I refuse to feel ashamed

images-5Here is an interesting blog on Life Unbuzzed. Everyone’s recovery is just as valuable as anyone else’s. And everyone has a choice of what they do with their recovery, e.g. go public or not, become a recovery advocate or not. Here, husband and wife take different ways forward. 

‘Last week, my husband and I went to see a screening of the film The Anonymous People (which I recommend), sponsored by a local recovery support organization. The theater was packed and I felt bathed in a warm and welcoming vibe.

This was the first gathering of sober people that I’ve been a part of and I loved the sense of belonging. (Yeah, we’re all sober, dammit, and we’re proud!)

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‘A Day With Dave’ by Annalie Clark

My lovely daughter Annalie heads back to the UK tomorrow, having spent a year here in Perth working as a doctor (along with her boyfriend Max) in the emergency department of  a local hospital. I will miss them both greatly, but I’ve had such a special year with them.

Here’s an article that Annalie wrote in the summer of 2005, when she had just finished her first year of medical training at the University of Edinburgh. It appeared in a June edition of Drink and Drugs News. The article is about Dave Watkins who used to be a top-class support worker at a treatment centre in Swansea.

What is striking about this article is that Dave’s role resembles what I envisage a recovery support worker (or recovery coach) would be doing today. Annalie highlights Dave’s extensive contacts within, and knowledge of, the local community, which helps the lives of the people with whom he works. In the video above, you can see one of the magic tricks that Dave used to engage the people he was working with.

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‘Reflections on my AA experiences’ by Maddie

P1010174_3At my very first AA meeting, I was carried in by strangers who found me crying, shaking and rocking in the doorway. And I promise I am not exaggerating. Gosh, I had forgotten about that, an event that took place four or five years ago. 

I would pop in and out of AA for years before I was really desperate enough to let the rooms help me. I used to have to have a drink to get in the door, and I used to go with vodka in my bag. However, I just keep going back.

It’s hard to explain, but you are carried and held when you are in the rooms in those early days. Without AA and the people I have met there I would have busted on Friday night on my nine months birthday. I have been experiencing incredible stress because of the very long hours I have been working, the intensity of a new project, and a boss who is trying to make my project fail! At times, it’s been too much.

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‘Standing on the outside: Looking in’ by Aurelius

P4091276‘Firstly, I want to thank all of the site [Wired In To Recovery] members who have taken the time to comment on my wife’s posts/queries (Whiplashgirlchild). Your perspective (and objectivity) have really seemed to help her on days when everything just stacks up and turns bad.

I met my partner just as she was working her way off subutex. She had a decade of hardcore use under her belt and almost another decade on MMT/Subutex.

I had (have) a lot to learn about the nature of addiction and the meandering paths of recovery. I have had a steep learning curve, trying to understand the stigma and prejudice that she has had to endure during the years of struggle to get free of ‘the fog’ as she likes call it.

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‘Recovery: what matters?’ by David McCartney

IMG_2315Here’s an interesting Wired In To Recovery blog from David McCartney from September 2013 about the importance of social relationships.

‘If you wanted to live a long and healthy life, what measures could you take to achieve your goals? Stop smoking? Lose weight? Exercise? Drop your blood pressure? We have evidence that all of these make a difference, but a recent analysis of 148 studies on the subject found two things that made more of a difference to mortality than anything else. What were they?

Well, having strong social relationships and being integrated socially seem to protect against death. This analysis was not specifically about addiction, but suffering from addiction is strongly associated with increased death rates and it seems very likely that if we could promote strong social links in those seeking help it will reduce the risk of relapse and ultimately of early death.

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‘Hope and Full Recovery From Addiction’ by Kendra Sebelius

IMG_1870Hope is a key element of recovery. You need hope at the beginning of your recovery journey and at various other stages along the way, particularly when you are struggling and/or facing obstacles. Other recovering people provide hope by showing that recovery is possible via a multitude of different pathways.   

Here’s a blog from Kendra Sebelius I spotted the other day on the HealthyPlaces website. It focuses on hope and provides some hints to facilitate your recovery.

