‘From the Rooms to the Streets’ by Bill White

Unknown-1‘Until recently, recovery from addiction was shrouded in public secrecy in the United States and in most other countries. Addiction has long been viewed as a personally and culturally intractable problem, and pessimism has reigned about the prospects of long-term addiction recovery.

These perceptions have been fed by the unrelenting public visibility of addiction-related problems, but the comparable invisibility of stable, long-term addiction recovery.

Historically, most people in recovery either completely eschewed recovery status (refused the addiction and recovery labels and culturally “passed”) or regularly cloistered themselves in “the rooms” of recovery mutual aid meetings before repeatedly and invisibly re-entering their civilian roles without acknowledgement of their recovery status.

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Russell Brand – Addiction to Recovery

I’m long overdue in putting this film up.

‘Brand meets a whole range of people from whom he draws insights – scientists at the cutting edge of research into the psychology of addiction, those involved in innovative recovery treatments and drug addicts themselves.

Is addiction a disease? Should it be criminalized? And is abstinence-based recovery, which worked for Brand, a possible way forward? In this documentary Brand challenges conventional theory and practice as well as government policy in his own inimitable style, confronting the reality of addiction head on.

Along the way he draws on his own experience to try to help one of the addicts he meets to take the first steps towards recovery. Armed with his own heartfelt beliefs and new insights gained during his journey, Brand has the opportunity to change the hearts and minds of policy makers when he is invited to give evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee investigating the efficacy of current drug addiction treatment in the UK.’ BBC Three.

‘Recovery for a Higher Purpose’ by Bill White

Recovery for a higher purpose“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Michelangelo

It is one of the most beguiling qualities of the experience of addiction:  it sucks up everything of importance in your life and casts those cherished assets into the remotest reaches of one’s heart, leaving nothing but itself. This all occurs an inch at a time and second by second – increments so small they escape the category of decisions.

It is at the end of such a process that one cluster of fears stands greater than the full awareness of what has been lost.  That is the terror of one’s own emptiness and the gaping nothingness of one’s future.  Those latter breakthroughs of consciousness can fuel unending cycles of oblivion and sickness and take damaged souls to, or beyond, the brink of suicide.

These same fears pose a significant obstacle to recovery initiation.  That’s why the promise of recovery must offer more than the removal of alcohol and other drugs from one’s life.  For the person staring into the abyss, the promise of recovery to a life of meaning and purpose may be far more potent than the promise of recovery from addiction.

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Overcoming Drug Addiction: Darren’s Recovery Story

Here’s one of a number of short films abut recovery that is worth checking out.

‘The Alcohol & Drug Service (ADS) has been transforming lives for more than 25 years. Here is one true story about Darren, a young man from Grimsby, who has battled back from addictions to drugs to reclaim his life and rebuild relationships with family.

Darren was supported in his recovery by The Junction, a service which The Alcohol & Drug Service delivers in partnership with Rotherham Doncaster & South Humber NHS Foundation Trust.’

‘Benzodiazepine Guidance’ by djmac

Diazepam-3‘SMMGP has published guidance for using benzodiazepines and benzo-like drugs in primary care. It’s a comprehensive 60+ page document which covers most (but not all) of the bases and reinforces the need for caution when prescribing the drugs.

The guidance is so long in coming because consensus could not be reached. Benzo prescribing is an issue where people have strong views.

The guidance sets out a major problem: that current prescribing guidance is that these drugs should not be used for more than 2-4 weeks, but in practice this is widely flouted with over one million people on these in the long term.

As I say the document is comprehensive, so I’ve just picked out a few nuggets here.

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Climbing out of addiction and depression: Margo Talbot at TEDxCanmore

Great talk and pics and one hell of a recovery!

‘Current research suggests that addiction and depression are symptoms of emotional distress, not causes of it, forging the link between childhood trauma and mental illness. Margo Talbot’s journey supports these studies.

