Monday, July 28, 2014

Daily Quote

"Each person comes into this world with a specific destiny--he has something to fulfill, some message has to be delivered, some work has to be completed. You are not here accidentally--you are here meaningfully. There is a purpose behind you. The whole intends to do something through you." - Osho

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Sunday, July 27, 2014


With Gods help we will do mighty things ,for He will trample down our foes . ( Enemies )

STEP !We admitted we were powerless over our addictions—that our lives had become unmanageable.

My number one enemy was addiction ! Healing begins at Step one ! You can not do this on your own !Your enemy and my enemy has blinded us with pride and arrogance .When we continue on in pride we began to isolate and when that happens we eventually take a fall . When I fell to my knees finally humbled broken and sad beyond words is when I became broken but in that brokenness I discovered freedom . God is not playing , He will trample down your addiction but you have got to stop arguing with Him and just LET IT GO !

Philippians 4:6-7, NLT Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
By Joseph Dickerson

My dog Casey has been a big part of my recovery—and in the course of traveling around America together, I found four-legged sober companions have helped many others, from Nic Sheff to sober communities. An exclusive excerpt from Travels With Casey.

Casey and author Amanda Jones

By Benoit Denizet-Lewis

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Chris Klein Credits His Dog for His Recovery
Tweak's Nic Sheff On Life After Meth
Newcomer's Best Friend
The Best Sponsor I Ever Had
A Dog's Life

There were times during my journey across America that I felt so deliriously happy—so content, grateful, and blessed—that I considered staying on the road forever.

One of those moments happened on Malibu’s Point Dume State Beach, which is tucked away under a promontory at the northern end of Santa Monica Bay. I was walking along the sand with Nic Sheff, a young writer who chronicled his methamphetamine addiction in the book Tweak. (Nic’s father, David Sheff, wrote his own account of Nic’s addiction, titled Beautiful Boy.)

Casey stayed with me back then not because I deserved the company. He stayed with me because he’s a dog. That’s what dogs do

It was a glorious day, and Nic had brought along his goofy Blood­hound, Rhett, named after the character in Gone With the Wind. Casey and Rhett tumbled around in the sand; Rhett, on his back, pawed at Casey’s face. In the distance, Rezzy seemed to be coming alive right before our eyes: she danced along the ocean’s edge, her playful person­ality bursting forth in a joyous mixture of sand, mud, and saltwater.

“If there’s anything better than being here right now with our dogs, I’m not sure what it is,” Nic said with an easy smile, his curly brown hair falling over his eyes. Those eyes can look vacant and sad in photographs, but on this day they were bright, hopeful. Nic is slender and boyish, and his wardrobe—blue jeans with the cuffs rolled up, thin track jacket, small backpack—gave him the look of a young indie rock star on a walkabout.

“I’m so glad we’re here, doing this!” he continued. “Your dogs are awesome!”

“Yours, too!” I said.

We had all the giddiness of starstruck lovers, but we were far from that. Nic isn’t gay, and I wasn’t interested in him in that way. But our bond was instantaneous and undeniable, perhaps because we have so much in common: We were both raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. We both have divorced parents. We both have writer fathers. We both wrote publicly about our struggles with addictive behavior. And we both have dogs who helped us get better.

In a 2011 article for The Fix, Nic wrote about the importance of dogs to his sobriety. At the height of Nic’s addiction, he wrote, he was homeless “and letting guys blow me for $50 a pop, so I could afford another gram of speed.” When his half-brother suggested that the solution to his addiction might be to get a dog, Nic angrily dismissed the advice.

“It just seemed so condescending,” Nic wrote. “Like he was totally minimizing my problem.”

But several years later, while Nic was drinking “a quart of vodka every day” and “lying to everyone” about being sober after the release of Tweak, he came upon an emaciated hound dog running through traffic in Savannah, Georgia, where he was living at the time. Nic brought her to the Humane Society, where she promptly attacked the vet. The vet told Nic the dog would have to be euthanized.

“I could really relate to this crazed, homeless dog, and I felt like she deserved another chance—maybe the same way I still believed I might deserve another chance,” Nic wrote in The Fix. He didn’t let the Humane Society put her down. Instead, he took her home, named her Ramona, “and began the long, slow process of trying to rehab this psycho dog—while, at the same time, I guess, trying to rehab myself.”

Before he knew it, Nic had stopped drinking. And though he con­cedes that therapy and medication helped in that endeavor, he believes his half-brother was right. “I needed to be responsible and accountable for a living creature that literally could not survive if I was off getting fucked up,” Nic told me.

Ramona wasn’t at the beach with us on the day of my visit; she’s still “a handful,” Nic said, and occasionally can get aggressive toward people and dogs. “I’d never heard her make a sound until she started growling at me. It sucks when you can barely pet your dog, and she doesn’t want to sleep in bed with you. She’s even bitten me a few times when she gets anxious.”

Though my problems with Casey paled in comparison to the chal­lenge of living with Ramona, Nic was eager to talk about them. Before embarking on my journey, I’d briefly mentioned to him my Casey­related insecurities. “How are things going with you both?” he asked me, sounding genuinely interested.

It was a good question, one I realized I hadn’t considered in the two weeks since adopting Rezzy. Though I’d tried not to neglect Casey, Rezzy had commanded practically all of my energy and atten­tion. And, boy, did Rezzy love attention. Even when she was tired (as she was for much of those first two weeks), she preferred to be tired with her head in my lap. She was physical and loving in a way that Casey was only rarely; Rezzy wanted to be as close to me as possible. Nic noticed.

“She’s so bonded to you already,” he said.

As we sat in the sand watching our dogs, I realized that I hadn’t felt any frustration or insecurities around Casey in weeks. “It’s almost like rescuing Rezzy made me realize that dogs are different, and that I don’t need to expect Casey to be everything,” I told him. I was talking out loud, figuring out my thoughts and feelings as they came to me.“And I know I’ve been paying more attention to Rezzy than Casey, but that’s because Rezzy is so new, and she needs me right now. I know Casey is okay.”

