By John M.
I’ll begin by confessing that AA Agnostica is my favourite recovery website and I’ll say no more given that you are currently reading this blog and you will have your own opinions about where it is placed among your favourites.
So, in no particular order here is my list of my 10 preferred sites.
1 I begin with The Fix for no other reason than it is produced daily and serves very much like a morning newspaper. The Fix offers up to date news about recovery (or the search for it) for pretty much everything that is called “addiction” these days, whether it is in the form of alcohol/drugs or food and gambling, or sex and sugar. Some of the best writers are featured making for a varied and diverse set of opinions regarding what constitutes addiction and recovery, with some very original, highly articulate commentary. The Fix does not “hold back” on engaging in issues that may be deemed controversial. One finds issues raised that are often only whispered about among friends in the rooms of traditional groups like 12 Step meetings.
2 Guinevere Gets Sober is a personal blog site by the pseudonymous “Guinevere” who occasionally writes under her real name for The Fix. Guinevere has stepped back a bit from writing entries daily to a more occasioned and selective posting timeframe. She is a very good writer who comes from a background of multiple addictions in her family but she highlights her struggles with prescription drugs as to what awakened her to a life of sobriety. As well as commentary on the “recovery movement,” and everyday sobriety, her website includes interviews, book reviews, and reports on current issues of interest. Her blog elicits quite a bit of response from her readership. I used to look forward to her almost daily posts but, as mentioned, she is more cautious with her time but the site has easy to access thematic headings from which to search earlier material that is still timely, relevant and inspirational.
3 Barefoot’s World : A few years ago I discovered Bob Pearson’s (GSO senior advisor) 1986 General Service Conference prescient warning about the danger of AA’s growing rigidity, here at this website created by the legendary Barefoot Bob Hardison (1933-2009; sobriety date, Feb. 28th, 1974). On entering the site, you will find scads of material on American history, the defense of liberty, and the promotion of tolerance – fascinating in and of itself – but scroll down to Barefoot’s Recovery Pages and enjoy the ride – especially fun are his “cowboy-isms.” A truly remarkable free spirit, he embraces all forms of spirituality and, if you continue scrolling down, you will find his Native American Pages. He follows one commandment in life:“Harm no one, then do what thou wilt.” And his philosophy of life includes:“Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Do the next indicated right thing.” There is more varied AA material at this site than you can shake a stick at!
4 Rebellion Dogs acknowledges with the Big Book that “rebellion dogs our every step.” I’ll throw out any pretension that I view this site objectively since its author, Joe C., is simply one of my favourite people around the rooms. Joe is a regular contributor to AA Agnostica and has written for The Fix, Renew Magazine and In the Rooms. You will also know him as the author of Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings of 12 Step Life. Joe’s new book speaks for itself and Rebellion Dogs offers readers very timely articles (and some music!) on the state of recovery in the 21 Century. And Joe is not beyond interviewing a few interesting folks in the field of recovery. Some very important links to other free thinker sites is included.
5 The Buddhist Recovery Network is an extraordinary resource for those who want to explore spirituality and recovery in non-“western” ways. And you don’t have to be Buddhist either! Ever respectful of all ways people choose the road to recovery, this site emphasizes, as one would expect, compassion, mindfulness, and meditation as ways of overcoming addiction to mind/body altering substances as well as offering guides to living in an increasingly fast paced and an often mind-numbing modern society. The recommended books to read, the book reviews, downloads to articles and links to other spiritual and “liberating” ways is here, in one location, simply one of the best sites to explore, either as a neophyte or as one already into Buddhist precepts, alternative methods for sobriety and staying sober.
6 William White Papers: Arguably the foremost North American scholar and researcher of recovery movements, William White and his friend, Ernest Kurtz, have long been staunch supporters of AA and Twelve Step recovery without undermining other, very valid methods and philosophies that address the modern addiction malaise. White’s website includes some of his best published scholarly work, interviews with other renowned researchers, as well as book reviews. In general, it is a comprehensive resource for the history of both addiction and recovery ever since people starting taking an interest. One will find here just about every subject or every angle one would want to learn more about. The material on this website is written in well researched and well documented ways without being too scholarly obtuse.
7 Hazelden, of course, publishes more of the most popular literature dedicated to addiction and recovery than any other single publishing house. Besides publishing much “conference approved” AA literature, one will also find in the “Book Store” section of the site much that is not tied to AA or even Twelve Step programs. Recent books published by Hazelden include Marya Hornbacher’s, Waiting: A Nonbeliever’s Higher Power and Ernest Kurtz’s classic, Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous among many others. As well as offering actual treatment opportunities, the website directs readers to its monthly news letter, Graduate Studies in addiction counseling, and a listing for a wide assortment of weekend seminars and retreats.
8 Stanton Peele Addiction Website: Love him or hate him (I’m somewhere in between), at least you will know the arguments 0f those who are not fond of AA and 12 Step programs. A psychologist, Peele is clear that he believes the disease model of addiction is not only an inadequate representation of what lies behind addiction but, as well, the model causes far more harm than good. Other disagreements with AA: spirituality in AA, for Peele, is merely a euphemism for religion; harm reduction as opposed to abstinence is the better way for most people to go; and most alcoholics/addicts recover on their own with either no recovery counseling or with short term, cognitively based programs. Peele writes for The Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and is often an invited guest on the major American TV networks.
I include Stanton Peele’s website in that knowing all the arguments, both pro and con, regarding the 12 Step model can only serve to make all of us better informed about our own recovery.
9 Hindsfoot Foundation: A plethora of documents here dedicated mostly to the history of Alcoholics Anonymous. There are plenty of recently written essays as well but they are firmly grounded in “traditional” ways of experiencing recovery from alcoholism. Whether one is fully committed to the AA model as it was developed by the early pioneers of the program or whether one is seeking to contemporize AA into the 21 Century, this site will provide you with lots of material for your research.
10 Addictions Unplugged focuses on our growing awareness of the realities of food addiction. Just because you are a recovering alcoholic does not mean you are not obese; and just because you are not obese does not mean you are not a food addict. Even if you are neither, this site is a great way to start understanding the suffering of our fellow addicts in food. It has been said that every alcoholic should spend time with those with other addictions not only so we can help out where we are able but, perhaps as well, learn something more about our own alcoholism. This site is maintained by Dr. Vera Tarman, the well respected physician for the Renascent Treatment Centre in Toronto (where I did my treatment for alcoholism and am a proud alumnus). Great articles and a number of very fine videos and audio resources are easily accessed here. There is much to learn about this growing (sic!) epidemic – the direct and indirect health care costs to our society as well as the special nature of suffering by the food addict of which many of us, alcoholics, drug addicts or “normies” are simply oblivious.
So, these are my 10 favourite recovery websites. What are yours? Let us know! If you have some sites you would like to share with us, please email them with a short synopsis to AA Agnostica (firstname.lastname@example.org). There could well be another “Top Ten” blog in the works. And of course at the end of this post you can always add your comments on my 10 favourite recovery websites.
John M. got sober in June 2007 at the age of 54 and acknowledges he was fully aware that he was an alcoholic in his early 30’s. He confesses to being a slow learner. His wife affectionately calls him the dumb mutt. He also indicates without a touch of melodrama that these are the best years of his life. He is living proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks. This is John’s 4th blog for AA Agnostica.