All about A.A. and N.A.

About A.A. and N.A.

By David Joel Miller.

AA big book

Alcoholics Anonymous big book.

Questions about 12 step meetings?

There have been a lot of counselorssoapbox.com posts about 12 step meetings, A.A. in particular.

As a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I work with a lot of people who have substance use issues and mental health issues. We refer to people with both problems as having a “Dual Diagnosis” or more recently as having “Co-occurring disorders.”

People with substance use problems are encouraged to attend 12 step meetings. I wish there were more meetings and support groups for people with mental health issues and dual diagnoses issues.

Mostly, people with multiple problems end up attending 12 step groups. To try to help them feel more comfortable, I have written a number of posts about what they should expect at a meeting. To make these posts easier to find I decided that I should list them all in one place.

Here then are the posts about 12 step groups. If I missed any feel free to remind me and if you have other questions about how A.A. or other 12 step groups work feel free to contact me.

What will you have to do if you go to an A.A. meeting?

What is an Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) meeting like?

Is A.A. a religious group?

How do you become a member of A.A.?

What does carrying a court card mean?

What goes on at an A. A. meeting?

What is hitting bottom?

The posts I write about A.A. are from my perspective as a therapist and clinical counselor and do not necessarily reflect the views of A.A. World Services. For more on A.A. and their program of recovery check out the “A.A. Big Book” titled Alcoholics Anonymous at the links below or contact A.A. World Services at their website.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

The classic text on Alcoholism, recovery this is the book that started off the whole 12 step phenomenon.

Alcoholics Anonymous from The Anonymous Press

One of the Kindle editions – At 99 cents this is such a bargain. This edition needed a separate listing. No Kindle reader? No Problem, if you have a computer you can download a free Kindle reader.

http://www.aa.org

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

What will you have to do if you go to an A.A. meeting?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

AA big book

Alcoholics Anonymous big book.

A. A. etiquette, Does and Don’ts.

You need to go to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, maybe you have decided you have a drinking problem, or maybe the judge or probation has told you that you will have to attend a certain number of meetings. Most rehab programs will require meeting attendance also.

What should you expect the first time you go? What will they ask you to do and say? What should you not do? Are they going to grill you about your private business?

When I teach Substance abuse counseling I encourage students who are not regular attendees of A. A. meetings to go to a meeting and have that experience of walking through the door the first time.

Here are some of the things that you might experience that first time at A. A.

For this description, I will assume that you have checked a schedule and are attending an “open” meeting so you will not be asked to qualify as an Alcoholic. I will describe a “typical” meeting, though things may happen differently in various areas and meetings are free to set up their own procedures as long as those procedures do not violate the 12 steps or the 12 traditions.

A. A. Members practice a policy called Anonymity. This is different from what counselors observe when we say most things we talk about in counseling are “confidential.”

When you introduce yourself, in order to protect your “anonymity” you will introduce yourself as let’s say “Mark A.” You are not expected to use your last name. You could use a middle name, an alias, or any name you chose. No one is going to check your I. D.

Just remember if you introduce yourself by an alias or a nickname that it will be embarrassing later when you know these people to have to say – oh and by the way my name is really Bob.

There may be a sign-in sheet that goes around. This is to help the secretary or meeting chair know who to call on. These sheets are not kept and are not used to prove you were there. They are destroyed after the meeting is over. You do not need to sign in if you chose not to.

If you have a “court card” or another document that you need to be signed to prove you are there get there before the meeting starts and give that paper to the person conduction the meeting. This person is customarily called the “secretary.

I will talk more about court cards in an upcoming post.

If this is a book study people will take turns reading. They may go around the table or the Secretary may call for volunteers or may call on people. If you do not feel like reading it is fine to just tell them you pass.

During the discussion part of the meeting or if this is an all discussion meeting, then anytime, you may get called on. Either by the name you signed in with or by something abstract like – “how about the man in the blue shirt over there, would you like to share?”

If you do not want to share it is perfectly permissible to say something to the effect of “I just want to listen.” At that point, the secretary or chairman will move on to someone else.

You will never be required to talk or answer questions, though some members may be interested in you and at breaks, before or after the meeting, they will come up to you and introduce themselves. At that point, they may ask you a question about yourself as a way of starting a conversation.

It is acceptable to just say you wanted to see what happens at an A. A. meeting or to ask the person who introduced themselves to tell you about their experiences in A. A.

At some point in the meeting, they will practice the “seventh tradition.”

