El Rancho De La Vida- The Ranch of Life-A treatise; to address the old and outdated recovery standards and practices.

This is a monograph that takes into consideration multiple attempts at battling addiction at the personal level, and recently works alongside many others in the same battle. We will be starting with the insanity of emotional precursors that exacerbate addiction. We will address the constant threat of user’s guilt, blame, self-harm, personal ambivalence, cognitive and psychiatric responses, or lack of. Then, moving up to the parties of responsibility, the corporate pirates of addiction recovery for-profit providers; the PCP for-profit level, the local for-profit government and for-profit public view, (Stigma), the state government for-profit level, and all responsible for-profit federal levels, and all scientific endeavors; as per Addiction Sciences, Addiction Medicine and Drug Addiction policy.

Never said, written or recognized is a real, understandable and implemental, Recovery Policy- like our attempts at addiction and drug polices like ‘The War on Drugs’. (names of all past and present addiction Treatment alternatives?); our Huge monolithic Government and society currently has in place. Have you ever seen an Addiction Recovery Policy?

Not until last year came The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2015. The current history of addiction recovery tells us that we have failed miserably at helping our population recover properly from alcohol, drugs, sex addiction, gambling problems and every other activity that provides human beings with a false sense of power, and a true feeling of a rush, or of an intense life force, coming at us too fast, too strong, and all of us wind up, ‘battling addiction’ instead of treating both our physical selves, and the underlying emotional issues that have clearly gone awry.
This self-actualization is a way to enforce a failing system because we as Helpers like to blame. We have not taken into consideration that these people (our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, our wives and husbands, brothers and sisters are all quite human and quite fallible when faced with a substance or activity that challenges the very core of our humanity and living as a healthy human being. The feeling of power and confidence, when all else has not, made us feel that way, and of course, the real sense of, ‘fuck it’, when we feel that we are beaten down and abused by ourselves. That is never talked about. We want to feel good. When life gets in the way, we imbibe.
Ok, so we as helpers have failed at assuming that ‘we’ can ‘fix you’. We know or are starting to know, that only you, the human inside your addiction, is capable of ‘fixing’ a problematic behavior that was once fun and now rules our lives. We have to want to get better. This ‘faith’ in oneself is at the very essence of stopping addiction permanently. I know, as I had lost faith in myself and faith that control of usage is lost, gone and we simply fold.
Then as our addictive obsession continues “taking everything from our lives, (obsessive, compulsive behaviors that always lead to vastly uncharted negative consequences, start to pile up. Loss of self, loss of money, loss of home, loss of work, loss of pride, loss of joy, loss of comfort and of course loss of loved ones, and the love and loss of ourselves.
The Recent news on Narcan
I have recently witnessed, first hand, people lying on the side of the road, dumped off by scared friends or family in front of my current place of business, at Milestone Detox. I have been by their side as police and first responders try to resuscitate a non-alive human being. They work feverishly and patiently to assess the heartbeat or lack of, then administer Narcan by way of “The Kit”. The Narcan kit once pushed into a lifeless body miraculously brings it back to life, and most of the time, that person is really angry that they were brought back (from the dead). These addicts have had enough, and really want to die as a precursor for living in the hell that they have been living in. This is another way for providing a needed resistance to death as an alternative of the ravages of addiction.
“Dope/Alcohol” (insert addictive behavior) “has control over me and now I am fucked”. This is the top of the rabbit hole, as now, a whole new addiction industry has been built around, “We can fix it, if you can pay X amount for our modality of treatment and recovery”. Institutions and Treatment centers started to pop up everywhere (When, names, types, outcomes). There are many large and small confusing, profit oriented systems of cessation of addiction, not recovery care from addiction.
Recently I called around to Suboxone providers in the Portland area, for the purpose of finding barriers to treatment, (at the provider level). Every Suboxone provider I called told me; ‘we could fit you in, in 2 weeks’ “2 weeks, really”? “What do I do now, I am calling now”? ‘All I need is for you to bring in $350.00 cash and we can get you started on Suboxone’.
The argument being that: you were able to pay for your habit, so why can you not come up with the money that will save you? I am sorry to say that this standard of practice among providers is real and dangerously profit-oriented from the get go. Why not $100.00 or why not ask for insurance? Why don’t these providers say to the suffering person, we will take you today, and we will work out the cost when you get here and become stable?
This is when profiting from addiction starts, at the beginning of recovery with hospitalization for detoxification. When I went through detox, at a for-profit hospital and a few private for-profit detoxes, I only knew that this was the first step, (proven medically that a Human Being must detoxify the body of poisons, before any real recovery can begin). Then the levels of recovery and aftercare start with the very lucrative business of owning and operating a Sober Home. Or, there is Intensive Outpatient Centers (IOP) for- profit, and Long term Treatment for-profit and other aftercare models, such as groups and therapy, all of which need funding(for-profit), except AA/NA and all self- help groups meetings (self-funded through passing the basket).

