Classic Blog – Untangling the elements involved in treatment

P4061087-220x164Here’s a summary of a piece of research that Lucie James and I conducted some years ago. I am very proud of this piece of work and it certainly opened my eyes to the importance of gaining a sense of belonging in the recovery journey.

‘To understand how treatment helps people overcome substance use problems, it is essential to understand the elements that operate in the treatment process, and how they might interact to facilitate behavioural change and a person’s path to recovery from addiction.

Lucie James and I set out to gain initial insights into these issues by using a qualitative analysis of the views and experiences of clients on the RAPt treatment programme in one male and one female prison in the UK.

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‘“It doesn’t work for everyone” – a take on 12-step approaches’ by DJMac

iStock_000011501444XSmall-300x199Excellent blog from the DJMac website. Good discussion as well.

‘What follows is a guest blog by a GP who gives a personal view on professional perspectives of mutual aid:

“Astonished”
I was astonished the first time I was taken to an NA meeting. I mean, really gobsmacked – you could have knocked me off my seat. The room was full of recovering heroin addicts; something I’d never seen in my 20 years (at that time) in practice.

I was both excited – at the possibilities – and ashamed – at the fact that I didn’t know such places existed. It curls my toes to think of it now, but I had not referred my patients to them. That was a while back.

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‘Spirituality and recovery’ by djmac

Wisdom-300x199‘Spirituality and recovery – do they go together? Hang on a second; what is spirituality and why are scientific articles on the place of spirituality in recovery falling into my inbox on a regular basis? Yes, I’m calling them scientific articles because they appear in peer-reviewed journals.

I was at a graduate art show last night and got talking to a hospital chaplain about the nature of spirituality. I don’t come across hospital chaplains too much in my day-to-day life, but oddly enough, I’d been listening to one on Radio 4’s ‘Thought for the day’ slot only a day or two before.

I was quite surprised by the lack of religious content to the job. The minister on the radio was much more focused on supporting people as they faced challenges, on helping them get through and on finding meaning in the difficulties they were experiencing.

Last night’s chaplain explained that in the ‘old days’ the hospital chaplain was expected to be ‘a witness for Christ’.

Now the focus was on helping ill people and their families find spiritual health and address social and practical need too. It’s about holistic health. I talked about the growing evidence of the link between spirituality and recovery and began to realise as we talked that spirituality can be part of building recovery capital.

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’12-Step Programmes Help Thousands, but Are Outdated and Sexist’ by Jessica Smith

Geological wonders: picture three‘Addiction is everywhere. The drug of choice may be alcohol, or it may be food, sex, romance, gambling or shopping, but the basic problem is the same; the inner void created by a culture that sells us the empty promise that reaching for external things will make us happy.

When all that striving for money and possessions, and for status through jobs and relationships, still leaves a gaping hole inside us, many of us reach for the bottle, the chocolates or the credit card – and the cycle is complete.

In an article in the Guardian on May 30, Damian Thompson argued against the disease model for addiction, as developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. The roots of addiction, he wrote, lie in environmental factors, in the fact that “contemporary capitalism is ruthlessly targeting our mental reward circuits.”

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Recovery Rocks: Gavin Crosisca

Gavin-Crosisca-210x300A long overdue visit to Veronica Valli’s excellent blog Recovery Rocks, this time involving an Australian sportsperson.

‘Recovery Rocks this week with Australian rules footballer Gavin Crosisca. Gavin played 246 of Australian rules football with Collingwood before moving into coaching for over 25 years.

But despite his successful sporting career Gavin hid a 25 year drug problem from his teammates and fans.

He describes his addiction as being ‘a fire inside of him’ as it slowly destroyed his life, finances and family.

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Recovery Stories Highlight: Untangling the elements involved in treatment

Unknown-4Here’s a summary of a piece of research that Lucie James and I conducted some years ago. I am very proud of this piece of work and it certainly opened my eyes to the importance of gaining a sense of belonging in the recovery journey.   

‘To understand how treatment helps people overcome substance use problems, it is essential to understand the elements that operate in the treatment process, and how they might interact to facilitate behavioural change and a person’s path to recovery from addiction.

Lucie James and I set out to gain initial insights into these issues by using a qualitative analysis of the views and experiences of clients on the RAPt treatment programme in one male and one female prison in the UK.

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‘Unraveling the Mystery of Personal and Family Recovery: An Interview with Stephanie Brown, PhD’ by Bill White (Part 2)

UnknownStephanie Brown has written an excellent book on personal recovery, from which I have used some key sections in my blogs. She emphasises a number of paradoxes in recovery which are described here. There’s some powerful stuff below, which I had never really thought about until I read Stephanie’s work.

