Thursday Thoughts

A Christmas Gift: Recovery Carrier Bill White


On the last Thursday of each of the preceding 11 months, the B Here Today Recovery Carrier post has started with these words:

William White defines recovery carriers as “people, usually in recovery, who make recovery infectious to those around them by their openness about their recovery experiences, their quality of life and character, and the compassion they exhibit for those still suffering.” (, 2012)

Today, on a day traditionally set aside for celebrations of love and giving, here is my Christmas gift to you: A collection of thoughts and writings from the consummate Recovery Carrier and muse for this series, Bill White.


Me with Bill White

Recovery is contagious, and as one who attended the St. Paul, MN, gathering of new recovery advocates and carriers in 2001, I’m proud to help spread the infection of recovery. Thank you, Bill, for your decades of passionate service.

I hope you, dear readers, enjoy the remainder of this holiday season.  May it bring you peace and prosperity, joy and love.

From Bill’s essay, “Recovery Carriers”:

Addiction recovery is often caught before it is chosen—meaning that one can get swept up in recovery in a process as unplanned and as irrational as how one got caught up in addiction.

Catching recovery involves exposure to people in recovery with whom one can identify and who serve as catalysts of personal change.

I don’t think this is something you can decide to be. It is rather something that emerges within some people out of the very process of recovery or from experiencing what Ernie Kurtz (1996) described as their “own dark night of the soul.”

From the keynote address at the NorthEast Treatment Centers 40th anniversary celebration in Philadelphia in 2010:

Addiction is a disease of exposure—a collision between personal vulnerability and social opportunity.

My message is a simple one: Recovery is contagious.

As a culture, we have recognized this process of social contagion. We have long referred to surges in alcohol and other drug problems as epidemics—a term most often applied to communicable diseases.

The contagion of addiction is transmitted through a process of infection—the movement of addiction disease from one vulnerable person to another.

Addiction is visible everywhere in this culture, but the transformative power of recovery is hidden behind closed doors.

From Amplification of Remarks to the Association of Recovery Community Organizations at Faces & Voices of Recovery Executive Directors Leadership Academy Dallas, TX, November 15, 2013:

Recovery is contagious. This phrase suggests that recovery can be “caught”—interpersonally transmitted—before it is chosen. Recovery is spread through exposure to recovery carriers (“wounded healers”)—people who make recovery infectious through their persona and their love and service to those still suffering. Positing the contagiousness of recovery counters the ideas that people must “hit bottom” before recovery is possible and that family and community are powerless to affect addiction until the addicted person is “ready” for recovery. This notion of contagiousness suggests quite the opposite: that recovery initiation has as much to do with hope as with pain, and that hope can be elicited through interpersonal encounters with people living vibrant, meaningful lives in recovery.

Thank you, Bill, for your words, ideas, thoughts and expressions of faith in this thing we call recovery. Our field, as well as all those in recovery who call you friend, are blessed by your work.

Please share this post widely on social media; each time you do, you keep the conversation about recovery alive and well. Holiday blessings to you and yours!

Photo courtesy of pippalou 

Are You Filled With What You Want to Spill?

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Years ago, somewhere in the rooms of recovery, I heard the question, “Are you filled with what you want to spill if you tip over?”

(If anyone knows the origin of this ditty, please share!)

The question came to mind yesterday as I pondered my finances. It’s the holiday season (which I love!) so there’s extra money going out. In addition to family gifting, I always get a charge out of anonymous and charitable giving and in doing the unexpected.

It was right about then that my mind had a bit of a seizure. Holy smokes! How can I possibly do it all? Clients are shifting, pulling back, others on the horizon but probably won’t make a decision until the new year . . . OMG!

What’s up with the limiting beliefs?

Instead of hyperventilating, I paused (as in, when agitated, we paused). Telling myself there might not be enough money is nothing more than a story. Since I love a good story, why not make it a story of abundance rather than one of lack?

Julia Cameron became my rock star hero in 1992 when she published The Artist’s Way. I learned to write morning pages and to do good things for myself on a weekly basis.

