People affected by a loved one’s addiction

Not enough attention has been focused on the difficulties experienced by loved ones and friends of people with a substance use problem. That’s wrong.

I’ve probably made the same mistake during my blogs this week. So here’s a film from David McCollom, a young man in recovery who is doing some great film work on recovery in the UK.

Overcoming Addiction, Professor Tackles Perils American Indians Face

P1010935Here’s an inspirational Story from the New York Times (May 11th). I spotted it thanks to Alexandre Laudet’s Facebook page.

‘The visitor to Haskell Indian Nations University detailed his roaring 20s: drug addict, garbage collector, suicidal burnout once told by a doctor that he was mentally retarded. It was a curious way to inspire a group of young American Indian students long surrounded by these types of problems. Until he got to the good part. “I never shared this with anyone until I got my Ph.D.,” he said.

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Loneliness: a call to generosity

100_0690Here is a wonderful blog from US recovery advocate Pat Deegan:

‘Like many people, I experienced periods of intense loneliness during my recovery after being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Over time, I learned that my loneliness was a call for me to be more generous and to give of myself. Here’s what I mean:

Loneliness and being alone are two different things. In my early recovery, being alone was an important self-care strategy for me.

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‘My Recovery: A seminar opening speech’ by Adam

IMG_3279Some of you in Perth will remember Adam Brookes. I met Adam a few years ago and he quickly became someone very important in my life, a really good friend. Adam is more than that, he is like part of my family. My children love him and my partner Linda feels very close to him.

I also saw that Adam had that something special, that empathic and caring nature that helps people get better. I knew that he was going to help many people.

Adam moved to the UK (Mosley, near Manchester) in December 2011 and was married to Jemma the following month. They now have two beautiful twin girls, Summer and Tegen, born on 2nd April this year.

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‘The Four Stages of Recovery’, from Mark Ragins

IMG_3040Mark Ragins is a leading recovery figure in the mental health field. He was a pioneer in setting up MHA Village, a recovery community based in Los Angeles. His writings are well worth a read. Here is what Mark has to say about the four stages of recovery in an article entitled The Road to Recovery. What Mark says here is just as relevant to people recovering from addiction.

‘Recovery has four stages: (1) hope, (2) empowerment, (3) self-responsibility and (4) a meaningful role in life.

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Introduction to our Articles and Videos sections

IMG_1601In one of my blogs today, I referred to an article I wrote – on Patrick Biernacki’s research – from the Articles section of the website. I have written a number of articles on addiction recovery and related issues in the past and will load more of these articles up on the website as I have time.    

I’ll also be writing new articles and hopefully will have other writers contribute over time. For now, you can see what I hope you agree is an interesting selection of initial articles.

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Reflections on Kevan’s Story (Part 3)

Kevan MartinHope you’ve been following Part 1 and Part 2 of my reflections on Kevan’s Story. I’ve been highlighting some of the processes occurring in Kevan’s recovery.

We’ve seen changes in his thinking and behaviours, and followed the lifestyle changes that Kevan made. We’ve seen how Kevan’s confidence in himself has grown over time and as the changes have occurred.

What is absolutely clear is that this recovery process was driven by Kevan. It was something he did, not something that was given to him by someone else. In fact, he spent many years in and out of a psychiatric hospital and no one suggested to him that he had a drinking problem. When he did meet with a drug and alcohol counsellor, the advice he was given was nonsensical!

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Recovery from mental disorders, lecture by Pat Deegan

Patricia Deegan PhD is a psychologist and researcher. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teeenager. For years, Patricia has worked with people with mental disorders in various ways, to help them get better and lead rewarding lives.

This film features clips from a lecture by Patricia Deegan on the subject of her own route to recovery. She describes how her diagnosis took on ‘a master status in terms of her identity’. Her humanity seemed to others ‘to be quite secondary.’

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The challenges of recovering from heroin addiction

DSCF2083When you ask people what difficulties a person faces when trying to overcome heroin addiction, most will focus on the early withdrawal symptoms, which comprise both physical and psychological elements.

There are far greater challenges that lie ahead in a journey to recovery from heroin addiction. It is important that people know this (users, family members, family members, etc), although it is also important that people with a heroin problem are not put off by these challenges. Many people have overcome heroin addiction.

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The Healing Power of Recovery

A beautiful film made by Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR). What more can I say?

The Recovery Formula: An essential recovery read

book-the-recovery-formulaI love my books, but a book has to be bl–dy good for me to start raving about it. I have a large collect of recovery books and again my standards are high. A book needs to be pretty special doe me to start promoting it.  

