Addiction Recovery Without Treatment – William L White

A just-published review of the scientific literature on untreated remission from alcohol problems by Richard Mellor and colleagues offers insightful clues about the role of professional treatment and non-treatment resources in the resolution of alcohol problems. Here are some key findings and my take on their implications. Only a small subset of people with alcohol problems—about 20%–seek treatment related to these problems. This figure is most commonly cited by the treatment industry as justification for increased funding of professionally-directed addiction treatment. That rationale is challenged by data confirming that a significant portion of the 80% of non-treatment-seeking individuals are experiencing problems of lower severity, complexity, and chronicity that will resolve naturally without professional assistance and often without embracing a recovery identity. This process of problem resolution without professional assistance has been variably labeled in the clinical literature as spontaneous remission, autoremission, natural recovery, self-managed change, and quantum change. Estimates of the prevalence of untreated remission from… Continue reading

Honoring Recovery Ancestors – William L White

It is all that we are: history, memory. –Walter Mosely, from John Woman I have been thinking a good deal more than usual about the history of addiction recovery in the United States. Such ruminations are a reflection of my stage of life, but they have also been stirred by recent events, including the recent demise of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and the passing of a generation of iconic leaders within the addictions field. Most of my adult life has been dedicated to the collection, preservation, and presentation of the history of addiction treatment and recovery in America. My books, monographs, and collected papers and the creation of the Illinois Addiction Studies Archives collectively constitute a repository of documents and artifacts that chronicle the pathways our addicted citizens have traveled for more than two centuries in their search for freedom. I have earlier penned brief reflections on the import of this history… Continue reading

Home – By Lisa Zoe Lawston

An old blue hat box with a water stain where years back I rest my glass. I lift the top. Odds and ends. Yellowed papers scribbled with drifting thoughts for future engagement.  Cards inked in childlike writing “Happy birthday, mama, I love you!” Tears. At the bottom of the well, floats my poetry magnet “home” staring back at me. I cup it in my hand and fold my fingers. The realization washes over me; I’ve carried this magnet around for fifteen years like an amulet. Hopeful.  It used to cling to my refrigerator door in Amherst along with enough words to tell this story in a hundred different ways. An icy blur of rage, sticky packing tape, weeping, crumpled newspaper, torn photographs, constant relocations, half-filled cardboard boxes, joblessness, bubble-wrap, poverty, judgment, the devastating addiction and untimely loss of my first child, yet somehow this remains. “Home.”  I still hold it… Continue reading

A Body Apology – By Andrea Wachter, LMFT

Having spent the first half of my life trying to lose weight, I decided some time ago that I refuse to spend the second half of my life trying to lose wrinkles. All day long, our bodies work diligently for us, yet most people walk around lost in thought, ignoring, criticizing and often times even despising their bodies. I used to be an extreme body hater. After decades of working on cultivating self-kindness and self-care, I am now extremely devoted to loving and appreciating the body I live in. I also have the good fortune of being able to teach others how to do the same. It occurred to me recently that while my body must be infinitely more content with the treatment it receives from me now (both externally and internally), I felt like I owed it an apology. After all, if I had abused someone else for decades… Continue reading


Adversity is a seductive invitation to self-pity. Cancer, like other unwelcomed challenges experienced in my life, provided such an invitation. But adversities provide opportunities as well as pitfalls. None of us escape adversities in our lives, but there really is something to the old saw, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Cancer was far more than an assault on my cells; it was a test of my character. Cancer provided invaluable lessons regarding my personal vulnerability and my need for better self-care—lessons of great import to someone both other-directed and action-oriented. The loss of bladder control in the weeks after my surgery forced me to once again confront limitation and powerlessness and brought humility and humiliation in equal measure—also valuable experiences for those of us fixated on controlling our own daily destinies. My need to rely on others, particularly my wife, forced me from the role of caring for… Continue reading