Essential reading: ‘Speed’ by Stephanie Brown, Ph.D

I’m reading the excellent book, Speed: Facing Our Addiction to Fast and Faster – And Overcoming Our Fear of Slowing Down, by one of my favourite recovery thinkers/writers, Stephanie Brown. It’s well worth reading. Here is what is written on YouTube.

‘MORE, BETTER… SLOWER.

Feeling rushed, out of control, and overwhelmed?
Feeling like you can’t keep up…and can’t stop?
It’s not just you.

From the need to be constantly connected and the changing definition of “work hours,” to unrealistic expectations of instant gratification, our bodies and brains are being harmed by habits that, as with any kind of addiction, promise short-term satisfaction while doing long-term damage.

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‘Experiencing Recovery – Part 7′ by William L. White: Family Recovery

Bill briefly describes how many families fall apart during the early stages of recovery and points out that as a society we do very little about this. Stephanie Brown describes this effect on family as the trauma of recovery.

‘Unraveling the Mystery of Personal and Family Recovery: An Interview with Stephanie Brown, PhD’ by Bill White (Part 5)

Unknown-1Bill White: Your work has enhanced understanding of the intergenerational nature of alcohol and other drug problems. Have you envisioned how such intergenerational cycles might finally be broken?

Stephanie Brown: I think we’ve started to name and describe what happens in addicted families across generations, which is helping us understand family addiction and the complexities of family recovery. And I think we are poised to move beyond our current focus on the genetic and neurobiological influence on intergenerational transmission of addiction to include exploration of the larger psychological and social processes involved.

We need more family research to understand the transmission process and the kinds of family and community support processes that can influence these cycles and positively disrupt them.

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‘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.

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New Resource: Stephanie Brown on Recovery

Unknown-1I’ve added the following to the Resources section.

‘These blogs are based on Stephanie Brown’s wonderful book, A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety, and Radical Transformation. In her book, Stephanie talks about what happens to women in recovery, how they think, how they feel, their problems, the good things, etc. (The book is relevant to men as well!)

What is Recovery? (Part 1)
“Recovery has held so many surprises for me. Some good. Some bad. I didn’t know I could hurt so much. But I also didn’t know I could love so much and be so loved.”

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Stephanie Brown on Recovery

These blogs are based on Stephanie Brown’s wonderful book, A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety, and Radical Transformation. In her book, Stephanie talks about what happens to women in recovery, how they think, how they feel, their problems, the good things, etc. (The book is relevant to men as well!)

Read More ➔

‘Unraveling the Mystery of Personal and Family Recovery: An Interview with Stephanie Brown, PhD’ by Bill White (Part 2)

UnknownStephanie Brown has written an excellent book on personal recovery, from which I have used some key sections in my blogs. She emphasises a number of paradoxes in recovery which are described here. There’s some powerful stuff below, which I had never really thought about until I read Stephanie’s work.

Bill White: Speaking of impact, you wrote a book called A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety and Radical Transformation that has deeply touched many people. Could you share some of what you infused into that book?

Stephanie Brown: At the time I wrote A Place Called Self, I was deepening my understanding of paradox. Hazelden asked me to explore some of these paradoxes from the perspective of recovering women, although much of what I eventually wrote also applies to men.

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‘Unraveling the Mystery of Personal and Family Recovery: An Interview with Stephanie Brown, PhD’ by Bill White (Part 1)

Unknown-1Stephanie Brown and Bill White are two of my favourite people, although I have never had the pleasure and privilege of meeting Stephanie. They have both made such a huge contribution to our understanding of recovery and how it can be achieved. The work of Stephanie and her colleagues on family recovery is unique.

Bill’s interview of Stephanie Brown is essential reading and will help you understand what an enormous contribution the latter has made. I’m going to visit several aspects of this interview over this and future blogs. Enjoy!

Bill says of Stephanie:  “One of the pioneers who has most influenced this interest in resilience and recovery is Dr. Stephanie Brown. I consider her developmental models of personal and family recovery as among the most important in the modern era of addiction treatment. The implications of some research are so profound and far-reaching that it takes decades to fully appreciate their import. I think we as a professional field will be mining the implications of Stephanie Brown’s work for decades to come.”

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‘Coping in Early Recovery: The Toddler Stage’ by Stephanie Brown

images-1In my last blog on Stephanie Brown’s book  A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety, and Radical Transformation, I looked at what Stephanie describes as the Baby Stage of early recovery. Here, I look at what Stephanie says of ‘The Toddler Stage’.

