Sunday, June 30, 2024

Happy 50 Years Ralph

In the hall of the community center, amidst the gentle hum of anticipation and the aroma of coffee, there was an air of reverence on the evening of June 24th. It wasn't just another meeting for those gathered; it was a milestone celebration, a testament to the power of perseverance and the hope found in recovery. At the heart of this gathering was Ralph, a man whose journey through addiction and recovery spanned five decades.

Ralph's story is one of resilience, courage, and the unwavering support of a community that understands the depths of struggle and the heights of triumph. As he sat in his wheelchair before the assembly, a warm smile gracing his face, it was evident that his presence resonated deeply with everyone present – from newcomers nervously clutching their coffee cups to old-timers who had walked similar paths.

Fifty years ago, Ralph found himself at a crossroads. Alcoholism had taken its toll, affecting his marriage and job. It was then that he took his first tentative steps into the world of recovery, guided by the principles of the 12-step program. The journey was not easy; there were setbacks, moments of doubt, and times when the weight of the past threatened to pull him back.

Yet, through it all, Ralph persisted. He attended meetings faithfully, sought guidance from sponsors and mentors, and embraced the healing power of sharing his story with others. Over the years, he became not only a pillar of strength for his fellow members but also a living testament to the possibility of transformation.

The meeting on June 24th was a reflection of Ralph's impact on the lives around him. Friends and acquaintances gathered to honor his dedication, resilience, and the profound effect he had on countless individuals who had found solace in his words and actions. It was a celebration of not just survival, but of thriving against.

As Ralph sat before the microphone, the room hushed in anticipation. His voice, steady and filled with emotion, recounted moments of despair transformed into hope, of loneliness replaced by camaraderie, and of fear giving way to courage. Each word carried weight, resonating with the experiences of those who listened intently.

For Ralph, the milestone of 50 years in recovery was not just a personal achievement but a testament to the transformative power of community and the resilience of the human spirit. His journey serves as a beacon of hope for anyone battling their own demons, showing that with dedication, support, and a willingness to change, a brighter tomorrow is always within reach.

As the meeting drew to a close, applause filled the room, mingling with heartfelt embraces and words of gratitude. Ralph, surrounded by those whose lives he had touched, sat humbly among them, embodying the spirit of recovery in its truest form – one day at a time, one step at a time.

In the days that followed, Ralph's story will continue to inspire and uplift. His journey serves as a reminder that recovery is not just about overcoming addiction but about reclaiming one's life and reshaping it with newfound purpose and meaning. Through his example, Ralph has left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of all who have had the privilege of knowing him and what he stands for.

As we reflect on Ralph's 50 years of recovery, we are reminded of the power of perseverance, the importance of community, and the endless possibilities that await those who dare to embark on the path to healing. His story is a testament to the strength that resides within each of us and a testament to the hope that springs eternal, even in the darkest of times.

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Thursday, June 27, 2024

The power of Gratitude

Gratitude is a cornerstone of the recovery process in 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These programs, rooted in mutual aid and self-improvement principles, emphasize gratitude as a vital tool for transforming lives and maintaining sobriety.

In the context of 12-step programs, gratitude is cultivated through several key practices and philosophies. One of the foundational steps is acknowledging a higher power and recognizing that surrendering control can lead to personal growth and recovery. This acknowledgment often breeds a deep sense of gratitude for the support and guidance received, both from a higher power and the community of fellow members.

The practice of gratitude is also embedded in the daily routines and rituals encouraged by 12-step programs. Members are often advised to keep gratitude journals, wherein they regularly note things they are thankful for. This exercise helps shift focus from negative thoughts and past regrets to positive aspects of life, fostering a mindset of appreciation and hope.

Another significant way gratitude is learned in 12-step programs is by making amends. Step 9, which involves making direct amends to people we harmed, can be a profound experience of humility and appreciation. By facing past mistakes and seeking forgiveness, members often develop a greater appreciation for relationships and the value of making things right.

Additionally, the act of sponsorship in 12-step programs further instills gratitude. Sponsorship involves more experienced members guiding newcomers through the steps. This reciprocal relationship not only supports the recovery of the sponsee but also reinforces the sponsor’s own sobriety. Sponsors often express deep gratitude for the opportunity to help others, as it reminds them of their progress and the communal nature of recovery.

Meetings themselves are environments where gratitude is frequently expressed and encouraged. Members share their experiences, strength, and hope, often highlighting the things they are grateful for. This communal sharing reinforces a collective sense of appreciation and mutual support, fostering a culture where gratitude is not just practiced, but celebrated.

