Monday, 29 June 2009

What's the secret of recovery?

Recovery for me is about confronting the burden of being human; it’s about toughening up and doing the things that before I looked to alcohol to do for me. This is what I would describe as “doing the leg-work”.

This is not to de-mystify or, in any way, to undermine God’s role in the whole process. On the contrary; when we confront the burden of being human and toughen up we’re unwittingly co-operating with God (or the spiritual) anyway. Spiritual development happens when we co-operate with God - no matter how unwittingly.

Spiritual development, therefore, is a consequence of doing “the leg-work”. When we do that - we then find that we get well in spite of ourselves.


I’m going abroad for a much-needed week’s holiday – so from tomorrow onwards Rose, a student friend of mine from college days, will be responsible for writing the daily blog. You can follow Rose’s blog on – just click on the icon.

"Well" said God in admiration, "Will you sponsor Me?"

Nine years ago my friend Bryn was suffering from cancer and facing death in a hospital ward in Bridgend, South Wales. I visited him one night, and he’d just woken up from a dream that had excited him very much.

“I dreamt I had just died, Wynford, and gone to Heaven” he said, “and God was there to welcome me.” Bryn then related how God had started to question him.

“What have you done with your life, Bryn?” God asked.

“Well” replied Bryn, “unfortunately, I wasted the early part of it because of my drinking. But after that I sobered up, God – and I did a lot of good. I’ve been helping other alcoholics to achieve sobriety; I’ve sponsored hundreds of fellow-sufferers. And once, God – the highlight of my life – I spoke in front of sixty thousand alcoholics at the World Convention in San Diego, USA!”

Suddenly God cut across him. “Bryn, can I ask you one question?”

“Of course” said Bryn. “Go ahead, God. What do you want to ask me?”

“Well” said God in admiration, “Will you sponsor Me?”

And with that Bryn roared with laughter. The very thought of him sponsoring God tickled him no end.

Even when facing death, you see, Bryn could still laugh at himself. Not taking ourselves too seriously is an important lesson we all have to learn in recovery.

If I’m feeling out of sorts; don’t feel others are doing things quite as they should be done things; or I’m unhappy with what I’m doing and not feeling a 100% - invariably, I know what’s responsible. I’m taking myself too seriously.

So why not lighten up today, eh? Have a laugh at yourself like Bryn did. Bryn had a talent for keeping his feet very firmly on the ground – he never took himself or others too seriously.

Is that the reason, possibly, why you’re feeling out of sorts today?

Saturday, 27 June 2009

It's all about adopting the right attitude

The longer I’m living on this earth, the more I’m realizing the huge effect one’s attitude has on life in general, and on one’s ability to make the most out of that life.

Attitude to me is far more important than the facts. It’s more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than any failures or successes, or what people think, say or do. It’s more important than the way we look; and it’s certainly more important than any talent or ability we might have. Because one’s attitude, you see, can destroy a….company….church…..and home.

The wonderful thing is that we have a choice each day regarding which attitude to adopt for that particular day. We can’t change the past. Neither can we change the fact that people are going to do what people are going to do. We can’t change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play the only string we have to play on life’s harp, and that string is our attitude.

By now I’ve come to realise that how I react to a situations is far more important that what’s actually happening to me during that particular situation.

Two little boys were playing in the sea. All of a sudden a huge wave from somewhere comes crashing down on top of them. One little boy is terrified and runs up to his mother on the beach shouting, “Mummy, mummy, mummy! I’m not going to go into that sea ever again!” But the other little boy plays happily in the water shouting, “Wow – wee! Wow-wee! This is so much fun, isn’t it?”

The same wave, you’ll have noticed – but two completely different reactions to it. One boy’s attitude towards life’s problems and challenges is to run away and bury his head in his mother’s bosom. The other boy’s attitude, however, is to stay where he is, and bravely face any problem or challenge that confronts him – overcoming them, in time, by virtue of his positive attitude and his ability to see the challenge and the opportunity inherent in every supposed tribulation.

Which attitude are you going to adopt today – the one that sees you running away from life and cowering in fear, or the one that leads to you bravely confronting the burden of being human and experiencing life to the full? It’s your choice.


You’ll get to read more of the above on Why not pay us a visit today?

Abstaining from life is not an option

Why did I find it so difficult to make a decision when I was drinking? I believe that as alcoholics we do not like making decisions. We would rather sit there with all our options open waiting for the divine to intervene and give us the answer, and for it to land fully-formed on our laps without us having to go through the uncomfortable feeling of having to decide. That decision, incidentally, according to Eric Fromm, is the same ‘decide’ as in suicide. That makes perfect sense to me: I’m sure we believe that by making a decision we’re “killing off” half our options. So, instead, we leave all our options open – and then complain that things don’t happen in our lives, that our lives don’t move forward.

I believe there are no wrong decisions today – only new opportunities for me to learn and grow. Indeed, some of my worst decisions (at the time) have turned out to be my biggest blessings. I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this blog if it weren’t for a big “mistake” I made all those years ago when I decided that I could handle just one last drink.

This day offers many challenges and many choices. I can successfully handle all possibilities. Abstaining from life is not an option for people like you and me.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The importance of taking some "me time"

When was the last time you took some time out to yourself to recharge, restore, rest, reflect and consider where you are in your journey of life?

Are you struggling with forgiveness?

Is your soul hungry and thirsty for more – trying to find a sacred space in your busy life?

Are old wounds resurfacing and you are finding that old habits are coming back which are stealing your peace and joy?

Why not get away to the peaceful surroundings of St Non’s in St Davids on the Pembroke Coast and take part in a weekend retreat from 28th to 30th August, 2009? This will be a small retreat of 15 people with the emphasis on healing and forgiveness and learning new ways of living and putting the past behind you, and living in the present. One of the biggest challenges of living is to live in the “now” – often guilt and shame from the past and anxiety for the future can leave us stuck in the present.

The retreat will involve the following:

Study of recovery principles using the 12 Step programme of recovery with reflections on scripture;

Workshops/ group work/ and one-to-ones on:

· Forgiveness
· “Healing through love”
· Improving communication
· Your past is your greatest asset
· How to maintain your sobriety

Inspirational speakers to motivate and inspire

Meditation and time to rest

Are you drawn to this weekend retreat? The cost will be £100 per person all inclusive.

If you’re interested contact The Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs on or you can telephone 029 2049 3895 or write to: WCAOD, 58 Richmond Road, Cardiff CF24 3AT.

Why is there no reference to substance misuse?

