A 2nd Mile Helping Hands Story: Branson’s Own Jan and John Prince!

A 2nd Mile Helping Hands Story:
Branson’s Own Jan and John Prince!

We all want our lives to matter.  We get the most joy and make the biggest difference when we use our God-given abilities to help and serve others.  Last May, we in CORE’s 2nd Mile Program became even more determined to make a difference by announcing our program to help deliver groceries without charge to our neighbors in the community.  We were not disappointed.  We’ve been able to meet amazingly wonderful people like Jan and John Prince!

The Princes moved to Branson in 2012 from Clinton, Missouri, after spending their working lives in academia.  Once they decided to retire, it was time to move to warmer climates.  Jan reports that they like Branson very much, “It has a small town feel with big city opportunities as far as shopping and stores.”  Also, when company comes to town, they are able to take in a show.  All in all, their retirement was going swimmingly well – and then the corona virus hit. 

Like so many across our great nation, Jan and John were faced with some hard choices about how to respond to the lockdown and added public safety measures.  They wanted to avoid getting sick and do their part to help keep everybody safe.  Fortunately, while on her church’s Facebook page, Jan spied CORE’s announcement saying we would deliver groceries for no charge.  She called and began scheduling weekly deliveries.

The process is simple.  For Jan, she orders her groceries online at Country Mart designating the day and approximate time for pickup.  Then she calls CORE, and we pick them up.  All while taking appropriate safety precautions, we deliver them straight to the door.  As Jan relates, “She sets them on the porch for us.  She wears a mask.  That’s what we really need.  . . . I think it’s great!”

Despite the adversity, the Princes aren’t about to let the virus stop them from living life.  They just pay attention to safety and “try to be as cautious as we can” while out and about.  They make extra-good use of their time at home as well.  Jan quilts and hand-stitches, joins in church Zoom meetings, and loves to cook.  John landscapes and works on the house.  They also look forward to doing some traveling, hopefully soon.  John is upgrading their travel trailer to make it warmer in case they have the chance to get away this winter.  Their daughter is coming for a visit over Thanksgiving, too, so the family can be together.  

Jan expressed genuine appreciation to the 2nd Mile program for being willing to help during these challenging times: “I want CORE to know, I don’t ever want them to underestimate that what they’re doing is not important.  It’s very important.  I’m so thankful that we have someone we can call to do this for us.”  She also gives a monetary gift for pickups.  We are pleasantly surprised by the Princes’ kind and pure generosity, but we do remind everybody seeking our help to deliver groceries that payment is not required! Above all, we in the 2nd Mile program express our sincerest thanks to Jan and John for giving us the opportunity to serve.  That’s what we’re all about – helping marvelous people like the Princes who make Branson such a wonderful place! 

Why We Admit Powerlessness over Alcohol and Drugs

Why We Admit Powerlessness over Alcohol and Drugs

The “Serenity Prayer” said in 12 Step meetings has received widespread media attention ever since Covid-19 entered the American consciousness.  Written by theologian Karl Niebuhr in the early 1930’s, the Serenity Prayer was adopted and adapted by Alcoholics Anonymous shortly after it published the Big Book.  It begins, God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change – a reminder that there are some things in life we can’t control.  The pandemic is one of them, as are natural disasters like hurricanes, wildfires, floods, earthquakes, etc.  We become helpless in the face of overpowering forces.  We feel hopelessness and despair upon seeing loved ones taken and homes and property destroyed.  Anxiety, panic, depression, and guilt are never far off during these times.  Nor is anger.  Natural disasters present paradigm examples of human powerlessness.  

Conceptually, powerlessness is also an element of 12 Step programs.  We might hear this word without giving it much thought if we aren’t steeped in drug and alcohol recovery.  Yet the admission of powerlessness is Step One, the very gateway to our recovery program.  It’s an essential condition.  We can’t minimize or skip it.  There’s no recovery unless and until we first admit that we are powerless over alcohol and drugs.  We have good reasons for saying this, as we explain below.

Alcohol and drugs act as the kryptonite, Achilles heel, or fatal weakness, of every abnormal drinker and drug user.  Powerlessness was our personal experience and the insight we reached after countless times of trying to moderate or quit.  All of our efforts failed, spectacularly.  Our addictions had grown beyond our control.  

When ordinary people think of the priorities of life, their thoughts naturally turn to family, home, career, and the like.  Not so with the alcoholic or addict trapped in the cycle of addiction.  The particulars vary from person to person, but each of us went from functional drinkers and users to compulsive drunks and junkies.  We developed laser-like focus, with all our thought patterns, belief systems, emotions, and actions converging on a singular purpose.  Whether we admitted it or not, everybody and everything else assumed secondary importance.  Our lives revolved around drinking and drugging.  

When in the cycle of addiction, it was not uncommon for us to wake up from a binge feeling guilty for what had just happened, yet with the obsession to use still clawing at our brains.  As it turned into a problem, we naively made up our minds to moderate or quit.  We still remembered the days when we just had fun like everybody else.  We thought we could go back to being that person.  We did everything we could to accomplish this.  We even began doing things like journaling, exercising, or watching our diet.  Self-help books began piling up on our shelves.  We consulted with people we trusted, whether family, friends, employers, ministers, physicians, or counselors.  Our futile efforts reached epic proportions.  

Nothing worked.  The obsession rarely left us.  We might even go days or weeks without actually using, and tell ourselves that we were better, but the result was always the same.  Once we started back again – and we always did – all bets were off.

As we abandoned responsibilities, our problems began to mount.  We found ourselves unable to stop any of it.  Ashamed to admit failure, we began hiding our use from the same people who tried to help us, and then we pushed them away.  Family and social relationships were lost.  We started doing things to support our habits that we never would have dreamed of doing before, sometimes taking risks with our health or crossing the law.  We lost jobs, homes, and businesses, not to mention our self-respect.  We beat ourselves up inside with guilt and shame because our best efforts just weren’t good enough, and we didn’t understand why.  A cloud of doom and foreboding hung over us, as did depression and, for some of us, thoughts of suicide.  Our lives had fallen apart, and we were living a nightmare with no way out.  In a word, we were powerless

Some generalities can be drawn from our experiences and those of others.  We become powerless over alcohol or drugs when we:

  • are constantly preoccupied by thoughts of using;
  • become irritable and discontent when not using;
  • suffer from an obsession to use;
  • consider ordinary life events, whether good or bad, as reasons to use;
  • use even though we know we shouldn’t, don’t want to, and fear the outcome;
  • can’t stop using once we start using; 
  • can’t quit or moderate our use despite having a desperate desire to change it.

