Journeys into and out of Heroin Addiction, Part 3: Trying to Stop

IMG_2644The decision to stop using drugs is fundamental to the process of recovery from addiction. It is the initial part of the process by which people overcome a drug addiction.

However, whilst making the decision to quit is of great importance, it does not follow that the person will in fact stop using and maintain this abstinence for a prolonged period or indefinitely. There are a wide variety of factors that influence ‘stopping’ and ‘staying stopped’.

In looking at a person’s decision to stop using heroin, we must consider the external reality and circumstances of their life, as well as the internal thought processes that occur when they make the decision to stop.

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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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“What is Recovery” according to Stephanie Brown (Part 2)

IMG_2891In my last blog, I referred to Stephanie Brown’s book A Place Called Self, in which she describes recovery as radical change in personal identity, or the self. Stephanie goes on to emphasise a number of myths about recovery.

Firstly, the dictionary definition of recovery states ‘a return to a normal condition.’ This would suggest that in addiction recovery the person goes back to where they were before they became addicted. In fact, this is rarely the case. ​

​Stephanie emphasises that recovery is more like a starting over than a restoration of what was lost during addiction. This is because for many people the real self was never really developed.

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Journeys into and out of heroin addiction, Part 2

Focuses on living with addiction and covers such topics as relationships, changes in personality and lifestyle, hustling, crime and prison, impact on health, and treatment (5,900 words).

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Factors that facilitate recovery

The importance of these factors has been demonstrated by listening to the narratives of recovering people about their journeys into and out of addiction (1,200 words).

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Stopping heroin use without treatment

Research by Patrick Biernacki reveals important insights into how people recover from heroin addiction. It also illustrates the major challenges that people with a heroin addiction face on their journey to recovery (2,200 words). 

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‘Identity lost or found’ by Tony A

IMG_4919Another classic Wired In To Recovery blog, from October 2009. Tony certainly wrote some great blogs.

‘Not had Internet due to incompetence of BT so I’ve not blogged lately. After attending Tia’s funeral last Monday I sat in my flat with that anti-climax feeling about life, my identity and a touch of who I am.

You see, I irrationally started feeling that I miss certain parts of my life as an addict. You know, the dodging, ducking, diving and dealing, never being bored, the estranged behaviours I displayed.

I honestly felt I missed it all and felt a loss of identity. I was questioning who I am and was left thinking about how futile life is. A touch of indulgence I suppose.

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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 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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Recovery from mental disorders, lecture by Pat Deegan

Patricia Deegan PhD is a psychologist and researcher. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teeenager. For years, Patricia has worked with people with mental disorders in various ways, to help them get better and lead rewarding lives.

This film features clips from a lecture by Patricia Deegan on the subject of her own route to recovery. She describes how her diagnosis took on ‘a master status in terms of her identity’. Her humanity seemed to others ‘to be quite secondary.’

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The challenges of recovering from heroin addiction

DSCF2083When you ask people what difficulties a person faces when trying to overcome heroin addiction, most will focus on the early withdrawal symptoms, which comprise both physical and psychological elements.

There are far greater challenges that lie ahead in a journey to recovery from heroin addiction. It is important that people know this (users, family members, family members, etc), although it is also important that people with a heroin problem are not put off by these challenges. Many people have overcome heroin addiction.

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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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