Diagnosed Bi Polar at age twenty-two, Margo spent the next fifteen years in suicidal depression before discovering the healing power of presence as the antidote to emotional trauma. Being present to our thoughts and emotions, not running the other way or masking them. Where best to practice the art of presence than the frozen world of ice climbing…

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I Am Not Anonymous: Faith’s Story, “One More Chance’

Faith-Text-1024x681(pp_w1000_h665)Another wonderful story from I Am Not Anonymous, which helps us feel what addiction is like and experience the personal joys of recovery. Thank you, Faith.

‘Until I got clean and sober, I never knew that other people experienced the same pain and emptiness that I used drugs and alcohol to escape from. Even when I was a little girl I felt like a part of me was missing – I felt alone, afraid, uncomfortable, and incomplete.

I remember looking up in the sky at airplanes and wishing I could trade places with someone on them. It didn’t matter who it was or what the destination was, I just wanted to be anyone else and anywhere else… and I didn’t know why.

I started using drugs and alcohol in my early teens and they took me very temporarily to the place I thought I always wanted to be. They gave me relief from myself, my insecurities, my fears, and my loneliness. They made me feel “okay” with who I was, where I was, and who I was with, but they came with a price. At the time they seemed worth it.

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‘Experiencing Recovery – Part 10′ by William L. White: Recovery Paradigm and Addiction Treatment

The last part of Bill White’s 2012 Norman E. Zinberg Memorial Lecture from Harvard. Bill says he is not a teacher of these issues about recovery, but still a student. He encourages us all to be students of this rapidly changing ecology of recovery in the US. Bill also looks at what we need to do in the future in relation to recovery and recovery-based care.

I Am Not Anonymous: Adam’s Story, ‘An Open Book’

Adam-Text-1024x681(pp_w1000_h665)‘For the entirety of my addiction – many sad, painful years of car accidents, overdoses, barroom brawls and street fights, failed relationships, small-time legal skirmishes and stints at rehabs – everyone wanted me to admit I had a problem, to talk about it.

Then, after I got clean and sober and became a husband, father, hockey dad and a union president that negotiated my co-workers salaries and medical benefits, many people wanted me to put it behind me, to shut up about it.

The planet witnessed the train wreck, yet I was supposed to cover it up after I got that bad boy back on the rails, which was no small feat.

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I Am Not Anonymous: Mariel’s Story, ‘Together We Can’

Mariel-Text-1024x681(pp_w1000_h665)I’ll be finishing off Bill White’s talk this week, as well as highlighting some stories from the excellent website I Am Not Anonymous. Here’s the first of these stories.

‘My name is Mariel Harrison. I am 28 years old. I live in Point Pleasant, NJ. I am a daughter, sister, aunt, girlfriend and friend. I am also a consumer, a voter, a tax-payer, a home-renter, and a licensed/registered/insured driver.

I am a responsible, productive and valued employee. I am a diligent full-time student with a 3.9 GPA. I believe wholeheartedly in the healing properties of yoga and meditation, am a certified yoga teacher, lived in an ashram for 9-months, and hold nothing more sacred then my personal practice both on and off the mat.

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‘Experiencing Recovery – Part 6′ by William L. White: Recovery Durability Set Point

When does recovery become durable? When does sobriety today predict sobriety for a lifetime? When does my risk of resuming alcohol and drug use and having a recurrence of a substance use disorder plummet?

‘Experiencing Recovery – Part 3′ by William L. White: Toward a Recovery Paradigm

More of Bill White’s talk that he gave at the Harvard Addiction Conference in 2012, the Norman E. Zinberg Memorial Lecture.

Bill talks about the disconnection between recovery and treatment, and asks what do we know about the science of recovery. And how do we define recovery? He tells us how little neuroscience has told us about recovery.

‘Experiencing Recovery – Part 2′ by William L. White: The Rise of Modern Addiction Treatment

I continue Bill White’s talk that he gave at the Harvard Addiction Conference in 2012, the Norman E. Zinberg Memorial Lecture. An amazing history of recovery and treatment for alcohol and drug addiction.

