“Alcohol ruined me financially and morally, broke my heart and the hearts of too many others. Even though it did this to me and it almost killed me and I haven’t touched a drop of it in seventeen years, sometimes I wonder if I could get away with drinking some now. I totally subscribe to the notion that alcoholism is a mental illness because thinking like that is clearly insane.” – Craig Ferguson, “American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot,” 2012
“…one of the primary differences between alcoholics and nonalcoholics is that nonalcoholics change their behavior to meet their goals and alcoholics change their goals to meet their behaviors.”
– “Alcoholics Anonymous”
There is only one endeavor in which you can start at the top, and that is digging a hole.
“When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot become manifest, strength cannot be exerted, wealth is useless, and reason is powerless.” – Herophilos
Nuggets: Video Paints Addiction in Simple Moving Terms
There’s something extraordinarily gripping about this kiwi’s struggle with addiction.
Perhaps, because there’s something so devastatingly human between the stark black and white lines of German animator Andreas Hykade’s five-minute creation.
Dubbed ‘Nuggets,’ the story revolves around the journey of a solitary kiwi and the occasional bumps it finds in the road.
The kiwi scarcely regards the first golden nugget it comes across. A second nugget, a little ways ahead, draws its attention. And, after some poking and prodding of the strange substance, the kiwi inserts its beak and, well, indulges.
Bliss ensues. This flightless bird leaves the ground. After an oblivious twirl or two in the air, the kiwi comes back to Earth. A little farther along its path, another golden nugget appears. The kiwi hastens to suck it up.
But as bird tromps along from nugget to nugget, its ‘flights’ become briefer, reaching heights less dizzying — and ultimately hitting the ground more harshly every time.
At last, humpbacked and haggard, our protagonist can scarce shuffle across a blackened backdrop.
It comes across another golden nugget. And eyes it for a pregnant moment.
Alcoholism is a disease and the alcoholic a sick person.
The alcoholic can be helped and is worth helping.
Alcoholism is a public health problem and therefore a public responsibility.
– Marty Mann, 1945
Caron Chapel Prayer, written by Father Bill Hultberg
Lord God, I acknowledge you as my Savior and Redeemer. I ask you to come into my life. Send the power of the Holy Spirit upon me, to enlighten my mind and will as to what I must do… and then move my will to do it! I ask the Holy Spirit to heal me of all obsessions and compulsions to use alcohol and other drugs or relationships or behaviors addictively. Grant that I may never separate myself from you again, for you are my Lord and God. Amen.
We have learned that addiction is an illness. It is a very physical, mental, and spiritual disease that affects every area of life. It can be arrested but never cured. We have found that compulsive use of drugs does not indicate a lack of affection for the family. It is not a matter of love, but of illness. The addicts’ inability to control their use of drugs is a symptom of the disease of addiction. Even when they know what will happen when they take the first drink, pill or fix, they will do so. This is the “insanity” we speak of in regard to this disease. Only complete abstinence from the use of drugs, including alcohol, can arrest this disease. No one can prevent the addict’s use of drugs. When we accept that addiction is a disease, and that we are powerless over it, we become ready to learn a better way to live.
“The disease of addiction is strong, and when it feels threatened, it’s especially deadly. I envision the disease as a voice screaming, ‘If I can’t have you, then no one can!’ over, and over, and over, and over, drowning out all other voices of hope and healing.”
Some helpful thoughts for parents who need help with setting boundaries with their loved ones.
You aren’t in their physical space, but are you in their emotional space?
If it’s not your ball, don’t pick it up.
Who owns this issue?
W.A.I.T. – Why Am I Talking? (i.e., take some time to think about what you really need to say)
When we do things for our children that they could do for themselves, we rob them of the opportunity to learn and grow.
Respond Don’t React– from “Boundaries,” by Henry Cloud
When you react to something that someone says or does, you may have a problem with boundaries. If someone is able to cause havoc by doing or saying something, she is in control of you at that point, and your boundaries are lost. When you respond, you remain in control, with options and choices.
If you feel yourself reacting, step away and regain control of yourself so family members can’t force you to do or say something you do not want to do or say and something that violates your separateness. When you have kept your boundaries, choose the best option. The difference between responding and reacting is choice. When you are reacting, they are in control. When you respond, you are.
