Thursday, September 30, 2021

Risk Taking

Those of us in the addict/alcoholic population have risk-taking personalities.  That is evidenced by the fact that we'll indulge in such dangerous practices as share dirty needles with people about who we know absolutely nothing.  We'll also engage in sex without any type of protection.  And drink from the same container of someone who could have who knows what kind of germs lurking in their bodies.

And these are the same folks who'll turn down a free Covid-19 vaccine because of their "political" beliefs.  They have some idea that vaccinating the population is some sort of government "plot" to take control of our lives.

When someone says something along these lines I'm amazed.  When I ask what benefit would it be to the government to have a large portion of the population deathly ill, they really don't have a rational answer.  I usually tell them to look at the rate of death between those who are vaccinated and those who are not they usually want to steer the conversation in another direction.

I also ask them to look at the supply chain and how the lack of key workers has caused a shortage of various products and raised the cost of many consumer items.  Not so long ago a 2x4 was under five dollars.  Now some suppliers are charging 12 and 15 dollars for the same item.  The same with sheetrock:  a board that cost under $15.00 a while back now sells for more than a hundred dollars at some home stores.

To me the bigger issue is the self-centeredness of those who refuse vaccination.  If they don't care about themselves that's one thing.  But the idea that they could be a carrier and infect their loved ones or neighbors is something else.  I've heard many tales where a family member will refuse vaccination, yet carry the virus into their homes and have family members lose their lives.

I wonder how they're going to feel, carrying the responsibility for someone else's death with them for the rest of their lives.

It's something to think about.

Click here to email John

Monday, September 27, 2021


Every once in a while, probably once a year, one or two of our residents will make plans to start a halfway house or recovery program after they graduate from ours.

It used to be that I would hear about what they were planning and have a talk with them about the challenges they were facing.  But I quit doing that because I realized I was wasting my breath and that they were going to do what they wanted to do.

Some of them would actually follow through and find a house or two and begin taking in residents.  And interestingly enough they would start a program that had almost the same rules and guidelines as ours.  In fact their program would look pretty much like ours, but with a different name.

But of the ten or twelve who actually got a program off the ground I don't know any of them that are in existence today.  One of the last ones who started his own program recently died of liver failure after he relapsed.

Another one was murdered while he was collecting rent on a Friday night.  And still another died of a heroin overdose.   He was released from a rehab where he was sent to recuperate after being beaten during a robbery attempt.  As soon as he left the rehab he picked up some heroin and accidentally overdosed.

People don't realize the challenges they face in this business.  Many look at it as a get-rich-quick scheme.  But they don't take into account all of the work involved. 

Buildings need maintenance.  Clients need to be fed.  Lease payments have to be made, as do taxes. Clients need clothing.  Sometimes they have medical emergencies.  Many need dental and vision care.
The work never ceases when one is taking care of a few hundred addicts at a time.

But I never discourage those who try to open a program.  They may succeed and actually help someone change their lives. In fact if their motives are good and they really want to help people I wish them the best.

They just should be ready to do some real work.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Sometimes less is More

We made a major change a few months ago as to how many hours volunteers work.

I got the idea when the pandemic first hit and those in our corporate office who could work from home did so.  Even though they were at home, we still seemed to get everything completed.

Once the pandemic subsided and everyone was vaccinated we started bringing volunteers back to the office.  But I started wondering why we had them here all day once their work was completed.  So I slowly changed the schedule.

The new rule is, once your job is completed, you can leave.

The new schedule has created better morale.  They now have time to read, go to a meeting, work out, or just take a nap.  When they had to spend eight hours a day here, much of it was spent surfing the internet or hanging out on Facebook once their jobs were completed.

Our new schedule hasn't affected our revenue or productivity. And a comparison of our revenue over the past three years shows that our income in staying level, even though our population has dropped to less than 600, down by 150.

Click here to email John

Tuesday, September 21, 2021


I've never had a lot of patience when it comes to dealing with frustration.  And one of the things that frustrates me is when my computer starts failing and gets in the way of my work.

It seems like these kinds of challenges occur at the worst times.  Like, there are seven days in a week.  Yet my computer generally fails at closing time on Friday, meaning that I won't be able to  get any professional help until Monday morning.

One of the reasons I'm getting to this blog a day late is because although I finally got my computer rebuilt, I still had to recover the data that got scrambled when it crashed.

