‘Willingness To Be Puzzled’ by Gabor Maté

Dr. Gabor Maté talks about how important it is to be puzzled and to ask the question “what’s really going on here?” rather than assuming that we know all the answers.

‘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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‘Overcoming the stigma of depression’ by Douglas Bloch

dblochAn excellent article on stigma and on how people with depression can feel shame. Stigma and shame are roadblocks to depression.

“The last great stigma of the twentieth century is the stigma of mental illness.” Tipper Gore

One of the roadblocks to recovery for those who suffer from depression is our culture’s tendency to stigmatize depression and other mental health disorders.

After my first hospitalization, I remember the dilemma I faced in trying to explain my three-day absence to my employer. If I told the truth – that I was being treated for anxiety and depression – I stood a good chance of losing my job. Instead, I reported that I had been treated for insomnia at a sleep clinic.

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Bruce Alexander’s Globalization of Addiction Website

Unknown-1This website is well worth checking out. I really like Bruce Alexander’s ideas. They need reflecting upon.

‘Global society is drowning in addiction to drug use and a thousand other habits. This is because people around the world, rich and poor alike, are being torn from the close ties to family, culture, and traditional spirituality that constituted the normal fabric of life in pre-modern times. This kind of global society subjects people to unrelenting pressures towards individualism and competition, dislocating them from social life.

People adapt to this dislocation by concocting the best substitutes that they can for a sustaining social, cultural and spiritual wholeness, and addiction provides this substitute for more and more of us.

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‘Want to reduce mental illness? Address trauma. Want to save the world? Address trauma.’ by Laura K Kerr

ScapegoatIt’s time we spent more time reflecting upon the role of trauma in mental health problems and addiction. Here’s a thought-provoking blog from Laura K Kerr.

‘Different explanations have been given for the increased number of people suffering from mental illness. Some have claimed the increase is the result of ever-expanding diagnostic criteria and syndromes that risk medicalizing normal emotional reactions.

Others argue the increase is the result of the pharmaceutical industry financially courting the medical establishment as well as using advertisements to attract potential users of their medications.

While both these arguments seem correct, they nevertheless fail to address that an increasing number of people regularly experience despair and anguish and are struggling to make a meaningful life, if not keep themselves psychologically, socially, and financially afloat.

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‘The crisis of modernity’ by Phil Hanlon

Recently, I introduced you to Professor Philip Hanlon. Mark Gilman had told me about Phil and his work and I am excited by what he and his colleagues are doing. Over the coming weeks, I’m going to show a series of film clips which describe Phil’s Afternow project.

On the relevant webpage, Phil says:

‘Modernity has brought many benefits (including technological improvements, material comfort, longer life expectancy and improved health), but the downside includes the emergence of new problems which stem from the way we live our lives and structure our society.

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Stanford humanities course empowers recovering addicts and alcoholics

12925-hope_ellen_newsI was really pleased to see Stanford University is conducting a course on historical female figures for recovering women of Hope House. The course is run by Humanities students who gain the chance to “connect with the humanity and hardships behind people whom our society usually writes off.”

I’ve always felt that too many universities remain detached from the realities of the communities within which they exist, so I was excited to see this approach. I really hope more universities work in this way.

‘Wende C. is a grandmother who worked in banking for 27 years. She is also a crack addict who checked herself into Hope House, a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility in Redwood City, Calif., so she could learn the skills she needs to recover from her addiction.

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The culture of addiction: Part 2

IMG_2586The second part of this series focuses on the impact of legal status on drug culture. Click here for part one.

Society makes judgements about different types of psychoactive drug. As Bill White points out in his book Pathways from the Culture of Addiction to the Culture of Recovery, the social status and value attached to a particular drug by society influence several things:

  • The risks associated with use of the drug
  • The organisation of ‘tribes’ within the culture of addiction
  • The characteristics of each tribe and the impairments that members experience from both the drug and the culture itself.

 Clearly, there are likely to be differences in a variety of factors for drugs that are legal (e.g. alcohol) and those that are prohibited by law (e.g. heroin).

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‘Life is an amazing gift’ by Wee Willie Winkie

P4071127‘Life is such an amazing gift. I wake up every single morning with a huge smile on my face. I open my door as I put the kettle on and take a deep breath of air. This feeling never gets old and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

I’m not waking up with the immediate thoughts of heroin, or having to go to work to do a job I didn’t choose because I liked it – it was all about flexible hours and good money. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by drugs.

Life is so simple for me now, it doesn’t matter what happens. I look back on my past – the homelessness, the overdosing, my attempted suicide and think, “If I can survive that, I can survive anything.” So I never get depressed or down about things. It’s fantastic.

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‘Solving addiction lies in empowerment, not shame’ by Beth Burgess

P1011013Found this article by Beth Burgess in the New Statesman in October 2012. Beth is certainly getting her writing in a number of important places. Well done, Beth.

‘Brighton’s Recovery Walk is an important sign that stigma about addiction isn’t acceptable.
What springs to mind when you envisage thousands of excited alcoholics and drug addicts gathered on the streets of Brighton? The casting queue for The Jeremy Kyle Show? Early opening at the dole office? A new Wetherspoons opening up on the seafront?

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