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TDA Halloween Challenge

October 31, 2015

This creepy 35 second Hanna Barbera anti-drug PSA has the best catchphrase ever at the end. Happy Halloween!!!

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The Verdict Is In

October 23, 2015

No alcohol during pregnancy — ever.  That’s the word from U.S. pediatricians. The American Academy of Pediatrics has put out a clear message: Don’t do it.  Ever.  At all.  Not even a tiny bit. No amount of alcohol should be considered safe to drink during any trimester of pregnancy. The group released a report Monday […]

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TDA’s Secret Spell of Sobriety

August 19, 2010

The Discovering Alcoholic uses Waterhouse’s Magic Circle to make a point

Inevitably I have someone come up after a recovery meeting to ask me what is the secret to long term sobriety and recovery. It is usually someone new to the program, that has attended meetings routinely on the weekends for a while, and has decided that now they are “really serious” about recovery. I know I did the same thing many years ago, asking my temporary sponsor as he explained his thoughts on the twelve steps, “but how do you do it for the rest of your life?” Apparently I didn’t get an exactly inspirational answer since I can’t remember his response. Neither did I stay in AA after I had finished my ninety meetings in ninety days after rehab, but I still credit much of my successful recovery program to the things I learned in those meetings.

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Ditto: No Commentary Necessary

August 18, 2009

original pic by mmhydrazinen04 under creative commons license now at The Discovering Alcoholic

Traveling hard this week and with another early morning and difficult meeting on the schedule I feared that tonight’s update would suffer. Never fear though, I ran across one of those rare pieces that I feel absolutely no need to add commentary or to add caveat. It’s plain, sound wisdom from a man who’s been there, done that, and discovered the key to recovery; don’t drink, regardless of how you manage it or what program you attend, just don’t drink.

Most of us were staying dry — getting sober — and getting “well”. That method of friend selection continued into my entry into the field and there I found many recovered folks that had a broader perspective on recovery. I think that we naturally gravitated toward one another and developed a more comfortable support system– no “musts” or insistence on anything, except “don’t take a drink”. ~

Read the entire Profile of a recovering alcoholic at the by Angeline Davis.

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TDA and the Black Monk of Wat Thamkrabok

August 15, 2009

The Discovering Alcoholic speaking with the Black Monk of Thamkrabok

I have run across this story several times this week on the newswires, so I though it might be a good time to revisit a TDA post I did on Wat Thamkrabok a few years back. Also known as the opium pipe monastery, this Buddhist temple complex has a unique treatment system for heroin and opioid abuse but they offer the program for all alcohol and drug addictions. That’s me with Gordon Baltimore who is more often referred to as the black monk of Wat Thamkrabok.

I was boisterously greeted in English by an African-American in the saffron robes of a Buddhist monk. This “Black Monk of Thamkrabok”, aka Gordon Baltimore of Harlem, a disillusioned and drug addicted veteran of the Vietnam War who found himself broke down and stranded at the entrance of the monastery over thirty years ago and never left, has become the official greeter to those seeking treatment. ~ TDA

Here’s the link to the entire TDA post, The Opium Pipe Monastery, obviously some of the pictures are mine since I am included in them but others come for their old site. They have a new one up now that includes videos and an extensive photo gallery- go here to see the Thamkrabok Monastery.

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Smoke and Misery in Afghanistan

August 10, 2009

Smoke and Misery in Afghanistan at The Discovering Alcoholic

SARAB, Afghanistan — Open the door to Islam Beg’s house and the thick opium smoke rushes out into the cold mountain air, like steam from a bathhouse. It’s just past 8 a.m. and the family of six — including a 1-year-old boy — is already curled up at the lip of the opium pipe. ~

The Detroit Free Press ( has an excellent photo essay and accompanying article on the rampant opium and heroin abuse in Afghanistan. One thing I would ask you to do before responding about how much of a shame it is that these people are suffering so… is to reflect back upon some of this year’s news stories here in the States and realize that we have people living in almost exactly the same manner here!

