‘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.

‘Experiencing Recovery – Part 1’ by William L. White: Early History of Recovery in the US

Last week, I highlighted the fact that a new edition of Bill White’s classic book Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America has just rolled off the presses. I can tell you that this is one of the best (and most fascinating) books that you will ever read.

To celebrate the ‘rolling of the presses’ and Bill’s remarkable career in the recovery field, I am going to show a talk Bill gave at the Harvard Addiction Conference in 2012, the Norman E. Zinberg Memorial Lecture. I will show one part a day for the next 10 days, taken from Bill’s excellent website.

In the first part, Bill describes shows just how far back recovery goes historically in the US – to Native American Indians in the 1730s!

‘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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‘A Rendezvous With Hope’ by Bill White

“Life and their addictions had delivered to these women more than enough pain; what was needed was an unrelenting source of hope delivered to them by a cadre of recovering women who lacked much by way of professional credentials and polish, but who brought an inextinguishable and contagious faith in the transformative power of recovery.

These outreach workers knew recovery was possible.  They were themselves the living proof of that proposition.  And they spread the germ of recovery to women who initially caught it rather than chose it.”

outreachHere’s the latest blog from Bill White. It’s about hope.

‘Through my early tenure in the addictions field, the question of readiness for treatment and recovery was thought to be a pain quotient.  We then believed that people didn’t enter recovery until they had “hit bottom.”  If a person did not show evidence of such pain-induced readiness, they were often refused admission to treatment.

Then we recognized that the reason it took people so long to “hit bottom” was that they were protected from the painful consequences of their alcohol and other drug use by people we called “enablers.”  We then set about teaching enablers to stop rescuing and protecting their beloved but addicted family members. 

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‘Spirituality and Recovery’ by Bill White

Experiencing SpiritualityA new book, Experiencing Spirituality, co-authored by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham, has just been released.  It will find a broad and appreciative audience and will be of particular interest to addiction professionals, recovery support specialists, and people in recovery.

It is not a treatise on how to recover, but it offers profound insights about how to live one’s life in recovery.  Brilliantly conceived and beautifully written, Experiencing Spirituality is one of those rare books readers will return to again and again as a balm for old and fresh wounds and as a meditation on how to live a life of greater balance, fulfillment, and self-acceptance.

Kurtz is best known to readers of this site for his classic text, Not-God:  A History of Alcoholics Anonymous, Ketcham for her co-authorship of Under the Influence and Beyond the Influence.

In 1992, Kurtz and Ketcham co-authored The Spirituality of Imperfection, which used classic stories to explore the spiritual legacies of Alcoholics Anonymous.  The Spirituality of Imperfection is one of my all-time favorite books. 

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‘Brain Surgery as Addiction Treatment?’ by Bill White

Lobotomy‘In 1935 – the founding year of Alcoholics Anonymous, Portuguese neurologist Egas Moniz introduced a surgical procedure into psychiatry that came to be known as the prefrontal lobotomy (recall One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).   Drs. Walter Freeman and James Watts pioneered the use of this technique in the United States in 1936. 

By 1960, 100,000 psychosurgery procedures had been performed in the U.S.  Patients targeted for this procedure included those judged to have “compulsive hedonias” – alcoholism, drug addiction, excessive eating and sexual deviations.  

The prefrontal lobotomy procedure severed the connecting nerves between the thalamus and the prefrontal and frontal lobes of the brain.  Its intent was to induce significant changes in thinking and personality that could alter the course of intractable psychiatric illness.

The total number of people with substance use disorders who underwent this procedure is unknown.  One could assume that the prefrontal lobotomy is one more chapter of “harm in the name of help” long ago cast into the dustbin of addiction treatment history in the U.S., but when exactly did use of this procedure stop?  The following story suggests it may have gone on much longer than once thought.

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‘The Resilience of Alcoholics Anonymous’ by Bill White and Ernie Kurtz

AA_Newspaper_Image3Here is a seminal article describing what it takes to impact successfully on addiction and facilitate recovery. It helps us understand what underlies the success of AA.

‘Attacking Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and 12-step oriented addiction treatment has become a specialized industry with its own genre of literature, celebrity authors and speakers, single-focus websites, and promoted alternatives.  Collectively, these critics suggest that A.A. is an anachronism whose effectiveness has been exaggerated and whose time in the sun has passed. 