This means that they will pass a basket and people put in what they can. If you are a member (want to stop drinking) put something in if you can.

A. A. does not accept money from outside sources so the money put in the basket pays for the room and the coffee. If there is food, someone bought it and donated it.

If you decide to share, talk about your problems with alcohol and staying sober. If you have other problems or issues, you may mention them in passing but stick to the topic which is mostly staying sober.

A. A. members understand that the people who come to meetings may well have many problems. There are now over 200 twelve-step groups patterned after A. A. Not all of those groups have meetings all over all the time the way A. A. does, so people may turn up at an A. A. meeting who do not think they have a problem with alcohol.

Most of those people who come in thinking that their main problem is something other than alcohol say depression or anxiety, may be surprised as they listen to learn how much their alcohol consumption is impacting those other problems.

Beyond those simple things, sit back and listen. Hang around after the meeting and talk to the people who are there. You just might make some new clean and sober friends and discover that going to meetings is something you enjoy doing rather than something forced on you by the court or a rehab program.

Next time let’s talk about “Carrying a Court card.”

The posts I write about AA are from my perspective as a therapist and clinical counselor and do not necessarily reflect the views of AA World Services. For more on AA and their program of recovery check out the “AA Big Book” titled Alcoholics Anonymous at the links below or contact AA World Services at their website.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

The classic text on Alcoholism, recovery this is the book that started off the whole 12 step phenomenon.

Alcoholics Anonymous from The Anonymous Press

One of the Kindle editions – At 99 cents this is such a bargain. This edition needed a separate listing. No Kindle reader? No Problem, if you have a computer you can download a free Kindle reader.

http://www.aa.org

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

What goes on at an A. A. meeting?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

AA big book

Alcoholics Anonymous big book.

What happens at an A. A. Meeting?

Last time, about a week ago I talked about the various kinds of A. A. meetings. The actual activates taking place could vary depending on whether this is a speaker meeting or a book study, still, every meeting will have a lot of similarities. If you are expecting to, or are expected to attend some other 12 step group, translate the rest of this as needed.

I refer a lot of clients to A. A. and I believe they need to know what to expect. Here are some of the things they need to be aware of in my area. Things may be slightly different in your town, but not very different.

Every sandwich comes on bread and probably has a spread on it, but the meat may be different, so may the garnish. Think of A. A. meetings in that manner. Various meetings will be slightly different so just some basic similarities first.

There are certain things that I can very much assure you will not happen at a meeting. This is not a networking group. Though you may make friends as time passes. There should be no political or commercial pitches. You will not be asked or required to sign up for anything or to contribute any amount of money. They will pass the hat or basket but putting something in it is up to you.

No pressure or requirement to do much of anything except listen if that is what you chose to do. They also ask that you stay on topic.

What is the topic at an A. A. meeting? – Not drinking.

The meeting will be called to order by the secretary or chairman. The Secretary usually serves for a period of time, say 6 months more or less. That person also will customarily have been sober for a period of time. Each group sets its own rules. If lots of people want to be secretary then the suggested sober period gets longer.

There may be a chairperson that changes from, week to week; less sobriety is required to chair a meeting than to be the secretary.

They may have passed around a sign-in sheet first, or they may pass it around now. As I mentioned before people sign in by first name last initial only (that confidentiality thing) and you do not have to sign in if you chose not to. No one keeps these sign-in sheets, not that I know of, so there is no way to prove you were there unless you get something signed at the time of the meeting.

The meeting will likely start with a moment of silence and the recitation of the “serenity prayer.” Many groups will have the serenity prayer, the twelve steps, and the twelve traditions as well as some sayings, posted on the wall.

There may also be a picture of three men and a bed. This refers to the very first meeting where two sober members went to visit a man in the hospital. The idea of A. A. all started with the understanding that to stay sober you need to get out of self and start doing for others. (They refer to that ideal as the 12th step.)

Court cards are an “outside issue.” A. A. does not get paid for this; they do it as a courtesy. If you ask the secretary for a signature to prove you were there, be nice about it. Get there on time, put your card in the basket, or ask the person upfront where it goes and stays until the end to get your card back.

Meetings often start with some readings, the Secretary may hand out some things to read or they may read from a page in the book. You do not have to read if you do not want to.

Once the meeting starts they will follow the format for that particular meeting. They may take turns reading and sharing or they may just share.

The 7th Tradition.

At some time during the meeting, they will pause to “practice the 7th tradition.” This means they will pass the basket. People who are members put in what they can. If you are not a member you are not expected to contribute.

