’12-Step Programmes Help Thousands, but Are Outdated and Sexist’ by Jessica Smith

Geological wonders: picture three‘Addiction is everywhere. The drug of choice may be alcohol, or it may be food, sex, romance, gambling or shopping, but the basic problem is the same; the inner void created by a culture that sells us the empty promise that reaching for external things will make us happy.

When all that striving for money and possessions, and for status through jobs and relationships, still leaves a gaping hole inside us, many of us reach for the bottle, the chocolates or the credit card – and the cycle is complete.

In an article in the Guardian on May 30, Damian Thompson argued against the disease model for addiction, as developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. The roots of addiction, he wrote, lie in environmental factors, in the fact that “contemporary capitalism is ruthlessly targeting our mental reward circuits.”

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‘Six First Steps for Building Communities of Emotional Wellness’ by Matthew Cohen

mcohenI’ve been writing a strategic document for developing a healing community for Aboriginal people here in Perth, so this blog from Mad in America is particularly pertinent. Matthew is a very interesting person – please check out his website

‘I am being asked by a number of grassroots communities to facilitate a dialogue about how they can better welcome and support individuals who experience emotional distress. This is a challenge for many aspiring peers and allies in a culture where responsibility for our individual well-being has been increasingly transferred to psychiatrists, doctors, and other health professionals.

Even among our movements for alternatives, we often find ourselves replicating disempowering patterns of relying on experts, institutions, and formalized programs to help us through our trying times.

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Sharing Culture blog: Recovery from trauma

511+Nl1uNdL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_I am now blogging on my new website Sharing Culture and here is a recent posting.

‘Judith Herman’s book Trauma and Recovery is a classic. Judith starts the recovery part of her book, in a chapter entitled ‘A Healing Relationship’, with some important insights into recovery and healing.

‘The core experiences of psychological trauma are disempowerment and disconnection from others. Recovery, therefore, is based upon the empowerment of the survivor and the creation of new connections.

Recovery can take place only within then context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation. In her renewed connection with other people, the survivor re-creates the psychological facilities that were damaged or deformed by the traumatic experience. These faculties include the basic operations of trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, identity, and intimacy.

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Sharing Culture: Healing Historical Trauma

Yesterday, I began promoting a new website that I have launched with two colleagues, Professor Marion Kickett and Perth filmmmaker Michael Liu. Here is what we have said on the home page of the website:

‘What is Sharing Culture?
Sharing Culture is a unique initiative to empower Aboriginal people to heal and develop resilience to historical trauma and its consequences. These consequences include poor physical health, mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction, violence, abuse  and suicide.  

Sharing Culture is based on the core values of authenticity, connection, courage, creativity, empathy and forgiveness.

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‘What is Recovery?’: Julie Repper & Rachel Perkins

2007_0116walpole0097Another favourite past blog:

‘In my blogs, I will be exploring the nature of recovery and will sometimes focus on the ideas of someone else (or a group of people). I’ve previously looked at how David Best has talked about “What is Recovery?” David described key principles underlying addiction recovery.

In this blog, I am going to look at what Julie Repper and Rachel Perkins have to say about “What is Recovery?”, as described in their excellent book Social Inclusion and Recovery: A Model for Mental Health Practice. They include a number of quotes about recovery, some of which I will use here.

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Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs and Withdrawal

Unknown-2I cannot recommend the Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs and Withdrawal enough. It is essential reading! The publication is written by Will Hall and published by The Icarus Project and Freedom Center. You can find out more on Will’s website.

Here is what Will has to say about Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs and Withdrawal in his Author’s Note:

‘This is a guide I wish I had when I was taking psychiatric drugs. Prozac helped me for a while, then made me manic and suicidal. I was sick for days after coming off Zoloft, with counselors telling me I was faking it. Nurses who drew blood samples for my lithium levels never explained it was to check for drug toxicity, and I was told the Navane and other anti-psychotics I took to calm my wild mental states were necessary because of faulty brain chemistry.

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‘Success, Social Value, and Personal Mission (Part Two)’ by Forbes

Pat-Deegan-300x211The second part of a Pat Deegan interview by the business magazine Forbes.

‘We’re talking with Pat Deegan, creator of CommonGround, a web-based application that empowers patients recovering from mental illness to take a more active role in their recovery.

A former schizophrenia patient in her teens, Pat overcame a diagnosis of complete disability to become an internationally-recognized psychologist, and founder of a Personal Medicine system that empowers people diagnosed with mental conditions, working with their care providers and their communities, to take control of their own treatment and personal recovery.

