Mere Addiction and The Acid Test Story - Rebellion Dogs Radio 41  

Is there an attitude shift around addiction and mental health? I sense a healthy move from lip-service accountability about mental health and substance use disorder to a growing compassion and duty to our fellows. The idea of an  altering zeitgeist is the theme of Episode 41 of Rebellion Dogs Radio:


Two people are taking a stand to help end the stigma—and systemic discrimination—around addiction and mental health.

Meet Lucy, likes to rock 'n' roll by night/ addiction & mental health  treatment by day. 

Meet Michael, lawyer representing those with untreated addiction/ mental health conditions in the cross-hairs of Canada’s criminal justice system, someone who's been a law-making public figure, one who's been a defendant in the same legal system he helped author, and wait, there's more, an author in long-term recovery. 

“Given that addiction and recovery remain an enigma to most lawyers and judges,” Michael Bryant writes, “there is a tendency to randomly embrace or reject any submissions on point. The discomfort with the subject is high. Eggshells everywhere.” In his new book, Mere Addiction, Michael J. Bryant offers an insider’s candid commentary about how abstinence bail conditions are a set up for failure and recidivism, leading many addicts/alcoholics to battle the stacked odds of overcoming addiction without support. Another senior lawyer I know in recovery refers to making drinking a violation of an alcoholic’s bail or parole as the criminal justice system’s means of “manufacturing crime.” 

Lucy Di Santo's music is no stranger to Rebellion Dogs Radio; we've played Acid Test on our show. But do you know her story; her band's story?

Lucy is lead singer of Acid Test, signed to Sire/Warner Records in the 1990s, toured the UK, USA and Canada with Nine Inch Nails, Grace Jones, 54-40 and Snow. Then a series of rock 'n' roll road blocks curtailed the tour bus including - no stranger to the music biz - addiction would befall not one, but two band members. But of course, addiction is not suffered by  ½ a band; addiction impacts the whole band. Just like one member of a family doesn’t suffer from addiction; the whole family suffers.

In the case of Acid Test, one substance use disorder pat led to recovery, and the other, premature death. The 2012 loss of band-mate Mike Harland AKA DJ- Jus’ Rite brought disbanded Acid Test survivors together and eventually the seed was planted for a new record dedicated to their late colleague.

At the time of posting Episode 41, this news-peg-du-jour which speaks to shifting consciousness about mental health awareness. In June, after the shocking suicides of one TV and one fashion celebrity Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins emailed all of his employees about the matter of mental wellness and coping with mental health issues. Here’s how it was reported by Christina Farr for CNBC[i] 

“In light of recent tragedies, I wanted to step away from Cisco Live for a moment to talk about the importance of mental health,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, we all know friends, family, and coworkers battling mental health conditions, or maybe you’re going through your own struggles.” 

Robbins, who took over the CEO role in 2015, encouraged employees to “talk openly and extend compassion,” asked that they “have each other’s backs,” and told them that professional support is available. Robbins had no idea what was about to happen. More than 100 employees responded to his note within days, some sharing in painful detail their own personal struggles. 

“I didn’t understand the magnitude of the problem,” Robbins told CNBC in an interview. “The volume of responses we got back led us to be more active.” 

Roughly one in five adults in the U.S. per year suffer from mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The costs to treat depression, stress, anxiety and other ailments exceeds $200 billion a year, and for many employers the number of sick days and lost productivity associated with mental health represent one of their biggest expenses 

But relative to physical sicknesses, there remains a stigma in publicly addressing behavioral health. Insurers and corporations have been slow to recognize its importance, and many qualified health professionals, including psychologists and psychiatrists, don’t accept insurance, even in Cisco’s backyard.” 

Large employers across the country are just beginning to prioritize it through their benefits programs as part of a broader focus on employee wellness. Technology companies in particular are adopting new health programs as another way to attract and retain talent in the hyper-competitive market for engineers. … 

The article goes on to explain Cisco’s 7/24 access to professionals, meditation, yoga and paid leave. 

One CEO says enough is enough and he won’t stand idly by, pretending that he can will or hope away  the financial and productivity costs of mental health problems. Cisco makes it okay to speak up, say, “I have a problem or think I might; who can I turn to for help?” Cisco suggests that this position adds shareholder value and is not a dragging cost to his company’s operations. Cisco talked about, CNBC reported on it, now we're talking about it. It sure looks like a movement, to me.

I found myself swept up by this, “if you see something, say something” new-attitude, this month. I have a modest profile in the North American music scene but a voice nonetheless. Unless someone is blatantly reaching out for help when I'm on the job, I’m discrete about living in long-term recovery. This is the music biz; it’s artistic, counter-culture, a lot of the sponsors that pay the artists are booze companies. Before we know it, cannabis retailers will be sponsoring pop music tours.

So why would I want to be a buzz-kill? Why would I brag about my sobriety? Well, the music industry isn’t spared from tragic premature deaths due to alcohol and other substance/process addictions. The 27-Club took baby-boomer icons Janis, Jimi,Brian Jones and Jim Morrison. GenX lost Kurt Cobain, Millennials lost Amy Winehouse: all lost to substance use disorder at the age of 27. Music is one of the few professions you can drink on the job and not be punished for it. So, just like Cisco’s leadership saw something and said something, IndieWeek, an annual music festival and music business conference added a health and wellness day to it’s Indie_101 conference schedule. So, what could I do? I had to ask, “Would attendees be receptive to hearing from professional musicians I know who currently negotiate a clean & sober path in the music scene? IndieWeek said, “Yes.” 

So, I moderated “Second Chances: Recovery over Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Rob Laidlaw plays bass for 80’s A-list touring stadium acts. He also produces and writes songs with today’s emerging artists. Lucy Di Santo seemed like the perfect add on. She's in a 90's come-back band and an addiction treatment counselor with whom I volunteer in her Wednesday morning after-care at Bellwood Health Services

As it turns out, the panel date and all of Wellness Day got moved from Friday to Wednesday, conflicting with Acid Test’s Fall tour: Wednesday in Montreal, Quebec, Thursday in Kingston Ontario, Friday and Saturday as delegates and performers at IndieWeek. So, to make up for this change, Lucy and I did a short YouTube video together for Indie Week delegates. That left Rob and I to hold court with IndieWeek attendees.

Rob shared his lived experience, how snorting lines with record label executives over record contracts, the Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll life's wearing on his performance and reasoning. Rob found himself sucking back a few late-morning drinks at an airport bar before a flight and he was quite embarrassed that his band-mates didn’t concur that mid-day shots was not the way to fly. Rob looked for help.

Getting sober, Rob wondered if he had a future in the music business. How could he live the life and stay sober? It didn’t seem possible. But he found a way and got threw the first awkward sober live performances and back stage shenanigans as a straight-edge, all while the party raged around him. 

At the IndieWeek conference, I disclosed that IndieCan Radio wasn’t my only broadcasting gig and music isn’t my only form of journalism to which I draw upon lived experience. I can prepare for, and cope with, people getting high and tipsy around me when we’re all there for music because I’ve come to be comfortable around music, regardless of the environment it’s being performed in. When there are free beer tickets offered, I give them away. But when the music’s over and it’s after-party time, more about the booze and drugs, I go home.  

