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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Indigenous Hip Hop Projects: Rockhole

I’m a boring old codger and have never been a great fan of hip hop. But I absolutely love this film clip, the song and the amazing project. This had me skipping around the house and I’m now a Hip Hop fan.

Please share this with all your friends. And ask them to do the same. It deserves to go viral and it would do great things for the Indigenous Hip Hop Project project and, ultimately, Aboriginal people!

Indigenous Hip Hop Projects was proud to partner with  Wurli – Wurlinjang Health Service and Rockhole community to make this deadly health promotional music video.’

Fantastic stuff! Keep up the great work, IHHP. And well done Rockhole community. You are stars!!

‘About Mad in America’ by Robert Whitaker

“We started Mad in America as a webzine in February of 2012 and we launched it with the thought that it would become a forum for rethinking psychiatry and also for building a community of people, an international community of people interested in that topic.”

I love the Mad in America website and have been inspired by Robert Whitaker’s books. We’ll be referring to content on this website a great deal. In this short film clip, Robert describes the purpose, history, achievements, community, and future plans of Mad In America.

‘We Are Meant to Heal in a Community’ by Douglas Bloch

dbloch“Anything that promotes a sense of isolation often leads to illness and suffering, while that which promotes a sense of  love and intimacy, connection and community, is healing.” Dean Ornish

‘In my last blog, I talked about how I was attempting to cope with a “mini-relapse” without using psychiatric drugs. One Sunday morning in the midst of this episode I awoke in a particularly dismal state. I didn’t have a structure planned for the day. And without something to look forward to, both my anxiety and depression increased.

As I lay in bed, trying to convince myself to get up, the phone rang. It was a cycling friend, Sandy, calling to see if I wanted to go on a bicycle ride.

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ManyFaces1Voice

With the release of The Anonymous People documentary film, Faces & Voices of Recovery and their partners are collaborating to launch a new campaign, ManyFaces1Voice, to engage and mobilize the newly emerging constituency to transform public attitudes and policies affecting people seeking or in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs.

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Greeting for 2014 and New Years Eve in The Living Room, Cardiff

rsz_img_0305First of all, Ash and I would like to wish you all the best for 2014.

As some of you will know, Ash first developed the Daily Dose website for me back in 2001. We worked together for a number of years and then lost touch for awhile. However, we got in touch with each other again about a year ago and Ash developed the Recovery Stories website for me. Yesterday, we met for the first time in years when I visited him in Cilfrew (near Neath), South Wales. It was good to see him and his family after such a long time.

My two youngest children – Sam and Natasha – and I have been staying with Wynford Ellis Owen and his wife Meira just north of Cardiff. Wynford developed and runs The Living Room Recovery Centre in Cardiff. We attended their New Year Eve Party last night and had a great time. Thank you to all for helping us have such a great time.

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CHILDREN FIRST Annual lecture 2013: Cormac Russell

On the 18th birthday of my oldest son Ben, I think the above talk is particularly appropriate. This is the first of six clips. 

“It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child. Nearly everyone I know believes that to be true. Yet little is done to build our villages/ communities in this way. So what can we do to raise a village where every child belongs?” Cormac Russell

Cormac is a world renowned expert on the Asset Based Community Development approach, Managing Director of Nurture Development, Director of ABCD Europe and a faculty member of the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute at Northwestern University, Chicago. He has extensive experience in this area and has trained communities, agencies, NGOs and governments in ABCD and other strength-based approaches across the world.

Mark Gilman: Positive social networks and recovering from addiction

‘No one can do it for you and you can’t do it alone’, get on the boat, any boat, and talk about the technique / route later and don’t do it on your own!’

Early In June, I blogged about what Bill White refers to as a recovery carrier. ‘Recovery carriers are people, usually in recovery, who make recovery infectious to those around them by their openness about their recovery experiences, their quality of life and character, and the compassion for and service to people still suffering from alcohol and other drug problems.’

Well, many people in the UK will know Mark Gilman as a recovery carrier par excellence. Mark has been advocating for recovery for  number of years now and has almost certainly visited more recovery communities and initiatives than anyone in the UK. He is one of the funniest people you will ever hear talk about recovery. Mark also shows that you don’t need to be in recovery to be a great advocate.

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‘Community Recovery’ by Bill White

Wellbriety Movement 2Another excellent paper by Arthur Evans, Roland Lamb and Bill White, highlighted in the latter’s recent blog.

“In the Red Road to Wellbriety, the individual, family and community are not separate; they are one.  To injure one is to injure all; to heal one is to heal all.” The Red Road to Wellbriety, 2002
 
As a field, we have long known that the effects of personal addiction ripple through families, social networks and organizations.  But might whole communities and whole cultures be so wounded by prolonged alcohol and other drug problems that they are themselves in need of a sustained recovery process?  This suggestion is the premise of a new paper co-authored by Dr. Arthur Evans, Jr., Roland Lamb and myself just published in Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly.

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Asset Based Community Development & The Big Society

“Care in a Big Society comes from people. It doesn’t come from programmes and it doesn’t comes from services. And often it can’t be managed because care is the freely given gift of the heart, one person to another.”

“We need to figure out how we become caring again and where the domain of care lies. Systems, services, institutions provide services, very important, very valid services. But communities, families, neighbourhoods is where care is created.”

Cormac Russell, Managing Director of Nurture Development talks to Dominic Lodge, CEO of ROCC about ABCD, and how a big society can be a caring society.

‘Five keys to broad and inclusive community engagement’ by Jim Diers

giant-chainExcellent article by Jim Diers, Associate of Nurture Development, Faculty Member for the ABCD Institute and author of Neighbor Power: Building Community the Seattle Way

‘Building strong communities is not easy. In Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam documents the decline of community life in North America. He blames poverty, suburbanization, television, and more time spent at work.

