Category Archives: alcoholism

Craig Ferguson Talks About Drunken Celebrities (Video)

This video was posted on NPR along with commentary about the recent problems of Justin Bieber.  Although well before Justin’s recent notoriety, it bears on him as well as the people that Ferguson mentioned.

One of my great-nephews asked me for my opinion on the video and the subject.  Here was my answer:

Wellll…let me put it this way. If I were still working in rehab, every single one of my clients would watch this video.

As far as Justin Bieber is concerned, it certainly isn’t his fault. For most of his life he’s been coddled, encouraged to do whatever he likes as long as he keeps working and bringing in the bucks. He’s had no healthy family modeling, and emotionally he stopped growing — probably — at the time he got involved in the dysfunctional lifestyle, long before he began using chemicals. If not then, certainly when he started drinking, drugging or both.

We drink to excess initially because it makes us feel different. There is something that we are trying to fix — a bad feeling, an emotional pain, feelings of not being good enough, or whatever. Drinking doesn’t make us feel good, it makes us feel better: better looking, more sociable, less bothered by poor self-esteem, maybe even loved and safe, whatever. But eventually, we drink because the alcohol has modified our brains and our thinking in such a way that we can no longer imagine living without booze or some other mood-altering chemical. Then we lie to ourselves and tell ourselves that we are just fine, thank you very much. Until it become apparent that we aren’t.

Addiction isn’t fixed by stopping temporarily, or even permanently. It’s on the way to being fixed when we are desperate enough to confront whatever it is that causes us to think we need to drink and/or drug, and begin healing — and growing — toward being an emotionally healthy, well-balanced person.

Along with the drugs (alcohol is just a legal drug), addiction is a habit: of thinking, of behaving, of dealing with discomfort. Quitting is the essential first part, because intoxication is chemically-induced insanity, and the whole point of sobriety is moving toward sanity. But until we have made the habits of a sober, sane person more powerful than those of a drunk — until we have learned to be not only abstinent but sober — we are in danger of falling off the wagon at any time. It’s not an event, it’s a process, and it takes a long time, and it takes balls.

As far as Ferguson goes, he told my story too. The details were different, but the story was the same.

Now, please watch the video and enjoy it.  Ferguson’s a funny man, even when he’s being serious.


Silent danger: Living with a secret addiction

Addictions can sneak up on you.  I embraced my alcoholism with open arms, but became addicted to prescription drugs without realizing it, and entirely because of ignorance on my part and the part of my (then) doctors.  As an example, it took 5 days to detox me from alcohol, and nearly three weeks to do so from benzodiazepines (Ativan, Xanax, Valium, etc.).  I’d been taking them for years, and rarely if ever took even the prescribed amount.  I had no idea that I was in danger of addiction, or that I was addicted.  Surprise!

pillsThis sort of thing happens to a lot of good people who are just seeking relief in the manner recommended by their physicians.  It’s an excellent reason for NEVER doing something or taking a medication just because one doctor says to do it.  Sites like,, and various government sites — is a good place to start — have clearly presented, easy to understand information about drugs, drug interactions, and potential for addiction.  

And remember: when it comes to prescription drugs, your pharmacist (not your doctor) is your best friend.  Doctors are scientists who specialize in the various functions and malfunctions of the human body.  Very few are experts in neuropsychopharmacology.  In addition, very few are trained in, or really understand, addiction.  In this, as in all health issues, you have to study and be your own advocate.

This article from the BBC is a good example of the ways bad things happen to good people.

“The whole stigma attached to substance misuse still exists and that is a key element in people remaining silent regarding their addictions.

“For all the positive work we see on high-profile TV campaigns about removing the stigma of alcohol and substance addiction, we have many people coming in to FASA who don’t want to tell anyone about their addiction.”

It’s interesting…

Every day I’m on a lot of sites that deal with addiction, or have articles on it.  Often, after finishing an article, I’ll read a few of the comments until the denial gets to me and I have to stop or barf.

It’s amazing how people will go to a site about drug abuse, read the articles, and then go on at length about the mistaken notion that such and such a drug is addicting, whether their binge drinking is the same as alcohol abuse, and so forth.

The obvious question never seems to occur to them: Why, if they have no issues with drugs, are they reading articles about it?  I’ll bet very few folks without AIDS or TB read articles about them.

Just a thought.

Alcohol consumption is a necessary cause of nearly 80,000 deaths per year in the Americas, study finds

A new study has measured the number and pattern of deaths caused by alcohol consumption in 16 North and Latin American countries. The study reveals that between 2007 and 2009, alcohol was a ‘necessary’ cause of death (i.e., death would not have occurred in the absence of alcohol consumption) in an average of 79,456 cases per year. Liver disease was the main culprit in most countries.

Could new addiction medications replace mutual-help groups?

 “…the most vocal critics on either side of the debate are stuck in the bad old days, when medical treatments were untested and mutual-help groups demanded immunity from evidence. The prescription is now collaboration, not confrontation.”

My own experience has been that most of the people in the 12-Step Groups who oppose therapeutic drugs usually know little or nothing about the subject, depending on the opinions of others and (perhaps) uncontrolled personal experience to form their opinions.  This, of course, is no different from the way the majority of people form opinions in general, and is simply human nature.

The harm occurs when they pass this “wisdom” on to others, particularly newcomers.  For example, antidepressants have absolutely nothing to do with the addictive process chemically, but may well be the salvation of alcoholics and other addicts who used drugs to self-medicate their own depressive episodes.  Anyone with an ounce of real knowledge, for example, would never advise someone to stop taking antidepressants without medical supervision (due to the risk of rebound into severe depression), yet I have heard this espoused in meetings.  Antidepressants are amazingly useful drugs when used knowledgeably, but like all powerful drugs have their undesirable side effects.