Click to listen or download our interviews with Michael Bryant and Lucy Di Santo as well as teasers for Episode 42: No God No Problem, Accommodating the Growing Demand for Secular 12-Step Facilitation. This was a presentation I put on at NAADAC 2018 (Annual Conference of Treatment Professionals) in October. You and I will chat next episode about the timely role secular AA plays in a professional environment of more inclusive ethical standards, a search for better outcomes and best practices and... how to avoid legal jeopardy suffered on facilities with outdated practices. AA may have once been the lone last-house-on-the-block. Today, we have neighbors: Women For Sobriety, SOS, Refuge Recovery, SMART Recovery, Life Ring. Still, AA is ubiquitous and secular AA meeting make up a growing subculture and thus, are another helpful arrow in addiction treatment quiver. 


Visit Rebellion Dogs Reading Room for links to Michael Bryant's books HERE

Acid Test The Band, The Music Click HERE

The Interrupters "She's Kerosene" + More HERE

See Lucy's story on YouTube

Hear the interview with Michael Bryant on CBC Metro Morning

IndieWeek (Canada) Indie 101 Conference Schedule

Edgewood/Bellwood Health Services

NAADAC and Rendezvous With Madness brings two songwriters, two therapists and one artist/photographer to Episode 40  

Rebellion Dogs Radio, a contemporary look at addiction, recovery and mental health – Episode 40 is a cross-border mental-health and addiction/recovery trip, from NAADAC (The Association for Addiction Professionals) October 5-9, 2018 in Houston Texas to Rendezvous With Madness addiction & mental-health film and art festival in Toronto, Canada October 10-21, 2018. Today's adventure is as told by two songwriters, two therapists and one photographer - a story of lilved experience of moms, dads, addiction, mental-health, recovery, treatment and art. I know, it's a lot for one show. It will all be clear in the interview with Dr. Laura.

In order of appearance: 

Catherine MacLellan singer/songwriter is @ Ted Rogers Hot Docs Cinema on World Health Organization's International Mental Health Awareness Day, for the #RWMFest 2018, we saw the  premier of The Song and the Sorrow. This documentary looks at the life of Catherine’s father, award-winning songwriter whose songs have been sung by Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, Joan Baez, Ann Murray and at least 96 other performers.

“People ask me to perform his music;” daughter, Catherine MacLellan says in the documentary, “but I’ve been processing his suicide and I didn’t feel ready.” But on this day, producer/director Millefiore Clarkes and Catherine MacLellan shared the film that chronicles Catherine’s search for answers about her fathers and her own depression. 

Dr. Laura Walsh presented in Houston at this year’s NAADAC Annual Conference about A.D.H.D.  and addiction, two troubling conditions that, when comorbidity presents itself in a client, exacerbates the need for care and the challenges of treatment. Let's just say I sometimes share a wee bit of lived-experience about these things... so does Dr. Laura.

Letter to My Mother is a visual and literary body of work created by artist Branislav Jankic that seeks to raise awareness of and change the conversation around addiction, lifting the stigma and create an international support system for those suffering from substance use disorders. When the artist’s mother, a former prescription drug and alcohol addict, was diagnosed with lung cancer in November 2012, Jankic, who had experienced his own struggles with addiction throughout his teenage years, began writing a letter to his mother expressing his regrets for their dismantled relationship and his misunderstanding of her struggles, hoping to show both love and forgiveness. What came from this was a photo-exhibit, a book and a film, all of which were featured at NAADAC 2018 and we share our one-on-one with Branislav. 

The new CEO and president of Women for Sobriety, Adrienne Miller is our guest, this episode, too. Women for Sobriety was founded by Dr. Jean Kirkpatrick in the 1970s, as Dr. Kirkpatrick saw that women’s needs in recovery over addiction were different than what men need. Adrienne Miller picks up the reins of stewardship and Joe C and Adrienne talk about new duties and talk about this year’s NAADAC Conference. 

The life of this year’s NAADAC party was singer-songwriter John McAndrew who is the Recovery Music Specialist at Cumberland Heights in Nashville Tennessee – which offers both in and out patient drug and alcohol treatment. John presented about the brain, music and recovery, did some singing and got the whole audience singing as demonstration of the relationship between music and wellness. 

We will also enjoy the music of both Catherine MacLellan and John McAndrew in Episode #40, too – all in less than an hour, so hold on tight. 


Letter to My Mother - A short-film was viewed on the Saturday night of NAADAC called, Letter To My Mother. Shot during the first photo exhibition of the project in New York in June of 2016. Following its screening to us in Houston, artist Branislav Jankic, producer Goran Macura, Ben Levenson of the Levenson Foundation, and Sherri Layton, a pioneer who’s worked in treatment since 1977 and along with other hats, works on policy, advocacy and leadership.IndieCan Radio The film and the panel sparked a heartfelt post-viewing discussion. Mothers photographed in the project were in attendance, and they shared, too. This touching exhibit was a large part of why I set my sights on coming to Houston. I had the good fortune to chat one-on-one with Branislav Jankic 

CLICK below for links...

Women For Sobriety

The 2017 If It's Alright with You - The songs of Gene MacLellan performed by Catherine MacLellan + other Catherine MacLellan music

John McAndrew Music

John McAndrew The Ties that Bind


See the movie trailer: The Song And The Sorrow

The Song and the Sorrow opened the 26th annual Rendezvous With Madness, a film and art festival devoted to addiction and mental health. Workman Art’s Bruised Years Choir, a collective of singers with addiction/mental health lived-experience, opened the night with a couple of songs at the Hot Docs Cinema on Bloor W in Midtown Toronto. The documentary played,  The film’s producer/director Millefiore Clarkes and Catherine MacLellan were on hand to talk about the film and field questions, Catherine played a few songs from her and her dad’s collection. Then I had a chance to talk to Catherine MacLellan for IndieCan Radio.

Mining, utilizing and sharing Recovery Capital - Rebellion Dogs Radio # 39  

September 13thand 14th, Recovery Capital Conference.

Recovery: A return to a normal state of health, mind or strength; the action or process or regaining possession or control of something lost. 

Capital: Wealth or other assets possessed by a person or available to contribute to a particular purpose. 

We spend some of Rebellion Dogs Radio show understanding Recovery Capital by talking with organizers and presenters of Recovery Capital Conference, Canada. Science and research on one side, anecdotal wisdom from lived experience on the other side - are these oppositional forces?

Not according to Rebecca Jesseman, Director of Policy at the Canadian Centre for Substance Use and Addiction and not according to Gord Gardner, Executive Director of Community Addictions Peer Support Association; different styles, yes, different goals, no. Dr. John Kelly, Elizabeth R. Spallin Associate Professor of Psychiatry in Addiction Medicine at Harvard University presents recent research that suggests some folk-know-how is now corroborated as evidence-based practices. Some will say, "I knew it!" Others, "You don't say?". Read, listen and/or join the conversation. Emerging research supports the concept that Recovery-Oriented Systems of Care demonstrate improved mental and physical health, improved quality of life, pro-social behavior, and a dramatic reduction in human and financial cost to the community.

Rebellion Dogs was "in the house" for the annual ICOAA Seminar, a mulit-day workshop where AA Intergroups and Central Offices share ideas. This year, Montreal was the host. Area 87 runs the Greater Montreal Area central office. We have a look at some new AA literature produced by Montreal Quebec’s Area 87 and we unpack some common myths about Intergroups and their place in AA service. 

