What facilitates recovery from mental health problems?

IMG_2882I was looking through my old blogs on Wired In To Recovery and came across this one.

The blog is based on a paper by Wendy Brown and Niki Kandirikirira, entitled “Recovering Mental Health in Scotland: Report on Narrative Investigation of Mental Health Recovery”. It’s the 19th manuscript in the list on this page.

‘This research involved the recovery narratives of 64 individuals in Scotland who identified themselves as being in recovery or recovered from a long-term mental health problems.

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Neuroscientist Marc Lewis On His Drug Addiction

Marc Lewis knows the power of addiction. His relationship with drugs took many forms over many years and accompanied him around the world. It was a story that seemed unlikely to have a happy ending.

It began in a New England boarding school where, bullied and homesick for Canada, he made brief escapes from reality by way of cough medicine and alcohol. Then a move to California in its hippie heyday brought him face to face with LSD, and finally heroin. In Asia, he joined American medics sniffing nitrous oxide in the Malay jungle and found a second home in the opium dens of Calcutta.

Back in Canada as a student, he resorted to stealing drugs from labs and medical centres. He then got clean for a while, but ended up working in a mental hospital, where he fled the madness around and within him through a desperate return to drugs.

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‘Keeping the monkey off your back: top five tools to sustain recovery’ by Peapod

P1011013“Just because you got the monkey off your back, doesn’t mean the circus has left town” George Carlin, comedian and author.

Getting sober and drug-free is hard enough for most of us, but staying that way is a challenge. The evidence is that many people coming out of abstinence-oriented treatment will relapse in the first year and most of them in the first few weeks. Recovery initiation, the start of the journey, is just that: a beginning. In the past, we’ve treated it like the main event and had little thought for what happens next.

The circus may not have left town, but there are ways to avoid ending up in a ringside seat and having that pesky monkey trouble you again. These things are the tools of recovery. There are plenty of them and we need to find the ones that work for us. Some however are more reliable than others according to the evidence we have. Here are my own top five tools:

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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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Recovery and what it means

What is does it mean being in recovery? Film made by mental health recoveree and involves four people diagnosed with schizophrenia. ​ [2 clips]

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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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‘Keeping the monkey off your back: top five tools to sustain recovery’ by Peapod

“Just because you got the monkey off your back, doesn’t mean the circus has left town” George Carlin, comedian, author

“Giving something back and supporting other folk is good for us generally, though we need to keep ourselves safe too. A kind word of encouragement to a nervous newcomer goes a long way. Spreading the message of recovery and sharing what works for you is something we can all do. Recovery is infectious and we need to spread it around.”

“Giving something back and supporting other folk is good for us generally, though we need to keep ourselves safe too. A kind word of encouragement to a nervous newcomer goes a long way. Spreading the message of recovery and sharing what works for you is something we can all do. Recovery is infectious and we need to spread it around.”

Getting sober and drug-free is hard enough for most of us, but staying that way is a challenge. The evidence is that many people coming out of abstinence-oriented treatment will relapse in the first year and most of them in the first few weeks. Recovery initiation, the start of the journey, is just that: a beginning. In the past, we’ve treated it like the main event and had little thought for what happens next.

The circus may not have left town, but there are ways to avoid ending up in a ringside seat and having that pesky monkey trouble you again. These things are the tools of recovery. There are plenty of them and we need to find the ones that work for us. Some however are more reliable than others according to the evidence we have. Here are my own top five tools:

1. Ask for help

This journey is so much easier if we do it in the company of others. Get help. Find peer based support, service user groups, a mentor, a recovery coach, a counselor, or a support worker. Use their support and keep using it.



2. Aftercare
If just out of treatment, go to aftercare. If they don’t have aftercare see if you can find another service that does and ask them if they’ll let you come along. We do that in our service from time to time and other recovery-oriented services may well do it too.

3. Get connected

Connect to mutual aid and recovery communities. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and SMART are examples of mutual aid groups. If you go to a 12-step fellowship, get a sponsor; research indicates you are much less likely to relapse if you do. Find recovery activities like Recovery Cafes or social groups. And stick with the winners.

4. Find something to do

Meaningful activity is a predictor of sustained recovery. By that, I mean thing like volunteering; getting some qualifications or training or a job; getting to the gym or for a swim; join a leisure or social group. Meet regularly with recovery friends and supportive family members. Make plans and keep them.

5. Help others

Giving something back and supporting other folk is good for us generally, though we need to keep ourselves safe too. A kind word of encouragement to a nervous newcomer goes a long way. Spreading the message of recovery and sharing what works for you is something we can all do. Recovery is infectious and we need to spread it around.

These power tools worked for me, but there are many more in the toolbox.

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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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