Phil Valentine’s Blog

One of my favourite bloggers has been Phil Valentine, Executive Director of the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR), who has used his blog to share lessons he has learned in his recovery and in his professional roles. An introduction to Phil and his blog, links to nine of my favourite posts from Phil’s blog, as well as to the “CCAR Recovery Matters!” Podcast run by Phil and his wife Sandy.

Phil “Right Click” Valentine

In 2015, I finished a thruhike of the entire Appalachian Trail, a trek of 2,189.2 miles. It took 189 days and 6 pairs of boots. During that sacred time, my purpose in life became more precisely defined. I am, simply, to coach recovery. Recovery saved me from an early demise and brought purpose to my tattered life. I have learned that I’m a coach to my very core. I am blessed to put the two together.

I started work at the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) in January 1999. I became the Executive Director of this recovery community organization in 2004. I have trained the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© dozens of times and have a hand in modifying, improving and adapting various recovery coach curricula.

I’m old enough now to start considering my legacy. This is one way for me to share lessons learned in my recovery, in my role as Executive Director and a trainer. When I engage with others, I present the same messages repeatedly. It’s time to write them down. [NB. I have broken up Phil’s original text into shorter paragraphs.]

Substance Abuse – I Kill You’
‘My cocaine addiction soon ran rampant. It’s still frightening to think about 30 years later. And even though I was snorting massive quantities, I never once abused the substance. At all times, I knew where my cocaine was. I protected it fiercely. I kept it well‐groomed, clean and close by. I loved my substance completely and unconditionally.’ (16 January 2018)

You Are In Recovery If You Say You Are
”One of the most radical notions CCAR adopted in our early years is “you are in recovery if you say you are”. It is one of CCAR’s five foundational principles. Yet, this idea still spurs disbelief, contempt and even ridicule. Let me relay how CCAR embraced this; hopefully I can counter the most common disagreements.’ (23 April 2018)

No More Blue Monkeys
”If we want to first reduce, then finally eliminate stigma, then we’ve got to stop anti-stigma campaigns…. I believe the recovery advocacy movement would be better served if we hosted more recovery promotion events. Stigma draws attention to the problem. Recovery draws attention to the solution.  I’d rather dwell in the solution. Let’s celebrate the answer to addiction.’ (23 May 2018)

Coaching on an English Country Road
”Our journey soon became harrowing. The English roundabouts were disorienting for us. And there were a lot of them – no stop signs. English drivers are used to their roads. Speed limits are high, 50 mph on roads I would consider 35 mph to be top end. And now we are traveling in rush hour traffic.’ (9 December 2018)

Top 3 Strategies for Leading a Recovery Community Organization
”Strategy 1: Foster CONNECTION – key to recovery…. Strategy 2: Nurture the organizational CULTURE…. Strategy 3: It’s OK to CARE deeply… and be deeply CARED for…. Connect, Culture, Care…    Continue.’ (9 March 2019)

Deploying Recovery Coaches: The Best Model
”At CCAR, we had the luxury of developing another model – to have recovery coaches dispatched to the needs. We have built a dynamic, effective team. Here are the main components of the dispatch model.’ (9 June 2019)

Storyteller: Recovery Coach Role # 11
”… this is an age where we are being called on for more and more data. As we scramble for data and challenge authority for what data is really necessary, let’s not forget the power in a finely crafted story. Imagine a vanguard of brilliant, concise, skilled, captivating storytellers that can motivate entire audiences in less than 5 minutes.  Imagine them in front of your legislature.’ (9 July 2019)

Recovery Coaching and The System
‘.. I dream of the day when an organized national recovery community grows so effective, so loud, so powerful that we can no longer be ignored or cast aside. Instead of the recovery community reacting to “the system”, I yearn for the day when the system responds to the recovery community and our needs.’ (9 February 2020)

12-Step Recovery, Multiple Pathways and Recovery Coaching
‘Simple. In the words of Bill White, “There are multiple pathways of recovery and all are a cause for celebration.”’ (23 February 2020)

Phil may not have posted on his blog for some time, but he’s certainly very busy in various other capacities, including with the magical CCAR “Recovery Matters!” Podcast with his wife Sandy.

‘We love to give freely to others what was freely given to us. With that in mind, the goal of CCAR’s Recovery Matters podcast is to share what we’ve learned, and provide a space for unique voices and messages. Recovery Matters is a show dedicated to showing the power, hope and healing of recovery from alcohol and other addictions through rigorously honest and thought-provoking discussions, speeches, and interviews. We explore a wide range of topics that relate to recovery and the Recovery Movement, with a heavy focus on hope and doing the next right thing.’