Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Being Sick

For those of you who've followed this blog over the past 25 years, you know that I've rarely called in sick for any reason.  I've broken bones on more than one occasion, had cancer on two occasions, and various other maladies. But this was different. I had a series of things happen.

First, I broke my right foot while working out, five days into my vacation in Mexico. After I was home a week, I came down with a rare urinary tract infection.  That was followed by a serious cold. Then I came down with a case of atrial flutter.  With all that I really felt sick. I was so weak, I could barely stand without a walker.  I just felt like lying around with my foot elevated.

My doctor said I should be back at the office next week.  I hope he's right.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Medical Leave

 I am currently on medical leave. I will return soon with a new blog. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2024


When one is ailing and goes to the doctor the first thing the doctor does is diagnose the ailment. Something similar happens when one goes to an attorney with a legal problem: the attorney defines what the problem is so that he knows what he or she is dealing with.

And what happens when an alcoholic gets deep into Alcoholics Anonymous is that he or she accepts that they have a drinking problem. And it's really that basic. Before we can resolve any challenge that we're facing in our life, we first have to define what the challenge is.

Now in the case of an alcoholic or an addict it would seem obvious what our problem is. And the reason it would seem obvious is because we are always getting in some kind of trouble. We either end up broke. Divorced. Homeless. Or maybe even in prison. Or perhaps with some kind of health issue.

So one of the most important words, in my opinion and in the opinion of many others, is acceptance. And after that, while it may not be an easy road, the steps we have to take to change our lives are very clear. They are in the big book. They are on the walls of virtually every twelve-step meeting room. They are the subject of big book studies.

But for many newcomers, and I was one of them, the acceptance of our alcoholism is sometimes not so easy. We might ask ourselves questions like maybe I should just stick to drinking wine. Or beer. Or whiskey. Or maybe I should just smoke pot. Or take pills. These are all forms of denial that keep us from getting sober.

Acceptance is key, really the only key to a sober life. Because once we realize that every time we drink alcohol we get into some kind of trouble we find the source of our problem. And once we find the source of our problem, then we find the answer to our problem. And the reason we go to meetings is because there are a lot of people there who have faced problems we may one day face. Yet they have come through the experience with their sobriety intact. And that's why it's important for us to hang around with sober people and to go to twelve-step meetings. We learn that if we want to stay sober we do what sober people do.

But if we can't accept what we hear in the meeting rooms from the veterans who have been sober for many years we may just have to go out and try it once again. And that's why acceptance is the key, acceptance that we are alcoholics and addicts. A simple word, yet it contains a world of wisdom.

Click here to email John

Saturday, January 13, 2024

33 Years

33 years ago, when I was 51 years of age my life was at the crossroads. I was addicted to heroin and alcohol. I was homeless. I was living in a stolen car. I was stealing every day to get enough money to supply my drug and alcohol habit.

My drug addled brain was going round and round. I had no goals except for one: and that goal was to stop the pain of the useless life I was living.

I weighed my various options. I could keep doing what I was doing and go back to prison. I could end up in a mental hospital where I had been before. Or I could get sober and try to do something different with my life. For some reason – may be a push from God – I decided that I would try to live sober for the rest of my life.

Now I knew that that was something I could not do on my own, that I was powerless over any kind of drugs or alcohol. So I decided to find a detoxification facility where I could get the drugs and alcohol out of my system.

The detox facility accepted me after a brief interview. They fed me. They assigned me a bed. In the following days they began to educate me about my disease. I attended counseling groups and 12 step meetings. I was willing to do whatever they asked of me because I was sick and tired of the pain that I had been going through for the past several weeks of my disease. After 11 days at that facility the staff determined that I was well enough to leave. They found me a local halfway house here in Mesa, Arizona and I began to look for work, attend meetings, and also participate in groups at the halfway house.

My idea when I got there was to spend 30 days and then leave. It didn't work out that way. After 30 days I realized that I did not have a good foundation in recovery and decided to stay for six months. Then at six months I realize I still didn't know enough about my disease so I made a commitment to stay for one year, which I did.

While in that recovery program I decided that I would go into a field where I could help other people get sober because I was so grateful for the help I had received, help that had changed my life. So I made a decision to start my own halfway house once I finished my year. I started planning and looking for a place where I could put 50 beds. Because I had no finances and no credit it was not easy to find a location. But I did.

It seemed that once I decided to get sober everything started going my way. In closing, I want to encourage anyone who is having trouble with alcohol or drugs to get sober and pursue their dreams. If it worked for someone like me I know that it'll work for you.

Click here to email John

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Gratitude for Everything

Often times at meetings the chairperson or the speaker will select gratitude as a topic. In fact it is selected so often that sometimes a mock groan will go up in the group. Yes, it is selected so often that it has almost become a platitude. Yet, what is gratitude?

To me, gratitude is being totally aware of the many blessings that I have in my life. And what are those blessings? Many of us see blessings as the material things we have in our lives. We have a good job. We have a new car. We have a wonderful husband or wife. We have a nice circle of friends. These are all things for which we should have gratitude.

But I believe, and have read, that we should have gratitude for everything that occurs in our life.

Does this mean that I should be grateful for the bad things that happen to me? Does this mean that I should be grateful for the misfortune that comes my way? It is a tough concept to swallow, but I believe that the answer is yes. And why should this be, we might ask?

