Andrew McCarthy Captivates Supporters at The Council on Recovery’s 36th Waggoner’s Foundation Speaker Series Luncheon

Andrew McCarthy at Council Luncheon
Andrew McCarthy captivates The Council’s 2019 Spring Luncheon

The excited buzz among the crowd after The Council on Recovery’s Spring Luncheon confirmed it: Andrew McCarthy was one the best speakers The Council has ever had! Speaking on Friday, April 12th, the actor, director, producer, and an award winning travel writer opened up about his personal struggle with alcohol and drugs, as well as the many gifts of his 27 years of sobriety.

Andrew was preceded on the stage by Luncheon Co-chairs, Bob Candito and Amanda Polich, each of whom shared their own personal stories of hope and recovery. Their heartfelt remarks were followed by an exuberant introduction by Jerri Duddlesten-Moore, who spoke of Andrew McCarthy’s decades of achievement and fame. From his iconic films Pretty in Pink, St. Elmo’s Fire, and Less Than Zero to his work as an actor and director of some of today’s most popular and acclaimed television shows to his award-winning writing as a travel journalist, Andrew’s trajectory of success is of inspiration to all.

Bounding to the stage, Andrew immediately thanked and praised The Council, saying, “… it obviously does some amazing work for the community. The Council is such a solid, strong, dependable, in-the-fiber-of-the-community place, that it’s a real cornerstone. It’s impossible to measure actually what The Council does…or really know how many people The Council is really helping. But, it would be hard to imagine if it wasn’t.”

Andrew then proceeded to captivate the audience of 900+ people with an intimate and revelatory story of his experience with alcohol and drugs from the age of 17 until he became sober at age 29. He related the highs and lows of a life that was dominated by alcoholism until a defining moment in 1992 when he finally asked for help. At the time, he was directed to an organization in New York City that he likened to The Council.

“That’s why I say The Council being there is so great. Because when that moment comes, there has to be somewhere to catch us,” Andrew said, “otherwise we fall.”

In early recovery, Andrew said he did exactly what he was told, including going to support groups. Within a couple of years…”my life started to get better”, he said, “…95% of my seemingly unrelated problems had disappeared by simply showing up, doing what’s in front of me that day, and then going to bed. And waking up and then doing what’s in front of me the next day.”

“In sobriety,” Andrew said, “I was able to find out that if I do the next right thing in front of me, I can have the opportunity to be who I am.”

Andrew’s inspiring message of hope, experience, and strength received a standing ovation from the audience who were clearly touched by his invaluable words of grateful recovery.

Read more about the Waggoner’s Foundation Speaker Series here and scroll through the galaxy of celebrities who have spoken at The Council’s Luncheons.

The Lifelong Quest for Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 53

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 53 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.

The 2010 movie, Inception, portrays the activities of two thieves, Dom, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and Arthur, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, who are “extractors,” performing corporate espionage using an experimental military technology to obtain information by infiltrating the subconscious of corporate execs.  They execute their craft by establishing a shared dream platform in their targets’ minds.  Dom has been successful in this practice to such an extent that he believes he can also embed information and ideas in targets to cause them to accept something or do something they would otherwise reject.  In fact, he has been accused of the murder of his wife because he embedded her with an idea that resulted in her demise, and he has been a fugitive of such crime living in various places outside the U.S. ever since.

In the firm, his beliefs in this regard approach the level of grandiosity, maybe even a growing grandiosity that is quite familiar to many of us inflicted with the disease of alcoholism.

A Japanese businessman hires Dom and Arthur to perform this advanced procedure on a business rival. This client offers to hire Dom with the promise that he can remove any connection Dom has with his wife’s disappearance and the alleged crime, allowing Dom to return to the U.S. and be with his children.

In the film, the evolution of the scheme to accomplish this feat becomes incredibly intricate and complex and there are many hiccups as they work through the execution thereof.  Dom has not been entirely straight with Arthur and the members of their team of operatives about the possible pitfalls of the procedure they have designed. As the movie unfolds, the complications become more and more intricate, but it is only in the clear headed advice and hard direction of Ariadne, another member of the team, that Dom finally makes the adjustments for the whole scheme to be successful. In the end, he achieves his best outcome and is re-united with his kids.

How fascinating it is that this particular team member is called Ariadne.  Played by Ellen Page, it is Ariadne who provides the path to the solution in the movie.  Ariadne was also the character in an ancient Greek myth, the daughter of King Minos of Crete who gives Theseus the means to kill the Minotaur and escape from the Labyrinth.  Ariadne had given Theseus a sword and a bunch of twine as he was being led into the Labyrinth to be eaten by the Minotaur.  Theseus used the twine (Ariadne’s Thread) to mark his course into the Labryrinth and the sword to kill the Minotaur. 

The Thread was then the means he used to find his way back to the opening.    DiCaprio’s performance in playing Dom, and the process of misinformation he uses to manipulate everyone, is very resonant with this alcoholic.  How many times in our disease did we create a complex web of lies and deceit to accomplish some idiotic goal that had very little useful purpose except to feed our disease…and how many times was there an Ariadne, and, ultimately, a group of Ariadnes, to guide us to the opening of an ultimate path to Recovery.

When Detox Turns Deadly

Detox, also known as detoxification or withdrawal, occurs when one abruptly stops or reduces heavy, long-term use of alcohol or drugs. Detox happens when toxic substances leave the body over hours, days, or weeks, and may include a variety of non-life-threatening symptoms, such as distress or discomfort. But, sometimes detox can turn deadly.

