‘A Personal Tribute: Ernie Kurtz, 1935 – 2015’ by Bill White

EK Photo 2008‘Ernest Kurtz, who made landmark contributions to the study of addiction recovery, died January 19, 2015 of pancreatic cancer. Following publication of Not-God:  A History of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1979, Kurtz focused his studies on the growing varieties of recovery experience, the healing of shame and guilt, and the role of spirituality in addiction recovery.

 
Ernest Kurtz was born in Rochester, New York, September 9, 1935 – only two months after the meeting of two desperate alcoholics in Akron, Ohio marked the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Kurtz attended St. Bernard’s Seminary and College and was then ordained as a Catholic Priest in 1961.

Following five years of parish work, he began his graduate studies at Harvard University where he completed an M.A. in philosophy and a Ph.D. in the history of American civilization. His Ph.D dissertation on the history of A.A. marked a turning point in the scholarly study of A.A. and the larger arenas of addiction recovery and recovery mutual aid societies, both legitimizing such studies and setting a benchmark by which future studies would be evaluated.

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‘Personal Reflections on Recovery Month 2014’ by Bill White

recovery monthThis month marks the 25th year of what has evolved into National Recovery Month.  With an early focus on the slogan “Treatment Works,” the event took on its recovery focus in 1998 just as new and renewed grassroots recovery community organizations (RCOs) were rising across the U.S.

RCO representatives came together at the 2001 Recovery Summit in St Paul, MN to launch the formal organization of a new recovery advocacy movement under the leadership of Faces and Voices of Recovery.

In the intervening years, Recovery Month celebration events have grown beyond what anyone could have predicted.  Local recovery celebration events that once welcomed a few dozen brave participants grew into the hundreds and then into the thousands.

This month, in community after community, recovering people and their families and allies will fill parks and streets as far as the eyes can see – an ocean of lives touched and transformed by recovery.   More than 450 recovery celebration events are scheduled this month in the U.S. and such events will also transpire around the world – from Vancouver to Cape Town, from Tokyo to London. 

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Ernie Kurtz: A Reverence for History

In this short interview Ernie Kurtz, renowned A.A. Historian and author of Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous, discusses his thoughts about the topic of history in general, and reveals some fascinating insights into A.A.’s history in particular.

The video was shown for the first time as the keynote address at the inaugural A.A. History Conference held February 21 — 23 in Sedona, Arizona.

‘Experiencing Recovery – Part 1’ by William L. White: Early History of Recovery in the US

Last week, I highlighted the fact that a new edition of Bill White’s classic book Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America has just rolled off the presses. I can tell you that this is one of the best (and most fascinating) books that you will ever read.

To celebrate the ‘rolling of the presses’ and Bill’s remarkable career in the recovery field, I am going to show a talk Bill gave at the Harvard Addiction Conference in 2012, the Norman E. Zinberg Memorial Lecture. I will show one part a day for the next 10 days, taken from Bill’s excellent website.

In the first part, Bill describes shows just how far back recovery goes historically in the US – to Native American Indians in the 1730s!

‘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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Ernie Kurtz on Researching AA History

Excellent film clip about the history of AA. Ernie’s book Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous is a great read. Why not check it out?

Jon Kabat-Zinn: How can mindfulness change your life?

The role that Jon Kabat-Zinn has played in getting mindfulness into mainstream medical practice (and beyond) in the Western world has been huge.  He is a true hero.

Here’s a fascinating video that describes how mindfulness-based stress reduction {MBSR] ‘grew up’ on the eastern side of the US. It’s important to hear how Jon and his colleagues emphasise the importance of research and scientific evidence in underlying the widening acceptance of MBSR as an important therapeutic tool.

You can find much more about mindfulness on Recovery Stories – try a search.

Bruce Alexander’s Globalization of Addiction Website

Unknown-1This website is well worth checking out. I really like Bruce Alexander’s ideas. They need reflecting upon.

‘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.

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‘State of the New Recovery Advocacy Movement: Achievements, Part 1’ by Bill White

Unknown-1Bill White seems to be pumping out his writings at the moment. I didn’t think this prolific writer could be even more productive, but I was wrong. Here’s a blog that links to a variety of Bill’s recent writings.

I was particularly interested in Bill’s piece on the state of the new recovery advocacy movement in the US. This is essential reading, so I thought I’d devote some blogs on a multitude of points raised by Bill. Here’s the first:

‘New Recovery Advocacy Movement Achievements
We would not be here today if those at the center of this emerging movement in the late 1990s and early 2000s had not made some very good decisions. I want to record some of the decisions that in retrospect I think were most important.

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‘The Passing of a Pioneer’ by Bill White

“That’s the issue [recovery]: it is not about any of us. It is to keep our eye on the prize, which is what drove most of us into this field in the first place. And that prize is the person who’s in recovery and seeing them grow.” 

David Powell 3Here is a touching obituary of a special person in the recovery field, David Powell PhD. Bill White talks about David’s contribution and highlights his passion, drive and dedication. He also touches upon the pressing issue of finding new  passionate leaders in the recovery field.

‘David Powell, PhD, who recently assumed the position of Assistant Clinical Professor within the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, is not a person who needs introduction to an audience of addiction professionals and recovery advocates, but some readers may not yet know that David died in a fall at his home on November 1, 2013.

David was ever-present within the addictions field for more than four decades.  His work addressed many frontier issues within the field, but he is probably best known for his pioneering work to enhance the quality of clinical supervision in addiction treatment.  He pushed this agenda through his numerous publications, frenetic presentation schedule and through consultations with leading addiction treatment organizations. 

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‘Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger’ by Barb Wingard

images-1I had a number of pieces of content ready to go on the website, had even organised them in an order. But then I found this powerful piece on Stories. This is an extract from the book Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger by Barb Wingard and Jane Lester (Dulwich Centre Publications, 2001)

‘As Indigenous people of this country, we have faced so many losses due to past and present injustice. Grief’s presence has been with us for a long time. Now we are seeking ways of speaking about Grief that are consistent with our cultural ways of doing things. 

We are remembering those who have died, we are honouring Indigenous spiritual ways, and we are finding ways of grieving that bring us together. We are telling our stories in ways that make us stronger.

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Historical Trauma & the Addiction Reaction: Janet King, Part 1

There is a lot to reflect on in this film clip of the first part of Janet King’s presentation. For those of you who have not heard of  historical trauma, which will probably be the majority of you, I include the following:

“Historical trauma is something that goes from generation to generation as opposed to a personal trauma of a shock, or a breakup, or physical illness, or something else that happens in our lives. This historical trauma is very much steeped in a history of people, and a pattern of demoralization, a pattern of disempowerment that is carried out against a people or one group by another.

…the history of the people or our people, whether it’s the Cherokee Trail of Tears (all the tribes have their Trails of Tears, as we know), boarding school experience, or being taken away from parents, or being beaten regularly because that’s what the school or the religious experience for some might have entailed…

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‘Intervention Keeley Style’ by William White

IMG_2494Some Stories are just straight out funny! Whilst working my way through Bill White’s writings on his website, I came across this little gem he wrote in 2004 as part of his History Corner series. The article made me laugh, so I thought I would lighten your day.

‘The most famous and controversial treatment for addiction in the 19th century was Dr. Leslie Keeley’s Bichloride of Gold Cure. Dr. Keeley franchised his cure procedures through more than 120 Keeley Institutes scattered across North American and Europe. These Institutes became the preferred drying out institutions for the rich and famous in the 1890s.

But the problem then (as today) was this: Even where there are financial resources to pay for such treatment, how can the afflicted person be convinced to enter such a treatment institution?

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