‘The Year of the Dragon’ by Bill White

SlayingTheDragon_2ndEd_Cover_Reduced_2014-06-19If you are interested in this field, this is quite simply one of the best books you will ever read. Bill, thank you!

‘A new edition of Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America has just rolled off the presses. The first edition (1998) went through multiple printings and has been used as a text in collegiate addictions studies programs.

Of even greater import has been how this history helped many people in recovery see themselves as “a people” and contributed to the rise of a new recovery advocacy movement in the U.S..

It is ironic with all I have sought to do professionally within the addictions field that my most lasting contribution will likely come from my hobby – four decades of investigating the history of addiction treatment and recovery. It is thus fitting that one of my final acts of professional service will be releasing this new edition.

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Your Recovered Life: Tim Harrington, Intervention Specialist & Recovery Advocate

‘Tim Harrington is fiercely committed to the world of recovery. He helps people get and stay sober – in whatever way works best for them AND takes daily actions aimed at reducing the shame and stigma of addiction.

The first time I saw Tim in action was at a big conference on addiction treatment. It was during a panel discussion that he raised his hand and asked a simple question.

He referenced how we, who understood addiction and treatment, were all there to learn more…but what about all the people ‘out there’ who weren’t in the know? Especially those whose lives addiction crashed into and who hadn’t a clue about the disease and even LESS about recovery. What if we had a conference for THOSE people?

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Stamp Out Stigma

Stigma and prejudice in society are key barriers to recovery. Here is a new campaign against stigma.

‘1 in 4 of us is living with a mental illness. It’s time we stopped whispering and starting talking. Learn more at  http://www.stampoutstigma.com

Marta’s Story: Recovering from benzodiazepine addiction

bzacuteHere is a benzo story from the excellent Recovery Road website.

‘My benzo story started over 26 years ago with a panic attack. I was a very active person, I had 2 beautiful children, a good hubby.  Life was good, my children had just started school, I was sad about it, I didn’t want to let them go, but I had to of course. I worked when I wanted to so that was good and I had a very busy social life.

I suddenly started getting panic attacks. They were frightening and I thought I was about to die. I went to my GP and was given 60 diazepam 2 mg pills. She said take one, twice a day.

I took one 2 mg pill a day, my panic attacks stopped and I got on with life. I was grateful that the med was stopping further panic attacks.  At no point did my doctor warn me of any dangers, I thought it was okay to keep taking them,  and in the early days it stopped my fear of another panic attack.

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Family Stories, Secrets and Survival: Dr. Judith Landau at TEDxVailWomen

I can strongly recommend this extraordinary talk from Dr Judith Landau. It’s one of my favourites, found only this morning. Thank you BDawg!

This talk will provide you with insights into intergenerational trauma and how addiction arises as a coping response. It will show you a way forward to recovery and healing, through Story. Understanding the past can help us deal with the present and help create a better future.

Judith, thank you for this wonderful talk! Here is the Youtube intro:

‘Dr. Judith Landau tells the story of trauma and recovery through generations and gives clues along the way for healthier families.

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Addiction and trust: Marc Lewis at TEDxRadboudU 2013

A former drug addict himself, Lewis now researches addiction. In order to get over ones addiction, he explains, self-trust is necessary.

Unfortunately, self-trust is extremely difficult for an addict to achieve. There are two factors that make it so difficult to get over an addiction: lack of self-control and an inability to put off reward. An addict wants his fix and he wants it now, despite the risk of losing out on a happier, healthier future.

The way to build self-trust, Lewis explained, and get over an addiction is for the addict to begin an internal dialogue with his future self to convince his present self that it can, in fact, live without its addiction.

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‘Addictions & Corrections’ with Gabor Maté (Part 1of 2)

JUST REALISED – this is my 500th blog on the website!

“What is it that the correctional service actually corrects? In my view very little…and…the justice system is completely criminal and it should be studied…” So begins a provocative presentation by trauma and addiction treatment expert, Gabor Maté, M.D.

You can find Part 2 here.