In the case of opioids, benzodiazapines, and alcohol, detox can cause serious complications and even death. Most people are not aware of the dangers of detoxing off off these addictive substances, nor the importance of seeking medical care during the withdrawal process. Here are the facts:

Continue reading “When Detox Turns Deadly”

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Drinking too much alcohol increases people’s risk of injuries, violence, drowning, liver disease, and some types of cancer. This April, during Alcohol Awareness Month, The Council on Recovery encourages you to educate yourself and your loved ones about the dangers of drinking too much.

In Texas alone, there have been 1,024 drunk driving fatalities over the past year. Of these deaths, nearly half were fatalities to people other than the drunk driver, including passengers, pedestrians, and people in other vehicles. The devastating impact of driving under the influence spreads far beyond the driver alone.

During Alcohol Awareness Month, The Council on Recovery urges everyone to take a look at their own use of alcohol and what it means to drink responsibly. Especially, don’t drink and drive.

If you or a loved one are drinking too much, you can improve your health by cutting back or quitting. Here are some strategies to help you cut back or stop drinking:

  • Limit your drinking to no more than 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for men.
  • Keep track of how much you drink.
  • Choose a day each week when you will not drink.
  • Don’t drink when you are upset.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you keep at home.
  • Avoid places where people drink a lot.
  • Make a list of reasons not to drink.

If you are concerned about someone else’s drinking, offer to help.

If you or a loved one wants to stop drinking, The Council on Recovery offers many effective outpatient treatment options, including intensive outpatient treatment (IOP), individual counseling, and group therapy. We also facilitate interventions and offer many prevention and education programs related to alcohol and substance use disorders.


For more information, call The Council on Recovery at 713-942-4100 or contact us online.

Do You Know the Signs & Symptoms of Substance Use Disorder?

The term “substance use disorder” is frequently used to describe misuse, dependence, and addiction to alcohol and/or legal or illegal drugs. While the substances may vary, the signs and symptoms of a substance use disorder are the same. Do you know what they are?

First a few definitions: Signs are the outwardly observable behaviors or consequences related to the use of the substance. Symptoms are the personal, subjective experiences related to the use of the substance. A substance use disorder (or SUD) is a clustering of two or more signs and symptoms related to the use of a substance.

The Recovery Research Institute recently published the signs and symptoms of SUD cited by the American Psychiatric Association. These include:

  1. Problems controlling alcohol use, drinking larger amounts, at higher frequency, or for longer than one intended.
  2. Problems controlling alcohol use despite:
    • The desire to cut-down or quit
    • The knowledge that continued alcohol use is causing problems such as:
      • Persistent or reoccurring physical or psychological problems
      • Persistent or reoccurring interpersonal problems or harm to relationships
      • The inability to carry out major obligations at home, work, or school
  3. The development of:
    • Cravings: A powerful & strong psychological desire to consume alcohol or engage in an activity; a symptom of the abnormal brain adaptions (neuroadaptations) that result from addiction. The brain becomes accustomed to the presence of a substance, which when absent, produces a manifest psychological desire to obtain and consume it.
    • Tolerance: A normal neurobiological adaptation process characterized by the brain’s attempt to accommodate abnormally high exposure to alcohol. Tolerance results in a need to increase the dosage of alcohol overtime to obtain the same original effect obtained at a lower dose. A state in which alcohol produces a diminishing biological or behavioral response (e.g. an increasingly higher dosage is needed to produce the same euphoric effect experienced initially).
    • Withdrawal symptoms: Physical, cognitive, and affective symptoms that occur after chronic use of alcohol is reduced abruptly or stopped among individuals who have developed tolerance to alcohol.
  4. Alcohol use that leads to risky or physically hazardous situations (e.g. driving under the influence)
  5. Spending large amounts of time obtaining alcohol
  6. Reducing or stopping important social/occupational/recreational activities due to alcohol use

If you or a loved have experienced the signs and symptoms of a substance use disorder, and need help, call The Council on Recovery at 713-942-4100 or contact us online.

Pediatricians Can Do More to Prevent & Reduce Adolescent Substance Use

Adolescent substance use has begun to boil over in many parts of the country. Concerned parents, spurred-on by tragic stories from the opioid epidemic, are desperate to turn down the heat and protect adolescents from harm.

Among the adults searching for answers is one important group who can do more to prevent and reduce adolescent substance use: Primary care physicians and, more specifically, pediatricians.

Pediatricians routinely see patients for annual checkups, often treating the same children from birth to high school graduation. During these regular visits, they have both the opportunity to talk with adolescents and an existing relationship with them that can make conversations about substance use seem natural and easy. As such, adolescents can feel comfortable talking to pediatricians about drinking and drug use because anything they say is just between them and their doctor (unless the patient is in imminent danger).

During such confidential discussions, pediatricians have an invaluable opportunity to give their young patients information about drinking and drug use, and how it can affect their health. A quick chat about the effect of alcohol and drugs on the developing adolescent brain can greatly influence teenage decisions to either abstain or seek help if substance use is an emerging problem. In those cases, pediatricians can immediately refer them any help they need, such as putting them in touch with a mental health professional or treatment provider.

Research shows that these types of conversations between pediatricians and young people are an effective means of reducing substance-use rates. The Council on Recovery strongly supports making it standard practice for pediatricians to discuss substance use with their adolescent patients.

The Council on Recovery provides a wide range prevention and education resources aimed reducing substance use, especially among adolescents and young adults. For more information about The Council’s Prevention & Education Programs , please call 713-942-4100, email education@councilonrecovery.org  or contact us online.