"Arrested Recovery"

     The problem with trying to explain the Steps on paper or a screen is that it isn’t yet REAL for the addict. There is no actual experience of it on the inside, as writing, reading, studying and talking about the Steps is simply an intellectual pursuit. Who cares about any of that if the addict still feels like shit inside, if his or her inner life is still smothered in darkness, grief, pain, boredom, depression and fear?

     It is true that all any addict or alcoholic needs to do is to find God, but that is much easier said than done. A true catharsis is necessary to propel us into this new fundamental mindset, this new and permanent conviction. A true conversion resulting from a profound spiritual experience must often occur to drive a person to suddenly put their spiritual growth and their relationship with God before all else.

     Truth be told, I am frightened of nothing anymore except messing with my relationship with God. What God has done for me… how selfish and stupid I would be to try to live by self-will and do whatever I please. God came out of the Great Unknown one night and briefly touched me with His infinite love and power. That brief encounter was enough to instantly restore my mind, heart and soul and enable me to suddenly put Him first before everything. I probably don’t have the balls to pull an Abraham, but I do take this stuff pretty seriously.

     And this is where we see ‘arrested recovery’, which was astutely coined by the guy who turned up North into up North many years ago and which refers to some combination of a refusal to continue growing, searching and acting beyond the Steps as well as substituting our addiction for vanity, ego, prestige, sexuality – something empty and fruitless. Unfortunately he is no longer there, which leaves quite the hole in the intellectual gravitas of the program.

     At any rate, a lot of guys and girls will take Steps and be lucky and blessed enough to be touched by the Holy Spirit, and then what do they do? They come home on a pink cloud and stop doing the work. They take their spiritual condition for granted, stop taking Steps, and relapse. Then they blame the Steps, they blame the treatment center, they blame family stress, they blame ‘worldly clamors’, they blame social injustice (lol), they blame anything but themselves.

     But the truth is that if we deteriorate mentally, emotionally and spiritually, it is no one else’s fault but our own. It is because we became arrogant, lazy and unwilling to meet “a few simple rules” as the Big Book notes. If these guys would simply finish making all of their amends, continue writing inventory when resentments and fears crop up, continue to pray and meditate, continue to help others when possible and continue to expand their program and evolve, they would all be fine.

     What, is that too much to ask? Too much work? Actually, given the amount of effort we put into becoming a junkbox and taking selfishness to a whole new level, I would say it’s a pretty small effort and a pretty small price to pay, wouldn’t you? 

     I will continue doing this because it helps parents and spouses, the people who deserve help and relief more than we ever will, but the point of this has always been to help people find God. Finding God is the solution for addiction and alcoholism, followed up by a lifetime of spiritual action, but again, the problem is neither I nor anybody else can with any justice explain in words what needs to happen to an addict. Addicts need to somehow find the willingness to give themselves to this process and have a REAL INTERNAL EXPERIENCE for themselves, which ignites the spiritual fire inside.

     It is possible to shift your entire frame of mind and attitude towards life, self and others, but nobody can do that for you. You can’t ‘get it’ by just reading or talking about it in group. It can’t be bought or beaten into you. You have to earn it through rigorous effort. You have to reach out from deep within and ask for it. Ask God to help you earnestly and He will help you… so long as you are willing to back it up with some action.
     God, help me always to remember the point of everything is to do Your will and help people find You. Teach me to care about nothing else. Remind me that this alone has driven me from the very second I recited the 7th Step prayer back in 2005. 

Ten Years… Yeah, So?

     My day starts around 5:30 when my 3-year old wakes up, runs downstairs and jumps on my head, asking me if it’s TV day in a loud, whiny, tired, hungry voice. After that it’s non-stop until about 10:30pm when I’m finally allowed to be unconscious for a few hours. The point is that I completely spaced it was 10 years last week. Guess what I did to celebrate 10 years?


     I didn’t dress up and go to a meeting to collect a chip, eagerly anticipating my moment of glory as everybody clapped for me while I proudly walked up the isle. I didn’t have a party with all of my friends and family to recognize the occasion.


     Because it’s not an occasion. It’s not anything. Sobriety isn’t an accomplishment. We don’t need trophies because we finally grew up, took some responsibility, did some work and stopped acting like a garbage disposal. We don’t need to announce anything.

     We need less announcing. More doing.

     The idea is to forget all about our sobriety date because we are busy living life, as opposed to sitting around, holding on by a thread, waiting to collect a sobriety chip. If we simply put one foot in front of the other and continuously take right, productive action, sooner or later we forget we were ever an addict to begin with and simply rejoin normal life where people get up, go to work, have a family, pursue some dream, whatever.

