Journey's blog

Are AA and Al-Anon Meetings Working?


You hear and read that alcohol abuse is a “family disease, yet I feel it’s not treated that way.  We have AA, Al-Anon and Alateen meetings daily, with family members going to their separate gatherings behind closed doors; alcoholics to the AA meeting, the parents and siblings to the Al-Anon meeting, and the teens to the Alateen meetings.

When I went, our group kept everything that was discussed to ourselves; we were told not to share what we learned with the alcoholic or discuss our feelings about what we heard at the meeting.  These words of advice, made me feel more separated from my alcoholic husband. Each person in a family needs to help each other understand how they enable the substance abuser and what to do to show the alcoholic that he/she is loved and has the support of the family.  It’s not them that we hate, but the disease.  Some professionals work only with the addict, cutting out the family entirely and leaving the substance abusers to fight their own battle, even when they’re not in a healthy emotional state to make good choices about their lives.  

What is a family member taught behind these so-called closed-door meetings?  “The alcoholic has to do it on their own.  They have to reach rock bottom.  Don’t worry about them, take care of yourself.  Go on with your life as normally as you can.  Separate yourself.”  This belief is actually teaching every family member not to communicate and not work together with their loved one who is on a death path.

This belief, which I had been taught for years, that the addicted have to reach rock bottom, is so sad.  Lori and Richie’s rock bottoms were their deaths.  There is no need to let people get so deep into their addiction that they reach the stage of dying.  They suffer emotional and mental pain, which can institutionalize them and lead to suicide, when a family can pull together as a unit to give the love and support from the very moment of the discovery that there is a problem.  Alcohol and drugs become a problem when they cause serious disruptions in any form with the substance abuser’s lives or others around them.

After losing my husband, Richie, and my daughter, Lori, from their alcohol abuse, I needed answers to what I did wrong or could have done better to have helped them with their alcohol addiction.  I wanted to know what they felt with their sufferings.  How was I going to get the answers?

Finally, I found a website (no longer in use) for writers wanting answers for certain topics. I wrote asking for people struggling with alcohol and drug problems to become contributors to my new Narrative Non-Fiction What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict.  I sent them twenty-three questions about what they needed from family, counselors, doctors, and society and open up honestly on what they believe works and doesn’t in recovery.  What do they need from us?

I found thirty-four contributors who opened up about their private lives on how old they were when they started with their alcohol or drug use, if other family members were alcoholics, did relatives die from the disease, why did they start, what made them want help, was the recovery programs working, and what do they need from family to help them turn to professionals for help to reach sobriety?   What do they feel family is not doing to help them?  What advice to they give to other alcohol and drug users?

This is a family book for all.  Look no further. The answers are coming directly from the people suffering from addiction with alcohol and drugs. Who knows better than the people living this life.

It’s a great book to bring into the school systems, libraries, businesses for employee missing too many workdays from substance abuse, families struggling with trying to cope and handle the alcoholic or drug users.  It’s an eye-opener for counselors to learn what the addict needs for recovery.  It’s about them, not us.

It’s an educational book for other substance abusers and a way for those who can’t open up to their counselors with their past hurts. It’s the alcoholic, drug user, and prescription user over-dosing talking to all of us. Thirty-four short stories, all different, so readers can relate to one if not more with the contributor’s suggestions on the tools they need to recover.

The book can be purchased at I love to hear from people, so drop me a line at [email protected]


Alberta Sequeira   




I guess every person in life has “Choices.” How many of us wish we could turn the clocks back with our decisions? I’m one of them. Once the choice is made we look at and feel the results. If they are good, we are to be congratulated. What if they have devastated our lives?

Our next step is to decide how to fix the mistake with another choice. We are all human, and at one time or another, we turn down the wrong path. Substance abusers have two paths facing them as the rest of us. 

Being free with the use of alcohol and drugs made you hooked on them. It’s not an easy action to change, especially, if you let it go on for years. My daughter, Lori, said to me a few months before her death, “This may sound crazy, Mom, but the best time of my life was when I was drinking.” I replied, “To you, it was, but look where you are from thinking it was just fun.” 

