daily reflection: our common welfare comes first

The unity of Alcoholics Anonymous is the most cherished quality our Society has. . . . We stay whole, or A.A. dies.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 129

Our Traditions are key elements in the ego deflation process necessary to achieve and maintain sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous. The First Tradition reminds me not to take credit, or authority, for my recovery. Placing our common welfare first reminds me not to become a healer in this program; I am still one of the patients. Self-effacing elders built the ward. Without it, I doubt I would be alive. Without the group, few alcoholics would recover.

The active role in renewed surrender of will enables me to step aside from the need to dominate, the desire for recognition, both of which played so great a part in my active alcoholism. Deferring my personal desires for the greater good of group growth contributes toward A.A. unity that is central to all recovery. It helps me to remember that the whole is greater than the sum of all its parts.

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opioids and naloxone now top priority by surgeon general

To fight the current opioid epidemic, United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams has issued an advisory urging the public to carry and to be prepared to use naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of opioid overdose. Naloxone (also known by brand names Narcan or Evzio) is a safe, FDA-approved medication that has been proven to reverse opioid overdoses in minutes. It comes in the forms of a nasal spray and an injection.

As the U.S. faces an unprecedented drug overdose epidemic largely from opioids, Adams says having naloxone on-hand is a simple step toward saving lives in our communities. While some argue that its easy availability would encourage opioid abuse, he remarked Wednesday in a program at Harvard University, “As a physician, when people are dying, when you come across a trauma scene, you’ve got to put on a tourniquet. Naloxone is that tourniquet.”

In case you don’t already know, go here to learn about how naloxone works, how to spot an opioid overdose, and how to access and administer this lifesaving medication.

daily reflection: freedom from . . . freedom to

We are going to know a new freedom. . . .

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 83

Freedom for me is both freedom from and freedom to. The first freedom I enjoy is freedom from the slavery of alcohol. What a relief! Then I begin to experience freedom from fear—fear of people, of economic insecurity, of commitment, of failure, of rejection. Then I begin to enjoy freedom to—freedom to choose sobriety for today, freedom to be myself, freedom to express my opinion, to experience peace of mind, to love and be loved, and freedom to grow spiritually. But how can I achieve these freedoms? The Big Book clearly says that before I am halfway through making amends, I will begin to know a “new” freedom; not the old freedom of doing what I pleased, without regard to others, but the new freedom that allows fulfillment of the promises in my life. What a joy to be free!

from the miracle of the mundane: woke — 7 spiritual awakenings

You can thank me for this later. Simply stop what you’re doing at this moment and go read Woke, a marvelous post from Mark Goodson over at the Miracle of the Mundane, which celebrated its third birthday this month. I love the way Mark did the math on things and provided some perspective on it all:

That’s 189 posts, roughly 130,000 words dedicated to extracting the extra from the extraordinary. While that is a lot of words, it hasn’t felt like all that much work. One reason is that I love writing. Another is I love recovery, which is like saying I love the person recovery has allowed me to become. I love my wife and children who provide the bulk of this website’s inspiration. I would be remiss in this gratitude list if I didn’t mention the readers. You keep me going, which is why this post in particular is for you.

Then he gets to the heart of things, which is a listing of a few of his spiritual awakenings. I’ll run a quick list just to prime the pump, but Mark notes that he’s “virtually incapable of processing things without some room between the lines to sit and rest awhile.” So . . . check the list and then head on over to read the really good stuff.

1.  Go to any length for your sobriety.

2.  The first drink gets you drunk.

3.  It’s not about me.

4.  One day at a time.

5.  Unconditional love.

6.  Home is where the heart is.

7.  I am a writer.

Now scat. You need to read the whole thing.

from the fix: is aa too religious for gen x?

This is a valid question if one doesn’t kill too many brain cells pondering the issue searching for a resolution. It’s also the typical dumb-ass, pro-The Fix, anti-AA title to an article that finds yet another source of flaws within this organization. I guess I should go on record with my concern being that people who genuinely struggle with drug/alcohol abuse ultimately just get help. 

On the mental health counseling blog Practically Sane, family therapist Jeffrey Munn states: “I like to take a practical approach … I’m not a fan of the ‘fluff’ and flowery language that is often associated with the world of psychology and self-help.” He can say that now.

