Kevan’s Recovery Story: ‘He’s a loser and will never be any good’

 After 25 years of problem drinking and eight years in and out of psychiatric hospitals, Kevan runs NERAF which has nearly 100 staff and volunteers and provides a support service across the north-east of England.

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Must-read books: ‘Tweak’ and ‘Beautiful Boy’

P4081216Five years ago I read two remarkable books by a father and son. There was only one way to describe these books – they were an emotional roller coaster.  I read one straight after the other, hardly putting them down.

I was wrapped… and I was drained! I felt despair… and then hope. I learnt so much from these books. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

The two books were addiction Recovery Stories, written by Nic and David Scheff.  Here’s what the back cover of Nic’s book Tweak had to say:

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Susan’s Story, Part 1: ‘Missing Michael – A Story by Blog’

P1011034Susan lost her son Michael to a drug overdose on the 22nd January, 2010. I, for one, cannot begin to understand what someone must go through after such a loss.

However, I gained some appreciation from the Susan’s extraordinary writing in a blog she published on our online recovery community Wired In To Recovery. I was captivated and deeply moved by Susan’s writing, as were many other people in our community.

I decided it would be a good idea to edit down Susan’s writing into a more manageable size and publish it in a single document. However, I found this difficult, as there was so little I felt I should edit out.

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Beth Burgess: ‘What is Recovery from Addiction?’

I love this piece of film from Beth Burgess, a recovery coach with Smyls.  

There’s a big difference between sobriety and recovery. Beth points out that many people give up trying to stop drinking after a few days because it feels too difficult. They don’t realise that these bad feelings don’t last if you make the journey to recovery.

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‘Recovery and the Conspiracy of Hope’ by Pat Deegan

2007_0116walpole0154Here is a classic presentation made by Pat Deegan at “There’s a Person In Here”, The Sixth Annual Mental Health Services Conference of Australia and New Zealand. Brisbane, Australia.

Beautiful writing, a must-read. I’ll wet your appetite:

‘I love the word conspiracy. It comes from the Latin “conspirare” which means to breath the spirit together. What is the spirit we are breathing together here today?

It is a spirit of hope. Both individually and collectively we have refused to succumb to the images of despair that so often are associated with mental illness.

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Kevin and Kerry: ‘A Family Story’ (Part 1)

Mother and son describe Kevin’s heroin addiction and how it impacted on the family as a whole.

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Research shows the dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network

2007_0116walpole0146Here’s one of my own blogs from WITR, written in January 2009, not long after the launch of the website.

‘Last week, the British Medical Journal published a very interesting article on the Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network. This high quality research involved a longitudinal analysis over 20 years of participants in a long-term health study in America (the Framingham Heart Study, see at end of Blog for further details].

The research involved 12,067 individuals who were connected to someone else in this population at some point between 1971 and 2003. Researchers measured happiness by a questionnaire and conducted a complicated statistical analysis of the relationships between people in this large social network.

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‘Today is the best day of my life’ by Braveheart

IMG_2495An inspirational blog from WITR, written mid-2009:  

‘The reason I write, “Today is the best day of my life”, is yesterday has gone and tomorrow is still to come. It it comes at all?

I awoke at 7.30 this morning and I’m in recovery from the disease of active addiction. I had no desire to use and there was no obsessing over what was my drug of choice. Today, I am FREE to make self-caring choices.

My day begins with me having a conscious contact with my Higher Power, who I ask to guide and direct me throughout the day and help me to stay safe.

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‘The astonishing power of example’ by Peapod

P1010948This blog appeared on WITR in April 2009.

‘Astonishment. That’s what I felt the first time I was taken to a mutual aid group meeting.

I was in treatment at the time in a residential centre. I was also neck deep in trouble. I had lost my job through my using. As part of the fallout from my own million megaton addiction detonation, I’d caused someone else to lose their job. The police were on my tail and I was massively in debt.

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Kevin and Kerry: ‘A Family Story’ (Part 2)

Kevin’s hospitalisation with septicaemia acts as a turning point and a process of recovery begins for the family as a whole.

