The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 25

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 25 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

There is an Old English tale called Beowulf, set in the Early Middle Ages in Scandanavia.  It is a mythic story about a warrior of that name, called to help the Danish king Hrothgar whose palace is under attack by the monster Grendel.  Beowulf defeats Grendel in an epic battle using only his bare hands. There is much rejoicing and celebration, but soon Grendel’s Mother hears of the death of her son and attacks the castle. This monster is much more powerful than Grendel, but, in an even more difficult battle, Beowulf finally defeats her and saves Hrothgar’s kingdom.

In this story, I am reminded that, for many of us alcoholics and addicts, our lifelong journey to Sobriety really does have two parts.  The first is getting sober, just stopping the consumption of alcohol or drugs or the high risk behavior patterns that have the same effect.  We have to stop it all completely and work with those in the Fellowships to help us achieve some semblance of a sober life that can last for more than a few days or weeks.  This first step is usually achieved with some success in a matter of months or a few years.

But like Beowulf’s second battle against Grendel’s Mother, the second part of our journey can be much, much harder.  For, after achieving that first level of sobriety, we have to deal with all those elements of ourselves that influenced and facilitated the descent into alcoholism in the first place. We must explore the deep core of who we are and what might have happened to us in our early lives to create the trauma that craved the medicating toxic substances or behaviors. These explorations might be especially difficult and not without much personal suffering.

In Beowulf, the hero must venture down into Grendel’s Mother’s lair, in a deep and dark cavern under a lake. The battle with her is particularly difficult, with much back and forth of Beowulf gaining the upper hand and then losing it. Beowulf finally wins using the monster’s own sword, but in dismembering her body and that of Grendel, this sword is dissolved by the toxic blood of the monsters.  Beowulf returns to the surface with only the hilt of the sword and the dismembered monster heads to reveal to Hrothgar and his subjects his true victory over the monsters.

For many of us, these images conjure up our own journeys down into some latent darkness and our own titanic battles with demons, core remembrances that seem like evil forces within us.  The disparate nature of these things and their ability to derail our quest for sanity and serenity can be real and present…maybe on an ongoing basis in our journeys to sobriety. Our initial victories may not seem to have the finality that is present in this epic story.

But, with the help of the Fellowships to which we attach ourselves, we learn how to deal with them day by day by day by day…and eventually we begin to take their power away.  The ultimate effect becomes much more lasting and the victories of Beowulf over Grendel and his Mother do begin to represent that of our own successes. We can eventually present the dismembered heads of our own demons to our peers in recovery with a sense of satisfaction and serenity.



Council’s 2017 Quality Outcomes Report Shows High Program Effectiveness & Client Satisfaction

The Council on Recovery’s 2017 Outcomes Management Report summarizes the continuously high effectiveness of our programs and services for those adversely affected by alcohol, drugs and related issues. It also reports impressive client satisfaction among the more than 60,000 people we served.

© 2018, The Council on Recovery

For more information or to receive a copy of the complete report, please contact the report’s author, Jessica Davison, at or use the Contact Us form.

Adolescent Alcohol Abuse: The Growing Problem, How to Talk to Teens About It, & What Parents Can Do to Stop It

Guest Blog by Dr. Susan Delaney, Director of Adolescent Services at The Council on Recovery’s Center for Recovering Families

The Data Behind the Teen Alcohol Problem

Despite the overwhelming media coverage of the opioid epidemic and the drug addiction crisis, most parents are surprised to learn that alcohol is currently the drug of choice among U.S. teens aged 12 -18 years.  Once kids enter high school the usage rates increase dramatically:  In a recent study, 75% of adolescents report having had an alcoholic drink by the 12th grade.

Dr. Susan Delaney

Continue reading “Adolescent Alcohol Abuse: The Growing Problem, How to Talk to Teens About It, & What Parents Can Do to Stop It”

The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 24

Bob W.

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 24 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

In classical and renaissance academia, there was an idea of an Astral Plane, a spirit world above the physical that may or may not have been equated with Heaven, Hell or Purgatory. It was seen as a place of spirits, maybe the soul, where otherworldly beings existed to whom we might appeal or supplicate ourselves. It also showed up in the world of psychics and mediums in recent centuries.

