Sunday, May 17, 2015

AA Bootcamp

.... on the Road to Recovery

                                                      AA Bootcamp

As you may know, I recently published a book titled "Under Construction - 25 Life-Building Tools for Addicts in Recovery."  Background information on the book is readily available through the links on the right side of this blog. The book can be purchased through on-line book retailers, including and

The positive feedback I have been getting from many individuals is way beyond my greatest expectations. I have had newcomers to AA, "long (old) timers," and family members tell me the many ways the book has helped them in dealing with recovery. 

Another unexpected highlight was when I was informed that the book is being utilized by counselors in local recovery treatment facilities. I regularly thank God for inspiring and guiding me in writing the book. Without Him, it would not have happened.

And the inspiration to write about recovery has hit me hard again... 

In response, I am writing a new book for those who want to learn more about the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is intended to serve as a basic guide for recovery from alcoholism through AA.  Although it is geared toward newcomers, it will serve as a useful resource for AA members with any length of sobriety as well as their family and friends. It will also provide specific information for professionals, e.g ,counselors, psychologists, lawyers, etc., who want to understand the fundamentals of the AA program.

Although things change when doing a book project, the draft title for the new book is:

AA Bootcamp - A Basic Training Guide for Newly Recovering Alcoholics (and Those that are Not so New)

I will be keeping you updated on the book via posts on this blog.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Recovery from Alcoholism- Worry is Playing God

....on the Road to Recovery

                                                Worry is Playing God

Do you spend a lot of time worrying about the future? How things will turn out? Imagine lots of negative things that may happen in the future?

Isn't this really assuming the role of God for your life?  

I am human so I am going to worry at times. That's the human condition. However, when I worry continually and excessively, it is clearly my attempt to control... not trusting in the true God, who has helped me for so many years. 

The more I can trust God to take care of me and the future, the more peace I will have and the less I will worry... get angry... engage in addictive behavior... and so on and so on.

Do you ever catch yourself playing God?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Recovery from Alcoholism-A Power Greater than Yourself

....on the road to recovery

                            Recovery from Alcoholism - A Power Greater than Yourself

Heard this at a meeting the other day... A person new to recovery was having a major problem understanding the idea of a Higher Power. Someone explained this simple thought through the following dialogue:

When you started drinking, who was your higher power? 

Meaning, whom did you look to for guidance and direction? Answer - I was my own higher power. I did what I thought I should, what I wanted to do, all the time.

Ok. What became of your higher power after you became addicted to alcohol? 

Meaning, what drove your priorities, your ways of living, the types of things you did and didn't do? Answer - Alcohol. I pretty much did what it drove me to do all the time. I followed its direction, blindly and without care for myself or others.

Conclusion - Ok then. We need to find a different Higher Power. One that is greater than ourselves and alcohol.

... and so the journey begins.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Recovery from Alcoholism-Faith and fear...together?

....on the Road to Recovery
Faith and fear... together?

I've heard this so many times, have you?

Fear can't live in the same house as faith... fear knocked at the door and faith answered... you can have fear or faith, not both.

I strongly disagree with all of these sayings. I absolutely believe you can be fearful and, at the same time, have strong faith. It happens to me all the time. I'm fearful of doing something, going somewhere, of the unknown future, of circumstances out of my control...

But I have faith... faith that if I ask my God for help, He will be along side me as I face the fear... to help and guide me; to walk right beside me as I face the challenge. I can think of Him as I go forward, of how He has protected me so many times in the past...

I once had to address the board of directors of a major company and I was extremely anxious... yes fearful...  It was a career-impacting presentation. I was told by my sponsor to bring God right in the room with me. When I entered the room, all seats were taken except the one I was to sit in... and one empty chair directly across from me. I asked God to sit in the chair and help me. I immediately felt some peace and relaxed a bit. During the presentation. I would glance over at that chair for a moment of calm... and I got it.

Presentation went well. I was told that I seemed very calm and professional.

Thanks,God, for being with me when I am fearful.

What do you believe about this issue of faith and fear? What has your experience shown you?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Recovery from Alcoholism-The pin that holds the good lives of our recovery together

....on the Road to Recovery

                                  The pin that holds our good lives of our recovery together

Heard this at a meeting the other day...Think of our sobriety as a pin that is attached to the ceiling. The ceiling represents our Higher Power and the AA Program. The pin, attached to the ceiling, represents our sobriety.  

Coming down from the pin is a series of strings that represent the good things that we have in our lives as a result of our connection with God and the Program...

Our families, our jobs, our health, our friends, our self-worth and any other positive thing in your life you can think of.

Pull the pin out of the ceiling (go back to drinking) and all of the strings (the good things we have) go crashing to the ground as we disconnect from God and the Program.

Is you pin securely fastened to the ceiling?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Recovery from Alcoholism-Was it a relapse or a pause?