For-Profit Addiction treatment is killing us, (Put in Statistics). Why do we need to profit from the very thing that helps people get off deadly medications prescribed by physicians, or as it seems to go…we turn to street drugs because we still feel pain (The science of pain) increasing, with more Opioids increasing. Yet doctors have limits? Then they just stop prescribing opiates for pain. This is a gateway into the world of self medication.
We have gotten recovery wrong. We as caregivers can be the best and sometimes the worst caregivers, because we are not people in power(money and status), we are in recovery we have experienced loss and devastation because of addiction, We indeed may not know how or why we are to counsel or manage something that is inherently impossible to manage. Addiction is a beast from within. It implies a suffering and a state of loss, one of total confusion, and it is at the very core of being an addict. This impact is ‘not important’ in the public perception of addiction today.
We as ‘recovery helpers’ have failed miserably. We have tried everything that comes to us as a possible treatment, when we goddamn know better. The addict, the human being that is sitting in front of you is at a loss of explanation because addiction, at any level (Mild, Moderate or severe really?) is traumatic. Addiction is trauma, stemming from other ‘mental health’ issues, forming together to complete a shit storm in our brain. ‘Put down that drink or it will kill you’, sounds very attractive to a human being who is suffering a kind of madness from within. The addiction professional in recovery would know this.
I put quotes around ‘mental health diagnosis’ because initial diagnosis is not a rational way of determining a sound ‘Mental Health’ diagnosis from something we have not even begun to understand, no less, try to assess. Trauma forms different pathways in the brain to “feel better” or to feel nothing at all; because “I cannot handle any of this” I have tried and tried. (Science). Think about it, every time I have assessed a client and every case I have read about says that, we are to write down separate and distinct mental health diagnoses or the client self-reports anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADD and ADHD, all diagnosis that were assumed, while the client was most likely much younger, or not sober, nor at all rational 99% at the time of their diagnosis. (Find science).
I know. I was always high and irrationally defiant at all of my therapy appointments and psychiatric assessments, and when after checking into 10 separate detoxes over time, (all profit based), because I had to be assessed? Life seemed too unfair and my dreams and hopes were dying in front of me. That is why I used, eventually to acknowledge that it’s ok that I’m a failure, as long as I get through the day, with my medicine. The high or getting well is really described as “feeling normal, for me”. That was a big issue for me as I did not know, and no one was able to tell me, what normal for me, was when I was addicted to heroin, I rarely got ‘high”, I intended to get ‘well’. Getting high was a huge plus, if at all possible.
We also never talk or talk about what initially started our recreational use. My mind felt better, in the first place I felt warm and comfortable in my own body for the first time. A classic example is why we do not talk about how our addiction started, instead we ask, what are you taking now, how much, and how often?
At the end of my run, or at any point along my addiction, I did not ask” hey dude, what is it cut with? We do not care anymore. Addicts do not care what they put in them; we just want to feel like everything is OK. Do you believe that any of us, when we were active users, could or would put our dope in a gas spectrometer? Hell no, we are all secretly hoping this shot will make it all go away.
My point is that the whole realm of Addiction recovery has to be re-written through the eyes of people who have recovered. Only those folks know how insanely hard and uncomfortable recovery is, how it was for them, and life may be forever dull, and for sure we would have no fun ever again. Were we having fun? Was this all worth it? Skewed awful thinking yes, it is also true, yes it is. Ask any addict.
