Author Archive

Came to believe

Just about everybody knows someone who is addicted to something, and I am not talking about the soft addictions that limit our connection to our highest self.  I am talking about hard core addictions that are affecting the lives of not only the addict, but also many lives around them.  Addiction takes no prisoners and it spares no lives. Families are torn apart, friendships are dissolved, businesses go bankrupt and employees lose their jobs.  Children are left without parents and parents lose children to drug related tragedies.

Many of us have been asked to help someone who is in need of treatment, only to find that after a few days of sobriety the person has returned to their past behaviors.  I know of one person who has spent over $200,000.00 on treatment programs for his son only to have him end up using after all was said and done.

Addicts are not soulless-bad people who willingly harm others for the sake of doing so.  They are suffering with a disease that affects their mind, body and spirit.  They are doing what they feel they need to do in order to survive and they live in fear of having to change their way of life.  They are afraid because the disease of addiction strikes at the center of the brain that operates through our subconscious; the same part of the brain that controls our heart beat and our breathing as well as many other survival functions.

If you have ever watched the television shows such as; Addicted, Intervention, or even My Strange Addiction, you will see the cold hard truth of what it is like to be under the spell of addiction.  You will see, “Continued use, in spite of negative consequences” up close and personal.  Still, without having the experience yourself, you can never truly understand what is going on in those persons thoughts. The behavior appears to be completely insane, and it is.

Insanity is defined:  Repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.  The addict truly thinks that the next drug is going to fix them and they will never need to use again, hence the term “get my fix.”

What I have found in my experience, as well as in the experience of others, is that insanity is temporary. The second step of the Twelve Step programs is; Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.  So how do we do this? How do we come to believe?  How did you come to believe?   Have you always believed? Do you still not believe?

When I first came to sobriety, and was confronted with this step, I did what many others have done; I went on faith.  If it worked for others it could work for me – unless they were lying!  Yes, I didn’t believe yet, but I was willing to give it a try.  What I have come to understand over the years of being clean is that to be fully sane, is a lifelong process. I return to sanity in bits and pieces only to awaken to other areas of insanity.  Through the enlightenment of unhelpful behavior patterns exposed in my life, my level of joy and freedom are increased.

To be fully sane, is a lifelong process.

Faith is simply taking someone’s word for something and being willing to give it a try. It doesn’t mean just trust me and don’t question me.  Faith is not going blindly on what others say.  Faith is temporarily putting aside current beliefs to experience another way of doing things.  Faith, with experience, turns to belief.  Belief, with experience and awareness, turns to knowing.  When you get to a place of knowing something to be true, you have found peace.

So this is what I am here for, to help others to take a leap of faith, and support them through their process of coming to believe, and then walking beside them as they get to know, who they really are and what they wish to do.  This is life in recovery.  This is the path to peace.

In June we kicked off our first in a series of CWG on recovery retreats.  A small group of people all shared a life-changing event.  If you are in recovery and not experiencing great joy and freedom or are still suffering with addictions, please consider giving yourself this experience.   Our next retreat will held in San Jose, California, Sept 19 -22nd, 2013.  On October 24 – 27th, 2013, we will have another retreat in Orlando Florida.  Click here for more information on these life-changing retreats.

(Kevin McCormack, C.A.d ,is a certified addictions professional. He is a recovering addict with 26 years of sobriety. Kevin is a practicing auriculotherapist, life coach, and interventionist specializing in individual and family recovery and also co-facilitates spiritual recovery retreats for the CWG foundation with JR Westen. You can visit his website here for more information. To connect with Kevin, please email him at

I haven’t talked much about food here on this blog because — well — I don’t consider my food consumption to be anything to brag about.  I do not eat perfect by any stretch of anyone’s imagination.  I also feel terribly uncomfortable discussing what is “good” and what is “bad” in regards to diet.  But I do want to speak about how and why we eat what we eat, as well as what is going on behind the scenes, which could be extremely helpful to those who are seeking better health and more happiness.

When I was younger and still in my active addiction, I began having indigestion problems.  I know, hard to believe that a person drinking himself into oblivion every day would have an upset stomach every now and then, but I digress.  My heartburn was pretty severe, and I was convinced to go see a doctor to have it looked at.  His words were very simple and have stuck with me to this day:  “Kevin, it’s not what you eat, it is what is eating you.”

At that time in my life, I didn’t think about what I ate or why I was even eating.  The only thoughts I  had were “I’m hungry” and “what is available?”  The truth be told, it has only been a few years that I have placed much consideration into what my diet was and how it could be affecting my health.  The results of my looking into the connection between food I was eating and my health could not be denied.

My diet prior to this awareness is quite startling when it is seen in black and white.  In the morning, I would have a huge cup of coffee, sweetened with the “pink stuff” (Sweet ‘n Low), and diluted with half-and-half. I followed the coffee up with two everything bagels.  Mind you, this was an everyday meal of mine for 20-plus years!  There were random variations from this breakfast,  but not much.

Lunch was either a whole sub sandwich or fast food, preferably from Mcdonald’s as I had found that Burger King didn’t sit well in my stomach (go figure!)  Either of the choices would have included a large Diet Coke and chips or fries (large, please!)