Well, I found one that impressed me so much that I agreed to write a Foreword. A book by Beth Burgess called, The Recovery Formula: An Addict’s Guide to getting Clean & Sober FOREVER. Here’s what I had to say:

‘Over the many years I’ve worked in this field, I have heard from so many people with a substance use problem who have struggled to understand their addiction. They had a strong desire to give up using drugs or stop drinking, but had no idea how to go about it. They had tried to stop using or drinking on numerous occasions, but kept on relapsing.

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Learning from Wired In To Recovery

2007_0118walpole0115Wired In To Recovery (WITR) ran for over four years between 2008 and 2012, attracting over 4,000 community members. A key element of this online recovery community was blogging, providing the opportunity for people from all walks of life to describe their experiences and express this views. The site comprised over 7,500 blogs (from 1,000 bloggers) and 35,000 comments.  

When I was developing WITR, I rationalised that by providing people with the opportunity for people to blog, I would accumulate a wealth of information about the lived experience of addiction and recovery, the needs of recovering people, personal views about the care system, etc.

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The Recovery Advocacy Movement

William White describes how recovering people have been stepping forward and challenging social attitudes and the treatment system. He emphasises that many more recovering and recovered people (and their families) need to step forward if we are to overcome the stigma that is associated with addiction.

‘Why I chose recovery’ by Tony A

imageTony A was one of my favourite bloggers on Wired In To Recovery. He certainly didn’t mess around on what he had to say and his blogs provided some invaluable insights into the recovery journey and also the UK addiction care system. Here is a great blog he wrote back in 2010.  

‘This is my personal perspective to why I chose recovery over addiction. You see for me my addiction fulfilled so many requirements in my life.

I enjoyed the effects of drugs, drugs suppressed my emotions, drugs gave me an identity and a reason to exist, drugs were my longest and strongest relationship, my ultimate form of support, my way of coping with the insanity of life.

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Reflections on Kevan’s Story (Part 2)

DSC00130In yesterday’s blog, we looked at how Kevan’s thinking started to change in the early stages of his recovery after 25 years problematic drinking – and eight years in and out of psychiatric hospital.

After a chance discussion with a vicar, he ‘realised’ that he was in mourning for his friend alcohol. He missed his friend so much, even though he knew he was much better off without it.

Most importantly, Kevan began to understand that he was responsible for his addiction to alcohol and was also responsible for overcoming his problem.

After nine months without drinking (and still on Antabuse), Kevan’s thinking was becoming clearer and he was coping with things easier. He was now developing a hatred for alcohol!

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The Launch of RIOT Radio

Read a Facebook entry and checked out this film.  My comment on YouTube was: ‘Brilliant! You guys and girls are just VERY special and an example to everyone.’

‘What is Recovery?”: David Best

testimonials_01David Best has done a huge amount for the addiction recovery field and for the Recovery Movements in the UK and Australia, in terms of his research, writings, advocacy and a wide range of other recovery-based activities. Where he gets his energy from, I have no idea?

I thought it was worth showing what David thinks about the question, ‘What is Recovery’. I’ve followed his arguments and included quotes from his excellent book, Addiction Recovery: A Movement for Social Change and Personal Growth in the UK.

David makes reference to two attempts to define recovery from expert groups (one in UK and one in US):

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A catch up from WITR member Lindaw

P1010141Some of you will know that we created a nice little community at Wired In To Recovery. Since it had to be closed down, some of you may be wondering how some of the community members are. Some have been in touch with me, so I thought I’d give you some periodic updates from them.

Here’s a little update from Linda in Scotland, one of the top 20 bloggers on Wired In To Recovery. Things are going well!

“Well, for all of those people who knew me on WIRED this is Lindaw here. Things have moved on since WIRED… our daughter Polly now has her own flat and it’s just upstairs from our flat, so really handy.

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Reflections on Kevan’s Story (Part 1)

DSC00130Last week, I introduced you to the idea of me blogging about people’s Recovery Story.

Let’s start with Kevan’s Story. Let me say first that I have never met Kevan Martin, other than on Skype (from a distance of over 8,000 miles). However, I feel that I have got to know Kevan reasonably well during the process of writing his Story and through our subsequent communications. He’s also been very helpful and supportive with a past problem in my life.

Kevan is one of my heroes. Here is a person who shows what recovery is all about and what can be achieved. Kevan had a drinking problem for over 25 years. He was in and out of psychiatric hospital for eight years. He used to visit his GP to be readmitted to hospital to escape the isolation, fear and homelessness he experienced in the ‘outside’ world. He was someone that people, including his own family, had given up on.

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Treatment and Recovery disconnection

William White describes how somewhere in the process of the professionalisation of addiction treatment in the US, treatment got disconnected from the larger more enduring process of long-term recovery.

He points out that we are recycling large numbers of people through repeated episodes of treatment. Their problems are so severe and recovery capital so low, there is little hope that brief episodes of treatment will be successful. We end up blaming them for failing to overcome their problems.

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