The Joseph Rountree Foundation study on ‘What is needed to end Child Poverty in Wales? [by 2020] written by Victoria Wrickler of the Bevan Foundation (see Daily Dose, 25/06/09) comes to the following conclusion:

"The evidence is clear that radical changes in
employment, childcare, skills and the taxation and
benefits system are needed if the UK is to eradicate
child poverty by 2020. Whilst some of these changes
will be led by the UK Government, the Welsh Assembly
Government also has a crucial role to play. This
suggests that to meet the specific target of eradicating
income poverty amongst children the Welsh Assembly
Government will need to focus its strategy on:
• providing help for parents to find employment,
through both DWP welfare-to-work programmes
and its own initiatives, if necessary seeking additional
powers to manage DWP programmes;
• dramatically improving childcare provision, including
that for school-age children as well as under-fives,
and enhancing support for carers who wish to work;
• promoting flexible and good quality employment,
including family-friendly working and decent pay,
particularly in the public sector;
• encouraging employers to participate in Local
Employer Partnerships;
• considerably enhancing the skills and qualifications of
adults, taking account of specific needs of parents;
• reviewing the benefits, grants and allowances
controlled by the Welsh Assembly Government and
increasing take-up of Welsh and UK benefits.
In addition, if the Welsh Assembly Government wishes
to meet its commitment to eradicate child poverty
by 2020 it will need to introduce and resource a
comprehensive range of other policies. It has already
made a start in addressing child poverty in education,
but this is by no means the only important area. Health
is another key policy area, with poor child health being
closely associated with child poverty ((NPHS, 2007), yet
it has received considerably less attention."

But what has received no attention whatsoever in this report is the impact of Substance Misuse on Child Poverty in Wales.

All children of alcoholics, for example, are affected by their parents’ drinking (Velleman, 2001, p.179). Problems can develop such as: withdrawal, crying, illness, sexual abuse, aggression, delinquency, and drug and alcohol abuse. Academic performance deteriorates, and there could be problems with anti-social behaviour, school environment problems, etc.

Alcoholism and drug dependence is a family illness and years of living with an alcoholic (and/or drug dependent person) are almost sure to make any wife [husband/partner] or child neurotic – it’s also inevitable that it impacts on Child Poverty. Why is there no reference to this in this report? And why has this report failed to make that connection?

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The story of Miss Jones and her dozen pullet eggs

Mr Albert Peacock kept a shop that sold all kinds of goods in a poor area of Warrington - and he had one son named Harold who was seven years old.

Mr Peacock offered a very valuable service to his customers, which was the opportunity to sell their goods in his shop – potatoes, carrots, eggs, onions, etc. Mr Peacock knew you see, that people were short of money in that community and that they depended on this service to help support them financially.

One Saturday morning Miss Jones entered his shop. She had a dozen pullet eggs in her bag. Pullet eggs, incidentally, are very small. “Can you sell there dozen pullet eggs for me, Mr Peacock?” she asked.

“Of course”, said Mr Peacock laughing heartily. “If I can’t sell them for you with all my years of experience as a shopkeeper, I don’t know who can!” And Mr Peacock laughed heartily again. Mr Peacock was quite a hearty laugher. “Come back for your money round about half past four, Miss Jones” he said.
“I’ll most certainly do that.” said Miss Jones. And off she trotted gratefully.

For the rest of the day Mr Peacock traded successfully. But, despite all the comings and goings in his shop; and although he offered the pullet eggs to every customer – strangely enough, Mr Peacock failed to sell a single egg. It was half past three in the afternoon by now, when Harold the son came into the shop and noticed the worry etched on his father’s face. “What’s wrong, dad?” he asked.

“Well, I’m having difficulty selling these pullet eggs for Miss Jones, son” said Mr Peacock. “What shall I do? You see, I know she’s depending on the money from the sale of these eggs to buy a piece of meat for her Sunday dinner tomorrow.”

“Can I try selling them for you, dad?” asked Harold.

“You, Harold - don’t be so ridiculous!” said the father. “If I can’t sell these pullet eggs with all my years of experience as a shopkeeper, what chance do you have boy, as a seven year old?”

“You’ve got nothing to loose” replied Harold impudently.

“Well, I suppose not” Mr Peacock conceded. And with that he handed the pullet eggs over the counter to Harold his son. “Here” he said “and mind you don’t break any!”

Fifteen minutes later Harold was back – and he’d sold all the eggs. His father marvelled. “I don’t believe it! How did you manage to sell all those pullet eggs, Harold – when I’d been at it all day long and failed to sell a single one?”

“Well” said Harold. “You’re a big man dad, and your hands are big. The pullet eggs, which are small, looked like nothing at all in your hands. But I’m a little boy, and in my little hands the pullet eggs looked huge – and everyone fancied them.”

A few weeks ago I read somewhere that the Peacocks Company were going to expand their business empire and were opening a hundred new shops in England and Wales. And I remembered how the original Mr Peacock and his son, Harold, had taught me two valuable lessons.

1) If we do the right thing we get the right result. (That’s obvious with the company Mr Peacock established going from strength to strength. It’s also true for addicts and alcoholics when we embark on the exciting journey of recovery – if we do the right things we get the right results.)
2) And the second lesson was this: no matter how insignificant we think we are - we can, as Harold proved, do some things that no one else can - even though the best qualifications to do that job sometimes appear to belong to other people. (Never underestimate yourself as recovering alcoholics and addicts: you might be the one person who can say the right words at exactly the right time and in exactly the right order – that can save someone from a life of despair, hopelessness and loneliness through addiction to drink and/or drugs. Now, how important is that?!)

Round about Christmas, for example, if you employed the best actors in the world to tell the Nativity story, I’ll bet you a million pounds that a small group of children from a Sunday school class in the back of beyond in rural Wales can do a better job.

See what I mean?

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Monday, 22 June 2009

Freedom is letting people know who I am

Mr Jones the minister was very concerned about Miss Pritchard who had stopped attending church for some reason. He went over to see her.

“What’s responsible, Miss Pritchard, that you’re not attending church these days?” he asked.

“It’s my coat that’s responsible, Mr Jones.”

“Your coat!” said the minister incredulously.

“Yes, it’s not fit for people to see.”

“Nonsense” said Mr Jones, “God doesn’t worry about exterior things – it’s the inside God sees.”

“That’s my trouble, Mr Jones – it’s the lining that’s gone!”


For some reason, addicts paper over all the cracks in their lives, much as Miss Pritchard was attempting to hide the broken lining in her coat. We allow very few people to see what’s actually going on – the despair, the sense of hopelessness, the burden of aloneness and the abject fear –; all these are hidden from the world.

But it was the “lining” in our lives - the spiritual hole in our being - that eventually brought us to our knees: it was an inside job.

