New year’s greetings

Hello my lovelys! I’ve been thinking of you. Actually I thought of you mostly last night, New Year’s Eve, when my own addictive tendencies and my self-concept as someone who can drink alcohol safely (and socially) growled at each other for a little while.

cliffedgeI feel grateful that I’m no longer at the cliff edge that once defined my existence. We’re all at various distances from that scary place, some on the brink, caught by sudden vertigo when we look over the edge, others living on the flatlands, far from the escarpments that were so familiar. But we recognize each other as members of the same tribe, connected through experiences that others view as ugly, perverse, or mythical.

I feel particular empathy for those who are torn by temptation and confusion at a time when everyone around you seems to be having a good time. If there’s anything I can say to all my readers, some kind of ad-hoc post-modern blessing that would make sense to all of you no matter where you’re at, it’s this:

Accept and forgive yourself for wherever you are. You got to where you are through a sequence of events and experiences that no one else has encountered. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, enjoy, be safe, and see who you are now ashug a natural product of where you’ve been, en route to where you’re going. If sadness and loneliness are part of the picture today or tonight, take them in stride, with some humour and some optimism. If you’re with others, take stock of that magic — it doesn’t all have to come from you. This is probably not the last day of your life, but it’s an important day — the bridge between where you’ve been and where you’re going. Give yourself a warm hug whether or not you’ve got others to second the motion.

Happy New Year to all of you!





29 thoughts on “New year’s greetings

  1. matt January 2, 2016 at 4:30 am #

    These are such wise words from someone who’s been there. The bridge that Marc describes is there for everyone, even if we have to squint to see what’s on the other side. There is something for everyone if we have the authentic intention, motivation and resolve to pursue and sustain a new life, to form a new perspective and become who we really are.

    Have a happy– happier– maybe even the happiest New Year ever!!

  2. Marie-Anne Haeck January 2, 2016 at 5:14 am #

    To all those members of the same tribe, from the heart of a mother who never is going to give up saving her child from falling off the cliff: may you be safe, may you be happy and healthy, may you be peaceful and live with ease and beauty.

    • Sally January 15, 2016 at 4:47 pm #

      Thanks for the lack of condemning a mother who never stops trying! Having tried to apply the models of disease and choice to my daughter’s 20 year devastation, I have renewed hope as I learn about this model.
      Thanks to Marc and members of this tribe.
      I have been reading the blog posts, Marc’s book, watching You Tube interviews searching for any advice to parents.
      Marc talks about ‘when the addict is ready to quit’.
      Does this model advocate ‘letting them reach rock bottom’, detachment, interventional ultimatums etc?
      Thanks for the compassion shown here.

      • matt January 17, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

        Hi Sally

        Empathizing with your pain here, I think what you gleaned from Marc is what’s important. The addict will quit when they are ready. We can’t make them change. We can help someone change, or make changes in ourselves that improve the situation, but we are powerless to make another person change or do the changing for them. That’s the true meaning of the hot button term “powerlessness” that comes from AA. We can’t change the weather either.

        That said, the relationship of a mother to her child is different. She came from you and is a part of you. I run meetings in a program for homeless women who misuse substances, and by far, the most powerful motivation for them to stay clean is reunification with their children.

        There are many other positive, proactive things we can do to help our loved ones, but we can’t effect them if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Be safe and be gentle with yourself, and pay attention to when those old reactive tapes get triggered. They are echoes from the past and aren’t necessarily what is happening at the moment.

        If you don’t already own it, I would suggest getting the book “Beyond Addiction” by J. Foote et al. It’s recent and has a lot of valuable information for family members and friends of people with addictive disorders, as well as for the addicts themselves.

        Good luck to you.

  3. Adriana January 2, 2016 at 5:15 am #

    Oh Marc what a beautiful post., thank you. I need to update you on things, will email.
    In the meantime, can I have your permission to post the last paragraph on my FB page (Solid Goodness), with credit to you, of course?
    Have a wonderful New Year and keep doing your awesome work!

    • Marc January 4, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

      Hi Adriana. Thank you. And yes, of course, please feel free to post and link.

      Have a wonderful year yourself!

  4. Jon Stewart January 2, 2016 at 6:00 am #

    Thank you for that beautiful post. JS

  5. Tim Greenwood January 2, 2016 at 6:43 am #

    Thanks Marc. I am visiting two good friends this day and to both of them my gift is a copy of your powerful book The Biology of Desire. Great to read this post. I am of the same tribe. My addictions never totally go away but they remain as reminders of the work I need to do everyday to stay present and awake. They are actually a gift to remind me to be awake. One of my greatest lessons this New Year is that my problems are not just my problems but I share them with those I love and I turn to them for help and support. All the best for 2016
    Tim G

    • Marc January 4, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

      Hi Tim. I feel much the same way. Nothing is completely behind us when it comes to deeply entrenched learning. Rather, we have a mental set, a habit of mind, that invites us to be alert and aware.

      Very best to you for 2016! I still cherish the memory of that lively evening in Newmarket.

  6. Michael January 2, 2016 at 10:07 am #

    Happy New Year Mark! BTW, did you take that drink? Seems not, but what do you think Mark? Opiate addiction, chronic pain excuse, auto-immune, pills, five years removed and most well, thank you very much 😉 but drink beer. All the best for 2016! mjs

  7. Michael January 2, 2016 at 10:10 am #

    P.S. ~ sorry Marc, rushing this hurried 1/2. Forgive the spelling, kindly 🙂

    • Marc January 4, 2016 at 3:31 pm #

      Hi Michael, you’re not the first to misspell my name, but few of those offer a correction.

