Monday, February 11, 2008

On Unity In the Recovery Community:
By Peter S. Lopez ~aka Peta

Update: Tuesday, February 11, 2008
Main Entry: com•mu•ni•ty
Pronunciation: k&-'myü-n&-tE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -ties
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: Middle English comunete, from Anglo-French communité, from Latin communitat-, communitas, from communis
1 : a unified body of individuals: as a : STATE, COMMONWEALTH b : the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself [the problems of a large community] c : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location d : a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society [a community of retired persons] e : a group linked by a common policy f : a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests [the international community] g : a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society [the academic community]
2 : society at large
3 a : joint ownership or participation [community of goods] b : common character : LIKENESS [community of interests] c : social activity : FELLOWSHIP d : a social state or condition
~ Towards A Unified Recovery Community ~

Today in these troubled times of drug addiction worldwide there is an urgent critical need for unity in the recovery community. The term ‘recovery community’ refers to all of us actively involved in working a recovery program, go to recovery meetings based upon the original A.A. 12-Steps Program and desire to live sane and sober functional lives as mature responsible adults in the world.

The same as any other community of people with common survival interests, people in the recovery community need to come together, work together and support each other in our life-or-death struggles for recovery from the affliction of drug addiction and its related evils. There is a natural power in community consciousness that can help us stay strong!

No matter what particular recovery group we claim as our ‘home group’ we should be together as one unified recovery community based upon our common suffering from the common disease of drug addiction, our desperate need for wholistic progressive recovery and our seeking a real cure from addiction. We may have specific forms of drug addiction, such as alcohol as distinct from ‘rock’ cocaine, but the negative consequences are the same: wrecked human lives, dysfunctional families and people whose existence is separated from the Divine Creator.
Psalm 25:18 ~ Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.
Drug addiction is a three-dimensional triad disease involving the mind, body and soul that impacts on the entire human being. We require a flexible wholistic method to treat our disease in all three mental, physical and spiritual realms. We must sober up and identify the basic symptoms of the primary disease of addiction, then address the related core issues and underlying problems that first caused the disease in order to overcome it, especially for the chronic relapser. At the same time, we must recognize and transform the social conditions that harvest future drug addicts and sustain the drug addict sub-culture in society. In the real world, all of us are products of historical circumstances and objective social conditions.

On a global scale worldwide, the various 12-Steps groups have come to be a new social movement in the world, that is, the progressive recovery movement. The different recovery groups should not operate as separate divided denominations as today’s scattered out churches do. We should see the common enemy of drug addiction and work together on common solutions to common problems in order to combat drug addiction in our personal lives, in our local communities and worldwide.

~ Origins of Alcoholics Anonymous ~

On June 10th, 1935 in Akron, Ohio, A.A. was started when Dr. Bob Smith had his last drink of alcohol. Its two co-founders were Bill Wilson, a former inside stock trader, and Dr. Bob, a medical proctologist. The spiritual principles of A.A. came from the Holy Bible of wisdom and a few other key sources. The concept of a ‘spiritual awakening’ or spiritual conversion to transform the alcohol addict came from the Holy Bible, the great Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and the founder of modern American psychology, William James, in his book Varieties of Religious Experience. By 1937, A.A. had a total of forty recovered alcoholics with continued sobriety. In 1938, the Twelve Steps on which the A.A. Program is based were established. In 1939, the book Alcoholics Anonymous was published. Today there are an estimated 2 million plus A.A. Members in over a hundred thousand groups. A.A. has grown, expanded and inspired the creation of other 12-Steps Groups worldwide.

According to Bill Wilson, the basic ideas upon which the twelve-steps were built came from the teachings of the Oxford Group, a Christian Evangelical movement that flourished in the 1920's and early 30's, led by a one-time Lutheran minister Dr. Frank Buchman; Dr. William D. Silkworth of Towns Hospital who worked with thousands of alcoholics in his lifetime and the famed psychologist William James. Early A.A. Members gained new knowledge from the direct experience working their program and helping other alcoholics get involved in recovery from alcoholism practicing the spiritual principles of the 12-Steps Program.