You are a member if you have a desire to stop drinking. You do not have to say you are an alcoholic, though most people do because they define their problems as alcoholism. You do not go to Cancer treatment place for diabetes and presumably, no one goes of their own free will to an A. A. meeting if they do not have a problem with alcohol.

If you are there for some other reason, make sure you are attending an open meeting (most are) and confine what you share about to your problems related to alcohol. If you are a student required to attend or do not have a problem related to alcohol you simply tell them that you would like to listen.

At the end many meetings, but not all, they will hold hands and recite a prayer. Often this is called the “Lord’s Prayer, or Our Father.”

This is usually announced as “we will say this prayer for those who care to join us.” If this is not part of your religious or spiritual tradition you are not obligated to say the prayer. If you have problems with the hand holding thing – do not do it.

The best part of most meetings is the meetings before and after the meeting. This is the time when members and visitors sit around or stand outside and talk. This conversation is often accompanied by drinking coffee or smoking. Many meetings, but not all, have gone nonsmoking. Check the schedule or ask about this if this is a concern for you.

Aside from your own fears or embarrassments, attending or visiting a meeting is a pretty easy thing to do. You will find most people there willing to talk with you and shake your hand whether you think you are an alcoholic or not. They are likely to welcome you as long as you are not trying to sell them something or change them in some way.

Go with the flow and you will be surprised how enjoyable attending meetings can be and how much you will be welcomed and accepted.

Many people tell me that A. A. was the first place in their life they were accepted for themselves and not because they were drinking or paid for that acceptance.

The posts I write about AA are from my perspective as a therapist and clinical counselor and do not necessarily reflect the views of AA World Services. For more on AA and their program of recovery check out the “AA Big Book” titled Alcoholics Anonymous at the links below or contact AA World Services at their website.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

The classic text on Alcoholism recovery, this is the book that started off the whole 12 step phenomenon.

Alcoholics Anonymous from The Anonymous Press

One of the Kindle editions – At 99 cents this is such a bargain. This edition needed a separate listing. No Kindle reader? No Problem, if you have a computer you can download a free Kindle reader. For more information on A.A.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

What is an Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) meeting like?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

AA big book

Alcoholics Anonymous big book.

What happens at an A. A. Meeting?

This should be an easy question. It’s not. Let me explain what an A. A. meeting is and how very different these meetings can be.

While most people think of Alcoholics Anonymous as meetings you go to, it all started with a book titled aptly enough “Alcoholics Anonymous.” Back then there were few A. A. meetings. Most people learned about Alcoholics Anonymous from buying and reading the book.

Reading the book “Alcoholics Anonymous.”

I continue to recommend that people read the book whether or not they elect to attend meetings.

Over time more and more meetings have sprung up, mostly meetings of people who had read the book and wanted to learn more or get help in participating in the A. A. program of recovery.

With all these groups starting up, they each had to develop their own set of rules. There got to be so many rules that at one point Bill W. one of the two co-founders, said if they followed all those rules, even he could not be a member. The result was that each group or meeting could figure out their own way of doing things as long as their rules did not conflict with the 12 Steps and the Twelve Traditions.

Today there are a whole lot of very different A. A. meetings. Most groups have their meeting times listed and included in schedules and you can find those schedules online or in print form.

Meetings can be categorized by what the program for a meeting will be, who is able to attend, where the meeting is held, and so on. There are also designations for rules for particular meetings.

Types of A. A. meetings.

They can also be categorized by what is on the program at that particular meeting. First the rule types and then the program types.

Smoking and non-smoking meetings.

In the old days, most meetings were smoking allowed. Back then you could tell a good meeting by the full ashtrays. Nowadays more meetings are non-smoking. They may be held in a place that does not allow smoking or the members may have decided to make their meeting a non-smoking one.

Open and closed meetings

There used to be more prejudice about people admitting they had a drinking problem, let alone saying they were alcoholics, so some meetings became closed meetings, meaning that they asked that only alcoholics attend those meetings.

The majority of meetings, especially the large ones, are open meetings that anyone who wants to go can attend. They do ask that if you share, you only talk about alcohol problems and your recovery from alcoholism. Sorry, no commercial pitches or religious and political solicitations are part of this program.

Men’s only or Women’s only meetings

I recommend to female clients that whenever possible they attend a few women’s only meetings. The point of meetings is to work on your recovery not to find a new partner.