A.A.’s institutional response to these  criticisms has been a consistent pattern of private self-reflection (e.g., Bill Wilson’s “Our Critics can be Our Benefactors”) and public silence (e.g., no opinion on outside controversial issues, personal anonymity at level of press, and public relations based on attraction rather than promotion – as dictated by A.A.’s Traditions).

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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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‘No More Graduation’ by Bill White

Something toGraduation reflect upon in Bill White’s latest blog.

‘The acute care (AC) model of intervention that, with few exceptions, has dominated the modern treatment of addiction involves a brief – and seemingly ever-briefer – period of professional intervention followed by cessation of the service relationship. 

As addiction professionals working within this model, we are trained to screen, assess, admit, treat and discharge each person we serve.   And as we approach the end of this sequence, we are trained to address “termination” issues in the counseling relationship, prepare “discharge” plans and, in many of our settings, participate in a “graduation” ritual that signals the end of primary treatment and the service relationship.

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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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‘Recovery is contagious redux’ by Bill White

recovery contagionHere’s the latest from recovery advocate William L White.  Wonderful words, just wonderful words.

‘Those of you who have been reading my weekly blogs these past six months will recognize two simple and enduring themes: Recovery is contagious and recovery is spread by recovery carriers.  Those notions first came to me on April 14, 2010 when I stood to speak at Northeast Treatment Centers’ (NET) dinner honoring NET’s 40th anniversary and the achievements of NET members.   Here are some of the words that came to me as I stood before a room packed with people filled with hopes of what their newly found recoveries would bring.

“This night is a celebration of the contagiousness of recovery and the fulfilled promises recovery has brought into our lives.  Some of you did not leave the streets to find recovery; recovery came to the streets and found you. 

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‘Recovery Advocacy and the Making of The Anonymous People: An Interview with Greg Williams’ by William L White

UnknownGreg Williams’ film The Anonymous People has contributed enormously to the new recovery advocacy movement in the US. How did it all begin? Here, Greg is interviewed by Bill White. Below, is just a small part of that interview – it is part of Greg’s Story. 

Introduction
Since the rise of a new addiction recovery advocacy movement in the late 1990s, culturally and politically mobilized people in recovery have found numerous vehicles through which that advocacy is being expressed.

A few years ago, I was contacted by Greg Williams, who shared his vision of capturing on film the spirit of the new recovery advocacy movement being manifested in communities across the country. It was one of the great honors of my life to play a small part in making Greg’s vision a reality.

Today, the film The Anonymous People is being screened in theatres and community settings across the U.S. and in other countries. On November 6, 2013, I had the opportunity to interview Greg about his life and this film. Please join us in this engaging conversation.

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State of the New Recovery Advocacy Movement: Achievements, Part 3′ by Bill White

Unknown-1I continue Bill White’s list of achievements of the new recovery advocacy movement in the US.

Message Clarity. The data collection and analysis allowed us to formulate a clear set of messages that could be used by RCOs throughout the country and would be disseminated via “message training” that clarified the meaning of recovery and reality of long-term recovery in public communications.

A further critical step in that message clarity was the work of detailing how advocacy could be done in ways that were completely in alignment with the anonymity traditions of 12-Step recovery programs – a position recently reaffirmed via a widely disseminated communication from the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous.

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‘State of the New Recovery Advocacy Movement: Achievements, Part 2′ by Bill White

Unknown-1If you missed the the first part of my blogs focused on Bill White’s exciting new writing on the new recovery advocacy movemnet in the US, you can find it here. Here, I continue to look at the list of achievements of this movement:

‘Kinetic Ideas. As early as 2000, five simple ideas emerged from the very heart of the movement – ideas that were foundational and kinetic (capable of inspiring action).

Those five ideas were:

  • 1. addiction recovery is a living reality for individuals, families, and communities,
    2. there are many (religious, spiritual, secular) pathways to recovery, and all are cause for celebration,
    3. recovery flourishes in supportive communities,
    4. recovery is a voluntary process, and
    5. recovering and recovered people are part of the solution: recovery gives back what addiction has taken from individuals, families, and communities.

