Yearly Archives: 2018

21May/18

Some brief advice for athletes and other strivers

Over the past week, I heard from a top NCAA baseball player, a high school senior who excels at lacrosse and an amateur Iron Man triathlete. All of them asked me a variation of the same question: “How do I get out of my head when things go wrong?” or “How do I avoid psyching myself out before hand?”

I hope those athletes find this helpful, but I also believe that everyday people can apply the suggestions here to their lives.

1) Recognize your negative self-talk. Most people talk out loud to themselves when no one is around. This does not mean that they are having conversations, but humans do tend to say a word or a phrase or a sentence out loud. They are speaking to themselves. For those that do not utter these lines, they almost certainly have a in-head commentary. These words could be said when we are driving our cars, walking to class, sitting in front of the TV, scrolling through our phones or some other occasion where we find ourselves alone. Here are some examples:

  • I can’t do it
  • That’s just great
  • Living the dream
  • Idiot
  • Moron
  • I’m a fucking loser
  • I’m a piece of shit
  • What was I thinking
  • Fucking retard
  • I’m going to fail
  • No one likes me
  • I’m always going to be alone
  • I can’t win
  • I always lose
  • What’s the point
  • Everyone is going to laugh
  • I should quit
  • I should kill myself

Anything we repeat out loud is powerful. Going to a 12-Step meeting and saying, “My name is XXX and I am an alcoholic” is extraordinarily significant, because it help break down one’s denial (even if they don’t fully mean the words). Since I was a teenager, I’ve been critical of having children recite the pledge of allegiance or repeat lines in houses of worship. This is not because I harbor anti-American or anti-religious thoughts, but rather that I want people to understand concepts before they have repeated lines hundreds or thousands of times.

2) Once you’ve recognized your negative self-talk, we have to work hard on stopping it. Each time you utter your word or phrase, you must work on catching yourself and say, “That’s not true” or “That’s not fair.” This takes a lot of effort. If someone needs additional help with this, I usually suggest putting a rubber band on one’s wrist and snapping it after each negative expression, followed by a “That’s not true” and then a positive affirmation. This can be tricky though, as some people just snap the rubber band during other moments. The rubber band snapping on the skin sends a physical signal to accompany the mental command to stop the behavior. It is basic behaviorism.

3) Reduce/eliminate the negative people from your life and add/accentuate the positive people. Surround yourself with people who support your goals and tell you that you can do it.

*Do not confuse this with surrounding yourself with sycophants or those that have no real basis in reality (if I announced that I was going to become a star ballet dancer, I am assured that the close people in my life would tell me that it was neither possible nor a good idea) .

4) Work on developing/improving/increasing your positive thinking and positive self-talk. Derek Jeter, Lebron James, and Katie Ledecky are all champions who, while having special physical skills, have excellent positive psychology. I encourage you to click on the links and read the articles about them. I also think that you should starting saying positive statements out loud in your down time, during practice and in the middle of competitions:

  • I can do this
  • I am worthy
  • I am really good
  • I am going to win this ball
  • I’ve trained really hard
  • People are rooting for me
  • I am liked
  • I am loved
  • I am smart
  • Try my best
  • Champ
  • Let’s go let’s go let’s go
  • Do it
  • Push through
  • Next step
  • Keep going
  • This is fun
  • This is fun god dammit

5) Engage in positive visualization. When I talk to people about this, they often say that they “feel silly” or “this is stupid.” Moving on. Sit down and close your eyes. Imagine the competition or event or aspect of the competition. See yourself on the field, court, track, playing surface or wherever else your event is taking place. Picture yourself trying hard and doing well. After you have done this a dozen times, you can take this to another level by writing down a few obstacles/challenges that might happen. Once again, close your eyes and picture how you will positively deal with those challenges.

6) Make a list of your major successes and difficulties overcome. If you quit smoking or drinking or drugging, that took a lot of work, discipline, will power and support. If you have already scored goals, completed a race, hit college pitching, climbed mountains, passed classes, changed a tire, successfully fought a ticket, or achieved some goal that you set out, you need to remind yourself that you have done that. Last year, I took a bunch of clients from a rehab hiking up Old Rag in Virginia. It is a difficult one day hike. During a very challenging part that was quite steep with huge drop offs, one client said to another, “We climbed Breakneck Ridge with Frank. We can do this.” I only heard about this after we completed the hike. I was thrilled and proud, as my client had used his past experience to develop his resilience and achieve the goal. I can not overstate the importance of doing this.