“Casey seems so easygoing about things,” Nic said.

“Exactly. And I love that about him.” I paused and let that sink in. “I don’t think I’ve ever realized how much I love that about him. He doesn’t even seem to mind the RV anymore. He’s happy, he’s content. And he doesn’t get jealous if I have to pay a lot of attention to Rezzy.”

“It seems like Rezzy is the perfect complement to Casey, even down to their colors—black and white,” Nic said. We laughed as we watched Rezzy dig a hole in the sand and stuff her nose in it, then run to us through a stiff wind and gently nudge her face in my lap. “She’s the most awesome dog.You really lucked out.”

“You did, too, with Rhett,” I told him, as the dog chased Casey in a circle, Rhett’s droopy ears flapping against his head as he bounded through the sand.

“You should have seen Rhett when he was little,” Nic said. “He was like this super runt of the litter. Nobody wanted him. So I took him, but he was always sick the first year. I spent so much time looking after him that a few months before my wedding my fiancée was like, ‘Why don’t you marry the dog?’ She felt like I was giving him more attention than her. But I was like, ‘He’s like this sick little puppy, and I have to take care of him.’ I had a sick puppy and a psycho rescue. They both needed me.”

“And you needed them,” I said.

“Yes! There’s no doubt in my mind—my dogs keep me sober. They do that by getting me out of myself, by forcing me to think about someone else before me. They make me less self-centered.”

Ween Man Becomes Freeman
Aaron Freeman, half of Ween, sobers up, grows up, and strikes out on his own.

Franco Vogt

By Jessica Willis


He was forced to make a choice. Either stay put as one half of a successful and beloved alternative rock duo and continue to blast himself with cocaine, benzos, and vodka just so he could be numb and function. Or he could sober the fuck up and leave Ween, a band he had been in since puberty. Years of active addiction and isolation had turned Aaron Freeman, aka Gene Ween, into another boy who would never grow old; he was going to die first.

Freeman chose to leave. “End it man...your money or your life,” he sings on FREEMAN, his first solo album of all original material, released on Partisan Records this week.

The decision to leave Ween, as Freeman said in a recent interview, was spurred by a progression that mirrored “the typical rock thing.” Meaning you start with the silly drugs, and then … well, you know. In the early days of the band “there was always drugs and alcohol but it graduated from my early 20s to a lot of weed and some psychedelics,” he said. “I think all those were fine but then it really started into the alcohol. As Ween was getting bigger and bigger there were less responsibilities for anything and you’re sort of a Peter Pan. You’re not accountable for anything except getting on stage.”

It fell apart in 2011 at a notorious show in Vancouver when a barely coherent Freeman was blacked out onstage in front of a huge crowd. At the end of the show his disgusted bandmates left him onstage alone.

“That was my career bottom,” he said. “I had been on a really dark bender and Vancouver was a huge show. The last thing I remember was I was onstage and the band had walked off [during a version of "Reggaejunkiejew"] and I was on my back screaming ‘Jew’ or something like that.”

The meltdown was part of a sad end of a creative, prolific, and wickedly irreverent band that had captivated everyone from Beavis & Butthead to, more recently, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon’s house band. Music fans who appreciate silliness and prodigious chops flock to Ween’s albums and shows like ants on a caramel.

Despite the love, by 2011 Ween hadn’t written any new material in years and the shows had become stale for Freeman. “We did 11 records that were amazing,” Freeman said. “But the only part of Ween that was left was these touring shows. We were playing the same songs night after night. It had turned into a showcase thing. For me, Ween had been over since the last record we did [La Cucaracha, in 2007]. It wasn’t okay for me. I started having a real crisis. Like, I know Ween is over, and all I’m doing now are these shows so I can make money … it was spiraling and spiraling and I was fucked up all the time.”

Dropping the Gene Ween moniker, Freeman recorded an album of Rod McKuen covers under his own name. He was doing whatever he could to escape the “Ween fold” and the music was good, but he was wrecked.

“It was really mellow music, it was sweet and pretty, but it’s the most drugged out record I’ve ever put out. That was a benzo record,” he laughed. “I love benzos. All benzos. I was in this beautiful studio recording in front of a five thousand dollar mic doing all this music and then I’d go back to my hotel room and eat jerk chicken and drink a bottle of vodka and throw up all over myself.”

He likens it to Martin Sheen’s warrior overdoing it at the beginning of Apocalypse Now. “That’s a heavy scene.” Freeman was out of control and he knew it. Sort of. Was he Aaron or was he Gene, the stoner rock icon? “I was having an identity crisis and I didn’t know who I was,” he said. “Everybody called me ‘Gene Ween’ and ‘dude’ and I was this Ween guy and I was always fucked up, and I could always find whatever I wanted.”

After a few more West Coast shows and a continued rampage back home he went into rehab for the third time - but not before playing two more high-paying Ween shows in Denver. “Every cent I made went into the rehab I was going to,” he said. “Insurance didn’t cover my third rehab.”

Freeman got on a plane and headed straight to Cottonwood in Arizona, where the withdrawal process began.

“I felt like Gollum for a while,” he said. “I couldn’t even look into the light. I was on a lot of benzos, which was really difficult to come off of.”

He surrendered to the disease at Cottonwood. “There was a pinnacle moment there,” he said. “When you get there they give you a three page booklet and it just wants you to describe what the fuck happened. What are you here for? What do you want? I remember for the first time in my life I was so desperate I just answered every question as honestly as I could. For someone like me that was a tough thing. I was like, ‘I’ll give you everything, I don’t care anymore, I’m not gonna try to hide anything.’”

From Cottonwood, Freeman went to Clean Adventures, a men’s halfway house that combined outdoor activities with counseling and work therapy.

“You stay in these houses with a bunch of other guys and you’re expected to go find a job during the day and be back at a certain time,” said the singer. “If you didn’t obey every single rule you got thrown out.”

