Michael’s 43rd (Sober) Anniversary

My good friend Michael (Mike) Scott last had a drink 43 years (15,695 days) ago today. Tonight, we will celebrate his 43rd Sober Birthday. This morning, I’m going to celebrate his achievement with a blog post focused on some of Mike’s experiences and reflections.

Mike first contacted me about our Daily Dose website back in 2002. He loved our drug and alcohol news portal that I had launched with Ash Whitney early in 2001. Mike met Ash for the first time (on Skype) a few weeks ago and the pair were mutually pleased to have their first chat.

I gave Mike a big shock when I called him one day back in 2009 and suggested that we have lunch together. He replied, ‘How can we do that? You live on the opposite side of the world.’ I told him that I had moved to Perth on Christmas Day 2008.

Since then, we have become best mates. We generally meet once a week for lunch and go out with Mike’s wife Andrea and my partner Linda every few weeks. Here are some quotes from Mike’s Story, ‘The Power of Empathy and Compassion‘, written back in 2013:

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Learning from the Experts

When I was a teenager, I competed in chess competitions around the UK, including the British Under-18 championship on two occasions. I was my county junior champion. To be competitive, I had to study chess theory and practice. I learnt from those people who were champions at what they did, including world champions. Not by being in the same room as them—although I did play Anatoly Karpov, who was later to be world champion, in a simultaneous exhibition—but by their games and introspections. I learnt from the experts.

You would have thought that people working in the addiction field would also be learning from the experts—the people who are in recovery, or are recovering, from a serious substance use problem. Many do. But… you’d be surprised to know that this goes on far too little, at least from my experience.

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12 Principles of Indigenous Healing

When I first developed the educational healing resource Sharing Culture, I did a great deal of reading about the healing of trauma and historical trauma. I summarised what I considered to be 12 principles of healing, which are relevant to Aboriginal people here in Australia and other Indigenous peoples around the world.  I have decided to make an article on these principles the first  in our educational journey into Indigenous trauma and healing.

1. The Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be recognised and respected
Recognition of, and respect for, the Human Rights of Indigenous peoples is fundamental to improving their health and wellbeing. Society must ensure that Indigenous peoples have full and effective participation in decisions that directly or indirectly affect their lives.

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Factors that Facilitate Recovery

The importance of these factors has been demonstrated by listening to the narratives of recovering people about their journeys into and out of addiction (1,200 words).

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Untangling the Elements Involved in Treatment

Our research focused on interviews of people in a prison treatment programme revealed insights into the elements that operate in the treatment process, and how they might interact to facilitate a person’s path to recovery from addiction (1,700 words).

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‘What is Recovery?: David Best

Here is a blog I wrote about David Best in May 2013. At that time, he had 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.

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Key Factors Facilitating Indigenous Healing

When I first developed the educational healing resource Sharing Culture back in 2014, I did a great deal of reading about the healing of trauma and historical trauma. I summarised what I considered to be 12 principles of healing, which are relevant to Aboriginal people here in Australia and other Indigenous peoples around the world.

1. The Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be recognised and respected
Recognition of, and respect for, the Human Rights of Indigenous peoples is fundamental to improving their health and wellbeing. Society must ensure that Indigenous peoples have full and effective participation in decisions that directly or indirectly affect their lives.

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20 Ways To Facilitate Indigenous Healing, Part 2

P4061087-220x1646. The Healing Ritual of Storytelling
Storytelling is a healing ritual amongst Indigenous people.

In a culturally safe environment (e.g. healing circle), Indigenous people can share experiences by telling their Story (which is often a trauma Story), help each other come to terms with the emotional pain caused by what has happened to them in their past, and make sense of their personal story in relationship to the collective, communal Story.

7. Pride in Surviving Colonisation
Learning history from an Indigenous perspective, illustrating how conditions for social and psychological discontent have developed, helps Indigenous people understand why they have problems.