In more recent times this idea has been used in various sci-fi or action hero genres, in movies like the 2016 Dr Strange, based on an action hero first created by Stan Lee of Marvel Comics in 1963.  The hero, Steven Strange, is a renowned, but massively egotistical, neurosurgeon whose hands are irreparably crippled in an automobile accident. He explores all sorts of traditional and experimental systems in an attempt to heal himself. He journeys to the far side of the world in such pursuits and is eventually transformed into a powerful mystic who is able to access and employ unusual energies and systems. His transformation process takes him to a higher plane and is much like ours in the development of our sober living ethos. The paranormal abilities he gains in his transformation now make him much less interested in his former skills as a surgeon; he is now compelled to pursue his new gifts and energies in attempts to save mankind from various cosmic dangers.

This seems to be an uncanny, if a bit weird, analogy for those of us who see our journey in sobriety leading us to much higher levels of service than we could ever have imagined in our days in the disease.  In the constant exploration of whom and what we were in our disease and who and what we are in recovery, we begin to discover the core, the soul of our most authentic inner selves. We are naturally drawn to explore ways to be of service to everyone and everything, in everyday simple and massively expansive ways.

We see that, in carrying the message, in working to help others, in gaining a sense of the profound meaning of service to the cosmos, we are able to move to a plane of existence that is truly glorious. We now live a good part of our lives on a very real and present Astral Plane.

A Fundraiser’s Perspective on the Value of Donor Trust

Guest Blog by Judy Johnson, Director of Development, The Council on Recovery

At a charitable event recently, I was visiting with other guests when the topic of careers came up. I shared that I was in fundraising, and her reaction was immediate, “How can donors know who to trust anymore?”

Judy Johnson

As both a fundraiser and a donor, this question is of particular importance to me, and – admittedly – I’ll take any opportunity to share my passion and perspective on philanthropy. In my view, philanthropy is about connection. The decision to give is deeply personal, and whether we give twenty dollars or twenty thousand dollars, our gifts symbolize our support of and belief in an organization’s mission. We want to know our gift makes a difference and that our hard-earned dollars, once given, are wisely used to advance a shared goal. Continue reading “A Fundraiser’s Perspective on the Value of Donor Trust”

Social Media’s Impact on Underage Drinking: Youth Culture’s New “Alcohol Identity”

Guest Blog by Dr. Crystal Collier, Director of the Choices Prevention Program & Prevention Research for The Council on Recovery

Social media is social life for today’s youth. The majority of all social networking platform users are between the ages of 18-29 years old, with 92% of teens aged 13-17 going online every day. Today, being online means exposure to non-regulated alcohol advertising, pro-alcohol messages, and images of drinking behavior that reach underage online social media users. Adolescents who use social media (~70% nationwide) are more likely to engage in alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use when compared to their offline peers. Continue reading “Social Media’s Impact on Underage Drinking: Youth Culture’s New “Alcohol Identity””

The Council on Recovery’s Adolescent Services Program Confronts Teen Issues of Addiction, High-Risk Behaviors, & Mental Health Disorders

In response to the alarming escalation in addiction, high-risk behaviors, and mental health disorders among teenagers, The Council on Recovery has assembled an all-star team for its Adolescent Services Program at the Center for Recovering Families (CRF) to confront those issues head-on.

Dr. Susan Delaney , Adolescent Service Manager
Dr. Susan Delaney

The Adolescent Services Program team is led by Dr. Susan Delaney, an accomplished clinician with a deep background in mental health services for children and adolescents. Prior to joining The Council, Susan held key clinical positions with UTHealth and DePelchin Children’s Center that focused on trauma care, interventions, and counseling. In addition to her Ed.D. in Counseling Psychology, Susan also holds a MBA degree, which affords her a unique and valuable perspective on the business of delivering mental health services. Continue reading “The Council on Recovery’s Adolescent Services Program Confronts Teen Issues of Addiction, High-Risk Behaviors, & Mental Health Disorders”

Proper Disposal of Pain Medication is a Key Factor in the Opioid Fight

The Addiction Policy Forum recently partnered with a number of local organizations in Ohio, a state hit hard by the opioid epidemic, to distribute free Rx disposal kits. The kits include an Rx disposal pouch and educational materials about the risks of holding onto unused medications. The Addiction Policy Forum hopes that this will become a biannual ritual in the U.S. when Daylight Saving occurs.  

Opioid Clock for the Disposal of Opioids
Opioid clock representing the disposal of old prescription medication during Daylight Saving. Photo Credit: Addiction Policy Forum.

Want to help address addiction in America? Start with your medicine cabinet.