He officially left Ween in May 2012. “There was no way I was going back into that world,” he said. In another major change, he moved away from his hometown of New Hope, Pennsylvania. “[New Hope] was one of those persons, places, and things,” he said. “I had to get out of there. No matter how many times I would get sober or recover I had too much history there. Everybody in that town had seen me at one point or another just blasted.”

Freeman moved to Woodstock, New York, where he lives with his wife Leah, their son, and his daughter from a previous marriage. For Freeman, Woodstock is a peaceful place to raise a family and stay out of trouble. “It’s not really a party town, which is important,” he said.

Great, but what was he going to do with himself? Was he going to wear a blue smock and punch a time clock? “After I left Ween I was a fucking mess,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was resigned to the fact that I could work at Wal-Mart if I had to in order to stay sober. But [Freeman’s manager and collaborator Dave Godowsky] said from the beginning, ‘you’re gonna make a record.’”

Freeman said he couldn’t. Or wouldn’t, and he was petulant about it. But songs started to come together. “FREEMAN is where I was at last July, which was on my back porch, sober for a year and a half, sitting there with my acoustic guitar and suddenly writing songs again while I looked at chipmunks.” He maintains that he was unable to write as his disease progressed and the block remained through his earliest recovery.

The first few months were a nightmare and Freeman came face to face with one of the reasons why he used: a profound depression. “I was literally seeing black sludge coming off of things,” he recalled. “I wasn’t hallucinating but my brain was so fucked I would just go in my room and sit there and suffer and feel the dark knot in my stomach. That was always the point where I would go out and get completely trashed to alleviate it.” Eventually, Freeman learned to sit with the misery and let it pass, noting that the teachings of the Tibetan Bhuddist nun Pema Chodron helped him. He had to reach in, not out. “[Chodron’s] whole thing is to experience it, feel it, let it make you go insane, and then let it go.”

As for the 12 step school of recovery, Freeman says he believes in the power of group conscience, one of the program’s traditions, and always feels better after a meeting. However, he also “believes in the school of treating addiction with medication, absolutely. If abstaining means that you don’t sleep for a year what kind of chance will you have to keep going?”

Sleep or no sleep, joy or misery, eventually the creativity came back, and he attributes it more to biology than to spirituality. “I really believe my synapses got fried,” he said. “My pathways got fried. But I could tell in a year and a half something grew back. Some sort of stem connected to itself again. Boom, I was there.” The result was a new collection of tuneful, twisted pop songs that describe Freeman’s liberation. It could’ve stayed on the porch but Godowsky took a trip to North Carolina and brought recordings of the songs with him. “I trusted him to get musicians for the record,” Freeman said.

Godowsky returned with a drummer, bassist, and a second guitar player, and they recorded the album in nine days.

“They nailed it in a ridiculously short amount of time,” Freeman said, adding that the album had to be banged out quickly because money was tight.

“When I left Ween my income went down to like five percent of what I was making before,” he said. “We scrimped and scraped. We didn’t have any time to add any overdubs, that’s why the album sounds very bare bones, which I love.”

Songs like the celebratory “El Shaddai” narrate Freeman’s interest in Kabbalah, and although he says he’s not a Kabbalist, he read the Old Testament and the Torah when he was in rehab.The song was based on James A. Michener’s The Source, he said. “Covert Discretion,” which leads off the album, starts as a sweetly chilling acoustic ballad about the disease; at one point in the narrative he’s gratefully sharing drugs with fans in a bathroom when things suddenly turn ugly. “Get the fuck out my face,” he croons.

“Black Bush,” meanwhile, is a pastoral tune in the spirit of Donovan. That is, if Donovan inhaled Scotchgard. Very Ween-like.

Freeman said he will perform Ween songs on the upcoming tour, both the ones he’s always had the most fun doing live as well as songs that have never been performed live before.

With ex-bandmate Mickey Melchiondo, aka Dean Ween, he says he currently has “no relationship, outside mutual business approvals.” This seems bittersweet, considering the duo had been working together since 8th grade.

Freeman, who will have three years clean in December, chooses to focus on what he gets in return for his departure. “One of the benefits of recovery is you get your kids back,” he said. “The best part of the last couple of years is every night we give each other a hug and a kiss and say goodnight. When I was at my worst all I wanted was to say goodnight to my kids. That’s the shit. I have a group of friends [in Woodstock] who just know me as Aaron and they’ve never seen me fucked up.” He laughs. “It’s a wonderful thing.”

Jessica Willis is the former music editor of Time Out New York. She last interviewed Legs McNeil.
Pins and Needles—How to Insert Acupuncture into Recovery
The Fix Q&A with William Morris, practitioner of Oriental medicine and acupuncturist with a view towards aiding your sobriety and recovery.


By Cathy Cassata


William Morris is the president of the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas, and practices at various clinics throughout Texas. He writes a column in Acupuncture Today, articles for American Acupuncturist, and is the author of Path of the Pulse, Chinese Medicine and Transformation, and Li Shi-zhen Pulse Studies, an Illustrated Guide. He focuses his studies on Chinese medicine (specifically Ding, Gu and Yang), and for eight years was mentored by Drs Shen and Hammer in the Menghe through the Ding family lineage of internal medicine. For five years, he also studied under Neiqiang Gu in the Gu family external medicine lineage. For thirty years, Morris has focused on pulse diagnosis, and his current work involves a synthesis of standard, family, and classical systems of pulse diagnosis. He gives seminars on pulse diagnosis, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, personal transformation and leadership. Morris spoke with the Fix about the role acupuncture and eastern medicine in general can play in aiding recovery and healing trauma.

Have you used acupuncture to treat substance and behavioral addictions?

Yes, both. Having said that though, I’m referencing using acupuncture within a healthcare context, where it’s not just the procedure of acupuncture being used, but rather the people who are working on these problems have a multi-disciplinary approach to the problem.

What would this multi-disciplinary approach involve?

