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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Why the need for recovery-based care?

testimonials_07A resonating message I have picked from many people affected by serious substance use problems over the years is their desperate need for hope (that they can recover) and understanding (of how to recover).

There is a dearth of readily accessible information on how to achieve recovery, information that is also relevant to the day-to-day struggles and obstacles that people face in trying to overcome addiction and related problems. Many people do not know anyone who has recovered from addiction. Many find the treatment system to be disempowering and lacking in hope.

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When a Man Loves a Woman

Did you know that you can watch the whole of this feature-length film on YouTube? The film stars Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia, and chronicles one woman’s alcoholism and the efforts of her husband to help her. It lasts 2 hours and 6 minutes.

Introduction to our Resources section

resourcesOver time, I’m going to build up a collection of resources that I consider to be valuable for helping people recover from addiction and mental health problems. High quality resources that help improve our systems of care will also be included.

Current resources include a selection of my favourite six books for helping people with their recovery journey, as well as a collection of links to peer support groups, e.g. 12-step groups like AA and NA, SMART Recovery, etc.

You can find a collection of articles on recovery by a favourite Wired In To Recovery blogger – Peapod’s Recovery Guide – as well as Jay’s online course based on mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy. On the latter page, Professor Mark Williams talks about mindfulness.

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It’s not just about the drug

IMG_3429Why not check out my article on drug, set and setting? In this article, I describe how the effects of a drug depend on the interaction between the drug, the person (set) and the social context (setting) in which the drug is taken.

Similarly, these three factors influence both addiction and recovery from addiction. As I describe, this interaction has important implications for developing systems of care to help people recover from dug and alcohol addiction.

Please let me know what you think about It’s not just about the drug.

A letter to Alcohol

IMG_4467Here is a letter that Beth Burgess, recovery coach from Smyls, wrote in her early recovery:

“Dear Alcohol,

Well it’s been a while now, and although you are a bad influence, I do miss you sometimes. I miss our secret relationship, the way that no-one else was part of it and could never get in on it. I miss the way you comfort me when I’m down. It sometimes creeps up on me unexpectedly how much I miss you. And other times I am glad you are gone.

Of course you have changed – and I know that. You’re not fun any more. But I seem to forget that when we’re not together. I don’t know why my memory is so short and why I always remember the good times with such intensity. It hasn’t been that way for a while.

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The Anonymous People: Theatrical trailer

On Thursday, I blogged about and showed a video of a documentary film – The Anonymous People –  that is going down a storm in recovery communities in America. Coincidentally, Greg Williams launched his film website a day after ours and with it comes this amazing trailer. I say no more.

‘Intervention Keeley Style’ by William White

IMG_2494Some Stories are just straight out funny! Whilst working my way through Bill White’s writings on his website, I came across this little gem he wrote in 2004 as part of his History Corner series. The article made me laugh, so I thought I would lighten your day.

‘The most famous and controversial treatment for addiction in the 19th century was Dr. Leslie Keeley’s Bichloride of Gold Cure. Dr. Keeley franchised his cure procedures through more than 120 Keeley Institutes scattered across North American and Europe. These Institutes became the preferred drying out institutions for the rich and famous in the 1890s.

But the problem then (as today) was this: Even where there are financial resources to pay for such treatment, how can the afflicted person be convinced to enter such a treatment institution?

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