Saturday, October 29, 2022

War on Drugs?

 For most of my life - at least since I reached the age of reason - I've heard politicians talking about the "War on drugs."  Every time someone new runs for office they say they have a "plan" to eliminate illicit drugs from our society.  Yet, the other day I read that more than a million Fentanyl pills were confiscated in our state capitol, Phoenix.  Supposedly it was a new record.

So what is going on with the war on drugs?  How come drug addiction has been growing since the 1940s?  Why are 60 to 70 percent of our prison beds occupied by those convicted of committing drug related crimes?

Well, for sure part of the reason is politics.  I mean only a small percentage of the population is concerned about the drug issue.  And those are most likely the people who have family members suffering from addictions of some kind - whether it be alcohol or drugs.  Yet, even though addiction and alcoholism are classified as diseases, our government's answer generally comes down on the side of putting substance abusers in jail. But, is there another solution?

Well, yes.  A few countries have taken bold steps and decriminalized drugs for personal use.  Among these are Switzerland and Portugal.  And they have seen positive results such as a lowering of AIDs cases and the population of their jails getting lower.  And Vancouver, British Columbia, has a clinic where addicts can legally obtain heroin under conditions similar to Methadone clinics that operate in the United States.

Another curious thing about this country is that most states have very stringent laws that hamper entrepreneurs that operate recovery centers or homes.  Rather than support these efforts, many states have prohibitive regulations that make it difficult or nearly impossible for addicts to get help. Thus, they end up either homeless or in jail.  And continue to use drugs.

The last report I heard on drug deaths here in Arizona, was that five people a day die from opiate overdoses. Other states report similar statistics.

I believe the only solution is some kind of decriminalization coupled with substance abuse treatment programs that are affordable to all.

Until steps are taken, the plague of addiction will continue on its historic upward trend.

Click here to email John


Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Power greater than Ourself

A longtime acquaintance relapsed the other day, much to my surprise.  He was a guy who sometimes hit four meetings on a weekend day.  He had more than 10 years clean and sober.  He chaired meetings.  He served on committees. He sponsored others.  He was the exemplary A.A. role model when it came to service and doing the right thing.  I probably don't know anyone who who did as much service work as he did.  

Yet, his employer gave him a drug test and he was dirty for a couple of drugs.  He had alcohol in his car.  It shouldn't have surprised me, yet it did because of his seeming dedication to the 12-Step way of life.

I'm not judging this guy.  I'm only talking about him here because it illustrates the power of substances in the lives of alcoholics and addicts.

Because this guy was steeped in the program I try to imagine what led him to open up his life to something that he had to know would take him down.  I know he had a sponsor because I'd met him a few times.  What prevented him from picking up the phone and calling him?  He also has many substance abusers around him on his job.  Why couldn't he pull one of them aside and tell them he felt like using?

These are things that I have trouble understanding.  But it shouldn't, because in the literature it says "...cunning, baffling, and powerful..." in reference to our susceptibility to substances. When we have flaws or cracks in our program we may succumb to using again even though we have all the knowledge and support in the world.  But it's scary to seem someone so seemingly dedicated to recovery walk almost blindly back to using again.  

Probably there is no explanation other than that "the insanity returns" and we fall once more.  In any event, it's a lesson for me and my own recovery.  When I see someone relapse who's been clean for a long time I realize that the enemy is still out there waiting.

Click here to email John

Sunday, October 23, 2022

In touch with Ourselves

 I believe the most important person we can be in touch with, is ourselves.  

Some might disagree and say "No, it's my family.  Or, my children. Or my employer.

But the reason being in touch with ourselves is so important is that if we are, all these other communications will take care of themselves.

If I'm in a crappy mood and not aware of it, I may rub that mood all over the other people in my life.  We must look at ourselves as the ones who are primarily responsible for all of our moods.  And I say that because if we're aware of where we're at emotionally, we'll behave better when we're dealing with others in our lives.

I was reminded of this the other day when I read about a horrible road rage incident.  Two families were on the freeway and reportedly got into an argument over one accidentally cutting the other one off.  Reports are that the argument escalated to the point where they began shooting pistols at each others automobiles.  However, instead of hitting the other driver, each of the shooters shot a daughter of the other driver.  The last reports were that the children were alive and their fathers were in jail for attempted murder.

Now, could this disagreement on the freeway have been handled differently?  The answer is obviously yes.

 Either one of them could have asked themselves, "Is getting enraged over this other driver really worth risking my family's lives' and my life?"

But the problem is that they were not aware.  They didn't pause and evaluate the situation. If they had, they would have slowed down or pulled off the freeway until they were away from the other driver. The reality is that they likely would never see the other driver again and in a few days they would probably have forgotten all about it.  