There’s a new model that is happening in rehab facilities, which deals with physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of life and establishes a multi-disciplinary plan specific to each person. That plan may include meditation, yoga, acupuncture, body work, as well as various practitioners, such as a psychiatrist.

How does acupuncture fit into this approach?

Many treatment facilities will include acupuncture as part of their program for both detox and recovery. They may have a food regimen, exercise regimen, therapy, journaling time, down time and acupuncture may be scheduled into the plan a few times a week. Many times the addict will exit the program with familiarity of acupuncture and will also have set up acupuncture as part of their plan outside the treatment facility.

How does acupuncture work?

There are a number of theories about how acupuncture works. One involves modulating neurotransmitters. Most substances are operating in a lock and key fashion along the pathway of various neurotransmitters, so acupuncture may stimulate the body to create a substance which fits into the same spot on various cells, especially in the nervous system.

Another thought is that acupuncture stimulates the endocrine system, so there can be down modulating of adrenaline, and various stress hormones, resulting in relaxation. It also operates to either tighten or relax the vascular system, stimulating circulation and affecting circulation in varies areas of the body. In fact, stimulation of circulation is one of acupuncture’s primary functions. It also tends to reduce inflammation.

In the context of each of these mechanisms, acupuncture stimulates the body to correct itself. It gives the person resources to be able to process material that may be difficult. Particularly in addiction, often times there is suppression of a great deal of psychosocial material over the years. Part of the healing process is working through that material. Acupuncture creates a calm and equanimity with respect to working through that material within a cognitive therapeutic arena.

Does this apply to someone who is dependent on a substance because of a childhood trauma or something of that nature?

Yes. Let’s classify those types of events into the area of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Acupuncture is gaining a very large traction in the military for PTSD, and this is actually one of the areas that I specialize in. I published a paper looking at nitric oxide. In it I discuss studies showing that acupuncture and moxibustion, a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the burning of the herb mugwort, and placing it on points of the body, can promote healing. Both these tools would stimulate nitric oxide pathways between the hippocampus and the neocortex. The hippocampus is the place where long-term traumatic experiences are stored. This is entirely hypothetical, but I presume that this might be one of the pathways along which acupuncture is down-modulating, partly because acupuncture works at a trans-systemic level, in other words the immune, endocrine, vascular, and neuro systems are systems that we surmise are affected by acupuncture. These systems become disharmonic during the moment of a flashback or recall of a traumatic incident, so acupuncture communicates to all these systems, and in a way harmonizes them, resulting in down regulating intense responses.

Are there types of addiction that acupuncture seems to work more effectively with?

Acupuncture is stimulating the body’s own internal pharmacy. A drug can do what it does because the body already has a tool for having that experience to some degree. So acupuncture is rather robust in that respect, but I haven’t seen any studies that show its efficacy in terms of one addiction over another.

Can acupuncture help with relapse?

Stress and pain are both potential triggers for relapse, and acupuncture can help with both of these.

Why do you think people are hesitant to believe acupuncture works?

Evidence surrounding acupuncture’s effectiveness may be one reason. In studies, the notion of a placebo is extremely difficult to get when looking at a procedure like acupuncture. Most of the studies that I’ve seen that claim to have achieved placebo have used some sort of instrument for achieving it, and it’s questionable whether they’ve actually been able to establish that a real placebo was achieved.

For instance, in Europe there was a large study of over 3,000 patients on the use of acupuncture for lower back pain, which is a large problem and tied to addiction to pain medications. You really can’t separate the problem of pain and addiction, particularly, if one of the primary models of pain control is the use of chemicals. So if conventional care turns to a chemical, then the social system is almost encouraging the advent of addiction. This is a large piece of the problem. When results of this study were published here in the West, the news reported that there was no difference between acupuncture and the placebo. In reality, the issue may have been that they had a problem achieving placebo. In fact, I’m pretty certain that is most likely the case in many studies involving acupuncture. What this study did show was strong evidence that acupuncture reduced cost of care. This determination led the government to include acupuncture in its national healthcare packages.

What might change western society’s skepticism of acupuncture?

We are still in the process of discovering how to understand how acupuncture works probably because it’s part of a whole system of care that is conducted in the context of lifestyle recommendations, including herbs, nutrition, exercise, etcetera. As I mentioned earlier, there needs to be a whole host of concomitant healthcare strategies employed along with acupuncture so the real tools for understanding the degree to which acupuncture could be useful for a society is the more important question over does acupuncture work for a particular problem. It’s a larger systemic problem which requires a systemic view on the inquiry. Whole system forms of research or what are called “practice-based research models” that involves practitioners pooling their data, is what could likely demonstrate efficacy for acupuncture’s place in the western healthcare system in respect to which conditions it best treats, and may even uncover when it can be used for prevention of certain conditions.

The World Health Organization convened an expert panel to identify a host of conditions for which acupuncture was appropriate, such as allergies and various psychosocial problems associated with pain, and treatment of pain. That was one tool of evidence gathering, but we need more like it.

On a side note, there’s a good amount of conventional medicine that is practiced without evidence so the criticism should be placed on them as well.

Has there been any governmental support for acupuncture in the U.S.?

Acupuncturists have been providing services in the worker’s comp system in California for years since Jerry Brown’s first term in office. Recently, California has determined to include acupuncture in the Affordable Healthcare Act provisions. This means that every citizen in the state of California can now gain access to acupuncture. That’s a significant statement.

You mentioned moxibustion earlier. How do you incorporate healing plants into your practices?

Remember, humanity has relied on plants for healing purposes much longer than it's relied on isolated chemicals. It’s only been since the 1910s that the American public was convinced that a chemical and surgical basis of healthcare was the best. I think they both have their place for treatment of certain things, but there is a whole host of things being treated using those tools for which they are not appropriate.

