Virtue Series – Part 2

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

SINCERITY – conveys the absence of hypocrisy, affectatiousness, sham or deceit. The sincere person is genuine and straightforward in his desire to learn and practice what is right. Conscientiousness and honorable conduct are closely associated with sincerity; but sincerity should be practiced with knowledge of right thoughts and actions because most of the evil and wrongheaded errors brought upon the Earth have been the result of sincere though misinformed persons. The acquisition of the other Virtues is impossible without sincerity and the depth of application it affords.

I was standing on-line making pizzas at a Domino’s, next to a University of Michigan Grad student who was in the Alcohol Studies Program. Like many schools, U of M has a long-standing Alcohol Studies Department.

I like science, as it gets us closer to reality. I have never seen science and spirituality as necessarily opposed. I have seen people, with so-called spiritual beliefs, who love to argue anti-science, but that does not get us closer to reality. That there is a Source, an order to the universe does not necessarily conflict with science and vice-versa. Science supports understanding of that order.  The bottom line; we are always trying to get to the truth, which demands I slog through my own beliefs that need to grow/expand therefore my paradigm assumes I am a student for (and of) Life, always (hopefully) learning and that our roles here are as Scientist/Philosophers. To me that’s the true Paradigm. As the saying goes, “The head is a great employee but a lousy boss”. I have to merge the heart.

I’ll come back to pizza and U of M but must digress. This topic was triggered by an energizing talk I saw from Dr. Kevin McCauley who Tom Edwards and Mariel Swiggard and the team at Pavillon brought to NC. Interesting guy, doctor, in recovery, lots of very interesting experience and research, a brainiac who surfed us through a more holographic snapshot of the Brain, Addiction and Recovery which will always catch my interest. My brain loves these snapshots though I don’t find them deeply altering of what I feel we need to do in response to the national calamity of dependence/addiction. This is where the spiritual enters. What begins recovery and ultimately heals us is; community. Deeper community is what’s missing, is what’s needed and what many are working to build. The New York Times recently wrote on meta-studies that point out; “Researchers Uncover an Epidemic of Loneliness”.  I’m over my limit of links to the NY Times so I can’t put it here, but I recommend it for perspective. We’re lonely, particularly as we age and it leads to illness.

In a world where overpopulation is a legitimate topic the thought of rampant loneliness seems troubling, even bizarre. There’s 7.4 billion of us and we’re lonely?!  Yes.  For perspective, if you go back say 100 years and read the studies of tribes around the world untouched by western civilization a fact that emerges is some areas, some tribes had no actual word for loneliness. They weren’t perfect, they were human and had problems but there was simply no concept of loneliness. Imagine.

I can link to this excellent overview of a 75-year study of what makes people happy. A summary, “The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.”


Back to Domino’s. Mind you, this was long before I quit drugs and entered recovery (some 35 years ago). I remember asking him, when he told me of his studies; “What do we know these days?” And he immediately said, “Well, alcoholism is clearly genetic. We know that”.

So I guess we “know” that even more now. And at some point it’s less relevant to me because of what William White points out. “We’ve studied the brain on alcohol plenty, how about we study the brain on recovery”. {I paraphrase}

To honor the head/science side, I am including a link to Bill’s recent announcement he’s taking a respite from writing and, as a service, linking a list of the more than 160 recovery blogs posted to date.

I want to leave you with this talk from Dr. Corey Waller on “Why what we do in Addiction Medicine Sucks”.  Our Executive Director Dr. Sara McEwan used it in a MAT class she gives; a serious talk from a very experienced Medical Director. His talk both resonates with my own experience and study and, on at least a couple of points, pushes my buttons and triggers disagreement.  I’ll keep coming.

For cappers here’s a William White interview with Dr. Waller, discussing his involvement in the ROSC efforts of Western Michigan.

Virtue Series

Kids at Ghana, Africa Recovery walk listening to Speakers

Kids at Ghana, Africa Recovery walk listening to Speakers

CHARITY – stresses brotherly love, clemency, leniency and an interest in the welfare of others to the extent of giving of oneself. It is a whole-hearted sympathy toward the suffering which man must endure until he begins conscious advancement. Charity precludes criticism of others.