~ Founding of Narcotics Anonymous ~

On February 16, 1947, at Lexington Federal Prison in Lexington, Kentucky, a group of drug addicts got together as a part of the treatment center that called itself NARCO or Addicts Anonymous. It was based on the A.A. 12-Steps Program was founded by a man named Houston Sewell. Also in 1947, a chronic relapser from New York City named Dan Carlson came to Lexington and started attending the NARCO groups. He spent his six-month stay there and then went back to New York City. There he hooked-up with Major Dorothy Barry of the Salvation Army who had been a moving force in the development of what later became Narcotics Anonymous today. She was committed to helping poor street people, especially addicts. Then in 1948, one of the graduates from the NARCO program moved to New York City and started a similar group in the New York Prison System. This was the first group to be called "Narcotics Anonymous", but it did not last long, and dissolved soon after it was founded.

On August 17, 1953, Narcotics Anonymous was officially started and co-founded by Jimmy Kinnon. N.A. Meetings first emerged in the Los Angeles area in the early Fifties. It formed a mutually supporting fellowship or network of groups. That summer, founding members, most of whom had found recovery in A.A., debated the by-laws of the new organization. On September 14, they received notice from the leadership of A.A. that they could use the A.A. steps and traditions, but not the A.A. name. The organization then officially changed its name to Narcotics Anonymous. In 2007, there were over 25,065 groups holding over 43,900 weekly meetings in 127 countries.

~ Fire Up of Cocaine Anonymous ~

In 1982, Cocaine Anonymous began in Los Angeles and has since expanded throughout the United States and Canada, with groups now forming in Europe. Its literature is available in English, French, and Spanish. Its first book “Hope, Faith and Courage: Stories from the Fellowship of Cocaine Anonymous” was published in 1994. As of 1996, it had an estimated membership of 30,000 members in over 2,000 groups.

~ Emergence of Dual Recovery Anonymous ~

In 1989 in Kansas City, Dual Recovery Anonymous (DRA) formed out of a vision for both dual recovery and a fellowship to carry the message. The first DRA meeting was held in a church setting, the second meeting in a mental health facility. The goal was to develop a self-help program for dual recovery based on the principles of the Twelve Steps, the personal experience of dual recovery and principles of personal freedom and choice. New DRA Groups are having meetings in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and India. Also, there has been a steady increase in requests for start up materials from people in many states and countries that include Mexico, Philippines, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Spain, and the Slovak Republic.

“Dual Recovery Anonymous defines ‘dual diagnosis’ as meaning that an individual has two separate but very interrelated diagnoses:

~ A psychiatric diagnosis
~ A substance abuse diagnosis which may include both drugs and alcohol

A dual diagnosis occurs when an individual is affected by both chemical dependency and an emotional or psychiatric illness. Both illnesses may affect an individual physically, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. Each illness has symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to function effectively and relate to themselves and others. Not only is the individual affected by two separate illnesses, both illnesses interact with one another. The illnesses may exacerbate each other and each disorder predisposes to relapse in the other disease. At times the symptoms can overlap and even mask each other making diagnosis and treatment more difficult.”

Based upon the original A.A. model, we see that there are many kinds of 12-Steps Groups holding daily meetings worldwide and different approaches to recovery from addiction in general. Whatever works, works. There is no one perfect model, but continued progress and a real cure is possible for those honestly working a strong recovery program.

~ Drug Addiction Is A Complex Illness ~

By definition, a drug addict suffers from a psycho-social-spiritual illness, a real life-threatening triad disease that attacks the human being as an entity existing in a mind-body-soul trinity. It is far more complex than mere chemical dependency or substance addiction. Take the chemical out of the equation and you still have a craving addict.

