The Detroit Recovery Project

rsz_detroit-skyline-comerica-park-2Having lived in Detroit between 1984-1986, it’s nice to see good happening in my old home. Check out this short film involving Recovery Carrier Andre L. Johnson, CEO of The Detroit Recovery Project.

“Here in Detroit, our two biggest challenges for people in recovery is adequate living arrangements and employment. And so if we can address those two aspects we have begun to solve the problems in our community as well as the problems of the world.

You have the humblest set of people I have ever met on this earth but their spirit are strong. You don’t see their spirits, but you can feel the spirit of that person yearning for recovery.”

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Marion’s Story: Introduction

Dr. Marion Kickett tells her Story, to help the reader understand her background and why she undertook her PhD research on resilience.

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‘A healed and healthy country: understanding healing for Indigenous Australians’ by Tamara Mackean

2007_0116walpole0025Yesterday, I blogged about a description of healing by Professor Helen Milroy, an Aboriginal Child Psychiatrist and Australia’s first Aboriginal doctor. This wonderful description of healing was also included in the article below which appeared in the Medical Journal of Australia, but here I focus on the rest of the article.

Of course, much of what is said here is relevant to recovery, because recovery is healing. I have highlighted some sentences that I think are particularly relevant to people working in the recovery field worldwide, whatever their cultural background.

‘The Apology by the Prime Minister to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia in February 2008 was the first step in a significant healing journey.

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Serenity Recovery Fringe Festival

cafe-shotIn an earlier blog, I highlighted an article by Bill White on Recovery Carriers.

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.

I know two special Recovery Carriers in Edinburgh – and there are many more – David McCartney and John Arthur.  Here’s John’s latest blog:

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Managing Your ‘New Life’ by Green-In-MI

people on zebra crossingSpotted this excellent blog on the SMART Recovery website. 

“Getting used to sober life can be a process of adjusting in a number of ways.”
One of the things the SMART community talks about is making changes in your life as part of the process for sustained abstinence from your drug of choice or problem behavior. People share experiences like creating new circles of friends or even moving to new places or cities.

SMART specifically talks about finding one or more VACIs (Vitally Absorbing Creative Interests). A number of us spent an awful lot of time planning on using, using, and recovering from using. For many of us, our drug of choice was the focus of day-to-day life.

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Roland Lamb interview: “The Struggle Continues, The Victory is Certain”

P1010948Last year, I blogged about Bill White’s interview with Roland Lamb, one of the key players in helping transform the behavioural healhcare system in Philadelphia to a system based on recovery. This system is concerned with both mental health and addiction, and is a $1 billion system caring for over 100,000 people.

I’ve combined my four blogs into one, which highlights key parts of this very interesting interview. There is a lot we can learn from the Philadelphia in transforming our own behavioural health are systems.

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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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‘Natural Highs’ by Anthony Nevens

IMG_9117Where do I start? At the beginning, middle or end, who knows? It all ties in with itself in some twisted tangled ball, but I will try and unravel some of it!

I am just like most other Brits who feel uncomfortable talking about themselves! However, here is a quick summery of the Natural Highs project and how it has tied in with my own recovery.

 Natural Highs was born out of the frustrations of government and professionals stating that to recover from substance use problems we must end up in education or employment. This expectation for me personally, someone who has suffered a massive brain haemorrhage and lost the use of my legs, and experienced memory problems, was clearly unrealistic, to say the least.

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David McCollom and DMC Media

David, who is in recovery himself, uses film to empower people – here’s a selection of his work [6 clips]

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Brad’s Recovery Story: “A life beyond my wildest dreams’

Following a life of crime, fighting and drinking, Brad started his recovery journey after  a spiritual awakening and being told that alcohol wasn’t his problem – it was him.

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Iain’s Recovery Story: ‘This is me’

A treatment agency helped Iain detox from the methadone that was prescribed for his heroin addiction. College, employment, recreational activities and romance facilitated Ian’s recovery.

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Michael’s Recovery Story: ‘The power of empathy and compassion’

Michael followed both his parents into a life of dependent drinking, but he is now 35 years in recovery and working as a drug and alcohol counsellor.

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The future of treatment

P4071117The following quote is taken from one of my favourite books, Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America by William L White.

‘During the past 150 years, “treatment” in the addictions field has been viewed as something that occurs within an institution – a medical, psychological, and spiritual sanctuary isolated from the community at large.

In the future, this locus will be moved from the institution to the community itself. Treatment will be viewed as something that happens in indigenous networks of recovering people that exist within the broader community.

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What is a Recovery Carrier?

P4071151I was recently reading an interesting Bill White paper on Recovery Carriers. Thought you might like to hear what Bill has to say:

‘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.

The recovery carrier is in many ways the opposing face of the addiction carrier – the person who defends his or her own drug use by spreading excessive patterns of use to all those he or she encounters. The pathology of addiction is often spread from one infected person to another; some individuals are particularly contagious.

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Setting up a Recovery Community

Phillip Valentine, Executive Director for the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR), emphasises that the essential first stages in building a recovery community are to:

  1. create a vanguard of recovering people who want to tell their story
  2. organise the community, so that there are many different people, with many different types of recovery, all working towards the same aim.

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Facilitating recovery with peer support

2007_0118walpole0167I emphasise three main elements to helping people recover from addiction to alcohol and other drugs.

Firstly, we must empower people, as recovery comes from the person (not the practitioner). They do the work in overcoming their substance use problems. We can empower people by providing hope, understanding and a sense of belonging.  

Secondly, people need internal resources (e.g. self-esteem, resilience) and external resources (e.g. family support, peer support) – recovery capital – to help them on their journey to recovery. They also need the basic essentials of living, i.e. roof over their head, money, someone who cares about them.

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Tim’s Story: ‘Doctor in Recovery’

As Tim found out, having a medical degree offers no protection against addiction, nor from the hard work that is required to change oneself as a key part of the recovery journey.

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‘What is Recovery?”: David Best

testimonials_01David 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.

David makes reference to two attempts to define recovery from expert groups (one in UK and one in US):

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Why the need for recovery-based care?

testimonials_07A resonating message I have picked from many people affected by serious substance use problems over the years is their desperate need for hope (that they can recover) and understanding (of how to recover).

There is a dearth of readily accessible information on how to achieve recovery, information that is also relevant to the day-to-day struggles and obstacles that people face in trying to overcome addiction and related problems. Many people do not know anyone who has recovered from addiction. Many find the treatment system to be disempowering and lacking in hope.

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The Story of Noreen Oliver: What you can do with Recovery

It’s almost ten years ago that I conducted an evaluation of the BAC O’Connor for Noreen Oliver. My visits to Noreen’s treatment centre were a real eye-opener! Here was a genuine recovery community, a place where recovery oozed out of the walls.

I couldn’t tell who was there to help and who needed help! It was a special experience and I learnt so much from those early visits. Most importantly, I learnt the power of community and belonging, of love and acceptance, of role models and peer support.

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