Meetings and fellowships

Meetings customarily meet once per week at a particular time and place. They may use any room available; say a church meeting hall, a room at a school, or business. The meeting rents the room from the place and then has its own meeting. The A. A. group may meet at say the Methodist church on Friday night, but it is an A.A. meeting, not a Methodist meeting, so any faith, or those with no faith, are welcome to attend.

A fellowship is a group of meetings that goes in together and rents a room so that there are primarily A. A. meetings in that place. A fellowship might have a morning meeting each day, a noon meeting each day, and one or more evening meetings each day all in the same place.

Go to a fellowship for a few weeks and you will develop a group of clean and sober friends. I encourage clients to try out a fellowship as soon as possible. I also encourage them to try a number of meetings until they find the one that is right for them.

Different A. A. meetings will have different formats.

Speaker meetings

At a speaker meeting, one or a couple of people will get up and talk about their experiences in recovery.

Book studies

At a book study, a portion of the book is read and they people discuss what this means and how they might apply it to their recovery. Books would include the A. A. Big Book, 12 and 12; As Bill sees it, and so on. These meetings do not include reading from any religious books like the Bible or the Koran as that would make the meeting a religious meeting not an A. A. meeting.

Open participation meetings

At this meeting members, (remember you are a member if you decide you want to stop drinking) are encouraged to talk about what is on their mind as it applies to drinking, not drinking, and their recovery from alcoholism.

Meetings, by the way, are not therapy sessions. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference but the focus of the meeting should be on your problems with alcohol and your efforts to not drink.

The Big Book suggests that people share “in a general way,” what they used to be like, what happened and what they are like now.

So there you have the types of meetings that you might choose to attend, but what will actually happen if you chose to go to an A. A. meeting? If you need to or want to attend a meeting, consider which meeting type you might like to attend or try out several and see what is best for you.

In a future post, I want to describe what the experience of attending an A. A. meeting might be like.

The posts I write about AA are from my perspective as a therapist and clinical counselor and do not necessarily reflect the views of A.A. World Services. For more on A.A. and their program of recovery check out the “A.A. Big Book” titled Alcoholics Anonymous at the links below or contact AA World Services at their website.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

The classic text on Alcoholism, recovery this is the book that started off the whole 12 step phenomenon.

Alcoholics Anonymous from The Anonymous Press

One of the Kindle editions – At 99 cents this is such a bargain. This edition needed a separate listing. No Kindle reader? No Problem, if you have a computer you can download a free Kindle reader.

http://www.aa.org

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

How do you become a member of A.A.?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

AA big book

Alcoholics Anonymous big book.

Is A.A. membership expensive?

What do you have to do to get accepted into membership?

A.A. is one of the more unusual organizations when it comes to becoming a member.

They do not charge a membership fee. There are no monthly or annual dues to pay. They do pass a basket and the money people donate is used to defray the expenses. No one is ever pressured to put something in the basket.

Unlike other groups who have frequent solicitations for funds, A.A. asks that only members contribute. Members are never required to contribute, but most give something, even if it is just the small change in their pockets.

There are no creeds to agree to. No catechisms to learn or memorize. They do read some things, but only those who want to read. There are no membership committees and no application forms to fill out.

You do not even need to be an alcoholic or agree to take the twelve steps to become a member. The twelve steps in A.A. are, like most everything else in the program, “suggestions” not requirements.

You do not need to agree to believe in a particular religion or worship any particular deity. In fact, you do not even need to believe in a God to be a member.

There is in fact only one requirement for membership in A.A.

“The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”

If you can honestly say that you want to stop drinking, then you have qualified for membership.

Having become a member there is a suggestion that you get a book and read it, come to some meetings and find a sponsor to help you work your steps. None of those things are however requirements, they are suggestions.

Essentially, you are a member if you say you are a member.

With membership does come some duties. You, as a new member, will be asked to respect other member’s anonymity. You will also be asked to refrain from making public statements on behalf of A.A. Beyond that not much will be asked of you unless you chose to participate in your recovery.

All in all, A.A. is an easy group to join. So ask yourself “Do I want to stop drinking?” If so, head for a meeting because you have already qualified to become a member whether you knew it or not.

The posts I write about A.A. are from my perspective as a therapist and clinical counselor and do not necessarily reflect the views of A.A. World Services or A.A. members. For more on A.A. and their program of recovery check out the “A.A. Big Book” titled Alcoholics Anonymous at the links below or contact A.A. World Services at their website.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

The classic text on Alcoholism recovery this is the book that started off the whole 12-step phenomenon.

