Classic Blog: ‘San Patrignano, A Community of Life’

Professor Neil McKeganey told me about this special place after one of his visits. He loved San Patrignano and was so impressed with the progamme.

‘San Patrignano is a house, a family for young people who have lost their way.

It is a COMMUNITY OF LIFE that welcomes all who are afflicted by dependencies and exclusion so that they recover their own way through a path of recovery that is primarily a path of love.

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‘Dr Mark and The Village’ by Mark Ragins

Unknown-3Here is an article by one of my favourite people in the mental health field, Mark Ragins on Mad in America. Mark is the Medical Director at the MHA Village Integrated Service Agency, a model of recovery based mental health care.  His practice has been grounded in 20 years+ with some of the most underserved and difficult to engage people in our community.

‘My name is Mark Ragins.  Most people at The Village call me Dr. Mark, except those who have known me long enough to forego that pedestal and just call me Mark.  I’m a psychiatrist, a story teller, and the kid who used to drive his parents and teachers crazy asking “Why?” unendingly and then, never satisfied with their answers, looked for my own answers and returned to tell them that their answers were wrong.

When I meet someone new I usually try not to tell them I’m a psychiatrist too soon.  There are so many strange and scary ideas about psychiatrists and mental illnesses out there that I’m afraid I’ll be rejected before I even have a chance.

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‘Addiction Treatment (By Itself) is Not Enough’ by Bill White

Treatment is Not EnoughExtremely important reflections from Bill White on the role of treatment in addiction recovery. I have bolded what I think are in some key statements. This blog is essential reading for all people involved in this field.

‘I have spent more than four decades providing, studying, promoting, and defending addiction treatment, but remain acutely aware of its limitations.

As currently conceived and delivered, most addiction treatment programs facilitate detoxification, recovery initiation, and early recovery stabilization more effectively and more safely than ever achieved in history, but most fall woefully short in supporting the transition to recovery maintenance and the later stages of recovery, particularly for those who need it the most – those with the most severe and complex problems and the least recovery support within their natural environment.

Addiction treatment as a stand-alone intervention is an inadequate strategy for achieving long-term recovery for individuals and families characterized by high problem severity, complexity, and chronicity and low recovery capital.  In isolation, addiction treatment is equally inadequate as a national strategy to lower the social costs of alcohol and other drug-related problems.  Here’s why.

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‘Recovery in an Age of Cynicism’ by Bill White

Recovery in an Age of Cynicism ImageThere’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”
For What It’s Worth, Buffalo Springfield (1966)
Lyrics by Stephen Stills

Recovery in an age of cynicism requires seeking the less traveled path.

We live in a strange era.  Pessimism seems to be seeping into every aspect of global culture – fed by leaders who divide rather than unite, who pander rather than educate and elevate, and who ply the politics of destruction to mask their own impotence to create.

Poisoned by such cynicism, we as a people act too often without thinking, speak too often without listening, and engage too often to confront and condemn rather than to communicate, until in our own loss of hope, we lapse into disillusioned detachment and silence – shrinking our world to a small circle we vow to protect. 

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Excerpt from Brad’s Recovery Story: A Spiritual Awakening

stories-04Here’s an excerpt from Brad’s Story. Brad was in the process of breaking away from a life of drinking, crime and violence.

‘3. Starting with The Breakfast Club
In 2006, Thames Valley Police informed me that Paula had taken her own life. This made me angry. I thought she was selfish leaving three kids behind, although I’d left my kids behind years ago.

I continued drinking and six months to the day my best friend Mick died in my arms at Calderdale Royal, having fallen and banged his head. Mick’s death crushed me. It was this was the first time I can remember showing any real emotion. To this day, I shed a tear when talking about him, as I am now. We had done everything together.

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Stuart Honor Talking at Recovery AM Conference

Start time of Stuart’s excellent talk (40 mins 20 secs)

In my humble opinion, Stuart Honor is one of the very special people in the UK addiction recovery field. Stuart has been doing research on recovery in communities for about a decade and has accumulated more data than anyone else in the UK. Stuart’s research addresses key recovery-related issues and he is never afraid to speak as he sees it… and challenge the system.

I remember years ago when Stuart first contacted me and invited me up to see The Breakfast Club he had set up in Halifax. I was really impressed by what I saw and by what Stuart was trying to develop – a genuine recovery community. You now know this place as The Basement Recovery Project, the CEO of whom is Michelle Foster. Stuart still plays a role.

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‘Beautiful Boy: More Than An Addict’ by Jim Contopulos

The beauty of the Santa Rosa Ecological Reserve in southern California provides the backdrop for a father’s lament upon losing his beautiful son to addiction and mental illness.

Walk alongside him, as together, we who survive dream of a better day, sustained and inspired by the pain, brokenness and courage of those who live with the unrelenting weight of mental illness and addiction.

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‘Recovery: what matters?’ by David McCartney

IMG_2315Here’s an interesting Wired In To Recovery blog from David McCartney from September 2013 about the importance of social relationships.

‘If you wanted to live a long and healthy life, what measures could you take to achieve your goals? Stop smoking? Lose weight? Exercise? Drop your blood pressure? We have evidence that all of these make a difference, but a recent analysis of 148 studies on the subject found two things that made more of a difference to mortality than anything else. What were they?

Well, having strong social relationships and being integrated socially seem to protect against death. This analysis was not specifically about addiction, but suffering from addiction is strongly associated with increased death rates and it seems very likely that if we could promote strong social links in those seeking help it will reduce the risk of relapse and ultimately of early death.

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Phil Valentine interview

Film clips of ​Phil Valentine, Executive Director of CCAR, discussing addiction recovery, recovery-based care, and recovery communities. [9 clips]

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CCAR films

Three films from Connecticut Community of Addiction Recovery (CCAR) on the healing power of recovery, making recovery visible and recovery walks. [3 clips]

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Phil Valentine talk

Talk given by Phil Valentine of CCAR in Cardiff, UK 2011 where he discusses recovery, recovery-based care and recovery communities. [5 clips]

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Bill White’s talk in London in 2009

Film from William L White London talk in 2009 (organised by Action on Addiction and Wired In) on addiction recovery. Includes recovery advocacy, recovery communities, recovery management and treatment. [6 clips]

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Reflections on recovery – from seven years ago

Looks at the development of the recovery paradigm and how solutions to severe substance use problems are manifested by millions of people who have recovered from addiction (1,800 words).

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Meet formerly ‘Anonymous People’

Meet formerly Anonymous PeopleFound this article in the NewsTimes as Greg Williams’s tour with The Anonymous People draws to a close.

‘The first two were only fender benders. The third was a bit more serious. It wasn’t until his fourth car accident, a near-fatal one, that Greg Williams knew his life needed to change.

That fateful wreck landed the then-17-year-old Newtown youth in Danbury Hospital’s emergency room, with his parents insisting he needed to get help for his addiction to alcohol and drugs.

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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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