In March of this year, I made it to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in a surprise and brutal snowstorm. I wasn’t nervous about the physical aspect of the climb, but I was deeply concerned about my ability to breath at 19,000 feet. I was in good shape, had the right equipment, had trained for the hike and I followed the directions from our guide. During the final ascent, I said the following lines:

  • I can do this
  • One step, one step
  • I completed combat arms basic training
  • I have run two marathons
  • I made it to the top of Mt. Washington in the winter
  • I don’t quit
  • Very few people get this opportunity
  • I can do this

25Apr/18

My Testimony on Marijuana Before the NJ Legislative Black Caucus

On 4/24/2018, I testified before the NJ Legislative Black Caucus at the Second Baptist Church in Atlantic City, NJ. My written testimony (with ad-libs) is below.

______________________________

 

There is a long and ugly history of white experts lecturing black leaders. I do not want to have any part of that nasty history. I told my ex-wife that I was speaking before you today, and she said to offer up her condolences and that you should know that even people that love me find that their eyes glaze over when I go on and on.

My name is Frank Greenagel. I have taught at the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies since 2008 and at the School of Social Work and the School of Communication since 2011. I have served on the Governor’s Council of Drug Abuse and Alcoholism since 2011. I am the supervising therapist at the NJ Recovery High School in Roselle and also Direct the Family Program at College Recovery, a treatment program in New Brunswick. I am a consulting therapist for the NY State Troopers EAP and serve as a Medical Officer in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. I am the co-chair of the Middlesex County chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, am a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors and serve as the Public Policy Chair of the NJ Society of Addiction Medicine. I have other jobs and associations, but for the sake of time I won’t keep listing them.

I have treated people who have used and abused marijuana since 2004. I have treated both genders, all races, all socioeconomic classes and people aged 13 to 79. I have treated veterans since 2004 and active service members since I was directly commissioned back into the Army in 2014.

I am someone who will make more money if marijuana is legalized in NJ. I will see more patients who have problems caused or exacerbated by their marijuana use, and my trainings for treatment programs and community speeches will be even more in demand. Despite the positive effect that legalization would have on my bank account, and unlike almost everyone else who would profit from the legalization of marijuana, I am completely against the legalization of this dangerous drug.

There are three major arguments that are given by the for-profit marijuana movement.

  • It is a major revenue source.
  • It is medicine
  • Legalization is a civil rights issue and will reduce criminal justice disparities among minorities

I will point out the problems with each argument.