Twenty years later, she wrote another game-changer called The Prosperous Heart, Creating a Life of Enough. I swear I will kiss her ring if we ever meet.

This book is really a 12-week course in learning about abundance. It’s meant to change my attitudes and beliefs around money and when I bought it a month ago, I couldn’t wait to jump in.

The first week in my new journal dedicated to The Prosperous Heart exercises is dated November 23. Nothing since.

The point here is there is something comfortable about misery. My old friend John used to say we sit in our own s**t because it’s warm.

Dumping out those thoughts of lack

Say I’m walking the dogs, stub my toe and take a header onto the sidewalk. What will spill out of me? You guessed it. “Not enough. Won’t be enough. It’s always going to be like this. Why can’t I catch a break?”

Well, that’s not good. And certainly not something I’m proud of, human though it may be.

Okay, so what’s the next step?

I have to dump the ideas of not enough. Then I have to really, really wrap my arms around faith in prosperity.

Tweet: Without dumping my limiting ideas, there’s a block against creativity, which in my business, is highly detrimental. @bheretoday

How to begin?

“Prosperity at its root is a belief in a benevolent something–and a belief that that ‘something’ will guide us and guard us, ” Julia writes in the introduction to The Prosperous Heart.

“In my personal history, I have had tight fiscal times and times of greater abundance,” she continues. “I have learned to have a sense of safety based on my conviction that God will provide.

“Looking back, always, when a demand for cash has appeared, the supply of cash has appeared also,” Julia concludes.

Alrighty then. Now I know what I want to be filled with for the next time I spill my insides all over the sidewalk.

Photo courtesy of JEOMYEOL

Meet Recovery Carrier Becky Vance

Lesser Yellowlegs

When it comes to recovery-related issues, Becky Vance is one of the most passionate people you’ll ever meet. We met nearly 10 years ago while working on the field services team for The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, then known as The Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Our lives have changed drastically since 2005: while neither of us works at The Partnership any longer, we still live and work and breathe recovery–as a couple. Having Becky as the November Recovery Carrier not only honors the professional work she does, but expresses my loving gratitude for the many ways she models recovery for me in our daily lives together.

This is the 11th post in this Recovery Carrier series.

William White defines recovery carriers as “people, usually in recovery, who make recovery infectious to those around them by their openness about their recovery experiences, their quality of life and character, and the compassion they exhibit for those still suffering.” (, 2012)

When you hear the term “recovery carrier,” as it relates to addiction, what does that mean to you? Do you think you’re a recovery carrier?

A recovery carrier is someone who is not afraid to share the miracle of her own recovery with anyone. In fact, she is always looking for new opportunities to share her story withBvanceRally others, because she knows others will pass it on. Yes, I believe in my heart that I am a recovery carrier. People often tell me that my passion for recovery is infectious and I love that! I even joke that I am the poster child for recovery; if you think about it, that’s really true, at least to the people I meet that haven’t been exposed to recovery.

What makes you uniquely qualified to do the work you do?

It may sound kind of weird but I believe that God selected me to share this message of recovery. I did not wake up one day and say “I think I’ll share my recovery story at a breakfast of 100 corporate leaders to help promote the value of drug-free workplace programs.” Not at a time when I had a huge fear of public speaking! That particular event, which we called “Sex, Lies and Drugs in the Workplace,” turned out to be a sentinel event for me, and was the launching pad for the work I do today.

As a result of saying “yes” to sharing my story outside of a 12-Step meeting, which was absolutely terrifying to me at the time, I’ve been able to touch more lives than I could ever imagine.

Tell me how your personal story fits into why you do your work.

Maybe a better question is, How do you carry the message of recovery in your work life? I have been truly blessed for the past 26 years to have jobs that allowed me to share my recovery story with literally thousands of people.

(To read more of Becky’s interview, click Becky Vance 11-14)

Photo courtesy of AcrylicArtist

Unearthing Faith Again


Fran Sorin’s Amazon best-selling book is still on my mind. If you saw Monday’s post, you know that Digging Deep is a great practical and metaphorical guide to getting right with the earth and your spirit.

It’s the latter that consumes me today.

