When I went to my first NA meeting, I immediately felt comfortable.  That same meeting became my home group when I had 30 days clean, and it has remained my home group to this day.

The first person that welcomed me to that meeting was a man from a much different walk of life than me, and we could not have been more different by way of race, gender or age.  What I remember most about this man was that he was kind, enthusiastic about recovery and eager to see me stick and stay.  Each week as I came to this meeting, I would hear this man share his experience, strength and hope with newcomers, as well as sharing during the meeting.  When he shared, I could always relate to the place that he had gotten to before coming to Narcotics Anonymous, but I could not always relate to the circumstances of which he shared.  The details of our stories were so tremendously different, but our pain was the same.

Listening to the experience, strength and hope from both oldtimers and newcomers alike has taught me a lot about looking for the similarities, and not the differences in our stories.  I may not wear the same style of clothes, listen to the same type of music, go to the same restaurants or live in the same neighborhood as anyone else in a meeting, but I do share one thing with everyone.  We share a common bond of having experienced the horrors of addiction in our lives and in that regard we are very similar.

Over the past 9 years I have, at times, found myself wanting to be different, even if just a little, so that I could stand out.  Thankfully I learned a long time ago to share the craziness in my head with another addict.  The ladies (and gentlemen) in my support network always share a similar response to my wanting to be different.  The response?  I am not unique.  I am not different.  I am actually very similar.

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Sponsorship by Alex K.

On June 22nd, 2015, posted in: recovery by

My first sponsor and I quickly formed a friendship in recovery.  Not only did he walk me through the Steps, but he also listened to my self-centered fears and dramas that were common in my early recovery.  We would drive together most nights to meetings all over town.  Many late evenings were spent, after meetings, with me sharing my problem and my sponsor sharing about the 12 Steps.  Over my years of sponsoring others, I have tried to emulate this simple relationship that helped build my personal recovery.

When I had been sober for a year and a half, I was faced with the news that my sponsor was moving back to the Northeast and I would need to get a new sponsor.  This was one of those moments in recovery that could have gone two ways.  I could choose to not get a sponsor, but I had seen what happened to those that thought they could sponsor themselves.  These people tended to either drink again or become angry, depressed, restless souls.

Looking for a new sponsor, I felt like a newcomer again, but I was willing to do whatever it took to stay sober.  In the end, I learned that change is a part of the recovery life.  For me, it is vital that I always have a sponsor.

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At the age of 21 I found myself riding a Greyhound bus under the influence of many substances and there had never been a clearer sign that my life was crashing down around me. It was a normal day in my life at that time but my soul had emptied. I was physically ill due to the amount drugs and alcohol I had been using. I had wanted to die for some years by this point and I was consumed with hopelessness. I made a decision on that bus to get help. Since August of 2011 my life has transformed and blossomed into something I could not have dreamed of. I became active in Alcoholics Anonymous, got a sponsor and began working the steps of AA. I have had the privilege of sponsoring other women and walk them through their darkest times just as my sponsor had done for me. I recently was asked to speak at an AA meeting and as I was telling my story I was hit with a large amount of gratitude for my sobriety and all that I have been through to get me where I am today. I am forever grateful for my sobriety and all the people that have carried me through life when I had doubts. Being sober has given me amazing gifts that I cherish every day.

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I Can Make a Difference

On June 8th, 2015, posted in: recovery by

Since I was old enough to ponder it (like 20 billion human brothers and sisters before me), I have always been obsessed, disheartened and confused to my soul by the daily spectacle of pointless suffering.  I spent many a night drinking over my anger and dejection as I observed the world and its sometimes relentless workings.  I have been sober a good long time now and I still have no answer to the great “why suffering” question.  What I do know, however, is that by drinking, I am creating even more pointless, useless suffering.  When I am sober and helping another drunk, I have the chance to actually reduce that suffering, even if only by a little.  It’s still something and still worthy to do.

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I’ve come to understand that my fears are just random feelings using me for target practice.  I’ve also come to understand that my fears are usually based on thoughts that have taken residence in my head.  My mind is not always a healthy neighborhood to visit, let alone live in, and that is because my thoughts are often in control of me, rather than the other way around.  I need to remember that my mind is just another tool for me to use in my recovery, and the idea is that I use my tools, not let my tools use me.

My Higher Power has given me a lot of gifts to be used for a healthy life and to be of service.  Being clean, sober and abstinent allows me to think clearly and choose the thoughts I give power to, the thoughts that are healthy and useful, and the thoughts I put in the “discard pile.”  When I’m feeling fearful, pausing to make conscious contact and look at what I’m thinking can often decrease or eliminate my fear in that moment.  Of course, it will return because I have a very determined disease that wants me to live in fear, but I also have a Higher Power who has shown me how to deal with my fears.

Is there a tiger in a tree above me, about to pounce?  If so, the thought that I am in danger is very reasonable and fear makes sense. But when my fearful thoughts are based on anything that is in the future and there is no healthy action needed in this moment, then my fear is not useful.  So change my thought!

It helps me to imagine that I have one of two voices in my head at any given time, either the voice of my disease or the voice of my recovery.  It’s up to me to choose which to listen to and which to ignore.  I’m very grateful for the healthy mind I have been blessed with and grateful for the 12-Step program that has helped me clean it up and keep it a friendly neighborhood.

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Today is my friend Ellen’s 24th sober anniversary.  We have been friends for 22 years.  In dog years, that’s about 88.  I met Ellen when I started working at TPOT.  I had 10 years, she had 2.  I thought, what a wonderful, caring nurse.  I had just moved here from California to make some living amends to my parents and I needed to scrape up a friend quick!  Ellen and I became fast friends.  We have shared many many laughs, some sorrows in our lives, a few trips to Disney, unaccountable garage sales and even a few arguments.  But that’s what friends do; they help each other get through life sane and sober.  Ellen is a true friend.

