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Official Website of Author Johnny Allem

Say the Second Thing

The work and joy of recovery
Available January 15th, 2018

“Say the Second Thing” furnishes proven, realistic and thoughtful “tools” to address daily situations people face in early addiction recovery (first three years). Each essay focuses on an effective strategy for maintaining and growing recovery in challenges to an individual’s mind, body and spirit. These tools can be learned and practiced methodically or indexed for specific challenges. They are “suggestions” conveyed in a contemporary voice of an experienced helper.

While many strategies grow from the abundant experience associated with Twelve-Step programs, many do not – recognizing the many successful pathways to wellness.

A leading recovery advocate in the modern era.


  • 2016 recipient of the William L. White Lifetime Achievement Award of Faces and Voices of Recovery.

  • Member of the 2004 Institute of Medicine’s historic panel on addiction health that produced Crossing the Quality Chasm – Adaption to Mental Health and Addiction Disorders.

  • Featured in ANONYMOUS PEOPLE, Greg William’s 2015 film celebrating the vitality and importance of the addiction recovery movement and its power to change minds.

  • Founder and President of Aquila Recovery Clinic, a cutting edge, outpatient addiction health facility in Washington, DC.

  • A Founder and original Board Member of Faces and Voices of Recovery.

  • Author in 2004 of “Seven Policies to Cure Addiction In Our Lifetime.”

  • Trustee for 12 years of Stepping Stones Foundation, maintaining the home and messages of Bill and Lois Wilson in Bedford Hills, NY.

  • Former President of Johnson Institute, featuring the pioneering work of Vernon Johnson, credited with “raising the bottom” for people entering recovery.

  • Former Deputy Commissioner for Mental Health in the District of Columbia.

  • President and organizer for Society of Americans for Recovery, SOAR, in early 1990s, Senator Harold Hughes’ effort to mobilize the nation’s recovery community into a cogent political constituency.

  • Practicing recovery from alcohol and other drug addiction since March, 1982.

Johnny Allem

Recovery Essays


Testimony of Johnny W. Allem

President, DC Recovery Community Alliance

Before the DNC Platform Hearing on Health

July 22, 2008, Alexandria, VA

It could have gone the other way

It could have gone the other way

Seven Policies Required to

Conquer Addiction in our Lifetime

April 26, 2004 

Seven Policies

Seven Policies

Friday, June 16, 1995


Addiction: It’s a Secret We Can’t Afford to Keep

Washington Post OpEd

Washington Post OpEd

Celebrating Passage of Parity

By Johnny Allem

March 12, 2008



Recovery Essays
My Story

Johnny Allem brings 35 years of personal recovery and leadership as a national advocate for addiction recovery. A co-founder of Faces and Voices of Recovery, and former Deputy Commissioner of the DC Mental Health system, he currently leads Aquila Recovery Clinics, an outpatient recovery clinic he founded that features integrated care.

His career includes five decades of civic, political, business and healthcare interests. As the President of the Johnson Institute, a policy organization, Mr. Allem developed and conducted training for more than 3,000 “Recovery Ambassadors.” Allem’s addiction recovery story is featured in Gary Stromberg’s book: Second Chances: Top Executives Share Their Stories of Addiction and Recovery.”

Aquila Awards Dinner

The 2016 Aquila Awards Dinner honored the work of Carol McDaid (on right), veteran recovery advocate and lobbyist to lead the effort for Parity legislation. Seen here, from left, are Jody Pegram, Aquila partner, Bobby Coffey, Aquila Executive Director, Jim Vance, NBC4 New Anchor, Johnny, Paul Williams, composer, and McDaid.

Capitol Lawn

One of the first gatherings of recovery advocates on Capitol Hill since Sen. Harold Hughes passage of the Hughes Act in 1969. This 2006 event featured members of Faces and Voices of Recovery. Johnny is kneeling in front row, near the left.

Father Martin_edited

Father Joseph Martin (now deceased), of Ashley Treatment Center, joins Johnny at a 1994 White House workshop on behavioral health sponsored by Tipper Gore.

Hughes and Williams_edited

Twenty years after passage of the Hughes Act recognizing alcoholism at the Federal level, Sen. Harold Hughes saw the need for constituency building if support for recovery was ever to become widespread as a health initiative. His effort to form SOAR (Society of Americans for Recovery) was assisted by Johnny Allem and Composer Paul Williams.


For many years, Johnny was a volunteer for Bridges To Community, a home-building project for families near Masaya, Nicaragua.

Johnny and Paul

Paul Williams continues his nearly 30 years of advocacy support, writing the Foreword to Johnny’s book, “Say The Second Thing.”


Aquila Clinical Director Nike Hamilton served DC Department of Mental Health, teaching and directing co-occurring issues in a program initiated in the 1990s by Johnny when he was Director of Operations at DMH. Hamilton is a nationally recognized trainer in trauma-informed behavioral healthcare.


Volunteers from Aquila Recovery’s alumni and family programs annual staff an exhibit at the NBC4 Health and Fitness EXPO, each training to conduct professional screenings for alcohol and other drug dependencies.


Johnny with long-time friend Doreen Gentzler, News Anchor at NBC4 in Washington, DC. Doreen hosts the “Changing Minds” feature at her station that shares news and information on behavioral health issues.

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