Saturday, January 29, 2022


When one writes a blog about recovery it might seem as if the subject matter becomes somewhat repetitious after a while. After all, this blog is getting close to having three thousand entries some time around the end of February - and surely I've covered the same subject a number of times.

But when one stands back and takes a look at it, recovery is a lifestyle that must become repetitious if it's to succeed in the long term.  And even though we talk in 12-step meetings about "one day at a time," if we repeat these sober days one after the other we soon will have a few years - then even decades.

The reality of recovery is that it must be repetitious.  There can be no breaks.  No days off to imbibe our favorite beverage or smoke a joint..  That is, unless we want to start over.

There are times when I have to dig deep to find a topic that is different from the one I wrote about yesterday.  But I've found that it's okay to write about the same thing because staying sober is a daily project for those of us who want to succeed at it.  And we must repeat the things that have kept us sober thus far.

Does that mean we must attend a 12-step meeting each day?  Not necessarily.  But it does mean that we must stay in touch with who we are.  By that, I mean we must stay in touch with our emotions as much as possible.  We can't walk around full of anger, or sadness, or depression without eventually addressing it.

And the AA literature has many examples of how we successfully navigate the tough times that everyone experiences at some point or the other. Even if you've read the Big Book 20 times you can always learn something new.

So, we keep repeating what has worked.  And as we do that we find fulfilling lives.

Click here to email John

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Out of Control

A friend in recovery was talking about how he felt his life was out of control.

My response was that of course it was.  Because when it comes right down to it, all of our lives are out of control, at least to some degree. Regardless of how much power we think we have.

For example, we go to college and get a degree and expect a great job when we graduate. But then it doesn't happen because the economy goes into a recession and nothing is available.

We have a crush on the woman in the next office, but she won't even look our way.

The path to happiness can be happy and smooth and level.  Or it can be rocky and steep and hard work every step of the way.  

The way to happiness is to realize that we have little or no control of anything outside our own skin.  Once we accept that and realize it we are a much happier human being.

Now in Alcoholics Anonymous there's the Serenity Prayer.  It asks us to learn to accept the things we cannot change and to have the wisdom to know the difference.  Many alcoholics might think that the saying came from the Big Book.  But the reality is it was the core of Stoicism, a philosophy practiced by the Stoics until the 3rd century in Rome and Greece.

Once we accept whatever comes our way we have defeated it.  That doesn't mean we got what we wanted, but we do have peace and maybe happiness because we no longer are disappointed because we didn't get our way.

This path of learning acceptance isn't necessarily easy, but it becomes a habit as we mature in life.

Click here to email John

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Where Addicts are not Criminals

I was reading a travel magazine and came across an article about drug policies in Portugal.  What they've done in Portugal is to decriminalize all drugs-including heroin and cocaine.  Which is not the same thing as making drugs legal.

That doesn't mean that drug trafficking is legal.  Decriminalization means that one may have any drug on their person as long as it's for personal use.

When a person is found in possession of a personal use amount they're referred to a "Dissuasion Panel," a board made of of social workers, and people from the medical and legal community for assistance in dealing with their addiction.  Jail is not part of the program when users are in possession of an amount for personal use.

When I talked to a few people about this they thought it was a bad idea.  Crime would be up.  Young people would be encouraged to start using.  Ghettoes would pop up.

But depending on what surveys you read, Portugal has the least crime of any country in the world after New Zealand and Iceland.

And one of the reasons they don't have the problems there that we have in the U.S. is that drugs in Portugal are treated as a medical problem, not as a moral or political issue.  

Since I've been a child I have heard the mantra "war on drugs."  But, I've never seen us win any of the battles in this war.  We put people in jail.  We have armies of Federal and local police.  We have more prisons than any country in the world and are building more.

We support the criminal underworld in South American and Asian countries.  We have made zero progress in the war on drugs.  

And as proof of that more Americans died from Fentanyl than from any other cause this last year in our country.  Yeah, we're winning all right.

Click here to reach John


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Helping Others

A friend sent a text today, asking if I'd be willing to advise his friend, who's operating a recovery home in the Midwest.  (I leave names out to protect anonymity.)

I told him to text his number and I'd be happy to talk with him.  Anyway, he did and we talked.

It seems like the biggest obstacle for non-government programs is how to raise operating capital.  And this man's situation is pretty much the same.  He has 42 clients and is supporting them mostly with donations from the small Midwest community where he operates.

When he was at TLC many years ago, we weren't as developed as we are today.  When he was with us we operated one or two businesses.  But today, we have half-a-dozen small businesses that generate about half of our operating capital.  The other half normally comes from service fees we charge our clients.

We are State Licensed general contractors.  We also paint homes, remodel and roof houses, install air conditioning and do other types of home maintenance. We also provide labor for sporting events and festivals.  In November and December we sell Christmas Trees in Central Phoenix.

The one thing I pointed out to the man is that every area is different.  For example, our City of Mesa has over half a million residents.  Where he lives is in a relatively small town in Oklahoma that has 17,000 residents.  So, he naturally has to be quite creative in finding money raising projects for his clients.

He'll likely have to figure out how to raise money working more with agriculture and ranching projects or in other labor intensive businesses related to farming.  I believe there is always work to be done if  a person's willing to do it.  There's always landscaping to be done, trash to be hauled, houses to be cleaned, cars to be detailed.  If one looks long and carefully, there's always someone who needs help with something.