To date, medical science is making headway on the particulars of addiction.  The results are considerable, but it hasn’t yet found any way to eliminate either our obsession to use, or our cravings to continue using until we pass out, black out, or become so high that we no longer know what’s real.  Until that happens, we who want to recover must accept the fact of our powerlessness, and by working the steps find the way to escape from that hopeless condition.   

Happily, we have recovered, although here we do mention one feature that complicated our recoveries: denial.  It was our last defense against the very circumstances that made us feel vulnerable and threatened our sense of control.  While trapped in our addictions we initially refused to accept our powerlessness and recognize the need for change.  We became angry and defensive, and we made sophomoric speeches similar to the following:

Don’t tell me I’m powerless!  That’s not what I want or need.  I live in constant humiliation, guilt, and shame.  How can it possibly help to see myself that way?  Don’t you know how demoralizing that is?  Don’t you see how that hurts me?  People wanting to control me tell me I’m powerless.  You can’t label me!  

And so we went on.  

Unfortunately, there was an entire self-help industry out there waiting to enable us in denial.  Their sales pitch is that 12 Step programs, whether AA or NA, make us weak by brainwashing us into thinking we are powerless.  The power is in us, they say, and in the books and programs they sell.  We need only learn how to empower ourselves.  

The self-help gurus really didn’t help.  Self-empowerment pitches are misguided when the target audience includes chronic drinkers and drug users, all of whom already suffer the hallmarks of powerlessness.  AA and NA did not make us that way.  Our shame, guilt, despair and anger weren’t triggered because somebody told us we were powerless.  We were miserable because we were powerless.  It’s the human condition, the natural and foreseeable consequence of wrestling with forces beyond our control.  

Our only viable course of action was to recognize our powerlessness for what it was.  Acknowledging it doesn’t relegate us to living a life imprisoned in fear, shame, or helplessness – in any context.  Quite the contrary.  Even when we consider the natural disasters cited above, we well know that not everyone bears the brunt of those forces of nature.  Only those unfortunate enough to be in the path of destruction suffer the effects of powerlessness.  By way of illustration, imagine for a moment, a group of people who live on an annual floodplain.  Every year the raging waters rise, steal away loved ones, and obliterate all they worked so hard to build.  They suffer desperation and hopelessness, and they further feel shame and guilt for not having prevented catastrophic loss of life and property.  But, what about their neighbors who live on higher ground, above the plain?  Factually, they are as powerless against the raging floods as those whose homes were swept away.  They do not suffer the ill effects of their powerlessness at all, whether loss of life, destruction of property, desperation, shame, or the other.  They sympathize with the plight of the victims, but they live their lives hopefully, not in helplessness.

To drive this analogy home, let’s further assume that as the waters recede from the earth and dry land reappears, our flood survivors become determined to rebuild on the same spot.  They are certain that next year will be different, even though they live on an annual floodplain and their recent, horrific experience is identical to every year they’ve ever lived there.  Anyone seeing that would call it insanity.  We agree.  We can’t imagine why they’d still want to live there.  We would urge them to come to their senses, admit that they are powerless, and move to higher ground with the rest of us.  That’s exactly the course of action we who have recovered from substance abuse took once we finally admitted that we are powerless over alcohol and drugs.  

That’s the essence of Step One.  It’s no accident that 12 Step programs teach both powerlessness and complete abstinence.  Only by realizing the futility of drinking and drugging, where disaster was forever certain to occur, did we pick up and move to higher ground, abstinence.  The latter we accomplished by working the remaining steps.  The miracle happened, and our sanity was restored.  We live with hope and purpose, and feel the deepest gratitude.  God granted us the serenity to accept something we cannot change, and we’re not in harm’s way anymore.

Is “Harm Reduction” Strategy Enough For Recovery?

Is “Harm Reduction” Strategy Enough For Recovery?

If I could drink like a normal person, I would be drunk all day long . . . 1  

In 2006 a self-help book titled “The Secret” hit bookstore shelves and immediately became a best seller.  Its premise is that our thoughts directly change our world.  The so-called Law of Attraction.  The principle seemed revolutionary yet intuitive, something that deep down we always knew.  People got excited.  Millions of copies were sold.  There was a movie.  A lot of money was made.  Except, there was only one problem – our thoughts don’t directly change the world.  The real secret, everybody came to realize, is that the book was garbage.  People came to their senses and forgot about it.

A corollary of The Secret called “harm reduction” now has arrived to the world of substance abuse recovery.  Zealots claim that we alcoholics and addicts can have our cake and eat it too.  They tout it in self-help books and on-line recovery forums.  Their message is simple: believe in yourself, drink like a normal person, and you can be drunk all day long.  They even publish success stories of their members who, not surprisingly, are drunk all day long.  Their message has intuitive appeal to an alcoholic or addict’s mind.  It’s the same type of guff that Bill Wilson foresaw back in 1939:

The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistency of this illusion is astonishing.  Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.2 

Sadly, many alcoholics and addicts today are pursuing harm reduction to the gates of death.  Their illusion finds its origin in the unfortunate tendency to lump everybody suffering problems from drugs or alcohol into one basket.  Some people today get sent to AA and NA even though they are not alcoholics or addicts.  They can control their substance use and aren’t dependent.  A host of problems follow.  We have a population of people going to 12 Step meetings who probably shouldn’t be there and who don’t want to be there.  Resentments arise.  Certain harm reduction methods nevertheless may be helpful to these people.  There is yet another population of people attending AA and NA, who probably should be there, but are unwilling to work the program.  They suffer huge problems from substance abuse.  They feel overwhelming guilt and shame over their inability to stay sober.  Resentments arise in this population, too.  They start blaming AA and NA for their problems.

We end up with two groups of bad attitude bears.  Eventually they find each other and join together.  From this unlikely union a marketing idea is born: offer harm reduction methods as an actual recovery program to alcoholics and addicts.  The idea offers an aura of hope to desperate people.  The promoters are profiting.  The results are predictably dismal.

Harm Reduction Promotion

So, what is harm reduction?  How do we recognize it if we see it?  Broadly speaking, it refers to the universe of ideas and strategies intended to reduce the negative consequences of drug and alcohol use. As promoted to alcoholics and addicts, the ideology starts with the notion that everybody has a natural, universal desire to get high.3   “To get drunk, to get high, to get out of one’s mind has been a natural phenomenon throughout human history.”4  Since the dawn of time, drugs and alcohol have been used by almost everyone, on every continent, for many reasons, whether recreational, cultural, religious, dietary, or medicinal.5  Drugs and alcohol are great.  They work.6 

Proponents assert that “[p]roblems with alcohol and drugs are not diseases, crimes, or sins.  They are health issues”7 that are personal to the user.  So, if a person really enjoys drinking a fifth of booze every day and has no desire to change, for example, then it is not anybody’s job to try and change them.8  Five to seven drinks per day are considered “low risk” drinking, by the way.9  Nobody should be diagnosed or labeled an addict or alcoholic, either.  To the contrary, the user is the expert, the only one who fairly can balance the benefits and risks.  Only they can evaluate how to best fulfill their needs through these substances.10  Harm reductionists further assert that people always think rationally.  They are the ones who can and should be able to examine – without harsh judgments – their own substance use and whatever trouble they may have gotten into because of it.11   

Some of the harm reduction methods promoted by these advocates may be considered relatively “new,” like using clean needles to inject drugs, substituting pharmaceutical medications for a substance habit, voluntarily installing a breathalizer on one’s car, and kicking an alcohol addiction by smoking marijuana.  Most of the methods have been around for a long time, however.  