While this kind of thing doesn't happen regularly, it seems that I'm very unrealistic when it come to dealing with a computer when it does fail.  I know that technology like phones and computers have a two or three year life span before going into obsolescence yet I act surprised when they do begin to fail.

I have seriously considered throwing my computer down the stairs at times.  But then I'd just have to start over again and get even more frustrated.

While this not a challenge that leads me to think of getting drunk or high, it does lead me to get angry - which is probably the biggest waste of time of all. What leads me to a peaceful state is to remember the days before computers and cell phones - when it sometimes took forever to accomplish things.

Once again, acceptance steps in and when I get there I start counting the many blessings I have in life. A solution is at hand and my world levels out.  

Click here to email John

Friday, September 17, 2021

The Little Things

I love computers when they work like they're supposed to.  And I hate them when they frustrate me by breaking down or freezing when I'm working on a critical project.

Although I know that most of them have a usable life of less than five years I still get frustrated when they fail when I'm trying to get an important project completed.  And that's what's been happening for me all week.

Usually it's something simple that we can fix in our office but I've finally reached the point with the computer I have now where no amount of patching or repairing will make it work.  Fortunately I have a backup at my home office that I can use when the other one fails.

The problem - as with most problems in my life - is when I'm in the middle of a project I don't like anything to slow me down.  That breeds frustration and stress, which I sometimes don't work with very well - even though I've been sober for 30 years and my job is to help other deal with their issues.

When these kinds of situations arise I eventually realize that I need to apply the same rules to my own life that I suggest others use.

After all, life presents us with issues.  But if we approach them with patience we can resolve them. 

And I promise you that when they're resolved there'll be new ones waiting for us around the corner.

So I'm patiently waiting for the technician to call me and tell me he's done with his repairs, which sooner or later he will.

Click here to email John

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Maybe a New Client?

I have a habit of not answering calls if I don't recognize the caller's name.  Because 90% of the time it's a telemarketer peddling some crap that I'm not interested in.

And that happened again this morning and I didn't answer the phone.  Later, though, when I checked my voice mail I found a message from a mother whose son was to be released from jail this morning.  However, she hadn't heard from him so far today, but was wondering if we had a place for him in case he contacted her.

I told her we did and to send him here once she heard from him.  She said that she'd had the police remove him from her house several years ago because he was drunk and refused to leave.  And ever since then he'd been resentful at her because she had him removed from her home.

I told her she'd done exactly the right thing.  When people have a place to stay where they can drink and do drugs why stop? 

Apparently the mother was disabled and lived on a limited income.   He didn't seem to understand that she could't afford to buy him booze, cigarettes, clothing and feed him.  And why should she?  After all, he was a healthy middleaged man who was capable of working but preferred to pursue his addictions.

Her situation is not uncommon.  I have many parents and family members call.  But seldom does the addict call until life becomes totally intolerable.

My recommendation to them may sound cruel, but I always suggest that they not do anything for an addict or alcoholic other than give them a ride to a local detox.  Don't feed them.  Don't let them spend the night on the couch. Don't loan them your car.  Don't loan them money.  

In other words, let them suffer the consequences of their habit.  And when they suffer enough pain, then they will seek help.

Pain is the great teacher.

Click here to email John

Saturday, September 11, 2021


It hardly seems like 20 years ago today, that terrorists smashed airliners into the twin towers and other targets, slaughtering thousands of innocents who were going about their everyday lives.  Some had plans for dinner, others had left their children in daycare on their way to work, still others had clothes waiting to be picked up at the cleaners.  For the victims of that day the world came to a jolting halt.

It was such a shocking event that it has never left our national consciousness and will be etched into our memories for generations to come.  It also started a world-wide hunt for the terrrorists who created and carried out the plot.  Millions of dollars and thousands of lives have been impacted by the events of that day. 

Yet today, 20 years later, is the world a better place?  Is there anything we learned from an event like this?

In my own case, I was cruising along working on my recovery, with ten years of sobriety under my belt.  I didn't spend much time thinking of politics or religion.  I was immersed in helping my fellow addicts change their lives.  That was the focus of my existence.

However, 9/11 made me take a different look at the world.  It was hard for me to imagine that somewhat hated us so much because of book that told them we were infidels who needed to be beheaded because we didn't follow the tenets of their faith.