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‘Success, Social Value, and Personal Mission (Part One)’ from Forbes

Pat-Deegan-300x211When have you seen a recovery article on the Forbes website. Well here goes, the first of two on Pat Deegan. It’s been a great year for Pat and for all those people she has helped by her work.

‘Pat Deegan is the creator of CommonGround, a web-based application that empowers patients recovering from mental illness to take a more active role in their recovery. Pat’s own journey began in her adolescence. At 17 she was diagnosed schizophrenia. Psychiatrists told her that schizophrenia is a disease from which nobody recovers. They advised her to retire from normal life, avoid stress, and take high dose antipsychotic medication regularly.

It turned out that the treatment was as disabling as the disorder. Most disabling of all was the prognosis of doom and hopelessness surrounding the diagnosis and treatment.

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Beth’s Reflections

A series of blogs from recovery coach Beth Burgess of Smyls. Beth writes about recovery for the Huffington Post which means she has a large audience.

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Trauma and Recovery

511+Nl1uNdL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_My good friend Christina found a photocopy of a chapter of Judith Herman’s book Trauma and Recovery: The aftermath of violence – from domestic abuse to political terror which had the following in:

‘The core experiences of psychological trauma are disempowerment and disconnection from others. Recovery, therefore, is based upon the empowerment of the survivor and the creation of new connections.

Recovery can take place only within then context of relationships; it cannot occur in isolation. In her renewed connection with other people, the survivor re-creates the psychological facilities that were damaged or deformed by the traumatic experience.These faculties include the basic operations of trust, autonomy, initiative, competence, identity, and intimacy.

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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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Strategies to Face Adversity: Learning

Many study participants expressed that learning about their culture was an important part of survival as an Aboriginal person in today’s Aboriginal society.

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Strategies to Face Adversity: Education

Many participants spoke of education as power and how having an education certainly empowered them as individuals.

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‘Personal medicine, power statements and other disruptive innovations in healthcare technology’ by Pat Deegan

patdeegan_photoI’ve just found this exciting article by Pat Deegan which she wrote for the Scottish Recovery Network (SRN). In my humble opinion, Pat’s CommonGround approach will have an enormous impact in the mental health field.

The SRN writes: “Given her hugely influential writing and personal reflections, research interests and involvement in various policy and practice initiatives, Pat Deegan is arguably the single most influential person within the international recovery movement. Her work today is strongly focused on shared decision making approaches and here she describes how the CommonGround approach, which she has developed, has real potential to encourage systems change towards recovery.”

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Message from David

P4081202A major focus of this website is to help people understand how they can recover from addiction. How to initiate the process of recovery and how to maintain recovery despite the day-to-day struggles and obstacles we all face.  How to live without resorting to the use of substances as a coping mechanism.

Some of what appears on this website will be relevant to people taking their first steps on their journey to recovery. This might involve a person using clean needles and syringes for the first time, or involve a person realising the damage that their drinking is doing to themself.

Other content will be oriented towards people who are much further along in their recovery, who are looking for things that can facilitate their recovery journey and daily living. This content may be focused on spirituality or recovery coaching, for example.

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‘Solving addiction lies in empowerment, not shame’ by Beth Burgess

P1011013Found this article by Beth Burgess in the New Statesman in October 2012. Beth is certainly getting her writing in a number of important places. Well done, Beth.

‘Brighton’s Recovery Walk is an important sign that stigma about addiction isn’t acceptable.
What springs to mind when you envisage thousands of excited alcoholics and drug addicts gathered on the streets of Brighton? The casting queue for The Jeremy Kyle Show? Early opening at the dole office? A new Wetherspoons opening up on the seafront?

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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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‘What is Recovery?’: Julie Repper & Rachel Perkins

2007_0116walpole0097In my blogs, I will be exploring the nature of recovery and will sometimes focus on the ideas of someone else (or a group of people). I’ve previously looked at how David Best has talked about “What is Recovery?” David described key principles underlying addiction recovery.

In this blog, I am going to look at what Julie Repper and Rachel Perkins have to say about “What is Recovery?”, as described in their excellent book Social Inclusion and Recovery: A Model for Mental Health Practice. They include a number of quotes about recovery, some of which I will use here.

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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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‘The Four Stages of Recovery’, from Mark Ragins

IMG_3040Mark Ragins is a leading recovery figure in the mental health field. He was a pioneer in setting up MHA Village, a recovery community based in Los Angeles. His writings are well worth a read. Here is what Mark has to say about the four stages of recovery in an article entitled The Road to Recovery. What Mark says here is just as relevant to people recovering from addiction.

‘Recovery has four stages: (1) hope, (2) empowerment, (3) self-responsibility and (4) a meaningful role in life.

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