‘These Three Companies Make a Point of Hiring Recovering Addicts’ by Heidi Vanderlee

Military_truck_with_crew_2004My apologies for being offline twice twice in the past couple of weeks but we were hacked and I didn’t realise our website was closed down by our server company as I was asleep! Hassles of a life online!

‘So you’ve hit rock bottom and now you’re crawling your way back out. But unfortunately the hard work that goes into getting sober won’t pay the bills. Getting hired as a recovering addict isn’t always easy: Many of us have spotty employment histories, and the stigma attached to past criminal or mental health records may deter potential employers.

Addicts in early recovery often find themselves tending bar, waiting tables or working the cappuccino machine at a local coffee shop. But if mixing boozy beverages or making little hearts in foamed milk isn’t up your alley, there are still plenty of other employment options out there.

Growing numbers of non-profit organizations – such as the Doe Fund and the Salvation Army – are going out of their way to find employment for addicts in recovery. And there are places where your history with substances could actually give your CV the boost it needs to get you in the door.

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I Am Not Anonymous: Hugh’s Story

Hugh2Text(pp_w1000_h666)A blog from a great new website.

‘When I first heard about IAmNotAnonymous.org, I thought it was one of the coolest things to hit the recovery world. I subscribe to the idea that there is nothing shameful about being in recovery. It is my life. It has made me the man I am today. A man worthy of love and respect.

Some people believe that they need to keep their recovery a secret, I am not one of those people. Partly because the depths of my addiction was thrown into the spotlight with some unsolicited press in the form of newspaper articles in 2013. It’s quite possible that I was the last person to know that I had a problem with drugs and alcohol.

My whole life I have felt like there was a void in my soul. A missing piece of me. A void that I have constantly tried to fill with different vices.

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‘Doctors with addictions: double standards?’ by djmac

Doctor-Addiction‘Doctors get addicted to alcohol and other drugs; there’s plenty of evidence of that. My question is: Do doctors with addictions get the same kind of treatment and outcomes as their patients?  The British Medical Association estimates that there are 10,000 to 13,000 addicted doctors in the UK. Most of them will be in practice.

What is the expectation for doctors coming to treatment in the UK? Well, the goal of abstinence is pretty much accepted as a given (even for IV opiate addicts) and their access to quality treatment of adequate duration is greater.

Outcome studies from the USA consistently show recovery rates of 80% and there is evidence from the Practitioner Health Programme (PHP) in London this is also true in the UK. Most doctors in recovery return successfully to work.

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‘I Am Not Anonymous’ website: Kate’s Story

Kate(pp_w1000_h431)Please check out this wonderful website, I Am Not Anonymous. And check out the wonderful photographer who has put this together. 

‘I’m Kate Meyer… a NY based Portrait and Wedding Photographer and lover of all things humanity-related.

It is hard to even know where to begin.  I will start by saying that I am by no means, an expert on addiction.  Have I been greatly affected by it?  YES.  I am my own expert in that field.

Long story short, I am in a relationship with a man in recovery from drug addiction.  What that means is that he hasn’t picked up a drink or drug in a significant amount of time and as a result,  his life gets better every single day.

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‘Lost lessons from an earlier era’ by Bill White

Lessons from an Earlier EraMy 2009 monograph outlined in considerable detail the history, theory and status of peer recovery support services (PRSS) in the United States.  In the years since the monograph’s publication, voluntary and paid recovery support services have dramatically increased in the US and internationally. 

Such growth has recently prompted me to reflect on the pre-professional days of addiction counseling in the United States (1965-1975) when people in recovery constituted the core workforce within newly arising addiction treatment programs. 

The current expansion of PRSS raised the following question:  What experiential lessons from this earlier era could inform the present implementation of PRSS?  Here are my top 20 answers.

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‘Four Examples of Expensive Rehabs That Spread Stigma, Not Recovery’ by Tom Horvath

shaming‘Eliminating stigma against people in recovery appears to be a universally supported goal within the recovery community, and for good reason. Recovery is hard enough without this additional burden.

The unspoken assumption is that stigma is the fault of the “outside” world – not of other people in recovery. But the recovery community has failed to provide effective leadership on this issue. And one component of the community—treatment providers—frequently reinforces stigma. How can we expect the world at large to change when we don’t change?