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Untangling the elements involved in treatment

Our research focused on interviews of people in a prison treatment programme revealed insights into the elements that operate in the treatment process, and how they might interact to facilitate a person’s path to recovery from addiction (1,700 words).

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Factors that facilitate recovery

The importance of these factors has been demonstrated by listening to the narratives of recovering people about their journeys into and out of addiction (1,200 words).

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‘Keeping the monkey off your back: top five tools to sustain recovery’ by Peapod

“Just because you got the monkey off your back, doesn’t mean the circus has left town” George Carlin, comedian, author

“Giving something back and supporting other folk is good for us generally, though we need to keep ourselves safe too. A kind word of encouragement to a nervous newcomer goes a long way. Spreading the message of recovery and sharing what works for you is something we can all do. Recovery is infectious and we need to spread it around.”

“Giving something back and supporting other folk is good for us generally, though we need to keep ourselves safe too. A kind word of encouragement to a nervous newcomer goes a long way. Spreading the message of recovery and sharing what works for you is something we can all do. Recovery is infectious and we need to spread it around.”

Getting sober and drug-free is hard enough for most of us, but staying that way is a challenge. The evidence is that many people coming out of abstinence-oriented treatment will relapse in the first year and most of them in the first few weeks. Recovery initiation, the start of the journey, is just that: a beginning. In the past, we’ve treated it like the main event and had little thought for what happens next.

The circus may not have left town, but there are ways to avoid ending up in a ringside seat and having that pesky monkey trouble you again. These things are the tools of recovery. There are plenty of them and we need to find the ones that work for us. Some however are more reliable than others according to the evidence we have. Here are my own top five tools:

1. Ask for help

This journey is so much easier if we do it in the company of others. Get help. Find peer based support, service user groups, a mentor, a recovery coach, a counselor, or a support worker. Use their support and keep using it.



2. Aftercare
If just out of treatment, go to aftercare. If they don’t have aftercare see if you can find another service that does and ask them if they’ll let you come along. We do that in our service from time to time and other recovery-oriented services may well do it too.

3. Get connected

Connect to mutual aid and recovery communities. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and SMART are examples of mutual aid groups. If you go to a 12-step fellowship, get a sponsor; research indicates you are much less likely to relapse if you do. Find recovery activities like Recovery Cafes or social groups. And stick with the winners.

4. Find something to do

Meaningful activity is a predictor of sustained recovery. By that, I mean thing like volunteering; getting some qualifications or training or a job; getting to the gym or for a swim; join a leisure or social group. Meet regularly with recovery friends and supportive family members. Make plans and keep them.

5. Help others

Giving something back and supporting other folk is good for us generally, though we need to keep ourselves safe too. A kind word of encouragement to a nervous newcomer goes a long way. Spreading the message of recovery and sharing what works for you is something we can all do. Recovery is infectious and we need to spread it around.

These power tools worked for me, but there are many more in the toolbox.

PDF document >

Natalie’s Story: ‘I didn’t plan to be an addict’ (Part 2)

IMG_3468I first met ‘Natalie’ over 12 years ago when I lived in South Wales. I will never forget how she emphasised the importance of providing online support for people with substance use problems. She had been desperate to find helpful online information when she trying to overcome her drug problem.

Natalie has always been such an inspiration to people around her. Mind you, many people had to first get over the shock of finding that such a lovely lady had once been a heroin addict.

We left Natalie in Part 1 of this Story in the pre-treatment part of a 12-step treatment programme.

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Untangling the elements involved in treatment

P4061087Here’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.

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‘Detoxification: The nuts and bolts’ by Peapod

P1011113_2Why not check out the second of Peapod’s articles in his Recovery Guide, an article which focuses on detox and beyond?

‘Okay, youʼve got to the point where you are looking to detox but youʼre not sure what the nuts and bolts of it are. How do you go about it and how do you know you are ready? What can you do to boost success?

Here are my suggestions, which are based on guidance and my own experience of working with hundreds of people going through detox.’