     P.S. By the way, I know so many people on psychotropics who were not mentally ill and let me tell you, now they are mentally ill! Psychotropics are poisonous. The effect on both brain and body is toxic, not to mention the fact that you are rewiring something that shouldn’t be rewired. You can only play God so much before the shit hits the fan and some poor guinea pig goes apoplectic, has a psychotic break and brings on some death just to relieve himself.

     Hey, if you want to experiment on your brain, fine, knock yourself out, but what do you say we leave the kids out of it? Is it really necessary to medicate our children to the point of catatonia because they don’t want to stare at a chalkboard and be dumbed down and de-individualized all day long by some overpaid, robotic collectivist at his or her local government school.

     Give the kid a fucking paintbrush, a guitar, or a soccer ball instead, Jeez. ADD is a social disease (like so many others). Most of the R&D is funded by pharmaceutical companies and/or government grants, which should tell you all you need to know. They get the results they need. They get the results they are looking for.

How Does One ‘Smash a Moral Compass’ & Get Rid of Self?

From Addicts & Alcoholics Will Suck You Dry.


I both hate and love posts like these Charlie…they are hard for me to read but at the same time I know they are exactly what I need to hear.

Of course, the hardest part is not simply accepting that we can’t let our addicts suck us dry any longer…the hardest part is actually doing something about it. I would love to “smash a moral compass” into my addict, but how on earth to do that? Letting them lose us seems like the only road to take, but it’s a risky one because there is no guarantee at all that they are going to come around – for some people being “abandoned” is just going to give them an excuse to descend deeper into darkness.

These matters are so difficult. Thank you for providing guidance to us, the parents and partners, who struggle and suffer so much.


Thank you and bless you. You’re right, it’s certainly a tall task to smash a moral compass into an addict and one I’ve never seen accomplished by a non-addict/alcoholic. One of the reasons why the Steps can be so powerful and mystical is because they seem to only work when brought to us by another alcoholic or addict, as only he or she can instill the sort of confidence necessary to get through to us about the moral issue. We don’t listen to non addicts. We listen to those who used and felt the way we did and then recovered.

Regarding letting go, remember that you’re abandoning the addict, the addiction, as opposed to the person you love. Addicts are essentially possessed. When people use drugs and alcohol, they become vulnerable energetically and open to all sorts of evil entering the body. At any rate, sure there is no guarantee we will come around, but there is no guarantee anyway. At least by letting go you have a hand to play, as we at least suffer the consequence of losing something that perhaps we don’t want to lose, i.e. you.

I know it’s tough, believe me. It’s confusing because addicts become so insane. Who would act in such a way? But the bottom line is this: Those of us who get better are those who deep down want to change, those of us who want to evolve and grow spiritually. Those who don’t recover and commit themselves to this work simply don’t want to change. 

Okay Charlie, thank you. It is hard to know what to do with this information but I understand what you are saying. It’s just hard when the addict is *mostly* sober and has improved the way they treat people *somewhat* – they feel they’re doing an awesome job. How can I convey to them that they need to go somewhere and have a “moral compass” smashed into them? I mean they just don’t get how self-centered they are…don’t get it at all. My addict is not going to go to a meeting when they feel their addictions are already conquered. Even though they need the Steps like you wouldn’t believe.  


“I mean they just don’t get how self-centered they are…don’t get it at all.”

I hear you. And the only remedy I know for this is diving head first into the 12 Step actions as they are laid out in the Big Book. I’m sure there are other methods to achieve the same goal, but for addicts and alcoholics, the Steps are by far the best remedy we have to address our two central problems: self-centeredness and spiritual sickness.

My only other suggestion is for families and spouses to engage in the Steps on their own, for their own relief, especially to utilize tools such as the 4th Step resentment inventory. Putting resentments to rest can give family members and/or spouses a tremendous amount of peace and freedom, peace that they so richly deserve. As well, prayer and meditation are both crucial.


The other best remedy for all this stuff, for addiction and selfishness in general, is simply service. Go help people. Volunteer. Go to the soup kitchen. Help family. Help friends. Help neighbors. Serve. Anything to help others and get outside of self is the secret. That’s really why the Steps work. It’s ALL about the removal of self. That is the silver bullet that slays addiction, and yet, the mainstream never admits or acknowledges that. Give an addict a purpose that involves helping people and it will save them… and yes, that goes for all of them. The solution for addiction has nothing to do with pills and science. Regardless of what people think or how mad they get at me, that is the truth. The solution for addicts and alcoholics is service and honesty. God.