This is just one example of unskillful advice.  I could mention others.

In short, tradition and ignorance have much in common.  That said, I agree with the statement above.  The prescription is, indeed, “collaboration without confrontation.”

Good article.  Worth a read:

Home Groups — The Place To Celebrate New Year’s

The three attributes of AA, the Steps, Traditions and Concepts, are the foundations of any program: Unity, Service and Recovery. Just as a triangle can’t support itself without all three sides, a 12-Step Group couldn’t survive without all three “sides” of its structure. With its sides intact, on the other hand, a triangle (or pyramid) is the most stable structure there is.

We have to:

  • Stick together and support each other;
  • Make sure that we — and newcomers — have a place to come to;
  • Progress physically, spiritually and emotionally so that we can get better ourselves and then help others to recover.

The home group is the basis of all three things.  Read More


Spirituality and Recovery: An Insider’s Guide

From the Sunrise Detox Blog:

‘…we who have struggled with the monkey on our back know things about addiction that no one else knows. That’s not to say that we’re any smarter about it, it just means that we, too, have our point of view, and from the inside it’s rarely pleasant. We beat ourselves up, we focus on our regret, on resentments, on past and present mistakes, about the things we missed out on, on how we were treated, on how the world is being run, on our future. It would be enough to make us crazy, if we weren’t already. And that’s because, as the title implies, “addiction is the opposite of spirituality.”’



Holiday Parties: What’s A Host To Do?

Social occasions that involve people in recovery—especially early recovery—can pose some perplexing problems for the host. On one hand, a host who is aware of a guest’s need to avoid mood-altering substances may wish to do what is possible to keep from exposing them to temptation. On the other hand, social drinking is a part of everyday American culture, and most guests can drink with relative impunity as long as they moderate their consumption.  A host may be concerned about how to handle the situation when some of the guests are in recovery — especially those only a short way along on their journey.

There are some simple things to remember….

Hosting People In Recovery For The Holidays


aaAt a meeting the other day, a guy suggested a topic and proceeded to share at length. It really makes no difference what it was, but two things were clear: the person didn’t have any concept of what recovery is really about, and he is so far up in his head that he has a long way to go before getting the hang of it.

It got me to thinking about when I was in the same boat. To begin with, I analyzed everything. I was so smart and so on top of things that I’d been pretty much a useless drunk for the previous six months and a semi-functional one for several years before that. So, naturally, a few weeks out of treatment I thought I had all the answers.

I had all sorts of high-falutin’ theories. I’d read a few books, and I was pretty sure that with a bit of effort I could become a recovery guru and help all those other poor folks who just couldn’t seem to get it. I was going to re-write the Big Book and streamline the program so that it would work for folks in the here and now, instead of fooling around with ideas that were (at that time) fifty years old. Continue reading

Oh No! Another Gratitude Meeting!

Wild Turkey by John James Audubon

Wild Turkey
by John James Audubon

It’s Thanksgiving again (or Thanksgivikkah this year, if you will), and around this time it’s inevitable that thousands of recovery meetings will respond with lots of sharing about gratitude. Just about anyone who’s breathing and taking nourishment has something to be thankful for, and it does us good to bring those things out and look at them from time to time.  This is one of those times.

My wife says she’s tired of gratitude meetings until she’s in one, and I agree.  People may be a bit repetitive when they share, but those folks aren’t talking for our benefit, they’re sharing for themselves: their own experience, the strength it has given them, and their hopes for the future. What more appropriate time to do so than on a national holiday dedicated to overeating and football being thankful for the good things life has given us?

Who has more reason to be thankful than us recovering alcoholics and other addicts? We are in remission from a deadly disease, and through the help of a Higher Power (however we may understand it) and the other people in our lives, we will be able to maintain that remission indefinitely, thanks to the skills we’ve learned and the progress we’ve made. People die from this disease — hundreds of them, every day of the year. Thanksgiving, too.  But we don’t have to!

Happy Thanksgivikkah! And thanks for being part of my recovery (you are, you know)!

Related articles

Another Study Links Alcohol Abuse To Death And Disability

“Previous research has shown that heavy drinking is a risk factor for more than 200 diseases or injuries. To quantify the influence of alcohol use on the burden of disease, researchers analyzed information from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions and the burden of disease study of the National Institutes of Health and found that AUD was linked to three percent of all deaths in adults 18 and older in the U.S.

Alcohol use disorders contributed even more significantly to a measure of disease burden known as years lived with disability (YLD), with 1,785,000 YLD for men and 658,000 YLD for women in 2005….”


THE FIX Is Back!

The Fix, an occasionally outrageous but always thought-provoking journal of sobriety, was purchased out of bankruptcy a few months ago, and has been undergoing a makeover aimed at increasing its readership and the breadth of its service to the recovering community.  The first issue will go live on 11/25, but you can go to the site for a preview of the new look and some good reading.

I’ve been known to disagree with various of The Fix‘s writers in the past, but I’ve never failed to check out each issue.  Sign up for their weekly newsletter while you’re there.

Sobriety, Spirituality Linked for Teens in Treatment

Principal Investigator Dr. Maria Pagano, associate professor of psychiatry at [Case Western Reserve University's] School of Medicine, suggests that “changes in spirituality during treatment may serve as the ‘switch’ that moves youth off of the track of substance dependency and onto the track of recovery and enhanced well-being, thereby countering harmful social trends like youth unemployment and decreased volunteering that have worked against addiction recovery.”