June 29, 2014 – Bill White – YEAR OF THE DRAGON

A new edition of Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America has just rolled off the presses. The first edition (1998) went through multiple printings and has been used as a text in collegiate addictions studies programs. Of even greater import has been how this history helped many people in recovery see themselves as “a people” and contributed to the rise of a new recovery advocacy movement in the U.S.. It is ironic with all I have sought to do professionally within the addictions field that my most lasting contribution will likely come from my hobby–four decades of investigating the history of addiction treatment and recovery. It is thus fitting that one of my final acts of professional service will be releasing this new edition.
Multiple circumstances created the need for a new edition of Slaying the Dragon–recent seminal research on earlier periods of history, the accumulation of more than 16 years of new addiction and recovery research and, of course, events of enormous significance that have transpired since 1998. That addiction treatment has gone through significant challenges and changes in the past 16 years is self-evident, but readers may not appreciate some of the momentous and unprecedented events that have occurred within the larger history of addiction recovery. Such events include the growth and diversification of recovery mutual aid societies, the cultural and political mobilization of people in recovery, the emergence of new grassroots recovery support institutions, the rise of recovery as a potentially new organizing paradigm for national drug policy, key breakthroughs in recovery research and rising efforts to fundamentally redesign addiction treatment. Pulling together the threads of these developments into an engaging story has been a work of love.
The new edition of Slaying the Dragon contains 31 chapters, 580 pages, more than 150 photographs, and more than 2,500 posted research citations. Anyone wishing to obtain a copy of the edition may click here or call toll free 1-888-547-8271. The Table of Contents and a Sample Chapter have been posted on my website. The past year has been filled with wonderful projects, but I will always think of it as the Year of the Dragon. The labor of bringing this work to a close is my way of honoring those who came before me, honoring my contemporaries and passing to a new generation a legacy that is now in their hands. The future of addicton treatment and recovery has yet to be written, so let’s go make some history.

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Thursday, June 26th, 2014 Focus: I teach myself how to feel gratitude & self-appreciation by practicing.

Two feelings are fundamental to the attracting of anything in your life: one is gratitude, the other is self-appreciation. The Universe is a neutral place and responds simply to your focus of attention. As you practice gratitude and acknowledge what you already have, you shift not only your focus, but also your vibration, into the direction of more of the thing you are looking for.

If you are one that says, “I cannot feel gratitude for I am so unhappy with my life”, then let us say to you: Feelings are the result of thought; thought is the catalyst for all that you think. You can teach yourself how to feel gratitude by practicing it. Just as you can deliberately practice self-appreciation in order to engender self-love, you can also practice gratitude and encourage that feeling within you.

Self-appreciation is paramount. There is nothing more important than that you feel good about who and what you are. As you acknowledge yourself with appreciation, you open the door to allowing more good things to come into your life. It no longer becomes a question of deserving or ability; it becomes a question of allowing. How much will you allow yourself to have today?

Excerpted from the article:
Self-Appreciation Is The Key To Spiritual Growth and Abundance
by John Payne.

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Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity
by Robert A. Emmons.

Recent dramatic advances in our understanding of gratitude have changed the question from “does gratitude work?” to “how do we get more of it?” This book explores evidence-based practices in a compelling and accessible way and provides a step-by-step guide to cultivating gratitude in their lives. Gratitude Works! also shows how religious, philosophical, and spiritual traditions validate the greatest insights of science about gratitude.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book.
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Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 Focus: I listen to the messages that come with my challenges and discover the gifts they bring.

Available at ITUNES and Amazon

Lebish and Grinnell CD
“A Long Time Comin”

One of my favorite fruits is the mamey. Now on the outside a mamey doesn’t look like much. It is brown and has a skin texture resembling dark coarse sandpaper. Yet, when you cut into a ripe mamey, what greets you is a wonderful dark orange fruit which is sweet and has a texture like custard. The outside has no resemblance to the inside.

And so, in many cases, with the challenges in our life. To continue with our fruit analogies, some of our challenges resemble a coconut — hard, tough, rough, and with seemingly no way to have anything wonderful about it. Yet, once you crack it open, the “meat” of the coconut, while hard, is sweet. In the same way, the outside of the challenge (the hard part) seems terrible. It makes you want to simply run and leave it there. But if you persevere and get to the center of the challenge, past the hard tough rough exterior, you reach the reward, the fruit. The lesson or the gift of the challenge is usually well worth the challenge.

But what often happens to us, in this world of instant gratification, is that we often don’t hang around to get the gift of the challenge. As soon as a relationship is a little rocky, we say “so long”. As soon as a little challenge pops up, we either turn on the TV to ignore it, or go into denial and pretend it doesn’t exist. As soon as we get any symptom of pain, we take a pain-killer. As soon as we get a slight feeling of illness, we pop one pill or another. Yet, each challenge comes with a message, with a gift, that we can only discover if we listen to what it has to say.

Excerpted from the article:
Your Body Is Talking to You! Are Willing to Hear What It Has to Say?
by Marie T. Russell.

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Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 Focus: I choose to remain open to the wonders of the world.