In fact, the methods most often suggested by harm reduction literature were familiar even when the Big Book was published.  They include strategies like: drinking beer only, limiting the number of drinks, tapering off, never drinking alone, never drinking in the morning, drinking only at home, never having it in the house, drinking only at parties, taking a trip, not taking a trip, taking more physical exercise, reading inspirational books, going to treatment centers, and any number of other measures, ad infinitum.  These methods are expressly identified in the Big Book as measures that are universally tried – out of desperation – and don’t work.12 

Harm reductionists promote paperwork, too.  Lots of it.  Users are encouraged to cultivate their relationships with drugs and alcohol by writing all kinds of descriptions, plans, and calculations.  The relationship must be nurtured and fine-tuned.  Nothing can be overlooked.  There are cost/benefit analyses, drinking goal worksheets, risk ranking worksheets, risk charting, drink charting, written drinking plan worksheets, rational emotive worksheets, and self-confidence enhancement worksheets.  The paperwork is an evolving process that can change at any minute, depending the user’s needs or wants, so maintaining all of these worksheets and charts requires vigilance.  

According to harm reductionist proponents, the results of these activities are great.  Alcoholics and addicts are empowered to use. Websites and books offer full-throated endorsements for using drugs and alcohol.  Users are expected to moderate, or quit, whenever they want.  Time to throw off the shackles of past prejudices and fears: 

You can be a daily pot smoker and a good parent; a weekend partier and a great teacher, lawyer, plumber, or gardener; dependent on heroin and a loving partner.13

Wow.  For somebody trapped in the cycle of addiction, this sounds appealing.  But, who takes care of the baby’s sudden emergency when we’re stoned?  How does a hangover help us at our jobs?  How do we love our partners when we’re too high to even think?  Advocates insist that we keep a positive attitude.  No guilt, shame, or remorse for past mistakes allowed!  Believing in ourselves is what counts.  Believing that we have the power of choice and the power to change is the essential ingredient for success.14  Better is better!

Harm Reduction’s Angst Against 12 Step Programs

As we alluded to above, a great many of the harm reduction group members formerly sat in AA and NA meetings.  Many appear to dislike 12 Step programs, and the writers of their literature and administrators of their websites cultivate their resentments and cheer them on.  Nobody bothers with the fact that they never worked the program.  How can one get sober if they don’t do this?  Inability to get sober can lead to shame and guilt, one reaction to which is anger.  None of this matters to them, however.  Nor does it matter when landmark scientific studies support 12 Step results, or when study after study is published that evidences particular points of the program.  Their literature, frankly, puts flat-earthers to shame in trying to minimize and tear apart what in our 21st century is a well-supported, scientifically evidenced truth:  12 Step programs help alcoholics and addicts quit their addictions.  Their resentments against AA really run deep.

An example may help illustrate this.  It is common in the on-line harm reduction forums to find posts by people claiming that AA made them feel guilt and shame for their drug and alcohol use.  Yet, what becomes apparent from reading these posts is that “attending” AA and “sitting in” their AA rooms means exactly what is said.  Attending and sitting.  Hundreds of proverbial frogs sitting on a log.  No action.  They not only failed to work the 12 Step program, most never ever made it through Step 1.  

One entry, offered here as example, is by someone who pseudonymously calls herself Jaya Angel.  She relates that she has been reading a book called The 30 Day Solution, which recommends doing a 30-day period of abstinence (Abs).  While she likes the book, doing a 30-day Abs sounds way too much like AA to her.  For years she attended AA and was never able to stay sober for even a month, which brought her only shame and low self-esteem.  The book thus poses a dilemma, one that in her mind can only be solved by never trying to stay sober for 30 days again:

…I’ve been setting myself up for horrible failure this past week and a half trying to do this Abs-30 thing! I’ve set myself up for over-drinking, shame, embarrassment, guilt, and truly hating myself.  I’ve set myself up into starting to believe again I’m an alcoholic!  Do you know how erroneously sad that is?  I think it even made my behavior worse when I drank because I wasn’t supposed to be drinking!!!  The problem ISN’T that I CAN’T complete 30 days of voluntary abstinence from drinking!  The problem is I SHOULDN’T!!!15

This poor woman clearly is living in torment.  She is blind to her chronic intoxication and sees only the shame and guilt it brings.  Her answer, then, is to stop even trying.  She can’t lose a race that she never enters, after all, and somehow that idea sounds entirely reasonable to her.  At all costs, she will not admit to herself that she is an alcoholic, the very essence of Step 1.

Others on Jaya Rainbow’s thread rush to comfort her, but the fact of her chronic drunkenness is never addressed.  They are more than willing to indulge her fantasy, to the point of blaming AA and the medical community for her problems:

You really nailed it on the AA stuff for sure . . . .  Forbidden fruit is enticing indeed.  We are setting ourselves up for failure if we base our recovery on ‘clean’ time . . .  The main problem being when the medical system blindly pushes us there.  . . .It tells me about what is going on in those [AA] secret rooms.  We are the survivors, we are the strong ones.16

Sad stuff.  Note his suggestion that recovery shouldn’t turn on sobriety.  He sounds sincere, too, even though he’s sincerely wrong.  Some of us in early recovery also felt ashamed at meetings at first because we weren’t sober.  There is a solution, however.  Work the program.

When the Word “Recovered” Comes to Mean that You’re High or Drunk

These harm reduction on-line forums are littered with embittered souls who can’t stay clean or sober.  Harm reduction advocates assure them not to worry.  Better is better, even if you’re drunk.  In this connection, we share some of the “success” stories from one of their books.  The authors are all members of a popular harm reduction group.  Amazingly, intoxication has become part and parcel of their “recovery”:

Stephen’s Story17

Stephen had “had enough of drinking.” He attended AA meetings for 90 days but then quit when he became suicidal.  “I don’t drink a whole lot,” he says, of his drinking history of 8 beers per night, but it makes him feel “disconnected,” the same word he uses when feeling suicidal.  Since adopting a harm reduction plan, however, he now has planned intoxification days.  In fact, he candidly admits spending his entire weekends drunk.  He drinks about two six packs per day on the weekends.  From this, he confidently writes that “nobody is powerless over their decision to drink or not drink.”  Really?