We need a new way of thinking and implementing the recovery process.
The one idea that has always been at the back of my sick mind, until I became not sick, was the idea that we as addicts need a place to call home or sense of being ‘at home’, where we as addicts, and we as helpers are on the same page, and in the same area 24-7. Where we become one with the knowledge of how, why and what does it take. And now that we have put in the grueling torment of recovery time, we need a home base for others recovering from a life changing event that is killing us one by one every day. There were 367 deaths from opiates in 2016 in Maine alone.
El Rancho De La Vida is that place. The Ranch of Life is where human beings can get back their humanity, and eventually be there for the next addict that comes into our lives. We want to care for the sick and mind-altered addicted persons because of skewed thinking, so that they can care for the next person and so on. One addict helping another, while sharing important life coping skills that each of us has acquired through sobriety. We have learned to live clean then schooling ourselves, and then working within professional ties. One person may come in with knowledge of cuisine. Why do we not celebrate that person by giving them a place to recover (to get back) one’s life, but the 2.0 version of their life.
The Ranch is the only avenue bold enough to be a real stepping stone for starting recovery and being recovered, through feeling empowered that you have now taken a choice to get well, and look forward to a life that matters. We want all of these people at The Ranch. We will not tolerate violence. That is the only line we will draw. If you have anger management problems, most likely you are not a violent person. You have become angry because inside, you know you are better that that.
El Rancho De La Vida will be a Non-Profit recovery and Life Ranch with 100+ acres of Farmland, woods, fields and a real working ranch with cattle and cowboys, Recovering cowboys living at a place that does not punish or discriminate because of your lust for passion. That is a human quality, passion that is. We need to adapt passion for inner peace through drugs, alcohol and other self empowering needs, so that we can always look forward to a rewarding feeling, when we do good works. The Ranch will be staffed by anyone in recovery who has battled with and won. We are recovering addicts who want to put other’s addictions before them. That includes Addiction Specialists like medical doctors who are in recovery and have rejoined their clinical colleagues, but feel out of place at a typical hospital or private practice.
Nurses who are in long term recovery who have a true passion for being where they do their best work, and counselors and administration staff in recovery are the front line workers at The Ranch.
Imagine for a second, one on one counseling on horseback. Or, imagine discussions while walking through fields of gold, without the constraints of modern, clinical buildings that have no personality. Imagine, Snowy afternoons on a ridge with a person beside you that is listening and compassionate, advising only if the person asks for help, or advice. We want to be there for all of us that battle with being inherently human, with its faults, and its immense pleasures.
Imagine, for example, the feeling of being in love. That is a human pleasure that most of us have turned off long ago, or forgotten about completely, on our own accord or through the devastating effects of the chemicals and lifestyles we thought would get us through.
Then a certain type of magic will occur, totally out of respect for one human, being with another human being that has run head first into a wall of shame doubt and anguish. The entire community will be built around safety, comfort, humane treatment for a disease that does not conjure the word comfort, when thinking about recovery from our previously insane life style. The Ranch is ‘the place’ I have had on my mind ever since I entered treatment for my heroin addiction.
El Rancho De La Vida will be built and hopefully staffed by the very people who can understand the insanity of active addiction. We want to help, and we will make a difference, while not profiting from the pain of another human being.