I operate a treatment system with two residential facilities, a sober living home and outpatient services. Because relapse is common, we often see clients who have been to other facilities. Most are frustrated, and often furious, at how they have been treated elsewhere. They generally report that they were viewed by staff as entirely lacking good judgment or a capacity for self-management. Therefore their requests and perspectives were easy to dismiss, even ridicule. They often have not been treated with much hospitality, either.

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‘Shame & Empathy’ by Dr. Brené Brown

Here’s an early video (2007) from Brené Brown before her TEDx talks went viral. Shame plays a major role in keeping people locked into addiction. Developing shame resilience can play a major role in recovery. 

‘In an excerpt from her new psychoeducational shame-resilience curriculum, University of Houston researcher and educator Brené Brown discusses the destructive nature of shame and the healing power of empathy.’

Baylissa’s journey off clonazepam

Baylissa suffered from dystonia since childhood and was given a prescription for a benzodiazepine called clonazepam in order to minimise a facial tic on her wedding day. She soon became addicted and subsequently spent three years in withdrawal.

However, this terrible experience led to her work as a withdrawal support counsellor and – fully recovered – she now has no regrets.

‘Recovery is too hard and dangerous. Solution: methadone for life’ by DJ Mac

w600_817157f479b2b1cb43e6a6646b8f7efcWell worth checking out excellent new blog, Recovery Review, by DJ Mac. Here’s a sample:

‘Berlin, like many big cities has a heroin problem. People presenting for help are being prescribed opioid replacement therapy (ORT) in greater numbers. That’s a good thing isn’t it? Well it depends on what you think is the end goal of treatment.

At the start of this interesting recent German paper “Why do patients stay in opiod maintenance treatment?”, Dr Stefan Gutwinski and colleagues say that the scientific literature indicates the point of ORT is: “to increase survival and bring stabilization to patients, in order to enable them to reach abstinence of opioids.” The Scottish Government’s drugs policy and the UK policy agree.

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‘My Story of Benzo Withdrawal and Activism’ by Barry Haslam

Barry-SueLatest from Mad in America is the story of a remarkable activist.

‘My story starts in 1976. I had a nervous breakdown whilst studying for my Accountancy Technician examination (which i passed with distinction). Plus I was holding down 2 jobs and bringing up a young family. My daughters where then aged 5 and 7.

I was then prescribed a series of benzodiazepine/anti depressant drugs for 5 years. This information was gleaned from my medical records (from 1976 until 1986) at a later date, as I have COMPLETE MEMORY LOSS, no memory at all, for that time.

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San Patrignano, A Community of Life

Professor Neil McKeganey told me about this special place after one of his visits. He loved San Patrignano and was so impressed with the progamme.

‘San Patrignano is a house, a family for young people who have lost their way.

It is a COMMUNITY OF LIFE that welcomes all who are afflicted by dependencies and exclusion so that they recover their own way through a path of recovery that is primarily a path of love.

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‘Stop kicking people out of addiction treatment’ by Bill White

Kicking Image‘In 2005, my colleagues Christy Scott, Michael Dennis, Michael Boyle and I co-authored an article entitled It’s Time to Stop Kicking People out of Addiction Treatment. The latest (2002) data then available confirmed that 18% (288,000) of all persons admitted to specialized addiction treatment in the U.S. were administratively discharged (“kicked out”) prior to treatment completion.

Those persons whose treatment was terminated in this manner were often those with the most severe and complex addictions and the least natural recovery support resources – in short, those most in need of professional treatment.

The most frequent cause for administrative discharge (AD) over the past half century has been continued use of alcohol or other drugs during treatment in spite of threatened consequences, e.g., the central symptom of the disorder.

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‘How the 12 steps can help everyone’ by Gabriel Segal

Unknown-1Found this little interesting piece on Beth Burgess’s Smyls website.

The end of my afflictions and the power of The Twelve Steps
I was born in 1959. From as far back as I can remember until 2011, I suffered from severe forms of anxiety, depression, and addiction. I had many years of therapy of different kinds. I was prescribed pills. None of that helped. And some made matters worse.

Eventually, I thought I would give the 12-step approach a chance. I was initially put off by what appeared to be a strongly religious streak in the program, something that as an analytic philosopher and cognitive scientist, I could not accept.

