‘Lost lessons from an earlier era’ by Bill White

Lessons from an Earlier EraMy 2009 monograph outlined in considerable detail the history, theory and status of peer recovery support services (PRSS) in the United States.  In the years since the monograph’s publication, voluntary and paid recovery support services have dramatically increased in the US and internationally. 

Such growth has recently prompted me to reflect on the pre-professional days of addiction counseling in the United States (1965-1975) when people in recovery constituted the core workforce within newly arising addiction treatment programs. 

The current expansion of PRSS raised the following question:  What experiential lessons from this earlier era could inform the present implementation of PRSS?  Here are my top 20 answers.

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Baylissa’s journey off clonazepam

Baylissa suffered from dystonia since childhood and was given a prescription for a benzodiazepine called clonazepam in order to minimise a facial tic on her wedding day. She soon became addicted and subsequently spent three years in withdrawal.

However, this terrible experience led to her work as a withdrawal support counsellor and – fully recovered – she now has no regrets.

’11 ways to beat depression naturally’ by Maria Rodale

maria_abouteditSaw this excellent blog on mother nature network the other day. Here, if you are feeling a bit down, you can ‘discover helpful tips to kick the blues on your own, in chemical-free ways.’

‘The other day I saw a report that said that one in 10 Americans older than 12 take antidepressants. That seems sad to me. But what was truly shocking was that less than a third of the people taking these drugs have seen a mental health professional in the last year –  and most people who take these drugs don’t need them.

Antidepressants are taken mostly by white women, and their use has increased 400 percent since the early 1990s. It could be that these pharmaceuticals are just the new version of “mother’s little helper.” But it also could be that too many women (and girls!) are suffering and medicating their problems rather than solving them at the source.

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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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Anna’s Moment of Clarity

stories-02Anna’s brother had developed a heroin addiction and she was becoming overwhelmed by the whole situation.

In her Recovery Story, here’s the lead up to Anna’s Moment of Clarity:

‘After this incident in the city, I became unhealthily obsessed with finding out as much as I could about heroin, as well as trying to monitor my brother’s behaviour and uncover his lies. I read every book I could get my hands on, including a few books I’d had as a teenager – Go Ask Alice, Junky and H: Diary of a Heroin Addict.

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