Recovery also, therefore, has to be an inside job. Gradually, as we begin to repair the “lining” using spiritual tools such as - self examination, acknowledgment of faults, and restitution of wrongs done and, above all, constant work with others – we find that the exterior of the coat (our world) is also restored to pristine condition.

Freedom is letting people know who I am.

The greatest threat

It’s not terrorism or the terrorist threat that threatens to undermine the fabric of our society, today - it is addiction in its many vile, insidious and soul-destroying facets. Rooted in negativity, it tells us we’re not worthy; don’t deserve success, that we’re no good. And that sends us off on a wild goose chase to find something, some substance, person or activity that will help us ‘change our perception of reality’ - which has become too painful for us to endure. From that day onwards, we stop living, our emotional growth is arrested, and we inadvertently turn our backs on the Source of our being. We exist in a Hell of our own making. Addiction: that’s the greatest threat to our society today.

We all need to ask ourselves, “What is alcohol (or drugs – prescribed or illicit – or any other dependency, such as eating disorders, love and sex addiction, gambling and self-harm, etc) doing for us that we can’t do for ourselves?”

The answer to that question informs the kind of interventions and treatment we need to utilize in order to enable us to do all those things for ourselves.

See? We’re back with having to confront the burden of being human. There’s no getting away from it – we have to be brave in order to recover from addiction.

Are you going to be brave today? Or are you going to continue to run away from yourself, from responsibility, from life?

You have the choice.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

We are faced with a choice

At some stage in our lives we are faced with a choice – and it’s a choice than none of us can avoid. It’s the final stage of maturity, when we finally grow up to be what Destiny always intended us to be. This is what we are on earth for. Some crisis, illness or loss usually triggers it. And it’s the choice between the Personality (the material) and the Spiritual (becoming a whole person). The Spiritual always wins because it’s stronger than the Personality. However, unless we yield to the Spiritual we become broken people. There are many people walking around out there who are broken spiritually – with no joy in their lives; life is a chore to be endured as best they can: mundane, uninteresting and empty. A living Hell one might say.

Alcoholism made it easier for me to yield to the Spiritual. I had no other option, because to resist would have meant returning to the Hell that was my active alcoholic and drug addicted existence. Alcoholism in that respect was my friend. And it has continued to be my friend. Because all that I have today – and peace of mind is the most precious – I have directly and indirectly as a result of my illness. It brought me to my knees and showed me that I was heading in the wrong direction. It continues to show me the way. Indeed, it is the illness that keeps me getting well, because it forces me to confront the burden of being human and to keep treading the ‘narrow road’ as I travel towards that happy Destiny I mentioned earlier.

And what’s the choice we all have to make? Well, this is it – and the answer we give is crucial: any prospect of recovery from addiction depends on it.


Saturday, 20 June 2009

Roll up! Roll up! Three brains for sale!

There were three brains for sale in Harrods. In front of the first there was a price-tag showing £5,000 pounds. In front of the second, a price-tag showing, £500,000. And in front of the third brain there was a sign that was bigger than the other two, showing the incredible sum of £5 million pounds.

“Who owned this brain?” asked a potential buyer fingering the price-tag with the cheapest price on it.

“Albert Einstein owned that brain, sir” replied the salesman rolling his moustache proudly. “One could argue that he was one of the cleverest men to have ever graced this Earth of ours. Do you remember the Theory of Relativity?”

“Hmmm” The buyer nodded blankly.

“Well, he formulated that!”

“And what about this second brain, the one that’s for sale for £500,000?”

“That belonged to Yehudi Menuhin, sir. With this brain you could entertain generations to come with sublime music – and make your fortune at the same time.”

The buyer moved on to the final brain. “Wow! £5 million pounds! This brain must be a very special brain indeed?”

“You’re so right, sir” replied the salesman laughing mockingly. “That brain hasn’t been used yet – that’s why it’s so expensive.”

“It hasn’t been used yet! But, how is that possible?” asked the buyer in disbelief.

“That brain belonged to an alcoholic, sir!”

I was 44 years old when I got into recovery and started using my brain for the first time. I was standing outside an off-licence in Aberystwyth when I suddenly saw myself as I was. That’s when the denial was removed and my brain finally engaged with the rest of me.

Has your brain started working yet?”


Two members (and their partners) from my esteemed Policy Advisory Group (PAG) came over for dinner last night, and we reviewed my 3 years Strategy and discussed other possible initiatives we, as a Council, could instigate (we also put the world to rights!).

As I said while introducing Dr David Best at the Inaugural Annual Lecture on the 16th June (he’s another member of my PAG) “I am humbled that such people, right at the cutting-edge of research in this field and at the very top of their game, should join my PAG and help me steer my way forward as I try to make a difference in this most interesting, fascinating and challenging of fields, Substance Misuse.”

Incidentally, you can find out more about my PAG by visiting our website – - scroll down and click on “Police Advisory Group”.


A video recording of Dr David Best’s Inaugural Annual Lecture at the Welsh Assembly building on “Evidence of hope: what do we know about sustained recovery from alcohol and drug addiction?” will be posted on our website soon. I will be editing the piece on Friday 29th June, thanks to the generosity of Tinopolis Ltd, the TV production company who recorded the event for us. So keep your eyes peeled after that date.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Taking the "heads" with the "tails"

When I was drinking I though my salvation lay in my own hands; and unless the cards were stacked right I was a very unhappy bunny indeed, always wishing for the impossible.

A friend took me aside shortly afterwards to explain things a little better to me. He reached for a coin from his pocket. “Remember how you were as a child, Wynford”, he said, “always wanting the ‘heads’ to land uppermost and not the ‘tails’? Well”, he said, “in order to possess this coin, I’m going to have to take the ‘heads’ with the ‘tails’ – there’s no other way I can place it in my pocket and call it my own. The same is true of life. If I want to live life fully and enjoy it in its entirety, I’m going to have to take the tears with the laughter, the sadness with the happiness, the poverty with the richness, the disappointment with the elation. Because, you see, they’re all basically one and the same. And if you experience one negative aspect in your life today, isn’t it heartening to know that on the other side lies its positive counterpart – and that that too is equally achievable, provided you accept without condition what you’re given today?”