Alcoholics Anonymous from The Anonymous Press

One of the Kindle editions – At 99 cents this is such a bargain. This edition needed a separate listing. No Kindle reader? No Problem, if you have a computer you can download a free Kindle reader.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

Sobriety

Serene

Serene and Sober.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Encarta Dictionary tells us Sobriety is:

Abstinence from or moderation in the use of alcohol or drugs

The quality of being serious and thoughtful

“Your best days are ahead of you. The movie starts when the guy gets sober and puts his life back together; it doesn’t end there.”
― Bucky SinisterGet Up: A 12-Step Guide to Recovery for Misfits, Freaks, and Weirdos

“We have learned that the satisfaction of instincts cannot be the sole aim of our lives.”
― Alcoholics AnonymousTwelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

“achieving true sobriety goes beyond abstinence. it’s also about healing your soul, apologizing for damage you did to other, and seeking forgiveness.”
― Lou GrammJuke Box Hero: My Five Decades in Rock ‘n’ Roll

Quotes from GoodReads

Are you sober today?

Why AA? Reasons therapists recommend you go to AA.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

AA big book

Alcoholics Anonymous big book.

Why do professionals send you to A.A?

Therapists and Counselors treat people with all sorts of serious and persistent mental illnesses so why do they recommend that clients with a drinking problem attend AA meetings?

It turns out that attending meetings provides a lot of benefits that a single therapy session each week can’t provide. In substance abuse treatment programs the standard treatment, after you are over the most immediate problems connected to your drinking or drugging, consists of recommending that clients attend twelve-step meetings.

Here are some of the reasons why professionals recommend A.A.

The 12 steps include a focused system of change.

Embedded in the “working” of steps are the elements of problem identification, change steps, and a program of maintenance. While a therapist may help you work on one problem, depression, or anxiety, the steps are a way of changing your thinking about life and all your problems.

Some people’s only problem is drinking too much, they just quit and are fine. Many others find that once they stop, all the problems they had before they drank are back in force. It takes more than putting the bottle down to stay sober.

Attending meetings helps creates a new set of friends that are clean and sober.

One critical issue in recovery is relapse triggers; hanging out with your old drinking or drugging friends results in a high risk of relapse. Finding friends that do not drink and use requires a change. The more sober friends you make the more support you will have in staying sober.

Seeing others who have changed is very encouraging.

When your therapist tells you that people can change and do recover, you may say yes some people do, but what about me? When you attend meetings and hear the stories of those who have turned their lives around it becomes easy to believe you can do this, especially with the help of people who have themselves recovered.

The longer you stay connected to therapeutic recovery the better the chances.

Continuing to stay in treatment for up to two years has been shown to create better results. Most therapy programs will not cover or include two years of aftercare. A.A. while not professional treatment is a free or very low-cost way to continue to have “booster shots” of recovery for as long as you need them.

Sometimes when I work with mental health clients, I find myself wishing this client had a drinking problem also, and then I could give them a referral to A.A.

There is a serious shortage of self-help, peer recovery groups for those with mental health issues. The few that do exist are often modeled after the 12 step system.

Therapists and counselors do not customarily work the steps with clients. That is something we encourage them to do at the 12 step meeting. What we should do is a process called 12 step facilitation, in which we explain A.A. or other self-help groups, how they work, what the steps are, and encourage people to participate in the meetings.

The posts I write about A.A. or other self-help groups are from my perspective as a therapist and clinical counselor and do not necessarily reflect the views of AA World Services. For more on AA and their program of recovery check out the “AA Big Book” titled Alcoholics Anonymous at the links below or contact AA World Services at their website.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

The classic text on Alcoholism, recovery this is the book that started off the whole 12 step phenomenon.

Alcoholics Anonymous from The Anonymous Press

One of the Kindle editions – At 99 cents this is such a bargain. This edition needed a separate listing. No Kindle reader? No Problem, if you have a computer you can download a free Kindle reader.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

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7 recovery tools you need

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Tools.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

You need all your recovery tools.

Each activity calls for its own special set of tools.  Most men have a bunch of tools in the garage, carpenters and mechanics have humongous collections of tools. Cooks, good ones, and otherwise, all seem to have a variety of tools at their disposal.

Why then do recovering people think they can get by with one or very few tools?

Some counseling or medication may get your depression, anxiety, or addictive behavior under control but what will you use to prevent a return of your symptoms?

Some people can get away from substances, alcohol, or drugs, by just quitting. Unfortunately, they often find they are dry but not really recovered. We call that being a dry drunk.