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‘Shedding Skins in Recovery’ by William L White

Shedding Skins in Addiction RecoveryMore wonderful reflections from Bill White in his latest blog posting.

‘For years, the following quote has rested over my writing desk:  “The Phoenix does not mourn what lies in its ashes; the serpent does not mourn its old skin.” Arthur Frank

Addiction recovery involves a progressive unpeeling of the self and focused efforts of self-construction.  It is helpful in thinking of this to distinguish between remission and recovery.

Remission of an illness can involve little more than the removal of symptoms and a return to the earlier trajectory of one’s existence.   In this sense, remission is regressive – a return to an earlier level of functioning. 

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‘Building Bridges Between Mental Health and Addictions Communities’ by Oryx Cohen

ocohenThere is a real need to connect addiction and mental health communities, so this blog from Mad in America is very interesting.

‘When Linda Sarage and Jake Powers first approached me about writing a section for the fantastic manual developed by the addictions community – From the Ground Up: How to Build Your own Peer-to-Peer Recovery Center – that would help connect this manual to the mental health community, I envisioned writing a section that would serve as some sort of translation tool that could connect two very different communities toward a common purpose. 

After reading the manual, however, I quickly remembered how much the mental health community has in common with the substance abuse community and how little “translation” is actually needed.

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‘Recovery Landscapes’ by Bill White

Recovery LandscapesExcellent new blog from Bill White. I love the phrase ‘Recovery Landscape’.

‘Interventions into severe alcohol and other (AOD) problems have focused primarily upon altering the character, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individuals.

Far less attention has been given to influencing the environment in which such factors are birthed, sustained or changed.  But interest in the geography of recovery is increasing.

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‘Are we all addicted?’ by Becs Daddow

RD photo glasses - updateI like this article by Becs Daddowof Nurture Development, who draws on the great work of Bruce Alexander.  She emphasises that when we deal with an issue like addiction, it “requires a whole community response that doesn’t simply focus on a single issue whether that’s recovery, well-being, mental or physical health, and so on.” Too true!

‘You’ve probably heard people state that addiction is blind to status, fortune, and situation. It’s often said when talking about drug or alcohol addiction and you’ll be directed to the sad deaths of the rich and famous to make the point all the more resonant, offering a stark alternative to the stereotypical image of the gaunt, penniless, criminal heroin addict so often depicted.

The statement may in fact be truer than we realise at first. Read, for example, Bruce Alexander’s The Globalization of Addiction and you will find a compelling narrative that sets out how, in today’s post-modern world, most of us have ‘severe addictions’. They may not be addictions to drugs or alcohol but that doesn’t necessarily make them any less dangerous.

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‘High on Hope’: Peter’s Story

Please watch this excellent filmed Recovery Story. Thank you so much for this share, Peter.

‘A frank and honest account of a life dominated by addiction and crime that ends on a ‘HIGH’ – Peter’s story is testament to the paradigm shifts that can happen when people have, ‘just had enough’, ask for help and receive a sufficient amount of it.

Peter has turned his previous experiences into a positive as he now creates a positive ripple-effect in his community by helping others.

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‘An interview with Greg Williams – The Anonymous People’ by Veronica Valli

20956_610039903223_6779801_n-1-300x280Greg Williams and The Anonymous People are in the news a lot recently which is great. Exactly what we want. Here’s a new interview from Veronica Valli.

‘If you are in the recovery community then you would have heard of the movie The Anonymous People. A ground breaking movie that highlights the need for more advocacy and more access to treatment for addicts and alcoholics.

Many of the participants of the movie have been interviewed for my Recovery Rocks series: Emmy award winning actress and NYT best selling author Kristen Johnston, former NBA basketball player Chris Herron, Recovery advocate and media commentator Joe Schrank.

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‘Dying of a Heroin Overdose Does Not Make You a Scumbag’ by A. Thomas McLellan, Ph.D.

Unknown-6Great article in the Huffington Post by one of the leading addiction treatment researchers involving the loss of one of my favourite actors.

‘In the wake of the tragic death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, I am shocked by the vast range of opinions and emotions that have been voiced in the public discourse. Media outlets of all shapes and forms are weighing in on his death – and specifically, the foolish, self-destructive choices he made associated with his addiction.

The explosion of speculation and moralizing surrounding this death brings to light how conflicted our feelings, as a society, are about this disease. And the science is clear on this point.

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