My intellect must learn to cooperate otherwise it will only incorporate self-centered motives.

"Learning to cooperate with others was a challenge for me when I entered recovery as I was prone to be more selfish in my thinking and behavior. I was a very judgmental person. So in recovery, I made it a goal each day to pick the person I disliked the most and try to make one small positive engagement with them. I often tried to give a small compliment to them. This challenged me to look at the situation and them differently and to watch how I judged people and situations. I often found that doing this gave me a new perspective on the person along with a better understanding of myself." -Garry


Hitting Bottom

"From my experience hitting bottom is different for everyone. My bottom was not a sudden realization like you hear of when someone decides to stop drinking. There was no major catastrophe. My bottom came when I realized if I didn't change I would lose. It was a series of small realizations that slowly convinced me if I wanted a life I had to start living. A bottom does not have to be a loss because mine came when I said no to drinking and yes to the man who became my husband." - E



"I use to communicate with hints and if you couldn't read my clues you were screwed. It was actually a big setup. I would throw out little hints of information to test people and see if they cared. When I did not get the responses I wanted I would become angry and blame them for not understanding. This kept me from getting close to people. I always looked for the little meanings behind what people did and said. This was to protect myself from getting hurt. I didn't like to be surprised so I was vigilant to the deeper meanings of people. In other words I complicated everything and judged everyone's motives. This kept me pretty lonely. I have been an alcoholic off and on for most of my life. I have eating disorder issues and I would say most of my drama stems from the abuse I received at age 10. I am working on it though, and I make it a goal every day to not hint and to say things directly and honestly. I try to take what people say at face value. I try to recognize when I am attaching old issues to the new. Instead of judging people's motives I am asking questions and clarifying when needed. I am a work in progress, but I am progressing. " - R.O.



"Looking back I can see that part of the reason why I continued to drink despite negative consequences in my life was because of the predictability it brought me. I did not like what I was doing to myself but at least I knew what to expect. To quit drinking would bring me into a world I was unfamiliar with. This scared me and I wondered how I would handle things in life if I did not drink. There was a time I could not even imagine seeing myself doing anything social without a drink. A good tool I learned in recovery was to visualize myself doing things without drinking. Twice a day I would take five minutes and picture myself going out without drinking. I would see myself sober in my activities. It is amazing that at first just visualizing in this way made me anxious. I kept doing this until the thought of not drinking became normal. I learned the key is acknowledging change in my head first." Good luck! - J.P.

- For change to occur, first open up the possibilities in your mind and then you can act on them.



Regaining trust is one of the many challenges that will be faced in a relationship when someone stops using drugs or alcohol. The person may (wrongly) presume that when they stop drinking or using drugs that the trust should automatically return. If only good intentions mattered, but they don't. It takes time and patience to earn back trust and trying to realize it too soon can sabotage any future growth.

To earn trust you must consistently:


And keep in mind the following variables:

Time - It takes time for trust to rebuild.
Respect - Trust is earned through giving respect to the other person.
Understanding - Understand differences in views, thoughts and feelings.
Sustainability - Change will be sustained if it is real, yours and believable.
Tangibility - Change will be tangible if it can be seen consistently over time.



"Success in drug and alcohol recovery is like falling asleep. The more you fight it the harder it is to get and the more you accept it the deeper into it you go." - Dr. T.



"Ignorance is not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of defining yourself as who you truly are."


Mental Prison

"Addicts enclose themselves in a mental prison with no physical walls. They become enslaved not from external forces, but from their internal dialogues, mandates and agreements they make with the world about what is possible."



"For a long time I had myself convinced that during the years my husband drank that I had compromised myself and lived a facade. During his drinking I put on a happy face and pretended to have a good life and marriage. When he stopped drinking I found myself lost and disappointed with everything I had put up with and sacrificed. I judged myself very harshly and thought everything about me had been a lie. But now I know different. Through much soul searching and counseling I came to realize it was not a facade but rather survival. I am a winner and I learned to survive by putting my emotions on hold. I learned how to wait. I put myself second so I could focus on my family. I hid myself and my emotions not because I was weak, but for my family to survive. So I have reframed my experince and if I talk of the past I now speak as a survivor, not as one who lived a facade. This has made all the difference in my happiness and self image today." - V.W.