Now, somewhere between lunch and dinner would be a mandatory stop and a 7-Eleven for a Super Big Gulp of Diet Coke and 1 or maybe 2 packages of Twinkies or the equivalent Hostess-type snack.   Dinner would typically be a meat and potatoes variety meal with the occasional substitution of fish or pasta.  Most days a nice big bowl of ice cream would conclude this daily battering of my body.

Please note that water was not part of any of the above meal plans.

You would think with a diet like that I was most likely obese.  Think again.  I was about 20 pounds overweight, but I carried it fairly well.  You see, I was really active.  My job was physically demanding.  I live in a hot tropical climate so I would burn a lot of calories. This kept my weight pretty consistent.

What didn’t stay consistent was my health.  In 2007, I started to have trouble with tingling fingers on my right hand.  I lived with it for a while, and then my left hand started to go numb as well.  I started seeing a specialist, who would give me steroid shots.  These worked at first for a few months.  Then I would slowly start losing the feeling again.  The diagnosis was carpal tunnel syndrome.  I dealt with this the best I could for a few years, and the doctor finally told me that the only thing to do moving forward would be surgery.  I didn’t elect that option as I was worried that I may lose the function of my hands.  I was a trim carpenter, and without the use of my hands, would find myself out of a job.  So I decided to just live with it.

In March of 2011, I developed a new problem.  From what seemed like out of the blue, I couldn’t raise my right arm up and hold it level to the ground.  If I lifted up with my left arm, it would fall right down as soon as I let it go.  I was urged to go to a neurologist to get it checked out, and the resulting diagnosis was three herniated discs in my neck.  I was devastated, afraid, and depressed.

Just three months earlier my wife had convinced me to go to yoga with her.  Yoga, for me, was love at first try.  I felt at home in the yoga room and went to class no less than 5 times a week.  I was feeling good about myself and my diet had drastically changed from what it was above.

I was drinking roughly a gallon of water a day and rarely had  diet soda anymore. I was incorporating more salads into my diet and red meats virtually vanished from our meals.  My sweet tooth had gone into remission and I had melted off 35 pounds in those 3 months of yoga.  I continued to use the “pink stuff” in my coffee and didn’t think too much about it.

The damage from my unhealthy diet was done prior to the herniated discs.  My MRI showed bone degeneration in my C3 thru C5 vertebra.   All was not lost, though, and this was just the beginning of a very cool journey for me.

The day I was told of my herniated disks, I drove to my yoga studio to let my teacher know I wouldn’t be able to do yoga anymore.  I was an emotional mess and felt my joy and passion were taken from me.  My yoga teacher then told me of this doctor who was literally right across the street and how he had helped her get through a similar issue.  My despair was turned to hope in the blink of an eye!

This injury turned out to be the biggest turning point in my life since I had become sober.  I began to see the signs that my soul was sending me.  I not only saw them now, I paid attention, I listened, I asked for more signs, and learned to express gratitude for them.

Within 3 months, I not only had regained full strength and range of motion in my right arm but my hands were also completely healed of the numb, tingly sensation that had plagued me for the last 4 years.  I had eliminated the “pink stuff,” “yellow stuff,” and any other harmful chemicals completely from my diet.  I replaced sweeteners with raw honey or Stevia.  My morning breakfast was a giant serving of fresh fruit smoothies blended right in my own kitchen.  This way I had full control of all the ingredients.

Health and nutrition for me become synonymous.  I also caught on to one other thing about eating.  When I was conscious about my food choice, I felt really good about myself.  Is it raw or organic?  Does it contain artificial sweeteners?  Does the food I am eating contain words I could never even pronounce?  I have become aware, conscious, and full of intent with my eating.  Be it “good” or “bad,” I am aware.  I make the conscious choice and I remind myself of the consequences.

I am the last person to judge someone on what they are eating.  I will never do that.  I will be the first person to share everything I have come to know with those who seek the knowledge.  I believe we are what we eat and I no longer feel like I have Twinkies for fingers!  There is a connection between consciously choosing our food and a happy, joyous, and free life.  My body told me for many years in a variety of different ways that what I was putting into it was harming myself.  It took a big scare for me to wake up and listen.

In our Path to Peace Recovery Retreats we look at nutrition very deeply and examine healthier ways to eat without sacrificing fun and flavor.  As a matter of fact, the food I eat now  and the manner in which I eat is extremely satisfying on all levels.

You see, I am a recovering addict.  My disease does not know the difference between alcohol, pot, cocaine, heroin, meth, food, sex, power, or victimhood.  The disease of addiction is a brain disease that runs rampant when left unchecked.  The results are always the same:  negative consequences or recovery.  With support, recovery is a path to peace, joy, and freedom like no other.

In June we kicked off our first in a series of CWG on recovery retreats.  A small group of people all shared a life-changing event.  If you are in recovery and not experiencing great joy and freedom or are still suffering with addictions, please consider giving yourself this experience.   Our next retreat will held in San Jose, California, Sept 19 -22nd, 2013.  On October 24 – 27th, 2013, we will have another retreat in Orlando Florida.  Click here for more information on these life-changing retreats.

(Kevin McCormack, C.A.d ,is a certified addictions professional. He is a recovering addict with 26 years of sobriety. Kevin is a practicing auriculotherapist, life coach, and interventionist specializing in individual and family recovery and also co-facilitates spiritual recovery retreats for the CWG foundation with JR Westen. You can visit his website here for more information at  To connect with Kevin, please email him at

When does too much turn into addiction?