Lori died eight months later at the Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, Massachusetts from cirrhosis of the liver. The disease she feared dying from like her father as she stayed by his bedside at the VA Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island when he died at forty-five years old. The same disease Lori died from at thirty-nine with her daughter and son by her side in her hospital bed. Lori was seventeen when her father died, and her daughter was seventeen when Lori died. 

You can change. “YOU” need to make the choice. Family can love and support you, but you have to do the work to reach sobriety. Don’t use excuses that you’ve tried and it’s too hard, you have no family to help support you, the cost is too much in a rehab, you can give it up anytime, and the list can go on to 50 pages. 

First, admit you are helpless in this situation. Be honest with family members (and yourself) that you want and need professional help. As hard as it is, open up to the counselors about your past. Your past is what got you here. Maybe you followed friends and thought it was fun, like Lori. Maybe you thought it was a stage you could give up at anytime. Did your past hurts come from living in an alcoholic environment with alcoholic parents, or did someone mentally and physically abused you? Did your classmates pick on you and caused you to lose your confidence? Maybe you felt isolated from friends. Whatever the incident(s) were, face them. If not, you will take them to the grave as my husband, Richie, and Lori did. Don’t become a number with the death count from users.

God gave you life for a reason. Reach out to Him. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY for His help. You will never feel alone when you have Him. He never left you. You closed the door to your faith and God. 

We can turn our lives around no matter what our choice had been that left us in turmoil. It took you a long-time to become addicted, it will take a long-time to heal. The important issue is to believe in your mind and heart that you can and have faith in God. 

Alberta Sequeira
[email protected]

Miracles Around Us


Do you still or ever believed in miracles? In a world that has pushed God out of our lives, many people go on each day ignoring the life after. I remember standing in my parent’s home in E. Falmouth, Massachusetts and  asking my father, “Dad, do you believe in miracles?” He looked at me shocked with a disappointed look on his face. “Alberta, miracles happen to us so often but we are blind to them. People walk when they were told they wouldn’t. Someone pulls through a disease that doctors gave no hope. You have to open your heart to be aware of them?”

That conversation happened over 25 years ago. My father, Brigadier General, Albert L. Gramm died in 1990 from cancer at eighty years old. He had been one of the commanding officers in the 26th Yankee Division and fought in WWII at Metz, Lorraine, and The Battle of the Bulge to name some. 

His death was my return to God after being away from the Church for over 15 years from a breakdown trying to keep my marriage together living with an alcoholic. I was angry at God, until I realized God didn’t give me my suffering. I did it to myself. I had choices just like the alcoholic. I chose to give and give until my body and mind couldn't take more, enabled, drag my two daughters through the mud with our conflicts. My innocent children lost their youth, feeling of security, and lived in a confused, unhealthy atmosphere. 

I lost Richie in 1985 at 45 years of age and Lori at 39 years old in 2006, both from their addiction. It wasn't easy for me to hold on to my faith when it happened. I sat by my father’s bedside with him dying watching him holding onto his rosaries. He had promised Our Lady during the war that if she brought him home alive to his family, he'd say the blessed prayer until he died.  He had trouble following the beautiful prayer as he went deeper into his death. I never knew how to say the prayers on the beads until my sister, Leona, showed me while we prayed them for my father. I learned it was a story of Jesus and Mary’s life. 

It was then that I realized that I not only needed God back in my life; I wanted Him. He is our life. Our world today is for a moment while death brings us into life forever. I kept his rosaries and pray them everyday since he died. 

Miracle are around me, and three of them brought me to Medjugorje in Bosnia, which I wrote about in A Spiritual Renewal. It’s about my life with my father, his military status, and my journey back to my faith in my 10 day journey to a strange country. Medjugorje is a sampler of heaven

I write about the apparitions with six visionaries since 1981. Our Lady’s messages to us coming straight from heaven. They are getting 10 secrets that will be revealed to the world when they receive them all. Two have one more secret to get from her. She gives the visonaries their choice of a gift on their birthdays. Two months after Our Lady started to appear to them, one visionary lost her mother. She requested to see her.  The visionary not only say her, but physically hugged her.  Her mother said to her, "I watch you each and every day and I'm proud of you." There is life after death and our loved ones who have left us do watch us.