Locus Of Control

"I still get angry at persons like them that change the course of my life without permission." (Ex-wife of drug addict)

- After living with an alcoholic or addict, it is important that the spouse or loved one learn to recognize the importance of moving the "external locus of control" to an "internal locus of control." An external locus of control gives power and control to things outside of yourself. An internal locus of control brings the power and control back inside of you.


My 2 Bits

"Be on alert for any pattern of thinking that eliminates other possibilities for choices or growth. This type of thinking can be dangerous in recovery for it can take away individuality thereby narrowing the mind and trapping the soul." - T


To Give

"One of the most valuable tools I learned in recovery was to give with no strings attached. When I was drinking my acts of kindness were loaded with expectations and this created a lot of resentments in me. It took awhile for me to learn the trick of giving and expecting nothing in return. How I did it was to imagine that I owed life a debt for all that I took when I was drinking. Everyday I woke up and set out to pay back this debt with acts of kindness. I would not let my head hit the pillow at night until I had done at least five random acts of kindness for others that day. I did this until it became second nature and I understood what it meant to truly give." - R.D.


A Mother

"My daughter battled with addictions for many years. One of my struggles through all this was finding a balance for my life that was independent from the decisions and choices she made. I had to learn NOT to define myself by her success or failure. I had to learn to stay off the roller coaster ride of promises. I had to learn how to be proactive in my life and not just reactive to hers. When I finally learned to do all this, I started to see her and our relationship more clearly."
- M, Keep loving.

A Mother

.....A Mother always knows that a Mother's place and time will be exactly in accordance with their child's need to find.


A Special Respect

"I have never used recreational drugs and I do not drink. Perhaps people would say that I have missed out on something. However, more often than not, I find myself wishing that more people could experience the complete tranquility that comes from simply not possessing the desire. For those who have had a different journey, including these things, and choose now to put that behind them, a special respect is due. It probably takes more courage and effort to stop than never to have started. I would not be surprised if people in this group of “new start” living have deep insights to share. Accordingly, I say to them, “bravo” to you for taking charge of your life story again and choosing fresh new beginnings over a dependency that is unwanted. Thank you as well to the creators of this fine website. The beautiful photographs are as real as any despair – it’s all a question of what one chooses to see in life – and then what to do about it." - E.


"Make Dust"

"Sometimes I wake up in the mornings guilt ridden with past mistakes and losses. I don't use drugs anymore, but my past still haunts me. At these moments, sometimes if I am quiet enough, I can hear God talking to me....

Though the world can take a lot you are always in control. Let the world keep what its got, for it can never have your soul. Now stand, start walking and make dust in the world.

- Best of luck to everyone." D.H.


Real Change

"If you want to see your future look at what you are doing today."

- When you stop using alcohol or drugs it might be easy for you to talk about how you have changed and easy to convince yourself that you are changed. Remember the goal of recovery is a life change, not to just quit alcohol or drugs. A good rule of thumb to determine what is real change from what is not is to ask the question, "If I took a snapshot of my life what would look different about this day?" If you cant see it, it doesn't count. Initially, in recovery, the changes that matter are those you can take a picture of - the tangible ones. This is especially important when doing step 9 amends. Words don't count and "I'm sorry" won't mean much if those around you can't see the change. Let your actions be your words. Let your actions show them you have changed.



"For me, my addiction began after I crossed a line in my head and gave myself "permission" to violate a strongly held belief (I will not use drugs). Once this line was crossed it was easier for me to violate other deeper beliefs that had been my guide all my life. One "permission" led to another and another and another until I found myself re-evaluating some of my most strongly held beliefs. Once this re-evaluation process started it was easier for me to slip further into the void of destruction." - (opioid addict 4 years, recovered 2 years)

-No one starts out thinking they want to stick a needle in their arm as a heroin user.


Egotistical Thinking

".....I laugh at myself sometimes when I look back at my egotistical thinking during my heroin use. I thought I was different. I thought I was above everyone in rehab because they were all losers and junkies. I didn't live on the street and I had a good job. I was different, I had brains.

.....I laugh at myself sometimes when I look back at my egotistical thinking during my heroin use. I had strong beliefs in a healthy lifestyle. I was a vegetarian, worked out, ran 5k's regularly and would never take any medications.