“I used to spend so much time reacting and responding to everyone else that my life had no direction. Other people’s lives, problems, and wants set the course for my life. Once I realized it was okay for me to think about and identify what I wanted, remarkable things began to take place in my life.” – Melody Beattie
“Active alcoholics don’t have relationships, they take hostages.” – Unknown
“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” – Swedish proverb
“Can you help someone get out of those woods? Yes, you can. By not getting lost looking for them.” – Robert Downey, Jr.
“Blood is the fuel for the enormous energy we burn up battling our own. We wouldn’t think of expending such efforts on strangers.” – Anonymous
“I try to see my child and the person with an addiction as two different beings, with two different sets of needs. When they ask for $50, or to come back home, which one really needs the thing they are asking for: our child, or the addiction? I will not feed the addiction.” – Sandy Swenson
Q. “Am I helping the person I care about, or am I enabling them?” A. “If you are doing something that they are definitely not able to do for themselves at this point, you are simply helping. If you are doing something for them that they are perfectly able to do for themselves, you are enabling them. You are also robbing them of an opportunity to grow and gain a sense of empowerment.”
“His family blame themselves and wonder what they could have done differently, racking their minds for a perfect sentiment; wrapped up in the perfect sentence, a magic bullet to sear right through the toxic fortress that has incarcerated the person they love and restore them to sanity. The fact is, though, that they can’t, the sufferer must, of course, be a willing participant in their own recovery. They must not pick up a drink or drug, one day at a time.” – Russel Brand regarding his friend’s brother who can’t stay sober
“There is an old Sufi saying that goes something like this: ‘Tie two birds together, and they will be unable to fly even though they have twice the number of wings.'” – Chris Lawford, Symptoms of Withdrawal
1. Defending – Can become an unhealthy coping mechanism. 2. Denial – There is no problem. 3. Minimizing the problem – “At least they aren’t _________ .” 4. Avoiding discussions about the problem. 5. Blaming others. 6. Taking over person’s responsibilities. 7. Providing financial support not related to recovery. 8. Helping to resolve legal or employment problems. 9. Reacting, not responding. 10. Lack of self-care*. *No help for family members keeps us all sick.
Forgive the mistake. Remember the lesson.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
We are not all in the same boat. We are in the same storm. Some have yachts, some have canoes, and some are drowning. Just be kind and help whoever you can.
“I love when people who have been through hell walk out of the flames carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.”
– Stephanie Sparkles
Partnership to End Addiction’s “Start With Connection” Video:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough & more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today & creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” – David Steindl-Rast
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
“I am grateful for all of my problems. After each one was overcome, I became stronger and more able to meet those that were still to come. I grew in all my difficulties.” – J.C. Penney
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy
“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” – Meister Eckhardt
“When we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that is present… we experience heaven on earth.” – Sarah Breathnach
“‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”
– Alice Walker
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward
“I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing.
I write about generosity because I battle selfishness.
I write about joy because I know sorrow.
I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption.
I write about gratitude because I am thankful – for all of it.” – Kristin Armstrong
“It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension of life opens up.” – Eckhart Tolle
“When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.” – Elie Wiesel
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – Winne-the-Pooh
Be Comforted (taken from Jenny’s Journey)
“Treasure precious moments. Remember the love. Discover peace within. Have faith. Seize hope. Draw on Inner strength. Release fear. Let yourself cry Take comfort in friends. Be patient with yourself. Trust in tomorrow. Attend your needs. Ask for help. Let others give. Trust enough to take.
Lean on others. Know people care. Feel the warmth of friendship. Be circled by love. Vow to move forward. Know the sun will shine. Behold new life. See the light ahead. Look ahead with confidence. Celebrate the dawn.” – Jan Michelsen
To Honor You
“To honor you, I get up everyday and take a breath. And start another day without you in it.
To honor you, I laugh and love with those who knew your smile And the way your eyes twinkled with mischief and secret knowledge.
To honor you, I take the time to appreciate everyone I love, I know now there is no guarantee of days or hours spent in their presence.
To honor you, I listen to music you would have liked, And sing at the top of my lungs, with the windows rolled down.
To honor you, I take chances, say what I feel, hold nothing back, Risk making a fool of myself, dance every dance.
You were my light, my heart, my gift of love, from the very highest source. So everyday, I vow to make a difference, share a smile, live, laugh and love. Now I live for us both, so all I do, I do to honor you.”