It also shows them that they retain the necessary agency to change their lives for the better. It helps them deal with shame and blame, factors that impact negatively on social and emotional wellbeing.

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‘Without a life story, a child is adrift, disconnected and vulnerable’ – Dr Bruce Perry on the value and power of the Life Story approach

UnknownHere is a powerful piece of writing by Dr Bruce Perry, which is adapted from the Foreword to the new book, Life Story Therapy with Traumatized Children, by Richard Rose. It is fundamental to what I am doing with our new initiative Sharing Culture, which is focused on helping Indigenous people heal from intergenerational trauma and its consequences.

‘A fundamental and permeating strength of humankind is the capacity to form and maintain relationships – the capacity to belong. It is in the context of our clan, community and culture that we are born and raised.

The brain-mediated set of complex capacities that allow one human to connect to another form the very basis for survival and has led to the ‘success’ of our species on this planet. Without others or without belonging, no individual could survive or thrive.

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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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‘A personal and social model of recovery’ by David Best

Unknown-1Here’s another excellent article from David Best which is essential reading for people trying to facilitate recovery.

‘There has been a subtle change to the role of recovery in UK addictions research, policy and practice in recent years, with a transition from the periphery to centre stage. But it can be argued that, for all the bluster, we still have a limited evidence base and we have not come far in developing an integrated or testable theoretical model.

Humphreys and Lembke (2013) have done a good job in summarising the ‘what works’ of recovery – focusing on three areas: peer-inclusive interventions, recovery housing and mutual-aid groups – so this article will not revisit that evidence.

What I will do is overview three key component parts of a theoretical model of recovery, then draw them together to derive conclusions about what we should do next to make policy and practice stronger in this area.

  1. Recovery capital – personal and social resources – the journey of growth
  2. Social identity and social contagion in recovery – the role of friends and connections
  3. Therapeutic landscapes of recovery – the role of location.

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My Favourite Blogs: 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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Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

“Shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that if other people know it or see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection.”

Here is one of my favourite people. And, boy-oh-boy does this lady have a powerful brand. The talk here is one of the most viewed TEDx talks – over 13 million views.

Here’s the TEDx intro:

‘Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.’

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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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Recovery Stories Highlight: ‘What is Recovery?” by David Best

Unknown-3I thought I’d devote Saturdays to re-publishing some of my favourite blogs. Here is the first:

‘David 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.

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Sharing Culture: Transcending Historical Trauma

Sharing Culture is a new initiative I am developing with Dr. Marion Kickett, a Noongar Aboriginal leader and Associate Professor at Curtin University, and Perth filmmaker Michael Liu

Sharing Culture is a unique initiative to empower Aboriginal people to heal and develop resilience to historical trauma and its consequences. These consequences include poor physical health, mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction, violence, abuse and suicide.  

Sharing Culture is based on the core values of authenticity, connection, courage, creativity, empathy and forgiveness.

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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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I refuse to feel ashamed

images-5Here is an interesting blog on Life Unbuzzed. Everyone’s recovery is just as valuable as anyone else’s. And everyone has a choice of what they do with their recovery, e.g. go public or not, become a recovery advocate or not. Here, husband and wife take different ways forward. 

‘Last week, my husband and I went to see a screening of the film The Anonymous People (which I recommend), sponsored by a local recovery support organization. The theater was packed and I felt bathed in a warm and welcoming vibe.

This was the first gathering of sober people that I’ve been a part of and I loved the sense of belonging. (Yeah, we’re all sober, dammit, and we’re proud!)

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‘Viva la Difference’ by Matthew

IMG_4919Matthew  was on of my favourite bloggers on Wired In To Recovery. Here’s an example of his writing, from October 2011.

‘Long live the difference. Long live otherness, long live understanding and open mindedness towards people and things that are new to us. I’ve took the following quote from the Hibbert Assembly website:

“Diversity is something to be celebrated. Each individual is unique. Each has it in her or him to contribute to the richness of humankind.

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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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