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Jan Edward Williams, MS, JD, LCADC
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From Jan Williams, MS, JD, LCADC, site owner:

Online Addictions Services

Through this site, I offer free addictions information as well as professional services based on my 35 years of experience as a licensed addictions counselor and 37 years of personal recovery. My DUI alcohol evaluation, counseling, recovery coaching, and educational services are presented through email, telephone, and Skype sessions. Payment for services is done through PayPal and is secure, and encrypted. Please contact me at 443-610-3569 with any questions or concerns about my services. As you can see by reading my blog posts, I favor a spiritually based approach to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, but recognize there are many paths to recovery and will support any rationally based approach to seeking abstinence. Out of respect for the Traditions of the 12 Step Programs, I strive to avoid any specific personal references to my membership in 12 Step Programs.

Addictions Recovery Blog

I offer through the blog portion of the site an opportunity for discussion, by me and the public, of addiction, addiction treatment, recovery, support services, 12 Step Programs, and any other material relevant to addictions and recovery. Newcomers to recovery, old timers, addictions professionals, significant others of a person with a drug or alcohol problem, are all welcome. Registration is required to cut down on spam and other unsavory intrusions.

The rules for blog participation are simple:

  • You must register and login in order to activate the comment functionality
  • Be respectful in your comments
  • Do not use profanity.

The Serenity Prayer: A Powerful Recovery Tool

Addictive disease, be it cocaine, heroin, alcohol, gambling, or other addiction, has a powerful grip on those suffering from it. Therefore, recovery from addiction must harness powerful measures to combat the power of addiction. Recovery tools can be lifesaving measures for recovering individuals. The Serenity Prayer is one such powerful recovery tool:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can, and
The wisdom to know the difference.

In my view, the Serenity Prayer, properly interpreted and used, can not only be a tool for addiction recovery but also a tool for ongoing mental health. Here is the way I interpret the Serenity Prayer and try to use it on a daily basis:


Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, OTHER PEOPLE AND MANY EVENTS IN MY LIFE,

Grant me the courage to change the things I can, ME AND HOW I REACT TO PEOPLE AND EVENTS IN MY LIFE, 

and the wisdom to know the difference.

A recovering individual will face frustration and ultimately relapse by focusing on changing other people and many events in life and should focus on what he/she can change, namely, how he/she reacts to people and life. We always have the ability to address our own thinking (cognitions) and emotional and behavioral reactions to people and events. The folks in Al-Anon have a short phrase that encapsulates some of this: mind your own business. The wisdom comes from daily attempts, with success and failure, to apply the Serenity Prayer tool, from doing so without use of alcohol or other drugs, and from seeking the strength from God, or other source of spiritual strength, to persevere in the task.

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams,, 07/27/2015.

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In Order to Keep It, You Have to Give It Away!

Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction using the Twelve Step Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous involves a lot of work on self, but a basic tenet of 12 Step recovery is summed up in this common guideline: In order to keep your recovery or sobriety, you must give it away. Or, put another way, using the words of the AA preamble: "Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholicss to achieve sobriety." Here is how NA states this concept in their publication, Who, What, How and Why (White Booklet): "The newcomer is the most important person at any meeting, because we can only keep what we have by giving it away."

Often, members of AA or NA, even those with long term recovery, may feel that they are not good speakers, don't seem to have made great progress in working the 12 Steps of recovery, or in some other ways think they may not have anything to offer the newcomer or have anything "to give away." I ran across this quote in one of the daily meditation books I read, which is encouraging in its message that any individual in recovery may help another, even with only a smile directed toward another at a meeting:

"They might not need me;
but they might.
I'll let my head be just in sight;
a smile as small as mine might be precisely their necessity."
--Emily Dickinson

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, 06/22/2015,

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Does Every Drink with Alcohol Constitute A Relapse for the Recovering Individual?

Here are a couple of scenarios to put this question in some context. I am at a party where liquor is served and pick up the wrong drink by mistake, take a swallow, realize that there was alcohol in the drink, and drink no more. Or, I am at dinner in a restaurant and discover after eating a slice of cake that it had alcohol in it. Or, I am a devout Catholic, Episcopalian, or member of a religion where wine is an integral part of worship and I partake of a sip of wine, say, once a week at my place of worship. In any of these cases, would the individual need to consider him/herself to have relapsed and need to have a new sobriety date?

