‘Recovery and Renewal’ by Baylissa Frederick

recovery-book-coverRecovery and Renewal is essential reading for anyone trying to withdraw from benzodiazepines and anti-depressants. In fact, it of considerable value to anyone recovering from dependence and addiction.

‘This widely successful book is recommended for anyone in the throes of withdrawal, and for family, friends, professionals and other carers who will be able to better understand the experience and will be well equipped to give support. Doctors, counsellors, rehabilitation staff, recovery and mental health organisations will gain invaluable insight critical to providing best care.

‘Recovery and Renewal’ is regarded as a ‘lifeline’ and readers are inspired by the author’s courage and determination. It gives all the validation needed to eliminate the stress that doubts and uncertainty of what is taking place may bring, and does so with the reassuring feeling of one’s hand gently being held.’

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Drug Companies: Stop Drugging Our Kids For Acting Like Kids!

It’s a funny old world! We put people in prison for selling amphetamine and cocaine , but allow drug companies to ‘deal’ ritalin to our children… 4.5 million children in the USA. Ritalin, like amphetamine and cocaine, is a Schedule II drug and has similar neurochemical effects in that it enhances dopamine function. This hypocrisy – and the damage it is doing to our children – disgusts me.

Fortunately, we have people like Michael Corrigan and Peter Breggin fighting against this unsavoury practise. Here are two wonderful animations from Michael Corrigan.

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Behind the Pages with Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD

“The vast majority of drug abuse is associated with earlier trauma. It’s very rare to see somebody who becomes a drug addict who not also has a history of abuse and neglect.” Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD

Behind The Pages host Diane Goshgarian interviews author Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD about his new book The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Interview recorded at 22-CityView Cambridge on October 08, 2014.

As I said last week, this book is essential reading if you are working in the mental health and addiction fields.

‘The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma’ by Bessel van der Kolk MD

UnknownI have been saddened over the years by how little attention the addiction treatment field pays to the role of trauma in the development and maintenance of addiction. Tremendous efforts are made to argue that addiction is a disease or the person’s fault, but where are the arguments about the role of trauma (Gabor Mate being a notable exception)?

It is quite possible that the majority of people who develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol suffer from the impact of trauma. They use drugs (illicit and prescription) and alcohol as a coping mechanism. Many of these people will have been traumatised as children, and many will have been retraumatised through their experiences in the treatment system. 

I am just finishing an extraordinary book which is essential reading for anyone interested in trauma. I amazed by the advances that have been made in our understanding of trauma – in terms of its effects on our brain, mind and body – and how we can help people heal from its impact.

Bessel van der Kolk has written a classic. And the work that he and his colleagues – and a whole network of centers around the US – are doing is remarkable. As a scientist, it really excites me. As a person who cares, it really gives me hope.

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‘An interview with Matt and Amy Baumgardner’ by Veronica Valli

image1-200x300Here is a moving Story from Veronica Valli’s website.

A little while ago I was asked to review an extraordinary book called: From this day forward, A love story of faith, love and forgiveness by Amy and Matt Baumgardner. I had interviewed Amy Baumgardner previously for my Recovery Rocks interview series. Amy just has one of those jaw-dropping stories of recovery. Her story is so extraordinary that she was featured on Oprah’ Life class with Iyanla Vanzant.

Amy lost all sight of what was important to her and her drinking took over, one day she packed her kids into the car and drove them whilst she was drunk. She hit a tree and the accident left her 5-year-old in a critical condition. This was the beginning of the end for Amy, finally realizing she had a problem she began the long painful and guilt-ridden task of getting sober.

But how does a family recover from this? How does a husband forgive his wife for almost killing their child? How does a mother forgive herself? How can you repair a marriage with this kind of devastation and pain?

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‘Proposal From Italy: An International Collection of Recovery Stories’ by Giuseppe Tibaldi

UnknownPlease check out this important and interesting proposal.

‘Here is a new proposal from Italy: We want to start an international initiative to promote the writing of recovery stories in every country, with the ultimate goal of sharing at an international level the most compelling ones from each country.