Which is the bigger shame? Those trapped in third world countries suffering from addiction with little hope for support or treatment, or the situation here where the money, support, and treatment is available but not a priority?

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Prohibition: Just What the Doctor Ordered

July 1, 2009

Yes, it’s a noble experiment.

Prohibition: Just What the Doctor Ordered at The Discovering Alcoholic

They say history repeats itself and this prohibition era cartoon certainly lends credibility to the adage. It was drawn around the time of populist President Hoover (depicted with hat on heart while the doctor injects prohibition) who had no elected office experience, but instead had gained fame working directly with distressed communities and grassroots organizations. The economy was in shambles, Congress compounded the problem by pushing through the disastrous Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, and taxes on corporations and the wealthy were raised drastically. Everything the administration did to bolster the economy and salve social woes, just made the problems worse. One of the most hated government actions of the time was the continued prohibition of alcohol, something President Hoover vocally supported for political power despite personal beliefs. He called it a noble experiment.

Sound familiar?

Flash forward three quarters of a century and we find ourselves in a similar situation. A populist President, dire economic situation, and everything Congress does just makes the debt worse and the citizenry scared… and with health care reform the cartoon is once again very relevant- even more so today. You see the doctor is symbolic of government run health care, and with big brother paying the bills there will most surely be some new rules. Rules like no drinking. No smoking. No fast fatty food and deserts. Even video games might hit the list since childhood obesity can be stifled with sports not played on a big screen.

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Headed Toward Treatment?

June 24, 2009

Headed Toward Treatment at The Discovering Alcoholic

It was pointed out to me last weekend that the billboard closest to the treatment center where I hold a weekend recovery meeting displays a messsage very representative of the strange relationship our society has with alcohol. Drivers coming in from town toward the center see an advertisement for ice cold beer, but those leaving out of the center see a much different message on the reverse side promoting abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

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Rating the Response to Prescription Drug Abuse in Shelby County

May 29, 2009

original graphic and story by the Shelby County Reporter now at The Discovering Alcoholic

Prescription drug abuse and associated deaths have skyrocketed in my local area over the past few years and fortunately many of our public and private professionals have stepped up to the plate by raising awareness and offering solutions. There are few notable exceptions though, so I figured this recent and informative article on the issue by the Shelby County Reporter would be a great time to rate some of the responses I have seen from my local community.

Shelby County Drug Court: Offering well monitored treatment and a chance for recovery as an alternative to incarceration and recidivism, I have witnessed the positive results of the drug court in person. Many of the people addicted to prescription drug pills become so in a prescribed legit fashion only turning to illicit behavior as the addiction progresses- we need to have more than “just jail”. This is a great program that not only gives a second chance, but provides the tools to take advantage of the opportunity.

State Senator Hank Irwin: A man of faith, it is unfortunate that he has to rely upon only this and his many prejudices instead of the facts when it comes to medically assisted recovery (MAR), a critical tool for those suffering with prescription medication (mostly pain killers) addiction. He has been a constant opponent of MAR and clearly has a problem separating opinion from facts.

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I’m Here for the Crossword Puzzle

May 6, 2009




About the only reason I’ll pick up a New York Times these days is to shake out the crossword puzzle.  Thanks to the internet though I don’t miss the worthy articles that show up now and then in the proof section, or the TDA relevant topics competently covered that I feel deserve to be shared.


So check out this week’s articles online by Dr. Mark L. Willenbring, director of the Treatment and Recovery Research Division of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism on the diagnosing and treatment of alcoholism, and a complimentary story by NYT contributor Jane Brody on functioning alcoholics.

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The Dance

April 23, 2009

Thank you author and speaker Lisa Frederiksen of Breaking the Cycles for this regular series sharing her decades long experience of dealing with family alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Click here to see the rest of the series.

