Saturday, November 26, 2011



I know that the quest for serenity sometimes seems unimaginineably difficult. This  is most  true when we are in  the midst of the chaos of addiction. There are 2 keys that help us navigate these difficulties. They are 1: understanding that serenity, when we first discover it,  is a small island in a huge  raging sea. I f we work on making the island bigger and the raging sea smaller  we will have more and more serenity.  If we think that serenity is a final state  and permanent in that form , then we are bound to be very disappointed and disillusioned.. The amount of time we are serene starts out ver y small. But it  will grow if we  understand the second key ; believing   that we are the gatekeepers of our heads and its contents.  Both of these two keys take time to find and embrace. If we believe we will find total serenity  in an instant, or if we cannot accept that we are the gatekeepers of our heads,then the process will take that much longer.
The first key is the easier to understand understand. Keeping people and their problems out of our heads is much harder and takes a lot of work. We must believe however that we have that power and that we can control what impacts us and our emotions. The issue is very much the same as what  I refer to as  the front burner,back burner  phenomenon. We all know how to move a pot from one burner to another, but we struggle to move problems in our heads from a big area to a small area. It does take practice and hard work. And I guarantee that it can be done if we  want it enough..
So often what seems impossible is really the result of our  unwillingness to make it happen. If we really love the chaos that the addict brings and love having the addict live with us so the chaos can be fulltime,then we will never find serenity. PERIOD. That is why we have to be WILLING and READY to make changes in our emotional needs and then in our behaviors. So often people complain  that none of the beautiful changes we talk about  are possible. But that is only because they are  getting something from the chaos generated by the addiction . EVERY BEHAVIOR HAS A REASON;THERE IS NO RANDOM BEHAVIOR. I BELIEVE THIS 100%. When behavior is crazy,some one is deriving a benefi (or a an emotional reward)from it. Find  the benefit,eliminate it ,and the behavior goes away. This has been demonstrated over and over in every clinical psych class and psych  book. And this can be shown to be true in addiction and in our codependent behaviors. We enable because it give us a psychologic benefit . Enabling give us pleasure because it fills the emotional  hole we created by  believing we caused the problem,or we didn’t show enough love,and on and on……… If you take away the belief through behavioral modification ,the reward  disappears and so does the behavior. I know it sounds simple,but because we are complicated  people, nothing is simple.

It is very much the same with belief  that you are the gatekeeper of your head. To get there you have to eliminate the benefit you receive from all the turmoil of letting the addict(and other problem people) control your head. Once you understand this  ,it is a lot easier to do what you need to do. Where does behavior modification  fit  in? Behavior modification is what we get  from going to meetings, listening to people with years of experience, and  studying  our  literature. The addicts gets  the tools for recovery(behavior modification)   from rehab, from living with other recovering  people,going to meetings and studying  their literature.

So if you really want to find serenity , you will  find it. So much of the difficulty,  as I said earlier, is within us. It’s in eliminating  all that nonsensical clutter and the  erroneous belief systems which   dominate our thinking  and blind  us from  seeing  the truth. When we are ready to change our lives  and find  serenity, we will gradually  clean out the mess in our heads   and move forward with our lives with the help of our Higher Power. And if we are lucky ,the addict will do the same.

 Looking back on all of this 22 years from the start, I find it hard to believe how incapacitated  I was and how much freer and better  I am today. I struggled for years over these same issues-just like everyone else.  But having arrived at a place where I understand what I went through and why I had so much trouble changing ,I hope to pass on some  knowledge from the  recovery  side of the battleground  to help others . By relating what I learned  from my struggle ,perhaps I   can l help you shorten  yours. And  I want to assure those  who are mired in despair ;there is hope  for all of us –and our addicts.


Sunday, November 20, 2011



Just as Hope is hard to uncover in the midst of the chaos of addiction,reasons to be Grateful can be equally elusive. We always try to think and  talk about Gratitude at this time of year. After all, that’s what Thanksgiving is about
We really do have much to be grateful for. I know that the addiction tends to preoccupy so much  of our  thinking;yet  we must to  look  at the bigger world beyond the addict. The addict is not the only thing we should be thinking about. I realize in the beginning of the process of recovery,it is very hard to concentrate on anything else. However by attending  meetings  and gaining some insight,we can begin to move the addict from the front burner to the back burner and find room for thoughts  of of other things,other people and why we should be grateful. If we can focus on the other members of our family who are doing well despite the addict(the enablers are always the last to see the truth and detach)we must be grateful for them and learn to listen to them  and enjoy them. I realize that our preoccupation  cause us to consider our other children and spouses as less “into” the problems- but it's always as we see them. We  the enablers are too aware and too involved, and we tend to brush everyone and everything  else aside. However at this time of year in particular we need to be grateful for everyone else. We need to find comfort in the beauty that surrounds us - the sunrise,the sunset, the night sky,and  all the natural phenomena that move through  their cycles despite by our addict. Yes,it is true ,that there is a big world outside the addict. We simply have to learn how to find it. I know that this is very hard, especially in the early months after the realization  that we have an addict in the family. But we need to push past our preoccupation with the one person  and see  the many ,who are a source of pleasure and Gratitude-and Hope.