In 2002, I penned twin essays entitled “ Recovery as a Heroic Journey” and “The Boon of Recovery” that were later included in the book, Let’s Go Make Some History: Chronicles of the New Recovery Advocacy Movement. As an invitation to explore these collected papers, the first of these essays is displayed below. (All proceeds from this book support Faces and Voices of Recovery.)
In his classic work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell described a dominant myth pervading the world’s cultures. Campbell noted that, in spite of their myriad variations, mythic stories of the heroic adventure shared a common structure: the hero’s departure, the hero’s transformation by great trials, and the hero’s return. Campbell’s portrayal of the heroic journey beautifully depicts the metamorphoses of addiction and recovery at the same time it poses provocative questions about the final stage of the recovery process.
The beginning of the hero’s tale is the call to adventure. Here the yet-to-be hero, often a person of little note or a community outcast, responds to a call from beyond his or her parochial world. To answer this call requires leaving that which is familiar to enter regions of “both treasure and danger.” The call to adventure marks a great separation from family and community and entry into an unknown world.
As the adventure unfolds, the hero encounters numerous trials and tribulations that test his or her character. Eventually, the hero experiences an ultimate test. It is here that the hero is “swallowed into the unknown, and would appear to have died.” But the hero, often with the aid of a personal guide, finds a way to escape, whether from the labyrinth or the monster’s belly. The death experienced by the hero turns out to be not a death of the body but a living death of the ego. It is in this transformation that the hero recognizes and embraces new sources of power and understanding and is reborn into a new consciousness and a new relationship with the world. The central part of the heroic tale involves the acquisition of new knowledge that turns out to be as much rediscovery as discovery. Campbell notes: “the powers sought and dangerously won are revealed to have been within the heart of the hero all the time.”
According to Campbell, the most difficult stage of the hero’s journey is the return home. This is a stage of reentry into the community that was left behind, reconciliation between the hero and the family/community, and a stage of service through which the hero delivers the gift of his/her newfound knowledge to the community. To complete the heroic journey, the hero who left the community as a seeker must return as a servant and teacher. Campbell notes that the task of fully returning is so difficult that many heroes fail to complete this final step of their journey.
There are obvious parallels between the processes of addiction and recovery and the structure of the hero’s tale. There are hundreds of thousands of people whose recovery stories share striking similarities to Campbell’s myth of the hero. My primary purpose for exploring this similarity is to explore one aspect of this comparison: what the hero’s return to the community implies as a task of late stage recovery. Several questions arise from Campbell’s discussion. Have recovering people returned to their communities to share the boon (gift of knowledge) of their adventure? How can this return be completed? What is the nature of this boon that can help the community work out its own salvation?
Returning to the community calls not just for a physical and social re-entry into the community, but also for acts of reconciliation (healing the wounds inflicted upon the community, forgiving the community for its own transgressions), and giving something of value back to the community. For the heroic journey to be completed, for the hero to reclaim his or her citizenship in the community, those debts and obligations must be paid. Left unpaid, the hero’s final act of fulfillment remains unconsummated. Left unpaid, the community loses experience and knowledge that could enhance its own health and resiliency.
The boon of the heroic journey can be offered individually through acts of restitution, by carrying a message of hope to others (sharing one’s “story”), and by modeling the lessons contained in the boon (practicing recovery principles in our daily lives). And yet the questions could be asked: Have recovering people as a group fully returned to their communities or are they hiding within those communities? Are recovering people as a group reaching out or have they escaped into the comfort and security of their own recovery?
The stigma of addiction–the price that even those in long-term recovery can pay in disclosing this aspect of their personal history–leads many recovering people to “pass” as a “normal,” scrupulously hiding their recovery journey from members of the larger community. Some recovering people live a socially cloistered existence, interacting almost exclusively with others in recovery. Does such isolation constitute a failure at re-entry, a missed opportunity for reconciliation, and an abdication of the responsibility to teach and serve the community?
These questions are not easy to answer because recovering people and their styles of recovery and styles of living are extremely diverse. There are clearly recovering individuals who have achieved Campbell’s stages of re-entry, reconciliation, and service.
If recovering people have not fully returned to their communities, it is as much a cultural failure as a personal one. It is the cultural stigma–the very real price that can be exacted for disclosure of recovery status–that is a primary culprit here. It is time for a new recovery advocacy movement that, by removing the cultural stigma that continues to be attached to addiction/recovery, can open the doors for recovering people to return to their communities. It is time recovering people shared the boon of their recovery, not just with others seeking recovery, but with the whole community.
There is a new recovery advocacy movement afoot in America that promises greater contact between recovering people and the larger community. Recovering people around the country are again creating grassroots organizations aimed at supporting recovery through advocacy, community education, and recovery resource development. The participants in this New Recovery Advocacy Movement, while responding to critical community needs, are finding in this recovery activism a way to complete their own personal journeys. They are finding ways to return and serve their communities.
For those wishing a more detailed and recent discussion of these themes, click HERE.

