William White
William L. White is an Emeritus Senior Research Consultant at Chestnut Health Systems / Lighthouse Institute and past-chair of the board of Recovery Communities United. Bill has a Master’s degree in Addiction Studies and has worked full time in the addictions field since 1969 as a streetworker, counselor, clinical director, researcher and well-traveled trainer and consultant. He has authored or co-authored more than 400 articles, monographs, research reports and book chapters and 20 books. His book, Slaying the Dragon – The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America, received the McGovern Family Foundation Award for the best book on addiction recovery.

Brain Recovery Following Alcohol Use Disorders – William L White

Since the early promulgation of addiction as a brain disease, I have warned that such a model could increase rather than decrease addiction-related stigma if not also accompanied by a parallel understanding of the neurobiology of addiction recovery (See HERE and HERE). To that end, I joined several colleagues in calling for a recovery research agenda that includes a focus on the degree to which brain functioning is restored during the recovery process (See HERE and HERE). In the intervening years, significant research has illuminated such healing processes and their implications for recovery management. The most significant of this work has been done on alcohol use disorders. The extent to which these findings are applicable to other substance use disorders remains unclear. Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are associated with significant cognitive impairment, though not all individuals with an AUD experience such impairment and the degree of impairment can vary widely depending on AUD severity and duration, number of… Continue reading

The History of Addiction Recovery in America – William L White

Two of the most significant milestones in the history of recovery are the increased self-recognition of individuals in recovery as a distinct “people” and the tandem emergence of an ecumenical (beyond identification with a particular mutual aid group or treatment institution) culture of recovery. The former is being expressed through a grassroots recovery advocacy movement celebrating multiple pathways of recovery, and the latter is reflected in the construction of recovery-focused history, values, language, literature, symbols, rituals, art, film, and theatre, as well as through the emergence of new recovery-focused social institutions (e.g., recovery residences, recovery high schools and collegiate recovery programs, recovery-friendly workplaces, recovery ministries, recovery cafes, etc.). This brief essay highlights a growing historical consciousness within this emerging culture of recovery. Retrieving, preserving, and disseminating the history of addiction recovery is far more than an academic exercise. It is the medium through which each generation passes on collective experience… Continue reading

Recovery: Children, Adolescents, Transition Age Youth, & Families – By Bill White

Considerable efforts are underway at federal, state, and local levels to extend acute and palliative care models of addiction treatment to models of assertive and sustained recovery management (RM) nested within larger recovery orientated systems of care (ROSC). As that work proceeds, a critical question has emerged about the application of RM and ROSC to the design, delivery, and evaluation of services for children, adolescents, transition age youth, and families (CATAYF). A seminal paper on this question was developed by the City of Philadelphia as part of its systems transformation process (See HERE). Further work in this area is underway in Ohio through the efforts of the Hancock County Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services with funding support from a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration System of Care Grant. A critical step in the effort to extend ROSC implementation to youth and their families was the… Continue reading

THE JOURNEY TOWARD TOLERANCE, COMPASSION, AND SERVICE (GALEN TINDER AND BILL WHITE)

  Progressive transformations of personal character and relationships are central themes within narratives of addiction and addiction recovery. Entrapment within the self and its eroding effects on personal character are endemic features of addiction. Such entrapment goes by many names (narcissism, selfishness, self-centeredness), all reflecting a reordering of one’s needs and desires that morphs into near-total self-absorption—an entire orientation of being that shapes how we face the world and process reality. How one perceives, feels, thinks, judges, and acts are all transformed within this ever-shrinking capsule of self and the dominating self-drug relationship. The loss of control and creeping fear of impending insanity within the addiction experience require extreme defensive adaptations (the masks of addiction). Common among these defense mechanisms are distortions of reality (e.g., problem minimization and denial), elaborate rationalizations, overcompensation, increased grandiosity and arrogance, projection of blame on others, constant resentments (envy/ jealousy/ anger), narrow-mindedness, black-white / either-or… Continue reading

The Role of Recovery Communities in Cultural Healing – Bill White

  Ironically, it is at the margins of society that one discovers the moral center. –Van Jones In a bleeding world, where are the sources of communal healing? When our connecting fabric is shredding under the assault of hateful rhetoric, where do we find common ground—settings where people speak with each other and not at and over each other? How can we escape the spell of political pimps of all persuasions creating and exploiting divisions for personal aggrandizement and ideological gain? These are questions being asked by people of conscience from diverse political, economic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. As Van Jones suggests, the sources that could help us get re-centered could come from unexpected quarters. Is it possible that people in addiction recovery and diverse communities of recovery could serve as a force for cultural and cross-cultural healing? A reasonable response might well be, “What could people whose past lives have been ravaged… Continue reading