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‘State of the New Recovery Advocacy Movement: Achievements, Part 1’ by Bill White

Unknown-1Bill White seems to be pumping out his writings at the moment. I didn’t think this prolific writer could be even more productive, but I was wrong. Here’s a blog that links to a variety of Bill’s recent writings.

I was particularly interested in Bill’s piece on the state of the new recovery advocacy movement in the US. This is essential reading, so I thought I’d devote some blogs on a multitude of points raised by Bill. Here’s the first:

‘New Recovery Advocacy Movement Achievements
We would not be here today if those at the center of this emerging movement in the late 1990s and early 2000s had not made some very good decisions. I want to record some of the decisions that in retrospect I think were most important.

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‘Unraveling the Mystery of Personal and Family Recovery: An Interview with Stephanie Brown, PhD’ by Bill White (Part 5)

Unknown-1Bill White: Your work has enhanced understanding of the intergenerational nature of alcohol and other drug problems. Have you envisioned how such intergenerational cycles might finally be broken?

Stephanie Brown: I think we’ve started to name and describe what happens in addicted families across generations, which is helping us understand family addiction and the complexities of family recovery. And I think we are poised to move beyond our current focus on the genetic and neurobiological influence on intergenerational transmission of addiction to include exploration of the larger psychological and social processes involved.

We need more family research to understand the transmission process and the kinds of family and community support processes that can influence these cycles and positively disrupt them.

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‘Unraveling the Mystery of Personal and Family Recovery: An Interview with Stephanie Brown, PhD’ by Bill White (Part 4)

Unknown-1We continue Bill White’s interview with Stephanie Brown on family recovery. I cannot emphasise to you enough how important Stephanie’s work is.

‘Bill White: It poses the question of what the ideal scaffolding would be like that could support recovery.

Stephanie Brown: I think we understand much better today that the family encounters a vacuum on entering recovery with or without formal treatment or outpatient therapy. This vacuum within the family, and the same kind of vacuum in the community – the neighborhood, town, city, work, school, and social environments – is a significant problem.

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ManyFaces1Voice: BIll White

 Unknown-1Bill White has been a huge inspiration for Greg Williams of The Anonymous People. Here he is talking on ManyFaces1Voice.

‘William (Bill) White is Emeritus Senior Research Consultant, Chestnut Health Systems. He has served as a volunteer consultant to Faces & Voices of Recovery since its founding. He has a Master’s degree in Addiction Studies and has worked in the addictions field since 1969.

He has authored or coauthored more than 350 articles and monographs and fifteen books including Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America and Let’s Go Make Some History: Chronicles of the New Addiction Recovery Advocacy Movement. Check out an online library of his writings at www.williamwhitepapers.com.

My Recovery Highlight of 2013

images“Many of us have carried a message of hope on a one-to-one basis; this new recovery movement calls upon us to carry that message of hope to whole communities and the whole culture. We will shape the future of recovery with a detached silence or with a passionate voice. It is time we stepped forward to shape this history with our stories, our time and our talents.” William White

I have one major Recovery Highlight of 2013. A Recovery ‘event’ – or a huge series of events would be a better to describe it – that has moved, excited and inspired me. Yes, it is the Greg Williams’ film, The Anonymous People.

Now, I know that no one person is ever responsible for making a film. But Greg deserves a great congratulations and thanks for making this happen. My congrats and thanks also go out to all all those other people involved  in the making and distribution of The Anonymous People and ManyFaces1Voice.

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‘The Masks of Addiction and Recovery’ by Bill White

Masks of RecoveryThere is a discrepancy for each of us between the internal self and the personas we project to others.  Personal health, wholeness and integrity hinge in great measure on the degree to which these private and public selves can be brought into harmony.  That reconciliation is potentially life-saving for persons seeking the metamorphosis from active addiction to long-term recovery.

It is a unique medical disorder whose effective management requires living as authentically and honestly as possible, and yet it is that precise aspect that leaves many people viewing addiction recovery as a priceless gift that far transcends freedom from destructive drug use.

What makes this journey towards authenticity so much more hazardous within addiction recovery compared to the parallel journey for others is the degree of duplicity at the very heart of the addiction experience.  Addiction hollows one out, leaving only the mask of the moment.  With every repetition of use, the drug becomes more powerful and the self becomes weaker, its boundaries and internal substance fading, leaving only accumulating secrets in its wake.

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