Shock and trauma have a tendency to affect both the heart and circulation. When that takes place, fluid circulation (or lymph) in general can be affected as well as blood circulation. What happens is the vascular system can become contrasted, so we use herbs that have a mild diuretic and mildly dilate the vessels so the sweat pours open slightly, and the muscular system becomes more relaxed. We use plants that enhance the circulatory status and herbs that Chinese province says transform damp. In other words, they leech out fluids from places where they’re stagnant. Chinese sage is commonly used as well as kris ginseng, which is paradoxical because it has an action of both stopping bleeding and activating blood. Yarrow is a common western botanical that is used.

Can people use both conventional and non-conventional forms of treatment?

I think people should use the right tools for the job. Each of these approaches has a place. It might be a little myopic to use one or the other at the exclusion of possibly using the other, especially without having had explored it. That would not be congruent with the value of science. A neutral inquiry would be the scientific approach. Neutral questioning of the problems. Do herbs have a place here? Does acupuncture have a place here? Do pharmaceuticals or other conventions have a place here? As a society, we kind of have ourselves in a corner about beliefs about what good medical care is constructed of. It will take some undoing to get there.

If you’re interested in finding an acupuncturist in your area, Morris suggests visiting the website of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Cathy Cassata is a regular contributor to The Fix. She last wrote about sugar addiction.

Sending Children Home to Die
What's the reality behind children fleeing Central America? Read this only if you are willing to be disgusted and outraged, including with Obama and HIllary.


By The Fix staff


Editor’s Note: Because mainstream media news hardly ever looks at root causes behind public and social issues, both the “facts” and the solutions presented to the public are generally irrelevant and misleading. The Fix herein assembles from several sources some core important information and perspective about the wave of children crossing the U.S. border. We begin with a slightly edited and cut transcript from the excellent daily TV and radio news commentary program Democracy Now! followed below that by a vivid report of massive drug-related child brutality, sexual abuse, kidnapping and murder that contributes greatly to the migration.



As tens of thousands of children cross the U.S. border fleeing violence in their native Central American home countries, we look at the historical roots of the crisis. The United States has a long and sadly bloody history of destabilizing democratic governments in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — the very countries that are now the sources of this latest migration wave.

But U.S. funding and foreign policy has long shaped the lives of Central Americans. June 28 marked the fifth anniversary of the military coup that deposed democratically elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, which the United States did not oppose. For analysis, we are joined by University of California-Santa Cruz Professor Dana Frank, who argues it was the coup — more than drug trafficking and gangs — that opened the doors to the violence in Honduras and unleashed an ongoing wave of state-sponsored repression.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: This week saw the first planeload of children deported to Honduras since President Obama vowed to speed up the removal of more than 57,000 youths who’ve fled to the United States from Central America in recent months. The group of 38 deportees included 21 children between the ages of 18 months and 15 years, along with 17 female family members. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the experience...should demonstrate to Central Americans that "they will not be welcomed to this country with open arms."

Among them was Victoria Cordova, who came to the United States with her nine-year-old daughter. They were captured at the U.S.-Mexico border after a 25-day journey and are now back in San Pedro Sula, the city with the highest murder rate in the world. Last month, children in Honduras were murdered at a rate of more than one per day. Cordova described her ordeal to reporters.

VICTORIA CORDOVA: [translated] I don’t have any work. It’s been four months without work. This is a part of what motivated me to go—the poverty, the situation here, this insecurity we live through. We see children nearby who are very young, 12 and 13 years old, and they drug themselves. It’s terrible to live like this. Here we live a life where you can’t even call the police, because they are controlled by the gangs.

When we crossed the river and they trapped us, we didn’t think. We had some hope. And then, when we arrived in McAllen, we were on the floor. There was dust. There were a lot of people there, and I was there for various hours. They call it an ice box, because it’s very cold there. We were there for two days. They took us to El Paso, Texas, on a plane, and there in El Paso, Texas, we spent two days there sleeping on the ground, cold.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Honduran officials called for an increase in U.S. aid to Central America. Honduran Foreign Minister Mireya Agüero called for a, quote, "mini-Marshall Plan," similar to the U.S. anti-drug programs in Colombia and Mexico.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined right now by Dana Frank. She recently authored a piece titled "Who’s Responsible for the Flight of Honduran Children?" And in February, her article, "The Thugocracy Next Door," appeared in Politico magazine. Thank you for joining us from the Stanford University studios. Explain what the background is for so many—and so many children—to be fleeing the violence in Honduras.

DANA FRANK: Yeah, I think, you know, we keep hearing the fact that people are fleeing gangs and violence, but there hasn’t been an analysis or discussion of why is there so much gang activity and violence in Honduras. And the answer is this tremendous criminality that the 2009 military coup opened the door to when it overthrew the democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya. The coup, of course, itself was a criminal act, and it really opened the door for this spectacular corruption of the police and up-and-down, top-to-bottom of the government. And that, in turn, means it’s possible to kill anybody you want, practically, and nothing will happen to you. It’s widely documented that the police are overwhelmingly corrupt. Even a government official charged with cleaning up the police admitted last fall that 70 percent of the Honduran police are beyond saving. And you heard the woman, Ms. Cordova, say that the police themselves are tied in with organized crime and drug traffickers. So, when we talk about this violence, it’s really important to understand there’s almost no functioning criminal justice system and no political will at the top to do anything about this.

The president, the new president, Juan Orlando Hernández, who came into power in January, himself was a major backer of the criminal coup when he was the president—was head of a key committee in the Honduran Congress at the time, and a year and a half ago, as president of the Honduran Congress, illegally overthrew part of the Supreme Court, and he illegally was part of naming a new attorney general loyal to him last summer, named to an illegal five-year term. And he’s built his campaign not around cleaning up the police, but a new military police that is expanding this militarization of Honduran society, and that military police itself is committing serious human rights abuses, including, recently in May, beating up and jailing the most prominent advocate for children in Honduras.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Dana Frank, I remember being in San Pedro Sula back in the early 1990s. I mean, not only was the level of corruption incredibly high among the police forces, but there were—the military was out in the streets constantly patrolling. It’s also one of the poorest countries in all of the Americas. You’ve also referred to the impact of the CAFTA deal on Honduras and on the poverty of the country.