Along with radio show #39, visit AA Agnostica for a review of this year’s Recovery Capital Conference, September 13th and 14th at The Carlu in downtown Toronto, Canada. As a preview, we heard from: 

Dr. Manuel Cardoso, Deputy General – Director of SICAD Decriminalization and Portugal Public Health Policy (pictured below)

Ann Dowsett Johnston, author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol (pictured above Building Resilience with Recovery Capital with Betty-Lou Kristy, Tristan Johnson and Habib Hass).

Dr. Julian M. Somers, Simon Fraser University, presentation on Recovery Capital: When Wealth and Poverty Have the Same Price. 

Dr. J Kelly, Harvard Dr. John Kelly –Professor of Psychiatry in Addiction Medicine at Harvard University 

Arthur C. Evans, Jr., PhD, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President, American Psychological Association 

Building Recovery Capital: Mining, Defining and Utilizing with co-presenters: Gord Garner. Executive Director, Community Addictions Peer Support Association and Rebecca Jesseman, Director of Policy Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. 

All about Recovery Coaching with Dr. Ray Baker, MD, Consultant in Recovery Medicine 

Workplace Wellness with Christine Burych, President of Starling Brook Leadership 

Yoga and Mindfulness breaks with Evonne Sullivan 

Hamish White + Dr. Michele Pole on An Integrated Treatment Model for Addiction and Trauma/PTSD 

Addiction, Recovery and Youth with Dr. Emily A. Hennessy, Vanderbilt University, Angie Hamilton of Families for Addiction Recovery and Kristen K. Harper, Executive Director for the Association of Recovery Schools.

Dr. Jean-Pierre Chiasson, founder and Medical Director, Nouveau Depart, EHN Canada 

Dr. Brian Rush, PhD, Scientist Emeritus, CAMH and Principal, VIRGO Planning and Evaluation Consultants Inc.


AA Agnostica Coverage (Click here to read, download and/or have your say)

A short segment of Dr. Evan on Philidelphia - a case study HERE

More about Recovery Capital Conference of Canada

Dr. William Miller from Vancouver 2018 Motivational Interviewing & Recovery Capital (one hour)


The Recoverying with Leslie Jamison on Episode 38  

This is Episode 38. Leslie Jamison is our featured guest. Touring her latest book, The Recovering, I got a chance to talk to her in the lobby of the King Edward Hotel. Se was in Toronto June 2nd, for the In Her Voice Festival hosted by Ben McNally Books. In this show, we’ll listen to that interview I had with Leslie Jamison about The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath[i]. 

We are focusing on the question, "Is booze the muse? Or, will I find creativity in sobriety?" Americana literature and the  drunkard storyteller(s) is our setting which includes Leslie Jamison’s own what it was like - what happened - what it’s like now. Who among us didn’t fear that without our drug of choice we would stand naked to the world, without our mojo? 

From Amazon “About the Author” … 

Leslie Jamison is the author of the essay collection The Empathy Exams, a New York Times bestseller, and the novel The Gin Closet, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, and the Oxford American, among others, and she is a columnist for the New York Times Book Review. She teaches at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn with her family. 

We also explore the fear about stage fright and the inspiration for content-creation that entertainers suffer through in early sobriety—indie artists and legacy rockers, fine artists, comedians and, of course writers. We’ll talk to Lucy and Steve from Acid Test. If addiction is a family disease, then it’s a band disease too; this 90s buzz-band was interrupted, in part, by addiction. Acid Test's "Recovering" includes a new record, Just ‘Rite which we’ll share from to finish off the show. We’ll borrow from William White’s recent work and writer Jessica Lamb-Shapiro’s study of self-help America. 


My thumbs up for The Recovering is not universally felt. “This much-touted literary love letter to Alcoholics Anonymous is too moral in its argument for the superiority of the sober,” is how Rick Whitaker starts his review in The Guardian. We challenge some of The Guardians seemingly erroneous assumptions on our show. You can read the whole 2018 article HERE[ii] 

Maybe the problem for some critics is the blurring of genres. You’ll hear Leslie Jamison sharing about how some readers want more memoir and others want more historical journalism from her book.  Some readers protest that one ought not drift into the other lane; it’s distracting. Rebellion Dogs regulars remember how critics butchered, Drunk Mom: A Memoir (2014) by Jowita Bydlowska. You can do a "mumoir"; you can do a crash-and-burn drunkalogue. But don’t be candidly writing about waking from a blackout and not knowing where your panties or baby are.  That’s open season for righteous indignation. By the way, the 2014 Drunk Mom still has that new-car smell and is still a Rebellion Dogs top-dog-pick today, if you haven't read it already. 

Anhedonia: Loss of the capacity to experience pleasure. The inability to gain pleasure from normally pleasurable experiences. "Anhedonia" is derived from the Greek "a-" (without) "hedone" (pleasure, delight).[iii] 

Nikki Sealy in writes, “Anhedonia doesn't make addicts throw up, feel achy all over, or break out in a sweat. Instead, the condition makes addicts feel flat and unable to find any joy in life. The unchanging and perpetual feelings of depression can make them feel emotionally empty and somewhat lost in the world. Things that would normally make most people smile don’t have the same effect on people who are struggling with anhedonia – especially during early recovery”[iv] 

Graham Isador of (2017), “What happens when you finally stop drinking on stage?” Mark Maron (comedian), Drew Thomson of Single Mothers.[v] 

“On a recent episode of Marc Maron's WTF Podcast the comedian announced he had celebrated eighteen years sober. I decided to reach out and see what Maron thought was the main difference between when performing sober compared to when he was using. His email response was short and to the point: " I'm not hiding." 

Of Drew Thomson, lead singer or the band, Single Mothers, Isador was told, “Most of my accomplishments I've done while in a deep haze of booze. Drunk Drew. Drunk Drew started a band. Drunk Drew is on stage. It's Drunk Drew's band. I never gave sober Drew any credit. I was scared I couldn't do it sober. 

When I drank I thought I was filling a prescription …The booze keeps you thinking you need it.” Regarding sobriety, Thomson says, Oddly, I have almost zero stage fright now. I used to think, 'Oh no I haven't had enough to drink I don't want to go on,' but that's when I thought booze gave me some kind of superpower. I was under a spell. Now that the spell has lifted—I know I can play great sober or sick or tired—I don't really give a fuck now, just let me on the stage and I'll do my best. It's a personal choice. I have no problem at all being around people who are drinking, usually it just reminds me why I stopped.” 

Alice Cooper talked to Craig Furguson about the stage fright of early sobriety while they were on The Late Late Show in 2005[vi]. Alice was 23 years sober, looking back at his relationship with Whiskey and wondering at the time, “How could Alice be sober?” 