Post Date September 16, 2016 by Bill White


Both high social status and high social stigma can lead to isolation within http://www.williamwhitepapers.com/pr/__books/full_texts/19861997IncestuousWorkplace.pdf isolated from mainstream community life. Such closed systems are prone to charismatic leadership, ideological extremism, internal scapegoating, internal plots and schisms, breaches in ethical and legal conduct, fall of the “high priest,” and, in the extreme, the complete implosion of the organization. Within the alcohol and drug problems arena, the rise and fall of Synanon,https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Fall-Synanon-California-Utopia/dp/0801865832 the first ex-addict-directed therapeutic community, offers just one of many potential examples of this process. When addiction treatment programs or recovery mutual aid societies emulate such closure, they inadvertently further the community isolation and estrangement of those they are pledged to serve.
An essential dimension of the recovery process is healing the person-community relationship by forging pathways of reentry into community life, particularly for those who have been deeply enmeshed in cultures of addiction or whose addiction-related activities may have inflicted great harm on the community. The call for recovery-oriented addiction treatment and related support services is, in part, a call for forging space within local communities in which recovery can flourish, creating pathways that lead to such healing spaces, and providing personal guides to facilitate this psychological and cultural journey. Brief biopsychosocial stabilization should not be mistaken for sustainable recovery from addiction; recovery is not durable until it is firmly nested in the community—within the physical and cultural environment of each person/family. As a new generation of recovery support specialists is called to fulfill this role, it seems timely revisit the role of community in addiction recovery and the role recovery guides, whether in professional or indigenous helping roles, play in this person-community linkage process. I suggested the following in 2002.
All of us—physicians and nurses, addiction counselors, researchers and teachers, supervisors and managers—need to leave our offices and rediscover the social ecology within which both addiction and recovery are nested within our communities. We need to be meeting with the service committees of local addiction mutual aid societies. We—those in recovery and those not in recovery—need to get to know the recovering community by attending (within the prescribed guidelines for participation) meetings and social events of such organizations. We need to be visiting with the leaders of religious and cultural revitalization movements in our communities. We need to break bread with those working within our local union counseling programs. Rather than waste our lives obsessing about managed care, we need to relearn the cultural terrain outside our agencies and help create spaces within our communities that can serve as sanctuaries and places of renewal for recovering addicts and their families. And most importantly, we must enter into relationship with these indigenous resources as students rather than teachers.
What I was trying to suggest in these words was that you cannot guide others into relationships within the life of a local community if you are not yourself vitally involved in that community. Too many of us have for too long hidden from the slings hurled by a public that sees only caricatures of drug users, caricatures of the families affected by addiction, and caricatures of those who seek to help addicted men and women. Only through publicly sharing the truth of our stories as people in recovery and helpers in the recovery process will those images collapse into the dustbin of history. Only then can we forge the space in local communities where we–helpers and those helped–can live authentically and fully embrace our citizenship. Only then will pathways exist through which we can guide the lost, estranged, and abandoned into the heart of community life.
We must have the courage to travel out of our cloistered sanctuaries and enter local community life. We must come to know these communities. We must serve these communities. If recovery takes a village, we must do all we can to assure the presence of welcoming arms reaching toward every suffering individual and family. To create such a mass welcome, we need a vanguard of people in each local community to publicly and professionally share the news that long-term addiction recovery is a reality, that there are many pathways to recovery, and that recovery flourishes in supportive communities. These are quite simple but transformative messages that must be carried into the very heart of each community. Many people in recovery face great fear in entering or reentering community life. We must be in a position to say, “Take my hand and I will take you there.” To offer those words, we must first know that community terrain and have connections with its people and institutions.
Post Date September 9, 2016 by Bill White