Connie F. Kiefer Byrd In Loving Memory of Jordan Alexander Kiefer 8/24/88 – 12/13/05
I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are evil. – J.R.R. Tolkien
“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly — that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
– Anne Lamott
🎶 When there was a loss in the addiction treatment/recovery community, Father Bill Hultberg, the late spiritual advisor at Caron Treatment Center, used to play the song “Can’t Cry Hard Enough” in Caron’s chapel service. He would advise those in attendance to “feel your feelings” and allow ourselves to cry. He believed that we needed to move through grief, not avoid it or move around it. He would ask people to stand up and call out the names of those we lost as the song was playing. It is nearly impossible to listen to this song and not cry.
When I don’t know who to thank for all the amazing gifts in my life, I thank my higher power.
My higher power can move mountains, but I have to bring the shovel.
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”
– *William Paley or Herbert Spencer
*Disputed attribution. Found in The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 568
“I pray to be released from my compulsion to control my situation. I have so often proved I am unable to control it. Let me think, know & feel my powerlessness; then I will at last learn to let go & let God.” – “One Day at a Time”
Peace is not the absence of trouble, it is the presence of God
Think of GOD as Good Orderly Direction
“The whole course of things goes to teach us faith. We need only obey. There is guidance for each of us, and by lowly listening we shall hear the right word…. Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which flows into you as life, place yourself in the full center of that flood, then you are without effort impelled to truth, to right, and a perfect contentment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Essays, Series I (Spiritual Laws)”
Faith is the bird that feels the light & sings when the dawn is still dark.
When I let go & let God, I’m more apt to find a place of compassion between obsession & indifference, where the serenity of ordered thought & emotions lie.
“The eternal God is your refuge, & underneath are the everlasting arms.” – Deuteronomy 33:27
“Whoever has cried enough, laughs.” – Heinrich Mann
“I guess sometimes I want to have a drink with dinner. But then I remember I have plans for Christmas.” – Robert Downey, Jr.
“Alcoholism is a disease, but it’s the only one you can get yelled at for having. ‘Goddamn it Otto, you are an alcoholic.’ ‘Goddamn it Otto, you have Lupus’… one of those two doesn’t sound right.” – Mitch Hedberg
“I woke up on Christmas morning, and I was soaked in my own urine. At least I think it was mine, I can’t be certain.” – Craig Ferguson(See monologue here.)
Envy is nothing more than a hostile form of self pity.
“Anger is like peeing in your pants. Everybody else sees it, but only YOU feel it!” – Jeff Yalden
“Alcohol is a good preservative for everything but brains. “ – Mary Pettibone Poole
“Cocaine is God’s way of saying you’re making too much money.” – Robin Williams
“Drugs have taught an entire generation of American kids the metric system.” – P.J. O’Rourke
“As an alcoholic, you will violate your standards quicker than you can lower them. You will do sh*t that even the Devil would go, ‘dude…'” – Robin Williams
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children.” And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
“I like to think of myself as a lighthouse parent, you know reliably there, totally trustworthy, making sure he doesn’t crash against the rocks, but committed to letting him learn to ride the waves.” – Ken Ginsburg, MD, MSEd
“Anyone who has lived through it, or those who are now living through it, knows that caring about an addict is as complex and fraught and debilitating as addiction itself.” – David Sheff
“Snow Plow Parents” – We smooth the way for our kids so that they don’t have to experience any struggles or challenges.
“The Whole-Hearted Parenting Manifesto,” – Brené Brown (click here)
If I had to create my own first aid kit for parents of addicts here are some of the things I would stock.
A list of things that no matter what bring joy in my life.
Phone numbers of people that have walked in my shoes that never turn off their phone.
Pictures of me in my lifeboat.
Emergency phone numbers of help lines that can help me or my child.
Probably a piece of chocolate.
Six inspirational sayings or quotes that speak to me deep inside each time I see them.
Reminders: take a deep breath, it’s OK to cry, you are not alone, the sun will rise again in the morning.
A list of people that love me unconditionally, who know I need them and they don’t judge me.
“Our job is not to look at our children and say, ‘You’re perfect and I’ll make sure you make the tennis team by 5th grade and Yale by 7th grade.’ Instead, our job is to say, ‘You’re imperfect and you’re wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.'” – Brené Brown
Recovery is a process through which one gradually achieves greater balance of mind, body and spirit in relation to other aspects of one’s life, including family, work and community. – Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, National Summit on Recovery, Conference Report.SAMHSA
“I think I’ve probably learned more from my patients than I’ve given them in return. I really see people in recovery from severe addictions as modern-day prophets, because these are folks who’ve had to figure out pleasure and pain and consumption in a dopamine-overloaded world, and they’ve had to do it as a matter of life and death. … They really provide this road map of deep wisdom for the rest of us.”