I am often asked this question in many different forms, about many different subjects.  It usually comes across in questions like am I addicted to work, or money, or candy, sex, alcohol even television.  The list goes on and on.  Society has done a wonderful job of blurring what is really very obvious to most people. In order for something to be considered an addiction the following definition must apply.  You will not hear the definition of addiction talked about in the media.

Continued use in spite of negative consequences.

For those of you who read this column regularly you have heard this definition before.  These negative consequences for the 5 major addictions are obvious to everyone who knows the addict.  For the soft addictions the consequences may not be so obvious from the outside.

Many people would say that a person who makes millions of dollars and continues to build his wealth is addicted to money. Without knowing who this person is and what he is up to with his money, it is not for us to say that he is addicted.  Take for example, the person who works 100 hours a week.  We would judge this person to be a workaholic.  But what if that person is doing what he or she loves to do?  What if the work this person is doing is for a cause that could bring great joy and freedom to large numbers of people?  Do we still say that person is a workaholic or do they now become a saint?

So if a person likes to come home from work every night and crack open a cold beer,  sit on the couch and watch the evening news is he addicted?  My answer is, “I don’t know, what happens if he doesn’t watch the news?”  You didn’t see that coming?  Really?

The news media uses fear as the driving force to keep people coming back.  And it works! How does being informed of the murders, house fires, and potential terrorist threats, on a daily basis help us to feel joy?  Do we really need to know what the weather is going to be this coming weekend so we can make plans?  Many people keep a cable news channel on all day long listening to the same 5 stories be repeated endlessly.  You don’t think this is addiction?  Tell me what good this serves in our lives.

Fear, is the opposite of everything that we are.
God said that in CWG book one.

Fear causes tension and anxiety which leads to all sorts of physical and mental health issues. Fear causes the body to enter into the fight of flight syndrome.  While in that mode the body cannot repair itself thus becoming vulnerable to disease.

Living with a pattern of behavior that creates a mental state of fear qualifies as addicted by definition.  Repeating a behavior that is non-beneficial to our physical health or our mental well being is dysfunctional living.

Hang on — there’s breaking news — oh no, a carjacking in New York City.

Yes, this story gets the headlines; one man carjacks somebody in a city of 12 million people and this makes a top story on the 5 pm news?  Why?  What is the end game of this type of reporting?  Is it really just to keep us coming back day after day so they can sell ads?  Why do we not see the bigger picture?  That the majority of humans are out in the world doing good things, living normal, happy lives?  When will we decide take back our reality creation instead of letting someone create our reality based on what sells more advertising for them?

It is staggering to see what the media chooses to report on when you look at it honestly.  The news is merely another form of entertainment much like professional wrestling. They are going to look for the most sensational piece of news and beat it over our heads for as long as possible.  A sensational plane crash gets 2 weeks coverage at the top of the hour while meanwhile 44 people per hour per day die from addiction-related incidents.

My wife and I decided a few years ago that we would not watch news unless there was something happening that we felt the need to be informed of.  We also decided if we were going to watch that we were going to keep our finger on the channel button and turn it off as soon as we received the information we desired.  For the most part we get our news through the internet where we can pick and choose what it is we want planted in our head.

My suggestion to everybody is how much news are you watching?  How is it affecting your life?  Is it helping?  Or is it just filling your head with useless information?

 In June we kicked off our first in a series of CWG on recovery retreats.  A small group of people all shared a life-changing event.  If you are in recovery and not experiencing great joy and freedom or are still suffering with addictions, please consider giving yourself this experience.   Our next retreat will held in San Jose, California, Sept 19 -22nd, 2013.  On October 24 – 27th, 2013 we will have another retreat in Orlando Florida.  Click here for more information on these life changing retreats.

(Kevin McCormack, C.A.d ,is a certified addictions professional. He is a recovering addict with 26 years of sobriety. Kevin is a practicing auriculotherapist, life coach, and interventionist specializing in individual and family recovery and also co-facilitates spiritual recovery retreats for the CWG foundation with JR Westen. You can visit his website for more information at  To connect with Kevin, please email him at

(This week’s Addiction & Recovery column is hosting a guest article written and contributed by Audrey Holst.)

I’m slowly healing an addiction.

I never thought it would happen to me.  I always thought addicts were people with issues with booze or drugs.  I denied I had a problem for a long time.  But it’s time I come clean.

I was addicted to my cell phone.

It was the first thing I looked at in the morning.  My cell is also my alarm so as soon as it went off I already had my phone in hand.  It was easy to thumb through the e-mails that came in overnight.  Browse through my Facebook newsfeed.  Before I’d even gotten out of bed I’d gotten my first hit.  At any point in the day my e-mail made its distinctive ‘ding’ noise I would be reaching to read and answer it.   Any action on my Facebook newsfeed or timeline called for contact, it didn’t matter where or when it happened.  I checked it compulsively.  Even if I wasn’t sure if there was an alert, I’d check my phone.  Before I went to bed at night I’d check and re-check my e-mail.  I’d check my newsfeed.  I’d browse a few pages.  I’d be plugged in until the very last moment before my eyes closed.

I left my phone at home one day and you would have thought I had lost a limb.