Bill White: Speaking of impact, you wrote a book called A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety and Radical Transformation that has deeply touched many people. Could you share some of what you infused into that book?

Stephanie Brown: At the time I wrote A Place Called Self, I was deepening my understanding of paradox. Hazelden asked me to explore some of these paradoxes from the perspective of recovering women, although much of what I eventually wrote also applies to men.

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‘The Street to Recovery’ by Kevin Kennedy

51-JLmnATJL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_Remember this guy? Well, he has a Recovery Story to tell, which you can read about in his new book. Meanwhile, here is an article from Addiction Today.

‘Kevin Kennedy – Curly Watts from TV’s long-running Coronation Street, and so popular he drew in 22million viewers for his TV wedding – has now been sober for 15 years. He shares his experience of alcoholism and rehab, strength of recovery and hope for the future with Addiction Today readers. Pdf

PROLOGUE: A FRIDAY IN AUGUST 1998
Sometime in the morning, I came round. I’d blacked out from the drink, with no memory of the night before. As soon as I opened my eyes, before I’d even focused on the room around me, I knew I had done it again. After all the promises, even swearing on the Bible and all the pleas for second chances, I’d still gone ahead and lost it. The four hideous horsemen – shame, remorse, self-disgust, and, worst of them all, fear – had found me, again.

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What Works in Treatment?: Adam’s Story

rsz_img_3275In the second of our series on what works in treatment, we look at Adam’s experiences and views. Adam had a problem with alcohol, amphetamine and cannabis before attending a residential rehab in Northam, Western Australia. 

‘I remember my first day in the rehab very well. I thought to myself, “What am I doing here? What have I got myself into?” I was very, very nervous, and along with the shakes and anxiety from coming off the alcohol, I was a right mess. However nervous I felt though, I had made my mind up before the implant operation that I was not going to drink or drug again. I was determined to do something about my addictions.

I did all the necessary paper work and was shown around, before being taken to my room. I was relieved to find I had a room to myself. I then sat on the end of the bed with the two garbage bags that contained my possessions, and had a good cry. I started to think about my family and I realised how much I missed them. Later that day, I was allocated a night to cook dinner and assigned a daily chore.

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The Anonymous People: New Trailer Announcement

Filmmaker Greg Williams and The Anonymous People team put this message up on Facebook.

“After many comments and concerns about a few of the original sound bites chosen for film trailer that relate specifically to 12-step groups being misinterpreted and not reflective of the feature length film’s message – we have chosen to revise the film’s trailer.

The Anonymous People project team has deep respect and admiration for the long-standing, beautiful tradition of anonymity at the level of film. No footage in this film has been taken inside meetings held by 12-step fellowships. In addition, no living person is identified or identifies himself or herself as a member of a particular 12-step program and nobody on the project teams feels this needs to change.

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‘How Do I Cope in Early Recovery?’ by Stephanie Brown

rsz_dscf0052_2In my last blog on Stephanie Brown’s book  A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety, and Radical Transformation, I looked at what women can expect in early recovery, in particular in relation to their feelings. Stephanie goes on to look at the question, ‘How Do I Cope?’

‘If you are like many other women in early abstinence, you feel inadequate, maybe even dumb. How did you get yourself into this predicament? And what do you do now? How do you stay away from your drug of choice and every other drug too? How do you focus on yourself one day at a time?…

How do you tell your family that you need to stop drinking and that you need meetings when they don’t think anything is wrong? Or when they’re so angry they don’t want to stick around while you get well. Most of all, how do you survive each moment and each day when the pain is so great and you are so scared?’

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Kathy’s Recovery Minute

“I’d like to stress that one day does not go by that I don’t think about the life I took. I don’t forget that a child grew up without her father and that a mother’s heart was broken because of my choices, including again my own mother.”

“I live a life now full of blessings and I tell my Story as often as I can, so if I can at least save one life, make one change to somebody when they hear my  words, it will make at least some part of this tragedy and pain have some type of meaning for the positive. Thank you.” Kathy of CCAR (Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery)

Simon’s Moment of Clarity

post1In reading Simon’s Recovery Story, it seems that he had two major Moments of Clarity. Mind you, I’m sure he had many others along his recovery journey!

‘One day, I received a letter from the head of faculty, asking me to come to see him in his office. I’d stopped attending lectures and tutorials, and I was only attending university to collect giro cheques from my mailbox.