Our proposal is born from an awareness that recovery stories are necessary today in order to give back to mental sufferance its meaning and transparency, to fight the biographical opacity of biological theories (the broken brain) and to guarantee decisional power to those who are offered (or imposed) mono-dimensional or dehumanizing treatments.

For me, personally, my interest in the writing of such stories came about from my reading just such a story more than a decade. The book, The Day the Voices Stopped. A Memoir of Madness and Hope, was written by Ken Steele.

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‘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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‘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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Recommended book: Mindfulness for Health

41RlD9kqm5L._-e1377080652263Pain, suffering and stress can be intolerable – but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Mindfulness for Health reveals a series of simple practices that you can incorporate into your daily life to relieve chronic pain and the suffering and stress of illness. Clinical trials show that mindfulness meditation can be as effective as prescription painkillers and also enhances the body’s natural healing systems. Mindfulness can also reduce the anxiety, depression, irritability, exhaustion and insomnia that can arise from chronic pain and illness.

Mindfulness for Health is based on a unique meditation programme developed by Vidyamala Burch to help her cope with the severe pain of spinal injury. Taught at Breathworks in the UK – and its affiliates around the world – this programme has helped tens of thousands of people cope with pain, illness and stress.

The eight-week programme at the heart of this book takes just 10-20 minutes per day. You’ll be surprised by how quickly your suffering melts away, leaving behind a deep-seated love of life.

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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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The Grass Arena

Some of you may remember my earlier blog,  ‘Saved by the book’ by Erwin James, which focuses on the life of the author John Healy.

Mike Scott, who first found the article in the Guardian, has now tracked down the film on YouTube and says it is well worth watching. The film stars Peter Postlethwaite and is rated 8.6 on IMDB. YouTube shows it in parts which you can track very easily. Enjoy!

‘The Grass Arena is the true story of John Healy. Raised in an ultra religious family, with an abusive father, young Johnny soon learns that he has to learn to defend himself. He takes up boxing, but soon falls victim to alcoholism. His boxing career over, John takes to the Grass Arena (the park) where he lives with other alcoholics.’

‘The healing journey revealed (trauma and transformation)’ by Monica Cassini

rsz_51rm8b-t6hl_sy344_pjlook-inside-v2topright10_sh20_bo1204203200_I want to introduce to a wonderful blog, Beyond Meds, by Monica Cassini and a highly recommended book which I am just due to start reading. Here, Monica talks about Peter Levine’s book ‘Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma':

‘I finally have the book Waking the Tiger, in my keep. It’s been on my list to read for a long time. I’ve read other works by Peter Levine and have posted about some of it on this blog, but I’ve not read this classic by him yet. I posted about his new book on Friday.

Quite wonderfully and like a good omen, when Waking the Tiger arrived in the mail a few days ago, I flipped the book open and landed on a page with no thought whatsoever. I read from the first place my eyes fell. It made me cry tears of relief as some of what he speaks of is already happening (see below), the rest of the healing I await, knowing in my heart that this is how it works and that, yes, there will be a gift in all of this pain I’ve been experiencing. The deep validation I got from reading his words was much appreciated. Like a signpost along the dark  and unclear jungle path.

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‘Saved by the book’ by Erwin James

rsz_2john460x276Mike Scott found this Story from 2008 in the Guardian. Not only has the subject of the article, John Healy, a stirring recovery story, but also the author of the article, Erwin James.

‘It’s 20 years since the publication of The Grass Arena, the autobiography of an alcoholic vagrant who, against the odds, found redemption in prison through chess. Now it is being lauded as a modern classic. Erwin James, whose own life was transformed by John Healy’s tale, catches up with the author.

Some books have the power to change the way you think about life. In my case one such book was The Grass Arena, the autobiography of John Healy. First published by Faber in 1988 and now republished as a Penguin Modern Classic, Healy’s visceral account of his decade and a half as a wino vagrant among London’s feral underclass in the 60s and 70s – and his redemption through chess and writing – brought me hope in dark times.