Stevie Ray Vaughn - Jim Washburn of the LA Times in 1988 about Eric Clapton’s 12-Step influence. "He'd been sober for a time when we first met, and I was drinking heavy," Vaughan said. "He didn't tell me what to do or not to do, he just looked at me drinking and said, 'Yeah, I guess sometimes you've got to go through that, don't you?' He knew I had to hit bottom myself before I could get up. And some of the things he told me turned out to be principles of the program I use now."[vii] 

Emilie Modaff is a songwriter, actor and produces the WBEZ podcast, Pleasure Town. In “Being A Sober Artist” for “Who would have thought that refraining from drinking myself into a blackout and snorting coke for breakfast would result in better quality work? Weird.”[viii] 

In Promise Land: My Journey Through America’s Self-Help Culture Mark Victor Hansen, co-author of Chicken Soup For The Soul, a best-seller that went from book, to brand(series) and then Tony-Robins-esque seminars on how to make a million dollars telling people what they want to hear. “As Americans, self-help reflects our core beliefs: self-reliance, social mobility, an endless ability to overcome obstacles, a fair and equal pursuit of success, and the inimitable proposition that every single human being wants and deserves a sack of cash.”[ix] 

The self-help genre yields over $10 Billion in the USA alone each year and the average Amazon indie author makes $100/year.[x] 

Lindsay Myers (Brain Blogger) “In addition to high revenues, self-help also has a high recidivism rate, with the most likely purchaser of a self-help book being the same person who purchased one already in the last 18 months.”[xi] 

William White (June 1, 2018 William White Papers), “Vague but passionate promises of a new approach always garner more hope than the known limitations of current efforts. And any industry that has attracted substantial financial capital will draw a subset of individuals and organizations who will sacrifice public health and safety for personal and corporate profit… Aware of such risks, most fields develop standards of organizational and professional practice that maximize effectiveness and elevate ethical decision-making.”[xii]  

From IndieCan Radio (SiriusXM) interview with a band who has opened for Nine Inch Nails, 54-40, Snow, Acid Test’s Jus’ Rite[xiii]. 

Thanks for being part of Rebellion Dogs Radio. Feel free to re-post, download or email this show as you see fit. 














Drunk Mom: A Memoir AMAZON link

Tracy Chabala from TheFix on Rebellion Dogs Radio 37  

Our guest today is writer/journalist, from Los Angeles, Tracy Chabala a Technology, food and addiction/mental health writer, now working on an upcoming novel. We’ll talk about the craft of writing, the writing industry, some of the nuances of the addiction/recovery media world. Recently charged Tracy to write about researcher, Sarah E. Zemore et alia’s “A longitudinal study of the comparative efficacy of Women for Sobriety, LifeRing, SMART Recovery, and 12-step groups for those with AUD(Alcohol and other Drugs).” 

Much of the resistance to AA from people in treatment centers is the perceived religious or spiritual component and so AA effectiveness was compared to non-religious, spiritually benign or secular fellowships, that have formed to meet the need for secular peer-to-peer or mutual aid support. Who’s come up with a better modality to concur alcohol and other drug use disorder? Or does AA have something that yields better results today compared to these newer options? 

I’ll talk with Tracy for the bulk of our time together. First, here’s some up-dates on recent activities (March/April 2018) that I’ve been posting about on Rebellion Dogs social media… 

AA Road-warriors who “carrying the AA message” in various ways gathered in Sedona Arizona to talk about the future of AA. Attendees included circuit speakers, past delegates/trustees, GSO workers, treatment industry workers, AA historians, researchers and people working within the General Service Structure today. Sobriety varied from 11 years to 50 years, from all over America, from Iceland, Denmark and Canada. 

Discussion points included AA’s changing culture, the question about our literature being up to the task for future newcomers and what might be altered or improved, spirituality and social media. 

I was on an outreach trip for ICSAA 2018, in Toronto this August 24 – 26, the International Conference of Secular AA, formerly known as We Agnostics, Atheists & Freethinkers. 

Prior to the USA S/W outreach leg the host committee was in Toronto at the Ontario Regional Conference at the Area 83, Eastern Ontario International Assembly in Kingston and North Bay’s We Agnostics Group, 150 miles north of Toronto. Later this Month, it’s Alberta with meeting stops in St. Albert (near Edmonton) and Calgary Alberta. 

The musical offering today is an LA pop-punk foursome called The Regrettes.


Notes & Links CLICK for links:

The FIx article:

The Regrettes band:

Photo credit: For (Sirius XM Radio) Wendy L. Rombough Photography

The Journal of Substance Abuse Therapy

Tracy Chabala on After Party Podcast with Anna and Danielle




Parallel Universes: Rebellions Dogs Radio36 with David B  

February 15, 2018 is the launch of a new memoir about addiction, about recovery called, Parallel Universe: The Story of Rebirth. Author David B. Bohl, like all of us, has an incredible personal adventure to share. Everyone confronts certain demanding existential questions: who am I, what am I doing here, who are these others? My personal sense of identity has been a prerequisite to sanity, integrity and a satisfying, purposeful life. 

“’Who’s my biological mother?’ I asked my adoptive mother as a child,” David recounts on page 16 of Parallel Universes

What are the catalysts to the life we lead, overachieving, underachieving, addiction or recovery? Duality and addiction and later duality and recovery are challenging dance-steps for any of us. How much more challenging is an integrated sense of identity if you’re adopted; if much of your pass is locked away in a filing cabinet in an office that you have no access to.

“Two Parallel Universes, two realities. I was marked for life, destined by my circumstances to have my perception warped from the get-go.” 

For anyone who's still waiting for a previously hinted about show, here's an update on the Ten-thousand Beyond Beliefs Blog: most of a show done about  our book, Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life was finished over a month ago. The episode recounts how it was conceived, written and some notable facts/stats upon reaching the 10,000 mark of paperbacks and eBooks now on people’s mobile devices, reading nooks and bedside tables. We reached that milestone in December. I’m going to do this story, as some of you have requested. It will include a few ideas to anyone else thinking they have a book in them. The problem is, like today, I have another book or another subject I want to talk about way more than my own efforts. There is a wealth of good books and stories going on.

Another writer, Anne Fletcher, needed help with addiction late last century. So, I would guess two things about her: First assumption: she may not have an executive-style health care benefit plan whereby no treatment cost is prohibitive. I’m a writer and I don’t have a fancy employer-sponsored health plan. Secondly, it’s natural that she might want to channel her lived experience into a narrative. That’s what writers do. From treating obese patients to penning, Thin for Life, Fletcher championed medicine, folk-wisdom and subjects held up as examples that she called masters of weight control.  Thin for Life comes from the consumer/lifestyle/wellness genre whose titles flirt with best-seller-ness often. Hers became its own franchise of follow up books that inspired and helped 100’s of thousands. Channeling the Thin for Life winning formula Anne M. Fletcher, found in her own life-challenge, a new project, the 2001, SOBER for Good

“Along the way I tried some of the conventional solutions for alcohol problems. Though I was impressed with how helpful AA was for others and I’d benefited from the support, I’d come home from a meeting feeling like the odd one out. My take-responsibility attitude—along with my tendency to challenge the status quo and want to do things my way—didn’t mesh with the program’s twelve-step philosophy. I wasn’t ‘in-denial.’ I was looking for help but felt I had nowhere to turn. So I crafted my own rather lonely path to resolving my troubles with alcohol, with the help of some open-minded therapists who did not demand that I become abstinent or that I attend a recovery group but respected my ability to make the decision to stop drinking and encouraged me to develop my own strategies to do so.”[i] 

SOBER for Good, went on to quote and interview people in long term recovery, provide a consumer guide and overview of the recovery world, with—or without—AA style peer-to-peer. In 2013, she followed up with Inside Rehab after doing more research. As a respected writer, she was invited to observe in and out-patient programs and she reported her findings from the campuses of Caron, Hazelden, Promises and other infamous facilities. 

I think it’s great that people investigate, criticize and report on addiction/recovery modalities. Skepticism isn’t cynicism. Yes, some find fault like there’s a reward for it; we know enough about recovery from addiction to separate the attention getting nay-sayers from sincere outcries to aid addicts seeking help.