A confluence of historically unprecedented forces has driven addiction-related disease and death into the very heart of rural and frontier communities in the United States. It remains to be seen whether this perfect storm can be met by the development and mobilization of expanded recovery support resources for individuals, families, and communities.
Rural and frontier communities vary widely in their characteristics, vulnerabilities, and resiliencies, but they do tend to share some distinguishing features: geographical isolation, individualism, religiosity, cultural and political conservatism, a distrust of outsiders, and recent decades of economic distress (e.g., declines in rural farming, manufacturing, and mining) and out-migration of young adults. The perfect storm that brought rising rates of addiction-related death and disease (e.g., HIV, Hep C) must be viewed within the context of these larger strains on rural community life. In 2009, in our book Methamphetamine: Its History, Pharmacology, and Treatment, Dr. Ralph Weisheit and I suggested that drug surges could ignite rapidly within conditions of high drug availability, the absence of drug controls, a vulnerable population, and a climate of cultural demoralization, mass unemployment, poverty, or mass migration. We further went on to predict that methamphetamine could be the Trojan Horse that would lead to the rise of prescription opioid and heroin use and increased sedative addiction in rural communities that had long been immune to opioid addiction.
That sequence of cultural, family, and personal vulnerability and the transition from methamphetamine, oral use of prescription opioids, and the migration to heroin use is the perfect storm that now bears the aftermath of overdose deaths and outbreaks of HIV infection and portends potentially enduring increases in alcohol and sedative dependence in these communities. (A rarely noted fact in coverage of the surge in opioid addiction is that the majority of overdose deaths result from combinations of opioids with alcohol and other sedative drugs—particularly benzodiazepines).
There are all manner of responses to the alarms rising in rural communities over surges in opioid addiction. Most focus on drug control measures, harm reduction measures aimed at reducing overdose deaths, and expanding access to treatment—particularly medication-assisted treatment. These are all important efforts, but the question remains whether supports for long-term personal and family recovery from opioid addiction will be included within these strategies. Such supports would involve shifting the lens through which we examine rural areas from a pathology or intervention paradigm to a solution-focused recovery paradigm (See my 2011 paper). It will require, as it will for the whole country, shifting from models of acute stabilization (serial episodes of brief treatment) to models of sustained recovery management and creating recovery landscapes within which long-term recovery can flourish. It will require mobilizing assets within the rural community—including individuals and families in recovery, recovery mutual aid organizations, new recovery support institutions, and new technology-based recovery supports to create such models and such recovery spaces.
One of the obstacles to achieving this vision is that we have so little scientific research on addiction recovery within rural and frontier communities. Lacking such guidance, we must rely at the moment on a growing body of experiential knowledge drawn from the heart of rural communities facing this crisis. We need venues to bring professional and lay leaders within these communities together to share their experience, strength, and hope—and to share the most effective recovery support strategies. For those on the front-lines of this crisis, I urge you to share in whatever ways you can what you are learning. The future of many rural communities may well rest on how quickly such lessons can be learned and exchanged.