‘As a baby moves into the toddler stage, she begins to acquire a new kind of learning. She begins to pick up language, which builds the foundation for understanding and forming ideas.

Similarly, the woman born newly into abstinence begins what is called cognitive learning. She listens to others telling the stories of what they did in the past and what they do now.

She begins to hear a new language, the language of recovery, and, like a toddler, begins to form her new self and her new identity around the acceptance of her addiction. She comes to know the words, “I am an alcoholic” or “I am an addict” and build her new, strong sense of self on this foundation…

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‘How Do I Cope in Early Recovery?’ by Stephanie Brown

rsz_dscf0052_2In my last blog on Stephanie Brown’s book  A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety, and Radical Transformation, I looked at what women can expect in early recovery, in particular in relation to their feelings. Stephanie goes on to look at the question, ‘How Do I Cope?’

‘If you are like many other women in early abstinence, you feel inadequate, maybe even dumb. How did you get yourself into this predicament? And what do you do now? How do you stay away from your drug of choice and every other drug too? How do you focus on yourself one day at a time?…

How do you tell your family that you need to stop drinking and that you need meetings when they don’t think anything is wrong? Or when they’re so angry they don’t want to stick around while you get well. Most of all, how do you survive each moment and each day when the pain is so great and you are so scared?’

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“What is Recovery” according to Stephanie Brown (Part 4)

P1010092In my last blog focusing on Stephanie Brown’s book A Place Called Self, I described two myths about recovery.  In this blog, we look at the second myth: dependence is bad and recovery means you are no longer dependent.

“… many women think recovery is moving from dependence to self-sufficiency. But there is no such thing as total self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is a partial condition.” So what does Stephanie mean by this?

All of us are dependent in some way or other. We need other other people on whom we can depend. “No man (or woman) is an island.”

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“What is Recovery” according to Stephanie Brown (Part 3)

P1010154_2In a Place Called Self, Stephanie Brown emphasises that in recovery a woman transforms the way she thinks about herself, as well as the way she thinks about life itself.

She points out two common myths about recovery, the first of which I’ll discuss here: ‘Recovery is moving from bad to good.’

Many women think that being addicted is evidence of ‘shameful neediness, of deep and lasting failures.’ Many addicted women are trying to do their best, to be a good mother, wife and friend, yet they feel bad. They believe themselves to be a bad person.

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“What is Recovery” according to Stephanie Brown (Part 2)

IMG_2891In my last blog, I referred to Stephanie Brown’s book A Place Called Self, in which she describes recovery as radical change in personal identity, or the self. Stephanie goes on to emphasise a number of myths about recovery.

Firstly, the dictionary definition of recovery states ‘a return to a normal condition.’ This would suggest that in addiction recovery the person goes back to where they were before they became addicted. In fact, this is rarely the case. ​

​Stephanie emphasises that recovery is more like a starting over than a restoration of what was lost during addiction. This is because for many people the real self was never really developed.

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‘What is Recovery?’ according to Stephanie Brown (Part 1)

book-a-place-called-selfI wrote this blog earlier this month but forgot to follow-up with the other parts. Life has been hectic! Thought I’d post again and then follow-up!

“Recovery has held so many surprises for me. Some good. Some bad. I didn’t know I could hurt so much. But I also didn’t know I could love so much and be so loved.

I had no idea that recovery was also learning how to be in intimate relationships, learning how to have close, wonderful friends. Then there’s my marriage. My husband and I have developed a rich life together.

And get this – I really like myself now. Learning about who I am and accepting me, that’s been the hardest part of recovery – and the best. I wouldn’t trade this path for anything in the world.” Anne, Recoveree

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Books to facilitate your recovery

I love reading and I have a large collection of books on recovery. Here are six books I believe are invaluable in facilitating recovery.

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‘What is Recovery?’ according to Stephanie Brown (Part 1)

book-a-place-called-self“Recovery has held so many surprises for me. Some good. Some bad. I didn’t know I could hurt so much. But I also didn’t know I could love so much and be so loved.

I had no idea that recovery was also learning how to be in intimate relationships, learning how to have close, wonderful friends. Then there’s my marriage. My husband and I have developed a rich life together.

And get this – I really like myself now. Learning about who I am and accepting me, that’s been the hardest part of recovery – and the best. I wouldn’t trade this path for anything in the world.” Anne, Recoveree

Read More ➔