It is often the challenges that life imposes that make us better people. Or creates better situation for us. 33 years ago I was homeless, broke and addicted. Now no one would look at those circumstances and say they should have gratitude for the situation. Yet it was from those very circumstances that my life began to change. When I finally reached the depths of my addiction I was forced to make a choice. I could either continue as I was or end up back in prison. Or I could admit that I was an alcoholic and go into a detoxification unit. I chose the latter and my life began to change.

After 11 days I left the detoxification unit and went to a halfway house. I have gratitude for that halfway house because they accepted me without money. They fed me, provided peer counseling, and gave me hope for the future. The first six months there I worked a series of entry-level jobs. I did day labor. I worked as a telemarketer. I washed windows for pocket money. I rode a bicycle, took buses and bummed rides from other residents of the halfway house. But today, 33 years later, I still remember the sense of gratitude about the small improvements in my life during those first months of sobriety.

I have gratitude because from those humble beginnings many years ago I have become the success that I am today. Today I still don't automatically have gratitude for challenges that might confront me. But if I look at some of the seemingly impossible situations that have ended well, then I can approach life with gratitude.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Be here Now

Don’t judge yourself by your past. You don’t live there anymore." Unknown

Many addicts and alcoholics new to recovery judge themselves by their past. And many of them bear a heavy burden from the things they've done.

Maybe they've abandoned their families. Perhaps they committed a crime while drug seeking and ended up in prison. Others have experienced bankruptcy or divorce. Without a lot of looking most of us in recovery can find many things to judge ourselves for.

I think it's good for us to remember the price we paid for our addiction, but to continue to define our whole lives by our disease is a waste. Because the reality is that we alcoholics and addicts are known for bad decisions and poor judgment. But for us to waste our precious headspace and time dwelling on what we did and how far we've fallen behind our peers can impede our recovery.

Instead, we must learn to forgive ourselves and to live in the present. That's not to say that what we did was okay, or that we shouldn't make amends for our misdeeds, but when we forgive ourselves we can make progress.

I've witnessed many times what happens when addicts live in the past: they end up returning there and repeating their history. But those who have a healthy outlook on what they did, and who are working on recovery, can find themselves living successful lives.

I have some outstanding friends who have been sober over 25 years who have rebuilt their lives in every way. They are physically, financially, and spiritually healthy and giving back to the world and to their families.

You can do the same by living in the present and moving forward.

Click here to email John

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Counting our Blessings

As we start our day do we look at our blessings? At the gifts we have in our lives? At the many opportunities the universe has given us?

If that's the way you woke up this morning congratulations. Because gratitude is the nectar that makes life sweeter and more worthwhile.

But what if we weren't taught to look at our lives this way? Maybe we grew up in poverty. Or in a family of alcoholics and addicts. Perhaps negativity was in the air.

The good news is that we can overcome this upbringing by changing our focus. Many of us grew up noticing what we didn't have. We compared ourselves to others and always came up short.

And the reason we came up short is because we compared ourselves to those who had more.

However, if we must compare, maybe we should compare ourselves to those who have less. Then we can develop gratitude.

There are parts of the world where poverty and disease are rampant. Where there's little or no employment or opportunity for education. Where war and strife are part of daily life.

When we see others living amidst these major challenges it’s easy to recognize our blessings.

And be thankful.

Click here to email John

Monday, January 1, 2024

25 Year Resentment

A few days ago one of my business associates sent me a post she found on Facebook. She sent it because it was written by a TLC client from 25 years ago who was still angry at some of our former managers, and me in particular.

Now usually I don't even read things that are critical of the program beyond the first paragraph or two. And that's because most of these diatribes are from people who were in our program and dismissed because they wouldn't follow the guidelines – or more likely weren't ready to get sober.  But my interest was piqued because I couldn't imagine someone being angry at a rehabilitation program they'd been in 25 years ago. I kind of scratched my head because I wondered what terrible things happened to him that made him have such a lengthy resentment.

One thing I was certain of was that this gentleman hadn't been sober since he left our program. Because people who are sober and clean learn how to put things behind them and not spend a lot of time on resentments. My belief is that we only have so much time on this earth and it's probably better if we use that time productively and being an asset to the community.

I recall that it didn't take much to get me angry.  And being angry always led me to stick a needle in my arm or else pick up a bottle of something to get me out of my mind. But something about this one caught my interest. And that's because the people he was referring to were managers over 25 years ago. None of them are even with the program today with the exception of myself.

My advice to people who develop these kind of resentments is to do one of two things: either forget about them or else ask to meet with the person that you're resentful at. I know that a lot of people have been angry at me over the years about the way we run TLC. 

And I don't blame them for being angry. There was a time - before I got sober - that I didn't want anyone telling me anything. My problem wasn't me. It was everyone else in the world that was causing my problems. And as long as I could blame them I didn't have to be responsible for any of my shitty behaviors.

I guess the thing that disturbs me more than anything else about this gentleman's anger at TLC is all the time he's wasted. He might've been able to get a college degree with the amount of time he spent thinking about us over such a period of time.

In closing, I would like to invite him – or anyone else – who bears us anger to make an appointment to talk with me. If I did something to harm them I'll be happy to clean up my side of the street. And if they just want to vent, then I'll be willing to listen to that also.

And if they need a place to go to get sober – if that's what they need – then our doors are always open.

.Click here to email John