Drug addiction strikes deep into the souls of our times and impacts the whole world. What other disease impacts on one’s whole universe, destroys entire communities, wipes out families and causes criminal crime sprees wherever it runs riot? It is not merely a personal problem to be fixed behind closed doors open only to group members; it is a worldwide plague without borders. It all gets even worse when we take into account the negative effects of the widespread addiction to pharmaceutical medications that often treats the surface symptoms, but fails to dig out the real root reasons for drug addiction. It cannot be cured in sterile intellectual isolation from other social problems, such as, the urgent medical need for universal health care for all regardless of income in order to treat our many ailments, illnesses and diseases. We recovering addicts must all be cured from this modern plague.

Drug addiction is a sick sign of our times today and clearly reflects oppressive social conditions. It points to the need for outside intervention to help us deal with the basic causes of drug addiction, not drug wars on drug addicts and more prisons for those in mere possession of drugs. We need relevant drug treatment programs for addicts who sincerely seek treatment and have a desire to get well.

Drug buyers reflect the ancient law of supply and demand in operation. The people of the United States are the main demanders of drugs, both legal and illegal, worldwide. American citizens are the main buyers of opium, including medicinal opium, such as morphine or codeine, yet Afghanistan accounts for 87% of global opium production, according to the U.N. and the U.S. appetite for more drugs is never satisfied.

When most people are in physical pain the first thing they do is reach for a pain pill, whether prescribed for them or not, to help relieve the pain and soothe their suffering. Whenever someone has had a rough work day, a bad argument with spouse or a terrible time for whatever reason they want to have a stiff drink or quick fix. Whenever someone wants to get away from it all and escape from their troubles they go to the local pub or dope house. Why are so many people trying to escape from that in which there is no real escape outside of facing life as it comes one day at a time with all its ups and downs, ins and outs and good and bad times?

Once again, it is the social conditions in our immediate environment that drives us to drink or indulge in drugs to the level of indulging in a deadly addiction. It is these social conditions that must be changed, confronted and transformed, not doing permanent brain damage to ourselves because of environmental social conditions and our incapacity to cope with and change those conditions. We must have the courage to change the things we can!

Nowadays, beyond the regular 12-Steps Program there are many other ways to help us heal, such as, using all the tools and techniques of wholistic healing, taken advantage of new advances in modern science and the powerful weapons of spiritual warfare, including sincere prayer, deep meditation, loving ourselves and helping others.

~ New Ground Rules for Recovery Meetings ~

At our recovery meetings we should be free to openly discuss any and all issues related to our drug addiction without being limited to discussing only one substance or another. For example, the same as any drug addict, the alcoholic is a drug addict addicted to alcohol. His chemical dependency takes the form of alcohol addiction, a liquid drug. The alcoholic should not feel superior to the heroin addict simply because alcohol is legal and the elapsed time before its long-term negative effects become obvious takes longer. A drug is a drug and a drug addict is a drug addict. Sickness is sickness and should be treated and cured.

Recovery meetings are special times when we openly share our ‘experience, strength and hope’ with other people with whom we share the same disease, even though some are complete strangers to us. The sharing of deep subjects can be uncomfortable and embarrassing for us, but we are as sick as our dark secrets. We need to keep our meetings wide open for discussion about all addictions and understand the concept of cross addiction. How dare we stop anyone from speaking about their drug of choice from any fellowship? As humane beings, we are responsible and obligated to help anyone who comes to us for help, support and understanding.

Many of us have broken central commandments, committed real crimes and have sins upon our souls that we can help release through public confession in our testimonies without fear of gossip, ridicule or condemnation once we have repented before God.
Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who walk in the flesh after the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”
~ Addiction and Cross-Addiction ~

We need to comprehend the complexity of our disease, heal ourselves by working on our own personal recovery program without automatically doing somebody else’s inventory and help heal others with humane compassion without forgetting our own personal needs. It is a delicate moving balance based upon humane principles and daily practices. We must walk the talk to be true to ourselves and not be phony hypocrites.