  • It is a major source of revenue.
    1. Marijuana revenues have increased in Colorado and Washington over the last three years, but the revenues are not nearly as large as California has anticipated. This is partly because the illegal market in California and other states continue to thrive.
    2. Since legalization in Colorado, tax revenue from alcohol and tobacco has decreased. Economists call this an example of a substitute good.
    3. Economists, tax experts, public health officials and governmental bean counters all agree that alcohol and tobacco are revenue negative. For every current dollar that those drugs bring in, they cost between 7 and 10 dollars in the future. This is due to health care and criminal justice costs, which are easily measured. Workplace productivity costs are difficult to measure and family problems and their costs are very hard to measure. If we were able to figure out the workplace and family costs, tobacco and alcohol would be even more revenue negative.
    4. Because of health care costs and legal costs, marijuana is almost certainly a long term source of negative tax revenue. Remember, even with legalization, marijuana crimes will include underage use, public smoking, public intoxication, and drugged driving. Neither the American Government nor the American people seem to have a strong grasp of the concept of negative long term tax revenues.
    5. So-called medical marijuana is taxed at a lower rate than recreational marijuana. In March, Governor Murphy increased the number of diagnoses from 11 to over 30. Those new diagnoses covered included anxiety and chronic pain – both are quite common and are overdiagnosed and overmedicated. This will undercut the revenues brought in from higher taxed recreational marijuana as tens or hundreds of thousands of more people will seek low taxed medical marijuana as an alternative.
    6. Some politicians state that some of the marijuana tax revenue will go towards funding prevention and treatment programs. We heard similar arguments in the 1970s about casino tax revenues going to fund schools statewide and to rebuild Atlantic City’s infrastructure. I invite you to walk around outside and see if that promise was kept. I can assure you that most of the casino tax revenue was soon diverted into the general fund. I believe that marijuana tax revenue would similarly be diverted into a general fund. It is a false carrot meant to lull a too-trusting public and our officials into agreeing to this terrible public policy.
  • It is medicine.
    1. I take no issue with people with AIDS, late stage cancer, or glaucoma that use marijuana to alleviate their symptoms or the side effects of various medications.
    2. I have no problem with the federal government moving marijuana from schedule I to schedule II in order to conduct studies.
    3. There have been almost no worldwide random controlled clinical trials on these 30+ diagnoses that it is approved for in NJ. There have been no RCTs in the USA.
    4. Major arguments about legalization have been made using veterans, and for-profit marijuana advocates love to offer up anecdotal evidence. I have treated hundreds of veterans over the years. I have many stories about veterans whose problems got far worse while using marijuana, including a veteran who recently completed suicide despite taking marijuana to treat his complex trauma. I am a veteran myself and rejoined the Army in 2014 after a 10 year break in service. This is a population that is incredibly important to me, and my actions easily support that claim. The VA reports that over 20% of veterans with a diagnosis of PTSD also have a substance misuse disorder (my experience finds that number to be much higher). Treating people with a substance misuse disorder with a dangerous drug that has not gone through random controlled clinical trials is terrible medical practice. It is the government’s duty to protect the public from untested substances falsely labeled as medicine.
    5. Medical professionals do not prescribe marijuana. They recommend it. This is an important manipulation of words. If they prescribed it, they would be liable to malpractice suits. By recommending it, they are not. It seems quite peculiar that people argue that it is medicine but that doctors will not prescribe it.
    6. This talk of both medicalization and legalization has caused a significant problem: it has lessened the stigma associated with marijuana. A Hazelden-Betty Ford poll found that 60% of people aged 18-25 believe that marijuana has no negative impact on the brain. With less stigma comes increased use.
  • Legalization is a civil rights issue and will reduce criminal justice disparities among minorities
    1. Since legalization in Colorado in 2014, there has been an 8% drop in the arrest rate of whites under 21 for marijuana. Hispanics under 21 have been arrested at a rate 29% higher. Blacks under 21 are arrested 58% more.
    2. There are similar numbers in Washington state as well.
    3. Arrests involving marijuana in Washington DC are way down, but blacks are still arrested at a much higher rate than whites and Hispanics. While it is a good thing that there are fewer arrests, legalization has not changed the racial problems in the criminal justice system.
    4. Tobacco and alcohol are disproportionately sold in and disproportionately affect minority communities. Marijuana stores will almost certainly follow a similar pattern. In Denver, marijuana stores are much more prevalent in minority areas. If marijuana is legalized, I am certain that there will be no stores in Marlboro, Upper Saddle River, Alpine, Tewksbury, Montgomery or Bedminster. I am also certain that there will be a push for stores in Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Newark, Camden, Trenton, Patterson and Jersey City.
    5. Whites supported legalization about 20 points more than blacks in DC. This would be the first Civil Rights Issue that whites were more supportive of then blacks. I can assure you that this is not a Civil Rights Issue, and I strongly believe that calling marijuana a Civil Rights Issue is demeaning.

To be clear: I am opposed to the legalization of marijuana. I am in favor of decriminalization. I believe that any decriminalization (or legalization) bill should include a provision that addresses marijuana arrest records and provides for the release of prisoners who are solely incarcerated for marijuana use or possession, as well as adjusts the sentences of those who got longer sentences because of any historical marijuana convictions. If we lose and recreational marijuana is legalized in NJ, I beg of you to force municipalities to opt-in to growing, producing and selling it rather than make it an opt-out law where it immediately becomes legal in all 565 municipalities.

I really want to thank you all for your service to NJ and for holding these hearings. Thank you so much for patiently allowing me to testify. I am happy to answer any questions now or in the future.

 

22Apr/18

My Students’ Writing on Eric Arauz

 

 

 

 

My friend and colleague Eric Arauz died on March 24, 2018. I have been mourning and celebrating him. Since his death, I’ve written and posted photos of him everyday. I have professionally helped people with grieving for 15 years, and the best advice I offer them is to write about their dearly departed. I’ve followed my own advice and publicly shared my writing with others with the goal of helping them process Eric’s death. A few of the pieces that I have shared on Facebook were written by others, and when combined with my writing they paint a well-rounded portrait of that exceptional man. I want to provide a series of other perspectives with this collection of writings by my current seniors.

