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.

Variation in Recovery Identity Adoption – By William L. White

A significant portion of people who resolve alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems do not embrace a recovery identity—do not see themselves as recovered, recovering, or in recovery. I first suggested this in Pathways from the Culture of Addiction to the Culture Recovery (1990) and later in a co-authored essay on the varieties of recovery experience (White & Kurtz, 2006), but had nothing but years of observation and anecdotal stories to support it. When I was asked about the prevalence of adoption or non-adoption of a recovery identity among people who had resolved AOD problems, no data were available to inform that question. Thanks to a just-published study by Dr. John Kelly and colleagues of the Recovery Research Institute, there is now data that addresses that and related questions. The Kelly-led research team surveyed a representative U.S. population sample of people who had resolved a significant AOD problem during their lifetime and determined the extent to which such individuals adopted… Continue reading

Experiencing Release in Recovery – By Bill White

In their classic 1992 text, The Spirituality of Imperfection, Ernie Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham described six dimensions of spirituality at the core of the recovery experience: release, gratitude, humility, tolerance, forgiveness, and being-at-home. In my prolonged mentorship by and collaborations with Ernie, we often returned to those central themes. The essence of the addiction experience is being confined and bound by something once highly prized that subsequently mutated into a monster over which one had minimal if any control. It is then not surprising that within numerous varieties of recovery experience, there is a shared thread of letting go, of breaking free. This experience of release goes by many names and descriptors—escape (from physical craving and mental obsession), deliverance, liberation, pardon, regeneration, serenity, tranquility, harmony, and balance. This release is both breaking free from an enslaved past—a freedom from the insatiable demands of the drug and the guilt, shame, fear of insanity, and… Continue reading

THE TIME IS NOW FOR A RADICAL TRANSFORMATION OF ADDICTION TREATMENT BY WILLIAM WHITE, GARY MENDELL, AND SAMANTHA ARSENAULT

Countless people have had their lives positively transformed by addiction treatment. But tragically, this is not the norm. Despite decades of advancements in science, pharmacology, and technology, the continuum of evidence-based addiction treatment services remains largely unavailable to those in need. The addiction treatment system is hindered by fragmentation, outdated treatment philosophies, and a payment system that perpetuates antiquated care models and discourages the adoption of best practices in the field. The historical rise and development of the current addiction treatment system explains the evolution of a broken system, and sheds light on new solutions. Today, drug policy leaders, frontline addiction professionals, and affected individuals and families are calling for radical changes in the design and delivery of addiction treatment. It’s time for change. It’s time to protect our families. THE EARLY DAYS OF AMERICAN ADDICTION TREATMENT Treatment and recovery support for addiction began in the mid-1800s, with the nation’s first… Continue reading

Recovery Advocacy & The Latino Community – By Bill White, Angelo Lagares, & Gaynell Gosselin

One of the distinctive features of the recovery advocacy movement is its commitment to transcend the historical barriers that have separated people within the United States and across the world. I have been particularly moved by the growth of recovery community organizations around the globe. In the U.S., early RCOs within African American communities and within Indian Country were among the midwives of the new recovery advocacy movement. Since then, calls have increased to extend these efforts into Latino, Asian and other ethnic communities within the U.S. The following advocacy essay by Angelo Lagares and Gaynelle Gosselin is a reminder to us all of the import of such inclusiveness. I was very touched by their passion and their eloquence and wish to share their call to action with my readers.  Bill  IMPROVING COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS THROUGH INCLUSION OF RACIAL AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN RECOVERY ADVOCACY EFFORTS Angelo Lagares, Founder, Latino Recovery Advocates Gaynelle Gosselin, Parent… Continue reading

LIFE OR DEATH AFTER A NON-FATAL DRUG OVERDOSE By William L White

Drug overdose deaths in the United States have risen exponentially due to sequenced drug surges: 1) prescription opioids, 2) heroin, 3) illicit fentanyl and related analogs, and 4) cocaine and methamphetamine—all used alone or in combination with other drugs. More than 66,000American lives lost each year to drug overdose have sparked numerous initiatives ranging from increased naloxone availability and medically-supervised injection sites to expansion of addiction treatment resources. The personal stories behind overdose death statistics have helped stir public and professional alarm, but less attention has been given to the question, “What is the subsequent fate of the larger number of people who experience a non-fatal drug overdose?” Research studies (see Stoové et al, 2009) have long associated surviving a drug overdose with the increased likelihood of a future non-fatal or fatal drug overdose. In a 2017 Massachusetts study of opioid overdoses, 10% of those who survived died within the next year from a drug… Continue reading