He went on to relate a story from ‘The way of the peaceful Warrior’ by Dan Millman: A priceless white horse belonging to a farmer from Hapsburg escaped one day and ran away. The local people said, “O! What bad news!” The farmer just said, “Bad news, good news, who knows?” The following day the farmer’s only son fell down a ravine whilst looking for the horse and broke his leg in three places. “O! What bad news!” said the local people, the farmer just said, “Bad news, good news, who knows?” A week later the white horse returned with a hundred wild horses – each as priceless as the original. “O! What good news!” said the local people, “Good news, bad news”, said the farmer again, “who knows?” The following day, the king of Hapsburg declared war on the neighbouring country, and all the young people of Hapsburg under thirty were called up to fight in the war. Of course, the farmer’s son was exempt. He’d broken his leg in three places, remember? All the local people said, “O! What good luck,” the farmer just said, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?” ‘

“And that’s the way life goes on – perfect in every way”, explained my friend, “provided we accept it all as the farmer from Hapsburg did.”

Can I accept life on life's terms today? Am I bravr enough to confront the burden of being human?


I had a wonderful day yesterday (Thursday) - I had a very productive meeting with Mark Isherwood AM who was very supportive of my work (I'll also be preparing a paper for him on 'Children of Alcoholics' (COA's). I had a laugh with Andrew R T Davies AM, who has sponsored one of the prizes for the Cartoon Competition (which you can access on our website), and I was introduced to Jonathan Morgan AM and was given a committment that we would meet soon to discuss the Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs' 3 Year Strategy. Additionally, all Welsh Assembly Members received a copy of the Council's Inaugural Annual Lecture given by Dr David Best on "Evidence of hope: what do we know about sustained recovery from alcohol and drug addiction?"

Below is a copy of that letter:

Dear........................./ Annwyl.........................

Please find enclosed a copy of the Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs’ Inaugural Annual Lecture. The lecture was delivered by Dr David Best, Reader in Criminal Justice at the University of the West of Scotland, on the subject ‘Evidence of hope: what do we know about sustained recovery from alcohol and drug addiction?’

This lecture was very well attended and will, we hope, influence future Welsh Assembly Government thinking around treatment provision for alcohol and drug dependent people.

In essence, Dr Best is saying that most addictions treatment is not good enough and that treatment itself is not enough – it is not sufficient in its current form to support recovery. Dr Best, however, recognizes that recovery does happen and happens in community settings where indigenous resources provide the basis for the recovery journey. The evidence is there clear for us to see – now, with your help, we need to bring it alive in Wales and make available the help and support people need and deserve.


Gweler yn amgaeedig gopi o Ddarlith Flynyddol Agoriadol Cyngor Cymru ar Alcohol a Chyffuriau Eraill. Traddodwyd y ddarlith gan Dr David Best, Darllenydd mewn Cyfiawnder Troseddol ym Mhrifysgol Gorllewin yr Alban, ar y testun ‘Evidence of hope: what do we know about sustained recovery from alcohol and drug addiction?’

Daeth cynulleidfa dda i’r ddarlith a gobeithiwn y bydd ei neges yn dylanwadu ar bolisïau Llywodraeth y Cynulliad i’r dyfodol parthed triniaethau addas i rai sy’n gaeth i alcohol a chyffuriau eraill.

Yn ei hanfod, dywedodd Dr Best nad yw y rhan fwyaf o driniaethau at ddibyniaeth yn ddigon da ac nad yw triniaeth ei hun yn ddigon - nid yw’n ddigonol yn ei ffurf bresennol i gynnal gwellhad. Mae Dr Best yn cydnabod, sut bynnag, bod gwellhad yn digwydd a’i fod yn digwydd mewn cyd-destun cymunedol ble mae adnoddau cynhenid yn sail i’r daith i wellhad. Mae’r dystiolaeth yna’n glir i ni ei weld – yn awr, gyda’ch help chi, mae angen inni ddod ag ef yn fyw yng Nghymru a pharatoi’r cymorth a’r gefnogaeth y mae’r bobl hyn ei angen ac y maent yn ei haeddu.

With every best wish/ Gyda’m dymuniadau gorau,
Wynford Ellis Owen
Chief Executive/Prif Weithredwr


And the highlight of the day? Three highlights, in fact: working with a young person who has realised that he has a problem with alcohol and needs to do something about it; paying the downpayment on my youngest daughter's wedding dress - Rwth, Meira and I celebrated afterwards with a cup of coffee; and making arrangements to have lunch today (Friday) with my eldest daughter, Bethan. Aah! The joys of recovery.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The secret of her success

Last night Meira and I attended a concert given by The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama’s Symphony Orchestra at St David’s Hall in Cardiff. Our main reason for attending was to listen to Siwan Rhys from the village of Creigiau near Cardiff, the talented daughter of two dear friends of ours, who was performing the Piano Concerto No 1 by Bartók.

Our main claim to fame is that Siwan first played the piano as a little girl in our house. Since then, we’ve watched her blossom into a consummate concert pianist and a wonderful human being. A few weeks ago she accompanied me on the piano as I led a guided meditation session at my local church and last night here she was giving the performance of her life to the accompaniment of the RWCMS’s Symphony Orchestra.

Siwan Rhys has worked hard developing her God given talent - and I suppose that the word ‘stick-to-itiveness’ best describes the secret of her success. The audience, however, didn’t get to see the many long and lonely hours of practise that were required in order to perfect a performance like last nights.

Recovery from addiction is much the same. We have to work hard on our recoveries; there are no days off; and confronting the’ burden of being human’ takes guts and a totally different attitude towards life to the one we used to have when we were using or drinking. But underpinning it all is ‘stick-to-itiveness’ – and ‘stick-to-itiveness’ is only possible when we learn to keep our eyes focused on today. (Keep them on tomorrow and yesterday – and we’ll end up cock-eyed today!) So we have to live in the “now”, in this very moment, – the only thing that’s real. To help you do this you can access a Guided Meditation – “The path to healing” – on our website, Just click on the icon – you’ll find it on our home page.

Incidentally, the Symphony Orchestra’s final piece last night was Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz – a piece rumoured to have been written when the composer was under the influence of drugs. I’ll write again about the link between addiction and creativity - but it’s most certainly there, and hypersensitivity, constant contemplation and reflectiveness contribute mightily towards it. The link between ruminating personality and art is incontrovertible, as a number of psychological studies have shown. Besides, we’ve all been ‘tortured geniuses’ in our time haven’t we, and should have been granted life-time honorary membership of Equity, the actors’ union, a long time ago?

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Dr David Best loved the treatment community enough to tell them the truth

The Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs’ Inaugural Annual Lecture at the Senedd, the Welsh Assembly building in Cardiff Bay last night, was delivered by Dr David Best from the University of the West of Scotland under the title – ‘Evidence of hope: what do we know about sustained recovery from alcohol and drug addiction?’