Some people function in spite of their anxiety or depression. They will themselves forward until that stops working.

Others think that given a sudden religious experience they are now cured and will not need to work on their recovery anymore. I am not discounting religious or spiritual experiences as a source of recovery, but anyone with a successful recovery is apt to tell you that embedded in their religious or spiritual practice are some other recovery tools.

Here are some of the recovery tools you might consider including in your recovery toolbox.

Support system – Family and friends.

Peers in a recovery program, fellow church members, and friend’s relatives, all can be important parts of a recovering person’s support system. You need more than one kind of support to make this work.

The key is to find people who are positive support system members.

Members of a recovering person’s support system need to be encouraging, see the best in the recovering person. They also need to understand that it is the recovering person’s journey, not theirs.

Honest, support system people, there is nothing you can do to make someone use drugs or drink. Stop walking on eggshells. There is also nothing you can do to keep them clean, sober, or happy. You can encourage but the journey is theirs.

What you can do is be there for them. Expect there to be struggles and take good care of you. Letting the recovering person get away with things is not the same as being supportive.

Peer support groups and sponsors help.

Peer groups, especially 12 step groups have a long history of being helpful in maintaining recovery.

Consumer groups, while harder to find, can be very effective as a form of support.

Having a sponsor can also be extremely helpful. Sponsorship the way it is practiced in many 12 step groups is a whole lot less mysterious than many outside the groups make it sound.

You find someone who has recovered by completing a process of recovery and you get them to spend some time with you telling you how they did it. In twelve-step groups the process they use is the 12 Steps, so you want a sponsor who has actually “worked” the steps.

Other supports – Pets and Professionals.

Why did I put pets and professionals together? Should you see a counselor or get a dog? Or a cat? I am hoping you try both.

Both these groups give you something called “unconditional positive regard.” Meaning they should be in your corner no matter what, liking you as a person even when they want you to change.

With pets, we call this unconditional love. The dog comes over and licks you no matter how you are doing. They will, however, want you to get up and play even when you are depressed.

Guess what, playing with that dog, taking them for a walk will help your depression. And it may also take your mind off those cravings.

Counseling is a recovery tool.

Both group and individual counseling can be very effective. Group because you can hear how others are going through the same things. The verdict on online groups is still out, I suspect that as a part of your recovery tools they could be helpful. Just make sure you don’t try to do any heavy cutting with a hammer or a spoon.

Medication can be very helpful.

Mostly medication is useful for mental health issues. So far we have not found a drug that makes you clean and sober. Some are used to help reduce or manage the cravings. Lots of people stop using street drugs and then discover that they have severe anxiety or depression. They just never noticed this while getting high. For these folks, some psych meds, correctly used can be helpful.

Some people tell me medication has saved their life. Once the doctor found the right meds they began to have a good life.

Others tell me or write on the blogs, that the meds were worse than the disorder. Be careful about stopping meds suddenly. There can be side effects and withdrawal symptoms. But if your meds are not working or are causing other problems that are intolerable, please talk with your doctor. There are lots of things that can be done most of the time.

Meds by themselves, in my not so humble opinion, are not the whole answer. No pill will solve all your life problems. The med may allow you to face life again, but you still need to do the recovery work.

You need all the recovery tools you can get.

Self-help –self-expression – journaling, etc. pictures, collages, music.

Self-help books, Journaling, and other ways of expressing yourself are helpful. If you find you can’t write in a journal, try drawing pictures or composing songs.

Jobs – Paid or volunteer.

Something about having something to do and somewhere to go that is a huge boost to your well-being. Has someone told you that for you, work is not an option? Do not be so sure about that. In the first stages of recovery, you may not be ready for a 40 hour a week job. Still, that should not keep you from doing something.

If you go to meetings, make and pour coffee. Take out the garbage. Volunteer to help someone else. Something as simple as calling another recovering person each day (or emailing, blog posting, etc.) can get you back in the life game.

Supportive relationships are a big help in recovery.

By relationships, I do not mean only the romantic or sexual kind. Invest time in working on all your relationships.

In another post, I talked about being sure that your relationships are healthy. If they are not, consider how you could work on them to make them healthier or do you need to end some unhealthy ones.

People who have healthy relationships, others that care about them and encourage them, are more likely to stay sober and much less likely to end up in a psychiatric hospital.

I need to wrap this up. Relationships could easily be the topic of many posts or even a whole blog.

So how many of these recovery tools are you using? Are there any other things that I missed that work for you?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel