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Recovery Stories Blog

Kevan’s Story (Short version): ‘He’s a loser and will never be any good’

stories-07Here’s a short version of Kevan’s Recovery Story. Please feel free to circulate.

‘I developed a fascination for alcohol at an early age (nine), but didn’t realise that it would rule my life for over twenty years. I drank throughout my teenage years as if it was a normal thing to do, often with building site work mates or colleagues from my judo squad. Sadly, the promise I showed in judo was never realised because I shattered my right knee. Whilst I gave up the sport, I continued drinking.

My first wife and I separated because she didn’t like my drinking. After the divorce, I spent most of the money I made from the house sale on booze. Some guys at work said that I needed help for a drinking problem, but I told them to get stuffed with their job. I was doing what all men were entitled to do. I now spent most of my time in the pub.

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‘A North Wales Perspective on Grass Roots Recovery’ by PM

The inaugural 'AGRO Road to Recovery around Wales trip'  about to leave BangorBirth of a Recovery Organisation.
AGRO – what a strange acronym! It conjures up visions of difficult situations or awkward people. Perhaps those people that some services just don’t want to be involved with.

The truth is that AGRO stands for Anglesey and Gwynedd Recovery Organisation! A grassroots movement borne from the hopes and aspirations of a few dedicated workers in the field – all of whom are in recovery – and their wish to fulfil some of the principles that were coming across the Atlantic from already established movements such as Faces and Voices of Recovery.

The message we heard was loud! The message we heard was clear! Recovery is more than possible. It’s happening and it’s underway… NOW!

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‘Art Changing Recovery Journeys’ by Glenda

173-7328_IMGBarwon Health Drug and Alcohol Services, together with Salvation Army Kardinia Alcohol and Other Drugs Service, facilitate ‘Making Changes’ – an ongoing therapeutic recovery group in Geelong, Victoria, for people healing from alcohol and other drug addictions. 

Art Therapy is used as part of the therapeutic processes of the group.  These processes provide insight into the difficult journey individuals undertake on the road to recovery. 

To recognise National Drug Action Week 2013, clients consented to sharing their recovery through a public display expressing their stories. An Exhibition entitled ‘Recovery Journeys Expressed’ was held at Deakin University, Waterfront Campus, Geelong during Drug Action Week – 17th to 21st of June.

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“What is Recovery?” according to Stephanie Brown (Part 4)

P1010092In my last blog focusing on Stephanie Brown’s book A Place Called Self, I described two myths about recovery. In this blog, we look at the second myth: dependence is bad and recovery means you are no longer dependent.

‘… many women think recovery is moving from dependence to self-sufficiency. But there is no such thing as total self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is a partial condition.’

So what does Stephanie mean by this? She is emphasising that all of us are dependent in some way or other. We need other other people on whom we can depend. ‘No man (or woman) is an island.’

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Rights of the consumer

2007_0116walpole0118‘I am writing a short piece on the Survivor (or Consumer) Movement in Psychiatry at the moment.

This Movement arose initially from people who had received psychiatric treatment speaking out about what they considered to be the less helpful or abusive aspects of their treatment. They have tried to change the system so that poor practices and outright abuses cannot continue and impact negatively on other people.

Whilst writing this piece, I came across an article by Sally Clay, A Personal History of the Consumer Movement, which is well worth a read. How many things described here are relevant to people’s experiences in the addiction treatment field?

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‘Reflections on my AA experiences’ by Maddie

P1010174_3At my very first AA meeting, I was carried in by strangers who found me crying, shaking and rocking in the doorway. And I promise I am not exaggerating. Gosh, I had forgotten about that, an event that took place four or five years ago. 

I would pop in and out of AA for years before I was really desperate enough to let the rooms help me. I used to have to have a drink to get in the door, and I used to go with vodka in my bag. However, I just keep going back.

It’s hard to explain, but you are carried and held when you are in the rooms in those early days. Without AA and the people I have met there I would have busted on Friday night on my nine months birthday. I have been experiencing incredible stress because of the very long hours I have been working, the intensity of a new project, and a boss who is trying to make my project fail! At times, it’s been too much.

