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

Life in the Moderate Lane – By Andrea Wachter, LMFT

It didn’t take long for me to notice that I was different than most of my friends. (At least the ones I was constantly comparing myself to!) Beginning in early adolescence, I noticed that my friends somehow seemed to be able to have one or two drinks, one or two bong hits, one or two late nights and one or two cookies. Not me. One or two of anything typically led me to overdo everything. I will spare you the long, detailed saga, but suffice it to say that my inability to be moderate with substances led me down a path of addiction and depression that would last for many years. To other people, I was the one who could handle the most shots, the most partying and the most all-nighters. But internally, my soundtrack was grim. I hated myself. My blackouts were getting more frequent, and my secret life… 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

My Calling Song – Marie Guma-Jelinek

  Dear wild bird Flying in your cage swiftly from side to side. Going about your pleasant routine, whistling as if you weren’t tied. Dear sweet bird You need to see that the life that you live is contained. That there is so much more and you allow yourself to be restrained. Dear loving bird Your song penetrates my soul and sings to my heart as it opens like never before. I want to take you with me so that I feel this feeling forever and in every pore. Dear happy bird Please let me show you the key so that you may see the door. Show you there are so many other ways and places to soar. Can’t you hear me my little bird? Open your eyes and look above at the endless sky Taste the freedom I offer because I can now not live without you I can… Continue reading

Somebody Else: From Wannabe to Spinach to Kryptonite to Recovery – By Mark Masserant

Wannabe  I always wanted to be somebody else, right out of the chute. The notion sprouted in my head when I was a young boy—I wished I was my cousin. The one who lived on a farm with umpteen brothers and sisters, and tons of farm animals, too. Fun and excitement were routine at his house; the lucky bum had it made.  All I had was two crummy sisters and a mongrel dog that liked to hug my leg. At least the dang mutt was happy. I had even loftier goals as second grade approached—I dreamt of being the kid that all the girls adored. I don’t know what I would’ve done with all of them, but that’s who I wanted to be. A little Don Juan with Elvis Presley eyes and moves and a Mickey Mouse lunchbox. I wouldn’t have to pull pony tails and dash away to get… Continue reading