David was on form and his lecture was both thought-provoking and informative. I was left thinking, at last someone is talking sense here and he’s backed it up with solid evidence – yes, treatment is not good enough and treatment itself is not enough – it is not sufficient in its current form to support recovery. David, however, recognised that recovery does happen but that it happens in community settings where indigenous resources provide the basis for the recovery journey. (The lecture, which was hosted by Gareth Jones OBE, AM, was recorded and will be on our website soon – along with the text, which can be downloaded from

This Inaugural Annual Lecture sees the implementation of one important initiative from the Welsh Council’s 3 Years Strategy: ‘working in partnership with other organizations to promote greater awareness of the dangers of substance misuse’. The lecture was held in association with the three registered treatment centres in Wales: Brynawel House (South Wales), CAIS (North Wales) and Rhoserchan (Mid Wales) – each has a different philosophy regarding the treatment of substance misuse – but united to co-sponsor this important event ‘for the common goal’ of helping sufferers all over Wales.

Listening to Dr David Best last night I was more convinced than ever of the treatment community’s need to cooperate and work together. Isn’t it high-time that we accept each treatment programme’s right to co-exist?

And we’ve been set a precedent.

The issue at the heart of Northern Ireland politics over the last 100 years springs to mind – and I’m not being frivolous in my comparison here, because both issues have consequences of life and death unless satisfactorily resolved.

This piece is taken from the Guardian newspaper of 14th March 2007. Nicholas Watt et al., (2007) and describes the main protagonists in the solution to the Northern Ireland troubles thus: ‘A fierce Protestant, Mr Paisley is the founder and moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church, who has outraged Catholics by denouncing the Pope as the Anti-Christ. Mr Blair, is an Anglican who attends mass with his Catholic wife; Gerry Adams and Martin Maguinnes, political leaders of Sinn-Féin, ex para-military leaders of the IRA, and both ardent Catholics.’ However, peace in Northern Ireland was their (ultimate) common goal. And in order to achieve that ‘common goal’, they had to put aside their differences and accept ‘power-sharing’ as the only possible way of achieving that longed-for peace.

The ‘common goal’ in addiction to alcohol and drugs is recovery. And for that to be achieved, both Harm Reduction and Abstinence (and all other approaches) have to be compatible and, more importantly, be accepted as such. This ‘can be achieved only if many men, not just a few, are willing and able to confront frankly, and tackle courageously, their ethical, personal, and social conflicts – which means ‘having the courage and integrity to forego waging battles on false fronts.’ (Szasz, 1973.)


NICHOLAS, W., BOWCOTT, O., WINTOUR, P., 2007. Blair’s Secret Weapon in Paisley talks: religion. The Guardian. 14 March 2007. p1.

SZASZ, T. S.,1973. Ideology and Insanity: essays on the psychiatric dehumanisation of man. London: Marion Boyars.


Monday, 15 June 2009

Lives are put together again and whole worlds fall into place

A schoolboy had torn a map of the world into pieces. The teacher was very angry with him. Jonnie was a very disruptive pupil, and she’d had a belly-full of him by now.

“Here” she said handing him some sellotape and glue “go and stand in the corner over there and stick the map together again!”

She knew he’d be there for hours, as he’d made a right mess of the map. In the meantime, however, she could at least get on with teaching the rest of the class.

She’d been at it about five minutes when Jonnie returned – and he’d put the map together again. She was astounded.

“Well, how on earth did you manage to put the map of the world together again, Jonnie?” she asked.

“Well, you see Miss” said Jonnie, “there was a picture of a man on the back, and when I put the man together again, the world just fell into place.”

That’s what happens in recovery – lives are put together again and whole worlds fall into place.

Being the sellotape and the glue that facilitate that miracle is our responsibility, though – the ones who’ve been in recovery a few years and who’ve learnt to confront the burden of being human. And the benefits to us of doing that? Well, as evidence suggests: 'Helping helps the helper' - and is the surest way possible of staying sober.

No joke, tackling Welsh youth addiction issues through cartoons

Cartoon competition! Y Gystadleuaeth!

The Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs has launching a unique cartoon competition, aimed at raising awareness amongst young people in Wales of the dangers of alcohol and drugs misuse.Designed by cartoonist Cen Williams, the four separate cartoons, originated in partnership with young people from the chapels of Bethlehem, Gwaelod-y- Garth and Tabernacl, Efail Isaf, show a number of blank ‘what happened next?’ scenarios involving the effects of excess alcohol and other drugs.

The competition, open until 31st August 2009 and split into three age groups (under 11’s, 11-18 and 18+), invites young people to insert their own end scenarios in cartoon form. Prizes include bikes, flights and tickets for shows. The cartoons can be downloaded from the Council’s website at

Wynford Ellis Owen, Chief Executive, Welsh Council on Alcohol and other Drugs, said, “The prevalence of increasing addiction problems amongst young people in Wales makes scary reading. However, preaching and shouting orders is no way to tackle the problem, especially with teenagers!

“We wanted to engage in a fun way with young people across Wales and this cartoon competition is one way of doing this. We hope by being encouraged to sit down to draw and be creative that it will help make the issues hit home and perhaps make them think twice before consuming alcohol in excess or taking drugs. We also aim to showcase some of the best completed cartoons on our website’s homepage as inspiration for others.”

Download competition cartoon strip 1Download competition cartoon strip 2 Download competition cartoon strip 3Download competition cartoon strip 4

Sunday, 14 June 2009

We become like that which we love....

Edward Bok, American editor and Pulitzer prize-winning author (and the man who coined the phrase ‘the living room’*), always kept the memory of his mother sacred. April 30th was the anniversary of her death, and at 3.30 in the afternoon, the exact time at which she died, he would think of her regardless of what he was doing. As the time approached at one of these anniversaries, he was with some friends, and he became very quiet and thoughtful. Finally he withdrew to one side of the room.

When he again took his place in the group, one of his friends said, “You looked exactly like your mother just then when you were standing over there”.

Bok said, “Yes, I was thinking of her”.

Bok, you see, had confirmed a little-known fact: we become like that which we love.

So, who do you love today?

This is your opportunity to become quiet and thoughtful like Bok and to think about the people you love and who have loved you – people who have always been there for you, through thick and thin, through pain, heartache and despair, and who have remained and are still there for you today.

A faith in a God as we understand Him could have the same effect if we could love and centre our thoughts on Him. Think of it, a bunch of drunks and addicts becoming God-like.

* The Living Room is coming to Cardiff. For more information visit our website, and scroll down and click on ‘Day-care Centre’ or click on ‘News’.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

The house that was built on a path that had a public 'right of way'

A few years ago I read about a new house that had been built in the South of England for a family of 5 - made up of mum and dad, two sisters and a younger brother – who moved in to it to live soon afterwards. It was a lovely, red-brick built house, with big windows, strong doors, and a sturdy roof on top.