Others have added fear, mobility, globalization, and increased professionalization and specialization to the list of culprits. Even so, my 37 year background in community building has taught me some simple rules of engagement that still hold true today.

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‘Trauma Change Resilience’ by Dr. Megan McElheran at TEDxYYC

 “If, on a day-to-day basis, we as individuals and as members participating in our communities are better able to operate from a position where all experience is valued, I think we will be healthier and better able to address the challenges in our lives from a place of being willing and able to have an experience whatever those challenges should entail.”

As Canada begins to assimilate its soldiers from Afghanistan, Dr. Megan McElheran’s undertaking is an important mission. The Stanford-educated doctor of psychology is one of a team of 13 at the federally-funded CareWest Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic tasked with diagnosing and treating psychologically-injured soldiers returning from the fields of battle in Afghanistan, as well as previous conflicts and peacekeeping missions.

Megan’s work also includes addressing the burgeoning awareness of the impact of operational stress-related injuries on current serving and veteran members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

‘I was confronted by a sight I will not forget for as long as I live’ by Wynford Ellis Owen

rsz_img_2082My good friend Wynford Ellis Owen toured recovery centres and initiatives in the north-east of America late in 2010. He used some of the information he gleaned from this trip to help him build The Living Room recovery centre in Cardiff. Wynford wrote a number of blogs on this trip and here is part of one from mid-November 2010.

“People in recovery have a real understanding of what it means to struggle to be OK as opposed to what it means to struggle to seem OK.”

One of the many insightful sayings that punctuated my conversation over dinner this evening (Tuesday 9th November) with Roland Lamb, Director of the Office of Addiction Services in the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioural Health and Mental Retardation Services (DBH/MRS).

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Cormac Russell explains Asset Based Community Development

“Asset Based Community Development really is the focus on what exists in communities and within individuals that they can use to grow community to get the kind of life that they want, a life of their choosing…

… What it also recognises is that there are some barriers to people doing that, to focusing on what they have. And probably some of those barriers relate to the fact that over the last 30-40 years we have become very focused on what people don’t have, what people need to receive…

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‘Powering America’ by John McKnight

UnknownI want to follow up John McKnight’s video from the other day with one of his blogs, from March 2011.

‘In a neighborhood, people are empowered by the work they do together.  Often, they use this power to confront institutions and advocate for the neighborhood’s self-interest.  In this kind of action, power is understood as our ability to get someone else to do something for us.  This is the consumer power of confrontation.

The other kind of neighborhood power results when we come together to create something for ourselves – from ourselves.  This is the power of citizens engaged in community building.

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John McKnight on where change begins

“One of those men belong to one association and one belongs to none. Statistically, the one who belongs to one association will live two years longer than the one who belongs to none. Now you can measure medical interventions, but hardly any would claim that they make you live two years longer.”

In his forty years working with impoverished American communities, John McKnight witnessed incredible social change at the grassroots. He discovered that the majority of the solutions to issues like unwanted teenage pregnancy and crime depended on empowering local citizens and building relationships at the community level.

Although social innovations disrupt the status quo in boundary-breaking and sector-spanning ways, change begins with the individual and their surrounding network.

‘A healthy mind in a healthy society’ by Dinyar Godrej

rsz_imagesHere’s a wonderful blog on the mental health scene from the New Internationalist magazine.

Sitting in the waiting room of a busy psychologists’ practice in Rotterdam, I’m intrigued by the furtive nature of the experience. People waiting for their 50 minutes of focused talk avoid each other’s eyes, acknowledging each other with embarrassment, if at all. I could be in the waiting room of a sexually transmitted diseases clinic.

I’m a bit puzzled. With the increased familiarity of stress-related problems nowadays, shouldn’t this kind of guilt (no other word quite captures it) be a thing of the past?

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‘Felling the Forest’ by Rebecca Daddow

get-low-blog-imageHere’s an interesting blog from Rebecca Daddow of Nurture Development.

‘This past weekend, I watched the film Get Low – it was recommended to me by Cormac following a conversation about Community Builders (can you spot who the Community Builder is in the film?). It is a film filled with wonderful acknowledgements of the gifts we possess and find naturally around us. In many ways, it speaks to some of the core values of ABCD.

One of the scenes that resonated most with me sees the main character, Felix, walking through the forest that grows on his land with an old friend, Mattie, who he has reconnected with after 40 years of self-imposed isolation:

Mattie: “It really is beautiful out here. It probably looked like this everywhere 100 years ago.”

Felix: “If you leave things alone, they know what to do”

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‘Addiction can’t always be cured so let’s focus on quality of life’ by David Best

rsz_3ycm9w7x-1380697705David Best has a new short article out in The Conversation. Would be great if you could sign up and comment. 

‘Alcohol and substance abuse costs the Australian economy A$24.5bn a year. The human toll from accidents, overdoses, chronic disease, violence, mental illness and family disruption, however, is immeasurable.

Modern, evidence-based policy responses to addiction focus on treatment, where patients aim to withdraw from drugs through therapy and medications. Harm-minimisation strategies such as the supply of clean needles and syringes and the prescribing of substitution medications are also key elements of Australia’s drug strategy.

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‘The Four Walls’ by Mark Ragins

rsz_markHere’s some great earlier writing on recovery from Mark Ragins, who set up The Village in California. This is what recovery is about!

‘In 1989, the California State Legislature authorized the funding for three model mental health programs, including the Village Integrated Service Agency in Long Beach, in part to answer the question, “Does anything work?”

We created a radical departure from traditional mental health services basing our entire system on psychosocial rehabilitation principles, quality of life outcomes and community integration. Arguably, we have created the most comprehensive, integrated and effective recovery based mental health program anywhere.

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