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‘Natural Highs’ by Anthony Nevens

IMG_9117Where do I start? At the beginning, middle or end, who knows? It all ties in with itself in some twisted tangled ball, but I will try and unravel some of it!

I am just like most other Brits who feel uncomfortable talking about themselves! However, here is a quick summery of the Natural Highs project and how it has tied in with my own recovery.

 Natural Highs was born out of the frustrations of government and professionals stating that to recover from substance use problems we must end up in education or employment. This expectation for me personally, someone who has suffered a massive brain haemorrhage and lost the use of my legs, and experienced memory problems, was clearly unrealistic, to say the least.

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‘Standing on the outside: Looking in’ by Aurelius

P4091276‘Firstly, I want to thank all of the site [Wired In To Recovery] members who have taken the time to comment on my wife’s posts/queries (Whiplashgirlchild). Your perspective (and objectivity) have really seemed to help her on days when everything just stacks up and turns bad.

I met my partner just as she was working her way off subutex. She had a decade of hardcore use under her belt and almost another decade on MMT/Subutex.

I had (have) a lot to learn about the nature of addiction and the meandering paths of recovery. I have had a steep learning curve, trying to understand the stigma and prejudice that she has had to endure during the years of struggle to get free of ‘the fog’ as she likes call it.

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‘Life is an amazing gift’ by Wee Willie Winkie

P4071127‘Life is such an amazing gift. I wake up every single morning with a huge smile on my face. I open my door as I put the kettle on and take a deep breath of air. This feeling never gets old and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

I’m not waking up with the immediate thoughts of heroin, or having to go to work to do a job I didn’t choose because I liked it – it was all about flexible hours and good money. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by drugs.

Life is so simple for me now, it doesn’t matter what happens. I look back on my past – the homelessness, the overdosing, my attempted suicide and think, “If I can survive that, I can survive anything.” So I never get depressed or down about things. It’s fantastic.

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‘A Personal Story’ by Wee Willie Winkie

2007_0116walpole0097‘I’m 33 years old. I started taking drugs from ten years old and, apart from a three and a half year stint in the army, took them continuously right up to the age of 30. This included 11 years as a heroin addict.

During this time, I felt totally isolated and alone in the world, and completely worthless. After a few years I was desperate. I’d overdosed a couple of times and, at this point in my life, I’d have welcomed death with open arms. It never came, so I decided to help it along a bit.

Luckily, it didn’t work but at the time I just didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I decided that this was my life and to try make the best of it I could. I ended up living in the woods for a year. I could never see myself living in shop doorways.

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“What is Recovery?” according to Stephanie Brown (Part 3)

P1010154_2In A Place Called Self, Stephanie Brown emphasises that in recovery a woman transforms the way she thinks about herself, as well as the way she thinks about life itself. She points out two common myths about recovery, the first of which I’ll discuss here: ‘Recovery is moving from bad to good.’

Many women think that being addicted is evidence of ‘shameful neediness, of deep and lasting failures.’ Many addicted women are trying to do their best, to be a good mother, wife and friend, yet they feel bad. They believe themselves to be a bad person.

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‘Sue: A Personal Story’ by Sue Murphy

2007_0118walpole0076“I was, what you were once described as in the 70s, ‘a problem child’. So to me, looking back, it was inevitable I ended up an addict.

My first love was LSD after postnatal depression. Not an excuse, just how it was. LSD was the only thing that made me feel alive. Until ecstasy. Wow, good days and they were until all the garbage arrived.

Skip many years, many tablets, many lines later and I found heroin. Or should I say it found me? It kept me enslaved for 15 years along with crack.

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“What is Recovery?” according to Stephanie Brown (Part 2)

IMG_2891In an earlier blog, I referred to Stephanie Brown’s book A Place Called Self, in which she describes recovery as radical change in personal identity, or the self. Stephanie goes on to emphasise a number of myths about recovery.

Firstly, the dictionary definition of recovery states ‘a return to a normal condition.’ This would suggest that in addiction recovery the person goes back to where they were before they became addicted. In fact, this is rarely the case. ​Stephanie emphasises that recovery is more like a starting over than a restoration of what was lost during addiction. This is because for many people the real self was never really developed.

