‘A Different Kind of Evidence’ by Bill White

Addiction Journals Credit Wiley Asia BlogMore wisdom from Bill White.

‘Some years ago, a noted research scientist was invited to speak at a local community forum on the subject of addiction. The presentation to more than one hundred interested citizens consisted of a sweeping overview of modern scientific studies on addiction and its clinical treatment.

In the question and answer session that followed the presentation, a member of the audience posed a question about the effectiveness of recovery mutual aid groups like AA, NA, Women for Sobriety, and SMART Recovery.

The speaker responded that there had been few randomized trials comparing the differences in long-term recovery outcomes between these individuals who had achieved recovery with and without mutual aid participation.  The scientist declared that no definitive scientific evidence yet existed on the effectiveness of such groups.

Read More ➔

‘“It doesn’t work for everyone” – a take on 12-step approaches’ by DJMac

iStock_000011501444XSmall-300x199Excellent blog from the DJMac website. Good discussion as well.

‘What follows is a guest blog by a GP who gives a personal view on professional perspectives of mutual aid:

“Astonished”
I was astonished the first time I was taken to an NA meeting. I mean, really gobsmacked – you could have knocked me off my seat. The room was full of recovering heroin addicts; something I’d never seen in my 20 years (at that time) in practice.

I was both excited – at the possibilities – and ashamed – at the fact that I didn’t know such places existed. It curls my toes to think of it now, but I had not referred my patients to them. That was a while back.

Read More ➔

‘What does a person need in their environment in order to recover?’ by Mark Ragins

Mark Ragins believes there are four important things an environment must have to facilitate mental health recovery.

1. Relationships, as it is very difficult to recover alone. This is a little more complicated than you might think, as many people distance themselves from someone with mental health problems. A clinician may do this by talking about the illness rather than the person.

People must commit themselves to having a normal conversation with a person with mental health problems.

Read More ➔

Classic Blog – ‘The Four Stages of Recovery’ by Mark Ragins

IMG_3040-220x164Mark 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.

Hope
During times of despair, everyone needs a sense of hope, a sense that things can and will get better. Without hope, there is nothing to look forward to and no real possibility for positive action.

Read More ➔

Classic Blog – ‘What is Recovery?’: Julie Repper & Rachel Perkins

2007_0116walpole0097-220x164In 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.

As Julie and Rachel point out the concept of mental health recovery did not come from professionals and academics. It emerged from the writings of people who themselves face the challenges of life with mental health problems. On the basis of such accounts Anthony (1993) described recovery as:

Read More ➔

Classic Blog – ‘A journey toward recovery: From the inside out’ by Dale Walsh

IMG_2364-220x165My apologies for the pause in uploading blogs, but have been very busy working on our Sharing Culture initiative. More news on that front soon.

‘I 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 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.

Read More ➔

Guest Blog – ‘Solvent abuse: the hidden issue’ by Victoria Leigh

logoI wanted to highlight the great work of Re-Solv who have been working 30 years to tackle solvent abuse and its impact. Here’s a Guest Blog from the team at Re-Solv. Well done all for all your hard work.

‘This month, Re-Solv celebrates 30 years of working to end solvent abuse and support all those whose lives are affected by it.

To most people, solvent abuse means “glue-sniffing”; people think of the 1980s, they remember the 100 or more people that were dying of solvent abuse every year in that decade, and they make the thankful assumption that it’s all a thing of the past.

But it’s not.

Read More ➔

‘How Depression Can Bring Blessings in Disguise’ by Douglas Bloch

In this video. author and depression counselor Douglas Bloch talks about how depression and anxiety can bring unexpected blessings in their wake.

’Self-Determination in Mental Health Recovery: Taking Back Our Lives (Part 1)’ by Mary Ellen Copeland

Unknown-7This morning I was thinking about factors that facilitate healing amongst Indigenous people in preparation for some content I’m writing for Sharing Culture. I first thought ‘self-determination’. We know that self-determination is key for recovery, yet the white-dominated society here (and in other colonised nations) forces its way of doing things on indigenous people, even when it does not work.

