Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Power of Story

Tonight we heard a powerful testimony at our Celebrate Recovery meeting. The best thing about a testimony is that it's a true life story. I can bore you with statistics about the realities of addiction all day long and it won't mean a thing. But when I tell my story or you hear the story of another addict who's found a whole new life through recovery, that has impact.

The story of an addict is a story of pain, abandonment, abuse, loss and struggle. So when you hear someone tell their story you are also hearing your story. You begin to realize you're not alone in the life experiences that have been so devastating. You start to sense the tiniest glimmer of hope that if someone with a story like yours can find a new life in recovery, then maybe you can, too.

The thing is, to hear the stories of those in recovery you have to go to places where recovery happens. Celebrate Recovery is a great place but any of the addiction links over there on the right will take you to places where you can find help. Go there now and start the process of seeing your story in the context of the bigger story of successful recovery.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Relax, You're With Family

I'm attending the Celebrate Recovery Leadership Summit at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA this week. Nearly 3600 attendees from churches of all sorts of denominations, communities and sizes all joined together by a common bond. Recovery. It's interesting, but when you get thousands of recovering addicts together all the other labels fall away.

Today I had the privilege of hearing the stories of two other men at the conference as we shared together in small group. We shared things with each other that few, if any outside the circle of recovery know. Let me explain. We met each other for the very first time and, within minutes, were sharing deep, personal, painful details about our lives. Why? Because we are in a safe place where this kind of vulnerability and honesty is not only invited but expected.

That's what true recovery can do for you. It can give you a whole new family like most of us have never experienced. A family that genuinely cares for you and about you. A family that accepts you no matter what you've done or where you've been, and I mean no matter what! Recovery is the safest of places for you to begin the rigorous work of healing the deepest hurts of your life.

You're welcome to join the family. What's keeping you from us?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Celebrate Recovery Summit

I'm headed to the Celebrate Recovery Summit today. It's an annual gathering of folks from around the world who have a Celebrate Recovery ministry at their church or are looking to start one. Celebrate Recovery (CR) is a Christian 12 step program that is open to anyone with a "hurt, hang-up or habit".

If you're struggling with addiction and looking for a safe place to begin working through the 12 steps, I highly recommend CR. It's not for everyone. You may need the stronger, in your face approach that can be found in addiction specific groups like AA or NA. Whatever it takes to get you moving out of addiction you need to start!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What Is Sobriety?

I had the chance to participate in a lively discussion last night about how we determine sobriety. It was a confidential meeting so I won't be sharing any details of the discussion. However, it triggered my thoughts for this post.

When it comes to drugs and alcohol sobriety is a pretty easy mark. You didn't drink, you're sober. You did drink, you're not. Thinking about drinking or craving a drink isn't drinking. But what about other addictions like food or sex. Now it's a little more complex. I have to eat to stay alive. Does that mean a food addict can never achieve sobriety? NO! Eating has a proper place in our lives. Food addicts, or compulsive over eaters, are people who go beyond normal food consumption. And not all compulsive over eaters are overweight. You can be slender and lean and still use food as an inappropriate coping mechanism.

Sex is also a natural function of human relationships. However, a sex addict uses sex for control, comfort, stress relief and many other things it's not intended for. Sex addiction support groups will tell you that abstaining does not equal sobriety. There must be another measure.

The definition of sobriety for compulsive overeating, sex addiction and other types of addictions can be difficult but it always hinges on a person's ability to be honest and insightful. In other words, a food addict knows internally if the food they're eating is for sustenance or for an addictive fix. As a person in recovery for compulsive overeating myself I can tell you that I know pretty much every time when my eating is driven by addiction not healthy appetite. That means I know when I'm sober and when I'm not. That's the insight part of it and that insight develops the longer I'm in recovery. The honesty part comes when it's time to admit to myself and another human being when I'm eating out of my addiction. Beyond that it requires that I find healthy replacements for compulsive overeating and live in sobriety.

What about you? Are you living sober? Are you being honest with yourself about the things you do that are driven by your addictive needs? Do you even have the insight to identify when you're acting out of addiction? Somewhere inside you know. It might just be a sneaking suspicion at this point. But when you get serious about recovery you'll gain greater insight. You'll start to clearly see when you're acting out of addiction and when you're sober. Then you'll have to be honest about it. Then you'll be on the road to living a sober life.

Why not start today?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Father Factor

My wife and I were talking about the Michael Jackson memorial service today. She said she'd heard he went through all those surgeries, in part, so that he would never look like his dad. The pain inflicted by Joe Jackson on his sons is the stuff of legend. She also noted that I'm no stranger to father issues.