So… Jeffrey came into the rooms at 20, stayed sober for a whopping 2 ½ years, relapsed, came back and is now 13 years clean and sober vis-à-vis psychotherapy. I’m actually okay with that. I mean, I’m not okay with him going back out; that was actually pretty lame. Unfortunately, those who go back out are the ones who refuse to take their recovery seriously to begin with. It doesn’t matter if someone has gone 2.5 or 12.5 years; there’s a reason they walked into the rooms to begin with.

The saga continues. “I was mandated to three 12-step meetings per week to stay in the program I was in,” according to Jeffery. And here I just want to throw in my two cents about all the folks the courts send our way. I’m sure this is a good thing to some degree. We don’t have room in the jails downtown. So, send them to us for 30 to 60 meetings to be initialed each time they’re here. In a perfect world, they’d stay with us after their sentence had been duly served. Reality check: These people who are mandated to be here do not want to be here. We are a huge freaking inconvenience.  

There’s a lot more to follow up on so take a few minutes over that next cup of coffee and head over here to check it out. 

from new hope for dry bones: the good tree

Joy and I have an oak tree in our backyard her father planted back in the early 90’s. It’s really nice and leafy now in all the right times, but there were a few years when we really wondered if we were actually going to lose the tree. Every spring when the leaves came on, they were dark in color and somewhat curled, and remained that way through the season.

It took a few years, but the tree finally seems to have healed itself. Looks great now. I’m still a bit concerned. I think it drops more branches than it should, but the only other trees we have are oaks, so I’ve nothing to accurately compare it to. Still, my overall impression it has moved on with its life.

So… this ongoing was the first thing that crossed my coffee-challenged mind when I read Mike Ridenour’s grace-filled, deeply personal, way to close to home post from New Hope for Dry Bones this morning. I pretty much compare my own life to the oak in our backyard. Yup, looks great on the outside, but if one looks just a little bit closer…

The trees around my house all look pretty much the same right now.  They stand naked and sway back and forth in the icy wind that is blowing through a great deal of the country.

Hopefully, when springtime arrives, buds will appear that grow into clusters of green leaves that whisper when the wind weaves its way through them.

Sadly, one of those trees will look just like it does now, minus being frozen to the core.

One of those trees didn’t last past the first few weeks after we planted it.  It was a beauty, too.  I dug that hole in the ground, placed that tree in it, watered it faithfully and the fruit of my labor was a dead tree. Continue reading

daily reflection: the joy of sharing

Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends—this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 89

To know that each newcomer with whom I share has the opportunity to experience the relief that I have found in this Fellowship fills me with joy and gratitude. I feel that all the things described in A.A. will come to pass for them, as they have for me, if they seize the opportunity and embrace the program fully.

from storm in a wine glass: a tiny bit of hope

Excellent and quite lengthy post from one of my favorite raves in England. Having just the other day celebrated her first year of sobriety, Anna at storm in a wine glass got to spend some time in healthy retrospect with her husband.

What is that one thing? The thing, if you could sum it up, that meant you could stop?” Hubby asked.

We were sitting as we often do, at opposite ends of the sofa, talking about life and, well, this time my sobriety. My one-year anniversary happened when he was away, so I guess it was especially topical.

It wasn’t just one thing,” I said as my mind went into overdrive, “it was a whole bunch of things that came together at the right moment.

But you keep saying how it was a stormy sea and how the waves parted at exactly the right moment and you saw your life line,” Hubby insisted and threw back at me the analogy I always use to describe the moment I saw my chance to ask for help, my way out. “What was it? And what could I have done that might have got you there sooner?

OK, so just so I’m clear on what you’re asking – you’re wanting me to articulate what made me stop drinking, what you did and what you could have done sooner to help bring it about?

Yes. What did it take for you to stop?

You do realise that if we find the answer to that question, we’ll cure the world of all addictions, don’t you?” I replied and smiled in a slightly smart-arsey kind of way, after all I’m the drunkard here. “Quids in if we crack that old chestnut and are able to provide a sure-fire answer. We’ll have high schools and streets named after us.

