Benjamin Canha, RN, MSN, is a 61 year old professor at the Shady Grove campus of the University of Maryland, School of Nursing. He coordinates the undergraduate mental health nursing program. Teaching is a second career, retiring after 30 years at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a clinical research nurse in addictions treatment. He also served as the nurse educator at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, treating wounded warriors with addiction issues. He first began drawing 12-step recovery cartoons in 2000 under the pen name of “Ben Ben the Fisherman” and has drawn thousands of single-caption, one-liner cartoons since. His cartoons regularly appear in 12-step newsletters all around the world. His two books, Recovery Cartoons and Conference Approved, are collections of hundreds of cartoons arranged according to each one of the 12 steps and 12 traditions adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous. He manages the website which features his cartoons, e-cards and books. He is a PhD student with a research interest in using humor to help those with substance use disorders. Ben lectures at medical conferences with a program entitle Humor in Recovery. He also presents powerful one hour cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) exercises entitled: The Honesty Exercise and Setting Priorities, encouraging addicts and alcoholics to break through their denial. His personal experience includes his own sobriety date of 1/4/88 and active participation in the 12-step programs.

    The Story of Recovery Cartoons – By Ben Ben the Fisherman

    I first began drawing a few cartoons in the early 1980s while I was still drinking and drugging and working as a nurse at the National Institute of Health (NIH). I poked fun at the healthcare researcher’s behaviors I worked with, such as smoking cigarettes during their break. Confronted about my own using, I got clean 1/4/88 and began attending 12-step recovery meetings. I grew very close to my sponsor and the network of men I met. I was joking with a very special friend, the late Kevin A. from Virginia, and drew a cartoon for his anniversary about the topic of our amusement, a long winded speaker digressing into all aspects of growing up, and boring the audience. Kevin kept that cartoon on his fridge for months. The local newsletter chair announced at a meeting the need for submissions of stories, poems or cartoons for the next publication. I… Continue reading