Miracles happened with my daughter, Debbie and her husband Brian, taking Lori’s son and daughter into their family after her death. Joe served 4 years in the Marines and married a wonderful women. Meagan got married and had a son this year. Those are miracles.

So open your hearts, bring God into your soul, and you too will feel Him. Prayer is just talking to God like you do with anyone else. You may not get what you want how you want, but He will answer them in His time and way. He waits 24/7 for us to reach out to Him because He gives us free will to choice our life and how we live it. 

Try reaching Him, even if you don’t believe, because He already knows you don’t. There isn’t a thing He doesn’t know about us. We sin, and He forgives. We lose faith and He pulls us up to Him. You will never be alone with him in your minds each day you wake up and end the day.

Alberta Sequeira
Books at
Email: [email protected]…I love to hear from you!

Interview with Sheriff Thomas Hodgson


Please, pass to others!

Thank You!

Alberta Sequeira

Winter Blues


The summer is gone and how we wait for it to return. The season makes us realize what the sunshine does to us mentally. You feel the heat, wear less clothing, enjoy the beach, a walk in the park, open windows, warm air, or whatever else brings you relaxation.

Now, we are faced with the wintertime. Yes, depressing. The snow, ice, shoveling, the howling winds, chills, boots, heavy coats, and being locked-in our homes, oil bills, all can overwhelm us. 

Even the robin waits for that worm to come out of the once frozen ground!!

This is a fun season if you love the outdoors; sliding, skiing, ice fishing, going to the states with tons of snow. Bless you all. I’m the person in the cabin keeping the coffee hot. HATE, HATE winter. 

But, we have to hold on. Only a few more months of horrible cold and snow. Getting depressed or letting boredom enter, makes you want to throw it all away and go for that drink or meet the friends who pull you down with sobriety. 

If you can afford it, take a few days off and go where it’s warm. Head South. Not many of us are that comfortable financially for that move. What brings you fun? Getting together with sober friends can help. Get a good book, take in a movie, enjoy spending your time with a special person. 

This season and depressing moments are a challenge. Why not look into who you can help? Go into senior places, the VA locations, or hospitals. See others who are worse off than you. Bringing someone joy for the day, can also bring you joy. Go to your place of prayer. Getting close to God is the highest you can go with peace. Know you are not alone.

Alberta Sequeira

Did you find this helpful? Contact me: [email protected]

Writing Tips


Writing tips from Author Alberta Sequeira.  Issues we need to think of to get us started.

New Laws by SAMHSA on Substance Abuse

Al & Alberta

My husband Al and I are trying to “Modify” the Patient Privacy Act. Above this article are the new laws they are trying to pass for the substance abusers. It is mainly for the insurances, Medicare and treatment centers. Nowhere in the long article does it state that family has the right to get involved with the patient’s recovery program, unless the patient agrees. Families are the ones who can present what is happening or had happened in their past to have turned their loved ones into alcohol and drug abuse. 

This new law is not getting down to the actual problem with the patient. The Patient Privacy Act can actually become an enabler as the family innocently does with this worldwide problem. 

We believe that the substance abuse patient should have the “right to privacy,” but as the law stands now, it can actually be detrimental to their health and well-being. Our intent is not so much to change the Patient Privacy Act, as to modify it, especially where it not only pertains to alcohol abuse patients, but also in the case of drug abusers and mental health patients.

Families of patients are prevented from obtaining access to information that may help them to aid in the recovery of the patient when a physician determines that the patient may be in a life-threatening situation because of their addiction with their liver and other organs shutting down.

They are also allowing patients who are not in a healthy mental state to make decisions on what is best for them. If the programs makes them uncomfortable, they walk away from the help that is offered to them. Most patients hold the truth back from the professionals or tell them what they want to hear to get out of their programs.