I have taught the final senior seminar (475) at the Rutgers School of Social Work since the spring of 2012. Starting in 2013, I have assigned Eric’s An American’s Resurrection to every section of that course. This photograph of my Rutgers seniors was taken on 4/11/18. Eric spoke to them on 2/28/18 (if you would like to hear the 80 minute discussion he had with the class, email me). They had just finished his book and they had no idea that I knew him or that he was coming to class. Eric and I always enjoyed watching their faces as they realized who was in the classroom with them.

The last time I saw Eric was four days before he died. He dropped of my students’ papers while I was working on my lawn (he spoke to my class while I was in Africa). We chatted very briefly, as he said he was in a rush. I did not begin to grade the papers until after he died. It took me a few weeks to get through them, as their reactions moved me and helped me celebrate Eric’s life.

I’ve distilled down the highlights of my students’ papers to share with you.

1) There is a great deal of stigma that addicts and individuals with mental disorders face, and their experiences are often not heard. Arauz is able to explain both of these dire issues in a clear way that spreads awareness on the dangerous consequences that can occur when people do not accept their conditions. He teaches readers that they should be empathetic and compassionate towards addicts and individuals with mental health issues. Therapist can play a key role in motivating these individuals to reshape their lives and seek intervention.

2) By recounting his journey with addiction and mental illness, Arauz exposes the reader to the vulnerable, and often ignored, population of veterans. Painted and masked by the brush of Uncle Same, Arauz exposes the myth of the invincibility by illustrating the struggles of veterans battling inner demons.

3) This book expresses the hells of the mental health system. Though without the maximum security VA mental hospital, his resurrection may not have been possible. The side-effects of the medication caused physical weakness, blood stained teeth, dry mouth and a loss of his sense of self.

4) A crucial difference between many of the staff members and his saviors was that the Virgils talked to Eric, asked him questions, and valued his presence even when he wasn’t able to respond.

5) Reading his story prepares future social workers and enhances traits of empathy and avoiding judgement.

6) With his own story written with conviction and honesty, he was able to give meaningful suggestions on what he believed the population of people with mental illness and those struggling with addiction genuinely need.

7) Arauz concludes for himself and the reader that personal connection is vital to a sense of self and recovery. Effective mental health treatment must incorporate, as a priority, personal relationships and a sense of community.

8) There may not have been a single chapter in the book that Eric does not talk about Bud, his mom, his sisters, or his wife.

9) Throughout the book there are many relevant themes and topics that relate directly to this course. The main themes of the book, which include years of suffering from child abuse, his battle with mental illness and addiction, and the stigma and treatment for his mental illness, resemble topics that were examined in this class.

10) Before enrolling in classes at Rutgers, Arauz’s future was uncertain. As he explains though, “…college, in general, is a great place to rebuild your life, to become self-aware…” (234). Arauz had a blank slate in front of him and took advantage of the opportunity.

These aren’t just enthusiastic readers, but burgeoning social workers who are going to be working with people that have similar diagnoses and problems as Eric. During his talk with my students, Eric said, “Without the book my story dies with me.” His experiences and teachings have touched and influenced tens of thousands and will continue to do so. I will assign Eric’s book for the rest of my teaching career and thus will ensure that his legacy and lessons thrive.

07Mar/18

Voices from Rutgers: a pair of sisters describe their experiences in NJ over the last two years

My name is Honeyah. I am currently a junior at Rutgers and I major in social work. I had Professor Greenagel for a public policy course last fall. He asked me to write about my experiences for his website.

My family moved to an upper middle class town in Central NJ when I was in second grade. It was easy for my sister and I to make friends. We knew most of the kids we went to school with and felt comfortable going to the usual hangouts within our community. On most days after school, kids from my elementary school would gather at the local park  to play tennis or basketball.

When I entered the sixth grade, the primary hangout moved from the park to the mall. Most of us dressed head to toe in either Hollister or Abercrombie; I jumped on that fashion trend. Like other girls my age, I also wore silly bands on our wrists and watched “Gossip Girl” religiously. In high school, most of us became obsessed with social media such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook (I was up to date on all the different platforms and apps).