My oldest friend drank himself to death recently and it has lead me to ponder and contemplate much. I have a sincere desire to meld them into one essay but am up to three different ones so far.

Oldest friend in that we were in the 1st grade together and knew each other ever since. Amazing person. No really. Loved by many people from numerous diverse circles. Intelligent, positive, witty, learned with many interests, one who helped connect people in ways that enriched their lives. I could go on.

He received the biggest award the state gave, Michiganian of the Year, praised by a Governor, Senators and Mayors.

A leader and activist, “he touched countless souls with his fierce intellect, abundant sense of humor and dedication to causes great and small.”

You would have loved him and knowing him would have given those who need it greater insight into the truth of the disease model of addiction.

He did enter recovery staying for almost two decades but returned to use and never stopped.

It made me think of this recent article from Robin William’s wife, Susan.

Robin, having remained drug-free for many years returned to use and then treatment. Not too long after that he was diagnosed with Parkinson Disease and then the little-known but deadly Lewy body disease (LBD). She-they actually-did much research and each revelation was direr. As she said, “LBD began sending a firestorm of symptoms our way.”

Some two years ago, Robin ultimately suicided and the pain of that is unimaginable for many of us and speaks volumes when you read this article she wrote for the Official Journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Susan Schneider Williams serves on the Board of Directors for the American Brain Foundation.

I’m of an age where I’m losing friends, especially those who did not get the full joy of recovery. Life is often about feeling and it leads me to remind us of solutions.

The world has problems, lots of problems but there are solutions for (almost) every one of those problems.

Here’s a few of my favorite solutions.

This superb analysis from surgeon and author Dr. Atul Gawande is about a New Jersey Doctor’s application of a model I have worked with myself that begins from the premise, “Can we lower medical costs by giving the neediest patients better care?” The answer is a resounding YES!

One of the many beauties of this model is its application to behavioral health needs. In fact, it’s success comes from it’s treatment of the whole person.

Next we move into a story, again from Dr. Gawande, I would say is parallel to the first. This one addresses real-time/real-world studies applying outcome-based payment streams to medical (and behavioral health) groups that lead to greater financial savings coupled with higher outcomes. Pockets of medical groups sign on, achieve greater outcomes and are awarded on the back end by the insurance companies. Lots of data for everyone to see.

This means we know what to do, we know it works and the first article means we know how to do it. And it actually “makes” communities money.
Then, for good measure, let’s include this story, that reminds us of another universe (parallel to the 1st article- Hot Spotters) that gives us another model that succeeds, both outcome-wise and financially. Bring homeless in from the cold and then you can engage them and lo and behold things get better AND YOU SAVE MONEY!

I’m sensing a theme here.  You know, I feel better already.

Btw, Longmire’s back, on Netflix, and it whips like a Wyoming dust devil painting a portrait of struggles characterizing Native vs Western culture. It’s a cop show but I say it’s a great cop show. I shall endeavor to speak as Henry Standing Bear for all my days. I won’t succeed.

Recovery Event Reminders

October 14-15 – Raleigh/NCSU Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Recovery Conference

October 31-November 2 – Morganton/Asheville Carolinas Conference on Addiction and Recovery

November 4 – Chapel Hill/Orange County Recovery Community Messaging Training Free/3 credit hours–Public Welcome

November 9-11 – Clemmons NC ONE Community in Recovery

November 18-20 – Winston-Salem National AA Tech Workshop

November 24 – USA Thanksgiving Take day off Please

December 7-9 – Pinehurst NC Council of Community Programs

December 19-24 – USA Begin Celebration

January 1, 2017 – Happy New Year -reminds us what’s important

Leadership From A Dancing Guy

Annual Rally for Recovery Kicks Off in Raleigh

From Governor Pat McCrory

September is Recovery Month


Follow all the events around the North Carolina!