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Wednesday, 20 September 2017


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I don't know this for sure, but the "Insurance usually pays for it" might be because of the generous mental health benefits under the ACA. If that changes, all bets might be off, though New York might be safer than most.

I am mainly commenting here to get people to contact their senators to cut off Cassiday/Graham at the knees.

It's a good thing I haven't needed AA, because their approach is philosophically incompatible with me. Some secular people manage to fake it (and of course some AA groups are much more blatantly religious than others) and get what they need, but I doubt I could (I'm no good at, and strongly philosophically opposed to, sweeping major issues under the rug; as this comment could be seen as demonstrating).

There have been more and more science-based rationalist recovery approaches starting up, which is a good thing. And there's starting to be some actual scientific research on recovery.

I kind of associate AA and their "never drink" approach with the War on Drugs, and I consider them all part of the same problem (they all, after all, are claiming to "help" people).

I'm certainly glad you found something to help you when you needed help, anyway; so good for AA, and good for you! Congratulations on 27 years.

Michael: Congrats on 27 years. Very glad to see you comment on this. I ended up being the CEO of a nationally accredited treatment program as a part of my other nonprofit management duties involving homeless people-though they actually came from all walks of life, politicians, famous football players -one of whom graduated from the University of Nebraska without knowing how to read or write, etc.. So many of my staff became friends and most were in AA. If there is a more caring, accepting group of people around I wouldn't know who they are. Recovery and all or nearly all of the social opportunities most people need-and for some the first time in there lives. There are many facets to recovery as you know better than I, but AA is a remarkable organization (or non-organization) that is great for many-though sadly not a good fit for some. Congrats again!

Lovely post - thank you.

Mike, I read your blog every day. My admiration for you is considerable. And yet, while I applaud your description of the healing power and joy of AA I wish to remind you of our 11th tradition: "Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films."

While a photography blog is not, strictly speaking, press, radio or a film, the same principal applies in some degree. But to what degree? Fortunately, for us, this is a decision which we leave up to the individual. I neither criticize nor applaud but thought you should be aware.

With affectionate wishes,


[You're right, Rob, so I took down the original post which was called "Happy Day" and replaced it with one called "About Detox" that doesn't mention AA. --Mike]

By the way, hearty congratulations to you on 27 years!

Congrats, Mike.

I want to add that detox from some medicines, like opioids and benzo, can be extremely difficult also. Some as dangerous to go cold turkey on, and some take *many months* to safely detox from! Even with substitution medicine. Many doctors don't even know, clearly, that many of these meds create *very* strong physical dependencies beyond a few weeks. A doctor told me that for some meds (like Lorazepam/Ativan), he had not heard of anybody who had successfully detoxed without pro help!

Thank you, and a "good job" for you. Teared me up a bit.
Meanwhile in Finland, the lawmakers are going through the motions to make alcohol easier to buy and abuse. With a considerably less well-off AA-system than the US of A. Makes me sad, seeing the perpetual damage that alcohol does.
But, I'm extremely happy for you and your fellows at "the rooms".

Congrats! And well deserved...

Hi Mike
Thanks for sharing this. It is truly life-saving information. AA is a way of life as well as being a program of recovery. As a Christian, I find it deeply spiritual and transforming.
"The joy is in the journey. Trust God."

Beautiful. Thank you, Mike. Transforming deep and intensive work into an extensive gift for the rest of us.



Thanks, Mike, and congratulations. Let me also put in a good word for Al Anon Family Groups, a cooperating organization to AA for people affected by alcoholism in family and friends. I won't try to describe the program, which is best learned from reading the literature. But I will quote the suggested program Welcome to note that " no situation is really hopeless and that it is possible for us to find contentment, and even happiness, whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not." Need it? Google it. 'nuff said.

Good for you Mike. Life is full of road blocks and things that will draw one away from a good path for ones life. You found your way around a big one.

Stay healthy, I enjoy reading your stuff as much as I'm sure you enjoy writing it.

Best, p

Thank you Mike, I appreciate the OT today. I have 8 months today, and my life is getting better every day.