Al and I believe that when a doctor has confirmed that a patient’s organs are shutting down because they do not want treatment or can’t get the willpower to stay away from the alcohol or drug use, that family should be called into a conference with the doctor or counselors and work together. After all, this is a family disease. Family members can give insight to the professionals with the truth in the background and events that are happening to their loved ones. 

We have 47 people who signed the petition below for us to send to the Substance Abuse Panel in Washington, including President Trump. Please, go to the link and sign your name so we can buildup the list from families who want this clause added so families are not left out to this new law trying to be passed, which will exclude family members. 

Thank You!
Al/Alberta Sequeira
Dartmouth, MA 02747
[email protected]

Did you find this helpful? Contact me: [email protected]

SAMHSA Issues Final Rule Updating Substance Abuse Confidentiality Regulations


January 3, 2018 
by Heather Landi 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has finalized proposed changes to the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records regulation, 42 CFR Part 2, aimed at supporting payment and healthcare operations activities while protecting the confidentiality of patients.

The finalized rule, posted to the Federal Register on Tuesday, where it is available for review, builds on changes to 42 CFR Part 2 made last year. In a final rule published last January, SAMHSA updated 42 CFR Part 2 rules by allowing patients to provide a general disclosure for substance abuse information, rather than limiting authorization to a specific provider.

The Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records, 42 Code of Federal Regulations Part 2 (Part 2) protects the confidentiality of records relating to the identity, diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment of any patient records that are maintained in connection with the performance of any federally assisted program or activity relating to substance use disorder education, prevention, training, treatment, rehabilitation, or research. Under Part 2, a federally assisted substance use disorder program may only release patient identifying information with the individual’s written consent, pursuant to a court order, or under a few limited exceptions.

The 42 CFR Part 2 regulations restricting how data of patients with substance use disorders (SUDs) is shared were written in 1975 out of concern that the information could be used against individuals, causing them to avoid seeking needed treatment.  But the way the regulation was written, it required the patient to consent every time their data was shared or accessed, which health information exchanges (HIEs) and healthcare organizations have found very difficult to implement.

The final rule published Tuesday will permit healthcare providers, with patients’ consent, to more easily conduct such activities as quality improvement, claims management, patient safety, training, and program integrity efforts, according to Elinore F. McCance-Katz, M.D., the nation’s first Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. “This final rule underscores our commitment to ensuring persons with substance use disorders receive integrated and coordinated care,” she said in a statement.

Dr. McCance-Katz said that modernizing Part 2 is one way that SAMHSA strengthens the nation’s efforts to reduce opioid misuse and abuse and to support patients and their families confronting substance use disorders. The rule also reflects an effort to better align Part 2 requirements with those of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), HHS officials said.

Major provisions in this latest rule include:

  • The final rule permits additional disclosures of patient identifying information, with patient consent, to facilitate payment and healthcare operations such as claims management, quality assessment, and patient safety activities.
  • The final rule permits additional disclosures of patient identifying information to certain contractors, subcontractors, and legal representatives for the purpose of conducting a Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP audit or evaluation.
  • The final rule will assist users of electronic health records (EHRs) by permitting use of an abbreviated notice of prohibition on re-disclosure more easily accommodated in EHR text fields.


The rule SAMHSA issued a year ago updating 42 CFR Part 2 was the first major, substantive revisions to Part 2 in nearly 30 years, but many in the provider community criticized the approach taken and called for closer alignment with HIPAA.  In that rule, SAMHSA aimed to facilitate the sharing of information within the healthcare system to support new models of integrated healthcare. But some associations attested at the time that the rule makes sharing clinical information for treatment purposes more difficult.

As reported by Healthcare Informatics’ Contributing Editor David Raths last January, the Partnership to Amend 42 CFR Part 2, a coalition of nearly 30 healthcare organizations committed to aligning Part 2 with HIPAA, put out a statement saying that the final rule takes helpful steps to modernize Part 2, but it does not go far enough.

“The new final rule makes important updates, but more work needs to be done. We look forward to working with our partners and Congress this year to improve the confidentiality law so that it continues to offer important patient protections without impeding good care,” said Jeffrey Goldsmith, M.D., president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, in a prepared statement.

