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Alumni Newsletter | Winter 2017

Posted on December 20, 2017

Alumni Newsletter | Winter 2017
My 30th Sober Christmas
Christmas is almost here on South Padre Island, TX. As I’m writing this, it’s raining, cold and blowing 30 mph outside. Patients from up north are all walking around in shorts. I have on everything I own. Too funny!

Fixing to celebrate my 30th sober Christmas. Hard to believe. November 1987 I slunk into the back door of a smoky meeting hall in North Texas. During my first few weeks of sobriety, I listened to folks talk about how “hard” it was to stay sober during the holidays… great. The old guys that watched me every day at 6 told me all that noise was pretty much just noise. Wayne G. assured me that if I kept on with the steps and continued to help around the club, I’d probably make it to the next year. They taught me early on that helping others was the key.

No matter how small the act, helpfulness towards others would keep me on the path. I bet I washed a 1000 coffee cups and picked up a million cigarette butts that first month. (Being helpful isn’t always about the steps!)

A new guy called me this week. He was WAY up in his head and having a “tough day”. I told him I was headed up to our Recovery club in a bit to tidy up some and get ready for the evening meeting. Told him he could come help if he had the time. BIG silence on the phone! He was not too excited about my offer. Thanks but no thanks. I sure get it. I wasn’t too keen myself when those old guys made me the same offer, but it was exactly this stuff that saved me then and still does today.

In the big picture, my cleaning up the club wasn’t all that important I guess. What it DID do was allow me to feel a part of our Fellowship for the first time ever. It gave me something to focus on besides my “tough day”. In some small way I was helping, and that’s what counted. I think this short article sums it up pretty well!

Hope y’all have a fine Christmas and a HNY! (Stay Warm!)

What is Chapter 7?

You know when you hear something and you just can’t stop thinking about it later? Well, it happened to me. 

Recently, I was at a conference just sitting with some folks and killin’ time before my talk. A guy asked me what my favorite part of the Big Book was. I get asked this pretty often, so I was ready with an answer: Chapters 2 and 3 and – 7. Everybody got quiet and I saw this gal move her hand to her book and open it up. She looked right at me and said, “You gotta be kidding me!” I laughed and asked her why that was a surprise and she said, “I totally get Chapters 2 and 3 but Chapter 7 is Working With Others and we don’t really do that anymore, do we?” She said she felt that these days we just send ’em to treatment so we don’t have to know – or follow – any directions like this to do 12 Step calls. Now I love me some treatment, but I really love that Bill and the gang had worked out some key stuff here: the biggest being how to help our prospective member figure out whether they were just having a crappy day or if they might be headed for a real bad ending — like an alcoholic death.

In those early days, over eighty years ago, it seemed that the right thing to do was to spend some time helping folks understand all the stuff we learned in Chapters 2 and 3. (I’ll go ahead and say it, they qualified us!)

What this gal was missing was the same thing I had missed for years: that Chapter 7, Working With Others, was a lot like the chapter To Wives. It has very little to do with being a wife and tons to do with sponsorship. Chapter 7 gives us a blueprint on how to talk to a new guy or gal and, in a roundabout way, get to the heart of the matter: do I have a case of alcoholism or am I just making a lot of bad choices? The early folks seemed to understand how important it was that we were clear on our hopeless condition as soon as possible. They understood that any “lurking notion” was not a good thing and, lastly, they knew that it was our job to help the newcomer see this because we had lived it.

Most important was the fact that they didn’t wait until the new prospect sat in a hundred meetings before they got a clear understanding of their disease. Totally cool!

In this holiday time of the year, I hope we can all be grateful for what we have and, at the same time perhaps, rethink our responsibility to the new folks headed this way. I know we will love ’em soon, but can we love them enough in the beginning to help them see what it means to be an alcoholic or dope fiend of the hopeless variety? Takes some courage but I’ll bet we can do it!!!

Merry Christmas, y’all!

Will You Make a Resolution or a Decision?
The holidays are upon us and I’m brought to the famous New Year’s resolutions made by everyone each year. 

So many people pledge to start exercising, eat healthy, and lose weight – very common resolutions. Every single year for almost eight years I remember pledging that my New Year’s resolution would be to stop drinking and straighten out my life all by myself. I thought all I needed was to assert my willpower, and I would be able to stop, or at least slow down and control my drinking and using. I was way off the mark thinking I could solve my addiction with strong willpower and a firm resolution. I couldn’t make it a month staying sober let alone a whole year on my own. And once I picked up the first drink, well, we all know how that goes. I didn’t know how my life was ever going to change.

Nearly three years ago, I was introduced to the 12-Step program and my life has never been the same! 

I worked the steps and found that as a result of working them, I had a spiritual experience, and the obsession to drink and use was totally lifted! I found that I no longer had to continue making empty resolutions year after year with little to no success. I’ve been given a spiritual solution that allows me to live a life free from running on my own self-will, and gives me the freedom to focus on helping others!

To everyone out there thinking about making a resolution to quit drinking or using, the time to act is now.

Getting sober requires more than a resolution – it requires a decision to do the work necessary to recover. It requires action. This includes addressing addiction head-on by fully working the 12-Steps, including helping others. Without this decision, I would likely be dead. Today, I am not only sober, I am happy, joyous, and free. If this can happen for me, it can happen with you.

Happy New Year!

The Solution Doesn’t Change

The solution to alcoholism seems to change during the holiday season. It is not uncommon to attend a meeting where the topic is “how to stay sober during the holidays”. I would like to remind everyone of a simpler solution that has proven to work since the 1930’s.

1) Pray and meditate every morning and every evening

2) Write an evening review during your evening prayer and meditation time

3) Write inventory if you become resentful

4) Share your inventory with your sponsor or a fellow 12 stepper

5) Practice the tenth step outlined on page 84

6) Attend a meeting or two

7) Work with another alcoholic and be of service to others

8) Utilize the telephone and check in with your sponsor and other members of 12-Step fellowships

These instructions have worked for me and many others regardless of the time of year. I bet they will work for you too. Happy Holidays!

Holidays (and “Everydays”) Are for Giving
My holidays and life changed forever back in 2005.


I “turned myself in” to treatment shortly before Thanksgiving in Atlanta, Georgia after a family intervention. The thought of another holiday season had me feeling even more hopeless and suicidal. My self-pity and shame about not being able to give anything again that season was overwhelming. I would come to understand that I had never been a “giver” during any season of my life. I only gave because I was expecting something in return. A bunch of us self-centered guys were living together in our self-pity all the while being given love and understanding from people that genuinely cared about us knowing that they were getting absolutely nothing in return from us.


We were taught a new way of living that in the process got me hooked up with Higher Power of my own understanding.


It was during that time of treatment during the holidays that I came to understand the true of giving. The camaraderie of like-minded people in the same situation helping each out during difficult times started to have an effect on me that I had never had. I came to understand I had a Dis-Ease that was brought about by my Dis-Connect to my Spirit and my fellows. It was then that I began to understand that my connection to the world was based on my relationships with those about me and the only way to develop those was through giving and not just taking. It was through my taking that had me totally bankrupt during that 2005 holiday season.


I now view life like I do a bank account.


Each time I give, even in the smallest of ways, I’m making a deposit into my account. Over time these deposits accrue interest and every so often it will pay me dividends, huge dividends that somehow are way more than deposits totaled. So it through this giving that I’m rewarded resulting in never feeling that I have to take.


How wonderful it is for the holidays to give us the opportunity to give and receiving the rewards of giving. How wonderful it is for everyday to be given the rewards of giving.

Now I totally realize why Santa Claus is just a jolly ol’ soul.


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