....on the Road to Recovery

                                                    Was it a relapse or a pause?

Over the years, I have heard people come back to the Program and announce that they had a relapse or they may label it a "slip."  They may stay sober for a few months, or many months, and then relapse again... and again...

I don't want to judge these hurting people because who am I to say why some people "get" it the first time and others struggle and may never "get it."

However, a comment about this story of continuing relapses that really caught my attention went like this:  "Oh, that person didn't hurt enough to hit bottom; he just paused drinking until the pain passed, then went back to doing what he was doing."

What do you think about this?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Recovery from Alcoholism- "Many segments in a day's time"

....on the Road to recovery

                                           "Many Segments in a Day's Time"

When someone asks you, "How is your day going?"  how do you respond?

For me,  it's a general reaction based on how I'm feeling about the cumulative results of my day's thoughts, activities, challenges, successes,  failures, etc.

Lately. though, I have been thinking something different.

A day is a long time. Lots of things happen in a day's time. I make progress in some areas, make mistakes in others... interact well with some people, not so well with others... My defects of character emerge strongly for a period of time and fade as I take corrective action that I learned in AA. I may feel very connected with God in the a.m. and lose contact when I get angry or fearful later in the day.

I see it clearly now:  a day is a series of segments - some brief,  some longer - and what I am just beginning to see is that, when you look at a day as a series of segments, it takes away the attitude of I either had a good day or a bad one.

Instead, I can experience a whole series of smaller segments that allow me to enjoy the positive moments fully,  and, on the other hand, assess, change and move forward from negative experiences. In other words, I can start over many, many times during the day.

I guess that translates to living an hour at a time, or a segment at a time, instead of a day at a time.

Looking at a day in this way allows me to enjoy, reflect, adjust, accept and move forward,
instead of getting stuck in a singular pattern of thinking and action.

By the way, how does this relate to alcoholism?

My immediate response to this question is that I now reflect on positive things like the subject of this blog - as opposed to laying in bed, sick,  hungover, dreading the day and wondering how I will get through it with not drinking... or maybe having just one drink??? Right, sure.

How is your day of segments going?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Recovery from Alcoholism-I didn't know how to do sober

....on the road to recovery
I didn't know how to do sober

I was at a meeting one evening when a speaker told his story of recovery.  He spoke of being in a treatment center, then like so many others, he left and was out in the real world... beginning  a whole new way of life. A sober life. No alcohol or drugs to be used as coping mechanisms.

He went on to say that, after a brief few days, he had a shocking, and terrifying realization come to him:  He did not know how to do sober. 

I have heard people on many occasions explain this challenging situation that occurs early in recovery.  However, the description, I didn't know how to do sober really struck home and still does.


I had to learn how to - be a father, a husband, a brother, an employee; a person who gets angry, has hurt feelings, gets depressed, gets lonely, has a miserable day, has things happen that causes waves of fear; a person who needs to socialize at social events, who wants to enjoy sporting events, concerts, picnics and parties.

Hard for us to do all these things without the crutch of alcohol and drugs. Without numbing ourselves and missing the full experiences of life.

How are you doing "doing life sober"?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Recovery from Alcoholism- "Negotiate, compromise, communicate"

....on the Road to Recovery

                                    "Negotiate, compromise, communicate"

Relationships are difficult. For anyone, addiction issues or not.

The three words above have become a clear pathway for me to have a chance at success in a relationship. I'm in no way saying I have a command of these skills, I just have become confident that they are keys for success.

Negotiate - We learn to give and take. The "it's my way or the highway" doesn't work to well for the other party. Maybe sometimes we do something we don't want to do, just for the good of the other person. They will know we are doing it - that helps - a lot.

Compromise - Maybe we can't have all that we want, exactly the way we want it. Maybe some adjustment that makes the other person feel more comfortable is worth the sacrifice.

Communicate - I think guys especially believe that their thoughts, feelings  and wants are somehow magically transmitted to the other party,without speaking. Guys, it's not true. We need to talk for communication to work. And then, an equally difficult thing for all of us,we need to listen to the other person (not just hear them) without preparing our response while they are speaking.

Someone told me once that when his sponsor calls him, the first question he asks is "How are your relationships going?"

How are your relationships going today?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Recovery from Alcoholism- Seek God's will ...then COOPERATE!

....on the Road to Recovery

                                                 Seek God's will - then COOPERATE!

I've been practicing this lately... and the results have been clear and positive.

I had been in a spiritual slump for a few months and began praying about it. I was told by several spiritual people that maybe God is preparing me for some changes... and He was.

In my meditation, I was sensing the push to go to different meetings, try a different church, spend more time with spiritual people who are living God's will in their lives.

Now here is what I discovered. I have sensed promptings like this before... and, due to fear, lack of courage, laziness, or comfort seeking, just did not do what I sensed was God's will for me. Even to try these changes, and find they were only pointing me to some other positive change, would have been the right path.