In essence, gratitude in 12-step programs is not a passive feeling but an active, deliberate practice. It transforms how individuals view their past, interact in the present, and envision their future. By embracing gratitude, members of 12-step programs find strength, build resilience, and sustain their commitment to a sober and fulfilling life.

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Monday, June 24, 2024

On the path of Recovery

Over thirty-three years. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long since I first walked into a 12-step meeting. I was a different person back then, lost in a haze of addiction and despair. Today, I’m a testament to the power of recovery and the transformative magic of the 12-step program.

In the beginning, I was skeptical. The idea of surrendering to a higher power felt foreign and uncomfortable. But as I listened to others share their stories, I saw reflections of my own struggles and triumphs. I realized I wasn’t alone. For the first time in a long time, I felt a glimmer of hope.

The 12 steps taught me to take responsibility for my actions, to make amends where possible, and to continuously strive for personal growth. The process wasn’t easy. Admitting my flaws, facing the wreckage of my past, and seeking forgiveness required immense courage. But with each step, I felt lighter, freer.

One of the most profound changes came from the fellowship itself. I built relationships based on trust and mutual support. These connections became my lifeline, providing strength and encouragement when I needed it most. I learned the value of service—helping others navigate their own recovery journeys. In doing so, I found purpose and fulfillment.

Spirituality became a cornerstone of my recovery. I discovered a sense of peace and clarity through prayer and meditation, learning to trust in a power greater than myself. This spiritual awakening brought me a deep sense of serenity, guiding me through life’s challenges with grace and resilience.

Today, my life is filled with gratitude. I’m grateful for the 12-step program, for the friends who’ve walked this path with me, and for the chance to live a life of meaning and joy. Thirty-three years in recovery have taught me that change is possible, that healing is real, and that every day is a gift.

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Friday, June 21, 2024


Relapse is a significant concern in the journey of recovery within the 12-step programs. While the program provides a robust framework for maintaining sobriety, understanding the triggers for relapse is crucial for long-term success. Several common triggers can undermine an individual's progress, leading to a return to substance use.

Emotional Triggers

Emotional states such as stress, anger, loneliness, and depression are potent triggers for relapse. Recovery often brings a heightened sensitivity to emotions, making it challenging to cope without turning to substances. Learning to manage these emotions through therapy, meditation, and support groups is essential in preventing relapse.

Social Triggers

Interpersonal relationships play a critical role in recovery. Negative social influences, such as spending time with people who still use substances or frequenting old haunts, can lead to relapse. The 12-step program emphasizes the importance of building a new social network that supports sobriety. Engaging in sober activities and forming connections with fellow program members can provide the necessary support.

Environmental Triggers

Physical environments associated with past substance use can evoke powerful memories and cravings. Returning to places where one used substances, like bars or certain neighborhoods, can trigger a relapse. A key strategy in the 12-step program is to avoid these high-risk environments and create new, healthy spaces that promote sobriety.

Mental Health Triggers

Untreated mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD can significantly increase the risk of relapse. The 12-step program encourages individuals to seek professional help for these conditions. Combining the 12-step principles with appropriate mental health treatment can create a comprehensive approach to maintaining sobriety.


Complacency is a subtle but dangerous trigger. As time passes, individuals may feel overconfident in their ability to remain sober and start to neglect their recovery practices. The 12-step program emphasizes continuous personal inventory and regular meeting attendance to counteract complacency. Staying engaged with the program and remaining vigilant in one’s recovery efforts are critical to long-term success.

Understanding and developing strategies to address these triggers is fundamental to the 12-step program. By recognizing the signs of potential relapse and taking proactive steps, individuals can maintain their sobriety and continue their journey of recovery with confidence and resilience.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Painful but Positive

Entering a 12-step program was a turning point in my life that I never saw coming. Admitting I was powerless over my addiction and that my life had become unmanageable was a tough pill to swallow, but it was the first step toward recovery. What I didn't realize then was just how much I would learn along the way.

The first lesson came with surrendering. I had to let go of my ego and accept that I couldn't do this alone. The support from others who had walked the same path was invaluable. Hearing their stories made me feel less alone and gave me hope that recovery was possible.

Humility followed closely. I had to face my mistakes and shortcomings without running away or hiding behind excuses. Taking responsibility for my actions was liberating, albeit uncomfortable at times. It taught me the importance of honesty, not just with others but with myself.

Self-awareness blossomed as I worked through the steps. I began to recognize patterns of behavior that led me down the path of addiction. Understanding my triggers allowed me to develop healthier coping mechanisms. I learned to pause and reflect instead of reacting impulsively.

Forgiveness was another vital lesson. Not just forgiving others who had hurt me, but forgiving myself for the harm I had caused. Carrying resentment and guilt only fueled my addiction, so letting go was essential for my own peace of mind.

