When the late “Daddy Jack” Fryer Jr. got out of jail in Little Rock more than ten years ago he contacted me. He said he would like to work for my publication, “One Day at a Time.” I hired him on the spot.
Years ago, many may recall, Jack was a “bond daddy” who held forth frequently at “Busters,” a popular bar and grill on the west side of town known partly for its parking lot fist fights. They were often covered by the late Arkansas Gazette reporter, Leroy Donald, which is a story in itself.
Jack had many friends, and I took him on as the fundraiser for our non-profit company. He was loved by many, some of them extremely well to do, and he succeeded in raising almost $200,000 which made it possible for us to develop our web site into a useful resource for those seeking recovery and to write a book, “Pathways to Serenity.”
I encouraged him to expand his growing interest in the whole field of addiction and recovery. He himself was an alcoholic.
Jack responded, in part, by becoming a follower of Joe Califano, founder of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Califano’s best-selling book, “High Society,” had attracted a lot of attention with its claim that substance abuse had become a trillion dollar annual cost for the nation, about a third of the national budget. Califano had been a strong and successful foe of cigarette smoking.
We sent Jack to Califano’s New York City conference which was titled “How To Stop Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s Colleges and Universities.” It was moderated by Leslie Stahl (of 60 Minutes / CBS)
Here are some excerpts from Jack’s report:
“Joe Califano, founder of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (casa columbia.org.) has documented in his recent best-selling book, “High Society,” a trillion dollar annual cost attributable to substance abuse.”
“Califano did it with smoking, and now he’s zeroed in on drugs and alcohol, which he admits is a bigger challenge. It needs a voice. That voice, “One Day At A Time,” has been started right here in Nazareth. We had the privilege of being invited to a Joe Califano/CasaColumbia conference held in New York on October 23.
The conference, “How To Stop Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s Colleges and Universities included a number of subcommittees.
On one of the key panels, moderated by Leslie Stahl , was a beautiful young graduate student from Texas Tech named Anna Thomas, and a partner, Juan Gonzales, vice president for student affairs for the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Kitty S. Harris, director of the Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery and Center for Prevention and Resiliency at Texas Tech University, put it beautifully in a recent article: “Instead of a goal of simply abstinence, we are advocating the goal of a totally transformed life. A life free from addiction and filled with opportunities for full and complete participation in society.”
Dr. Harris has defined what I believe recovery is: transformed lives. And that is what I am after with my “Pathways” book.
Here, in part, is what she wrote:
“There is perhaps no better time than the present to be in the field of addiction counseling, treatment and research.
“As someone who has worked with individuals struggling with the disease of addiction for almost three decades, I am happy to see the field transitioning to recovery-oriented systems of care.
“I know that recovery can and does change the lives of individuals and families impacted by addiction. I also know that recovering people are one of our greatest assets in the battle against the epidemic of addiction facing our country.
“As we make this transition, it is helpful to see how far we have come in our understanding of both addiction and recovery and how this understanding has influenced our profession and practice.
“The idea of alcoholism as a disease was first introduced in the United States in 1784 by Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. His observations and subsequent writings first introduced the idea of abstinence as the only effective cure for alcoholism.
“However, the idea that alcoholism was a disease would not resurface in the American mainstream again until the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935.
“Though Bill Wilson, a cofounder of AA, intentionally refrained from using the word ‘disease’ to describe the alcoholic condition, the primary text of this group includes a prologue written by Dr. William Silkworth in which individuals suffering from alcoholism are described as having a “physical allergy” to alcohol.
It is now a widely accepted notion that alcoholism is a disease.