      Sure I took that drink. It was wine, and went down very well with the oysters. But I stopped after I’d had enough. There is no intrinsic evil in recreational drugs — which of course include alcohol — though there can be risk. In fact, as I’m learning from Siegel’s recent book, Intoxication (, we needn’t define getting high as a weakness or concern. We’re far from the only species that enjoys a buzz.

      Addiction is the problem — and that’s a whole different animal.

  8. Liz January 2, 2016 at 10:26 am #

    Wonderful. Holidays are usually pretty bad for me. I need this reminder to keep progressing and not let minor setbacks populate my thoughts. Staying positive!

    • Marc January 4, 2016 at 3:58 pm #

      Good going, Liz. Self-forgiveness is a fine antidote for the little demons released by setbacks.

  9. Helen January 2, 2016 at 11:25 am #

    Happy New Year.
    Thank you for publishing ” The Biology of Desire” last year. Opening up a new, and a more accurate look of the learning theory of addiction. At thirty years sober, and working in the field for the past twenty. Many I come in contact with, are often stopped when a discussion ensures, based on the science in your book. !! My goal this year, is too continue to learn.
    Kind regards,
    Helen Meline

    • Marc January 4, 2016 at 4:00 pm #

      That’s really good to hear. Thanks for letting me know.

  10. Janice January 2, 2016 at 11:57 am #

    A most beautiful blessings, thank you. It settles me and I intend to share it with many others. Peace, and Happy New Year, Janice

  11. cheryl January 2, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

    I love everything about this greeting Marc!!! Happy New Year to you as well.

  12. Dustin John January 2, 2016 at 2:37 pm #

    Another great post Marc!
    I am glad we have survived some of the more difficult calendar days of the year without any regret or compulsiveness. I have been still reading your posts silently, routing you on. Would you mind if we put a link to my book in my guest blog that I wrote a few months back on your site? It wasn’t quite finished then but “A Walk In His Shoes” is finally up and running. If you are okay throwing in the link I’ll post it here.

    I have not yet read your latest book but I am excited to read it. Keep up the great work!

    • Marc January 4, 2016 at 4:07 pm #

      Hi Dustin. I’ll be glad to. Congratulations on finishing the book. That’s no small feat. I read the first few pages on Amazon, and it’s already gripping…and nicely written. I hope to get back to it soon.

      You keep up the good work too!

      • Dustin John January 4, 2016 at 9:51 pm #

        Thank you! If you have the time to read my book, I’d gladly send you a copy.

      • Dustin John January 6, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

        Sounds good. Congrats on the possible retirement!

  13. Lloyd Cooper January 3, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

    Hi Marc et al – I am new to your blog altho did post a reply to an earlier one after I got back from South Africa, but after you’d shut it down for the holidays. While not new to dealing with substance mis/abuse (many years of it both drugs and alcohol, but long removed from the former and using the latter much more appropriately), I am new to replying to blogs and what’s okay and what’s not. I agree with your sentiments Marc, as well as those who have already replied. I also loved your newest book and found much of it resonating with what I already believe and am using clinically. If you’d like to email me, I’d love to reconnect. All the best in the new year, your old student, Lloyd Cooper.

    • Marc January 5, 2016 at 8:44 am #

      Hi Lloyd. Welcome to the land of verbose commenters. All thoughts, questions, arguments, and other utterances are welcome….as long as they don’t go on and on. Glad the new book resonates with your feelings and understanding of what you’ve been through, and glad you seem to be doing well these days. Best way to connect is via the blog. All the best!

  14. RehabMedical January 3, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

    May each and every day of yours be renewed with lots of happiness and love. Happy New Year.

  15. Mark P January 4, 2016 at 1:02 pm #

    Great post. This line really applies to everything in life and we would all be well served to remember it.

    “Accept and forgive yourself for wherever you are. You got to where you are through a sequence of events and experiences that no one else has encountered.”

    • Marc January 5, 2016 at 8:46 am #

      I know I got the idea from somewhere else, but I can’t remember where or whom. Anyway, it’s the sort of the idea that keeps popping up. Glad it works for you.

  16. Heather January 17, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    I liked that line, too. I just read The biology of desire. It rings so true. I’ve never bought that addiction is a disease, especially as mine didn’t happen until I was in middle age. It took me years to accept that I just had to give it up, and that I couldn’t just cut down and live a normal life. Your explanation of ego fatigue is like a final piece in the puzzle for me. I’m working on ways to deflect this and keep my eye on the goal. There’s a Mohammed Ali quote on my mirror that goes something like, “You’re going to want to give up. Don’t. Suffer a little now and live the life of the champion you were meant to be.”

  17. Misty January 28, 2016 at 7:22 pm #

    I just celebrated my first New Year’s Eve clean and sober in a long time. What a different feeling it was! I spent the evening with my children doing a balloon countdown and all kinds of fun activities, and I actually remembered them. Life is so different since I’ve found true sobriety. Loved what you said about the two personalities warring against one another. I experience that daily. Luckily, I am now able to listen to that inner voice of reason, rather than the selfish voice of my addiction.

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