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‘Trauma Trails, Recreating Song Lines: The Transgenerational Effects of Trauma in Indigenous Australia’ by Judy Atkinson

rsz_41sanqzdhyl_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_sx385_sy500_cr00385500_sh20_ou02_Every now and again, I read a book related to the recovery field which helps create a small shift in the way I work. A few months ago, I read a book that has opened my eyes to a problem I knew existed… but had little idea about. A big shift in the way I work is occurring.

Transgenerational, or historical trauma, is the transmission of trauma across generations arising from colonisation and its associated violence and control, seen in Australian Aboriginals and other indigenous populations, e.g. North American Native Indians, Maoris of New Zealand. This historical trauma influences individuals, families and communities.

Expressions of historical trauma in Aboriginal people can be seen in: adults who feel inadequate in their day-to-day functioning: the poor physical and psychological health and much lower life expectancy; the escalation in addiction to alcohol and other substances which are used as a coping mechanism; the increase in domestic violence across generations; the self-harm, suicide and risk-taking that occurs when people can find no meaning to their existence and have no sense of purpose for their day-to-day activities.

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Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

51Yq0hL1NEL._SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_Shame plays a major role in keeping people locked in addiction. Shame of what a person has become through their addiction, and how it has affected relationships with loved ones and friends, can drive people to more self-medication in efforts to alleviate the feelings experienced. 

In the section Books to facilitate your recovery, I have recommended Brene Brown’s latest book Daring Greatly, which is well worth a read. Brene is a shame researcher who has become a major name in the past few years, in part due to her having the second most viewed TEDx talk. I guess 10.7 million views is what you call viral.

Here’s what I said about Daring Greatly:

“Every now and again, I read a book that I immediately read again (this time using a marker), and then keep picking up to read various bits that I have highlighted. This is the latest of such books.

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‘The Globalization of Addiction’ by Bruce Alexander

globalizationofaddiction2‘Global society is drowning in addiction to drug use and a thousand other habits.

This is because people around the world, rich and poor alike, are being torn from the close ties to family, culture, and traditional spirituality that constituted the normal fabric of life in pre-modern times. This kind of global society subjects people to unrelenting pressures towards individualism and competition, dislocating them from social life.

People adapt to this dislocation by concocting the best substitutes that they can for a sustaining social, cultural and spiritual wholeness, and addiction provides this substitute for more and more of us.’

I’ve taken these words from Bruce Alexander’s website and can highly recommend his book, The Globalization of Addiction, which highlights the role of disconnection or dislocation in the development of addiction. This theory makes much more sense than the classical disease model focusing on the role of brain neurotransmitters in addiction.

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‘Social Inclusion and Recovery: A Model for Mental Health Practice’ by Julie Repper & Rachel Perkins

41F08WRN58L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_I am very impressed by this book and highly recommend it for all people working in the mental health and addiction fields. It is informative, easy to read and considers a wide range of practical issues. It focuses on how we can best help people with mental health problems gain meaningful and satisfying lives.

I’ve written one blog based on material in this book – What is Recovery? – and more will appear shortly. Here is what appears on the book’s back cover:

‘The starting point of this book is the lived experience of mental health problems and recovery, articulated by many of those who have survived and thrived with mental health difficulties.

On the basis of the myriad individual journeys contained in their accounts, the book explores the day-to-day supportive and facilitative role of nurses and direct care staff as allies in the recovery process.

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Nic Sheff’s reflections on his recovery

imagesSome of you may remember my blog in which I recommended the books by Nic and David Sheff (father and son) which centered around Nic’s drug addiction and recovery.

Nic recently wrote a blog Michael Hastings, Addiction and Me which made reference to his recovery, including the relapses that occurred after his book was released. (Nic has been clean for five years now.) The blog contains some pretty powerful recovery writing, which I have included here:

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Beth Burgess Recovery Guide

A series of six short films on key issues by Recovery Coach, NLP practitioner & recoveree Beth Burgess. You can find many more of Beth’s film clips on her YouTube channel.

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Books to facilitate your recovery

I love reading and I have a large collection of books on recovery. Here are six books I believe are invaluable in facilitating recovery.

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