...... Funny with all my egotistical thinking that somehow the 30 day rehab program didn't care I ran 5k's. Funny how when I was arrested for paraphernalia the police didn't care that I had brains. Funny how when I was doing time in jail the inmates didn't care I had a job or a healthy lifestyle. Funny how my family didn't ignore my heroin habit because I worked out. I mean, damn, I wouldn't put meat in my body, but I would inject heroin!" -Jim - sober 420 days


Feeling Special

"When we feel special it is like being put in an elevated state. Most know that they have to come back down. You can't feel special all the time. I didn't know this. I felt entitled. I wanted to feel special all the time. I tried to perpetuate this elevated state at all costs, even at the expense of reality." (JMO, Thanks, -K, past addict 8 years)



"I once heard a phrase that history is in the mind of the teller and the truth is in the telling..... Four years ago I was a heroin addict, alcoholic and pot smoker. I am befuddled at times how my thinking convinced me I was better than I was. I remember at one NA meeting proudly stating that I had two weeks of sobriety under my belt. Well, I had not used heroin in two weeks, but I left out the part of continuing to drink like a fish and using pot (pot never counted as using for me)." -S



"The difference between mistakes as a child and mistakes as an adult is as a child there are no consequences of character." - B (Sober one year)


Step Two

"When I first entered recovery my life was so out of control that pretty much anyone with a purpose or who spoke with confidence was a power greater than me. I now have narrowed the range a bit." - D



"If you take a predictable path you get a predictable future".

- In the mind of the addict they are exempt from the above statement and things should just change or come to them out of entitlement.


Hurt & Pain

"My drug use numbed me and sucked the soul out of me so much that even my tears ran dry. The more I hurt on the inside, the more chaos was seen on the outside. I was so weak and vulnerable that the hurt and pain gave me a focus. I created a chaotic world so I could hide behind it. Looking back I can now say that the hurt and pain I caused others was my attempt to connect and feel.". L. -Sober 8 months


Emotional Detox

Be ready when you stop drinking for underlying emotions to start surfacing - like an emotional detox. One of the biggest struggles people have when they stop drinking is dealing with how bad they feel emotionally. You would think that after you stop drinking alcohol that emotionally you would feel better. Not true. Expect emotional ups and downs when you stop drinking. The rush of emotions is normal and, in a way, your body trying to detox itself of pent up emotional baggage.



"Worry and distrust were my best friends. I could come to terms with my husband using drugs but the fickle attempts to quit and the back and forth promises drove me insane. The negative emotions kept me on guard and ready. They gave me something to focus on and anchor myself to when things seemed unsteady."

.....In counseling, we may presume negative emotions should be resolved, however, they may be a useful defense for someone still involved with an addict.


Drinking Stories

"I have to be careful when I share my 'drinking stories' that I do not get caught up in the race for the most absurd. When I first stopped drinking my "stories" seemed to be the ticket to popularity in recovery. The more bizarre the story the more I felt like I belonged and the more people accepted me. My stories started to not feel right and spin away from their original intent - to teach. They started to become almost fabricated and would glorify how far I had come rather than represent the true loneliness and pain I felt. So now I am careful to share only what is needed in an honest way so I can avoid the trap of an inflated ego." - M.



"I feel caution should be used with the concept of powerlessness. When I entered treatment I was battered and bruised. I did not have hope so I drank. I did not have confidence so I drank. I lived with a man for ten years who told me with his words and fist that I was nothing. It took every nerve in my body to make the move to get into recovery. (For those who have been in an abusive relationship will know how hard it is to leave an abuser.) I was nothing. When I decided to seek help it wasn't for me but for my kids. I felt empowered for the first time in a long time. I will never submit or be powerless again. I can never go back there in my mind. I am not powerless over alcohol, I used it to survive. I am ashamed of some actions but not who I have become. Powerlessness is not healthy for the battered and should be used with caution. I have been clean and sober for eight years now. I hope this can help someone know they are not alone. Thanks." JMO - K.H.


God's Silence

"With God's silence I am troubled,
That my asking goes unheard.
So until I get an answer,
Another question I must learn." K.H.

- When someone first enters into drug or alcohol recovery they often presume they still know what is best. Their stubborn thinking often has them hold on to ideas that may not be good for them anymore. When they pray, they may presume God should give them what they feel they should have. Sometimes God's silence means ask a new question.


Mental Stories

"Our mental stories about the world become what we are and see."

- Be aware of the language or stories you tell yourself about why you can or cannot quit drinking or using drugs. Often those who continue to relapse have negative self-talk that limits growth.