Jacqueline’s Story18

Jacqueline drank for four decades because “it’s not easy to stop.”  Her therapist wanted her to go to AA but she “didn’t want to become completely abstinent” and didn’t accept the idea that she “had a disease.”  Ultimately, she attended AA but cried hysterically and felt exhausted, so she quit.  Then she tried harm reduction.  She reports that “80% of the time my drinking is managed.”  Her sober days are Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, although she sometimes trades Thursday for Wednesday.  As of writing her account, she reports continually “hearing” (presumably metaphorically) an evil voice on her shoulder telling her to drink, “whispering in my ear, just have a drink, it’s all fine, what’s one more?”  We assume this voice is her alcoholic obsession buttering her up for another binge during the 20% time.

Emily’s Story19

Emily is an older woman who always liked to drink alcohol and use marijuana.  She began attending AA but reports that it was an extremely frustrating experience because she was a “chronic relapser” and thus felt guilty.  The people at AA told her that she was failing because she was not “working the program.”  After she got 2 DUIs, she quit AA and began a harm reduction plan.  Following this plan, she “determined to make moderate drinking work,” but she discovered that her relapses were getting worse over time, and she started blacking out more.  She realized that she can moderate her drinking only sometimes.  When she can’t “bad things tend to happen, and they get worse over time.”  So, she decided to try abstinence instead of moderation, joined two support groups, and began seeing an addiction therapist.  As of the writing of her story, she still drinks, but she reports several months-long periods of abstinence.  Her drinking today, which she does not quantify, still causes “problems,” which she describes as “minor” and happening “occasionally.”

The Simple Truth About Recovering

What are we to conclude from stories like this, which are offered as harm reduction recovery stories?  These people inhabited AA halls, but they made no effort to work the program.  This is an unfortunate occurrence that we have seen before.  They harbor resentments against 12 Step Programs.  They all drink.  In fact, they all meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder under the DSM-5.  How can we possibly say this is recovery?  Their existence is hardly the kind of the life that we hope for our clients. 

The book does contain 15 stories in total, and there are people who positively report moderating and quitting.  We are pleased for them.  The Big Book well describes such people who, when given sufficient reason, go on to moderate or quit.  These are the people for whom the harm reduction methods may be appropriate. “If anyone who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right-about-face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to him.”20  We agree. 

But what about people who are alcoholics and addicts?  Even the harm reduction people concede, if only sardonically, that “medical professionals, researchers, everyday people know that addiction is a disease that cannot be cured.”21  For such people – the rest of us – we do have the solution, and it isn’t harm reduction.  If we spent even half the amount of time working the 12 Steps as others do chasing vain attempts to use like normal people, then we wouldn’t have to worry about the specter of substance abuse anymore.  No more keeping track of charts and lists.  No more counting drinks or the other.  No more shame and disappointment.  We don’t have to live our lives revolving around the disease anymore.  We pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet by the 12 Steps.  We follow the path of sobriety.  By doing this, we find much of heaven.  We are rocketed into a new dimension of existence beyond what we ever dreamed.22  By the grace of God, we are recovered.

We have been observing these harm reduction groups for some time.  Our opinion is similar to the dozens of rehabilitation centers whose websites give online opinions about the question of 12 Step abstinence vs. harm reduction.  We enthusiastically recommend and endorse 12 Step sobriety.

1.         An old AA Saying.
2.         Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, at 30.
3.         Denning, P., Over the Influence, Chapter 2 (2019). Retrieved from Amazon.com.
4.         Id.
5.         Id.
6.         Id.
7.         Denning, P., Over the Influence, Chapter 1 (2019). Retrieved from Amazon.com.
8.         Anderson, K., How to Change Your Drinking, 2nd Edition, Chapter 1, section 4 (2010). Retrieved from Amazon.com.
9.         Id. Chapter 5.
10.       Denning, P., Over the Influence, Chapter 1 (2019). Retrieved from Amazon.com.
11.       Id.
12.       Big Book, at 22 and 31.
13.       Denning, P., Over the Influence, Chapter 1 (2019). Retrieved from Amazon.com.
14.       Anderson, K., How to Change your Drinking, 2nd Edition, Chapter 1.5 (2010). Retrieved from Amazon.com
15.       Http://jayarainbowangel.blogspot.com…figure-it.html.
16.       Oddnes, Senior Member of HAMS vbulletin.net, 06-22-2016. 02:12 PM.
17.       Anderson, K., Editor, Better Is Better!, Stephen’s Story (2019). Retrieved from Amazon.com.
18.       Id., Jacqueline’s Story.
19.       Id., Emily’s Story.
20.       Big Book, at 31.
21.       Anderson, K., How to Change Your Drinking, 2nd Edition, Introduction by Pat Denning (2019). Retrieved from Amazon.com.
22.       Big Book, at 25.

Protecting Our Sobriety When Someone We Love Dies

Protecting Our Sobriety When
Someone We Love Dies

We never thought it would happen to us. In a world of casual acquaintances, on rare and special occasions someone comes into our life whom we feel privileged to know and deeply love.  They may be our friend, spouse, child, or someone else, but, whoever they may be, the sight of their face never fails to make us smile.  Their joys and pains become ours, and we feel what they feel without spoken words.  It is cliché, but knowing them actually makes us want to become a better person.  We would do anything for them.  We feel like the world has to be made a better place for them, for no other reason than that the greatest honor and blessing is having them in our life.  Above all we want to protect them and make them feel safe and loved.  We love them so much that, in fact, if our love alone could have saved them, then they never would have died.

There isn’t a word to describe the shock that follows such a death.  A disbelieving, numbing state.  An invisible veil that separates us from everybody and everything familiar.  In the days that follow we go through the motions consciously, whether to eat, bathe, or do simple things like taking sympathy calls.  Even breathing becomes a deliberate act.  We observe ourselves as if watching another person while picking out flower arrangements and approving the order of services.  Nothing seems quite real.  There are slight exceptions to this, of course, like when we woke up in the morning and for a fleeting moment had forgotten what happened.  Words like grief and beloved – we understood what those meant now, too.  But, all in all, we are still in a daze during the funeral.  Familiar faces approach us and speak words of condolence.  Everyone pays their last respects, their words evaporating into a heaviness that hangs over us like a cloud.  We have trouble absorbing anything.  There’s nothing anyone can really say, anyway, when the most important person in the world has died. 