Many people live their lives today based on what mythical gods passed down to them thousands of years ago.  Not that any religion is totally bad; however one that even hints that murdering our fellow man is the path to glory has no place in my life. And most religions treat those who don't believe as they do as second class humans at best.

I think events like this tell us that we live in an unpredictable world.  That we should appreciate the good things we have in our lives.  That being kind and compassionate to others is its own reward.

Although my focus is upon recovery and helping others get sober, when unpredictable horrors occur like 9/11 it makes me realize that our world will never thrive until we learn to let others believe whatever they choose as long as it does't harm others.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Broken Computer

When I sat down to write my blog last night my computer took a dump.  And, because it was the middle of the night there was no place I could take it nor no one I could wake up to help me.  So, I finally gave up and went to bed about 1:00 am.

Today I connected with someone who knows a lot more about technology than I do.  And after a little back and forth adjusting of settings I'm back up and running.  At one time I used to write something everyday. But after about ten years I think I started running out of subject matter and changed my schedule.

Now I write one day, wait two days, then write again.  Usually something occurs in those few days that's worth commenting on and I'm able to come up with something worthwhile.  At least in my opinion.

Since I started blogging in 2010 I think I've produced over a half million words.  I imagine that some of them are redundant, but I haven't taken the time to go back and seach the archives.

My reason for writing this is mostly for the people in TLC.  Sort of a way to encourage them to stay on the track of recovery.  Most topics I cover are related to recovery, positive thinking, and navigating this crazy world we live in.

Because part of staying sober is dealing on a daily basis with the challenges that life presents us, I try to find topics that will help clients do that.

I rarely get into politics or religion because everyone has their own opinions about that stuff.  But sometimes, like the last few weeks that Americans are trapped in Afghanistan, it's pretty easy to look at that situation and be grateful that we have our feet in our own country, rather than in the middle of a bunch of scruffy terrorists.

Gratitude and acceptance are major themes in this blog.  Because if we have those things our lives are much more fulfilling.

Click here to email John

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Being homeless is Optional

About 100 feet behind my office are two large dumpsters that have block walls around them - probably put there by the City to make the area more esthetically pleasing.

Probably half the time I drive by them to my parking spot there's someone either in the dumpster, or climbing out of the dumpster.  Most of them appear to be homeless men searching for aluminum cans or other items they can recycle or sell. For sure, those dumpsters are a regular stop for those on the homeless circuit who park their shopping carts outside while they look for something of value to put in them.

While the dumpsters are there for the business people in the area, construction workers, and landscapers who don't want to drive to the city dump also make use of them.

I bring this up because sometimes I have a hard time understanding why people would work that hard to survive.  Are they addicts?  Are they mentallly Ill?

When you think about it, being homeless is hard work and sometimes dangerous.  There's never a guarantee that a homeless person will find something to eat. A place to shower, to safe place to sleep, or take care of their other needs. To survive takes a certain amount of cunning and ambition.

Several studies show that the homeless population has many adddicts and mentally ill within their population.  Yet, in spite of that they somehow muster up the ability to survive and feed their habits.

I know that if they took the time to think about it, there are much easier ways to meet life's needs.  We live in a time of prosperity where signs are posted everywhere by companies seeking help. One would have to be blind to not see them.

I think they all could prosper if they would put the energy they expend on scavenging - toward positive things like working a regular job - they would succeed.

Or they might read the story of the man who went from being homeless to becoming worth 3 billion  dollars.  His name is Paul Jones DeJoria and he's one of the creators of a top line of hair products.  His story is on YouTube and is well worth reading.  Forbes magazine rates him as one of the 400 wealthiest people in the world which goes to show that anythng is possible if we have the will - homeless or not.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021


Sometimes we addicts tend to think it's us against the world.  It's easy for many of us to be negative whether things are good or bad.

But I was reminded of how many good people there are in our world when my daughter and her brother were lost in the Grand Canyon the week before last.

I'm still receiving messages of congratulations from people I've never met.  From the time they disappeared I received prayers and good wishes from those who were taking their time to hope for a good outcome.

I don't think I received a word of negativity about the fact that they attempted such an arduous journey without more preparation - as I was thinking.

But the real point of this is that we feel much better when we receive the compassion of others when times are tough.

And to those who sent me such kind wishes I send my thanks and love for their support.  May they and their families prosper in every area of their lives.

Click here to email John