My conclusion is that none of these scenarios constitutes a relapse (as long as the individual in the first two scenarios does not have more than one such "mistake", and the religious individual is not attending worship services many times a day). I know of one individual with long term sobriety who is a Catholic and partakes of the host in the form of wine (blood of Christ). I myself do not take the wine at communion; I do not trust my central nervous system (CNS) to recognize the blood of Christ rather than the wine. In regard to the mistake such as picking up the wrong drink or consuming food with alcohol, my view is that such incidents should not happen if the individual maintains a high level of awareness of the dangers of such situations. For example, I always question whether sauces for foods contain alcohol and decline them even though some think the alcohol is removed by cooking. Again I do not trust the reaction of my CNS to the taste or absorption of even minute amounts of alcohol. Similarly, at parties where alcoholic beverages are served, I suggest asking for closed bottles of nonalcoholic drinks or observation of the pouring of the ordered drink, and holding onto the drink to avoid picking up the wrong one.

As always, comments are invited. Jan Williams,, 05/26/2015.

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Tips for Those New to Addiction Recovery

This brief note is for persons new to recovery, whether just starting participation in 12 Step Programs such as AA, NA, Al-Anon, Nar-Anon or Families Anonymous, or just completing a residential treatment program, or just completing an intensive outpatient treatment program. The single most important tip for such newly recovering persons is to engage in some recovery activity every day. I refer here to daily attendance of 12 Step meetings, daily prayer and meditation (if you are open to this), daily readings of recovery literature (books with a page for each day of the year such as Daily Reflections (AA), One Day at A Time (Al-Anon), Today a Better Way (Families Anonymous), Days of Healing, Days of Joy (ACOA)), including the AA Big Book or the NA Basic text, daily contacts with others in solid recovery, weekly therapy (if that is part of your recovery), to name a few.

There is a reason that most treatment programs suggest 90 meetings in 90 days--the power of addiction is such that the newly recovering person needs as much support as possible. The research is clear: the longer a person continues to invest in daily contact with supports for recovery (just mentioned), the better the outcome in terms of abstinence. There is much more to be said to aid the newly recovering person. I invite comments. Jan Williams, www,, 04/15/2015.

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Are There Any Conditions on Your Recovery?

Are There Any Conditions on Your Recovery? Would It Ever Be OK For You To Drink or Drug? I am not talking here about necessary and needed medications prescribed by a physician and used as prescribed. I think it important for every individual in recovery from addictive disease to think deeply about, and to honestly answer, this question: If a particular eventuality should come to pass, would it trigger me to pick up a drink or a drug? Some such eventualities that I have encountered in working with recovering individuals include: going to jail. losing my job, my spouse, or partner, death of a loved one, or, being told of a fatal medical condition.

In my view, it matters little why an individual begins the recovery journey; many enter treatment and recovery for the job, significant other, for legal reasons, because of coercion from parents, etc. Being in recovery/treatment allows the individual the opportunity to break through denial and realize that abstinence and recovery are personally needed goals. At some point in recovery, the individual must be on the recovery path for reasons internal to him/her, rather than for external reasons of the type mentioned here. An external condition is likely to be resolved or removed at some point, thereby removing the reason and motivation for abstinence and recovery, resulting in relapse.

Once an individual has internalized abstinence and recovery as vital regardless of the external reasons initially bringing him/her to recovery, and has settled into a relatively stable abstinence based life, the realities of living will continue to happen as they do to all people. The ability to meet the sometimes harsh realities, such as loss of loved ones or devastating medical conditions, without resorting to use of alcohol or other drugs, will depend upon the strength of the individual's recovery program, including experience applying the tools of recovery, a strong relationship with a sponsor (mentor), and the recovery Fellowship, to name a few factors. Perhaps most important for long term recovery in the face of critical life events is a well developed relationship with a source of spiritual strength (God, Higher Power). The goal of the 12 Step Programs is to help the recovering individual to develop such a relationship.

As always, comments are invited. 
Jan Edward Williams,, 03/19/2015.

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