Personal Favourite: ‘A journey toward recovery: From the inside out’ by Dale Walsh

IMG_2364-220x165I’m going to take a breather for a few weeks from posting on Recovery Stories so I can take a break and then focus on some Sharing Culture work. Remember, there’s plenty of content on the website for you to look at, including over 700 blogs and plenty of Recovery Stories, articles, etc.

I thought I’d leave you with one of my favourite blogs, A journey toward recovery: From the inside out by Dale Walsh.

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 ➔

Learn the Signs and Symptoms of PTSD, with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

One of the world’s foremost psychiatrists specializing in PTSD, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk visits Big Think to discuss the history of the disorder, its varying effects on sufferers of all ages, and forms of treatment that can “help people to come back to life.”

To understand PTSD, says Dr. van der Kolk, you have to understand the nature of trauma and the ways in which traumatic triggers can vaporize anyone’s joie de vivre.

‘I Am “Pro-Healing”’ by Hilary Bryant

“Yoga helped me explore and reconnect with the body I’d abandoned and abused for years. My pain and sadness had me living exclusively in my mind, my body nothing more than a battleground for my inner wars.

Through yoga and meditation, I slowly began to love myself again, learning to treat myself with care and respect. I felt a greater sense of self-awareness, and a sense of connection to something greater.

This was a drastic contrast to the days when I felt as if god had forgotten about me, or like I was a mistake not meant for this world.”

Read More ➔

Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia

understanding“An individual having unusual difficulties in coping with his environment struggles and kicks up the dust, as it were. I have used the figure of a fish caught on a hook: his gyrations must look peculiar to other fish that don’t understand the circumstances; but his splashes are not his affliction, they are his effort to get rid of his affliction and as every fisherman knows these efforts may succeed.” Karl Menninger

What would happen if a team of highly qualified psychologists joined up with a team of people who knew psychosis from the inside, from their own journey into madness and then recovery – and if they collaborated in writing a guide to understanding the difficult states that get names like “psychosis” and schizophrenia”?

Well, you don’t have to wonder anymore, because the result was published a couple of days ago in the form of a report (180 pages) that is free to download. This report is well worth reading. Here’s a summary:

‘Executive Summary
This report describes a psychological approach to experiences that are commonly thought of as psychosis, or sometimes schizophrenia. It complements parallel reports on the experiences commonly thought of as bipolar disorder and depression.

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‘The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma’ by Bessel van der Kolk MD

UnknownI have been saddened over the years by how little attention the addiction treatment field pays to the role of trauma in the development and maintenance of addiction. Tremendous efforts are made to argue that addiction is a disease or the person’s fault, but where are the arguments about the role of trauma (Gabor Mate being a notable exception)?

It is quite possible that the majority of people who develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol suffer from the impact of trauma. They use drugs (illicit and prescription) and alcohol as a coping mechanism. Many of these people will have been traumatised as children, and many will have been retraumatised through their experiences in the treatment system. 

I am just finishing an extraordinary book which is essential reading for anyone interested in trauma. I amazed by the advances that have been made in our understanding of trauma – in terms of its effects on our brain, mind and body – and how we can help people heal from its impact.

Bessel van der Kolk has written a classic. And the work that he and his colleagues – and a whole network of centers around the US – are doing is remarkable. As a scientist, it really excites me. As a person who cares, it really gives me hope.

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Classic Blog – Untangling the elements involved in treatment

P4061087-220x164Here’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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‘“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 ➔

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 ➔

Elyn Saks: A tale of mental illness — from the inside

“Is it okay if I totally trash your office?” It’s a question Elyn Saks once asked her doctor, and it wasn’t a joke.

A legal scholar, in 2007 Saks came forward with her own story of schizophrenia, controlled by drugs and therapy but ever-present. In this powerful talk, she asks us to see people with mental illness clearly, honestly and compassionately.

‘Stigma and Service Integration’ by Bill White

Stigma and Service Integration ImageIn his latest blog, Bill White emphasises the importance of Recovery Stories and their value in tackling stigma.

‘One of the emerging trends of U.S. health care reform is the tri-directional integration of addiction treatment, mental health services, and primary health care.  This is evident in the growing integration of addiction and psychiatric treatment under the rubric of “behavioral health care,” efforts to integrate primary health care within addiction treatment settings, and increased delivery of addiction-related services within primary health care settings, e.g., physician offices, health clinics, and hospitals.

Considerable resources have been invested in creating policy frameworks for such integration (e.g., provisions for office-based treatment of opioid dependence) and developing technological innovations (e.g., screening, assessment, and treatment protocol) to facilitate such integration, but history would suggest a far greater obstacle to service integration:  social and professional stigma.

Read More ➔

‘Addiction Treatment (By Itself) is Not Enough’ by Bill White

Treatment is Not EnoughExtremely important reflections from Bill White on the role of treatment in addiction recovery. I have bolded what I think are in some key statements. This blog is essential reading for all people involved in this field.

‘I have spent more than four decades providing, studying, promoting, and defending addiction treatment, but remain acutely aware of its limitations.

As currently conceived and delivered, most addiction treatment programs facilitate detoxification, recovery initiation, and early recovery stabilization more effectively and more safely than ever achieved in history, but most fall woefully short in supporting the transition to recovery maintenance and the later stages of recovery, particularly for those who need it the most – those with the most severe and complex problems and the least recovery support within their natural environment.

Addiction treatment as a stand-alone intervention is an inadequate strategy for achieving long-term recovery for individuals and families characterized by high problem severity, complexity, and chronicity and low recovery capital.  In isolation, addiction treatment is equally inadequate as a national strategy to lower the social costs of alcohol and other drug-related problems.  Here’s why.