And story-telling - be it alcoholic to alcoholic, eyeball to eyeball or print, documentary or social media accounts of experience, strengh and hope - is one of the best lessons learned from the 1939 Alcoholics Anonymous. Sharing our experience can empower others.

Similarly, to Anne Fletcher, and many of us, David wasn’t a by-the-book alcoholic that fit nicely into a by-the-book recovery.

First, David’s worldview didn’t fit the popular 12-Step recovery narrative of an intervening higher power that “could and would if He were sought.”

Secondly, imagine how one takes inventory or reconciles one’s past where “nurture” happened in an adoptive family home and “nature” is out of the reach of personal scrutiny? 

Today we’re going to hear from David, who is stepping up to share his story, his memoir, Parallel Universes: The Story of Rebirth. We’ve talked with other authors on this podcast and it never gets old. This one’s special for me because David is a friend of mine. I came to know him the same way I have come to know many of you, online at first and eventually in the rooms. David and I, and some of you, were among the 300 or so who attended the first Secular International gathering of AA in Santa Monica in 2014. Since then, I’ve been to meetings in his hometown and he’s been to meetings in mine. 

I loved David’s Parallel Universes. I sometimes take public transit and on my way to Toronto Intergroup, I was transported by the tale of David landing in India, an alcoholic on the run again. I missed my bus stop; I missed three of them. Four stops later I sufficiently snapped back to my universe and start my mile, or so walk back to my destination, in a Toronto winter. I didn't mind the unplanned walk at all. It's gave me time to think more about the book.

Just like in Anne Fletcher’s quote above, David didn’t feel right at home in AA either. He felt different because he was different; we’re all different. That’s something I trust Anne Fletcher found in her research… there is no universal solution but instead there are many paths and many absolutely fascinating stories to be shared.

If you don’t know David he as a Masters of Addiction Studies and he’s a member of the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC). I’ll let him tell you how that happened. Here’s David on the phone and me at my desk, talking about life and recovery and his new book, out now, called Parallel Universe: A Story of Rebirth.


UPDATE: ICSAA 2018, The International Conference of Secular AA in Toronto Hashtag #OnToToronto is six months away.

I happen to be your host-committee outreach coordinator. I’m working with Thomas, the outreach coordinator for the Secular AA board. I’m saying this because I am inviting you, if you are willing, to be a local liaison for your home group or the Agnostic/Atheist groups in your region. Send me your email and maybe a physical address too.

The site has meeting info but not always phone numbers, contact names, etc. So, I need people to get the word out at your own group and maybe your district table or your local intergroup. Not all of the secular AA community belong to atheist/agnostic/freethinker groups and we want to reach anyone, anywhere.  

The Toronto ICSAA 2018 conference is just around the corner and the host committee is ready to help people plan their trip. Check out Facebook and Twitter for info on things to do in Toronto. While we’re meeting August 24th to 26th in Toronto, the Canadian National Exhibition is on before, after and during the conference. Maybe you’d like to take an extra day this summer and attend Canada’s national exhibition. There are walking or bicycle tours, art galleries, museums and shopping walking distance from the Toronto Marriot Eaton Centre Hotel.

Niagara Falls or Canada’s Wonderland are short drives away. We have local intel on how to get here by bus, plane or train but we need—I need—people to help get outreach to your local meetings. Toronto is an expensive North East city but from first-class to starving artist, there is lots to do on any budget. So check the show notes bellow or come register at and send us an email with your contact info.


Since posting this podcast, David B's book was reviewed by fellow Memoir writer, Thomas B, click to read it on AAagnositica.

March 1, 2018 David B was the guest of John S on AA Beyond Belief Radio. Listen Here

LINKS for Episode 36 of Rebellion Dogs Radio Click the words and enter "Parallel Universes."

Rochester (pictured at the Mod Club Theatre, Toronto Canada photo credit: Wendy L. Rombough, APPLE MUSIC - SOUNDCLOUUD.

Helschel Haus Books.

David B Bhol website.

Register for ICSAA 2018 August 24 - 26 HERE




Thanks for being part of Rebellion Dogs Radio. See you on line, see you in the rooms,

[i] Fletcher, Anne M, SOBER for Good. 2001: New York, Houghton Muffin Company 


Think, Think, Thinking about Truth & Reconsiliation  

Think Think Think: The Truth and How to Reconcile

“Think, Think, Think…” Show me another AA slogan that doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Everyone loves, “Easy Does It,” and “Live and Let Live.” I’ve seen sober club houses that hang “Think, Think, Think” upside down. What is that supposed to mean? Meditation isn’t Step One in AA so perhaps it’s a more advanced tool in the kit than, “First Things First.”

On Epiosode 35 of Rebellion Dogs Radio we are think, think, thinking about Truth and Reconciliation. We borrow from Science, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Dave Chappelle's waxing philosophical in Los Angeles, lessons learned from Apartheid in South Africa and Canada's indigenous Truth & Reconciliation.

We look at a AA - history, current conflicts and we ponder about how our actions today will shape our future. We compare AA's current day personalities with Refuge Recovery mindfulness.

Nelson Mandela, in his 1990, The Struggle is My Life said this:

"Since my release, I have become more convinced than ever that the real makers of history are the ordinary men and women of our country; their participation in every decision about the future is the only guarantee of true democracy and freedom."

So fellow ordinary men and women; it's up to us... let's talk. Episode 35 is about an hour of chitter-chatter, you can help yourself to a PDF or online transcript from Rebellion Dogs BLOG. As always, share, re-post, download or stream and if you feel inclined, join the conversation.


Woman in AA and the Recovery Community with Trysh Travis, PhD on Episode 34 of Rebellion Dogs Radio  

“More than just a professional historian, as a Women’s Studies professor, I’m a professional feminist.  That means that my orientation to history is informed by an awareness of the unequal distribution of power between men and women, and a desire to reveal, critique and correct that inequality. Feminism works for me as what Ernie [Kurtz, Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous] called a filter—it colors the questions that I ask and the answers that I formulate.” Trysh Travis: 2017 AA History Lover's Symposium, Sedona Mago Recovery Series. 

The history of woman in AA (and throughout the larger recovery community) is the focus of  Rebellion Dogs Radio #34. Rebellion Dog's 21st century look at 12-Step Life welcomes, from the University of Florida Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research, Trysh Travis. Having just come back from Sedona Mago Retreat (Arizona), I can tell you that the place is still buzzing from Trysh Travis' shared research and insights on women and the 12-Step community. 

Working on culture and literature book # 3, Trysh Travis authored The Language of the Heart: 12 Step Recovery from AA to Oprah Winfrey, and more recently Re-Thinking Therapeutic Culture. Add to that, as Managing Editor Emeritus of Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society, our 12-Step culture has never been too far from this researcher's gaze. Today, it my rebellious and dogged pleasure to share my recent conversation with Trysh Travis about some of what her extensive research can tell us about women, addiction and recovery. 

Respecting your time, I compromised my way from what could have been the "longest Rebellion Dogs show ever" to a "longer than usual Rebellion Dogs Radio show." That's the great thing about podcasting; we don't have to break away to the news at the top-of-the-hour. Still, I understand you are a busy person, too. What to cut and what to showcase is never a pleasant decision when the content is so rich and important. With some good fortune, episode 34 won’t be the last we hear from Dr. Travis. If you care about any particular marginalized populations in the addiction/recovery community, or if you are intrigued by AA and other 12-Step history, you are in for a treat. This might be one of those, "I have to listen twice to catch it all," shows. 