This is an important lesson for those of us in recovery.  Learning to be patient with others and not making a big deal out anything.  We can't control others and we're lucky if we can control ourselves.  If we can't, we might find ourselves in a fit of anger heading into a liquor store or dope house before we've given ourselves time to think the issue through.

Click here to email John

Thursday, October 20, 2022

100% Guarantee

 It might sound brash or arrogant, but TLC guarantees 100% that you can get sober in our program. That is if you do exactly what we ask you to do.

Never again will you cause yourself to be be homeless. Never again will you end up in prison because you committed a crime to support your drug habit.  You will no longer lose your wife and children because you drink or use other substances.  You will enjoy a new life that you never imagined.

But the key to what I've promised here is the part that reads "...if you do exactly what we ask you to do..."  If you have the ability and self-discipline to follow a few simple rules you'll be able to live a clean and sober life.

Most of us have heard someone trying to explain why they relapsed.  And it's never about anything they did.  It was always their stupid boss, their mean girlfriend, the economy, etc.  It was never their fault that they picked up a bag of dope or a bottle from the liquor store.  They just couldn't help themselves.

But here at TLC we expose clients to the tools they need to change their lives. We have them go to 12-step meetings for ninety days.  We teach them anger management.  We offer them intensive outpatient treatment for 90 days and longer. 

We allow them to work outside the program after they're with us a while.  If they can't find employment on their own we find them jobs through our Labor Group.  Or we offer them employment working at TLC in various positions.

In other words, if a client relapses it's not because he doesn't have the tools. Because we taught him how to stay sober through our various programs.  He/she relapsed because they didn't use what they were taught during their time with us.

Click here to email John

Monday, October 17, 2022

Recovery gave me Freedom

I recall as though it were today when I decided to put down the bottle and syringes and get sober.  I was sitting in a park wondering what I was going to do with my life.  I'd owned businesses at one time.  I'd owned homes.  I'd been married. I'd traveled and sometimes enjoyed life.

But I - sooner or later - drank enough - and used enough drugs - that I lost everything.  And this isn't something I did once.  I repeated this pattern over and over for nearly 40 years.  I'd start a business.  Enjoy success, then somehow talk myself into getting high. I was always trying to fill that empty space inside me and the only way I could do dit was to drown myself in alcohol and heroin and whatever else was available.  And this was my pattern into my early fifties.

But sitting in that park, I ended up looking at my options.  I'd be sent back to prison.  Go to a mental hospital.  Or go to a detox and get sober. I was in so much pain that I chose the latter.  I found a free detox, stayed there for 11 days, then found a halfway house that would accept me with no money. It was one of the wiser things I'd done in my life.

When I went to that halfway house I had only the clothes I was wearing.  No Money.  No car.  No job.  And no phone numbers of people who would talk to me.  But yet getting sober was like having a light turned on in a dark room.  I found some entry level work.  I bought a used bicycle.  And things kept getting better from there.  Eventually I decided to start another business, a halfway house.

Even though I had no investors or money, I was able find someone who'd give me the credit to buy three beat up old houses.  Once more I was on a path to success.

And I attribute every bit of my success to that decision made in that park over 31 years ago.  Getting sober and staying sober brought me to where I am today - living a peaceful life where I look forward every day to living free of the bondage of substances,

Click here to email John

Friday, October 14, 2022

The Solution

I've read in Eastern literature that being in this moment is healthy for our emotional stability.  Is it because when we're in this moment we're fully at the center of our  personal universe?  We're alive in this second that our creator has granted us?

When we're in this small moment life is manageable. The problems we have are present now, in bite-sized moments of time. That's something we can handle. That's why the 12-Step programs emphasize staying sober a day at a time.

But the problem with me - and many other addicts - is that we often look outside of ourselves for solutions.  We blame other people and situations beyond our control when things go sideways.  But regardless of what happens - most all of our answers and solutions lie within.  And, you may ask what is this magic solution that lies within?  How does it work?  How do I apply it in my life?  After all, many  of us have read all kinds of self-help books and we still have no tranquility or satisfaction,  But it's simple.

Acceptance.  It will bring us emotional stability.  If there's no solution to what's going on in our life at this moment, then we accept it.  And that acceptance will vaporize the problem.  Maybe the problem will remain unsolved.  Maybe it won't. But because we've accepted it, we have our solution.

Many can't believe it's that simple.  But try it; it's free.  Plus, we can always go back to not accepting whatever it is and see how that feels.  This is a wonderful tool you can use for a better life.

Click here to email John

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Hypnosis Works

About 10 years ago I became interested in hypnosis.  I wanted to learn how to hypnotize myself.  And then after I learned, I wanted to use it on TLC clients.  So, I did.  I took a course that I completed in about a year and began practicing on a few close friends and family members.