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‘Personal Reflections on Recovery Month 2014′ by Bill White

recovery monthThis month marks the 25th year of what has evolved into National Recovery Month.  With an early focus on the slogan “Treatment Works,” the event took on its recovery focus in 1998 just as new and renewed grassroots recovery community organizations (RCOs) were rising across the U.S.

RCO representatives came together at the 2001 Recovery Summit in St Paul, MN to launch the formal organization of a new recovery advocacy movement under the leadership of Faces and Voices of Recovery.

In the intervening years, Recovery Month celebration events have grown beyond what anyone could have predicted.  Local recovery celebration events that once welcomed a few dozen brave participants grew into the hundreds and then into the thousands.

This month, in community after community, recovering people and their families and allies will fill parks and streets as far as the eyes can see – an ocean of lives touched and transformed by recovery.   More than 450 recovery celebration events are scheduled this month in the U.S. and such events will also transpire around the world – from Vancouver to Cape Town, from Tokyo to London. 

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Pat Deegan – Common Ground

A brilliant must-see talk by Pat Deegan, a major pioneer and inspiration in the mental health field. After describing her own experiences in treatment, Pat talks about Common Ground, the web-based application she has developed that helps people meet with psychiatrists and doctors and arrive at the best decisions for their treatment and recovery.

This is Pat’s presentation at the 2012 Summer Institute for Informed Patient Choice at Dartmouth.

“You’re all going to hate the word ‘recovery’” by DJMac

Disagree-2One of the problems with an aspirational and non-prescriptive definition of recovery is that it is hard to measure. The definitions most commonly featured in the literature share some elements including wellbeing or health, abstinence and citizenship.

Clearly if you can’t define it precisely, then it’s hard to commission services to deliver on it. In this case proxy outcomes are used. There’s a lot of debate amongst professionals on recovery definitions and measurements, but what about service users? What do they make of ‘recovery’?

In a teasingly titled paper (‘‘You’re all going to hate the word ‘recovery’ by the end of this’’: Service users’ views of measuring addiction recovery) Joanne Neale and colleagues scope the views of clients and patients in a variety of settings and run past them professional perceptions on recovery measures. How different are the perspectives?

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Recovery and recovery-based care

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead, US cultural anthropologist

2007_0118walpole0118Here’s a little section I wrote for a book I am working on.

1. The Problems
Substance use problems represent a major concern in society today. These problems do not just arise from use of illegal drugs, but also from alcohol, solvents and addictive prescription drugs. They are intimately tied up with, and can be caused by, social, emotional and/or mental health problems. A person’s substance use problems impacts negatively on the wellbeing of family members and other loved ones.

Far too few people are recovering from the problems caused by drugs and alcohol, in large part because of shortcomings in the systems of care that society has developed. Many people circulate in and out of treatment, and much of the treatment system has become disempowering and lacking in hope.

The prejudice and stigma that exists in society towards individuals and families affected by substance use problems is also a strong barrier to recovery.

Read More ➔

Russell Brand – Addiction to Recovery

I’m long overdue in putting this film up.

‘Brand meets a whole range of people from whom he draws insights – scientists at the cutting edge of research into the psychology of addiction, those involved in innovative recovery treatments and drug addicts themselves.

Is addiction a disease? Should it be criminalized? And is abstinence-based recovery, which worked for Brand, a possible way forward? In this documentary Brand challenges conventional theory and practice as well as government policy in his own inimitable style, confronting the reality of addiction head on.

Along the way he draws on his own experience to try to help one of the addicts he meets to take the first steps towards recovery. Armed with his own heartfelt beliefs and new insights gained during his journey, Brand has the opportunity to change the hearts and minds of policy makers when he is invited to give evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee investigating the efficacy of current drug addiction treatment in the UK.’ BBC Three.

Overcoming Drug Addiction: Darren’s Recovery Story

Here’s one of a number of short films abut recovery that is worth checking out.

‘The Alcohol & Drug Service (ADS) has been transforming lives for more than 25 years. Here is one true story about Darren, a young man from Grimsby, who has battled back from addictions to drugs to reclaim his life and rebuild relationships with family.

Darren was supported in his recovery by The Junction, a service which The Alcohol & Drug Service delivers in partnership with Rotherham Doncaster & South Humber NHS Foundation Trust.’

‘Gold standard addiction treatment’ by djmac

Arzt mit FlachmannHere’s an excellent blog on treatment from djmac.

Gold standard addiction treatment
Addiction to alcohol or other drugs is not easy to recover from. However there are many pathways to recovery, including through treatment. One group of patients does far better than most other groups. In fact their results are so impressive that many commentators have urged us to learn from what’s different about their treatment and follow-up to see if we can transfer learning and experience.

This group, claim researchers, sets the standard for addiction treatment. Indeed it represents gold standard addiction treatment. Who are this group? They are doctors.

In 2009, in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Robert DuPont and colleagues published a study that looked at how addicted doctors were cared for in the treatment system and also what their outcomes following treatment were.

Read More ➔

‘Experiencing Recovery – Part 9′ by William L. White: Recovery Advocacy and New Recovery Support

Bill talks about recovery as a new paradigm and its influence on treatment systems. He goes on to describe the new recovery advocacy movement and new recovery institutions and organisations. Most of this is occurring at a grassroots level.

‘Experiencing Recovery – Part 8′ by William L. White: History of Recovery Support

Bill introduces about the various types of recovery support that have existed historically: natural support, limited generalist support within the community, peer recovery (mutual aid) and treatment. He then goes on to describe how things have been changing in recent years.