PhD, Yale University, American Studies, 1998   
MA, Bread Loaf School of English, 1995   
BA, New York University, Gallatin Division, 1987 


University of Flordia 

CLICK the PIC to Visit the Blog Post, "Points" 

Two Books (and counting) by Trysh Travis 

“Readers who come to this book looking for blanket condemnation or praise will be disappointed.” Trysh Travis from Language of the Heart.  

Also by Trysh Travis: anthology Rethinking Therapeutic Culture (co-edited with my friend Tim Aubry 2015) extends my work on popular self-help and other “mental hygiene” movements.




Meet Jay from Sedona Mago Retreat Center Recovery Series  

"Ernie Kurtz was one of the most generous people I ever met. I think that the most important lesson that he ever taught me was that humility, curiosity and good manners, are the true fruits of both spiritual and intellectual investigation."  Jay Stinnett, Sedona Mago Retreat Center

This is part of the story Jay shares with us in a chat which makes up the lion's share of Episode 33 of Rebellion Dogs Radio. Jay runs the Recovery Series of weekend workshops at Sedona Mago Retreat Center in Arizona. If you haven't already meet Jay, today's the day! 

We planned on talking about an upcoming retreat we're working on together October 27th to 29th, 2017. It's called, "Beyond Belief: A secular journey through the 12-Step... with - or without - God." 

Anyone who follows surveys or demographics is preconditioned to the reality that generation-next newcomers differ from our AA generation. Today's newcomers need AA, just like us. But today's newcomers include more freethinkers. 

More millennials wants AA sobriety without the "God stuff," the monotheistic narrative about addiction and recovery. Why so fussy? 

We have all read, "...deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 55),"

That just isn't universally true, anymore. How do atheists make sense of "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character"? Does Step Three make sense without a higher power? Can there still be prayer, if nobody's there? 

Largely, American atheists are still closeted. Think gays and lesbians, Circa: 1950. LGBTQ Americans found greater safety in the shadows during more homophobic times; atheists have learned how to avoid that familiar tyranny of the majority in our present-day "secularphobic" era. So how many people in North America don't believe in a prayer-answering, sobriety-granting higher power?

A sneaky new survey suggests that that one quarter of Americans may not believe in an intervening deity. Conceivably, that could be 500,000 of today's AA members. No shit?!? Could that be true? Recently, Pew Research Group bluntly asked, "Do you believe in God." Of respondents, 11% identified as nonbelievers (but only 3% go so far as to call themselves "atheist"). Regardless of how you personally feel, there is a very real dislike of atheists in the USA. Think of how we talked/joked about "fags" in the 1950s - or the 1980s for that matter. Today's favorite scapegoat is the American atheist. Pew Research also revealed an American public who wouldn't want to vote for an atheist or learn that their child was marrying a godless partner. Let me introduce you to some sneaky researchers who believe they found a way to out American nonbelievers from our closets.

Will M. Gervais and Mazime B. Najle of the University of Kentucky crafted a subtle way to text people. Five Thirty spoke with the researchers and reported:

“Instead of asking about belief in God directly, they provided a list of seemingly innocuous statements and then asked: “How many of these statements are true of you?” Respondents in a control group were given a list of nine statements, such as “I own a dog” and “I am a vegetarian.” The test group received all the same statements plus one that read, “I do not believe in God.” The totals from the test group were then compared to those from the control group, allowing researchers to estimate the number of people who identify as atheists without requiring any of the respondents to directly state that they don’t believe in God. The study concludes that roughly one-quarter (26 percent) of Americans likely do not believe in God. 

Why am I telling you all about this right now?

Jay and I don't actually talk about any of this on this podcast or much about the upcoming retreat. We got distracted. But we will stay focused October 27th to 29th. We will discuss how to approach today's newcomers with a non-exclusive -- neither religious nor irreligious -- language. As for today's podcast, Jay and I drift a wee bit. Jay and I had to catch up, and it was so interesting, I want to share it with you. We are talking about the Oxford Group, smoking as it relates to recovery, the history of the Taoist Sedona Mago Retreat and how it has braided the beard of the "No Californication for my Arizona" locals. 

It's a great show. Here's some pictures from my last Sedona Arizona trip. The bottom left picture is a Tradition 11 anonymous selfie - my feet and the view part way up to the peak of Bear Mountain Arizona. The other three are the Sedona Mago grounds.

If you've booked for Beyond Belief: A Secular journey through the Twelve Steps and Traditions, see you in Sedona. It's going to be epic.

If you're not booked but impulsive... throwing caution to the wind and coming for the weekend is still cheaper than a crack relapse-lost weekend and you'll be back to work, Monday without a hangover or regret. So, think about joining us. Besides, who doesn't want to show-off how open-minded they are. If you can't make it, it's not as if this issue is going away and I'm sure this conversation will be oft' discussed in every corner of 12-Step culture. 

Also on Episode 33, we touch on SOAAR - the Secular Ontario AA Roundup held in Toronto Canada, this past September 16th. SOAAR was well attended with members from Northern California to up-state New York. Ontario members came from South, North East and West to join the downtown Toronto crowd. The day ended with entertainment and singer/songwriter Kevin M of The Kat Kings and other performers who were well received. We close today's podcast, like we closed SOAAR in Toronto, with a Kat Kings song. 

As always, stream or download the show from the link below. Share Episode 33 freely.

If you're new here -- don't binge all in one sitting, but -- check out some of our previous shows. There are 32 more if we've counted correctly and many more blogs, too. Many of them still have that new-car smell. Kat Kings:


How Baby Boomers are Holding AA back and 4 Ways to Fix It  

Writer, Douglas Coupland wrote a 1990s book called Generation X and it helped dignify a generation lost in the shadow of Baby Boomers. If not for X, if not Coupland maybe there wouldn’t be a Gen Y (18 - 36-year-olds we call Millennials now) or Generation Z who make up today's teenage alcoholics and addicts. Douglas Coupland said something in the Foreword of a book that I have on order by Rosa Harris called, Boomerville: Musings on a Generation that Refuses to Go Quietly. He wasn't talking about AA, he wasn't warning us about any generational communication-breakdown but let's hear him out:

“We stood at the turning point,”

“We beg of you to be fearless,”

“…we continued to practice these principles in all of our affairs,”

“God as we understood Him.”

It sounds like Coupland is looking right at "we" AAs as he’s making this generational distinction. Episode 32 of Rebellion Dogs Radio takes a wide-angle look at demographics with some help from Pew Research Group. We look at some challenges with bringing up the idea changes to the literature with "unselfconscious" Boomers. That won't go well, but we have four ideas of how we can overcome communication-breakdown and ensure 12-Step rooms are as Next-Generation friendly as "we" surely are for Boomers (my generation).

Want to read along? If you want to download the transcript, visit our blog page by clicking HOW BABY BOOMER ARE HOLDING AA BACK & 4 WAYS TO FIX IT. If you are ADHD there's lots to read, lots of links and pictures, too.

Download or stream the show from our player below or groove to the Pod-0-Matic feed below.