Attitude of gratitude. Way to go Mike J. I can't but we can one day at a time

As a photographer of many years and NOT an alcoholic (although alcoholics have had an effect on my life), this is the very best writing I have ever read on AA and how it helps alholics. Great job, Mike...and congratulations on reaching a major milestone. Keep it up!

Heartiest and sincerest congratulations Mike. Detox, Betty Ford, and continuing AA not only saved our wonderful son's life, but made him a far better man, husband and father, and he already was a great one. His marriage is much stronger, their children have the best parents, and he actively counsels others, returns to Betty Ford every anniversary (7). Everywhere we go together in his community, there's someone he sponsored coming over for a good hug or a chat.

Thank you for writing this.

I'm happy for you, Mike. Congratulations. Bill

Thanks for sharing this Mike - like much of what you have shared over the years very personal - and also inspirational

Happy Anniversary!
Best thing that ever happened to me (other than the wife who puts up with me).
God Bless.

Congratulations Mike. Recovering and staying recovered from any addiction takes guts. Especially one that messes with your physical and mental chemistry. I have the highest admiration for those that can tough it out.

Congrats on another day, and every day, Mike.


Congratulations Mike! I no nothing of the AA in the US but it seems the eleventh rule of the AA is not to talk about the AA.

Whatever the methodology, it takes great personal commitment, hard work and courage to overcome an addiction. Well done.

Congratulations Mike. I follow your blog daily and admire your honesty and can sense the joy on your continuing triumph on your recovery.

Mike, congratulations. Very nice post and one I am sure was not easy to write. Keep up your good work. All the best Eric

Hi Mike

I am myself an alcoholic, sober for a little more than eight years. I would very much like a link to the original post.

Kind regards
Søren from Denmark

It works if you work it!

A good story, though AA would never work for me, due to its religious basis.

I drink more ethanol than I would like to (both cost and health considerations) but I drink less than I did when younger—I am 65. I have successfully cut down by about a quarter to a third (mostly wine with meals) in recent times, but am finding it tough to get any further.

I have begun drinking tea again after a long break, as something of a transference activity; that helps. I’m giving myself until Xmas to make some more progress.

What gets my goat is the illogical and misleading language used even by health care ‘professionals’ when they speak of “alcohol and drugs”. Alcohol IS a drug, and because of its widespread abuse, it has societal costs higher than, say, marijuana, excepting law enforcement costs and penalties.

Australia has a booze culture, but it has been changing of late, with drinking at a fifty year low; younger people are drinking less. The same tendency applies in the UK and US.


Congratulations to you Mike. Overcoming an addiction like that takes courage and fortitude. You have my respect. And good wishes for another 27 years.

Hi Mike,
If you don't care to reply to this, that is fine. If you don't care to have it in the comments section that is also fine.
But, I don't understand this comment and the big overnight edit:
"Mike, I read your blog every day. My admiration for you is considerable. And yet, while I applaud your description of the healing power and joy of AA I wish to remind you of our 11th tradition: 'Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.'

While a photography blog is not, strictly speaking, press, radio or a film, the same principal applies in some degree. But to what degree? Fortunately, for us, this is a decision which we leave up to the individual. I neither criticize nor applaud but thought you should be aware.

With affectionate wishes,


[You're right, Rob, so I took down the original post which was called "Happy Day" and replaced it with one called 'About Detox' that doesn't mention AA. --Mike]"

[Robert, AA recommends that AA members themselves refrain from representing or promoting the organization in public settings, "...ever reminding us to place principles before personalities." You can read about it here:


I discussed my original post with several AAs last night at the meeting, and decided that I should do my best to comply with AA's traditions. I might not agree or entirely understand, but it's not up to me--my job is to follow the fellowship's rules in the best way I can as part of my own continuing recovery program. --Mike]

Congratulations on 27, Mike.

My sister has been dry now for about 35 years, and is in all ways better off than she was before (and she'll tell you exactly that). It hasn't always been easy, and her experience is one of the factors because of which I don't drink, but life has been so much better for her.