Embrace alone time, and consider it beneficial. It might help you tap into the creativity that exists to some degree in everyone; it need not be as formally structured as picking up a brush to paint or sitting at the piano to compose. However, solitude can allow a return to creative, imaginative pursuits that have been abandoned since childhood.

Develop a true understanding of yourself and work on your ideas and deepest beliefs. Getting to know one’s deepest feelings, opinions, and attitudes is one of the hardest tasks of living — at any age — but it becomes more and more necessary as we age so that we can shape our “third age” in a way that gives us the most serenity and pleasure.

As we seek the transforming power of love, as we seek deeper understanding of ourselves and those around us, we must summon all our courage to choose our old age and to believe that we can make it rich with meaning. Albert Camus, the French writer, said: “In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” Those of us in the winter of our lives can find that summer, too, if we remain open to the wonders of the world.

Excerpted from the article:
Harvesting the Fruits & Gifts of Solitude
by Zenith Henkin Gross.

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Monday, June 23rd, 2014 Focus: I practice “defensive eating” by eating a diet full of brightly colored fruits and vegetables.

It’s hard to go wrong if you fortify your diet with colorful foods. Almost every one of them is loaded with disease-proofing compounds. The old folk wisdom that you should include green and orange vegetables in your daily diet was absolutely correct. It just didn’t go far enough. Today we know that you should also include a daily sampling of red, purple, and blue — the more colorful, the better.

Take blueberries. A USDA database reveals that blueberries contain more than a dozen vitamins and minerals in small amounts. They pack fiber. And they contain nearly 100 phytochemicals, including the stubborn dyes that stain your mouth and sometimes your shirt. Just one of these phytochemicals falls into the following protective categories, according to a USDA database: “analgesic, antibacterial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, antisunburn, antiulcer, [and] immunostimulant.” And that’s just one fruit. Imagine what you can do with a whole diet full of this brightly colored stuff.

People have gotten used to thinking of fruits and vegetables as delivering one nutrient or another. Oranges, vitamin C. Bananas, potassium. But the reality is that every fruit and vegetable is a complex disease-fighting machine. A glass of orange juice contains 170 phytochemicals — not to mention potassium, thiamin, folate, and hefty amounts of vitamin C. Carrots contain a total of 217 compounds. Apples, at least 150. Harness those in your diet, and you’ve achieved what Elizabeth Ward of the American Dietetic Association calls “defensive eating.”

Excerpted from the article:
Think Health, Think Colored Fruits and Vegetables
by James A. Joseph, Ph.D. and Daniel A. Nadeau, M.D., Anne Underwood.

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The Color Code: A Revolutionary Eating Plan For Optimum Health
by James A. Joseph, Ph.D, Daniel A. Nadeau, M.D., and Anne Underwood.

Color cures! That’s the simple premise behind The Color Code. While we all know that healthy eating is the key to a long life, few people understand why the natural pigments that give fruits and vegetables their color can help protect your body, too. Combining their expertise in aging and nutrition, a leading scientist and an outstanding physician show readers how to prevent the most common age-related illnesses through a simple multicolored eating plan. For generations, parents have been telling their children to eat their fruits and vegetables–The Color Code finally tells why.

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Saturday, June 21st, 2014 Focus: I now understand that placing blame never solves anything.

Unfortunately, most of us are not aware (unless we stop to think about it) that we often have a need to blame. If the conditions in our lives are not to our liking, then let’s blame someone “out there.” Yes, let’s blame our outer enemy, when really it’s our inner enemy (whom we don’t see) generating this need to blame.

But, we’re not even aware that we have an inner enemy, nor that we hide behind that enemy. We’re not aware that we blame the enemy (which we think is outside of us) instead of taking responsibility ourselves. We haven’t understood who our real enemy is! (There are those who have been conditioned to obediently and automatically take the blame, regardless of the circumstances. When a person recognizes this, usually in their adulthood, they can change this behavior, and the belief that drives it. This is important to understand, as the belief is perpetuated by the inner enemy.)

What some of us haven’t understood is that placing blame never solved a problem. (When you think about it, isn’t placing the blame on others taking the easy way out?) Blaming only heightens the problem. Blaming keeps us from taking responsibility and being accountable. And by not taking responsibility or being accountable, our True Self is slowly losing its identity and eroding away. By not accepting and facing the strong possibility that there is an inner enemy, IT is running the show. And as long as IT is running the show, we are stuck!

Excerpted from the article:
Blame and Shame: How Our Inner Enemy Plays the Game
by Karol Truman.

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Healing Feelings from Your Heart
by Karol Truman.

Did you know you have a “heart of gold”? What happened to it? How can you find it again? Walk with Karol Truman through the feelings that have taken you from your true pathway. Take the journey that will lead you back to the beauty of your soul, your “heart of gold,” your true self.