This may seem silly to some people since it’s such a regular part of our society.  It’s an acceptable addiction because the majority of us indulge in it.  But explain that to a boyfriend that I used to make feel completely de-valued during dates interrupted by “urgent” work e-mails.  Explain those moments spent awake at night because I checked my e-mail right before bed only to find an irritating message that could have been dealt with in the morning.  Explain hours of valuable time lost because I went down the rabbit hole that is going through people’s pages on Facebook.

Explain this to couples at dinner tables (and I’ve seen them) never looking up at each other, glued to their phone screens.  Explain this to a sidewalk full of pedestrians walking into each other with their faces obsessively scanning their cells.  Explain this to drivers all over the country weaving across highway lanes at high speeds watching the progress of their phone messages more than the progress of the road.

Just because so many of us do it, doesn’t mean it’s any less destructive to the quality of our lives.  Nomophobia is an actual term first created by British researchers in 2008 to describe people who experienced anxiety when they had no access to mobile technology.  Stress levels soared when people were unable to tap into their phones.

Some personal side-effects of my addiction?  Unnecessary stress and obsessive uncontrollable thoughts at all hours of the day.  My relationship ended due to lack of intimacy.  Could I say my cell-phone broke us up?  Perhaps not, but it was certainly a huge indicator of my bigger problem.

What was the addiction really asking for?  I started to dig deeper into this while doing the inner work during my Life Coach training.  I value living an aware and conscious life and I am dedicated to being present.  Being at the beck and call of a small little electronic device was against my major beliefs.  What was I really searching for every time I reached for my phone?


Every time I picked up my phone I was trying to satisfy the desire for connection, but without the risk that often comes along with it.  In the case of my “urgent” work e-mail interrupted dates, I was avoiding face-to-face intimacy.  It’s so easy to hide behind technology while sharing vulnerable details of your life but to do it face-to-face with a real person makes the experience so much more intense, and any perceived judgement for sharing yourself, so much more harsh.  Every time I answered a work e-mail I felt needed and important.  And who doesn’t want to feel needed and important?  I wanted to be seen and heard and cherished but rather than meet those needs through my personal relationships, I buried myself in the technological ones.

There is a theory that addiction to cell phone use acts like a “gateway drug” to fuel the search for other substances that keep uncomfortable sensations at bay.  In the past, I drank to deal with certain feelings.  I also made a recent discovery that I use food to squash emotions I don’t want to deal with.

I’ve gotten to the point that I’m tired of dealing with my own B.S. and avoiding of things that challenge me emotionally.  Time to cut through it and get real.

Now what?

It’s an ongoing process, but the long story short of it, I’ve been tapping into my yoga practice to help guide me.  Just like we encourage the body to be uncomfortable in yoga postures as a vehicle for change, there is nothing different about the mind or emotions being uncomfortable in everyday life situations.  I have to be willing to lean into that discomfort.  I’ve done work around my relationship issues with fellow coaches.  I’ve discovered that being connected to nature is another necessary element to ground me and bring me back to a stable place to move from.  I’ve cleaned up my diet and have a much healthier relationship to food.  I’ve been working outside my comfort zone sober and with technology out of reach.

I still catch myself having ghost thoughts and compulsions of past habits but the pull is significantly less.  My dedication to being aware and conscious is powerful.  I feel more at peace.  More in control of my life.  I feel like a more authentic version of myself.

Our addictions are actually misguided attempts at self-care.  We engage in them to fill a really important need.  However, addictions don’t address the root problem.  They are like putting a flimsy band-aid over a severed artery.  When it doesn’t stop the hemorrhaging we add more and more band-aids.  Until we are willing to get that artery stitched up, which usually requires asking for help and is often a much harder, and more challenging process than just piling on band-aids, we will continue to bleed out.  I send love to all of us that are on this path.

Can you relate to this journey?  What did it, or what will it, take for you to heal?

Audrey Holst is an Inner Wisdom advocate that partners with women that feel unsatisfied by the status quo to reclaim their energy and fill their lives with pleasure, creation, and love.  She facilitates transformation through the healing process of coaching and her years of experience as a Bikram certified yoga instructor.  Audrey teaches at, and manages, Yoga for You, A Bikram Yoga Studio in Dedham, MA.  To learn more, visit her website at or connect with her at

Control Freak

Have you ever had one of those days where you are just skipping along, happy as can be, and seemingly out of nowhere a fun-wrecker comes in and attempts to steal your joy?  Are you the kind of person who has to exert some sort of power or control over others in order to feel somehow better than them or above them?  Do you know a person who is constantly putting other people down so at a later point he can swoop in and raise them up to fulfill some sort of hero role?  Some people will go as far as to become physically abusive to their spouses and children to maintain the illusion of power.  There are many more examples of power-trippers, and please feel free to share your experiences with us in the comment section below.

Most often we think of “power-trippers” as having very low self-esteem and assume they are using the behavior as a mask for their supposed insufficiency.  The truth is they are addicted to something much more destructive and insidious: dopamine.

Dopamine is the great “I am.” It is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter that, when flowing, produces a feeling of euphoria. Dopamine is our ego.  To understand this better, when a cocaine addict is using, the chemical response in the brain is to release more dopamine into our system.  So the person who has learned how to control that release simply by exerting control over others is just another drug addict who is under the spell of their drug of choice.