But, summarise it,” Hubby went on, “not the waves, not the life line, spell out exactly what it was.

It’s a good question though, isn’t it? I mean, when I was still trapped it would have been the one thing I would have wanted the answer to. In AA they often say that the alcoholic has to hit rock bottom before they can get sober. It sounds severe, doesn’t it, ‘rock bottom’? Makes you think of social services, homelessness and the park bench stereotype. It doesn’t have to be all those hugely devastating things though. I prefer to think of it as my turning point because it wasn’t a big or dramatic event, it was simply a combination of mainly two things: I’d fucking had it with drinking and at the right moment I saw my life line. Yes, like the huge waves in a stormy sea parted just as I glanced in the right direction and caught a glimpse of a life line, then swam furiously towards it. OK, less fucking poetic – Hubby asked me the right thing in the right moment and I saw my chance to finally speak the words: “help, I’m scared“. Is that somewhat clear? I was desperate to stop and just when I needed it there was a chance for me to ask for help so I did. Oh, and a third ingredient: a tiny bit of hope. Continue reading

daily reflection: the treasure of the past

Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now. Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have—the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 124

What a gift it is for me to realize that all those seemingly useless years were not wasted. The most degrading and humiliating experiences turn out to be the most powerful tools in helping others to recover. In knowing the depths of shame and despair, I can reach out with a loving and compassionate hand, and know that the grace of God is available to me.

daily reflection: freedom from guilt

Where other people were concerned, we had to drop the word “blame” from our speech and thought.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 47

When I become willing to accept my own powerlessness, I begin to realize that blaming myself for all the trouble in my life can be an ego trip back into hopelessness. Asking for help and listening deeply to the messages inherent in the Steps and Traditions of the program make it possible to change those attitudes which delay my recovery. Before joining A.A., I had such a desire for approval from people in powerful positions that I was willing to sacrifice myself, and others, to gain a foothold in the world. I invariably came to grief. In the program, I find true friends who love, understand, and care to help me learn the truth about myself. With the help of the Twelve Steps, I am able to build a better life, free of guilt and the need for self-justification.

from follow the bread crumbs: what is emotional sobriety?

Here’s a real solid post from follow the bread crumbs on the issue of emotional sobriety. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it most simply means after we sober up. Live does go on, for those you who have perhaps thought differently, but it requires that we be present in the moment. Read on. This is very good stuff from a lady who, according to some people in similar situations, has every reason to drink. She chooses not to. She’s my hero.

“If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependence and its consequent demand. Let us, with God’s help, continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we can be set free to live and love: we may then be able to gain emotional sobriety. ” – Bill W.


If you’ve been around the world of recovery long enough, you may have heard the words, “emotional sobriety.” When I first heard that term, I had to laugh. I mean, yeah – obviously, sobriety is emotional! I was quickly taught that that wasn’t the way I was meant to perceive that phrase.

By definition, the word “sober” means, “not affected by alcohol.” In the recovery world, it is often used as a catch-all term for abstaining from all mood-altering chemicals. But why isn’t abstinence enough? Why is that most persons who suffer from an addiction don’t just walk into a detox and walk out “cured?” Why is that simply drying up a drunk or detoxing someone off heroin isn’t enough? Is it possible to stay sober without any long-term plan of recovery? While I don’t see it often, yes it’s possible.

Take, for example, a distant relative of mine who had a history of being violent drunk. On the verge of losing his business, he made the decision to stop drinking and went to an inpatient treatment center for seven days.  At the age of 40, this man walked out of a treatment center and never drank again. He died at the age of 82 of natural causes. While he ended up saving his business and his marriage, he is still known as one of the hated members of that side of the family. Greedy, cold, and callous are just a few of the words that many use to describe him. Continue reading

daily reflection: rigorous honesty

Who wishes to be rigorously honest and tolerant? Who wants to confess his faults to another and make restitution for harm done? Who cares anything about a Higher Power, let alone meditation and prayer? Who wants to sacrifice time and energy in trying to carry A.A.’s message to the next sufferer? No, the average alcoholic, self-centered in the extreme, doesn’t care for this prospect — unless he has to do these things in order to stay alive himself.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 24

I am an alcoholic. If I drink I will die. My, what power, energy, and emotion this simple statement generates in me! But it’s really all I need to know for today. Am I willing to stay alive today? Am I willing to stay sober today? Am I willing to ask for help and am I willing to be a help to another suffering alcoholic today? Have I discovered the fatal nature of my situation? What must I do, today, to stay sober?

daily reflection: what we need — each other

. . . A.A. is really saying to every serious drinker, “You are an A.A. member if you say so . . . nobody can keep you out.”