True enough. My father was an alcoholic who died at 57 and my stepfather was worse because he pretended to be a good man while womanizing and abusing myself and my siblings. He died alone at 60, no Staples Center celebration of his life! In my experience of recovery I can say I've yet to meet a man who doesn't have some trauma inflicted by his father. Alcoholic fathers, physically abusive fathers, emotionally distant fathers, fathers who left altogether.

The influence of a father in our lives is immeasurable. Both for good and for evil. If you're struggling with addiction or have a hard time in relationships or have generally low self-esteem I'll hazard a guess you've got father issues. Trust me when I tell you that they don't go away on their own. The things you're doing right now to cope with the pain inflicted by your father could be killing you. Unless you submit to recovery and start choosing a healthy path, you'll most likely never get truly healed of the wounds inflicted in childhood.

Now, if you've got the money and the influence you could just remake yourself the way Michael Jackson did. But it doesn't seem that plan worked out so well for him after all. You might consider different choices!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The King is Dead

In the last days of his life Michael Jackson was said to be frail. At the same time reports indicate he was preparing himself for the greatest comeback ever. The King of Pop was born in the same year during the same month as I was. It's a bit strange when someone nearly exactly your age dies suddenly.

I didn't know Michael personally and I don't want to make any judgements on him. I do want to use his public eccentricities to make a point. For whatever reasons...we can guess childhood traumas...Jackson was reclusive, seemed self-abusive, was accused of molesting children and exhibited other behaviors of a deeply wounded soul. These are all indications of addictive coping. And there was no amount of money or fame or famous, wealthy friends that could protect the King of Pop from his personal demons.

The addictive patterns you're living in right now can't be fixed by getting more money or more friends or more strange. You can't run from addiction because it's inside you and, as they say, wherever you go, that's where you are! If you fear dying alone in a rented house hidden from the world, frail and dreaming of a big comeback, then I suggest you get into recovery. Don't wait because no one lives forever. Not even kings.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Departure

For all my readers who have their own blogs or websites I just wanted to take a moment and let you know about an amazing free advertising service I found. It really is free and you'll have the opportunity to drive traffic to your website or blog. And if you're serious about sharing your thoughts with the world, as I am, you really should check it out.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Not So Fast

DON'T CLICK AWAY FROM HERE SO QUICKLY! My tracking software tells me that this is one of my most popular sites. More people click over to this site than any of the others on my list. But I have a sneaking suspicion no one's staying long.

Something about addiction recovery attracted you here. You're either struggling with addiction or know someone who is. There's help to be found right here. There are things I've written that can help you. There are links right over there in the right column with resources you need. Click through to my squidoo lens and you can find books and other resources.

Denial is a powerful tool in addiction's arsenal. You can keep pretending that you don't really have a problem and skip away from this site right now. can take the first step and admit that you're out of control and that your life has become unmanageable. If you do that you're on the road to recovery. If you don't, well, you're on a whole different road that has a very predictable end.

Stick around a while...for your own sake.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Narcissistic Bastard

I'm angry! Yet another family is being torn apart by the selfish, self-destructive, bitter behavior of a raging addict. It amazes me every time I hear about people who would rather lose their family, job, friends, health...even their life...rather than confront the truth of their addiction.

In recovery we say that addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful. I know that to be true. Yet, I still have a hard time finding any sympathy for someone who simply won't surrender and admit they are powerless over their addiction. Addiction is, at its core, self-protection writ large. Whatever the cause, at some point in your life you needed to protect yourself. Maybe physically but most certainly emotionally. That impulse for self-protection is the first seed sown toward full-blown addiction.

For a narcissist the entire world revolves around them. Every celebration is for them and every problem is about them. Every life event is one more chance to hog the spotlight. I spent many years thinking every eye in every room was trained on me. That every meeting was successful because I took charge. That every event was the best because I was the leader.

Then I got into recovery and had to admit that it's not about me. All I was doing was protecting myself from reality. My addictive behaviors were keeping me from healthy relationships, a healthy lifestyle and the thing I wanted most, genuine love and connection to other people.

You can keep on controlling your life with self-centered, narcissistic behavior. You can manipulate your situations so as to never let anyone close enough to hurt you. You can go on thinking that your way is best right up 'til the moment you die friendless and alone. Or you can get serious about recovery. You can seek out one of the programs that are linked to this page and begin the process with step 1.

Admit that you are powerless and that your life has become unmanageable.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

When a Window Opens

My Mother-in-Law died last Friday. My wife and I are on an impromptu trip to Chicago and getting the chance to spend time with family. I have a brother-in-law who struggles with issues that have shown up as addictive behaviors through the years. We're very close and I'm more connected to him than my own brothers.

In all the years I've known him there have been those little windows when I could talk with him about his addictions and he would actually listen. Yesterday I had another of those opportunities.

