anguish2The following “guest blog” is written by my brother, John, ardent advocate of recovery and helping. John, after retiring from his federal probation officer position, worked as an addiction counselor in Alabama.

Thank you for the invitation to participate in your blog, as I look back at my own experience with Recovery I wondered what it was that brought me to this most rewarding part of my life. Then it became clear, it was not the path I chose to follow because I would have gone a different way if left to my own devices. It was a gift from my Heavenly Father that lead me here.

We were introduced to the effects of alcohol on the family first hand. I personally was very resentful of my Dad’s use of alcohol and was not very tolerant of him or others like him. Strangely enough I was lead to a career in the field of Probation and Parole where many of the offenders assigned to me had that very problem. It seemed like I was revoking more offenders than my peers and congratulating myself for “protecting society”. I even pointed out to my supervisor that in probation work success could be counted in many ways. We could count our success in the failure of others to comply, Then I met Dot, she was the most miserable alcoholic I had ever met. She worked in a bank and began to kite checks to cover up her drinking. She was so good at it the bank had no idea that she was an alcoholic or an embezzler. But her conscious was a problem so she wrote the local FBI office and confessed her crimes. The FBI Agent laughed because it was the easiest investigation he ever had. But you see Dot had a profound effect on him too.

It seems she had found recovery through AA and was trying to make amends even before she quit drinking. She was working so hard to recover that she influenced him to stop drinking. She entered treatment and unlike many offenders I had worked with before began to have success in her life. She stayed active in AA and became a force to help others like her, she made full restitution to the bank and she apologized her children. She found a job at the local Mental Health office working in Day Treatment for the Mentally Ill, that office expanded to provide services for addicted clients. Dot was shifted to that team. They started a DUI school, she became an instructor and later the administrator of that program. She invited me to an AA meeting to hear her story

As I listened I heard several messages, The loudest was that Recovery was the answer and the key was the willingness to ask for help. I decided that if it would work for her, why not others. My whole approach to Probation changed and my revocation rates dropped, my clients began to experience more success in their lives and my job became more gratifying and abundant than ever before. I eventually asked to be allowed to work only with addicts and alcoholics, my co-workers were only too happy to let me, I introduced recovery into the lives of each of my offenders by taking them to speaker meetings, providing information about recovery and offered them a choice, many decided to try it, not all were successful but each time they made an effort their lives changed dramatically. Through working with them I lost my resentment for my Dad’s behavior and I began to understand and forgive both him and myself. I also learned that the principals of recovery are based on Eternal Principals beginning with the need to ask for help even though we don’t know how,

If you are new to recovery and are reading this please understand that recovery is a process we all go through some times it is looks like it would be painful and difficult but it is worth the effort. And the interesting thing is you can only keep it when you learn to give it away.