Breaking the Cycles at The Discovering Alcoholic

By way of background…
If a loved one enters a residential treatment program – it usually lasts around 28 days. At the end of treatment, clients are encouraged to go to an SLE – Sober Living Environment. That can be their home (as long as all alcohol has been removed and all persons in the home agree to abstain from drinking) or it can be a treatment center sponsored SLE (usually a home in a residential neighborhood where other clients also reside, along with an employee of the treatment center).

Now to my experience…
I’d told my loved one of my fears about what might happen if he insisted on coming home as his SLE, instead of following the treatment center’s recommendation and going to one of theirs.

Yet, when the time came, he started doing that “thing” he did, and I started doing that “thing” I did. He with that “I’m so sorry” expression, pressing me to let him come to our home instead of a treatment center SLE, to let him do what he wanted – playing on the notion that if I loved him, I would. And there I was acting on my feeling that I needed to somehow make it okay for him because if I loved him, I should. After all, he’d stopped drinking, gone into rehab – what more could I want or expect him to do? But I wasn’t ready. I was scared – what if I didn’t do what he needed done and he relapsed. And I was enjoying not having the constant worry about “what if…”.

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Signs Are There, but Direction Is Bad

March 30, 2009

Original pic by dittaeva now at The Discovering Alcoholic

Saying that over two million teens suffer from clinical depression, a government panel is urging doctors to screen kids annually. My problem with this is not a dispute with the statistic because I think you can probably find the same signs in any segment of the population- but I worry about what they plan to do with these millions once they are identified.

As it is right now antidepressants are the most highly prescribed drugs in America- in fact, most doctors are more concerned about under-prescribing when it comes to adults. Even now antidepressants are used without proper therapy and follow-up; patients begin to rely on the drugs to gloss over their problems instead of using them as a tool for recovery. In my humble opinion the dangers are much greater for those teens with undeveloped brains and coping skills. Throw 2 million more into the system and what happens? The obvious.

Most pediatricians aren’t trained to do psychotherapy, but they can prescribe depression medication and monitor patients they’ve referred to others for therapy, he said. ~ emphasis mine

I don’t like the direction this is going.

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January 22, 2009

A TDA PSA at The Discovering AlcoholicThe United States Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has posted an informative list of 14 two page PDF’s emphasizing how employers can save money by improving access to treatment for employees with substance abuse issues. Much of the info is repeatedly presented so I wonder why they decided on providing so many different documents, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to repeat the message.

Several facts stood out from the crowd including that close to three quarters of the population with substance abuse issues are working, that investing in treatment can result in a 12 to 1 savings, and that safety and production are raised by increased awareness and resources. The emphasis to employers on money saved instead of lives improved seems a little cold, but I guess when it comes to business it is better to appeal to their bottom line.

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No Shortcut to Recovery

January 6, 2009

Original photo by kathryn rotondo at The Discovering Alcoholic

There’s an old saying that there are no shortcuts to any place worth going, it’s one that is especially relevant to alcoholics, addicts, and their loved ones. Gullible as lovesick teenagers, this target market so desperately wants to believe in a quick fix that they will shell out big bucks for even the most ludicrous of “treatments”.

It’s a great opportunity for confidence men that use deliberate ambiguity, deception, and misdirection to prey upon those seeking a cure for their addiction. A scam for the ages, but the internet has exponentially increased the ability of these flimflam men to reach their target market. I ran across this official looking press release for a “cure” just yesterday:

“Many members are healthcare professionals, they seem to have more trust in our nutraceutical based technology,” explains Dr. Doug. “Our charity reaches out to all with a permanent cure. Nearly everyone can afford our fees since they are payable from the money members save by not drinking.” ~ Eon

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Let Go and Let Donny

January 5, 2009

I got a surprise but unwanted “gift” from a trusted colleague via e-mail when my company laptop went tabs up this weekend with a bad case of malware. Thanks to a timely holiday backup to an external hard drive and after a truly epic battle- I finally overcame the nasties infecting my laptop. It should come as no surprise that this struggle would spawn yet another addiction analogy.

Click “Read more” to see how Donny Osmond help me keep my sanity during this trying time…

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