In closing I say that if we're in a business helping others improve their lives somehow, we'll find a way to do it.

Click here to email John

Sunday, January 16, 2022

31 years

During December of 1990 - and the early part of January 1991 - I was full of alcohol and drugs.  At 51, I'd come to a fork in the road where I didn't know what to do with my life.  I was also homeless and shoplifting everyday to survive.

I was strung out on heroin, alcohol and anything else that would change my level of consciousness.  But I also knew that if I didn't make some changes I'd either be back in prison, in a hospital, or dead.  So I decided to make some changes.

January 13, 1991, I went into EVAC , a detox center in Mesa, Arizona and have been sober ever since.  It was the wisest decision I'd ever made.

I stayed in that program for 11 days and was determined to do whatever it took to stay sober.  I followed all their directions and left there for a halfway house, where I stayed for a year.  

After leaving there I went back to work at my old job and worked on the side setting up my own halfway house.  I planned to operate it more as an avocation than a vocation.  But so many people started seeking help that it became my full-time job.

Plus it helped me stay sober for 31 years.

Click here to email John

Thursday, January 13, 2022


I read something on the internet the other day that I really believe we should all try and live by.

It was a quote from the oldest World War II veteran who died January 3, at 112.  He was believed to be the oldest living veteran of that war.

He was asked by a reporter on his birthday why did he think he'd lived to be the oldest veteran from World War II?

He replied that he believed one key to his longevity was that he tried to always be "nice to people."  Even though he was black, and the service was segregated while he was enlisted, he said he just ignored the bias and prejudice that confronted minorities during his service.  Nothing stopped him from being nice to others.

And I think there's a lot to what he says. I know that I never get into trouble with anyone if I'm nice to them and kind to them.  My stress level stays down and I'm normally at peace.

I'm a strong believer in the law of Karma; that what we put out into the world is what we get back in one way or the other.

Live in kindness because it works.

Click here to email John

Monday, January 10, 2022

Down with Covid

After two years of living and working in the midst of those suffering from Covid-19, I never contracted the virus.  I did adhere to CDC guidelines and get the first two shots.  Then, when it became available, I got the booster shot.

Periodically during the past two years I would get a rapid test, one that gives quick results.  But my tests were always good.  So, I was going merrily on my way, thinking I was almost immune.  In fact, during the past two years I took three trips out of the country; one to Panama and two to Mexico.

Then, last Wednesday, I came down with a mild cold in the afternoon.  Since I rarely get colds I thought it was kind of unusual and so stayed home from the office the next day.  Just spent last Thursday resting.  I had to go to the office last Friday to sign paperwork but only stayed until noon.   Last Saturday I was planning to go to work but had someone give me a rapid test to make sure my cold wasn't Covid.

Well, much to my surprise I came up positive and have quarantined myself every since.  I remember when Covid first hit and we all were on quarantine for two weeks.  That was pretty boring stuff.  It's kind of like being in a nice prison is the best analogy I can produce.

However, I look at it like an obligation to protect as many people as possible and not spread the disease further.  Fortunately, what I have feels more like a mild cold.  My temperature stays within 1-2 points of normal and I have no body aches.  I do sleep more than usual, but other than that I feel pretty okay.

Other than being quarantined.

Click here to email John

Friday, January 7, 2022

Success isn't Material Things

In the nearly 30 years TLC has been in existence we've had thousands of addicts and alcoholics graduate our program.  And many of them have become quite successful after leaving.

Many of them have married and are raising children.  Others have gone to college and gotten degrees.  In fact, one recently sent me a video of him receiving his Doctorate.   Another graduate has a quality remodeling business in a nearby state that he has operated for several years. He also is married and has teenage children.  I'm proud of their success.

I know of many others who are succeeding in life.  I only mention these two examples, because I periodically am in contact with them.  And they are handling their success quite well and are examples to those around them - especially to other addicts.

I bring this up today because in the thirty years I've stayed sober I have also become financially successful just by saving my money and making long term investments in real estate.  At 82, I work six days a week, stay healthy, and help others have an opportunity to achieve recovery and find a new way of living.

In spite of my success I don't live lavishly.  I live in an average 2200 square foot home.  My one  luxury is a 2021 S Model Tesla that I lease.  I buy most of my clothing at Walmart, Kohl's, or Old Navy.  I don't find much satisfaction in luxury items, though  I can afford them.

I've had associates ask me why I don't buy a bigger house or get this or that model of fancy car.  But to feel good about myself I don't need those things. I tell them that people aren't going to like me any better if I have a 5,000 square foot house, wear expensive watches, and buy my clothes from Nordstrom's. 

I'd rather invest in three or four personal vacations a year.  Plus every summer I take about 25 of my family members to the beach in San Diego.  I invest in good experiences.

And I suggest to those who leave the program and become successful to remember where they came from. I ask them to show gratitude for their success and be generous to others. Because helping others is one of the great satisfactions in life.

Click here to email John

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

More of the Same

few days into the New Year, but somehow it feels kind of like last year.

What reminds me most of the old one is the pandemic.  While it seemed to be slowing down a bit in the last quarter, all of a sudden it’s starting to ramp up again.

Our program hadn’t had more than one or two cases at a time.  And now we’ve had enough cases that we’re asking everyone to mask up.

And of course we have a few hardheaded clients who won’t cooperate without some persuasion.  But over the past two years we’ve learned how to convince them that quarantine is in their best interests.

Our job here is to teach clients to do whatever is best for their recovery.