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‘Recovery: what matters?’ by David McCartney

IMG_2315Here’s an interesting Wired In To Recovery blog from David McCartney from September 2013 about the importance of social relationships.

‘If you wanted to live a long and healthy life, what measures could you take to achieve your goals? Stop smoking? Lose weight? Exercise? Drop your blood pressure? We have evidence that all of these make a difference, but a recent analysis of 148 studies on the subject found two things that made more of a difference to mortality than anything else. What were they?

Well, having strong social relationships and being integrated socially seem to protect against death. This analysis was not specifically about addiction, but suffering from addiction is strongly associated with increased death rates and it seems very likely that if we could promote strong social links in those seeking help it will reduce the risk of relapse and ultimately of early death.

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‘An old cynic now believes in Recovery’ by Maggie Messenger

P1010935I really liked this blog on Wired In To Recovery, which appeared in June 2010.

‘I have just returned from a visit to the SHARP Recovery service in Liverpool. Having worked within the drug and alcohol field for almost 20 years I had heard the word “Recovery” tossed about here and there and, like a revival of the “midi”, come back into fashion again!

So I took my old cynical head and was prepared to look and see what this “new and improved Recovery” looked like.

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‘What is Recovery?’ according to Stephanie Brown (Part 1)

book-a-place-called-self‘Recovery has held so many surprises for me. Some good. Some bad. I didn’t know I could hurt so much. But I also didn’t know I could love so much and be so loved. I had no idea that recovery was also learning how to be in intimate relationships, learning how to have close, wonderful friends. Then there’s my marriage. My husband and I have developed a rich life together. And get this – I really like myself now. Learning about who I am and accepting me, that’s been the hardest part of recovery – and the best. I wouldn’t trade this path for anything in the world.’ Anne, Recoveree

This quote comes from the most wonderful book, A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety, and Radical Transformation. Stephanie Brown’s book talks about what happens to women in recovery, how they think, how they feel, their problems, the good things, etc. (And before you ask, the book is relevant to men as well!)

Stephanie Brown describes recovery as a journey, a process. It is a radical change in personal identity (or the self). See the words drugs and alcohol there. Nup! You can recover from all sorts of things, like mental mental health problems, loss of a loved one, trauma, etc.

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SMART Recovery Member Stories 2010: “Jim”

A SMART Recovery participant and volunteer relates his story about SMART.

“Drinking will always be a choice I can make, but I happily chose not to. I’ve come to realise how much of life drinking has taken away from me, how much of life I cheated myself out of by the choices I made. My sobriety allows me to show up for life…”

‘From Hungry Ghost to Being Human – without stopping in Hell’ by Vince Cullen

Hungry-Ghost-Retreat-New-Life-Foundation (12)I have always been interested in the use of Buddhist-oriented principles and practices in helping people find recovery. I recently asked Vince Cullen, who often blogged on Wired In To Recovery about a Buddhist approach to recovery,  if he would tell us a little about himself and what he does.

If you are interested in what Vince does, please note that he is running a retreat in Coatbridge, Scotland on 8th July which you might like to attend. Details are provided below.

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‘A bright light in a dark world’ by Maddie

IMG_4069I’m almost nine months into my recovery journey, during which time I have not had a drop of alcohol. I’ve been reflecting back to my past, the time that I was drinking very heavily. Today, I can’t imagine drinking every day as I did, waking up with a hangover every morning. My mind just can’t seem to go back there.

It’s almost as if I have forgotten my past, but at the same time so much of it is very fresh. But the past ‘me’ is so different to the person I am today. My past does not hurt me anymore. I can walk past a pub or bottle shop and not even think about alcohol.

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Message from David

P4081202A major focus of this website is to help people understand how they can recover from addiction. How to initiate the process of recovery and how to maintain recovery despite the day-to-day struggles and obstacles we all face.  How to live without resorting to the use of substances as a coping mechanism.

Some of what appears on this website will be relevant to people taking their first steps on their journey to recovery. This might involve a person using clean needles and syringes for the first time, or involve a person realising the damage that their drinking is doing to themself.

Other content will be oriented towards people who are much further along in their recovery, who are looking for things that can facilitate their recovery journey and daily living. This content may be focused on spirituality or recovery coaching, for example.

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