DANA FRANK: Oh, yeah, certainly, it’s not like there was ever a golden age in Honduras. But, you know, as Senator Tim Kaine said in a hearing for the new ambassador of Honduras, that Hondurans are saying that the level of militarization, as well—he said the level of military repression and terror there is worse than it was in the early 1980s at the height of the U.S.-funded Contra war in Nicaragua that Honduras was the base for. So we need to talk about, relatively, this is even more terrifying than then, which is really saying a lot.

Yeah, when we talk about the fleeing gangs and violence, it’s also this tremendous poverty. And poverty doesn’t just happen. It, itself, is a direct result of policies of both the Honduran government and the U.S. government, including privatizations, mass layoffs of government workers, and a new—in Honduras, a new law, that’s now made permanent, that breaks up full-time jobs and makes them part-time and ineligible for unionization, living wage and the national health service. And a lot of these economic policies are driven by U.S.-funded lending organizations like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, which itself is funding the corrupt Honduran police. The Central American Free Trade Agreement is the other piece of this. Like NAFTA did for the U.S. and Mexico, it opens the door to this open competition between small producers in agriculture in Honduras, small manufacturers, and jobs are disappearing as a result of that.

So, with this poverty that we’re seeing that people are fleeing, it’s not like people are like, "Let’s go have the American dream." There are almost no jobs for young people. Their parents know it. And we’re talking about starving to death—that’s the alternative—or being driven into gangs with tremendous sexual violence. And it’s a very, very tragic situation here. But it’s not like it tragically just happened. It’s a direct result of very conscious policies by the U.S. and Honduran governments.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Frank, I wanted to go to this issue of U.S. responsibility and turn to former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted five years ago. We got a chance to sit down with him in 2011 at his home in Tegucigalpa. I had just flown in with him. This was after the coup when a new president was chosen. And his family flew back from Nicaragua to Honduras. It was the first time that he was at his home for several years.

MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] The U.S. State Department has always denied, and they continue to deny, any ties with the coup d’état. Nevertheless, all of the proof incriminates the U.S. government. And all of the actions that were taken by the de facto regime, or the golpista regime, which are those who carried out the coup, and it is to make favor of the industrial policies and the military policies and the financial policies of the United States in Honduras.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. Professor Dana Frank, he strongly felt that the U.S. was involved with the coup. What evidence is there for that?

DANA FRANK: Well, the biggest evidence we have is that his plane stopped at the air force base at Palmerola, known as Soto Cano Air Force Base now, which is a joint U.S. and Honduran base. That plane could not have stopped there without U.S. permission. We don’t have the big smoking guns. We certainly have the behavior of the U.S. State Department and the White House after the coup, which was to legitimate the coup government as an equal partner to Zelaya—in fact, as a superior partner. They never denounced the spectacular repression after the coup. And they treated Zelaya like a bad child for trying to return to his own country. They recognized—they announced that they would recognize the outcome of the illegitimate November elections after that, even before the votes were counted. And it was clearly they wanted the whole situation to go away.

I mean, they clearly—Zelaya was, in many ways, the weakest domino of all the center-left and left governments that had come to power in Latin America in the previous 15 years. And it was a message to all those other governments that we will back coups, and we will overthrow you, as well. The U.S. then supported President Lobo, the outcome of that November 2009 election, and made up this fiction that it was a government of national reconciliation, and, ever since, has been turning a blind eye, for the most part, to the spectacular human rights abuses, including killings by state security forces and really spectacular lack of political will to deal with corruption at the very top of the government. And the U.S. keeps acting like this is just a hunky-dory government that we should be working with as a partner.

You know, I found it tremendously chilling to be reading newspaper reports and media reports of that planeload of children that came back to Honduras and the U.S. working with the Honduran government, welcoming those children with open arms, when the government itself is countenancing this problem. The government itself, you know, beat—has countenanced the beating up of the leading independent children’s activist in the country. The government itself doesn’t have the political will to clean up the police. So, what does it mean that we’re working with this partner to help these Honduran children?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We’re also joined by Jennifer Harbury, a human rights activist and lawyer based in Weslaco, Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border. Her husband, Efraín Bámaca Velásquez, a Mayan guerrilla commander, disappeared after he was captured by the Guatemalan army in the 1980s. She’s the author of Searching for Everardo: A Story of Love, War, and the CIA in Guatemala and has spent decades pressing for declassified information on her husband’s case.

Talk to us about the—as we’ve been discussing Honduras, many of the children are also coming from Guatemala. And again, some of that history of U.S. involvement in Guatemala, especially in recent years.

JENNIFER HARBURY: Yes. We’ve been horrified by the thought of sending any of these children back, since, by international and domestic law, they qualify as refugees, almost all of them.

I can certainly talk about the Guatemalan counterpart to what Dana was just discussing. We talk sometimes about maybe the solution is to send more funding—as she was saying, a new Marshall Plan—to Central American countries. But that’s in fact going to pour gasoline on the fire, especially in Guatemala, where a number of former and current top officials in the military are in fact the drug lords. Some of them have left the military; some are still in. They got involved in the drug trade while the wars were going on and they had airstrips that were valuable to the Colombian drug lords. They became very wealthy that way and now have what are called parallel structures. And they organize, arm and train the gangs themselves to do their dirty work.

For example, the Zeta cartel that terrorize the border strip where I live now, which is almost down to Brownsville—I’m 10 miles from the Rio Grande—the Zetas are one of the most feared cartels anywhere, totally brutal. They were armed, trained and organized by the Guatemalan military special forces, called the Kaibiles, who, of course, in turn, were armed, trained, organized, etc., by the United States intelligence networks, and trained many of them at the School of the Americas. Another example is Julio Roberto Alpirez, a colonel, one of many high-level military officials, who is on the DEA corrupt officer list, but because he also worked as a paid CIA informant, no one has ever been able to go after him. So, much like Honduras, we have one of the highest murder rates in the world. The femicide rate is something like 10 times higher than that in Juárez.