I don't know if it's the death of his mother or the fact that he was there and powerless to stop the rapid course of events that took her life, but something opened him for a conversation about recovery. The death of a dear loved one can present interesting opportunities. I really hope that he'll act on our conversation and join a recovery program.

If there's someone you love who's being destroyed by their addictive behaviors, look for those windows when they might be open to making a change. You never know when they'll come or what they might look like. But if you're always ready you stand a better chance of taking advantage of them when they happen.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ignore This and Die

At first glance the title of this post might seem harsh. But what if you were traveling down a highway at 80 miles an hour and the road was washed out just a mile ahead. You're headed toward a deep gully that, should you fall into it, will most certainly kill you. In that case, a posted sign with the words "IGNORE THIS AND DIE" might be seen as a welcome warning.

What if you were headed for an intersection and someone could see a car coming that was, without a doubt, going to run the stop sign and plow into your car on the driver's side killing you for sure. You'd be thrilled if that person held up a sign saying "DANGEROUS INTERSECTION AHEAD, IGNORE THIS AND DIE."

Let's say you're at your computer late one night and across the screen scrolls the following message, "THE CHEST PAINS YOU'RE ABOUT TO EXPERIENCE ARE THE FIRST SIGN OF A FATAL HEART ATTACK. IGNORE THIS AND DIE!"

Who wouldn't want to be warned if they were on their way to a certain, excruciating end? The truth is all addicts are on the road to emotional, spiritual, relational and, eventually, physical death. Oddly enough when friends or family or coworkers flag them down with a sign that says "IGNORE THIS AND DIE" the reaction isn't usually relief or gratitude. No, we addicts are offended, hurt or angry that someone might have the nerve to tell us we're on a self-destructive path and should stop what we're doing and seek recovery. How insane is that?

Isn't it time to jump off the train to oblivion that is your addicted life? IGNORE THIS AND DIE!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where's the Bottom?

There's a man I know about who is drinking himself to death. His wife's about to leave him, his kids find it difficult to spend any time around him and he hardly eats anymore preferring to drink all day long instead. Physically his body is wasting away. His family tried an intervention a couple of years ago and he made a half-hearted attempt to get sober that lasted only a month or two. Unless things change dramatically he will die. And he's not even 60 years old yet. By all accounts his life couldn't be anymore miserable. But apparently he hasn't yet hit bottom.

My father died of alcoholism at age 57. The actual cause of death was a brain hemorrhage beating the alcohol he'd been drinking for over 40 years to the punch. He went through three marriages, was flat broke and living with his sister at the time of his death. He never made any attempt at recovery. Death was his bottom.

Where's your bottom? How much have you lost to addiction? Jobs? Relationships? Finances? Family? The bottom is a curious thing because it's different for everybody. If you're in free fall because of your addiction and you desperately fear that bottom will be the day your heart stops or your head explodes, I have a question. What are you waiting for? What is it about recovery that is more frightening than the inevitable destruction you're facing right now?

If you've hit bottom today click on any one of the links in the right column and start the long hard road of recovery. It won't be easy but it beats the long slide into oblivion you're on right now!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Are You Serious

Okay, so you've shown up here at my blog about recovery. That tells me you're at least curious. Maybe you haven't hit bottom yet. Maybe you're not ready to admit you have a problem that has made your life unmanageable. Maybe you're nervous right now that someone will look over your shoulder and think you're messed up.

I really don't care why you've clicked through to this blog, but I do care that everyone struggling with addiction finds help before their lives go completely to hell. Or, if they're in hell, that they find recovery and get out. One thing is cannot do this alone. Find help. If you don't know where to start, click on any of the links on the right that seem to fit. Click on the ones that don't seem to fit. Start taking control of your recovery from addiction or your addiction will continue to control you.

The choice is yours. It really is. It always is.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Those of us in recovery know the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result." When you're fully engaged in your addiction that's exactly what happens. You do the same things hoping that your life will somehow magically right itself. It won't!

There are a lot of insane people in this world and not all of them are readily apparent. Addictive behavior doesn't always present itself as alcoholism, drug addiction, sex addiction, etc. People feed off of power, control, anger, fear and more to feed the addictive beast.

If you find yourself getting the same frustrating or destructive results in your life you just might be insane. I implore you, before it's too late, seek out a recovery program like Celebrate Recovery and get on the road to sanity.

Return here often as I share my ongoing experience of recovery and the road to sanity.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Back to the 12 Steps

I've joined a new 12 step group through Celebrate Recovery. It's a great group of guys. This time I'm privileged to serve as a leader. The core of any recovery program is working the 12 steps. And it is work. If you're serious about recovery then you need these three things:

A sponsor
Regular meetings
Be working the 12 steps

If you say you're in recovery and you're not involved in these three things, you're just pretending!