I said in an earlier piece that part of our problem is mind clutter.  We have opened  the gates and  permitted  the addict to  flood our heads, pushing everything else into dark corners. When we start to get better we clear out the mess and throw much of it away.  That is a large part of recovery. The sickness we have is the constant absorption in the addict’s issues. There really is a gigantic,often wonderful  world outside the addict and that reasons for Gratitude are  not hard to find. We wear  very secure blinders for years.  We will find Hope and Gratitude by throwing off the blinders and begin  seeing that there is joy everywhere. And it isn’t  impacted  one bit by our preoccupation with the addict.

Yes, there is so much to be grateful  for,if we learn how to look, and we are ready to see what is obvious. So much of our issue is our  inability to accept  this  reality :there is  wonderful  life  for us outside the addict.

 As we approach Thanksgiving  and, hopefully,  every good event in our lives, we must throw off the shackles and blinders  that we placed on ourselves. This is what prevents us from seeing everything that is right in our lives .When we progress with  our  recovery,we will find reasons  for Gratitude  everywhere. Our cup will truly run over as we move from the darkness  to the light. Recovery is a wonderful blessing! And for many of us it is the  primary reason for our  Gratitude.


Friday, November 18, 2011


This title is a great truth. Our program is very simple when we  finally get it. We have a great deal of trouble getting it because of all the stuff rattling around in our heads. The major stuff relates to our being a failure as a parent because we have an addict in the family. From this stems an entire belief system, usually at the subconscious level, telling us  how we failed and what we must do to make it up to the addict. I believe this issue is the root of our extraordinary ability to sacrifice everything to fix the addict,never seeing that  enabling is not  the source of our  redemption.It works out that this erroneous belief system  makes everything about drug addiction  worse for years. The more we enable, the worse the addiction and our lives get. This occurs because our premise is INCORRECT. We are not the cause of the addiction. It has nothing to do with us as parents. Our addict is sick because of a chemical disorder of the brain which I believe is present before  the first pill , injection , snort,or drink. I believe it is a genetic disorder,like so many other diseases. Unlike other diseases however,this one can only be fixed by the person who has it; there  is really nothing we can do about it. Similarly if we have an adult diabetic family member who refuses to take medication,is there anything we can  do  about it? Addiction differs because it is so visibly and rapidly self destructive. Diabetes takes years to kill. Drug addiction can be very lethal, very quickly.  And addiction has , in my view,  the potential to  destroy all family relationships over time. Diabetes does not have that potential.

The key for us lies in recognizing what we are dealing with and that we did not cause this disease. Once we see the truth we can detach,allowing the addict to be responsible for his or her recovery. And we can attend to our own recovery.

As I said in the beginning,it is our complexities that make all of this so tough. Yes addiction is truly horrible,but so much  of the driver of the horror is the garbage in our heads. Going  to meetings with people who have worked on these issues for years  helps us understand that we are not responsible for the addiction. The addict is responsible for the addiction and the recovery. We have our own recovery to work on. So much of our recovery is recognizing that what is in our heads is  not correct and  that there is another huge  part of our lives that has nothing to do with the addict.  As I have said  before ,when  we understand the truth about this addiction, everything gets easier. And none of this is beyond our reach.

Finally,there is a wonderful statement the source of which is debated. It says:"You shall know the truth,and it shall set you free." That is absolutely true!


Sunday, November 13, 2011


It is very hard to find hope in the midst of the chaos of addiction. We are all so mired in the slough of the addict hope seems unrealistic or non existent Yet we know that many families and some addicts do recover. But where do we turn for hope in the midst of our despair? Most of us realize eventually that hope can only be found if we are willing to embrace change . We must recognize that all the things we did simply did not help the addict or ourselves. The addiction goes on, as does our despair. We eventually learn from the Steps that the source of hope lies only in change. First we must recognize that we are powerless to fix the addict. This frees us from the responsibility of solving the addict's problems, allowing us to begin our own recovery. When we begin the recovery process we see the first glimmer of Hope. Understanding Steps 2 and 3 allows us to complete our emancipation from the addict's issues,placing those issues in the hands of our Higher Power. As we accomplish this extraordinary change we can see hope in it's full array . Hope is now tangible and we can grasp it more easily. Finding Hope through the above mentioned changes,enhances our ability to recover. We know that change is important for us. With time and hard work we see that change is not only the linchpin for finding Hope,it is the linchpin for finding  our recovery.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I know this is a confusing title. Powerlessness is hard enough to understand. But can it liberate? Step 1 says we are powerless over drugs and other people's lives and that our lives had become unmanageable It is clear that the unmanageability is the resut of failing to understand our powerlessness. No one I am sure ever envisioned admitting powerlessness. Power was fundamental to our thinking and our success. How could we separate ourselves from being powerful?

However after some years of struggling with an addict,most of us recognize(often reluctantly ) that we are indeed powerless. What is beautiful about the admission is that we are no longer responsible for the adult addict. What a relief! And we now have the freedom to make our live manageable. This is the precise method by which accepting powerlessness liberates us.We can now attend to our own lives and believe it or not,our own happiness. This is the reward for shedding the responsibility for the addict. It turns out to be a Very Good Deal! Once we see this all of our negative perceptions of powerlessness evaporate.Step 1 becomes a sure winner.

Powerless when understood is a powerful tool for restoration of the enablers life.