There was a clear divide of students who prioritized their grades with those whom prioritized partying (I numbered among the former). Our school had a wonderfully positive and inclusive environment. Bullying was not really prevalent because of the significant diversity – no one really stood out or was considered a target. I was never bullied or made fun of throughout my time in elementary, middle and high school. I assume that this was because I was like other kids: I wore the same clothes, watched the same tv shows, and had the same social media accounts. Following trends made it seem as if I fit in with everyone else, however it was clear that I was and am different than most people living in the United States. This is due to the fact that I am a hijab (head covering) wearing Pakistani Muslim who was born and raised in America.

I started wearing a hijab in high school when I learned more about my religio and wanted to embrace it. Alhumdulillah (all praise to God), I was never bullied for this and had an overall positive experience in school because most of my classmates had known me for years and thought of me as Honeyah and not the “Muslim girl in the scarf.”

My experience at Rutgers has been positive. When President Trump announced the travel restrictions from the seven predominately Muslim nations early in 2017, there was a large protest at Rutgers. I was touched to see that most of the students who attended the march were not Muslim. There was a small counter protest – about ten Trump supporters came out holding signs anti-Muslim signs but they left after about half an hour. I feel welcome and safe at Rutgers.

——————————

My name is Iqra. I am Honeyah’s younger sister by two years. On January 20th, 2017, staff and students gathered around the televisions in our high school cafeteria to listen to President Trump’s inauguration speech. Many students clapped and cheered as the newly elected President spoke. Being a student in the same school district since kindergarten, I had grown accustomed to the way things worked in my district. After President Trump was elected, distinct changes started occurring in my school.

Although my hijab did make me an easy target for racist jokes, I was never really bullied for outwardly practicing my religion. During the last semester of my senior year, students who were previously quiet started openly uttering their anti-Muslim views to me. At one pep rally assembly (where students get together to support our sport teams), my classmates were shouting “Allahu Akbar” in a derogatory way. This was almost certainly done to make fun of the Muslim students in the bleachers.

Both the school newspaper and the local paper published stories about the bullying of Muslims at the high school, but they also detailed how we were not the only group that were being bullied. Many of the Jewish students were being targeted as well. Drawings of swastikas and Hitler, as well as comments directed at the Jewish students, were found on the desks at our high school. Although there were numerous other incidents, my school did little to alleviate the problem. Eventually, distraught parents and unhappy students, including myself, went to Board of Education meetings to express our disapproval and dismay of the way the school was handling the situation. Little was done.

I gave the Principal’s speech at graduation. The focus was on the importance of acceptance and diversity. Diversity is prevalent in the town I grew up in, which is a reason why many students in the school I attended were accepting of the differences among one another. However, it was unfortunate to note the change in the attitude and behavior of the students after Trump became President. I am now a Freshman at Rutgers and I have found that to be a very warm and safe environment.

11Feb/18

The Three Questions You Should Ask of Treatment Programs

I advocate on behalf and work in the addiction treatment industry. I do this despite that fact that very few programs are any good and most are horrendous. This is true for both in-patient and out-patient programs. They dress themselves up with fancy websites, glossy brochures, and friendly marketers. Back in the late 90s when I was a private first class (PFC) in the Army, Master Sergeant Spadoni occasionally told me that “You can’t polish a turd.”

I repeated this to one of my Rutgers students a half dozen years ago and he responded with, “Yeah, but you can roll it in glitter.” That is an apt description of the four most common marketing methods employed by treatment programs:

  1. They have many photographs (maybe even videos) of their glimmering facilities.
  2. They describe the extras they offer: gym memberships, yoga, equine therapy, whirl pools, sauna, music studios, and other shiny add-ons that sound impressive. Most of these offerings have little to no research to justify their presence in a treatment program but are there to jack up the costs (I’m pro-exercise, a huge fan of yoga, and can see the benefits of equine therapy, but they are just glitter if the clinical program isn’t solid).
  3. They offer a heart-warming story about a successful client and/or provide quotes from happy parents and patients.
  4. The owner or one of the head counselors or the marketer is in recovery, and they lead with that information to show that they “really understand” and “really care” and that this “isn’t about money.”

Over the last four years, I’ve written or edited a number of pieces that addressed a variety of the problems in the addiction treatment industry. You don’t need to read these to grasp the point of this article, but it will give you a much deeper understanding about my complaints.