Anyway, I googled self-determination, and came up with this excellent article by Mary Ellen Copeland. I thought I would upload Mary Ellen’s article in several parts.

‘The most important aspect of mental health recovery for me personally is self-determination. My connection with people in the system and in recovery has convinced me that the same is true for others.

In this paper I will discuss both my personal perspectives and the perspectives of others on this important topic based on many years of experience as a person, a user of mental health services, a researcher and a teacher.

Read More ➔

‘My Story: How I Was Healed From Depression’ by Douglas Bloch

It was great to recently hear from Douglas Bloch who asked if I might include his Story as posted on his website. Great idea, Douglas!

‘In his book, Prayer is Good Medicine, physician and researcher Larry Dossey maintains that praying for oneself or others can make a scientifically measurable difference in recovering from illness or trauma. It is one thing to understand such a healing intellectually; it is another to know it from experience.

Such an experience came to me in the fall of 1996 when a painful divorce, a bad case of writer’s block, and an adverse reaction to an antidepressant medication plummeted me into a major depressive episode.

Read More ➔

‘Stigma Reduction Through Recovery Contact’ by Bill White, Tom Hill and Greg Williams

Silence PosterMore insightful writing from Bill White and colleagues.

‘Debates continue on whether the stigma attached to persons experiencing alcohol and other drug (AOD)-related problems has a positive or negative social effect on the nature and magnitude of these problems.  Stigma promoters argue that public castigation of excessive AOD users prevents such use at a cultural level and exerts pressure for AOD deceleration/cessation among those with AOD problems.

Stigma detractors argue that such castigation inhibits help-seeking, forces excessive AOD users into subterranean drug cultures, promotes their sequestration through mass incarceration, poses barriers for the reentry of people seeking recovery into mainstream society, and places undue blame on individuals and groups while ignoring the ecology of addiction – the environmental conditions in which alcohol and other drug problems flourish.   

Read More ➔

‘A Life Rebuilt’ from Dawn Farm

Spotted this on DJMac’s Recovery Review. As DJ says: ‘Here’s a beautifully shot, authentic short film which captures how hope powers recovery.’

‘Amy came to Dawn Farm’s Spera Recovery Center feeling “broken and hopeless and like [she] didn’t have a soul”. In detox, she found others who felt the same way, but also found hope and faith.

Slowly, she learned to face her fears with faith that, if she does the next right thing, things will work out. Two years sober, this faith allows her to confront her fears as her biggest supporter faced cancer.

Read More ➔

‘Recovery Stories – Episode 1: What Does Recovery Mean for You?’ by Cafe TA Center

‘At the 2013 Alternatives conference in Austin, TX, The CAFE TA Center invited people with lived experience to share their thoughts on recovery. Dozens of people chose to participate, and offered their reflections on the recovery process, how the concept of recovery has changed their perspective on mental health, and what public policy makers and the general public need to understand about the concept of recovery.

Read More ➔

‘Listening Across the Stages of Recovery’ by Bill White

ListeningAnother powerful blog from Bill White.

‘Addiction shrinks one’s world to a state of stark self-imprisonment.  As the person-drug relationship devours everything else of value, nothing remains that cannot and will not be sacrificed.

And as the drug then devours the self, what remains are only manipulative masks interchanged so quickly that any sense of “true self” remains as only a faint memory.  This shell, now masquerading as a person, burns its way through the world leaving human wreckage in its wake – all wounded by addiction’s self-centeredness, dishonesty, disloyalty, depravity, and brutality.

Extreme narcissism, self-will run riot in the language of Alcoholics Anonymous, is the essence of addiction regardless of whether one sees this trait as a cause or consequence of addiction.  It is a paradoxical entrapment manifested in self-absorption (self-inflation and exploitation or self-deflation and serial victimization) and deteriorating capacities for self-care. 