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 139

For years, whenever I reflected on Tradition Three (“The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking”), I thought it valuable only to newcomers. It was their guarantee that no one could bar them from A.A. Today I feel enduring gratitude for the spiritual development the Tradition has brought me. I don’t seek out people obviously different from myself. Tradition Three, concentrating on the one way I am similar to others, brought me to know and help every kind of alcoholic, just as they have helped me. Charlotte, the atheist, showed me higher standards of ethics and honor; Clay, of another race, taught me patience; Winslow, who is gay, led me by example into true compassion; Young Megan says that seeing me at meetings, sober thirty years, keeps her coming back. Tradition Three insured that we would get what we need — each other.

revisiting the alcohol-related death of tim bergling, aka avicii

This is something that really made me realize how much everything is being put back together for me in a good way. Last May I had a pretty critical brain surgery — a good thing, thank you — and this much later I’m still in the process of putting my pre-surgery memory back together again. Here’s a really interesting example:

I was cruising blogs today on my second coffee and came across a post by It’s Going to be Another Bumpy Year that reminded me of a pretty significant music-related death last April. Tim Bergling, Swedish musician, producer, and DJ professionally known as Avicii, committed suicide largely as a result of physical and mental abuse from continual alcohol abuse.

But I’m jumping ahead.

Bergling – who chose the moniker Avicii because the word stood for the lowest level of Buddhist hell – started his career uploading his music before timing and talent catapulted the then-20-year-old DJ to fame overnight. Apparently, his new manager in 2007 was the right move at the right time. Within a year, Avicii had landed on Forbes‘ Highest Paid DJs of 2012 list; by 2014, he was Number Three on the list thanks to an impressive $28 million in earnings that year, the result of a tortuous touring itinerary.

The dance number and vid Seek Bromance had really fired up a shift change for him in 2010, followed by the single Levels  in 2011. And less than a year later, he was onstage with Madonna. Honestly, not too bad for a guy who seriously started out messing with music as a 16-year-old in his bedroom “hoping to have a chance to play a gig in a real club,” whose first-ever “professional” DJ gig was playing to less than 50 students at a high school prom.

And by then his world had already begun to crumble.

Back in September, 2017, Avicii told Rolling Stone Magazine he was simply unwilling or unable to say “no” to the drinks that were constantly thrust into his hands, or to say “no” to the people, or to the partying, or to the lifestyle. And to further complicate matters, his health had been severely suffering for a few years.

In January, 2012, Avicii was hospitalized for 11 days in New York City with acute pancreatitis, definitely a consequence of heavy drinking. In March, 2013, he was hospitalized again for similar symptoms while touring Australia. Doctors urged him to have his gallbladder removed, but he declined.

On March 28, 2014, several days before he was due to headline Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Avicii was hospitalized a third time with excruciating pain, fever, nausea, and other symptoms of acute pancreatitis. In the hospital, he learned that not only had his acute pancreatitis returned, but his appendix had burst. This time, both his gall bladder and his appendix had to be removed. Months of scheduled events were canceled so he could recover. He was encouraged by doctors to begin taking Percocet, the highly addictive opioid pain reliever.

By the middle of 2015, the DJ had completely fallen apart. His last tour was in 2016 and then he decided to pull the road plug, desiring to give up touring and stick to studio work. But it was too late. His mental and physical health had begun to fail as a result of the constant major alcohol intake. Avicii was found dead after he committed suicide in Oman last April.

He was 28. I’m going to be 69 next month, so I’ve lived through the that the industry had to offer me. I was firsthand witness to a lot of crazy stuff, though, and I lost quite a few friends over the years who became casualties because they were unable or unwilling to establish some boundaries. It’s still pretty meaningful to go back through events like this one.

It means life goes on.