But there was one major problem with this house. Because of a huge mistake or oversight on someone’s part, the house had been built on a path that had a public ‘right of way’. Nobody, apparently, had remembered about this ‘right of way’. As a result, the family received orders to keep the front and back doors wide open day and night so that people passing by could walk through the front door, along the passage-way and out through the back door to the green fields beyond. The local Council tried its best to resolve the problem, but in the meantime, the front and back doors had to be kept open.

Can you imagine anything worse than having every Tom, Dick and Harry walking in and out of your house every hour of the day and night? Surely, the family had a right to some privacy in their own house!

Now this house is a good parable. Our recoveries aren’t built on a ‘right of way’; but the truth is that quite often we allow all kinds of negative thoughts to “walk” through and trample all over our new-found recoveries too - negative thoughts that undermine our self-esteem, convincing us that we’re not worthy, that we don’t deserve success; and that we’re no good. We wouldn’t allow all kinds of people to come into our homes, would we? Neither should we allow these negative thoughts to enter and undermine our recoveries.

Today, more so than ever, we need to close the doors to these negative thoughts. And nobody else will do it for us. We have to train ourselves to challenge these injurious negative thoughts and replace them with rational thoughts that are based on facts. God won’t do for us what we can do for ourselves.

Pity the poor family in the South of England - they had no choice but to keep their doors wide open, night and day. But we can choose to close our front and back doors to all negative thoughts. We can choose which thoughts we allow to enter our minds. We can, if we do this, create our own Heaven on earth.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

An event of some considerable importance


12th June 2009

“Recovery should also be a goal, not simply harm reduction”

The inaugural annual Welsh Council on Alcohol and other Drugs lecture will be delivered by Dr David Best, Reader in Criminal Justice at the University of the West of Scotland at the Senedd, Cardiff Bay on Tuesday, 16th June at 6.30pm. The lecture, held in association with the three registered treatment centres in Wales Brynawel House (South Wales), CAIS (North Wales) and Rhoserchan (Mid Wales), will be hosted by Gareth Jones OBE, AM.

The lecture, Evidence of Hope: What do we know about sustained recovery from alcohol and drug addiction?, chaired by Wynford Ellis Owen, Chief Executive of the Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs, will be the first time the Council and the three registered treatment centres in Wales will have worked together in partnership to tackle the wider debate on a number of different approaches to addiction therapy.

Dr David Best, in addition to his academic work in Scotland, is also involved in work for the Home Office in London, the Scottish Government, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Abuse and local recovery initiatives in Glasgow and Lanarkshire. A Chartered Psychologist and a member of the British Criminology Society, he spent ten years working in research at the National Addiction Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, managing a range of applied studies of drug and alcohol treatment interventions to prevent drug-related deaths and drug crime studies. He has also worked with the Police Complaints Authority, the National Treatment Agency and the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit.

Wynford Ellis Owen, Chief Executive of the Welsh Council on Alcohol and other Drugs, said, “There are of course a number of different approaches and philosophies on tackling addiction but it is great to see all three treatment centres working together formally for the first time for the benefit of Welsh clients. It is not an easy debate but one which Wales needs to have and I am very grateful to Dr David Best for agreeing to deliver our inaugural lecture as it is an important objective for us to deliver as part of our current three-year strategy”.

Dr David Best, said, “I am looking forward to speaking in Cardiff as my current areas of research interest are around recovery journeys from addiction, the relationship between drug use and crime and the role of organisational functioning in influencing treatment effectiveness are all highly relevant. I know a great deal of emphasis is put on harm reduction policies but I do believe that we should also be talking about sustained recovery in the same sentence.”

Lynn Bennoch, Lead Director, CAIS, on behalf of the three registered providers, added, “CAIS has 12 years experience of providing Detox services, and 18 years of providing rehabilitation services, Brynawel House has 32 years experience of providing rehabilitation services and Rhoserchan 21 years - therefore in total we have 83 years of experience!

“We are currently looking at ways of working towards providing the ‘best practice’ and a more holistic approach to the treatment of drug and alcohol clients that will take into account the different approaches on tackling addiction. The collaboration between the three registered treatment providers will seek to address a more flexible and systematic approach to the residential treatment of those seeking help with their dependency.”

Gareth Jones AM, said, “Gareth Jones AM, said, “"I am delighted to be able to sponsor this important event in the Senedd and pleased that the inaugural lecture of the Welsh Council on Alcohol and other Drugs has attracted a renowned expert and a speaker of such high calibre as Dr David Best. The issues surrounding the debate on addiction, treatment and crime are sometimes complex and difficult but nevertheless we ought not to shirk our responsibility to openly discuss the potential solutions.

"I am mindful of the heavy toll of drug and alcohol addiction on individuals, families and society as a whole and we owe it to ourselves to try to get the right messages over even if that means for example challenging some commercial interests. I look forward to a renewed debate and a greater co-ordination of our efforts and resources in this important field."

For further information please contact Rhodri Ellis Owen at Cambrensis Communications on 029 20 257075

Editor’s Notes
The 3 Welsh treatment centres (Ty’n Rodyn/Hafan Wen, Brynawel House and Rhoserchan) are able to associate themselves with this event thanks to the investment in recent years by the Welsh Assembly Government into Drug & Alcohol residential treatment centres


A few months ago I took my car to be serviced in a garage in Gwaelod-y-Garth nearby where we live just outside Cardiff. I left very early in the morning and the plan was that Meira, my wife, would follow me shortly afterwards, once she’d had her breakfast, and pick me up on the corner of the busy junction at Gwaelod-y-Garth and, together, we’d go in her car to buy some much-needed bedding plants for the garden in Pugh’s Garden Centre in Radyr.

For some reason, Meira was slightly delayed – someone might have phoned as she was about to leave if I remember correctly, and anyway the traffic is particularly heavy at that time of the morning, especially around Gwaelod-y-Garth and the hill leading to it and the A470 beyond – so I was left standing alone on this busy junction twiddling my thumbs waiting for her to arrive and wondering what to do.

Peoples’ faces were a treat, incidentally – angry faces behind bars of steering wheels, their frustration at being delayed for work etched menacingly on their faces. I saw nobody smile; instead I saw uncomfortable reminders of how I used to feel when I battled against my addiction to alcohol and drugs all those years ago and the repeated cycle of good intention-failure-guilt, good intention-failure-guilt, that brought me to my nadir.