There are not too many power addicts walking through the doors of 12 step programs to get their addictions under control.  Many of the people who have this affliction will take it to their grave with them.  There is also very little sympathy out there for these type of people, nor should there be; however, without the help of loved ones, addicts suffering seldom have the opportunity or the encouragement to make changes in their lives.  Without the understanding of what is triggering the nasty behavior of the “power-tripper,” family, friends, and loved ones eventually exit from the relationship.

Compassion is what is needed to help the person suffering with this disease.  Yet without the knowledge of what is going on, most people cannot muster up the motivation to be compassionate.  Ultimately, life is about our interpersonal relationships.  Most of us would consciously choose not to be in relationship with a person who is constantly controlling everything and everyone around them.  Yet unconsciously we find ourselves having to work or socialize with power mongers fairly often.  So why is this?  What could the possible benefit to the continuing evolution of mankind be?


What greater practice could there be than loving a person who is exhibiting unloving behaviors?  Where we get mixed up is, what does “love” look like?  Do we give in and let the person treat us badly?  Is “taking one for the team” ever a productive or effective way of loving someone into wellness?  No.  Love is strong, love is confident, love is trusting in the way of the universe.  Love knows that each individual must walk his or her own path, and that we can influence but we cannot manipulate.

There is much room to explore this topic together.  Please take some time to comment down below about your experience as a power-tripper or with a control freak.  Have you or someone you know recovered from this disease?  How do we spot this behavior before we get in to deep?

Last month we kicked off our first in a series of Path to Peace recovery retreats.  A small group of people all shared a life-changing event.  If you are in recovery and not experiencing great joy and freedom or are still suffering with addictions, please consider giving yourself this opportunity to soar into grateful recovery.  Our next retreat will held in San Jose, California, Sept 19 -22nd, 2013.  Click here for more information.

(Kevin McCormack, C.A.d ,is a certified addictions professional. He is a recovering addict with 26 years of sobriety. Kevin is a practicing auriculotherapist, life coach, and interventionist specializing in individual and family recovery and also co-facilitates spiritual recovery retreats for the CWG foundation with JR Westen. You can visit his website for more information at  To connect with Kevin, please email him at

Change is difficult.  Unwanted change can be painful and challenging.  Recovery from addictions, hard or soft, is no exception.  Anyone who has consciously made the effort to rid their lives of a behavior they deem destructive or no longer useful can attest to this.  So why is it that when we come to the realization that we desire change it then becomes difficult to follow through?

Personally, I have chosen recently to stop drinking coffee or any other caffeinated beverages.  It has been 18 days of complete abstinence for me, yet I know this territory very well.  I have quit before for longer periods of time.  The difference this time is, I have been seeking the support of others and remaining aware of my tendencies.

Thoughts create our urges and cravings.  Sometimes the triggers are subtle, other times they are very predictable.  I have just about every Starbucks in the greater Orlando area mapped out in my head.  When I am driving, occasionally I will have the thought “hey, there is a Starbucks right around the corner.”  This is the moment of choice.  Do I react or do I create?  Do I give in and damage my self-esteem or do I acknowledge my own power and move on?   I have found the best way to choose the latter is to enroll others in my journey.

The frontal lobe of the brain is the cognitive center, and its function is to separate out thoughts and filter them in the way we direct.  The midbrain is the impulsive, reactive center in the brain.  The midbrain sends its messages 7 times faster than the cognitive brain operates.  This is because the midbrain’s function is to preserve life.  When we practice cognitive behavior, we are much better prepared to handle the impulsiveness of the midbrain.  Increasing our awareness is a slow process that takes practice and willingness.

So how do we direct the frontal lobe to make choices that support us in where we say we want to go?  This is the great challenge all of us face in life.  What are the voices in my head? How many of them are there? And which ones do I listen to?

Life can be a lot like typing.  We can hunt and peck our way through, hoping we create a document worth reading before we die.  Or we can blindly stroke keys and end up with a mess of letters on a page that do not form any meaning at all.  Or, lastly, we can train ourselves to memorize where the keys are and which fingers to use to hit the keys and really create a work of art in a much shorter period of time, allowing for greater amounts of creation during our lifetime.

The “qwerty” way of living life takes a little more upfront  work in the form of practicing healthy patterns of living so that we can start to direct our life with more focus and determination.  Have you noticed that the things in life you pay most attention to are the things that manifest in your reality?  Positive and negative, this is how life works.  God provides us with exactly what we place the majority of our intention on.

This is why it is so important to make sure you are sending out the message that you want to experience and not place your energy on what you do not wish to experience.  Many of us tend to fall prey to the thinking that life is not on our side and that we are somehow at a disadvantage to others.  So long as we play out that belief, it will appear true.

“The Universe is like a big Xerox machine.
It simply produces multiple copies of your thoughts”
Conversations with God, Book  1

When we decide to make a change in our life, circumstances will present in the form of “are you sure?”  I have had many “are you sure” moments over the last 18 days of abstinence from caffeine.  From the wonderful smell of the coffee tray coming down the aisle of the airplane I was on and mercilessly stopping right next to me for what seemed like 5 minutes.  God, it smelled good!  But I had support, people who knew what I had called forth in my life.  And whether or not I didn’t take the coffee because I would have been embarrassed to admit I didn’t succeed or I simply chose not to, doesn’t matter.  I remained resolved in my quest.  One day at a time.  One craving at a time.  One “are you sure?” moment after the other.