So the 11th Step asks us to seek God's will and then have God give us the power to carry it out.

However, I need to add this: once He gives me the power to do His will, I need to COOPERATE and take the action required. (Do the footwork.) If  I only know the solution, but don't implement it in my life, then what am I saying to God?

Because of our human nature, this is a simple concept...  but not easy to implement.

Question - Have you, at times, been able to discern the will of God? When it was clear, did you do it? Results?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Recovery from Alcoholism - Clean, Sober and Free from Addiction!

....on the Road to Recovery

Greetings to my friends in recovery,

I am writing to re-introduce my revamped “blog”  Recovery from Alcoholism - Clean, Sober and Free from Addiction!  For those who are new to this term, a blog is just an on-line website where an individual can “post” thoughts, ideas, concepts, etc., and have others comment on those posts to, in essence, get the viewpoints of many on a particular subject or topic.

On this blog, we share ideas, thoughts and reflections on recovery. Then, those of you who are interested,  can respond with your comments, views, etc. The following is a link to the blog:

I realize that some of you are not familiar with blogs (I wasn't until recently), so here are some detailed instructions on how to View, Comment, and Subscribe.   Please don’t be put off by the numerous steps –  they are straightforward.  

1.      View - You can simply just visit the blog when you wish and follow the dialogue of any topic that interests you.  (Once you locate the site, you can save it in your “favorites” for later use.)
2.      Comment - You can comment on any post (those are the topics I will present on the blog) to share your thoughts, insights, reflections, etc.  (No sign-up required – an option described in #3 below.) 
·        Click on the post that you want to comment on
·        A box will appear under the words “Post a Comment”
·        Type your comment in this box
·        In the box titled “Comment As”, there is a drop-down called “Select Profile” – you can choose Anonymous or Name/URL.  For this second option, in the Name field, type whatever name you want to give (e.g., John P.).  That name will appear at the end of your comment.
·        Hit “Continue”
·        Hit “Publish”
3.      Subscribe - You can “subscribe” to the blog via email so that each time a new post is added you will be automatically notified by email.  (This is so you won’t need to check the site regularly for new content.) Note: If you choose to do this, you can easily unsubscribe anytime you want. 

Here are the instructions for subscribing (pretty easy stuff):

1.      On the Blog home page, look for “Follow by Email” in the lower right hand corner.

2.      Type in your email address.  Once you submit it, you will receive a message that says “Your request has been accepted.” You will then be sent a verification email titled “Feedburner Email Subscription” that simply asks you to click on a link in order to activate the subscription.  Once you click on the link, you will see a message that says “Email Subscription Confirmed.”   

Please note that this is a public website so anyone with internet access can follow the posts and comments.

If you know someone in recovery that you think would find this blog interesting/useful, please feel free to pass it along.

Rick H.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Recovery from Alcoholism- Restart your day-anytime!

....on the Road to Recovery

                                                 Restart your day-anytime!

For many years of my life when I started the day off in a bad mood, you could be assured the rest of the day would be miserable for me and those around me. I didn't know there was an alternative.

As years passed in my recovery journey, as promised, more was revealed. One day at a meeting someone talked about the bad day they were having. Another  member at the table offered this simple thought: "You know, you can start your day over anytime you want - like right now!"

I immediately remembered being in a bowling league and the age old idea of: if your first 5 frames are bad - just draw a line on the score sheet and start the next 5 frames like a new game. Funny the ways in which God continues to guide and teach me.

Here's my suggestion: The next time your day sets you in a bad mood- take a short pause, ask your Higher Power to help- then start the rest of the day with a new beginning. At the end of the day reflect on how that worked.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Recovery from Alcoholism- When things go smoothly

....on the Road to Recovery

                                              "When things go smoothly"

I have heard this observation made by many at meetings I have attended. It goes something like this:

"When I am doing  the will of God, as I understand Him, things just seem to go smoothly in my life. My day just seems to flow better."

Many in recovery have experienced this, including me. But what I have noticed lately is just a little more specific. My everyday day activities in reality do go more smoothly. It's not merely that I view the events more positively, that I'm more accepting of life on life's terms. The actual results of the day's activities are much better... as compared to what?

As compared to when, for whatever reason, I choose to "run the show." When I edge God out of the picture and start taking control... without His guidance that comes from staying spiritually fit.

Although I'd like to give a lot of examples of what I am describing, I can't. Maybe the difference in positive vs. negative results is that I'm more confident in my decisions, maybe I'm kinder to people and they respond better; maybe my thinking is clearer and less clouded by defects... maybe all this is part of it... and maybe the most important factor is that God is showing me that to do His will is a better way to live. For me and those around me.

 If you have experienced what I am writing about, you will understand. Have you?