PHN Newsletter, December 2011


December 2011                                         Professionals Health Network News 


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In This Issue


Holiday Stress 101...

More Serenity Prayers

"First you take a drink..."

Dr. Lau Faces Cancer

Quick quotes & editor's notes...

Deb Gross Resized 

"Make your list, check it twice and cut it in half..."


That's what I say when I talk about holiday stress management, especially to my women patients, most of whom initially response with some variation of "you've got to be kidding."  However, personal reflection and a little research will quickly let you know--if you try it--that the sky doesn't fall in when you don't try to cram too much into every moment of your life.  Sometimes it's good to slow down and simplify....


As I was preparing this issue , I found out that Dr. Glenn Lau, our "Recovery in Action" columnist is staring cancer in the face. I invite you to read his moving words, which shine with the courage, wisdom and serenity I have come to appreciate so much in my recovering friends. 

Glenn, you are in my thoughts. Thank you for all you do and I wish you all grace and blessings as you make your journey.

As the wheel of the year turns to its close and the light returns, may our days be merry and bright and may we be ever mindful, present and kind to each other in every moment of our living.

Happy Holidays.

Deborah V. Gross, MD

Editor-in-Chief, PHN News

Diplomate, ASAM

APA Fellow

ACP Elect

Back talk...

If you read last month's issue, you know that we were calling all versions of the serenity prayer.  Thanks to those who responded!  

Somebody from Caring Interventions sent this
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the limitations of the people you send into my life." 


Kostas Matheos at A Bridge to Recovery shared a Native American version:  "God, grant me the strength of eagles' wings, the faith and courage to fly to new heights and the wisdom to rely on his spirit to carry me there."   


And I remembered one I used to love (and continually try to challenge myself with!)

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know it's me..."


 Upcoming stuff...


The 4th Annual Mississippi Addictions Conference will be held at the Hilton in Jackson, MS, February 9-11, 2012.  If you would like more information regarding the conference or need a brochure, please call Donna at (601)261-9899 or cell (601)516-0382.  You can also  email her at      Please SAVE THE DATE and join us! 




A Word From Our Medical Director...

Alexis Polles, MD



First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.

F. Scott Fitzgerald


That's addiction in a nutshell. A second grader to knows Mom or Dad has a problem when she or he staggers around with slurred speech and passes out on the couch with an empty fifth on the floor nearby.  I am touched when I speak to elementary school kids and hear a story like that after asking if anyone knows what alcoholism or drug addiction is.


However, things are not always so obvious, particularly during certain developmental stages.  For example, although most addiction begins in adolescence, if the motivation is strong enough, the addict can markedly decrease or completely stop the behavior for a period of time--such as during pregnancy or professional training. At other times--such as during college or after divorce--people with the disease of addiction tend to increase their substance use to the point of negative consequences.  These variations can amplify denial by giving the illusion of control, which in turn interferes with getting help and seeking and/or maintaining sobriety.  


These and many other timely topics will be covered at our conference in February and we hope to see you there.  You may contact me on my mobile line (601-520-4814) or at the PHN office (601-261-9899).  We are here for you.


Season's Greetings!


Alexis Polles, MD

Medical Director, PHN



Recovery in action...



Glenn Lau, MD


I was recently diagnosed with cancer. This malignancy carries a less than optimal prognosis. The diagnosis did not shock me. My daily inventory includes the body as well as the mind and spirit, and I knew that my body had developed a serious imbalance. I am grateful that as a doc I was close to the docs and the hospital , so that in one day I had all the major diagnostic tests completed. Only a treatment plan is left to be defined.

Thus, I begin a journey into the "known unknown."

Although living "one day at a time" is the guiding  principle in our twelve-step program for living, we all know that in reality one cannot live only for today. For those building or rebuilding a professional practice or business, one must look ahead to keep things running smoothly. For those with family and children, one must plan for their future. And for those who are older and more established there is retirement to consider. But for most of us, the future remains indistinct as we enjoy the fulfillment of life in the present.

When I was informed of my diagnosis, my life became imbued with a clarity that I had not before experienced. I felt neither anger nor despair and I was grateful for my trust and faith in a Higher Power to accept life's terms. I have become more aware of my surroundings; colors are more vivid, sounds more distinct, music more harmonious. Interactions with others are more meaningful than before.  Each day is more significant; time is more important.

Paradoxically, living with the reality that my "last" day may come sooner than expected, what lies ahead has become less complicated for the simple fact that there may be less for which to plan. I find that for now I have enough, and I am at peace.

In his later years, my friend and sponsor Bill D stated that one of his goals in sobriety was to prepare to experience his final days. Alert and fairly vigorous when he entered the hospital for his last and only time, he spoke to those who were close to him individually and in private, bestowing to each his requests and sharing his thoughts.  Having accomplished this, he spent the ensuing days in progressive reticence, experiencing the lapse into coma and finally passing.

For me, life as I know it has changed, a feeling quite similar to the day I entered treatment, leaving alcohol behind. I have what I have learned in sobriety to help me through each day. I follow an unexpected path, ready to cross bridges when I encounter them, with the freedom from fear that comes through faith and trust. Death is truly one of life's experiences, one that I will encounter--sober.

Glenn Lau, MD

Share your thoughts. You may e-mail me directly at:



The Professionals Health Network (PHN) is a 501c3 organization with a representative Board of Directors dedicated to assisting licensed healthcare professionals in the state of Mississippi whose Boards choose to participate.  We provide groups in our state with educational opportunities and will be pleased to tailor a program to your organization's unique needs.  PHN works with professionals with potentially impairing illness such as addiction, psychiatric illness, behavioral problems and sexual disorders.   We provide education, intervention, referral for appropriate evaluation and treatment and subsequent monitoring.  We provide earned advocacy to professionals who are in compliance with our requirements.  To learn more, visit our web site at or call our Executive Director, Ms. Donna Young at 601-261-9899.


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