Want a PDF transcript to follow along with? CLICK HERE

Inside the Business of Recovery   



The Business of Recovery[i] was the title of the debut documentary produced by institutional insider, Greg Horvath. I talked to Horvath in November 2016 at Toronto’s film/art festival, Rendezvous With Madness. Rendezvous is an art, addiction and mental health amalgam. Painters, filmmakers and psychiatrists sit on panels together and discuss well-being and falling off the beam in panels that precede and follow indie films and documentaries. 

Greg Horvath with Geoff Pevere of Rendezvous With Madness

This just in: Horvath! Crowd-sourcing is underway for his second treatment business inventory-taking documentary. His followup documentary has a working title of The Truth About Rehab[ii]. It aims to frame the addiction treatment business as a wild, wild west, where wild claims are made and wild fees are charged for healthcare. Greg’s film is dedicated to exposing corruption and unethical, predatory practices. The new trailer to The Truth About Rehab quotes 50,000 as the number of people who died of addiction in 2015 (the year of his first documentary). Death is something Greg has some insight into. As the drama of his film unfolds, some of the people Horvath interviewed in The Business of Recovery, who are going through the addiction treatment system, don’t live to the documentary’s completion; Others are no longer alive, today. 

The Business of Recovery motivated Rebellion Dogs to do our own digging around behind-the-scenes of the $US $35 Billion + addiction treatment industry. We share some of what we’ve found in this episode. Pundits, advocates, critics, lobbyists, all have a spin on this. Why not? A lot is on the line—a lot of well-being and profit to be had. 

Background we need to know for context: 

Ask Google: What does addiction treatment cost? A 30-day program could be $14,000 to $27,000, or $80,000 in Malibu. Out-patient treatment could be in the $500 range. Detoxing can cost $600-$1,000 per day. 


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)[iii] was formed in 1992. Formed by Congress, SAMHSA describes itself as “the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.” 

Here is a mind-blowing statistic from SAMSHA: 

In 2015, they count just under 286 million people 12 or older with either alcohol or drug dependency or abuse. By the way, the $35 Billion that is reportedly spent only meets the demand of 10% or so of Americans seeking addiction treatment. 

SAMHSA itself has requested Congress for a budget of $4.3 Billion to carry on its work. 

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD)[iv] has some AA history. A first in many regards, Marty Mann was AA’s first LGBTQ success story and an early advocate outside the AA rooms. It’s interesting to wonder if we had formal Traditions or finger-pointing tradition enforcers back then, if Marty M could have or would have done what she has done. Mann is credited for organizing the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism in 1944, which became National Council on Alcoholism in in 1950, became equally concerns with drugs and re-branded as NCADD in 1990. 

Mission Statement for NCADD: “Affiliate Network is a voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting the Nation’s #1 health problem – alcoholism, drug addiction and the devastating consequences of alcohol and other drugs on individuals, families and communities.” Activities include professional and community training, referral services, support and advocacy and public information. 

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)[v] or 

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)[vi] 

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)[vii] 

Horvath’s first movie makes the claim that treatment center cost for addiction in America is $35 Billion and has risen 300% over 25 years. He also points out that treatment centers have tripled in 25 years now with 14,000 places that take your money to treat your addiction. 

We also bring you some of what we’ve found from Vice, In Recovery Magazine and The Guardian. Of note, many within the industry are dedicated to ethical best-practices, education and outing predatory and unethical practices. We will report on some of their efforts and advocacy, also.

Visit the links below to buy or rent The Business of Recovery or keep up to date with Greg Horvath’s newest project. 

Mark your calendars for November 3 - 12, 2017 for this year’s Rendezvous With Madness[viii] art and film amalgam.



A complete PDF transcript will be coming soon. 









SEDONA MAGO RETREAT October 27, 28, 29, 2017 "A Secular view to Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions:

Secular Ontario AA Roundup September 16, 2017 SOAAR

Issues of Substance, Calgary November 13 - 15:

Feature song: "Crazy" by Ash Leigh Ball


Talk Recovery Radio in Vancouver: Into AA but not into God  

March 2017: Joe C was on Talk Recovery Radio, 100.5 FM in Vancouver B.C. Hosts Darren Galer, Frances Stone and Giuseppe Ganci bring recovery and addiction issues to the airwaves with expert guest interviews, question of the day, call in time and awesome music. 

Vancouver Co-operative Radio, CFRO, 100.5FM is a non-commercial, co-operatively-owned, listener-supported, community radio station. Located in East Vancouver and with long-time roots in the Downtown Eastside, Co-op Radio strives to provide a space for under-represented and marginalized communities. Co-op Radio aims to increase community participation by encouraging examination of the social and political concerns of the geographic and cultural communities of BC and beyond. 

Toronto AA Intergroup had just made peace with AA secular groups including them in the directory without conditions. Vancouver Intergroup was debating reinstating agnostic/atheist AA groups at the time of recording, March 2, 2017. Congrats Van-city. They did, restoring unity to local AA and inviting the no-God groups back into the fold. Joe C loved being back on Talk Recovery. It's a show you can listen to online any Thursday at noon Pacific Time (3 PM EST)or visit their podcast section anytime for past shows. See links below...

So what do we talk about? We cover different ways that secular AA meetings ignore, embrace or interpret AA's 12-Steps. We talk about the Toronto Human Rights case that reviewed the Intergroup discrimination (expulsion) of agnostic/atheist AA groups. We talk about identity politics, AA rituals and we share each others struggles with semantics, autonomy, willfulness and how we each make peace with and find a place in AA. Are words sacred? Does changing them help or hinder?


The Last Door

More Talk Recovery Radio on 100.5 FM

Rebellion Dogs Radio 29-The_GOD_Word and AA history  

The new British Invasion: The God Word.
What you need to know about AA history and The God Word? Get your PDF and take action to bring it to your home group library table.

What's Joe's Secret and his recovery and what does it have to do with AA narrative, culture, orthodox vs. fluid language? Betcha' wanna' know!


We introduce a band called The Dash from Vancouver Canada. Connect with them on social media or hear more from their recording "A Better Place" by clicking HERE 

Get a PDF transcript of the radio show HERE

Episode 28: talking service with John S.  

A discussion on AA service with John S & Joe C. 

'Tis the season to show our gratitude. Is gratitude a feeling or an action; is it talked about or demonstrated? 

The circle-triangle often associated with Alcoholics Anonymous represent three tenets of AA life: recovery, unity, service. Today we're talking about service. At the time of posting this podcast, I had some bad news come my way. AA World Service Director and Class B Trustee Joe D died this week. I last heard Joe D talk about AA’s history of diversity at our 2015 District 10/Area 83 service workshop called, “So You Think You’re Different: Diversity in AA” about a year ago.

This episode is dedicated to the memory and legacy of Joe D. 

Joe was on the trustees’ Literature Committee that was recommending the atheist/agnostic pamphlet that was rejected by the General Service Conference. Joe was visibly frustrated by the time, love and service that went into the draft, which was all for not. Joe was one of the “good guys,” (not to suggest there is any nefarious element at General Service). He would certainly have been a voice or reason and asset to AA World Service – and all of us – at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal mediation now underway. In this regard, the timing couldn’t be more tragic. 

I have a hard time grasping that Joe D is gone for good. He was a former Area 83 delegate (South East Ontario Canada and NW New York State – AA’s only international Area). He was a mentor to many past and present trusted servants both in Ontario Canada and around the General Service Office. It is timely that we’re talking service; many of us to step up to fill a void created with the loss of Joe D. If 2016 has taught us anything, it is this: Don’t take your democracy for granted; liberty comes with responsibility.

