, or is taken as an insult by the recipient.

Touching Both And Men And Women In A Similar Fashion

A heterosexual person who only offers hugs to persons of the other sex ought not to be surprised to learn that people are suspicious that these hugs are more about sexuality than about support.

A Final Reminder

One of the things meetings can offer is a safe place to experience comforting non-sexual touch. However, one must always keep in mind that other members may have very different views of the meaning of touch and approach any touch with caution. Anything powerful enough to heal also has the power to harm, and touch is no exception. ________________________________________ Dr. Mic Hunter is the author of: The Ethical Use Of Touch In Psychotherapy (with Jim Struve) Back To The Source: The Spiritual Principles Of Jesus, Conscious Contact: The 12 Steps As Prayer Honor Betrayed: Sexual Abuse In America’s Military, Abused Boys: The Neglects Victims of Sexual Abuse His solo practice is located in St. Paul, Minnesota.