Many who come to our recovery meetings have a number of related drug issues. Often one is addicted to two or more drugs besides one’s original drug of choice. Nowadays it is rare for someone to be only addicted to one drug. Some believe they suffer from an addictive personality in general. Others believe they are genetically prone towards addictions. Some people may ‘kick the habit’ then become fanatical Christians, become rabid politicos, get involved in an obscure cult, or become workaholics ignoring the rest of the world.

Behind all negative addictions there is a strong drive towards obsessive-impulsive-compulsive behavior and that is a real mental-social-spiritual illness. One never knows when to just stop, to be still, silent and rest at peace in harmony with God. One who is an addict with an addict mentality is never in a state of inner peace and true spiritual serenity.
John 14:27 ~ Peace I leave with you, my own peace I give you: not as the world gives, I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.
The vicious circle of addiction is triggered by a complex chemical chain reaction that keeps us enslaved by the craving brain. The chemical addiction of the addictive mind is further aggravated by cross-addiction.

“The cycle of addiction for all types of drugs - heroin, cocaine, crack, amphetamines, barbiturates, alcohol and cannabis/marijuana is essentially the same and based upon nature and nurture. This comprises three features

1) chemical dependency;
2) learned behaviours and habits;
3) denial of both need and habit.

Although there are important differences in the features of addiction to cocaine, heroin, amphetamine or alcohol, these features are basically differences of form and not one of essence. Furthermore, these difference become less relevant where people are cross-addicted to one or more substances.”

Despite differences of outward form the essence of addiction is the same: a self-destructive way of being, a closed mind-set, a bad habit and a harmful behavior pattern locked into a continuum that we continue to do despite all negative consequences until disaster strikes or death hits us.

“The truth is many drug addicts suffer from multiple addictions and cross addiction. Many alcoholics/addicts who go into recovery, never actually do. They simply swap one drug of dependence for another. An example would be someone who gives up alcohol and then is using valium long term for their "nerves". The "nerves" are actually protracted withdrawals, their bodies are never given a chance to actually start recovering. This is called cross-addiction. These drugs are usually prescribed to addicts in the first twelve months of recovery. Way too soon in most cases. The brain doesn't seem to differentiate between drugs.”

We must embark on pathways of progressive recovery from all negative addictions and ways of being that slow or retard our humane development as humane beings in order to win liberty from our old evil ways and work on new fresh positive ways of living with a new humane consciousness of ourselves that nurtures love, growth and creativity.

~ Towards Becoming Cosmic Citizens ~

Recall: sobriety is always the essential starting point, recovery is a long-term healing process and our primary purpose is liberty with a new identity.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19 ~ Whoever from now on is a follower of Christ is a new creation; old things have passed away; And all things have become new through God who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ and have given to us the ministry of reconciliation; For God was in Christ, who has reconciled the world with his majesty, not counting their sings against them; and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
We need to advance in our continued recovery, spiritual growth and win liberty from the evil ways of drug addiction in order to reconcile ourselves with the real world.

Drug addiction separates us from the cosmos, the Creator and doing the Creator’s will. As citizens of the cosmos and creatures of the Creator we should honor and cherish Mother Earth, respect our natural environment that feeds us daily and see ourselves as important members of the whole business of life. Deep down inside we are all connected up and need each other. No one exists apart alone from everyone else. We all need to investigate matters with an open mind, participate in making democracy work by being involved with our local communities and come to fully understand that we are the ones who create our own connected reality.

Do we want to be creative and bold dynamic humane beings who work on our progressive recovery together as a unified community or do we want to remain insecure lonely drug addicts? Ultimately, the choice is now yours of your own free will while you are alive, but circumstances in life will force you to choose between here now and an untimely death. Choose life!



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