"What keeps you clean and sober, through thick and thin, all these 40-years, Joe?" you might ask. While why I am sober is still partly a mystery, there's no mystery to what I do to stay sober. I stay busy. Service, within AA and in our larger community, isn't something I do out of duty. It isn't something I do because I fear relapsing if I'm not a good boy. Maybe that was true at one point in early recovery. But today, service - in and outside of AA - is a building block within a purposeful life. A higher purpose was something I learned from secular AA friends who didn't drink the sobriety-granting, prayer-answering higher power Kool-Ade. 

If you are like me, if you don't connect with popular AA God-talk that comes with 12-Step discussion, read the Traditions, read the Concepts. Our Traditions make one vague reference to god and the Concepts of World Service don't mention supernatural forces at all. To a theist, god is assumed in every corner of AA and good for theists. But for me, service work is a reprieve from the "turn it over, trust god" talk in so many meetings. Service work is secular. Hospitals, correction facilities, public information, accessibility, cooperation with the professional community, being group treasurer or answering the phones - these are all roll-up-your-sleeves activities will little concern for philosophy or abstractions. 

Rarely do I ever get into debate over supernatural vs. natural worldviews when I'm talking about how AA can reach more underrepresented populations. Phones, trade-shows, coffee pots and committee meetings don't care what any of us believe. The same folks that make me roll my eyes if we're talking about Step Three, are good-natured colleagues when it comes to AA service work. In this regard, service and unity are linked. Regardless of opposing views on this or that, I find myself united in common good, in carrying AA's message, cheerfully with no cause or time for debate about spirituality. 

Some will tell you that for them service is spiritual. I don't fight them on that. For me, service is secular; it is neither religious nor irreligious. It can help keep us sober and satisfied with life, regardless of what we do or do not believe.

Episode 27 of Rebellion Dogs Radio - the Rendezvous With Madness show  

Rendezvous With Madness Episode (Rebellion Dogs # 27)  VIEW or download the PDF

To download the audio file of Rebellion Dogs Radio, scroll down to the download tab bellow. To stream (listen) click on our stream, Pod-0-matic or SoundCloud below... Enjoy.

Since the November 2016 election In the USA, identity politics is front-of-mind for many of us as a social issue. We’re going to continue our Rebellious, Doggy way of looking @ addiction and recovery through our less-dogma, more-bite, current-day lens. Rebellion Dogs Radio Episode 27 is called Rendezvous with Madness.

In this episode, we review the annual conference for National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC): the Association for Addiction Professionals which met in Minneapolis in October 2016. Also on Episode 27, Rendezvous With Madness(Toronto), the longest running arts/film festival devoted to addiction and mental health is 24 years old this year, November 4 – 12, 2016... the Madness continues. We have the first of two parts of #RMW2016 coverage this month  on art and it's ability to help us understand life and heal for life's challenges. From NAADAC, I have a wonderful conversation with Mita Johnson who points out “to discriminate” isn't strictly a barrier building word. To discriminate can mean “to recognize differences” and accommodate or integrate these differences.

Mita Johnson reminds readers that counselors and service providers have a duty to develop ethical multicultural skills and there are three stages to achieve this skill:

1. exploring
2. understanding and
3. acting.

Johnson explains, that cultural affiliation represents and celebrates “the beliefs, customs, practices, historical frames, experiences and ways of being that are unique and vital to a group’s identity.” Mita Johnson is an addiction and mental health practitioner and a dedicated supporter of NAADAC.

Lee Mun Wah is a movie maker and workshop facilitator. His 1994 documentary The Color of Fear is still widely used in humanities/social- science classes. Lee Mun Wah says: “I think this country has a huge mythology and that mythology is that our differences are valued. I don’t think so. I think they are celebrated. I think that if you really value somebody’s culture, you integrate it into your workplaces, it becomes part of businesses and part of the culture… We are more multi-holiday than we are multi-cultural.”

So we spend a little under an hour talking about films and art and what both professionals and peer-to-peer organizations are grappling with in the changing environment. Also, at the time of recording, we were getting ready for We Agnostics, Atheists & Freethinkers International AA Convention being held in Austin TX, November 11 – 13. There's a link below.

Rebellion Dogs is live on location. A full transcript of this Episode is available here (click).


Meet The Chronicles

Do you remember when Rock was fun? The Chronicles do; Billboard Magazine says, "Here's an Iggy Pop meets Billy Idol feel with infectious melodies and witty lyrics."... The Chronicles are a recording act featuring Jesse and Joe, a father and son song writing team who have compiled about one-hundred songs since 2004. Jesse and Joe are joined by indie veteran Andre Skinner of Canteen Knockout and Tim Cassidy, former front man of the Jeff Healey house band.

“We've enjoyed some critical acclaim, regular spins on college radio, pod casts from Calgary to Ottawa in the Great White North, Michigan to Florida in the U.S.A., most recently Europe + the odd SIRIUS/XM and CBC feature. “Joe and Andre founded IndieCan Radio, a one-hour weekly radio show that is syndicated to FM Stations across Canada, SIRIUS/XM The Verge Tuesday Nights and podcasted to indie loving music fans in 126 countries at . All the members of this band have had a hand in making IndieCan Radio “the best music you’ve never heard. “ Listen to the lyrics and you can hear a touch of recovery based philosophy.
  • CHRONIC MALCONTENT is an anthem for the restless, irritable and discontent. "I am discontent and proud, that's why I sing it out-loud."
  • NOT THE LEAD DOG When you're not the lead dog, the view never changes. Not an acceptable lot in life for any rebellion dog.
  • A HOUSE IS ON FIRE is a metaphor for a life plagued with outside issues. A house is on fire, a house is on fire, a windfall for the six-o-clock new, A house is on fire, a house is on fire to a chorus of primordial ooohs.
  • TORONTO to MIAMI, a driving song about the flaws of the ever popular geographical cure to relationships.
  • CAPTAIN'S DAUGHTER, a Pirate's of the Caribbean meets Rock 'n' Roll ballad of yearning for the unattainable.
Buy on itunes

Hang out with The Chronicles and check out new demos on MYSPACE
Hear Joe C's weekly radio show featuring the best music you've never heard:  IndieCan Radio

Featured Song...
When You’re Not the Lead Dog© Joe C, Jesse Beatson, The Chronicles

Like jumping from a ledge or retreating to a burning building
Time to choose the uncertain or settle for breaking even
A parable comes to mind from one of life’s wise Eskimos
I don’t remember it exactly but here is how it goes:
When you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes
Life’s a crowded room full of faceless strangers
When you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes
I can’t settle for getting by so bring on the dangers
You confess you have a dream – the other’s just don’t get it
Like an aging hipster, you don’t want to be pathetic
So you’re torn between a good living and a good life
You ask if it’s worth the risk, the sweat, the strife. You asking me?
When you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes
Life’s a crowded room full of faceless strangers
When you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes
I can’t settle for getting by so bring on the dangers
I won’t bah like a sheep, so I fight what I seek
You won’t put me to rest with my concerto incomplete
Life is not a punishment – more like a treasure hunt
So I’m jumping from the ledge and taking a run for the front


Chronic Malcontent by The Chronicles

Chronic Malcontent CD
  • Chronic Malcontent CD
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Chronic Malcontent by The Chronicles

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