  1. Frank Jones and I wrote a piece about how insurance companies deny coverage to pay for treatment and how the industry uses it as an excuse to act badly.
  2. Very few centers have a rigorous family program with a multi-family group. I’ve written about what multi-familly groups are and some basic advice for parents of young adults.
  3. Last summer, I detailed how American Addiction Centers took over Sunrise House and locked out its workers when they complained about inadequate staffing, safety issues, and poor care for the clients.
  4. Andrew Walsh investigated the 1-800 numbers and the conman tactics that treatment programs use to lure clients. Mr. Walsh detailed how much attention he got with good insurance and how they quickly got off the phone if he didn’t.
  5. Mr. Walsh wrote a piece about the lack of treatment beds for Medicaid patients. Substance abuse facilities are not interested in them. As a result, your chances of getting treatment depends upon your finances. It’s a true modern day civil rights issue.
  6. The Florida model is the industry’s end-around move to get insurance to pay for seeming residential care when they reject it. The companies house clients a few blocks or miles from an intensive outpatient program (IOP) and shuttle them back and forth. In theory, it is a decent idea. The major problem is that the housing is not licensed or regulated. The staff often suffers from a lack of experience, education, training and supervision. I wrote a basic plan to address this.
  7. Treatment centers brag about their CARF and Joint Commission certifications. These are non-government agencies that rate programs. Even terrible ones can get their approval, which makes the whole rating system virtually worthless.

Treatment program owners, directors, and marketers often call me or email me or try to connect with me on LinkedIn. I tell them I don’t really have clients to send them and that I am highly critical of the treatment industry. They respond that they have high standards too and push for meetings. Over the last few months, I’ve held court at Rutgers and had a number of colleagues and supervisees attend those meetings. We ask them a grueling set of questions and every single program has come up sorely lacking. Here are the three most important questions that you should ask:

  1. Are all the therapists and workers supervised? How often do they get supervised? By whom? What are the supervisor’s credentials? What proof do you have of the supervisor’s expertise?
  2. How much individual therapy do the patients get?
  3. What data do you have to show the effectiveness of your program? Is it internally collected or do you have a neutral outsider do it? What metrics do you have to show how soon patients get a physical, visit the dentist and see a gynecologist? Do you measure stable housing and reduced involvement in the criminal justice system? What is the percentage that you help enroll in GED or vocational training or college courses? How many clients are set up in aftercare? How do you vet those aftercare programs?

Here is why those questions are important:

  1. Substance abuse and mental health counseling are difficult to master and are quite draining. Staff needs to be well trained and supervised at least one hour a week (two hours is my base standard). This provides better care, reduces staff burnout, and results in fewer ethical problems.
  2. Individual therapy is far more effective than group therapy, partly because most professionals that run group are not actually skilled in educating, room control, or handling a diverse set of people. Minimally, people should get one hour of therapy a week from a masters or doctorate level professional with a license (I’ll accept a masters level intern performing it if they are getting real supervision). The data is quite clear on this. Ideally, it is more than once a week.
  3. Even the worst program has a success story. It doesn’t tell us anything about the quality of the program. Data does. Very very few have any kind of data.

Most programs have unsatisfactory answers to these three questions. They try to make up for it by rolling their shitty programs in glitter; hence the glossy brochures, glimmering facilities, touching stories of success, and assurances from owners/workers that are in recovery. All that glitters isn’t gold – in fact, it’s probably covering up a lot of shit.

_______________________________________________________________

This is from a brochure that was given to me by a marketer that visited us at the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies in January. We asked lots of questions, including the big three. I won’t go into what happened, because you could learn a lot by just calling them up and asking yourself. But their brochure had a statement in it that I haven’t come across before (Andrew Walsh pointed it out to me). The second and third lines celebrate the presence of a “12 Step guru” that helps the clients. It doesn’t state how much sobriety time the man has or if he has any education or credentials. I have never heard of anyone allowing themselves to be described as a 12-Step guru. The AA 12 and 12 book has a name for the guru types: bleeding deacons. From page 135: “At times, the A.A. landscape seems to be littered with bleeding forms.” In the same chapter, there is a stern warning against the professionalization of AA.

I am friends on Facebook with at least 32 people who have 20+ years of sobriety (I know a lot more than that though). None of them call themselves a guru or an AA expert. About a dozen of them work in the treatment field and do not advertise that they are in recovery; significantly, they have all been educated, trained, credentialed, and supervised (their expertise comes from that, not because they are in long-term recovery). Treatment programs continue to shock and amaze me.