I’ve been thinking a lot about faith and I’ve realized that my faith has been as stuck as a shovel in clay-packed Texas dirt.

I read in the Daily Word this morning that I am rooted in God. “I am never separate from God because God is everywhere present.”

Then, I read in one of my recovery guidebooks that growing through challenges is akin to asking God to prune us back so that we can grow stronger.

It’s a plethora of horticultural messages!

Tweet: I may be rooted in God, but my faith can sure decide to root-rot from time to time. @bheretoday #DiggingDeep

That’s when I know I haven’t been feeding my faith the nutrients it needs to thrive.

Every plant (and every human) needs a good pruning

Faith grows stronger at the point where it’s been seemingly cut away.

After the pruning is the time to pour extra nourishment on the site because it may need special protection and care for awhile.

It’s important to keep the area clean–so no thoughts of lack or limitation are allowed. It’s almost as if the newly exposed area of faith needs a quarantine for a time.

We should be mindful of not exposing pruned areas to the elements that could cause harm. You might even consider a light covering, like a tent to ward off a springtime frost against the sharpness of the cold.

I know I feel much better as I protect my newly rooting (re)faith. Later, as it gains in strength, there will be intended harm–pests and even pestilence. But you and your faith will be stronger and more capable of edging around those threats.

The time to grow is now. The time to ripen is now. There is much to do that requires a deep and abiding faith to emerge with a renewed faith and a deepened sense of peace.

May love forever guide all of you as you experience your own pruning process. May you allow the God of your understanding to give you comfort and a renewed sense of faith.

If you like what you’ve read, please share with a comment or through the social media buttons below.

Photo courtesy of taliesin

Meet Recovery Carrier Robert Ashford


I’ve had the pleasure of working with Young People in Recovery (YPR) and getting to know several young people who not only live successful recovery lives, but also dedicate much of their time to advocating for recovery. This month’s Recovery Carrier epitomizes the meaning of both. Only 26 years old, Robert Ashford has poise, determination and a singular vision envied by people twice his age.

This is the 10th post in this Recovery Carrier series.

William White defines recovery carriers as “people, usually in recovery, who make recovery infectious to those around them by their openness about their recovery experiences, their quality of life and character, and the compassion they exhibit for those still suffering.” (, 2012)

Before we talk about recovery advocacy and recovery carriers, let’s talk a bit about the current recovery movement and what it looks like to you. 

I believe this is actually the third recovery movement. If you look at history, there was something missing in the first two and is the reason why those movements died out (described in detail in the documentary The Anonymous People).

The first two movements were not grassroots—this one is—and the first two didn’t have young people. HRDA_HS-1aving young people as a part of the movement and getting more young people engaged, the movement will sustain itself. Guys like me can still be involved 50 years from now, but we need young people continuing to show young people that recovery is a good thing.

Not only are young people creating sustainability because we’re going to be around longer but we’re allowing people to not spend 20 or 30 years in active use because they’re seeing people like themselves recover.

I think we’re in a perfect storm to finally get it right.

When you hear the term recovery carrier, what does that mean to you?

I think of a virus. If I have this thing, am I carrying it to other people? I think back to Day 57 of my recovery when I found out about Young People in Recovery (YPR), became empowered in my recovery and realized the importance of not only telling my recovery story but what that could do for others.

People have to know the message of recovery, that it’s not just abstinence. I’m a whole-hearted believer in all pathways to recovery. There are a lot of roads that lead to Rome. You just have to find the road for you. It doesn’t matter which road you pick.

Telling people—especially young people—that there are tons of different options, gives them hope because they don’t know that. Having addiction means you lose your humanity, which means you’ve lost your hope. Carrying the message of recovery means you’re giving young people hope again and helping restore their humanity. Or at least you’ve started the process.

Are you a recovery carrier?

Yes because somebody was for me. If I hadn’t become empowered by YPR, if I hadn’t gotten the message of recovery—what it meant and what it could be—then I wouldn’t be here today. It is as important as my 12-step program. I’ll say that flat out.

(To read more of Robert’s interview, click Robert Ashford 10-14.)

Photo courtesy of hotblack