Perhaps no life event is more fraught with peril than the death of a loved one.  We can never be fully prepared, no matter how it happens.  In a place deep down inside of us, something feels decidedly wrong.  Someone and something is horribly missing.  It’s like part of us has died too, the best part, and we aren’t ready to say goodbye.  The memorial service is only an introduction to our bereavement, moreover.  There is a long and difficult journey ahead.  No matter how appallingly unfair and punishing the grieving process may sound from afar, the reality is worse.   

Social commentators tell us that grieving is hard because our society is a death-denying culture that does not like to think about death.  In consequence we turn the phenomenon of death and dying into something abstract and almost invisible.  We shutter away the old and infirm into institutions and facilities, for example.  Our medical technologies are geared toward avoiding death at all costs, and science has dissected death into so many bits that it sometimes becomes impossible to know whether someone even is dying, or the exact moment of death.  Even in art and film death is something that happens primarily to throwaway characters who are easily forgotten.  Over time our brains become accustomed to thinking that death only happens to other people who we either don’t know or don’t know well.  Our world is about progress, moving forward.  Nothing should detract from the idea of a long and happy life.

There is more to bereavement than that, of course.  Our loved one is an indispensable part of our lives, a human institution who represents stability, meaning and purpose. Their death profoundly impacts our physical, mental, and emotional well-being like nothing else can.  There are no quick or easy fixes for loss, either, only the long and drawn out grieving process.  While alone with our thoughts, we relive happier times and ask ourselves over and over the what-if’s, how’s, and why’s.  We pass through the recognizable stages of grief – denial, bargaining, anger, and depression – in no particular order, without consciously identifying them, and oftentimes revisiting them.  Within these stages there is a repeating cycle in which we alternately are stricken with painful memories and thoughts, and then feeling better, even okay, if only for awhile.  Then the draining, exhausting emotions of anger, fear, despair, and sometimes guilt, come flooding over us like a wave.  It’s relentless.  The particulars of this process differ from person to person, but invariably everyone will take a long time to overcome the natural denial response and finally reach the final stage: acceptance.  Grieving may last months for some.  For others, years.

It has been said that there is no right way to grieve but, for the alcoholic or addict, this process can take an unmistakably deadly turn. In our past lives, our reaction to every life stressor had been an overwhelming desire to escape through drinking or using drugs.  Death’s sting immediately and invariably strikes us as too heavy a burden to bear.  If we say to ourselves, I can’t do this, I must have help, in reality this is the specter of using and relapse returning to haunt us.  This happens when we are most vulnerable and our hopes and dreams are dashed.  Inside we feel as if we are dying of a broken heart, and picking up and using again superficially appears to be an entirely reasonable course of action. 

We who are recovered must be cautious when tragedy happens to us.  The truth, we well know, is that drugs and alcohol respect no one.  Our malady is merciless, unforgiving.  It doesn’t care whether we are grieving and find ourselves in our darkest hour.  It would gladly see us fall into mental and physical decline and finish us off for good.  The recovered alcoholic and addict, therefore, must take positive steps to assure light at the end of the tunnel.

First, we continually turn to God for support.  As we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the one thing that feels natural is to run away and hide.  Yet, it was the Lord himself who, being in agony, “prayed more earnestly.” Luke 22:44.  He turned to the Father, and we must copy his example.  God is near to the brokenhearted.  Whether crying, shouting, sobbing, or pleading, we can and should unload all of our feelings – our sorrow, pain, loneliness, helplessness, and even anger – before Him.  He is a great and abundant God who understands and will carry us through.  It is written:  

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  For I am the Lord your God.  

Isaiah 43:2.  God has all power.  He supports us, takes up our pain, and bears our suffering.  Even though we don’t understand how, make no mistake: God will help us to find our way back again.  In Him all things are possible, and we will learn to live again and find both meaning and purpose in life.

Further, we reach out to family and friends.  They want to help, to support us, and to share our burden.  They will be there to embrace us, and cry with us, while we talk about and relive our beloved’s life and death, no matter how many times we repeat ourselves.  Staying close to friends and family protects us from total isolation, fear, and loneliness even when it feels like the world is falling apart.  They help ground us enough to push on through the emotional chaos until we are ready to embrace life again.  Some of them have suffered profound loss, too, and hearing their stories somehow helps impress upon us the reality that death is an unavoidable part of life, but something we can get through.

Finally, our attention to the 12 Steps must be resolute.  The Big Book doesn’t have a chapter specifically devoted to death, and one isn’t required.  We merely reach a broader understanding of its scope, and we continue to process our feelings and resentments as outlined in the program.  Most importantly, we must continue to carry the message to other alcoholics and addicts.  By doing this we aren’t trying to ignore or avoid facing our own grief.  We rather are pursuing 12th Step work, our most noble purpose, with newly opened eyes, the blinders off, to the reality of how devastating loss can be for others.  With informed empathy and caring, we can better share with others not only our pain and grief but also our experience, strength, and hope, because we do continue to live clean and sober.  Helping others reminds us that we are still needed, and somehow it helps heal our broken hearts.  Watching people recover and go on to help others will always be the bright spot of our lives.  See Big Book, at 89.

Grieving the death of a loved one invariably takes a turbulent and irregular course, but with proper support we eventually pick up the pieces of our lives and embrace life anew. We convert the emotional energy spent on grieving and apply it to other relationships.  By doing this, we have not forgotten our loved one – far from it.  We belong to them, and they to us, forever.  Nothing can ever change this.  While we might still sometimes feel sad when thinking about them, more often our thoughts are pleasant memories of something they had done or said.  We do smile again, and we remember them without suffering disabling grief.  Moreover, by coming face to face with death, and experiencing grief firsthand, we become better teachers about life.  There will come a day when we can look back on our own experience and be better prepared to help others, “comfort[ing] those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God.”  2 Corinthians 1:4.  We use our grief to transform ourselves into better human beings, for the betterment of everyone around us.

New Romance In Early Recovery: A Candid Discussion

New Romance In Early Recovery: A Candid Discussion

The 12 Steps of Alcohol Anonymous are our working plan to achieve the spiritual awakening needed for a substance free, well-adjusted, and happy life. We at CORE who live the program confidently assure you that the Big Book Promises found at pages 83-84 are real. They happen for everyone who devotes the time and effort to make this rebirth possible. Our sincerest desire is that every client works the program, receives the blessings of these promises, and successfully continues forward in all areas of life, including love.

Love and romance are among life’s great gifts. They’re powerful. Some people spend a lot of time thinking about them. The music, art, and literature industries largely depend on them. These themes naturally come up in recovery meetings, too.

The question of whether and when to get into a new relationship looms large for some who are new to recovery. It can be a delicate, personal topic for newcomers over which they might passionately debate. Old-timers, by contrast, never seem to debate this issue. They always seem to give the same advice: at the very least wait one (1) year before getting into new relationships.