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May 16, 2014 – Bill White – SPIRITUALITY AND RECOVERY

A new book, Experiencing Spirituality, co-authored by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham, has just been released. It will find a broad and appreciative audience and will be of particular interest to addiction professionals, recovery support specialists, and people in recovery. It is not a treatise on how to recover, but it offers profound insights about how to live one’s life in recovery. Brilliantly conceived and beautifully written, Experiencing Spirituality is one of those rare books readers will return to again and again as a balm for old and fresh wounds and as a meditation on how to live a life of greater balance, fulfillment, and self-acceptance.
Kurtz is best known to readers of this site for his classic text, Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous, Ketcham for her co-authorship of Under the Influence and Beyond the Influence. In 1992, Kurtz and Ketcham co-authored The Spirituality of Imperfection, which used classic stories to explore the spiritual legacies of Alcoholics Anonymous. The Spirituality of Imperfection is one of my all-time favorite books. For years, I have returned to its pages and recommended it and sent copies of it to friends facing major challenges and life transitions. Our collective appreciation for what the book offered at critical junctures in our lives created hopes for a follow-up book by the authors. Now, more than two decades later, that long-awaited follow-up has arrived.
Experiencing Spirituality continues the use of carefully selected, well-crafted stories drawn from diverse cultural and religious traditions to reveal profound truths about the human experience. The stories operate at two levels–the enjoyment and meaning contained within each story and the topical juxtaposition of stories within the book that creates larger breakthroughs of perception and understanding. The stories are used by the authors to explore tragedy, grief, hate, wrath, envy, and pride, and to elevate us through discussions of awe, virtue, gratitude, listening, forgiveness, fidelity, justice, loyalty, humility, humor, prayer, recovery, and community.
If asked. “What do these vulnerabilities and virtues have to do with addiction recovery?” some would say, “Nothing,” while others, including myself, would declare, “Everything.” The corruption of character is a near-universal dimension of the addiction experience, making the reconstruction of character, identity, and interpersonal relationships central tasks within the long-term recovery process. Experiencing Spirituality vividly illuminates these tasks, relying on the inherited stories of those who previously traveled such journeys of personal metamorphosis. No reader will appreciate Experiencing Spirituality more than those in the process of healing and rebuilding their lives. Recovery is ultimately a process of recasting one’s own story–weaving new meaning into the past while transforming imminent tragedy into redemptive drama. Readers in such circumstances will find this book a source of hope and light.
There is also an aged simplicity and solidness to Experiencing Spirituality that readers will find deeply comforting. The stories and lessons Kurtz and Ketcham have selected are ones that have withstood the test of time. Reading Experiencing Spirituality will provide continual opportunities for self-reflection, but, as one will discover in its pages, spirituality is in its essence something quite different than self-exploration. It is about helping us, in an age of obsession with self, to connect with resources and relationships beyond the self. It is in that leap out of self and self-consciousness that one finds the potential for authentic connection and communion and the path through experience and knowledge to wisdom. My deepest thanks to Ernie Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham for offering us maps to guide us on this journey.

March 1, 2014Bill White
Media 1.jpg
The major media outlets have long been chastised for the content and style of their coverage of alcohol- and drug-related problems. Such criticisms include the glamorization of drug use, the demonization of drug users, and charges that the media is complicit in ineffective drug policies. Few have raised parallel concerns that popular media coverage of addiction recovery is rare, often poorly selected, and told through a lens that does little to welcome the estranged person back into the heart of community life. If media representatives do not “get it” (“it” being recovery), then what precisely is it that they don’t get? What are the mistold and untold stories and their personal and public consequences to which media leaders ought to be held accountable?
I have just posted a new paper that offers the following twelve points from the perspective of a long-tenured recovery advocate.
1. Distorted media coverage of active addiction fuels social stigma and contributes to the discrimination that many people in recovery face as they enter the recovery process.
2. Media coverage of addiction recovery is rare and tangential.
3. The media mistakenly conflate recovery with active addiction and addiction treatment with addiction recovery.
4. Media outlets portray addiction recovery as an exception to the rule.
5. Media coverage of drug-related celebrity mayhem and death contributes to professional and public pessimism about the prospects of successful, long-term addiction recovery.
6. When the story of recovery is told, it is most often told from the perspective of the recovery initiate rather than from the perspective of long-term recovery.
7. When personal recovery is conveyed by the media as a dramatic story of redemption, the media often inflate and elevate the recovering person to a pedestal position and then circle like piranhas in a feeding frenzy at the first sign of any failure to live up to that imposed image.
8. The media seek to make the personal recovery story as dramatic as possible by emphasizing the details of the addictions story while glossing over the processes and fruits of long-term personal and family recovery.
9. The media fixation on celebrity addiction and recovery is a diversion from a much larger and more important story.
10. The media tell the story of recovery only as a personal story rather than a larger story of the role of family and community in addiction recovery.
11. The rare media portrayals of recovery often depict only a single pathway of addiction recovery.
12. Media representatives are only just beginning to recognize newly emerging recovery support institutions and the existence of an ecumenical culture of recovery that together are uniting people from diverse pathways and styles of long-term recovery.
Media 2.jpgAs the eternal optimist, I await with great anticipation a new quality of media coverage of addiction recovery. The Breaking Bad stories have been told ad nauseam. It’s time for a new generation of journalists, scriptwriters, and filmmakers to convey the Breaking Good stories.
For those wishing to read the complete paper, click here.