Some health privacy lawyers and leaders in the behavioral healthcare communities have noted that the only way to align Part 2 rules with HIPAA is through legislation. And, there have been recent efforts in Congress to accomplish that. U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Protecting Jessie Grubb’s Legacy Act (Legacy Act) this week, legislation that aims to bring the regulations governing substance use treatment disorder records in better alignment with the privacy rules and protections for other medical records.

Faith: Finding our Way Back


A Spiritual Renewal: A Journey to Medjugorje

Review by Thomas Cirignano

For me, reading A Spiritual Renewal was truly uplifting and inspiring. To use those words to honestly characterize a literary work these days is quite rare. It was refreshing that there was no sensationalism to be found, just the author’s heartfelt description of events.

Coincidentally, my reading of Alberta Sequeira’s story was well timed. It was a point in my life when I needed to be reminded that faith is often renewed when we most need it. Does that happen because we, as human beings, search for answers during times of loss and chaos, or does a Higher Power search us out when we truly need it? I’m not overly religious. In fact, I’ve been called “Doubting Thomas” more times than I care to admit. But even I could relate to this story because special coincidences, which most people would consider miracles, have happened to me, just as they did in this author’s life. It was good to read that I am not unique in that respect.

One of the biggest questions we all ponder in life is whether loved ones who have passed on, or other heavenly entities, such as God, The Blessed Mother, or angels actually do watch over us during our lifetimes. All I can say is, read A Spiritual Renewal, look back at the events of your own life, and then decide for yourself.

Reading this book was time well spent.

Purchase A Spiritual Renewal at

Need a Speaker?



Substance Abuse Talks

Since 2007, a year after losing my daughter, Lori, I have been speaking at halfway homes, court-ordered programs, jails, substance abuse rehabs, to their families, schools, and to the public.

My heartwarming talks are reaching out to the alcohol and drug addicts. I want to help them believe in themselves, hold their heads up high, develop the desire to recover, to realize that no one is going to get them to sobriety but themselves. They need to hear someone say they can, so, here I go. “You can do it!”Believe it in your heart and think it in your mind. I teach them how and why to forgive. The importance of having God in their lives. They will never be alone. And most importantly, to never forget the one word: CHOICES! It’s a very powerful word. These are some of the topics that I cover. No blaming, no accusing, just giving them back their souls and remembering who they used to be.
References from the Bristol Correction Office at Faunce Corner Road in North Dartmouth, MA:
1. Rui M. Lima, MA, MSW, LICSW, Director of Substance Abuse & Social Servies Programs & Treatment: Telephone: 508-995-6400 ext. 2821
2. Matthew Robitaille, Director of Classification and Progams; Telephone: 5080995-6400 ext. 2504

Email me for a quote: [email protected]

My books on alcohol abuse can be purchased at

Spiritual Talks

I also talk to people on the spiritual side of life after stepping away from my faith after living fourteen years with an alcoholic husband and bringing my two daughters into a life of confusion, fear, and no security. Things I’m not proud of doing. 

We think God leaves us when in reality it is us who closes the door on Him. We have to open our hearts for Him to enter.

My talk focuses on watching my father, retired Brigadier General, Albert L. Gramm, die of cancer. I realize I let a tremendous amount of history go with him after he had been one of the commanding officers in the 26th Yankee Division during WWII fighting in Metz, Lorraine, and the famous Battle of the Bulge..

Three miracles get me to take a ten-day pilgrimage to Medjugorje in Bosnia where Our Lady has been appearing to six visionaries since 1981. She is giving them 10 secrets to be revealed to the world when they receive them. Two visionaries have one more secret to receive. The trip changed my life. I came to realize that I not only needed God in my life, but I wanted Him there. 

The story is in my memoir A Spiritual Renewal: A Journey to Medjugorje.

I speak at Churches of any religion, libraries, schools, private functions or any organization. 

Email me for a quote: [email protected]

My books on alcohol abuse can be purchased at