Read More ➔

‘We Are All Connected: Reflection on Robin Williams’ Suicide’ by Pat Deegan

CW, CBS And Showtime 2013 Summer TCA Party - ArrivalsLike so many, I was deeply affected by Robin Williams’ suicide.  I was a big fan of his comedy.  In one of his greatest moments of standup, he invented a new psychiatric medicine he called “Fukitol” and forever won my heart. I also loved most of his dramatic performances such as Good Morning Vietnam, The Birdcage, and Good Will Hunting.

I knew all along that Robin Williams was one of us.  He reveled in outrageous genius that always teetered on madness.  He made the world laugh, while he wrestled with depression and battled his addictive demons.

Of course, he slipped at times.  He took wrong turns and made some bad choices.  But he was resilient.  He kept self-righting. He sought out help including detox, medications, therapy and mutual support groups.

Read More ➔

‘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.

Read More ➔

Eleanor Longden: The voices in my head

Brilliant and very moving TED talk from Eleanor Longden.

‘To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. That was until the voices in her head started talking. Initially innocuous, these internal narrators became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, turning her life into a living nightmare.

Diagnosed with schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, Longden was discarded by a system that didn’t know how to help her.

Longden tells the moving tale of her years-long journey back to mental health, and makes the case that it was through learning to listen to her voices that she was able to survive.’

Russell Brand: my life without drugs

26th Annual ARIA Awards 2012 - Award Winner PortraitsA great article in the Guardian by Russell Brand. He’s doing some great work.

Russell Brand has not used drugs for 10 years. He has a job, a house, a cat, good friends. But temptation is never far away. He wants to help other addicts, but first he wants us to feel compassion for those affected.

The last time I thought about taking heroin was yesterday. I had received “an inconvenient truth” from a beautiful woman. It wasn’t about climate change – I’m not that ecologically switched on – she told me she was pregnant and it wasn’t mine.

I had to take immediate action. I put Morrissey on in my car as an external conduit for the surging melancholy, and as I wound my way through the neurotic Hollywood hills, the narrow lanes and tight bends were a material echo of the synaptic tangle where my thoughts stalled and jammed.

Read More ➔

‘An interview with Matt and Amy Baumgardner’ by Veronica Valli

image1-200x300Here is a moving Story from Veronica Valli’s website.

A little while ago I was asked to review an extraordinary book called: From this day forward, A love story of faith, love and forgiveness by Amy and Matt Baumgardner. I had interviewed Amy Baumgardner previously for my Recovery Rocks interview series. Amy just has one of those jaw-dropping stories of recovery. Her story is so extraordinary that she was featured on Oprah’ Life class with Iyanla Vanzant.

Amy lost all sight of what was important to her and her drinking took over, one day she packed her kids into the car and drove them whilst she was drunk. She hit a tree and the accident left her 5-year-old in a critical condition. This was the beginning of the end for Amy, finally realizing she had a problem she began the long painful and guilt-ridden task of getting sober.

But how does a family recover from this? How does a husband forgive his wife for almost killing their child? How does a mother forgive herself? How can you repair a marriage with this kind of devastation and pain?

Read More ➔

‘Peer Support in Mental Health: Exploitive, Transformative, or Both?’ by Larry Davidson

ldavidsonI am a great admirer of Larry Davidson’s work and writings. Three of his books are amongst my favourite reads in the mental health field – please see below. These books provide clear insights into the whys and hows of adopting recovery based care.

Here is Larry’s latest writing, which appeared on the Mad in America website.

‘The first time I tried to write about peer support – that emerging form of “service delivery” in which one person in recovery from what is described in the field as a “serious mental illness” offers support to another person who is in distress or struggling with a mental health condition – was in 1994. The manuscript was summarily rejected from an academic journal as representing what one of the reviewers described as “unsubstantiated rot.”

That same article was eventually published 5 years later (1), and used by the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health to support its recommendation that peer supports be implemented across the country. (2) Now, more than a decade later and as peer support arrives at something of a crossroads, both of these reactions remain instructive.

Read More ➔