‘Finding Human Life on Earth’ by Carina Håkansson

chakanssonHere is an excellent blog from the Mad in America website. Carina Håkansson is a psychotherapist and manager at Family Care Foundation in Gothenburg, Sweden, which was founded in 1987.

It’s a funny old world because I spent three years in Gothenburg from 1981 in the early stages of my neuroscience career, conducting postdoctoral research with Arvid Carlsson, the father of dopamine research. Dopamine is the brain neurotransmitter classically associated with schizophrenia.

As some of you know, I left my neuroscience career behind me in 2000 because I did not believe that drug treatments were helping people recover from addiction and mental health problems. Anyway, here is Carina:

‘Through the ISPS listserve, I read a blog this morning written by Thomas Insel, director of the NIMH. The way he described people I daily meet in work and in my own life created a rising pulse, so I decided to find  out some more about his thoughts and practice. I am not saying that what I read on his blog is unknown to me, but still it made me wonder how on earth is it possible to invest so much money – and resources – in research which is so distant from practice, and so far away from humanistic and holistic ideas and theories.

Read More ➔

‘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 ➔

Ernie Kurtz: A Reverence for History

In this short interview Ernie Kurtz, renowned A.A. Historian and author of Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous, discusses his thoughts about the topic of history in general, and reveals some fascinating insights into A.A.’s history in particular.

The video was shown for the first time as the keynote address at the inaugural A.A. History Conference held February 21 — 23 in Sedona, Arizona.

‘Experiencing Recovery – Part 3′ by William L. White: Toward a Recovery Paradigm

More of Bill White’s talk that he gave at the Harvard Addiction Conference in 2012, the Norman E. Zinberg Memorial Lecture.

Bill talks about the disconnection between recovery and treatment, and asks what do we know about the science of recovery. And how do we define recovery? He tells us how little neuroscience has told us about recovery.

Ernie Kurtz on Researching AA History

Excellent film clip about the history of AA. Ernie’s book Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous is a great read. Why not check it out?

‘Psychiatric Epidemic (Part 2): The Scope of the Epidemic’ by Robert Whitaker

Robert Whitaker, author of “Anatomy of an Epidemic” speaks at PsykoVision’s conference on the Psychiatric Epidemic in Copenhagen.

In Part 2, Whitaker digs down deep into the research pertaining to psychiatric medication and demonstrates quite clearly that the studies paint a very different picture that the prevalent common wisdom of the day.

What is the reason for this discrepancy? Misinformation? Disinformation?

‘The Resilience of Alcoholics Anonymous’ by Bill White and Ernie Kurtz

AA_Newspaper_Image3Here is a seminal article describing what it takes to impact successfully on addiction and facilitate recovery. It helps us understand what underlies the success of AA.

‘Attacking Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and 12-step oriented addiction treatment has become a specialized industry with its own genre of literature, celebrity authors and speakers, single-focus websites, and promoted alternatives.  Collectively, these critics suggest that A.A. is an anachronism whose effectiveness has been exaggerated and whose time in the sun has passed. 

A.A.’s institutional response to these  criticisms has been a consistent pattern of private self-reflection (e.g., Bill Wilson’s “Our Critics can be Our Benefactors”) and public silence (e.g., no opinion on outside controversial issues, personal anonymity at level of press, and public relations based on attraction rather than promotion – as dictated by A.A.’s Traditions).

Read More ➔

Unrecognised Facts About Psychiatry

I really like the Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry website, in particular their Unrecognised Facts About Psychiatry. They say:

‘Most people assume that psychiatry is just like any other branch of medicine, with objective tests for diagnoses and drug treatments that cure real diseases.  In reality, however, psychiatric diagnoses and treatments differ enormously from diagnoses and treatments for say cancer or diabetes, since, for mental disorders, there are no known biological ‘diseases’ for psychiatric drugs to ‘treat’.

Here we highlight various Unrecognised Facts about modern psychiatry which every patient, practitioner and policymaker ought to be aware of.’

Read More ➔

Favourite Blogs: Research shows the dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network

2007_0116walpole0146Here’s one of my own blogs from WITR, written in January 2009, not long after the launch of the website.

‘Last week, the British Medical Journal published a very interesting article on the Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network. This high quality research involved a longitudinal analysis over 20 years of participants in a long-term health study in America (the Framingham Heart Study, see at end of Blog for further details].

The research involved 12,067 individuals who were connected to someone else in this population at some point between 1971 and 2003. Researchers measured happiness by a questionnaire and conducted a complicated statistical analysis of the relationships between people in this large social network.

Read More ➔

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.

Read More ➔

My Favourite Blogs: Untangling the elements involved in treatment

Unknown-4Here’s a summary of a piece of research that Lucie James and I conducted some years ago. I am very proud of this piece of work and it certainly opened my eyes to the importance of gaining a sense of belonging in the recovery journey.
   
‘To understand how treatment helps people overcome substance use problems, it is essential to understand the elements that operate in the treatment process, and how they might interact to facilitate behavioural change and a person’s path to recovery from addiction.

