Classic blog: ‘Recovery is contagious redux’ by Bill White MARCH 17, 2015 BY DAVID CLARK

Here’s the latest from recovery advocate William L White. Wonderful words, just wonderful words.
‘Those of you who have been reading my weekly blogs these past six months will recognize two simple and enduring themes: Recovery is contagious and recovery is spread by recovery carriers. Those notions first came to me on April 14, 2010 when I stood to speak at Northeast Treatment Centers’ (NET) dinner honoring NET’s 40th anniversary and the achievements of NET members.
Here are some of the words that came to me as I stood before a room packed with people filled with hopes of what their newly found recoveries would bring.
“This night is a celebration of the contagiousness of recovery and the fulfilled promises recovery has brought into our lives. Some of you did not leave the streets to find recovery; recovery came to the streets and found you.
And it did so through volunteers of the NET Consumer Council walking those streets. They put a face and voice on recovery. They told you that recovery was possible, and they offered their stories as living proof of that proposition. They told you they would walk the road to recovery with you.
Some of you hit low points in the early days of that journey, and it was your brothers and sisters in this room that lifted you back up–who called when you missed group, who, in some cases, went and got you.
The contagion of addiction is transmitted through a process of infection – the movement of addiction disease from one vulnerable person to another. The contagion of recovery is spread quite differently – not through infection, but affection. Those who spread such affection are recovery carriers.
Recovery carriers affirm that long-term recovery is possible and that the promises of recovery are far more than the removal of drugs from an otherwise unchanged life. They tell us that we have the potential to get well and to then get better than well. They challenge us to stop being everyone’s problem and to become part of the solution.
They relate to us from a position of profound empathy, emotional authenticity, respect and moral equality – lacking even a whisper of contempt. Most importantly, they offer us love. Yeah, some of us got loved into recovery, and I don’t mean in the way some of you with smiles on your faces may be thinking.
We all have the potential to be recovery carriers. Becoming a recovery carrier requires several things. It requires that we protect our recoveries at all cost – Recovery by any means necessary under any circumstances. It requires that we help our families recover.
It requires the courage to reach out to those whose lives are still being ravaged. It requires that we give back to NET and other organizations that helped us along the way. And it requires that in our new life, we try to heal the wounds we inflicted on our community in our past life.
Addiction is visible everywhere in this culture, but the transformative power of recovery is hidden behind closed doors. It is time we all became recovery carriers. It is time we helped our community, our nation, and our world recover. To achieve this, we must become recovery. We must be the face and voice of recovery. We must be the living future of recovery.
So to all who are here tonight – individuals and families in recovery and allies of recovery, I leave you with this message. Recovery is contagious. Get close to it. Stay close to it. Catch it. Keep catching it. Pass it on.
I’m still not sure where those words came from; I had never used such phrases before, but I believe them even more today than when they were first spoken years ago on a spring evening in Philadelphia.’
As I said earlier, “Wonderful words, just wonderful words.” Thank you, Bill.

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 Focus: I give myself quiet space to listen to my own thoughts.

We live in a time of overstimulation. There’s not a moment when we’re not “on something” — such as the TV, radio, CD player, or cordless whatever. I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t take a bath for more than ten minutes — just me and some bubbles — I also have to be on the phone, watching TV, or flipping through the pages of Newsweek. Suddenly, I’m not thinking about myself.

Maybe we’re all a little afraid of our own thoughts. Maybe afraid is too big a word — we’re just leery of them. So now I force myself to be alone with the one person I should know better than anyone — me. Try forcing yourself: Get on a stationary bike, or take a walk, without any other stimulation than your own thoughts. You’ll be surprised at what comes to mind — and usually those are the important things.

I’ll confess that I figured out this trick one day while I was way, way up in the canyons walking, and the most horrible thing on earth happened to me — the batteries in my Walkman died. And even a little battery prayer — “Please spirit of Duracell, let them work” — didn’t help. I was in a panic, wondering, Oh my God, what am I going to think about for the next 20 minutes? It was the beginning of self-discovery.

Excerpted from the article:
Are We Afraid of Our Own Thoughts?
Written by Jim Brickman.

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Simple Things by Jim Brickman with Cindy Pearlman.
Simple Things
by Jim Brickman with Cindy Pearlman.

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Saturday, March 14th, 2015 Focus: I listen deeply, beyond my own thinking about another person and beyond any judgments or conclusions.

Relationships are much more rewarding and engaging if we can listen deeply, beyond our own thinking about another person and beyond any judgments or conclusions about what they are doing. Even people we have known for years, including parents and partners, can show new facets of their personality or interests if we are open and curious.

However, we often make up our minds about who they are and what they have to offer, and we think we know them. It is easy to fall into the rut of our own thinking about people we have known for a long time. We even expect them to respond in certain ways to specific issues, situations or problems. Sometimes we do this to such an extreme that we are defensive or blaming before they even open their mouths.

When we stay open and interested, we give the other person the best opportunity to grow and tap into their healthy thinking more deeply. From this vantage point of curiosity and an open mind, relationships will continue to change and deepen, becoming richer and more rewarding.