I knew that my addiction had come out on top again, and that I’d need all my wits about me if everything was not all going to fall down around me – my brittle facade of lies and last chances and denial that I would retreat into every time I was challenged.

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Michael’s Recovery Minute

“I was ingrained in CCAR to show the positive side of recovery, putting a face on recovery, allowing people to see that recovery was possible. A reality that people in many walks of life would able to get their life together again.

Michael Askew is Manager of the Bridgeport Community Recovery Center, under the auspices of CCAR. Formerly known as Dark Shadow, he has been in recovery from 1989 after being in and out of prison for years (seven visits).

‘If Not AA, Then What? SMART Recovery and the AA Alternatives’ by Tom Horvath

images-2Here’s an article from SMART Recovery President Tom Horvath which appeared in the Huffington Post recently.

‘Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-step groups are the leading U.S. approach to addiction recovery. Millions have attended these meetings and “worked the steps.” Popular media include countless references to AA-oriented recovery. Many scientific studies show that attending these meetings is associated with recovery.

However, many individuals will not attend these meetings, or will not attend them long enough to solidify change. Their reasons include not wanting to accept the labels “addict” or “alcoholic,” not wanting to attend groups of any kind, not wanting to consider oneself powerless, not thinking of oneself as having a disease, or not wanting an approach that encourages lifelong attendance.

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Brad’s Moment(s) of Clarity

stories-04Here’s the second of our Moment of Clarity series, taken from Brad’s Recovery Story

‘At this time, I thought willpower is what I needed to stop drinking, but I soon found out that this wasn’t the case. I was lacking a true willingness and desire to get well. I daydreamed and dreamt about stopping drinking, but I think that’s all it was at that stage. There was no real consideration of the work that would be involved in stopping.

Anyway, I decided I needed a break from the booze. I retired to bed and began going through the terror of a full-blown rattle, something I hope I never have to go through again. Five days later, I was physically dry. I then decided to see how long I could abstain from alcohol. After six weeks of no alcohol, I still wanted a drink. In fact, my desire for alcohol was worse than ever.

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Finding Hope: The Second Step to Recovery

imagesA great blog from Emily Battaglia on the Drug & Alcohol Addiction Recovery Magazine website. 

‘People who are in the initial stages of recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism often struggle to find hope. They have a difficult time believing that recovery is possible, but identifying new sources of hope and strength is a crucial part of the recovery process.

These sources provide the foundation for a new beginning. Those who complete the second step in a traditional 12-step program say, “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

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‘A Family Illness’ by Phil Hughes

IMG_5024This excellent blog was written three years ago to the day on Wired In To Recovery. 

“I was like a tornado causing as much devastation as I possibly could in my family. But the problem was, I couldn’t even see it because all I cared about was me. I was caught up, obsessed with finding ways and means to get my next drink. When I didn’t have it, I was a nightmare to live with.

My mother felt so helpless, slowly watching her son kill himself through drink and drugs and not knowing whether she was coming or going half the time. It’s through that feeling of helplessness and frustration that the anger started to rear it’s ugly head.

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‘Stuck not broke’ by AntiHero79

IMG_1870Hello, as this is my first entry I’ll (try to) keep it short. I am two and a half years into my recovery. I’d love to say that it’s all plain sailing, but in fact has been the darkest and most confusing time of my life up to now.

“I always knew I was different”… Well it’s true, I did. Always felt apart, weird, somehow isolated from even my closest friends. I had a rough childhood, no doubt about it, and when I found drink and drugs it was like I was liberated.

My first round of addiction (to cannabis, from age 14 – 15) saw me walking round school in a virtual coma. In retrospect, it must’ve looked like there was something severely wrong with me. There was, I know now. As a nine year old, I was molested by a family ‘friend’. It was reported to the police but stopped there. Lack of evidence.

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‘Keeping the monkey off your back: top five tools to sustain recovery’ by Peapod

P1011013“Just because you got the monkey off your back, doesn’t mean the circus has left town” George Carlin, comedian and author.

Getting sober and drug-free is hard enough for most of us, but staying that way is a challenge. The evidence is that many people coming out of abstinence-oriented treatment will relapse in the first year and most of them in the first few weeks. Recovery initiation, the start of the journey, is just that: a beginning. In the past, we’ve treated it like the main event and had little thought for what happens next.

The circus may not have left town, but there are ways to avoid ending up in a ringside seat and having that pesky monkey trouble you again. These things are the tools of recovery. There are plenty of them and we need to find the ones that work for us. Some however are more reliable than others according to the evidence we have. Here are my own top five tools:

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