Anna Lembke, MD Psychiatrist Chief of the Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic at Stanford University Author of Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence
“A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.” – John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic, 1928
“Uh, it feel so good When you let go Of all the drama in your life Now you’re free from all the pain Free from all the game Free from all the stress So find your happiness” – Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama”
“Signs of Surrender” – Dr. Harry Tiebaut
No longer defensive
Living in the here and now
Willingness to follow advice
Not blaming anyone (including self)
Ability to laugh at self
Interested in inventory
No concern why I’m an alcoholic
Sense of Optimism, hopeful outlook on life
“In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus
“It’s amazing With the blink of an eye you finally see the light It’s amazing when the moment arrives that you know you’ll be alright” – Aerosmith’s “Amazing”
“Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?” – Lau Tzu
Just for Today by Kenneth L. Holmes
Just for today, I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life problem at once. I can do something for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.
Just for today, I will be happy. This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, that “most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Just for today, I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
Just for today, I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my “luck” as it comes, and fit myself to it.
Just for today, I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn, and not get found out. I will do at least two things I don’t want to–just for exercise. I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they may be hurt, but today I will not show it
Just for today, I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, talk low, act courteously, criticize not one bit, not find fault with anything and not try to improve or regulate anybody except myself.
Just for today, I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests: hurry and indecision.
Just for today, I will have a quiet half hour all by myself, and relax. During this half hour, sometime, I will try to get a better perspective of my life.
Just for today, I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.
Our serenity level is inversely proportionate to our level of expectation.
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
– An old African proverb
Rachel Naomi Remen describes the distinction between Service and Helping in her essay, In the Service of Life:
“Serving is different from helping. Helping is based on inequality; it is not a relationship between equals. When you help, you use your own strength to help those of lesser strength. If I’m attentive to what’s going on inside of me when I’m helping, I find that I’m always helping someone who’s not as strong as I am, who is needier than I am. People feel this inequality. When we help we may inadvertently take away from people more than we could ever give them; we may diminish their self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity, and wholeness. When I help, I am very aware of my own strength. But we don’t serve with our strength, we serve with our Selves. We draw from all of our experiences. Our limitations serve, our wounds serve, even our darkness can serve. The wholeness in us serves the wholeness in others and the wholeness in life. The wholeness in you is the same as the wholeness in me. Service is a relationship between equals.”
“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
– Wendell Berry
“People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.” – Joseph Fort Newton
Oh, the comfort—
the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person—
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,
but pouring them all right out,
just as they are,
chaff and grain together;
certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping,
and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
– by Dinah Craik, A Life for a Life, 1859
“We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.” – Ben Sweetland
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
Your Savings Account of Human Healing – unknown
The human longing to be useful, to be asked, to be necessary to at least one other person in the world, runs deeper than anything. And when we rob people of the chance to hit their daily quota of usefulness, to validate their existence – if only for five minutes on the phone – we commit an act of selfishness.
But if we’re fortunate enough to have a savings account of human healing, we should never feel guilty about making a withdrawal request.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn” – Xunzi (Chinese Philosopher)
“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy.
I woke and I saw that life is all service.
I served and I saw that service is joy.” – Kahlil Gibran
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
“No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop
“Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
– Don Miguel Ruiz
“People tend to be generous when sharing their nonsense, fear, and ignorance. And while they seem quite eager to feed you their negativity, please remember that sometimes the diet we need to be on is a spiritual and emotional one. Be cautious with what you feed your mind and soul. Fuel yourself with positivity and let that fuel propel you into positive action.”
– Steve Maraboli
“Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.”
– The Tao Te Ching (500BC)
“Stigma is the reason there is so much social and legal discrimination against people with addictions . . . People who are victims of stigma internalize the hate it carries, transforming it to shame and hiding from its effects.”
– David L. Rosenbloom, Professor of Public Health at Boston University
“I used to think a drug addict was someone who lived on the far edges of society. Wild-eyed, shaven-headed and living in a filthy squat. That was until I became one.”
– Cathryn Kemp
Be careful judging that drug addict so harshly. They just may recover and be the one to show your very own child a way out one day.