When I finally felt confident enough I started working with clients who wanted to quit smoking.  I learned how to interview those who were serious because I needed to separate them from those who thought it was an easy, magical way to quit the deadly habit.  If they thought it was something easy that could be accomplished through hypnosis alone I would try to educate them before I would waste the time.  I'd make sure they were highly motivated to kick the habit and understood that it would require effort on their part.  And I'd love it when someone would ask me for help and be on fire for change. 

To date I'd estimate that I've helped at least 30 clients change into healthy non-smokers.  And you may wonder why I focus on this group.  And it's because I had at least 10 aunts, uncles, cousins and other close family members who developed lung diseases that killed them prematurely.  It was painful to see the suffering they went through prior to their deaths. 

I do sessions with those who have various psychological issues with which they are grappling.  Things like self-confidence, self-esteem, self-image and so on. Hypnosis works best when I can get a specific idea of what the clients need, then we work toward that goal.

Helping clients through hypnosis is one of many ways we help them grow and improve their lives.

Click here to email John

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Why get Sober?

I was talking to a newcomer to our program last week and he asked a serious question.  What he asked, essentially, was why should he even get sober? To go through the effort?

So I asked him why he came in.  He said his probation officer told him that it was either our program or time in the County Jail.

"And jail didn't appeal to you? I asked him.

"This was my only choice," he replied.

"Not really," I told him. "We have a lot of people who would rather be locked up rather than put in the effort here to change their lives."

He reflected for a while, as if examining his options.

Then I told him some of my own story.  I, for many years, decided I'd rather be in jail than in a rehab somewhere trying to change my life. But then one day I had a long conversation with myself while I was in a park sipping a bottle of rotgut wine. l knew that I was either going to drink myself to death, or end up in a mental hospital or return again to prison. So I went to a detox and my life changed,

When I left that detox I spent a year in a halfway house.  It's too long of a story to tell here, but when I left that halfway house I purchased a building and started a program of my own.  I knew that working around addicts and alcoholics would help me stay sober and it has - for 31 years now.  But many more blessings came about.

I was back in the good graces of my family after three or four years.  I began to make investments in real estate, and became financially free.  I wasn't looking over my shoulder any longer, wondering if the police were going to pull me over. Yes, life still had its problems, but I found that being sober made them manageable.

The biggest blessing, though, is that I can communicate with my children and grandchildren.  I can have a relationship with them.  And happiness, for me, is good relationships with others.  And most of all - with my family.

After I talked with him for a while I think he's going to stick around and try to make the changes he needs to live clean and sober.

Click here to email John

Wednesday, October 5, 2022


A prospective client was asking me questions about our program, trying to decide if he was going to come into the program.

One of the things that was holding him up was that he had a dog and didn't want to get rid of it, which he would have to do because of our policy of not allowing clients to bring pets into the program.  Our reasoning for that rule is that some clients don't like or else fear pets and that they also can bring bugs and dirt into the house.  Another problem he had was that he owned a vehicle and wouldn't be able to pay for it if he had to be in counseling all day.

I agreed with him that these things could be a problem if he wanted to get sober with us.  Then I asked him what was the important thing; his life and health?  Or his possessions?  After all, he could always purchase another vehicle or find another pet. I know people care about their pets and the material things they've accumulated - but they must get their priorities in order when it comes to the important things; like changing their lives.

He reflected a moment on what I said and left, telling me that he needed to talk to his family and make a decision.  As he left, I thought there might be a 50-50 chance he'd return.

I was pleased to see him applying for entry  the next day when I returned to work.  Now he's taken the first step by making a wise decision about his future.

Sunday, October 2, 2022


I have many people who have been following this blog for many years. Some are former clients, some are friends, and some people just looking for answers to questions that pop up in all of our lives.

One fellow touched on the topic of invasive thoughts that that pop into his mind without rhyme or reason at different times.  He was wondering about them.  Would they be with him with him all of his life?  What if he developed dementia and spent the rest of his life wrestling with the sins of his past?  Trapped in a bubble of thought with memories of something terrible that he'd done when he was drinking, using drugs, or just living on the edge?

For me these are the kinds of questions that don't have answers.  We all carry in our brain a huge reservoir of memories, a neural record that probably means little, yet stays with us from the time it was imprinted there.  I think that much of our dream life is our subconscious attempting to sort out this huge record of our past, trying to make sense of it all.

My own answer, now that I'm getting older, is to do my best to live in this moment.  Because the reality is that all we have is the here and now.  Yet many of us - especially those of us in recovery - spend a lot of of our moments in the past or else speculating about a future that we're not promised.

But my experience is that nothing in the past can be changed.  As to the future, no one knows what the Universe has in store for us.

Click here to email John