Working with Others 
Why Service Works 

Human Responsibility Beckons

Addicts should get better…

     …because we have officially given up the right to drink and use.
     …because we have maxed out how much we can take from others.
     …because life is not about us feeling good 24/7.
     …because it’s okay to suffer a little bit. It’s called being human.
     …because the demeanor of an addict is as unattractive as it is annoying.
     …because we are so stuffed with bullshit, we don’t know where the truth ends and the lies begin.
     …because cowardice is no recipe for worldly success, not is it an indicator of future happiness.
     …because as human beings, we have the responsibility to act in a way we would recommend to all others.
     …because nothing and nobody is to blame for our addiction. Addicts are self-created.
     …because the world doesn’t owe us anything.
     …because we have become morally and spiritually destitute.
     …because our attitude has devolved into all manner of delinquency.
     …because there is no such thing as a “trigger.”
     …because there is no excuse for being an addict, whether genes, depression, rough childhood, you name it.
     …because we alone made ourselves addicts and therefore we alone are responsible to get better.
     …because we have given up the right to whine, complain, and pretend to be some sort of victim.
     …because life is not about pathological self-focus.
     …because when what we do begins to affects others negatively, it becomes wrong to continue doing what we are doing.
     …because we have stopped giving a shit about anything or anybody except ourselves.
     …because it is wrong to abuse drugs and alcohol.
     …because we are no longer concerned about your needs, only what we need from you.
     …because nobody likes to be around a loud, obnoxious, emaciated, sweating, lesion-covered addict who can’t stop itching himself.
     …because remaining this sick and this selfish when there is a solution is an insult to our loved ones and an insult to God.
     …because we have no right to continue breaking our parents’ hearts, our spouses’ hearts or our children’s hearts.
     …because if we don’t, we have spent our entire lives doing nothing, contributing nothing, becoming nothing, and wasting natural resources, not to mention robbing taxpayers. No substance abuse program, medication or therapy session should ever be subsidized. Ever. Taking money from others for something we did to ourselves by our own selfishness and stupidity is a moral crime. Haven’t we already stolen enough? Haven’t we spent enough time being comforted by medication? Haven’t we already done enough incessant blabbing about ourselves in therapy?  

     “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle

Addicts Don’t Understand Being Human 
Does Your Program Really Work?
Make It a Challenge
Courage or Cowardice?
Are You Free?

Why Addicts Should Get Better…

     …Besides, of course, never selfishly robbing the life, love, time, energy and money of our loved ones ever again?

     Some people think all I do is rail on addicts, but that’s not quite accurate. I’m trying to push addicts (including myself) to get better so that we can give the world all we can possibly give. Many addicts and alcoholics are/were very bright, talented people. Some are intellectual or artistic geniuses. You wouldn’t know it, of course, because instead of giving ourselves and our talents to the world, instead of being responsible, we chose to act like complete dumbasses, letting fear, selfishness and physical pleasure get the best of us. At any rate, below is an old post about why it’s so important to get addicts better, so don’t say that all I do is abrasively rip us to shreds, ’cause that’s only like 99% of the time 😉

(From February 5th, 2013)
     … and he or she can do incredible, amazing things.

      Like the teenaged kid I know who overdosed from shooting heroin and was pretty much dead until he was shot up with two loads of Narcan, took Steps, recovered, asked me for a ride to make amends to a sporting goods franchise he stole from, made a slew of other frightening amends, started multiple groups and ended up managing a sober house, all while sponsoring several others.

      Or the girl I know who took Steps, recovered, began speaking all over the place, sponsored countless other girls, and then went on to run a women’s sober house while working another full time job. Just as strange is how happy, content and at peace she is. You would never know she was/is a drug addict.

     Or the other guys I know who took Steps, recovered, and then went on to open up multiple sober houses after sponsoring piles and piles of other guys, all the while starting groups, running other groups, and working intensively with individual family members and parents.

     [Or the relative of mine who recently gave himself wholeheartedly to this program, dedicated himself to his spiritual growth, recovered, and now he’s getting a Masters of theology at the Harvard Divinity School.]


     Don’t selfish, lazy, deranged, piece of shit drugs addicts get sober only to hold on by a thread, frantically running from meeting to meeting, chain smoking butts and nursing iced coffees all day long? Don’t they retain most, if not all of their personality flaws, still acting like defensive, jaded, victims? Wait, I thought we were all pretty much toast once we become chronic, hopeless addicts.


     The truth is that many alcoholics and drug addicts are talented, ambitious, and potentially incredible people. Every drug addict who not only achieves physical sobriety but who recovers fully in his or her mind, heart and soul, can re-join the world and do amazing things. They can help countless others, or contribute in other untold ways. Recovered addicts can effect great change in this world simply because they are now glowing within and powered by the limitless strength and wisdom of GOD.

God, please help addicts who still suffer find their way to the Steps and to You…