Ellen’s sobriety has touched a lot of other people, also.  She still makes it a priority in her life to carry the message of recovery wherever she goes.  She stays sober the way most of us do:  meetings, service and spirituality.  She also carries the message of hope and recovery to every new person she meets at work.

We still talk to each other almost every day.  You would think that after 22 years we wouldn’t have much left to say to each other, but topics still seem to arise.  I am grateful for the friendship I share with Ellen.  We would not have this friendship if it hadn’t been for sobriety.  We both agree that we probably wouldn’t have been drinking buddies, so I’m glad we met in sobriety.

The best thing about having a BFF is that you have someone who understands and can be rational when you’re not.  Sometimes it’s the other way around, too!  I think we both have talked each other off the bridge occasionally.  The thing is, when you find a friend that you can share with, you keep them, no matter what.  We don’t always agree on certain topics, like Christmas, lipstick colors or shopping junkets, but we always agree that our friendship transcends all of it.  The way you have a sober friend is, you never stop caring for them, and that’s what Ellen gives me.

Congratulations, Ellen, on your 24 incredible years of recovery!



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First Thought

On May 11th, 2015, posted in: recovery by



First thought wrong

Maybe I’ll have a little.

First thought wrong,

I think I’ve figured out the riddle.

First thought wrong,

I’ll only have one shot.

First thought wrong,

It’s how I’ve gotten where I’ve got.


Eleven forty-five at night, I threw back the top;

Sixty in a thirty was enough for the cop.

He pulled right up behind me, blue lights blazing on the bar;

First thought wrong; he said, “Please step out of the car.”


First thought wrong,

And maybe second, third, and fourth.

First thought wrong,

Southbound lane, headed north.

First thought wrong,

How about one for the road?

First thought wrong,

One turned into ten, and I entered stupid mode.


I told my wife and daughter I was headed to the store,

To get some needed groceries, but I was really craving more.

With my hidden bottles empty, I panicked for a bit,

Until I reached the liquor store; it was such a perfect fit.


About a half hour later, a day or two had passed;

I was in my house alone, and my girls were in my past.

I shook my head in disbelief, and I felt a sickened ache;

My first thought wrong had caused my life to finally break.


First thought wrong,

But I didn’t want to die.

First thought wrong,

I’d have to live without the lies.

First thought wrong,

My recovery’s what I need.

First thought wrong,

My Higher Power took the lead.


I thought that I’d been living life correctly all along,

Until I hit low bottom and felt the sting of being wrong.

My hopes and dreams had gone away, my future looked so bleak;

First thought wrong was killing me slowly week by week.


Then I landed in the hospital, nearly dying of disease;

The one that wants me dead, the one that brought me to my knees.

I was told about the only way to save my life and thrive,

AA and the Twelve Steps could keep myself alive.


Work on my recovery is the only goal that matters;

All else pales as I climb out of the tatters.

With my Higher Power’s wisdom and my willingness to go,

I seek out my recovery on a path I walk so slow.


So, first thought pause,

And be mindful of potential.

First thought pause,

Your acts are always influential.

First thought pause,

To keep from making old mistakes.

First thought and pause,

Your heart may smile instead of ache.

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Gratitude by Tommy G.

On May 4th, 2015, posted in: recovery by

I was sober for 20 years when I relapsed.  After going to school to receive my CAC, I figured I knew it all and didn’t need meetings or a sponsor.  The fact that I did a geographic change made it that much easier.  I have been blessed to be back in recovery for the last 8 years.  I have learned so much more about the disease of addiction this time around, and the importance of the Steps, a Higher Power and continued treatment.  Today I am at peace, have a Higher Power that works for me and I practice the Steps on a daily basis.  I also am continuing my pursuit of my CAC.

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creative idea


Recovery has given me the chance to live an honorable, creative and useful life; to glimpse once in a while what it means and feels like to be a free man.  For that, I am grateful.

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We’ll Love You Until You Learn to Love Yourself

When I first got to residential treatment, I not only did not love myself, I actively hated myself. I remember some of the staff and peers saying this slogan to me, or some variation of it, quite often. At the time, I didn’t understand the impact it would have on my overall recovery and outlook. It took hearing this slogan over 200 times for me to begin to believe it was even possible for me to love myself again, let alone actually loving myself enough to let wonderful things happen for me. I feel my recovery depends upon and thrives because I have started to believe in self-love.

Act As If

Since my thinking is broken, I have to act my way into a healthier and better recovery and do things that I don’t think I want to do. When I don’t want to get out of bed early to make breakfast, to stay on my meal plan, I do it anyway because I have to act as if my life depends on my recovery, no matter how I feel or what I think, because it does. My disease is life or death, and if I want to stay in recovery, I have to act as if it is.

Suit Up and Show Up

This slogan helps me when my depression and urge to isolate becomes strong. When I am depressed, the last thing I want to do is get out of bed, go anywhere, or participate in life in any way, shape or form. I have learned that unless I suit up and show up to my life and for my life, my chance of sustaining my recovery diminishes. I cannot do recovery on my own, but I have to show up and do my part. No one will, or is required to, work harder within my recovery or for my recovery than I am.

It Is Not About the Food

This has been the best slogan for keeping me on my meal plan and keeping me on the right track within my recovery as a whole. I need to remind myself that it isn’t about the food, and I have to learn how to deal with the thoughts and feelings associated with why I run to food instead of people during times of discomfort and anxiety. Since recognizing that it is not about the food, I am able to eat what and how much food my body needs for nourishment and energy, despite my thoughts and feelings. This makes meal planning and meal preparation so much easier.


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