As these refugees pour into the United States, we’re taking all kinds of measures to justify sending them back and claiming they’re not refugees. But the way we’re doing that is to expedite or rush them through proceedings so quickly that they can’t really tell their stories. And, of course, they have no legal advice. And basically turns on whether or not a 10-year-old child, when confronted with a Border Patrol agent, or young mother confronted with a Border Patrol agent, is able and willing to say, "I’m asking for political asylum. I’m in danger of persecution or abuse at the hands of the drug lords and the gangs." And all of those people know, if they ever say those words, they’re going to be dead when they go back home. It’s the death penalty to squeal, basically, on the gangs and the drug lords in any way. So, without a lawyer, within days, they’re going to be headed home under expedited proceedings.

And this is a violation of international law and also U.S. domestic law. If they qualify for asylum or treatment under the Convention Against Torture, if they’re in danger of being harmed in this way by people who either are government officials or who are acting without the local governments being able or "willing," quote-unquote, to protect the population, then these people are refugees. They cannot be sent back. And sweeping them under the rug and getting them out of the country so fast that they can’t tell their stories or get any legal advice is a double violation of humanitarian law, and it’s something we’re going to be answering for for a long time. We’re certainly not proud of having turned back the boatload of Jews to Nazi Germany, but at least we didn’t sail out on the high seas, board the ships and throw people overboard. These are children. These are refugees. We have to let them in.

There are many kinds of programs that we can put into action that would deal with the situation well, in the same way we’ve done before. We can do deferred action, deferred enforcement, temporary protected status. We’ve done those things for Honduras and Haiti. It would let people stay for a year or two and then have the danger in their homelands reconsidered. Meanwhile, they can work and support themselves. It would relieve the backup in the court. There’s many alternatives. We’re choosing to pretend that they’re not refugees, and send them home in violation of the law.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there, but we thank you both very much for being with us.


Editor’s Note: The following excerpts from an article that reported horror stories from the children themselves by Sonali Kolhatkar appeared on

Although there is no simple answer to the question of why so many children are crossing over, one of the most important reasons, particularly in Honduras, is the unprecedented violence resulting from the combination of a recent U.S.-backed coup and a U.S.-funded drug war that has perversely resulted in more powerful gangs of narco-traffickers. Sonia Nazario, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of the acclaimed best-seller “Enrique’s Journey,” told me in an interview on [my radio show] Uprising, “the narcos brought the viciousness and the reach of the violence to a whole new level.”

Nazario has extensively investigated the driving forces behind the crisis facing Central American children: “These children told me, ‘I have been threatened multiple times by the time I am 11 years old; I have seen multiple people killed in front of me. I have got to get out, or I am going to die.’ ”

But it’s not just the conditions at home that are unbearably dangerous—the journey itself that unaccompanied Central American children take to get to the U.S. is fraught with peril.

Nazario, who rode on top of many trains to recreate the journey of Enrique, a young Honduran man she met over a decade ago, wrote about the constant threats of violent beatings, rape, theft, kidnapping, starvation, imprisonment, exposure to the elements and loss of limbs. Children are preyed upon by bandits, gangsters, drug lords, police and even immigration authorities. Many thousands of children simply never make it to the U.S. Of those, the ones who end up back where they started are the lucky ones. The rest simply disappear, lost to the myriad ways there are to die horrible deaths.

Nazario revealed the terrifying statistic that the Zetas gang of narco-traffickers today “are kidnapping 18,000 Central Americans a year, and they prefer kids.” Unaccompanied children usually carry one item that is most precious to them—a slip of paper with the phone number of a parent or relative in the U.S. written down on it. During her reporting, Nazario said she “saw these kids who would hide that slip in the sole of their shoe or the waistband of their jeans. They’d wrap it in plastic so when they crossed rivers, hopefully that precious number wouldn’t smudge.” The Zetas gang members who capture kids call the numbers on those slips of paper, demanding thousands of dollars of ransom from parents and threatening to kill the children. “And they do kill them,” she added.

Confronting the trauma that the immigrant children have gone through is imperative in any discussion of what to do with them. Federico Bustamante works for Casa Libre youth shelter, which provides relief for undocumented minors. He has met thousands of children who have crossed the border, and told me the story of one teenager from Honduras who attempted to escape the gang violence by coming to the U.S., only to be detained for six months, have his request for asylum denied and be deported back to Honduras. “He was killed on Valentine’s Day,” Bustamante said. Read the full article.
New Clothes for Men in Recovery
We have a wonderful opportunity for men in recovery: a group of volunteers has donated a large selection of new clothes from Kohl's. All sizes, casualwear. 

If you or a loved one are in recovery, or on your way to treatment/sober living - and have a need in this area, please contact Bill G (609-587-7215).

Update: Walk with the Angels
The new numbers are in. In the first 6 months of 2014, COA paid over $30,000 for 50 young people to receive medical care, enter sober living and/or begin long term treatment for addiction. Without this support, many would not be in recovery today. 

If you make charitable donations, please consider supporting COA. We're doing a major fundraiser right now. Paul Ressler, who lost his own son, Corey, to addiction, has generously offered to match all donations up to a total of $1,000. To donate to his fundraising team, Team Corey, click here

To visit the main fundraising website for this event, click here.
Walk With the Angels will be held on September 14, 2014 in Mercer County Park to will support continued scholarships for recovery. 

The goal is to raise $50,000 and 100% of that will be used to send people to treatment for addiction and/or get them into sober living or medical care.


*COA is a service organization: all COA services are completely free of charge and everyone who works for COA is a volunteer. That means we can be completely objective and impartial, recommending the best options for our clients, based upon their individual situations. For help with a drug problem, call COA at 609-910-4942 or visit us online at
Affirmation Mirror Workshop
This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone in Recovery!