Heroin is involved in many of the opioid-related deaths, but addiction doesn’t always begin with the use of illicit drugs. Studies have shown that two in three people who currently use heroin started out by using prescription pain medications for nonmedical purposes. According to the Federal Government, more than 2,000 teenagers will misuse a prescription drug for the first time today, tomorrow, and the day after that. Many of these first-time encounters with opioids happen in homes with leftover medications that were initially prescribed by a physician.

The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that two-thirds of surgical patients end up with unused pain medications, such as oxycodone and morphine, after recovering from a procedure. Because most of us aren’t educated about the risks of keeping unused medication in our homes, these prescribed drugs are often neither secured nor disposed of properly but stashed in medicine cabinets and bedside table drawers because it seems wasteful to throw them away and we keep them around “just in case.” Getting rid of a bottle of pills may seem like a shuffle step on the long path toward addressing the opioid crisis, but decreasing access to these medications is as crucial as it is easy.

Can I safely dispose of medication without a pouch?

Yes! Follow these instructions to safely dispose of unused medications at home using common household items, or visit the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) website to find an authorized drop-off location close to you.

Proper disposal can be tricky, due to the fact that Rx disposal laws differ by state, some medications require specific disposal procedures, and others can pose a significant threat to kids, pets, and even adults and require urgent disposal.

To learn which medications fall into the above categories, or to get more information about safe at-home disposal, visit the FDA website or call the DEA’s toll-free hotline: (855) 543-3784.

How to for the Disposal of Opioids
Four ways to dispose of old and unused prescription drugs. Photo Credit: Addiction Policy Forum.

What is prescription opioid misuse?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines prescription opioid misuse as taking a medication in a manner or dose other than prescribed, taking someone else’s prescription (even for a legitimate medical complaint such as pain), or taking a medication to feel euphoria (i.e., to get high).

This excerpt was originally published at

To order an Rx Disposal Kit and to join the Addiction Policy Forum’s campaign to properly dispose of old and unused medication, please visit To learn more about counseling and treatment programs for those fighting addiction, visit or call 713.914.0556.

The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 23

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 23 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

In the beginning of Herman Melville’s classic, Moby-Dick, Ishmael is in an aimless, anxiety-ridden state and decides to go to sea on a whaling vessel out of Nantucket. He befriends a Polynesian harpooner, Queequeg, who possesses enormous strength and ability and a simple but poignant view of life. Together they choose to sail on the Pequod, a classic and strangely adorned whaling craft. The name, Pequod, is from an actual tribe of “celebrated Massachusetts Indians,” a tribe that was particularly aggressive, and which the Massachusetts Bay Colony tried to eradicate in 1537 in the first instance of genocide in the Old World’s colonization of the Americas.

Melville’s tale is enormously rich with analogous and symbolic imagery and character development.  The white whale Moby Dick; the Pequod’s Captain Ahab and the Mates, Starbuck, Stubb and Flask; the native Harpooners Queequeg, Tastigo, and Dragoo; and the various other seamen form a marvelous ecosystem of characters operating in an unusual aggregation of events.  The central story is that Ahab, having been seriously maimed by the albino white whale known as Moby Dick, has become obsessed with the need to hunt and kill the animal to validate his own existence as a whaling captain extraordinaire.  He hijacks the Pequod from its normal commercial whaling mission and pursues Moby Dick around the known oceanic world of the time, only to be killed himself along with most of this men, and the Pequod sunk, in the final confrontation with the whale.

The story is told in the first person, with Ishmael as the narrator.  In effect, it is his journey that provides a wonderful vision for us…through the terrors of the whaling excursions and the final battles with Moby Dick to the miracle of his sole survival. His decision to go to sea is the symbolic initiation of the process of recovery. His experiences in the interactions with the Pequod crew, in the hunting and killing of whales, and in the horrific final battles with Moby Dick parallel our own journeys though the early process of recovery. The story might also be seen, perhaps, as a Melvillian exposition of the world of 19th century commercialism run amok…in the slaughter and pillage of such magnificent creatures as whales.

Ishmael’s survival, the sole survivor of the disastrous final battle with Moby Dick, is a great culmination to the story, even to the extent that he is the only one to survive, the only one to tell the tale. He has survived, coming back to tell the story, to bear witness to the world of the terrors of rampant commercialism.  For us, the parallel is our survival to tell the story of our lives in our disease.  There is some belief that much of this book, Melville’s story, is based on Melville’s own life, on his life and beliefs.  That he may be Ishmael and that the story is Ishmael surviving to tell his story is the ultimate image for all of us.  It tells all of us that, in our search for a life in Sobriety, the finality must always be the complete embrace of the 12th Step, that of passing on the Story.