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‘The power of language in treatment and recovery: Do we create barriers?’ by Wirral Voice of Recovery

IMG_3474Thought I’d put up some old WITR blogs this weekend, some of my favourites. I’ve included a few of the comments on this first one, a blog from Oliver in early 2010 that challenges our treatment system:

‘I have recently read some interesting research papers on challenging stigma, mainly around drugs and mental health, with particular emphasis on methadone treatment and recovery.

The first thing that came to mind is that there is no other condition, illness, disease or disorder – or whatever one chooses to call it – that carries the same amount of stigma as when someone presents with a drug or related problem. Or that has the same relationship with the crime reduction arena (police and probation services).

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Matthew’s Recovery Story: ‘Making most of the opportunity’

Matthew set himself up a personal recovery plan to overcome his addiction to opiates, gambling and overeating – and his life has been transformed.

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Natalie’s Story: ‘I didn’t plan to be an addict’ (Part 2)

IMG_3468I first met ‘Natalie’ over 12 years ago when I lived in South Wales. I will never forget how she emphasised the importance of providing online support for people with substance use problems. She had been desperate to find helpful online information when she trying to overcome her drug problem.

Natalie has always been such an inspiration to people around her. Mind you, many people had to first get over the shock of finding that such a lovely lady had once been a heroin addict.

We left Natalie in Part 1 of this Story in the pre-treatment part of a 12-step treatment programme.

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‘About AA and Step 9’ from Don in London

Michael Scott sent me this link a few hours ago and I was really impressed by what Don in London had to say and how he said it. I then realised that there was a YouTube channel full of Don’s videos.

I got a good feeling about Don and he left me in a reflective state of mind. Thanks, Don.

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‘Remembering my son’ by Susan C

IMG_2398Some of the most moving blogs on Wired In To Recovery were from Susan C who lost her loving son Michael from a heroin overdose in 2010.

Sue contacted me recently and said how much she missed the old website. She found it to be a lifeline when she was struggling. I had the impression that writing helped Sue deal with her terrible loss, if only a little. Here is one of Susan’s blogs from 2011.

Next week, I start a three part ‘Story by Blog’ by Susan C entitled ‘Missing Michael’.

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Special Award for Philadelphia’s Dr. Arthur C. Evans

IMG_4834Here’s some wonderful news from Faces & Voice of America:

‘Philadelphia’s Behavioral Health Commissioner Dr. Arthur C. Evans to receive Lisa Mojer-Torres Award

Faces & Voices of Recovery and Caron Treatment Centers invite you to join us at an evening reception recognizing the outstanding contribution of Dr. Arthur C. Evans, Commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility.

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Michael’s Recovery Story: ‘The power of empathy and compassion’

Michael followed both his parents into a life of dependent drinking, but he is now 35 years in recovery and working as a drug and alcohol counsellor.

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Natalie’s Story: ‘I didn’t plan to be an addict’ (Part 1)

IMG_3464I first met ‘Natalie’ over 12 years ago when I lived in South Wales. I will never forget how she emphasised the importance of providing online support for people with substance use problems. She had been desperate to find helpful online information when she trying to overcome her drug problem.

Natalie has always been such an inspiration to people around her. Mind you, many people had to first get over the shock of finding that such a lovely lady had once been a heroin addict.

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Reflections on recovery – From seven years ago

2007_0116walpole0008This is from the website Articles section. Thought you should see how I was thinking seven years ago:

‘This article comprises two articles I wrote seven years ago for Drink and Drugs News (DDN) in the UK – with a few small changes and additions (including headings).

The original two articles focused on the writing of William L. White and colleagues in the US. I thought it was interesting to look back and see what I was writing at that time.

1. Problems with our treatment system
“Something got lost on our way to becoming professionals – maybe our heart. I feel like I’m working in a system today that cares more about a progress note signed by the right color of ink than whether my clients are really making progress toward recovery.

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The Personal Story of Kevan Manley

This is a short version of a 35 minute film focusing on Kevin’s recovery from drug addiction that we made a number of years ago. His mother Kerry talks about her experiences during Kevin’s 15 year history of problem drug use and his recovery.

The film was made for Wired In by Jonathan Kerr-Smith and Lucie James in and around Cardiff, South Wales.