For CORE staff, house managers, or sponsors, the matter of new relationships is usually raised by a client who approaches them about a fairly common experience. He announces that he has met someone and says, roughly:

She is a vision, a goddess. The most perfect, dazzling creature he’s ever seen. In this big ol’ crazy world of seven billion people, his meeting her was no accident. If it had been any other day, place, or time, then they never would have met. Fate brought them together out there at Moonshine Beach (or wherever). She’s the most beautiful, exciting person he’s ever known. He cannot stop thinking about her and must see her again . . .

The reader will get the drift. Without belaboring the various permutations that this story might take, this girl pretty much is the jam in his jelly roll. He’s confident in his sincerity. He further believes that she may be the one, and he is sharing because he wants our input, advice, or reaction about getting into a new relationship.

We with time in the program understand how critical this junction is. We lived through early recovery, too, and since then we individually have seen the experiences of hundreds, or even thousands, of persons in similar situations and how things turned out. We know how important this man’s decisions are, since his choices here mean the difference between reaping the promises of the Big Book, or a relapse from which he may or may never return.

Our advice and counsel remain consistent: in early recovery this is inadvisable, and he should be patient; he has nothing to offer her until his recovery is strong. We might further counsel that, if he really cared for her, then he at least should have the courtesy to warn her that he is early in recovery and not yet ready for a relationship. Looking at the big picture, that’s the hard truth to share if he really cares for her.

We won’t become the arbiter of anybody’s life here. We simply are here to help and to advise that there are good and sound reasons why someone in early recovery should avoid pursuing a new relationship.

Poor relationships result when one of the partners has an unhealthy relationship with themselves. As substance abusers we had identity issues to begin with. By the time we got to recovery, we really had no idea of who we were. Our lives were consumed with compulsive, uncontrollable substance abuse. We had reduced the entire world, with all of its activity, as big and as wide as it is, to a narrow day-to-day, even minute by minute, pursuit of alcohol or drugs. In our obsessions we neglected and abandoned families, friends, careers, passions, values, ideals and dreams. We had no life and cared about nobody. It’s no surprise then that many of us also felt to be of little worth and unworthy of love. When our relationship with ourselves is toxic, our relationships with others suffer the same fate. By quitting alcohol and drugs we don’t suddenly become cured. Without developing our sense of identity and self-worth, it’s not possible to form balanced, healthy connections with others.

Happily, all of this changes with real recovery, but this takes time. The 12 Steps are designed with forming this strong self-identity in mind. During our first year of sobriety we really are becoming a new person. Our recovery means so much more than simply not drinking or drugging. We’re adopting new and different beliefs, convictions, directions, goals and values apart from what characterized our pasts. We’re finding ourselves and developing clear ideas of who we are, and who we are not, apart from drugs and alcohol. We’re rediscovering our compassion for others and desire to be of service. While the 12 Steps provide a ready plan for these positive developments, it takes time to incorporate the qualities that define authentic and decent human beings. Our realizations, insights, and changes of heart don’t happen overnight, or in a matter of weeks, or even months.

As our sense of self takes shape, then the promises occur. Cf. Big Book, at 83 (“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.”) Before that, however, disaster is foreseeably certain. We’ve seen it too many times to believe anything different. Falling into a new relationship simply substitutes the high of illicit substances with the high of romantic relationships. We compromise our recovery program just to have somebody to help us feel better about ourselves. Our new program becomes the relationship. Insecure and needy, we lose ourselves in a co-dependent arrangement and withdraw from all support. Resentments set in, and we’re too immature, insecure, and needy to manage what happens next. We’re cut off, powerless, and trap ourselves in the cycle of addiction again. This unfortunate result is completely foreseeable and should not come as a surprise. When we get into a new relationship early in recovery, we invariably come to regret that decision.

There’s no way to be gentle about this: finding a new relationship in early recovery distracts us from our chance at real recovery. We who offer advice on this topic care about you and the quality of your recovery. Freedom, happiness, serenity, peace – all of these in lasting abundance will be yours to share if you focus on your year here at CORE and work your program to its fullest. We want nothing but the best for you!

Christians In History: William Tyndale

Christians In History: William Tyndale (1494-1536)

If you read any of the most popular translations of the New Testament, whether the King James Version (KJV), New International Version (NIV), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), or New American Bible (NAB), you will read the work of William Tyndale. Often called the Father of the English Bible, he may be the single most important Bible translator in history.

Tyndale lived during The Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation, which were periods of religious, artistic, political and economic upheaval in Europe following the Middle Ages. He was a brilliant linguist who was adept in many languages, including the original languages of the New Testament (Greek) and Old Testament (Hebrew).

In Tyndale’s time it was forbidden to produce an English language Bible. The Word of God was controlled by religious authorities who could read and understand Latin. Tyndale, like his contemporary Martin Luther, believed that all people should have access to sacred texts. He once promised that he would “cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures” than the clergy.

Seeking to make good on that promise, Tyndale went to continental Europe where he consulted with Martin Luther. Tyndale translated the New Testament into English using the same Greek text from which Luther made his German translation. Parts of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch and Jonah) also were translated from a Hebrew text. In order to complete these translations, Tyndale actually had to create new words, such as Jehovah, Passover, atonement, and scapegoat – to name a few. He also coined the familiar phrases: “let there be light,” “the powers that be,” “my brother’s keeper,” “it came to pass,” and many others.

By 1526, German printers had produced the Tyndale Bible and copies were being smuggled into England. Religious authorities were so alarmed that they made a practice of confiscating and buying up all of the copies they could find and burning them. In spite of this, Tyndale’s Bible continued to circulate.

Tyndale eventually incurred the wrath of King Henry VIII when he criticized the king’s divorce and remarriage. Charged with multiple heresies, Tyndale was hunted down and found in Antwerp, Belgium, where government authorities had him strangled and burned at the stake.

Ironically, shortly after Tyndale’s death, Henry VIII ordered the publication and countrywide distribution of The Great Bible, which borrows heavily from the Tyndale Bible. Subsequent English versions, like the Geneva Bible (1560) which the Pilgrims in 1620 brought to America on the Mayflower, and the ever popular King James Bible (1611), use about eighty (80) percent of Tyndale’s work. Even today, almost 500 years later, modern translators of the most popular English versions have retained many of Tyndale’s words, tones, cadences, and idioms.

Overconfidence In Recovery

Overconfidence In Recovery

If you’ve been in recovery for any period of time, you’ve probably been to a meeting attended by Mr. Recovery. Confident, witty, and quick to turn a phrase, he commands the respect of the entire room. Women love him, and men want to be like him. His breathtaking rise to the top of the AA/NA food chain took almost no time at all. He knows the program, and he feels just great. His life is back on track. Nothing and nobody can stop him. The group hangs on his every word as Mr. Recovery shares his pearls of wisdom for the advancement of all mankind.

