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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.

Life's Problems Are Opportunities for Spiritual Growth

In my early recovery from alcohol and other sedative addiction I struggled with the spiritual aspects of recovery in the 12 Step Programs. In fact, I relapsed a number of times because of a lack of willingness to be open to seeking a power greater than myself. Finally, I was given what I call the gift of willingness to pray daily to a spiritual source of strength that, at the time, I did not believe in, abstain from drug or alcohol use, attend 12 Step meetings and work the 12 Steps. Over time, doing the simple things I mentioned resulted in a deep awareness that I was going to be OK regardless of the realities of life around me.

For over 37 years, this spiritual strength has sustained me during the good and the bad events of life. In the past several years, I have had some serious medical problems. These experiences were frightening and stressful, but resulted in much prayer by me, my family, and friends in recovery. My point in all of this is that, though frightened and stressed, the spiritual strength that I had found in those early days of recovery, continue to sustain me through even serious life problems. Indeed, my relationship to my source of spiritual strength, God, has as a result of these events become stronger, and I am still here living life one day at a time. So, I conclude, as I have many times in my recovery, that painful, traumatic experiences can become opportunities for spiritual growth. As always, comments are invited. Jan Williams, 01/22/2015, www.alcoholdrugsos.com.

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The Precious Present

I have published this entry before but think it timely to do so again in the face of the Christmas and New Year holidays. I recommend a delightful, short, but profound book entitled, "The Precious Present", Johnson, S. (1984). New York: Doubleday, that was given to me by a client many years ago that I was counseling in connection with her parents' addiction. This little book explains in a gentle but moving way the rewards of learning to live in the NOW, the present. Here is a sample from the book:

The present is what is. 
It is precious.
Even if I do not know why.
***

The present is simply
Who I am
Just the way I am...
Right now.

And it is precious.

Most of us waste precious chunks of time each day with unproductive past or future worries, and miss out on perhaps even more precious moments in the present. Pay attention to your thinking and when you find yourself focused on past or future events that you have no control over now (or no work needing to be done), look around for the positives in your life right now: people who care about you, a roof over your head, enough food, a sunny day, you're still breathing, etc. So, give yourself a present of the present. As always, comments are invited.

Jan Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com. 12/24/2014.

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Thanksgiving Thought: Fundamentally All Is Well

For some in recovery from addictive disease, the Thanksgiving holiday can be less than joyous. In early recovery, the holidays may stir up memories of horrific events as a child in a family ravaged by addiction or be associated with thoughts of personal loss of family, friends, careers, and homes. Some may experience Thanksgiving day while physically located in a treatment program, a halfway house, or incarcerated. In early recovery, it can be excruciatingly painful to hear people at 12 Step meetings gushing about gratitude for sobriety and healed relationships with loved ones.

So, how does the individual in early recovery cope with the painful emotions triggered by Thanksgiving? Here are some thoughts:

1) Fundamentally all is well, regardless of circumstances, history of loss, and emotional pain. Most can agree that they have these basics--a roof over their heads, food, and people who support them (12 Step members).

2) Live just for this day. One can handle pain and loss for this day, but would crumble under the weight of pain lasting days, months, years.

3) Thanksgiving is in reality just another day to use your recovery tools: prayer, sharing, meetings.

4) Use your 12 Step Meetings and friends. There are usually marathon 12 Step meetings on Thanksgiving where there are meetings every hour with foof and Fellowship.

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 11/26/2014.

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A New Freedom through Spiritually Based Recovery

Today, I came across a quotation in one of my daily readings that struck me as a beautiful way of describing the freedom from addiction and self-centered constraints available through the Twelve Step spiritual recovery programs (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and the like):

“Be like the bird that, passing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings.”---Victor Hugo

Initially, use of alcohol or other drugs seems to offer freedom from, among other things, fear and other self-centered feelings, escape from the bonds of misery caused by awful circumstances, and solace for emotional pain. For individuals whose drug or alcohol use progresses to addiction, use of these substances results in the opposite of freedom. Addicted individuals have lost their ability to make healthy choices for themselves or those around them; their primary motivation for action, in fact, their reason for being, is to satisfy the insatiable demands of their addiction through use of their substances. The freedom from fear, escape from misery, and relief of pain initially experienced through alcohol or other drugs are now in addiction no longer available. Indeed, addictive disease enslaves those suffering from it.

Recovery using the spiritual principles embodied in the Twelve Steps will provide the individual suffering from the disease of addiction not only freedom from the need to drink or drug, but also, as stated in the preceding paragraph, freedom from "... fear and other self-centered feelings, escape from the bonds of misery caused by awful circumstances, and solace for emotional pain..." The Basic Text of Alcoholics Anonymous states that those who recover using the spiritual principles in the Twelve Step Programs will " ... know a new freedom and a new happiness."

In my experience, developing a relationship with a source of spiritual strength creates the ability for one to say, and mean it, that "fundamentally all is well" even though life's realities may take away all that is important  to one. Or, as Victor Hugo said in the quotation, above, even though the bough may give way, the bird will sing knowing she has wings. Those in recovery have spiritual wings to lift them up and support them no matter what life may bring.

As always comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 10/13/2014.

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Loneliness and Addiction

"If there is one word that can capture the essence of the experience of the individual terminally trapped in the throes of addiction, I would suggest the word, loneliness. However, alcohol or other drug use, for almost everyone, including those destined to be alcoholics or addicts, usually begins as a positive social behavior tending to enhance interaction. The non-alcoholic or non-drug addict will continue to use in a social way with few negative consequences or, if experiencing negative consequences, will either stop use or successfully control use to avoid problems. The alcoholic or addict, of course, for complex reasons that will not be explored here, will continue use of  alcohol or other drugs despite devastating negative consequences. His/her world will shrink as those near and dear to the addicted individual are driven away by the irrational, cruel, perhaps immoral and criminal, behaviors resulting from the disease of addiction. Emotionally, the alcoholic and addict will eventually feel like an alien, alone, misunderstood, and isolated, and experience a profound soul sickness and loneliness.

The basic text of the Twelve Step Program (Alcoholics Anonymous, Chap. 11, page 151) describes the emotional state:

"The less people tolerated us, the more we withdrew from society, from life itself. As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settled down. It thickened, ever becoming blacker. Some of us sought out sordid places, hoping to find understanding companionship and approval. Momentarily we did - then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the hideous Four Horsemen - Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair."

The good news, thankfully, is that there are ways out of the loneliness and hell of addiction. I personally favor the spiritually based way out through the 12 Step Program known as Alcoholics Anonymous. The loneliness is initially lessened by the wonderful experience of finding other alcoholics and addicts who can share the pain of addiction and the hope of recovery. A more permanent and profound release from the loneliness and soul sickness of addiction comes from developing a relationship with a Higher Power, God, or other source of spiritual strength.

As always, comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams, www.alcoholdrugsos.com, 10/11/2014.

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