Enjoy life, it's a grand ride.

I'll quote something I was told every year: "thats a good start". That did tick me off the first few times I heard it.
Keep coming back.

Congratulations on 27 years. And may there be many more 27-year anniversaries.

I was rather afraid you would do what any conscientious member of AA would do in response to comments you may have received: take down the original post. Fortunately I was able to save a copy. Re-reading it I am sure with 27 years you too have been rocketed into the 4th dimension of which the book speaks. Therefore I am confident that you admire and love AA just as much as I do. Although I have a mere decade in, I have come to love and respect everyone in AA. As a result my life is rich and full - as I expect yours is. Discerning your love and admiration for the program which has saved us both, I knew you would appreciate and consider the words of the 11th tradition. That tradition calls upon us to sublimate our human instincts to the betterment of AA as a practice of humility. Your share is a very powerful one and I expect that your 12th step work is powerful and effective as a result. When I came in I wanted what you guys have: serenity, peace of mind and calmness of body and mind. I wish you the very best !

Congratulations Mike. I always wanted my father to follow a detox program. Since I was a kid I remember him drinking one bottle of red wine every day, half at lunch and half at dinner. He was a very strong and healthy guy, save for his every day bottle of wine. He died at 91 of a heart stroke. He was still working sporadically, doing structural calculations, being an accomplished civil engineer.

Dear Mike,

I really appreciated your original post about your success with AA. Congrats on that chip. I worked the 12 steps myself for a number of years and have high regard for them and the 12 traditions.

Just my 2 cents, but I don't think your post violated the 11th tradition. This is because the nature of blogging is so personal. It just isn't like traditional media. As a reader of yours I feel like I have a relationship with you and your regular contributors and commentors that borders on the personal. As such, I didn't feel you were representing or promoting AA, just offering a testimonial about your experience with the program. Like all your posts, I found that one thoughtful and helpful, something shared in our electronic living room as if over coffee, "Hey friends, today's a special day for me..."

To my understanding, the tradition of anonymity in 12-step is about protecting other's privacy and about avoiding controversy. Your meeting's consensus notwithstanding, I don't think you crossed these lines. Your piece clearly put principles before personalities and reached out to those who still suffer. Of course, it's been years since I've been to a meeting and I imagine the 12-step community has evolved healthy traditions to deal with social media, blogging, vlogging, etc. which could be the sticking point.

Last point: blogs are a bi-directional medium. They're conversational because of their comments sections. They have more in common with a church basement than with broadcasting, narrowcasting, publishing. The discussion engendered by a post (on a well moderated site like yours) illuminates that post, clarifies it, ensures it stays on track. You work hard to maintain this function of your publication. In this context, and in the context of the TOP community, your post in no way stirred the pot; it was an act of service.

I understand why you edtited your post. I also think it's a shame you had to. In no way do I mean to knock AA or your group. AA's conservative nature is a strength, but in this case I think they're retarding a really productive form of outreach. But who am I to judge? Their perennial resistance to self promotion and reliance on word of mouth has served them well for a long time.

Sincerely yours,
My name is Jeff.

[Many thanks for the thoughtful reply, Jeff. --Mike]

Congratulations Mike. Our addictions are the strongest foe most of us encounter. It takes courage and discipline to win. Thanks for being a great example.

Congrats Mike. I cold turkeyed smoking after 18 years of a 2 pack/day habit in September of 1990. I know how tough it is to quit an addiction like that. One of the hardest things I've ever done, but SO glad I did.

Thanks for sharing. I remember a quote from a close buddy: "One drink is not enough, one drink is too much."

It's unfortunate insurance companies are chintzy. It's unfortunate that rehab centers often prioritize profit over patients.

The insurance/medical industrial complex skimp on mental health care too.

Like you said, treating addiction is a matter of mind and body. Kudos for being open, honest, and for explaining detox versus rehab. Thanks, Mike.

I am profoundly happy for you. You have every right to be absolutely thrilled. I salute you on bended knee as I slowly tip my cap.

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