The moments when a craving hits or an opportunity presents itself to relapse into past behaviors and we choose to rise above and recreate ourselves in a new way, we reinforce our new pattern.  After doing this repeatedly, the new pattern becomes the norm and the “are you sure?” moments become less frequent.

So I choose to embrace these “are you sure?” moments and recognize them for what they are.  They are the spiritual barbells of the universe, making us more powerful in our ability to create our lives in a more conscious way.

What are your experiences with “are you sure?” moments?

(Kevin McCormack, C.A.d ,is a certified addictions professional. He is a recovering addict with 26 years of sobriety. Kevin is a practicing auriculotherapist, life coach, and interventionist specializing in individual and family recovery and also co-facilitates spiritual recovery retreats for the CWG foundation with JR Westen.  The next retreat will be September 19 – 22nd in San Jose, California.  More information on retreats can be found here. You can visit his website for more information at  To connect with Kevin, please email him at 

I’m writing this blog while drinking my last cup of coffee, at least for today, and then one day at a  time from there on out.  You see, I like coffee.  I like the taste.  I delight in the process of making coffee.  I savor the aroma of the brewing process.  I enjoy the burst of energy.  But there is a problem.  I am suffering consequences.  Real or imagined, I am not sure.  But nonetheless, I believe there is a downside that I am not willing to continue to experience.

One of the suggestions all newcomers get in the 12 Step program is to not make any major decisions for the first year.  I had decided I wanted to quit smoking during my first year of recovery, and my sponsor and many people in the 12 Step meetings advised me against doing so.  I took their advice, and when I had 18 months sober, I quit smoking cold turkey.  Second best thing I ever did, by the way.

I have asked a lot of people along the way why caffeine isn’t considered a problem drug or one that should be avoided by addicts in recovery.  I haven’t received a very good reason from even the most scholarly of my teachers.  I’m thinking this could be due to the widespread use of this drug, along with a teaspoon of denial.  The best answer I have been given may well be the following:

There aren’t too many people suffering deep consequences from drinking coffee, tea, or sodas.  “Nobody is breaking into cars or mugging people to fund their Starbucks habit.”

You won’t get an argument from me there.  Compared to the consequences I and many others experienced from our addictions — drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, pornography, electronics, always being right, greed, power — caffeine would seem to be as innocuous as broccoli!

Yet for me, I feel that caffeine is causing undesirable effects that I no longer wish to experience.  I am not comfortable knowing that if I choose to not have my morning coffee, by afternoon, I will get a headache.  That is kind of a red flag of addiction, isn’t it?  I also don’t care for the jittery nerves and the rapid thoughts that accompany my cup of java.

I have also used caffeine to exceed what my body’s tolerance is.  I have overexerted myself many times with the use of caffeinated beverages.  That is a pretty big consequence for me nowadays.  I am very conscious of taking better care of my body, and by pushing it beyond the point of fatigue is no longer something I wish to do.

But here is the reason that brings me to this decision so resolutely:  I want to experience my thoughts, my feelings, my emotions, my passions, my interactions with others without a chemical in my system that has the ability to pass through the blood brain barrier and tinker with my brain chemistry.  I no longer wish to artificially alter my mood, energy, or creativity.

If I want my mood elevated, I can train my mind to think the thoughts that elevate my mood and do the things that bring me joy.  If I want to have more energy, that is as simple as eating foods that do not drag my system down.  Fruits and vegetables, nuts and berries are very high in energy and easy for the body to digest.  Eating light foods like fish and chicken that are not fried or smothered in greasy, creamy sauces will also keep my energy high.

On the spiritual path of life, I find it important to follow my gut instincts.  What is good for some may not be good for others.  If you are questioning a behavior of your own, over and over again, it is probably your soul giving you a nudge to consider a different direction.  Conversations with God, Book 1, says, “The work of the soul is to wake yourself up.”  I am going to listen to the message this time around.

Is your soul knocking on the door?  Is there something that you keep thinking you should be doing or not doing that you continuously ignore?  What is stopping you?  Fear of failing?  I have quit coffee dozens of times.  Relapse is a part of recovery.  Our past experience is always a valuable tool in our day-to-day decisions.

Kevin McCormack, C.A.d ,is a certified addictions professional. He is a recovering addict with 26 years of sobriety. Kevin is a practicing auriculotherapist, life coach, and interventionist specializing in individual and family recovery. You can visit his website for more information at  To connect with Kevin, please email him at or call 407-808-6431.

On a recent trip to the west coast of the United States, I had an interesting experience.  Now, for some of you who may live in California, this may not come as a surprise to you, but I believe there are plenty of people, who, like me, actually thought that medical marijuana was being prescribed by actual doctors and not a guy in a green suit and rollerblades.   I know, I know, call me naive, but I thought there was truly some degree of legitimacy in the whole medical marijuana debate.