Excerpted from the article:
Deep Listening: Listening Deeply with an Open Mind
Written by Roger Mills and Elsie Spittle.

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The Wisdom Within by Roger Mills and Elsie Spittle.
The Wisdom Within
by Roger Mills and Elsie Spittle.

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Thursday, March 12th, 2015 Focus: I give up my attachment to past hurts and disappointments.

It is a reality of life that you will occasionally experience pain, disappointment, upset, loss, and injury. Whether physical, emotional, spiritual, familial, or economic – someone, somewhere at some time will contribute to a negative experience that will affect you.


Each moment you cling to this trauma after it occurs, you cause the past trauma to generate an entirely new sequence of thoughts, emotions, and actions. Until you can give up your attachment to the past incident, you are cursed to maintain and magnify the pain.

Excerpted from the article:
The Power of Forgiveness: Completely Letting Go of Past Pain, Anger, and Grief
Written by Brian Sheen.

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When Life Becomes Overwhelming by Brian Sheen.When Life Becomes Overwhelming: How It Happened, Why It Continues and What You Can Do to Overcome It
by Brian Sheen.

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The History of Addiction Counseling in the United States: Promoting Personal, Family, and Community Recovery

In the Words of William White*
Addiction counseling has rich historical roots–spanning early Native American recovery advocacy leaders, 19th century temperance missionaries, reformed men working within early inebriate homes and asylums, lay alcoholism therapists, the “paraprofessional” counsels of the mid-twentieth century–all contributing to the birth and evolution of modern addiction counseling as a specialized profession. It was the dream of Mel Schulstad and other modern pioneers of addiction counseling that a book would one day be written detailing the history of addiction counseling. To that end, NAADAC, The Association of Addiction Professionals established a NAADAC archives committee in the mid-1990s whose members began conducting oral history interviews with people who had played prominent roles in the professionalization of addiction counseling. Now, nearly 20 years later, that dreamed of book has rolled off the presses and was placed in the hands of more than 700 addiction professionals at NAADAC’s 40th anniversary conference in Seattle, Washington. It was my great honor to be selected to author this book, which also contains the voices of more than 90 leading addiction professionals.

The History of Addiction Counseling in the United States (521 pages, $10 plus shipping) contains five chapters on the birth and evolution of addiction counseling in the U.S.; three chapters on the history, core functions, and contributions of NAADAC; and a concluding chapter on lessons learned from addiction counseling pioneers, including reflections on the distinguishing characteristics of addiction counseling. Addiction counseling is coming of age as legions of men and women extend themselves each day to heal individuals, families, and communities. To those who have labored in this special ministry, we offer you your history.

Book Reference
White, W. (2014). The History of Addiction Counseling in the United States. Alexandria, VA: NAADAC The Association for Addiction Professionals.

* White (2014, October 15). The History of Addiction Counseling in the United States. [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 Focus: I take life one moment at a time, one decision at a time.

The wonderful thing about life is that the next moment (and the next, and the next) bring yet again other opportunities to choose who we are becoming. What’s it gonna be this time? and in two hours? and tomorrow? and next week?

One thing we can learn from Alcoholics Anonymous is that we have to take one day at a time, one decision at a time. This moment I choose not to take a drink (or take a cheap shot at someone, or another serving of chocolate cake,, or make a rude comment, or pout, or manipulate, or, or, or…)

This moment! I do not agonize about how hard it will be to keep making that choice tomorrow, or even in 15 minutes. I choose now! And when I get to the other crossroads, I’ll make that choice then.

Excerpted from the article:
Who Are You Becoming? Do You Like Who You’ve Become?
Written by Marie T. Russell.

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The Light: A Book of Wisdom: How to Lead an Enlightened Life Filled with Love, Joy, Truth, and BeautyThe Light: A Book of Wisdom: How to Lead an Enlightened Life Filled with Love, Joy, Truth, and Beauty
by Keidi Keating.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

Thursday, March 5th, 2015 Focus: I ask questions and seek answers with an open heart.

Adulthood can be a time of transformation. It can be a time of spiritual unfolding. Dramatic as it may sound, adulthood can be metamorphosis.

Based on my research of the literature on adult development, I am convinced that there is an adult metamorphosis. However, unlike the caterpillar’s metamorphosis, our transformation is invisible. It happens in a part of us that does not show up on X rays, cannot be measured by medical equipment, and cannot be tested in a laboratory. It happens inside us. And it happens over a lifetime.

Our metamorphosis is, in fact, a quest. The signposts on our quest are questions (from quaerere: to search). They may not automatically point us in the “right” direction. But if we ask questions and seek answers with an open heart, they will move us forward on our journey.

Excerpted from the article:
Adventuring Into Midlife: Transformation via Breakdowns and Breakthroughs
Written by Mark Gerzon

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Listening to Midlife:Turning Your Crisis into a Quest by Mark Gerzon
Listening to Midlife: Turning Your Crisis into a Quest
by Mark Gerzon.

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