Post Date August 26, 2016 by Bill White


In April of this year, Don Coyhis, leader of the Native American Wellbriety Movement, and I penned a communication to the field entitled Intergenerational Healing: Recognition, Resistance, Resilience, and Recovery. In that communication, we suggested that: 1) addiction in oppressed communities was fed by historical trauma and its residual remnants within contemporary life, and 2) the healing of historical trauma and its legacies involves distinct processes of personal and cultural renewal: Awakening and Collective Commitment; Mass Mobilization; Personal and Collective Mourning; Forgiving the Unforgivable; Achieving a New Harmony; Acts of Empowerment, Service, and Advocacy; Cultural Revitalization; and Acts of Celebration. These culturally indigenous processes must be accompanied by a reconstruction of the relationship between the oppressed group and the dominant culture. A central step in that process is for the dominant culture to fully acknowledge its historical actions and seek to make amends for these acts. The principle is one of restorative justice—healing the breach between wounding and wounded parties.
One of the darkest chapters in the history of the Indigenous Peoples of North America is that of the forced removal of Indian children from their homes and their internment in Indian Boarding Schools. The prolonged wounds wrought on the lives of Indian children, families, and tribes was a product of a policy whose explicit purpose was to: “Assimilate American Indian children into the American culture by placing them in institutions where they are forced to reject their own culture.”
White Bison has launched a petition to ask the U.S. Government to offer a public apology for the Abuses at U.S. Indian Boarding Schools. The petition reads as follows:
We the People ask the Administration to give a public apology for the abuse of Native American children in US Indian boarding schools. We ask that our President take the next step in the Native American Apology Resolution S. J. RES. 14 Section I, which he signed on December 19, 2009. The US government-funded 500 boarding schools for Native American children in order to integrate them into dominate culture. Children were taken away from their families and stripped of their identities and their cultures and were mentally, emotionally and physically abused. The trauma they faced has been passed down from generation to generation. This intergenerational trauma is directly connected as a cause for many social issues today.
I encourage everyone to SIGN THE WHITE HOUSE PETITION for the Apology for Abuses at US Indian Boarding Schools before the August 27 deadline. 100,000 signatures are needed. Be sure to log into your email after signing to confirm, so your signature will count. You may sign the petition at the following link:
Please share this with your friends and colleagues so we can all be part of this healing process.

Post Date August 9, 2016 by Bill White


Is it possible we are seeing the rise of a new generation of scholar activists who combine the experiential knowledge of addiction recovery, academic excellence, and a desire to give back through recovery-focused research, writing, teaching, and advocacy activities?
Over the past decade, I have interviewed many of the pioneers who made major contributions to the modern scientific and historical study of addiction recovery. All of these pioneers brought impeccable academic credentials to their work, but many withheld their personal or family recovery status or only disclosed that status late in their careers when they felt such disclosure would not damage their career opportunities or professional reputations. (See HERE and HERE for examples of the latter). Such secrecy or delays in disclosure were the result of the social stigma attached to addiction. Major efforts to reduce recovery-related stigma may make it easier for a new generation of scholars to pursue the study of the personal and family recovery experience while living openly as people in long-term addiction recovery.
Six factors will influence this future. First, the levels of education of people in recovery is increasing due both to the number of people with advanced education who are seeking recovery and the number of people in recovery choosing to pursue continued education as part of their recovery process. As examples, nearly 20% of AA members work as professionals, health professionals, or educators; 41% of surveyed NA members report having a college or graduate degree; and 47% of SMART Recovery members report having a college or graduate degree. Second, resources have expanded via the growing network of collegiate recovery programs through which people in recovery can pursue advanced education in a recovery-supportive academic and social environment. Third, there are now more than 280 colleges and universities offering formal addiction studies programs that academically prepare people to work within such areas as policy, administration, research, harm reduction, prevention, treatment, and recovery support services (Click HERE for a full list of such programs). The number of recovery-focused studies within Master’s theses and doctoral dissertations is increasing exponentially. Fourth, people are entering recovery at younger ages, with a growing contingent of politically aware and articulate young recovery advocates, some of whom are being drawn to academically prepare themselves for a career in the addictions field. Fifth, this emerging generation of recovery advocates has a seasoned vanguard of recovery role models working as addiction professionals, including at the highest levels of policy development and service delivery, as well as strong associations representing addiction medicine specialists and other addiction professionals. Sixth, recovery mutual aid organizations are themselves getting more involved in historical research and in collaborating with academic and private research organizations in the conduct of recovery research. Collectively, these forces are motivating people in recovery to further their education and extend their avocation of volunteer service work into a vocation within the addictions field.
This is all a way of saying there are ways that those who have been part of the problem can be part of the solution and that this influence can be exerted locally, nationally, and globally. Perhaps this invitation is being written for you. Perhaps you have changed your own life for a purpose that remains unclear to you. Perhaps that purpose is to help change the world—to help us understand the personal and family recovery processes in new ways, to elevate the quality of addiction treatment, to widen the doorways of entry into recovery, or to help find ways to break intergenerational cycles of addiction. Yes, such contributions will take a profound commitment, sustained preparation, and tenaciousness that will test you beyond measure. But from one who has followed this path, I invite you to accept the torch extended to you from my aging generation of scholar activists. Combining recovery-grounded experiential knowledge with the most rigorous historical and scientific methods of inquiry might indeed reshape the future of addiction and addiction recovery. Is that vision something that calls to you? Is it time to begin or take the next step in your preparation for this calling?