Okay, I knew, of course, there was going to be a tremendous amount of fraud accompanying the legalization.   What I did not expect was that the government of California would simply turn a blind eye to it.  I mean, how does code enforcement allow the “Pot Doctor” to put up a sign that says, “get your green card for $40” on his shanty right next to the water pipe store?  Really?  Really?  In my disbelief, I did not notice what type of store was on the other side of the Pot Doc’s place.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a Doritos store!

All right, it is too easy to make jokes about this, and I can easily get off track from the point I am trying to make here.  When I turn on the news and hear a story about a state considering the legalization of marijuana based on the “medical need” argument, am I to believe that they are actually considering this as a compassionate alternative for those who are ill and may benefit from the main chemical in pot, Tetrahydrocannabinol?

This is the point of this blog and I am going to keep it really short.  California legalized pot on the basis of its usage being for medical purposes.  If that is their stance, they should not allow it to be sold and marketed to anyone walking down the Boardwalk in Santa Monica.  Now, if they legalized it for recreational use, then they should have defined what that is and how it can be marketed.

I was walking on the Boardwalk with my wife, my stepson, and his father, when we were approached by the esteemed doctor on rollerblades.  He nonchalantly put his thumb and pointer finger together and brought them to his lips, “You guys need your card?”  Mind you, my stepson is only 19.

After my shock of what had just happened wore off, I started to watch the Horticulture M.D. , realizing I was watching partially because the addict within me was flabbergasted that it was that easy to get pot nowadays.  When I was actively using drugs, we had to be way more covert in our attempts to “score.” But I was also curious to see if he was interacting with families with smaller children, and although I cannot be sure he was, it sure looked that way to me.

I haven’t been to Colorado since they have changed the law, but you can bet that I will be sure to notice the culture the next time I am there; however, I feel it is a little different in Colorado.  The people have voted and said they were in favor on a recreational basis.

I don’t have anything against legalization of pot.  What I have a problem with is the amount of hypocrisy that surrounds these landmark decisions.  I know this is ridiculous to suggest, but just be honest, politicians, you are in it for the money.  You spent more than you took in, people are resisting you raising our taxes again, and you need to be creative.  First it is gambling, now it is drugs, why don’t you just fast forward 20 or 30 years and make the sex-trade business legal now?  This way, you can spend us further and further into debt oblivion.   Just be honest with us, then do the job right and keep the drug-pusher — oops, I mean the “good doctor” out of my family’s face while we walk the Boardwalk and enjoy a nice sunset and some beautiful weather.

(Kevin McCormack, C.A.d, is a certified addictions professional. He is a recovering addict with 26 years of sobriety. Kevin is a practicing auriculotherapist, CWG life coach, and interventionist specializing in individual and family recovery. Kevin will be co-presenting with JR Westen at the CWG on Recovery Path to Peace retreat in Medford, Oregon, from June 23rd – 26th. You can visit his website for more information at . To connect with Kevin, please e-mail him at 

My family and I just spent a week in a big city that we had never been to before.  We were there to help our 19-year-old son move from where he went to school to the city where he will be looking to start his career.  Much like the drama found in reality shows, we felt the stress of having to search for a place that was available, connect with the person who was renting, get the background checks done, and move his belongings with enough time to catch our scheduled flight back to where we live, which is clear across the country.

Our trip began with a thorough cleaning of a bachelor apartment and the packing of all its contents.  Once we were packed, it was time for our 7-hour drive to the destination where our son would pursue turning his passion into a profession.  The one-week time frame had now dwindled down to 4 days, and we had only a few leads which we found on Craigslist.  As we drove around to check out these leads, we quickly realized how precious our time was and how fast it was going by.

The odds started to appear to be stacked against us.  We did not know the area at all.  We had a budget we had set which was a random number we had all agreed on prior to even knowing what the market value was.  We were following directions from our Smart Phone map programs and a GPS unit, all of which wanted us to take traffic-jammed freeways just to travel short distances.

As a group, our frustration began to build.  We had been driving around for four hours and had only seen three properties.  Taking a look at the reality of our situation, we had decided it would be wise to take two cars so we could cover more ground.  Although this was not the way we had wanted our trip to go, it was not very long after this decision that it became clear things were exactly the way they were supposed to be.

I knew in my heart that we would succeed in our mission.  This was never really in question for me.  What I failed to keep in my mind was the bigger picture that is always present.  Think small and you will surely experience little results.  The bigger picture always includes engaging all people on a deeper level than “what can I get from you.”  True happiness seems to always come from a place of mutual energy exchange.

We had not kept in our awareness that all of our human tasks, no matter how big or how minor, revolve around one very important thing:  our relationships with others.  Our relationships with all people are the single-most important aspect of the contextual field we are here to experience.  When we bring the energy of Oneness to each and every interaction with others, the heavens rejoice and the treasure chests are opened.

Here is what we began to do that changed everything:  We made a decision to not go it alone.  We began to engage strangers in our plight.  As we were driving around, we saw “for rent” signs and would call them.  If the person did not have a property that was suitable to us for one reason or another, we ended the phone call by asking a uniting question:  Do you know of any apartments or people we could contact that may have something for us to consider?

This simple question seemed to bring out the best in everyone we posed it to.  Every single person took the conversation to the next level.  We had simple suggestions like “try this part of town” or “stay away from this particular area.”  A few said, “I do not, but here is the number of someone who might.”

We had one person whose name was Harold go way above and beyond by not only giving us three great leads right away, but also called us back the next morning and gave us two more!