This is a 2 day workshop using a combination of the technique of mosaic and layering!  We will start with an 8 x 8 inch square of wood.....and a piece of mirror.......and create a personalized inspirational beautiful piece of Art that will remind you each time you look at it how wonderful you are and how much you are loved!!

The cost of this workshop is: $40.00 (which is un-heard of for a 2 day workshop!)

This includes all materials to create a finished project

Square Peg's Cindy R. will work with you the entire time to help you learn and create your own personal Affirmation Mirror filled with your own personal messages that will help you each time you look at it to change those negative thought patterns that run through our minds every day! Cindy knows because she is also in addiction recovery and found a wonderful and fun way to express herself through Art!!  "I do not have any degrees in Art," she says.  "I just know what makes me happy and I allow myself to play! I would love to show you what I have learned.....and invite you to come and play too!"

The DATES : Saturday August 16th &
Sunday August 17th
The TIME: 10:00 am to 4:00

117 Farnsworth Ave
Bordentown NJ 

Seating is limited......registration can be made by phone.

This is open to only those affiliated with COA! Payment must be made in full 7 days before the class is to start to ensure your space! This will be a FUN and inspiring workshop done in an open laid back informative environment!

The only materials you will need to bring if you wish are those things that are meaningful to only you that Cindy may not have broken plates or little statutes etc., charms coins special broken jewelry tiny toys etc that you can incorporate into your piece that would only mean something to you!
Let's Talk About Recovery!
With 10 original shows, COARR plays Recovery Talk 24/7/365....past shows are available online at and in each show's online archive. 

Tune in thru the smartphone app (free in the iphone/droid stores) or on to hear what's playing now.....

Now in the COARR archive: yesterday's all-new "Families in Recovery" with Cathy & BIll.
In this show, Cathy and Bill discuss the impact of alcohol and drug addiction on families, and share from their own vast experience how families can manage this disease to regain their quality of life. 
For details about Cathy & Bill, click here. 
To listen to the show, 
click here
If you missed the very special "Women & Addiction" last week, it's now online - click here to listen

Terri's guest, Cheryl, is an inspiration to many, many people. Not only is she is in recovery herself after years of active addiction, but she has triumphed over one of life's toughest challenges - the death of her son. Cheryl has found renewed faith and strength in the tragedy of his loss, and used that experience to become an angel to countless others. "A voice of peace came to me and showed me the love my son is living in," she says about the day of his funeral. "That was such a gift of grace. I feel that my son is always with me, because we're always talking about him or sharing him. And people know that it's genuine - we just want to help others in their journey."
Cheryl has spoken out about New Jersey's heroin crisis on CBS News and in the London Times. She is a COA-trained Recovery Coach, and is now bringing COA to North Jersey.
Listen to past COARR shows any time:

For "Women & Addiction" with Terri Thomas, click here.

For "Hope Fiend" with Minister Rich Mollica, click here.

For "Emotional Sobriety" with Andy Finley MFT, click here.

For "Journey Thru the 12 Steps with the Life Recovery Bible," click here.

For "Share Your Scars" with Vicki, click here.

For "Wings Over Water: Creativity in Recovery" with recovery musician Kathy Moser,  click here.

For "Laughter & Recovery" with stand up comic Wil B. Kleen, click here.

For "Relationships in Recovery" with Alexa, click here.

For "Saving Lives" with COA Director of Interventions Tom Redneck Clark, click here.

For "Nar-Anon Families of Addiction Information Line" click here .
      The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc. PRO-ACT
          Pennsylvania Recovery Organization --
     Achieving Community Together (PRO-ACT) 
Recovery in Our Communities
July 22, 2014
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Information and Recovery Support Line 24/7: 800-221-6333
       I did then what I knew how to do.  
       Now that I know better, I do better. 
The Council Equips Youth To Make Healthy Decisions

Mr. David A. Fialko, a Prevention Specialist at the Council of Southeast
Pennsylvania, Inc., has over 12 years' experience working in the drug and alcohol field as an IOP counselor, adventure based counselor, MH counselor, prevention specialist and educator. Read David's insightful article explaining why Prevention Starts With Education.  The Council's Prevention Department works with schools and communities, helping youth and families to make healthy decisions.  For more information, visit our website or call The Council at 215-345-6644.
Give Non-Violent Offenders A Second Chance

In this USA Today article, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, explains the reasons behind bi-partisan federal legislation introduced to help non-violent offenders rejoin society and find meaningful employment.  Senator Paul states that "the war on drugs has disproportionately affected men and women of color...[It] has not lessened drug use.  It has simply transformed a health problem into a prison problem, and ultimately an employment and voting rights problem." The proposed legislation would restore voting rights and provide a way for adults to seal non-violent criminal records.  Read more on why individuals and families need a second chance.
Thanks to our PRO-ACT volunteers, there is always a wide variety of programming available at The Council's Recovery Community Centers located n Philadelphia, Southern Bucks and Central Bucks.  Highlights for this Friday, July 25th include: 
PRCC at 1701 Lehigh Ave:  Men's Recovery Support at 12:30-2pm and Women's Recovery Support from 1-2pm. Call 215-223-7700 for details.                                
 SBRCC in Bristol:  Fun Fridays at 1:30pm.  Call Karen, 215-788-3738, ext. 100. 
CBRCC in Doylestown: Training for Volunteer Facilitators, 1-4pm.  Call Rick at 215-345-6644.
Some Upcoming Events
August 20, 2014: Meet The Council Open House, 8 - 9 am at 252 West Swamp Road, Bailiwick Office Campus, Unit 12, Doylestown, PA 18901
September 12, 2014: 7:05 pm. Recovery Night at the Baseball Game, Phillies vs. Marlins, Citizens Bank Park. Click here for tickets. 
September 20, 2014: PRO-ACT Recovery Walks! 2014, Great Plaza, Penn's Landing, Philadelphia. Click here to register and get more information.
Employment OpportunitiesPlease click here
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Donations help us to reduce the impact of addiction for more individuals and families. The Council is a 501(c)(3) organization.