Post Date August 5, 2016 by Bill White


There were many policy and service agendas that came out of the 2001 Recovery Summit in St. Paul, Minnesota—the formal launch of the new recovery advocacy movement in the U.S., but none more central than increasing recovery representation at the tables where decisions are made affecting the lives of addicted and recovering individuals and their families. We embraced the mantra of the disabilities movement—“Nothing about us without us!”—in calling for recovery representation at all levels of the field—from the highest national and state policy venues to the governing boards, staff, and volunteers of local service organizations. It was a grand vision we had in 2001, and recent weeks have reminded me just how far we have come in achieving that vision. First was a photo sent to me of three men—Michael Botticelli, Tom Hill, and Tom Coderre—who live openly as persons in long-term addiction recovery and who serve in national policy advisory positions. Michael Botticelli is Director of White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) where he has led historic reforms in national drug policy, including elevating recovery as a new organizing paradigm for policy and service delivery. He earlier served as Deputy Director and Acting Director of ONDCP and before that served as Director of the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Tom Hill, after earlier positions with Faces and Voices of Recovery and Altarum Institute, was appointed to serve as a Senior Advisor for Addiction and Recovery for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and Acting Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT). Tom Coderre serves as a Senior Advisor and Chief of Staff at SAMHSA. He formerly served as the Chief of Staff to the Senate President in Rhode Island and as National Field Director of Faces & Voices of Recovery. Michael, Tom, and Tom are among a growing legion of professionals in long-term recovery who serve in key national policy development and policy advisory positions. Recovery representation is similarly increasing at state, regional, and local levels.
Recovery at the Table
Second was a photo sent to me of Justin Luke Riley of Young People in Recovery (YPR) participating in a forum with a listening President Barack Obama. YPR leaders have rapidly gained access to some of the most important decision-making venues within the addictions field. (See http://www.williamwhitepapers.com/blog/2016/04/ypr-a-new-generation-of-recovery-advocates-bill-white-and-justin-luke-riley.html). Those of us at the 2001 Recovery Summit shared our hopes of a new generation of recovery advocates that would bring youthful zeal and creativity into the recovery advocacy movement, but none of us could have predicted the speed with which this vision would be fulfilled.
Third was the recent news of passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) in the wake of a national mobilization of recovery advocates supporting this landmark legislation. It is not an overstatement to suggest that this legislation would not have been written and passed without the preceding cultural and political mobilization of people in recovery and others personally affected by addiction. CARA was signed by President Barack Obama on July 22, 2016 as he challenged Congress to provide increased funding to realize CARA’s potential healing influence on individuals, families, and communities.
The vision in 2001 was to bring the lived experience of recovery and the voices of the affected into policy development and the design, delivery, and evaluation of prevention, harm reduction, addiction treatment, and recovery support services. What is now transpiring is more than we could have dreamed in 2001. And that is cause for celebration and renewal of the commitment to create a sustainable recovery advocacy movement in the United States.

Post Date July 29, 2016 by Bill White