Not one of those we engaged on our journey did we meet face to face, nor did we have any prior relationship with them.  They had no financial reason to help us, as they were also landlords looking to rent their own properties.  So why did they do so?  Why did they take time out of their busy schedules to help us, someone they didn’t know and would likely never meet?

I think I know why.  I believe that we all want to help others and have an internal and eternal desire to be of service to Humanity.  I feel they were as empowered and enriched by helping us as we were by their generosity.  I know, in the core of my being, that we all want to give freely our gift, and we are just waiting for the invitation to do so.  Great joy always seems to involve doing something for another without the thought of what is in this for me.

So how does this article end up in the Addiction in Recovery column?

Recovery only works when we engage those who have gone before us and ask them to share their experience, strength, and hope with us.  The founders of the Twelve Step method knew right away recovery could not take place without the support of those who could relate to the plight of the addicted.

Addiction is a solitary disease.  Many start off using in a social setting in order to fit in.  At first, the disease seems to be the cure for all of our ills.  We become social and outgoing.  Ironically and slowly, the disease progresses and takes all of that away again.  We become lonely, isolated, and avoided.  Sick, tired, and dying, we are faced with the decision:  Do I continue to use and kill myself slowly?  Or do I reach out for help and give someone the opportunity to experience their purpose, helping others?

Would you like to be part of a group of recovering people who share a similar belief system?  Join us for the CwG on Recovery Path to Peace retreat in Medford Oregon June 23 – June 26.

Kevin McCormack, C.A.d ,is a certified addictions professional. He is a recovering addict with 26 years of sobriety. Kevin is a practicing auriculotherapist, life coach, and interventionist specializing in individual and family recovery. You can visit his website for more information at  To connect with Kevin, please email him at or call 407-808-6431.

(This week’s Addiction & Recovery column is hosting a guest article written and contributed by Mary Warner.)

If only the symptoms of a disease are treated, the victim may feel better for a while, but the symptoms will eventually return because the disease was not cured.
One cannot cure the dis-ease of illegal drug use by trying to eliminate drugs. The cause must be found and eliminated. “The real question is why are millions of people so unhappy, so bored, so unfulfilled that they are willing to drink, snort, inject, or inhale any substance that might blot out reality and give them a bit of temporary relief?” (Ann Landers, syndicated columnist)

The cause can be discovered by talking respectfully and nonjudgmentally to drug users and listening to how they feel (perceiving the feelings behind the words) and to what they believe.

The cause and cure can be discovered by caring and by putting ourself in another’s place, imagining what we would do if we had the same experiences, the same educational background, and the same beliefs as the illegal drug user and then treating others as we would want to be treated if we were in someone else’ shoes.

Drug abuse by young people could be eliminated by respecting our children, paying attention to them, treating them the way we want them to treat us, and educating them about using drugs – telling them what to expect, letting them know the consequences of their actions (aside from being punished) and trusting them to make the right decision, and by setting the example that we want them to follow.

Children learn the right way to live by watching the behavior of the older people whom they respect and look up to and following the example that is set for them. If they see these people using cold medicine, painkillers, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, diet pills, alcohol, and tobacco, they learn that using drugs is the right thing to do.

If children are not trusted to think for themselves, after having been told what to expect, the consequences of their actions, and after observing the right example set for them by their respected elders, they feel powerless. They may deliberately use something that they know will harm them. They might think that if they do, then at least they will feel powerful and accepted for a moment, or they won’t care, or they will hope that someone will understand how they feel and make their life all right for them.

A feeling of powerlessness often leads people to rebel and deliberately choose the very thing they have been told to not choose (at best) or it leads to violence. It has been said that over half of the murders committed in this country are committed by people between the ages of 14 and 21.

The cause of the dis-ease of selling drugs is the mistaken belief that money and material things will bring power, happiness, and satisfaction. This belief is the result of an education that is lacking in spiritual values, such as the kind of education that is forced upon children in public schools. The belief is further fed by advertisements and TV commercials.

Making it illegal to sell drugs is not a cure, obviously. It makes the problem worse, just as it did with alcohol prohibition, by creating the opportunity for criminal hangs to make huge profits. Then gangsters kill each other (and many innocent bystanders) to protect their territories/markets and pay police and judges to not prosecute them. They adulterate their drugs in order to make more money, consequently causing injury and death to the users who will not protect themselves or get help because they know they are breaking the law and are afraid of punishment.

Putting people in prison for using drugs is not a cure, obviously. According to an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, drugs are readily available in prisons.

Punishing people for trying to make it in life the best way they know how – trying to pursue happiness – is against the Declaration of Independence and is inhumane. “If even a small fraction of the money we now spend on trying to enforce drug prohibition were devoted to treatment and drug rehabilitation, in an atmosphere of compassion, not punishment, the reduction in drug usage and in the harm done to users would be dramatic.” (Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize Winner, Economics)  Today’s illegal drugs were legal before 1914. Cocaine was in the original recipe for Coca-Cola. Drugs were not a problem. Addiction was treated as a health issue and not a crime.

(Mary Warner is an aging (or perhaps “aged”) flower child/”hippie.” She lives with her husband in a 420-square-foot cabin in the woods with a black and white fur-ball and a black lab where she is creating a garden paradise.)