There is only one problem. Shortly afterwards he relapses. Some of us, upon hearing that Mr. Recovery is in rehab throwing up on the detox techs, are left in dismay wringing our hands and telling ourselves that, gosh, it can happen to anybody.

Not so. In fact, relapse need never happen to anybody. Regardless of outward appearances, we will stay clean and sober if and only if we prayerfully rely on God.

None of us has the superpower within ourselves to overcome alcoholism and addiction. They are a chronic, physical disease that cannot be cured. We are powerless, as evidenced by our past personal histories based on hundreds or even thousands of experiences. We have to accept this. Not even the well-meaning people in our lives can supply this power deficit for us.

Make no mistake: not using always must be our first order of business – anywhere, any time, and under any circumstances. But we can only do this with God’s help. We “simply do not stop . . . so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God.” Big Book, at 98. It is only when we express “a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves,” that “we commenced to get results.” Id., at 46.

Real recovery looks not so much like a hero’s rise to stardom as it does Paul’s experience with the thorn in the flesh described in 2 Corinthians. Although Paul pleaded for this physical malady to be taken away, God’s answer was a resounding no. In time, however, Paul came to understand not only that God’s grace was sufficient, but also that His power was made perfect in Paul’s weakness. Id. 12:8 – 9. Paul concluded the matter by stating that he might as well brag about his weaknesses, “so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Id. Paul’s example is our blueprint for a lifetime of recovery with confidence.

Importantly, our reliance on God entails prayer. Its necessity cannot be overemphasized. Too often we reach for the formalities of AA without developing our relationship with God. We learn the protocol for meetings, memorize the steps and various sayings, and immerse ourselves in the recovery culture, and we assume that these things keep us sober. If we do this, we risk falling into the same trap that so many religious people do when their spirituality rests solely upon holding the right beliefs about God and belonging to the right churches. They become spectators, not participants, in faith. We can not pretend that any of these things substitute for the actual relationship with God that comes through prayer.

In Step 11 we improve our conscious contact with God through prayer and meditation, praying:
only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

We should take a minute to let the pointed simplicity of this step wash over us. It is worth noting here, too, that the Lord, on the only two recorded occasions where he expressly praises people for having faith, neither involves individuals who believe the right sacred facts, espouse the appropriate doctrines, or are members of the right religious denominations. In fact, it’s obvious they don’t. See Matthew 8:5-13 (faith of the Centurion) and Matthew 15:21-28 (faith of the Canaanite woman). What distinguished these people is that they sought the power of God in circumstances that everybody else thought impossible. They made their requests with humility and in faith, and they were not disappointed. Our experience today is no different. We can enjoy a lifetime of recovery, with complete confidence, when our recovery is based on God.

His Plan Is Better


“God carried me here, and CORE taught me how to live my life sober.”

Heidi Butler’s story of recovery is not the one most people picture when they think of someone who struggles with addiction. She lead a fairly normal life, was married with two children and perfectly happy when she first encountered the disease.

“I had three surgeries within a four month span. I had my tonsils removed, my gallbladder removed, and a hysterectomy. I took the pain medication just like my doctor prescribed, but when it came time to quit, my body freaked out and I needed more,” said Heidi.

Heidi went to her doctor, explaining her concern of addiction to the pain pills, which resulted in her doctor immediately cutting her off and led to Heidi searching for other ways to obtain the pills.

“I started stealing pills from my friends’ medicine cabinets. No one ever suspected me because I didn’t look like the typical addict,” said Heidi. “I did some dark things for pain medicine.”

Eventually, people did begin to notice and Heidi’s picture perfect life began to fall apart. She lost her job and her husband filed for divorce, getting custody of the kids in the process.

Heidi went to a 30-day treatment facility, where she received help and believed she was cured for life. She moved to Nebraska, started a new job, and slowly began to piece her life together again. She reconnected with her high school sweetheart through Facebook and they were married within a matter of months. Heidi even got to spend time with her children again. It seemed like she was finally in the clear; however, she soon learned that the worst was yet to come.

“I realized that my husband was an alcoholic. I wasn’t working at the time, so I only ever spent time with him and he was always drinking,” said Heidi. “I felt so isolated and lonely.”

The turning point really hit when her stepson was sent to jail and her husband hit rock bottom. He began using meth, which eventually led to Heidi trying it and toppling off the deep end.

“It only took one hit and that was it for me; I was hooked,” said Heidi. “All I could think about was where I could get more. It was a really deep, dark place that I went to.”

Heidi’s ex-husband eventually found out about the drug use and told her that she would never be allowed to see her kids again.

“I thought that I had just become this huge burden and everyone’s lives would be better without me,” said Heidi. “I went home. I grabbed the shotgun from the house and went outside. I prayed to God to forgive me, put the gun in my mouth and pulled the trigger.”

But, as it turned out, God had other plans for Heidi because the safety was still on the gun and her husband pulled into the driveway at that very moment and stopped her from doing anything more.

Heidi went to her mother’s house in Hollister and tried to get into a treatment center, but was turned away because she was 4 days clean at the time and wasn’t eligible for their detox program.

“I went and got high just so I get into the program,” said Heidi.

But, instead of going back to the treatment center, Heidi found herself drawn to the New Beginnings Church in Branson. She sat in the back of the sanctuary and cried throughout the entire service, until a woman came and sat down next to her.

“She sat down and said ‘I know you have a story to tell,’ and I just started telling her everything,” said Heidi. “We met for lunch the next day and she told me about CORE. I didn’t want to go; I didn’t think I needed a yearlong program. But, she followed me home, helped me pack a bag, and followed me to CORE.”

Heidi didn’t want to stay at CORE for long. She set a goal of 4 months in her head and planned to leave after that, but she made it to the 4 months and found herself wanting to stay. She started really listening in her classes and realized that the people around her were truly happy and she could be too if she just allowed herself to heal.

“You cannot do this until you are absolutely ready,” said Heidi.

Heidi commenced after completing her year at CORE. She has been with us for 18 months now and works as a House Manager, staying involved in our 2nd Mile Program as well. She is able to see her kids again and she mentors the young girls who live with her, offering wisdom and comfort to those who need it.

“Being a mom is what I was born to do, and now I can use that to help all of these girls living with me,” said Heidi. “God’s plan for me was different than my own, but it was infinitely better.”

We love Heidi and we are so proud of the Godly woman she has become. Her journey to recovery was a long one, with many twists and turns, but it led her exactly where she needed to be.

CORE Divider


Wow! Thanks to all of your incredible donations and generosity, we were able to raise a combined total of $47,020 at our fundraisers on May 16th! This is a 20% increase from last year and a new record for CORE!