Patience became my ally. Recovery is a journey, not a sprint. I had to learn to take things one day at a time and be gentle with myself when setbacks occurred. Progress, no matter how small, was still progress.

Gratitude transformed my perspective. Instead of focusing on what I didn't have, I began to appreciate the little things in life. Waking up sober, spending time with loved ones, even simple moments of joy became precious gifts.

Lastly, spirituality played a significant role in my recovery. It wasn't about religion but about finding a deeper meaning and purpose in life. Connecting with something greater than myself gave me strength and comfort during difficult times.

In hindsight, these lessons were more than just tools for overcoming addiction—they were keys to living a fulfilling life. Today, I continue to apply them as I navigate new challenges and strive for personal growth. The 12-step program gave me a roadmap, but it was up to me to walk the path.

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Saturday, June 15, 2024

A Sober Father

In today's world, where children are constantly influenced by various external factors, the father as a positive role model has never been more crucial. A sober father, in particular, sets an exceptional example for his child, demonstrating the values of responsibility, strength, and resilience.

Firstly, sobriety in a father showcases the importance of self-control and healthy living. Children observe and imitate the behaviors of their parents. A father who abstains from alcohol and drugs is silently teaching his child the significance of making healthy lifestyle choices. This example is powerful, as it instills the understanding that one does not need substances to cope with stress or enjoy life.

Moreover, a sober father provides a stable and secure environment for his child. Consistency is key in parenting, and sobriety ensures that the father is physically and emotionally present. This stability is vital for the child’s emotional development, fostering a sense of safety and trust. Children who grow up in such environments are more likely to develop healthy relationships and a positive self-image.

A sober father also exemplifies the value of perseverance. Overcoming addiction or making the conscious choice to remain sober can be a challenging journey. When a child see their father tackle these challenges with determination and courage, it teaches them the importance of facing obstacles head-on and not giving up. This lesson in resilience is one of the most valuable gifts a father can give to his child.

Furthermore, a sober father often engages more actively in his child’s life. Whether it’s helping with homework, attending school events, or simply spending quality time together, the absence of substance abuse allows for deeper and more meaningful interactions. These moments of engagement contribute significantly to the child’s overall development and happiness.

In conclusion, a sober father plays an essential role in shaping a child's future. By embodying the principles of healthy living, stability, perseverance, and active engagement, he sets a powerful example for his child to follow. The ripple effects of these lessons extend far beyond childhood, helping to cultivate responsible, resilient, and well-rounded adults.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Miracle of Recovery

 Recovery is often described as a miracle, a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the profound resilience embedded in our very being. Whether it’s recovering from a physical injury, a mental health struggle, or overcoming addiction, the journey of recovery is one of the most powerful narratives of hope and renewal.

At the heart of recovery lies resilience. The ability to bounce back from adversity, to rebuild and reinvent oneself, is nothing short of miraculous. It’s in the quiet moments of struggle, where one decides to take one more step forward despite the overwhelming urge to give up, that the miracle unfolds. This resilience is not innate but cultivated through experience, support, and a relentless belief in the possibility of a better tomorrow.

Mental health recovery is particularly poignant. For those battling depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses, each day can feel like an insurmountable challenge. The journey involves therapy, medication, support groups, and most importantly, self-compassion. The miracle here is in the small victories: getting out of bed, seeking help, or finding moments of peace amidst the chaos. These incremental steps accumulate, leading to a gradual but profound transformation.

Physical recovery, too, showcases the incredible capacity of the human body to heal. From athletes returning to their sport after a severe injury to ordinary individuals regaining mobility after surgery, the process is often long and arduous. Physical therapists, doctors, and the individuals themselves work tirelessly, often celebrating minor improvements that signify major milestones in the long run. The body’s ability to regenerate and adapt is truly miraculous, reflecting an intricate interplay of biological processes and sheer willpower.

Recovery from addiction is another realm where miracles are witnessed daily. The journey often begins in the depths of despair but progresses towards a life reclaimed. Support networks, rehab programs, and personal determination play crucial roles. The transformation from dependence to independence, from self-destruction to self-love, is profound.

Ultimately, the miracle of recovery is a universal story of hope. It reminds us that no matter how deep the wounds, healing is possible. It teaches us that setbacks are not the end but a part of the journey. And most importantly, it highlights the power of the human spirit, capable of overcoming the greatest of odds to find peace and renewal. The miracle of recovery, then, is not just in the end result but in the journey itself – a journey marked by courage, resilience, and unwavering hope.    