And that’s when I spotted a wooden bench nearby with its back to the junction and the heavy traffic. I crossed over the road, adroitly avoiding the unending stream of bad-tempered, abusive traffic. Thankfully, I reached the other side of the road intact, and ended up looking down at the wooden bench. It had on it a brass plate which was inscribed with the following words:

‘Dedicated with love to Bertie Waldron, May 1919 – Feb 1988.’

Who was this Bertie Waldron I wondered. (When I returned home, later that same morning, I tried to find out more about Bertie Waldron on the internet - but, alas, with no success.) Whoever he was, however, I mused, somebody, somewhere, must have loved him very much to have dedicated this wooden bench in his memory.

I sat down gratefully and rested my weary bones, the traffic noise a cacophony in me head. And there in front of me I saw a revelation. There was a gap of about ten feet in the tall privet hedge in front of the bench, and I found myself looking out across open countryside towards the beautiful Caerphilly Mountain beyond which was captured on a canvas of deep-blue sky, peppered with delicate cotton-wool clouds each one winking provocatively at me in the early-morning sun; to my left I could see clearly the top of Garth Mountain as if defiantly challenging all-comers to deny its majestic beauty, its uniqueness and its God-given right to be there; and to my right, Pentyrch Quarry, shrouded self-consciously in lush, evergreen forestry; and I marvelled at the different shades of green that I could detect – up to thirty different shades of green, I warrant, that’s how much I counted in as many seconds – but there was more, much, much more.

And on this ugly, nasty piece of road manifested in peoples’ anger and frustration suddenly I felt peace and tranquillity, and I witnessed God’s beauty in those memorable vistas that had, until I discovered Bertie Waldron’s wooden bench, been hidden from my view. Indeed, for an instant, I became acutely aware of God’s own very presence in that place. There, on that busy junction, was God – and I met Him there, thanks to an unknown someone who had loved Bertie Waldron so much that they dedicated that wooden bench in his memory.

And that’s when I remembered my father’s words, “There was never a night so dark, Wynford, that there weren’t stars”.

So, how about it this week? How about looking for the best in mankind; the exceptional in every situation and circumstance? Yes, they’re there – look for them. And how about helping ourselves appreciate what we are – that we’re all geniuses, that we’re all unique, and that we all have a unique contribution to make to life’s rich tapestry?

In a culture that tends to denigrate everything good, and tends to talk about nothing else but the bad and the worst in mankind, having a bench like Bertie Waldron’s is imperative I would say. Indeed, our mental health depends on it. It’s as important as that.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Three frogs floating down a river....

Remember the three frogs floating on a piece of wood down the river? One made a decision to jump into the water. How many frogs were left on the piece of wood? Three, of course. The frog just made a decision to jump into the water – he didn’t carry it through.

Recovery demands action. We can't think ourselves better.

And that action involves: 1) Self examination, 2) Acknowledgment of faults, 3) Restitutions of wrongs done, and above all, 4) Constant work with others - we have to become "givers" instead of "takers" – we need to practice the kind of giving that has ‘no price tag on it’, the giving of ourselves to somebody’.

But there's more: - it's suggested that alcoholics & addicts need ‘to pray to whatever God they think there is for a power to carry out these simple precepts’ and that if they do not believe there is a God, they should start ‘the experiment of praying to whatever God there might be.’

That’s what I did, incidentally – I took a gamble on God – and it worked.

And the rewards? I got to feel "a million dollars"; my self-worth was enhanced; and I was brought out of myself.


Yesterday, I spoke at the Pembrokeshire Baptists' Assembly in Eglwyswrw; and later at a meeting of the Cytun group at Clydach. I'd like to thank both congregations for listening to me and for their enthusiastic response. Diolch yn fawr.

Monday, 8 June 2009

He lived his life as if he were floating in the womb of the universe...

I asked Bryn, a friend of mine shortly before he died, what was different about life now that he’d been in recovery over 25 years? And he answered by telling me a story about the 3 women who’d won a competition run by the local supermarket to fill their trolleys with as many goods as they could in 5 minutes.

The whistle went, and two of the women rushed around as if they were possessed – stacking the biggest and most expensive goods into their trolleys: computers, TV sets, Radios, Cassettes, DVSs, mobile phones, sat nav’s, etc.

The third woman, meanwhile, ambled quietly from aisle to aisle selecting a quarter of tea here, two pounds of sugar there. She noticed that one of the other women, in her mad selfish scramble to get the biggest and the best into her trolley, had accidentally dropped a digital radio set on the floor, so she rushed over and picked it up and placed it in the other woman’s already packed trolley. The other woman didn’t even notice as the third woman returned to her own shopping and selected a packet of Shortbread biscuits, before heading off slowly for the cheese counter to select a nice cheddar for tea.

Soon the five minutes were up, and the women returned to the till to tot up their “takings”. Two of the women’s trolleys were stacked as high as they could get - reaching the ceiling. They then noticed the third woman had only about ten items in her trolley – and they started to make fun of her. We do that, don’t we, when we see someone whose behaving differently to us?

“What do you think you’re doing?” one of the two women asked her indignantly.

“What do you mean?” said the third woman.

“Well, don’t you understand the rules of the competition, woman?”

“What rules?” said the third woman.

“Well, we’re supposed to fill our trolleys with as many goods as possible, like we’ve done, you silly fool; look.” And she pointed to the mountain of goods stacked sky high on both their trolleys.
“But why should I do that?” said the third woman innocently.

“What do you mean ‘why should I do that?”

“Well, why should I?” She said again. You see, my father owns the supermarket.”

By then you see, Bryn lived his life as if he were floating in the womb of the universe and being taken care of always at every moment. He knew full well that all his needs would be met. And I knew that he knew (that’s what’s important) – just by looking at him.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Humility modelled by two sheep

I was at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition in St David’s Hall last night; and congratulations to the wonderful soprano, Eri Nakamuna, from Japan who won last night’s heat. What I saw in her reminded me of another contributory factor to sound, ongoing recovery from addiction: humility.

Funnily enough, I saw that quality modelled only last week – in Pembrokeshire, of all placed – not by an opera singer this time, incidentally, but by two sheep, would you believe?

During a coastal-walk in St Davids last week, I saw these two sheep came face to face on a narrow ledge of rock high above a deep dungeon. They couldn’t pass each other. What did they do, do you think? Start to fight and gore each other until both fell over the precipice to their deaths in the dungeon below? Not a bit of it. Do you know what they did? One sheep knelt on her forelegs and lay down flat on the floor, while the other sheep silently and carefully stepped over her to safety.

There a lesson in humility for you! And it is that kind of humility that is so essential for recovery from addiction. For humility, you see, is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others, which is what we have to do to get well.