Lucie James and I set out to gain initial insights into these issues by using a qualitative analysis of the views and experiences of clients on the RAPt treatment programme in one male and one female prison in the UK.

Read More ➔

‘State of the New Recovery Advocacy Movement: Achievements, Part 2′ by Bill White

Unknown-1If you missed the the first part of my blogs focused on Bill White’s exciting new writing on the new recovery advocacy movemnet in the US, you can find it here. Here, I continue to look at the list of achievements of this movement:

‘Kinetic Ideas. As early as 2000, five simple ideas emerged from the very heart of the movement – ideas that were foundational and kinetic (capable of inspiring action).

Those five ideas were:

  • 1. addiction recovery is a living reality for individuals, families, and communities,
    2. there are many (religious, spiritual, secular) pathways to recovery, and all are cause for celebration,
    3. recovery flourishes in supportive communities,
    4. recovery is a voluntary process, and
    5. recovering and recovered people are part of the solution: recovery gives back what addiction has taken from individuals, families, and communities.

    Read More ➔

Treatment and Recovery disconnection

Saturday is time to revisit my favourite old blogs from the website. Here’s one of the most viewed from last year.

‘William White describes how somewhere in the process of the professionalisation of addiction treatment in the US, treatment got disconnected from the larger more enduring process of long-term recovery.

He points out that we are recycling large numbers of people through repeated episodes of treatment. Their problems are so severe and recovery capital so low, there is little hope that brief episodes of treatment will be successful. We end up blaming them for failing to overcome their problems.

Read More ➔

‘Unraveling the Mystery of Personal and Family Recovery: An Interview with Stephanie Brown, PhD’ by Bill White (Part 3)

Unknown-4Bill White: In 1999, you published a book with Virginia Lewis that virtually transformed my own understanding about family recovery from alcoholism. Could you share with our readers how the book came to be written and some of its major conclusions?

Stephanie Brown: The book came at the end of a ten-year research project that Virginia and I undertook in 1990 to study the process of recovery for the family. I had always wanted to know what happens to the whole family when the drinking of one or both parents stops.

We asked the same main question I had asked previously: is the process of recovery for the family similar to the process for the individual, and do the stages of active addiction and recovery I identified for the individual hold true for the family? We discovered pretty quickly that these stages do hold true and that they are a good guideline for understanding what happens with recovery growth following abstinence.

Read More ➔

“Triumphs of Experience': George Vaillant on the Men of the Harvard Grant Study

Something amazing happened on our website yesterday – one of my blogs went viral, or at least ‘mini-viral’. My blog 75 Years In The Making: Harvard Just Released Its Epic Study On What Men Need To Live A Happy Life had 6,151 unique visitors, which was eight times higher than the number of visitors for any other day!

Thought I’d show George Vaillant, chief investigator for over 30 years, in a short video talking about the study. George starts by saying, “On the one hand, I got less scared of aging by interviewing successful 85 year olds…”

‘At a time when people are living into their tenth decade, the longest longitudinal study of human development ever undertaken offers welcome news for old age: our lives evolve in our later years and often become more fulfilling. Among the surprising findings: people who do well in old age did not necessarily do so well in midlife, and vice versa.’

Brene Brown on joy and gratitude

Vulnerability expert Brene Brown talks about the relationship between joy and gratitude and offers a few tips on how to cultivate more joy in your own life.

Check out Brene in our section of books to help your recovery.

Marion’s Story: Introduction

Dr. Marion Kickett tells her Story, to help the reader understand her background and why she undertook her PhD research on resilience.

Read More ➔

Cocaine: The experience of using and quitting

41lk1WqLs4L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_What does scientific research tell us about people overcoming substance use problems? I have previously described the study with US veterans who stopped using heroin after they returned from Vietnam, showing that the common belief that heroin is highly addictive cannot be generalised to all situations.

A variety of other scientific studies have been conducted with people who have recovered from addiction to other substances and we look at another of these studies in this chapter.   

Dan Waldorf and colleagues conducted the most comprehensive ethnographic study of heavy cocaine users in the mid-1980s in northern California. 

They interviewed 267 current and former heavy users of cocaine, a sample that did not include people in treatment programmes or in prison. Most of the respondents were “solidly working- or middle-class, fairly well-educated, and steadily employed.”

Read More ➔

Research on Spirituality and Recovery From Addiction

Robert Weathers PhD of California Southern University summarises two recent and authoritative research studies (from Harvard University and the University of Michigan) which focus on the crucial contribution of spiritual resources in the process of recovery from addiction, for example, in 12-Step programs.

I found this video to be very interesting. Robert also mentions the Buddhist Recovery network website which contains a number of resources and is well worth a look. This network was co-founded by the late G. Alan Marlatt, one of the all-time great researchers and clinicians in the addiction recovery field.

Impact of substance use problems on the family

This research aimed to look at how a loved one’s substance use problems can impact on the health and well-being of parents and siblings (1,400 words).

Read More ➔