The Healing Power of Recovery

A beautiful film made by Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR). What more can I say?

Why the need for recovery-based care?

testimonials_07A resonating message I have picked from many people affected by serious substance use problems over the years is their desperate need for hope (that they can recover) and understanding (of how to recover).

There is a dearth of readily accessible information on how to achieve recovery, information that is also relevant to the day-to-day struggles and obstacles that people face in trying to overcome addiction and related problems. Many people do not know anyone who has recovered from addiction. Many find the treatment system to be disempowering and lacking in hope.

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It’s not just about the drug

IMG_3429Why not check out my article on drug, set and setting? In this article, I describe how the effects of a drug depend on the interaction between the drug, the person (set) and the social context (setting) in which the drug is taken.

Similarly, these three factors influence both addiction and recovery from addiction. As I describe, this interaction has important implications for developing systems of care to help people recover from dug and alcohol addiction.

Please let me know what you think about It’s not just about the drug.

A letter to Alcohol

IMG_4467Here is a letter that Beth Burgess, recovery coach from Smyls, wrote in her early recovery:

“Dear Alcohol,

Well it’s been a while now, and although you are a bad influence, I do miss you sometimes. I miss our secret relationship, the way that no-one else was part of it and could never get in on it. I miss the way you comfort me when I’m down. It sometimes creeps up on me unexpectedly how much I miss you. And other times I am glad you are gone.

Of course you have changed – and I know that. You’re not fun any more. But I seem to forget that when we’re not together. I don’t know why my memory is so short and why I always remember the good times with such intensity. It hasn’t been that way for a while.

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The Anonymous People: Theatrical trailer

On Thursday, I blogged about and showed a video of a documentary film – The Anonymous People –  that is going down a storm in recovery communities in America. Coincidentally, Greg Williams launched his film website a day after ours and with it comes this amazing trailer. I say no more.

‘Hope is the word that can free us from addiction’ by o2b3

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the things I will be doing with this new website is to ‘bring back’ some of the classic blogs from Wired In To Recovery – this has been much requested!

People who know me will tell you that I always keep banging on about hope. Yes, hope is essential for recovery! Here’s a real powerful blog about hope which o2b3 submitted to Wired In To Recovery back in 2010.

‘I always thought that the word hope didnʼt apply to me! From where I come from I was never shown or given any hope. I was always put down and told, “Thereʼs no hope for you. You are no good. Youʼre bad, you are a liar. You are worthless and rotten to the core.”

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The Story of Noreen Oliver: What you can do with Recovery

It’s almost ten years ago that I conducted an evaluation of the BAC O’Connor for Noreen Oliver. My visits to Noreen’s treatment centre were a real eye-opener! Here was a genuine recovery community, a place where recovery oozed out of the walls.

I couldn’t tell who was there to help and who needed help! It was a special experience and I learnt so much from those early visits. Most importantly, I learnt the power of community and belonging, of love and acceptance, of role models and peer support.

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Introduction to our Recovery Stories section

2007_0116walpole0067You will see that I have put up 16 Recovery Stories on the website. They comprise part of a book I have been writing. This book is taking longer than originally planned, so I thought it was important that people see them now rather than later.

In putting together these Stories – some of which have been written by the person, others written by me after interviewing the person – I’ve wanted to provide insights into people’s journeys into and out of addiction. To me the most important part of these Stories is the recovery process, but it also also important to see how people travelled into addiction and how they lived a life that was dominated by substance use problems.

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‘Will I ever smile again?’ by Maddie

IMG_2338As some of you know, I developed the online recovery community Wired In To Recovery (WITR). I always loved it when a community member wrote their first blog on WITR, particularly when they described their lives and feelings. Sometimes, people ‘surfaced’ with just a few sentences like, “I’m Bob, I have just accessed treatment after ten years heroin addiction. I’ll be back soon and blog again.”

And sure enough, most would be back and their blogs would increase in length and number. Some people were looking for help online and they would receive comments from other community members. And they would respond to these comments.

One person who surfaced on WITR was Maddie, someone from somewhere in Australia. I started to comment on Maddie’s blogs and I then started to provide some help by e-mail. It wasn’t long before we were emailing each other regularly.

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The Anonymous People

“Many of us have carried a message of hope on a one-to-one basis; this new recovery movement calls upon us to carry that message of hope to whole communities and the whole culture. We will shape the future of recovery with a detached silence or with a passionate voice. It is time we stepped forward to shape this history with our stories, our time and our talents.” – William White

There is something cool happening in America a the moment. The Anonymous People are becoming less anonymous, thanks to film-maker Greg Williams.

Greg is touring the country at the moment showing his new documentary The Anonymous People, a film about people in recovery. And people are loving the film from what I am hearing. Here’s the film synopsis and a promotional video used for Greg’s Kickstarter campaign:

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A journey toward recovery: From the inside out

IMG_2364I recently read an extraordinary article by Dale Walsh written back in 1996 which really summed up what recovery and recovery principles mean to a person who has been suffering from mental health problems. I thought I would highlight some of the main points here. [The article seems to have disappeared since the original website has been modified. I’ll put up link if it resurfaces.]

The Problem
“For many years I believed in a traditional medical model. I had a disease. I was sick. I was told I was mentally ill, that I should learn to cope with my anxiety, my depression, my pain, and my panic. I never told anyone about the voices, but they were there, too. I was told I should change my expectations of myself and realize I would always have to live a very restricted life.

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Welcome

about-us-2-largeI’d like to welcome you to Recovery Stories, a new website that is focused on helping individuals and families recover from serious problems caused by drug and alcohol use.

We’ll not just be trying to help people directly affected by drug and alcohol addiction, but also help people whose lives have been indirectly affected by the substance use problems of a loved one. Family members and friends also need to find recovery.

One important feature of this website is that it will carry the ‘voice’ of recovering people. Solutions to serious substance use problems are manifested in the lives of millions of people who are in long-term recovery. These lived solutions can provide important insights into principles and practices that underlie recovery from addiction.

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