In other words we have to become “givers” instead of “takers”.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Living in the solution

Another important lesson I've learnt is that no matter how bleak, how dark or hopeless a situation might seem, there is always something positive lurking there, somewhere underneath - and that if I look long and hard enough, I'll always find that something positive. Once I've found it, however, I'm no longer living in the problem - I'm living in the solution.

It's up to me, though. Nobody else will do it for me. Nobody else will get me positive but me.

I'm reminded of a friend of mine who came across a beautiful garden in deepest Snowdonia. "Wow!" said my friend to the gardener, who was tending to his roses by the entrance, "God has been good to you giving you this garden."

"You should have seen it when God was in charge of it" said the gardener, "it was a jungle then!"

See? The gardener had to do the work. Likewise, the recovering alcoholic (or addict) has to do the work of training his/or her mind to become positive.

How do we do that?

By challenging Negative thoughts (that are always based on lies), and replacing them with Rational thoughts (that are based on facts).

This is how we create our own Heaven out of the Hell of addiction.

The big stones and the little stones.....

A college lecturer filled a large glass tube with big stones, right up to the top. “Is it full now?” he asked the students.

“Yes” came the reply in unison.

“No it isn’t” he said. “Look.” And he poured little stones into the tube, in between the big stones – right up to the top. “Is it full now?” he asked.

“Yes” said the students again.

“No” said the lecturer. “Look again.” And he poured gravel into the tube, between the little stones and the big stones, right up to the top. “Is it full now?”

“Probably not” they said.

Students like alcoholics (or addicts) are unusually slow to learn!

“You’re right to say ‘probably not’” said the lecturer, “Look” and he poured fine sand into the tube – between the gravel, the small stones and the big stones, right up to the top. “Is it full now?”

Rather gingerly, the students said “no” again.

“You’re right” said the lecturer as he poured a gallon of water into the tube – right up to the top. “Is it full now?”

“It is” they all concluded confidently.

“Spot on” said the lecturer. “It is full. So what does that prove?”

Blank faces all ‘round.

“Well, what it proves is this” he said. “When we put the big stones first – when we put the important things in our lives first we have room for all the rest – the smaller stones, the gravel, the fine sand and water, etc.

However, if I’d poured the water in first, or the fine sand……. Do you see what I’m telling you?”

They all nodded intelligently.

Likewise, as recovering alcoholics (or addicts), we have to put sobriety first in our lives too – when we do that, we also have room for all the other less important things – family, job, career, forming relationships, sorting out finances, etc.

Putting sobriety first in our lives, I put it to you, is the first and last step in recovery.

Another way of looking at it is this: "We have to be prepared to loose everything to protect our sobriety".

Think about that. "We have to be prepared to loose everything to protect our sobriety."

Awesome, isn't it?

Friday, 5 June 2009

"No gain without pain....."

This year has proved to me, without doubt, the priceless truth and value of the maxim ‘No gain without Pain’. And that’s ironic, because it was pain that brought me into recovery in the first place.

That’s why I agree with Rollo May, one of the leading psychotherapists of the twentieth century, that, potentially, suffering is "the greatest creative force in Nature" – it was the only thing that got me to change my ways.

But why have I been experiencing pain this year, you might ask?

It’s because I’ve had to risk. The biggest, juiciest fruit are always to be found on the highest, most difficult branches to get to. In order to reach them we have to risk.

And risking for me this year has meant being vulnerable; showing people who I am (that’s the biggest risk of all); that I don’t always know all the answers; sometimes, I don’t even know what the questions are; that I am scared; insecure and that, in order to survive, I’ve had to ask for help.

You see, there’s been nowhere for me to hide as CEO of the Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs, there were no convenient masks I could utilise to hide my humanness. On the contrary, this year, thanks to this new job, I’ve been forced to confront, even more so than usual, the burden of being human.

I don’t think I could have been given a more precious gift – because, I believe you see, confronting the burden of being human is the very essence of sober living.

Thanks to the charity's trustees, therefore, for appointing me and for helping to clear new ground in my ongoing recovery from chronic alcoholism.

That’s how much this post has meant to me.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

I've stopped beating myself up

The biggest difference in my life these days is that I've stopped beating myself up about everything. You know that little stick we carry aound with us to beat ourselves up with? Well, I've thrown it away. Today I tend to accept the way I feel; the way I think; and the way I am. I am perfect in every way.

In my drinking days I always wanted to be something I was not. Basically, therefore, I was living a lie (and everyone who's ever lied knows how painful that can be); I was not true to nature. Today, you see, I've become comfortable just being me.

I used to phone up my sponsor – some difficulty, some script or other not working out as it should – and he’d tell me, “The trouble with you, Wynford, is that you keep forgetting that you’re a genius!”

And, yes, I’d laugh much as I imagine you are laughing now. But then, the next time I’d phone up to moan about something or other, he’d say it again. “Wynford, how many times do I have to tell you? The trouble with you is you keep forgetting that you’re a genius.”

And gradually, over the years, I came to accept what Bryn was saying. I am a genius! And this is the miracle, once I realised that I was a genius, I realised that everyone else are geniuses too. We’re all different. We’re all unique. And we all have an unique contribution to make to life’s rich tapestry.

So, I'm OK as I am today. I am perfect in every way. When I practise that - accepting me as I am not as I or someone else wants me to be - all my problems are over. Simple isn't it?

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

The kind of giving that has no price-tag on it: the giving of oneself to someone...

This is my first blog on this new site, and I begin with a plea....

The Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs has started on the work of establishing a day-care treatment centre in Cardiff that offers free, bilingual treatment for anyone experiencing difficulties relating to alcohol, drugs (prescribed or illicit), or any other dependency. Once the centre – The Living Room Cardiff/Yr Ystafell Fyw Caerdydd – is established in 2011, we will be extending the service to other towns all over Wales.

Would you like to support The Living Room/Yr Ystafell Fyw?

Is there a family anywhere in Wales today that hasn’t, in some way, been affected by the misuse of alcohol and/or other drugs?

As a matter of information, the year 2010 will be a year for raising awareness about the new centre as well as being a concerted fund-raising year for this new charity. Are you willing to help us establish this new centre in Cardiff and come up with creative ideas to help us raise money?

The Living Room Cardiff/Yr Ystafell Fyw Caerdydd will be a wonderful example of practical Christianity at work in modern Wales.

As Chief Executive of the Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs I am eager to come to your organization or church to speak about this new, exciting venture. Please contact the Welsh Council directly on 029 2049 3895 or by e-mail at to arrange a suitable date and time.T

he goal is RECOVERY.

Wynford X