We cannot begin to express how appreciative we are for the support you have shown us. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. It means the world to us and to our clients that you believe in our mission and in them so much you are willing to spend your hard earned dollars to help them succeed and have a better future. The proceeds from these events are instrumental in allowing us to continue providing and improving our services. We are so incredibly grateful, and we are already working on ways to make these events even better for you next year.

A Step In The Right Direction


Meet Gabi Vlasak: one of our recent CORE graduates. Her commencement ceremony was just last Sunday on June 24th, and we are so proud of everything she has accomplished!

Gabi is 22 years old and originally from St. Louis, Missouri. Her struggle with addiction started when she was just 15 years old.

“I always felt really alone, and I found relief in drugs and alcohol. They were my escape from reality,” said Gabi.

Gabi continued to use drugs as an escape over the years until it eventually began to take over every part of her life.

“I lost everything,” said Gabi, “my family wanted nothing to do with me; I was at rock bottom and I really just felt like I had nothing left to live for.”

Gabi went to a 30-day rehab facility, but said that she never really thought she would stop using. While she was there, she found out about CORE and decided to give it a try.

“I figured I had nothing to lose by coming here,” said Gabi, “ I chose to come but I didn’t necessarily want to be here at the time.”

Gabi says that she felt extremely overwhelmed when she first arrived at CORE.

“I found a lot of things here that I never thought I could have. The relationships and support here were just really incredible. I saw everything they had to offer and I realized it would be naïve of me not to take advantage of it and try to better myself,” said Gabi.

Gabi said that she has learned so much from CORE, about herself and about interacting with others.

“It’s taught me who I am, why I am the way that I am, how to work through everyday problems, how to open up to people and be honest about my feelings, and how to accept myself and those around me,” said Gabi.

Gabi said that she has always been a really private person and she found it difficult to open up to others, so coming into the CORE housing was a completely new experience for her.

“It was a little weird at first because we were all so close together all the time, but after a while I realized we were close for a reason,” said Gabi, “There was no hiding my feelings or shutting everyone out anymore. You have to talk to each other and that was good for me.”

Gabi said that since coming to CORE she has more opportunities, her life is stable, and she’s even been able to rebuild the relationships with her family again.

“I honestly never thought that I could stay sober for this long, or that I would find such joy and peace,” said Gabi.

Gabi said she is so glad that she made the decision to come to CORE, and she has a message for those who might be afraid to do the same:

“Just give it a try; you have nothing to lose. There is a way out, a way to live and be happy and have peace of mind. Getting connected and talking to people who have been through the same things you have is so important. You are not alone in this.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, and we encourage anyone who is considering CORE to take that step. We are ready to help anyone who is ready to help themselves.

CORE Divider


Our Commencement ceremonies happen once a month and they are BIG DEAL here. It’s a time for clients to get together with their friends and family and celebrate one whole year of sobriety and completing the CORE Common Solution Recovery Program. Clients get to walk across the stage and receive a plaque for their achievements. They’re given the opportunity to stand before everyone and talk about some of their favorite memories, accomplishments, and people who inspired them the most at CORE.

Food and beverages are served and everyone can picnic together. There are even baptisms happening in the creek nearby! It’s a time of fellowship and celebration as we send our graduates on to the next phase of their lives, taking with them everything that they’ve learned here at CORE.

June 2018 Newsletter

Giving Back

Meet one of our newest team members at CORE: Michael Corcoran. Mike is a nine year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and has been deployed around the world during his years of service. Mike wants to share his recovery story as it depicts what CORE is all about!

Mike is originally from St. Louis, Missouri, and like countless other people, he started down the path of addiction at a very young age.

“I started smoking meth at 14 years old, which led to a 34 year addiction,” said Mike, “I had burned most of the bridges with my family from years of addiction and abuse.”

Mike tried going to rehab but said that no sooner was he out, and he was already thinking about getting high again.

His sister did some research online and came across CORE’s website. She got in contact with our Recovery Services Manager, Buddy Krause, and within a couple of days Mike was in our intake program.

Mike says that CORE appealed to him more than other recovery centers because he was able to lead a normal life while still being held accountable for his actions.

“I had to have structure and routine in my life, and I found that here,” said Mike.

He attended our Common Solution classes, which explore the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous; as well as our spirituality classes, which teach that the true solution to any problem in life is Christ.

“Something began to change in me,” said Mike, “I wanted to know more.”

Before coming to CORE, Mike said he had never wanted anything to do with God, but that slowly began to change as he started attending Peace In The Storm Services and continued progressing in his studies.

“The first time I went to a Peace in the Storm service, I was amazed,” said Mike, “There was this incredible band playing and they were just rocking out! And there was a former addict standing up there preaching to a room full of addicts; I could really feel something in there.”

Mike said he began to look around at the staff in the room and think- I want that life.

“I was amazed by how much everyone cared about each other,” said Mike, “The fellowship in these houses is absolutely amazing; there are addicts everywhere on the streets who could care less about one another, but here they really do care.”

Mike didn’t originally know that he would end up working in the same place that had helped him heal so much, but it’s funny how often God will open the door to something we didn’t even know we wanted in the first place.

“I just knew that I wanted to be doing more, and I wanted to help others and become more involved,” said Mike.

Mike says that he prayed a lot about how God wanted him to fulfill this calling to do more and it didn’t take long before he got his answer.

“Kevin Hunt called me a couple of days later and asked if I would consider working for CORE,” said Mike, “I thought about it and realized that I wanted to be a part of this organization in whatever shape that looked like.”

Mike has been working as a custodian for the CORE campus, but will start as a House Manager this month, teaching newcomers rules, helping them learn the steps to recovery and just being a listening ear when they need someone to talk to.

“I want to be a friend to them and help them through the program,” says Mike, “I just really want to set a good example for them.”

Mike says that the hardest part of this is seeing when his brothers and sisters relapse. This is a hard one for all of us, but unfortunately it does happen. However, the hard parts are all worth it when you get to see the look in someone’s eyes as they finally get it and they just surrender.

We can’t wait for Mike to begin this new journey as a House Manger and watch as he leads others through the same healing process that he went through. It’s amazing to see our clients come full circle and use what they learned here to help others. And at the end of the day that’s what it’s really all about – taking what we’ve gained and turning around and giving it back.

Our 12th Annual Auction Was A Success!

Thank you to everyone who came out to our Live & Silent Auctions in May. It was truly incredible and humbling to see the people in our community coming together and showing their support of our programs.

The money raised at this auction will allow us to continue helping people and restore the families and lives that have been torn apart by addiction.

We are so grateful to all of our sponsors and to the people who donated items to be auctioned off as well. We could never have pulled this off without you!