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Sunday, June 9, 2024

The Sobering Truth: How an Alcoholic Parent Can Harm a Child

Growing up with a parent who struggles with alcoholism can cast a shadow over a child's life, leaving scars that are often invisible but deeply. While addiction is a complex issue with multifaceted impacts, its effects on children can be particularly profound. Here, we delve into the sobering reality of how an alcoholic parent can serve as a detrimental role model for their child.

First and foremost, children look to their parents for guidance and behavioral cues. When a parent is consumed by alcoholism, their behavior becomes erratic, unpredictable, and often destructive. This instability can leave a child feeling confused, anxious, and insecure, unsure of what to expect from one day to the next. Witnessing a parent struggle with addiction can normalize unhealthy coping mechanisms and dysfunctional patterns of behavior, laying the groundwork for similar struggles in the child's own life.

Moreover, alcoholism can erode the foundation of trust between parent and child. Promises are broken, lies are told, and responsibilities are neglected as the addiction takes precedence over everything else. Children may feel abandoned, neglected, or betrayed by a parent who prioritizes alcohol over their well-being. This betrayal of trust can have long-term consequences, affecting the child's ability to form healthy relationships and navigate the world with confidence.

The emotional toll of living with an alcoholic parent cannot be overstated. Children may experience a range of complex emotions, from guilt and shame to anger and resentment. They may blame themselves for their parent's addiction or feel powerless to help them overcome it. The constant tension and turmoil within the household can disrupt normal childhood development, leading to issues such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

Furthermore, growing up in an environment where alcohol abuse is normalized can increase the likelihood of the child developing their own substance abuse problems later in life. Studies have shown that children of alcoholics are at a significantly higher risk of developing addiction themselves, perpetuating a cycle of dysfunction from one generation to the next.

In conclusion, the impact of having an alcoholic parent extends far beyond the confines of the home. It shapes the way children view themselves, their relationships, and the world around them. Breaking free from the cycle of addiction requires not only individual healing but also a collective effort to support and empower families affected by alcoholism. By raising awareness of the far-reaching consequences of addiction, we can work towards creating a brighter, healthier future for all children.

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Thursday, June 6, 2024

Word Power

 Words have such awesome power. They can heal. Or they can destroy. And sometimes those doing the destruction don't realize the harm their words are doing.

I've been in group and individual counseling sessions for some 30 years at TLC.

And I hear often from clients abused as children. Not with fists. Not with belts. Or kicks. Or slaps. But with words. Simple words. Ugly words.

Things like "You'll never be worth a shit." "Your brother is smarter than you." "Are you retarded or something?"

The phrases take a lot of forms. But when children hear them enough they become tangled in their subconscious. And they lie there like hidden computer code, sending messages that block success and happiness.

Some parents have issues themselves with alcohol and drugs. Or they have psychological issues. They are poorly equipped to direct the lives of others. But they do long term damage to children - often contributing to their substance abuse.

What to do? It takes a lot of counseling and inner work for us to remove these old messages.

Once we discover these old messages we can remove them with self-awareness and inner work. But it takes diligence and a strong desire to live life by our own definitions - not the definitions of others.

In the meantime we give others words of love and kindness.  That's the kind of legacy that can change lives.

Monday, June 3, 2024

Amends: The Core of Healing

In the world of recovery, making amends is like stitching up wounds. It’s about fixing what we’ve broken, healing relationships, and finding peace. In 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), this step is crucial.

First, let’s understand making amends. It’s not just saying sorry. It’s about taking responsibility for our actions and doing what we can to right our wrongs. This might mean apologizing to someone we’ve hurt, fixing something we’ve broken, or simply showing that we’ve changed through our actions.

One reason why making amends is important is because it helps repair relationships. Addiction tears families apart and damages friendships. By making amends, we can start to rebuild trust and show that we’re serious about change. It’s like rebuilding a bridge that was burnt down – it takes time and effort, but it’s worth it in the end.

Another reason is that making amends helps us let go of guilt and shame. Addiction often leaves us feeling unworthy of love or forgiveness. But by facing our mistakes and making amends, we can start to forgive ourselves and move forward. It’s like lifting a heavy weight off our shoulders – we feel lighter and freer.

Making amends is also important for our own personal growth. It teaches us humility, compassion, and accountability. It’s about owning up to our mistakes and learning from them. And as we make amends, we become better people – more honest, more empathetic, and more connected to those around us.

Finally, making amends is a way of giving back. It’s about contributing something positive to the world after all the harm we’ve caused. Whether it’s volunteering, helping others in recovery, or simply being there for a friend in need, making amends allows us to make a difference in the lives of others.

So, if you’re on the path to recovery, remember the importance of making amends. It’s not always easy, but it’s a crucial step towards healing. By facing our mistakes and making things right, we can pave the way for a brighter future.

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