‘The Anonymous People in Australia’ by ManyFaces1Voice

unnamedReceived this exciting piece of news from ManyFaces1Voice this morning. Good to have some Australian recovery news. Well done Simon Bowen. Now hearing recovery rumblings in Sydney. Excellent! [NB. I have changed the order of one paragraph to make communication a little clearer]

‘A few weeks ago, we featured recovery advocates Dougie Dudgeon and Annemarie Ward raving about the reception and impact of The Anonymous People in their respective countries of South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Today we hear from Simon Bowen of Visible Recovery in Adelaide, Australia.

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Father and son on how addiction affects a family

UnknownDavid and Nic Sheff talk about addiction on US TV. ‘David Sheff, author of “Clean” and “Beautiful Boy,” and his son, Nic Sheff, who was the subject of “Beautiful Boy” and has written books as well, talked to WGN Morning News about how addiction affects a family.’

Here are two important quotes from Nic Sheff:

On addiction: “I know that growing up I was really in a lot of pain and I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. So when I first started just smoking pot… instantly I had this sense of relief, this was something I had been missing…”

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‘This Is An Alcoholic’ by Beth Burgess

london recovery coach.jpgAnother little gem from Beth Burgess.

A piece I wrote before I was in recovery. A bit of a rant at the current addiction treatments too. Do you identify as an alcoholic or addict?

No-one these days seems to understand what an alcoholic is. Middle-class winos, binge-drinking teenagers, hard-drinking journalists or Wall Street party-boys. These people are all labelled as alcoholics of some description. And yet most of them are probably not alcoholics at all.

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Favourite Blogs: ‘A Day With Dave’ by Annalie Clark

This blog was first posted at the end of July 2013.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Life as a Heroin Addict: Introduction

I was going through our old Wired In YouTube channel and saw that one of our videos – made by Jon Kerr-Smith and Lucie James – now had 0ver 290,000 views. Quite proud of that.

This video is part of a series that Jon and Lucie made with our friends in South Wales: ‘In this series we will be looking at different aspects of heroin addiction, treatment and recovery, as told by the addicts themselves.”

You can find the other videos on our channel. Enjoy!

State of the New Recovery Advocacy Movement: Achievements, Part 3′ by Bill White

Unknown-1I continue Bill White’s list of achievements of the new recovery advocacy movement in the US.

Message Clarity. The data collection and analysis allowed us to formulate a clear set of messages that could be used by RCOs throughout the country and would be disseminated via “message training” that clarified the meaning of recovery and reality of long-term recovery in public communications.

A further critical step in that message clarity was the work of detailing how advocacy could be done in ways that were completely in alignment with the anonymity traditions of 12-Step recovery programs – a position recently reaffirmed via a widely disseminated communication from the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous.

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‘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 4)

Unknown-1We continue Bill White’s interview with Stephanie Brown on family recovery. I cannot emphasise to you enough how important Stephanie’s work is.

‘Bill White: It poses the question of what the ideal scaffolding would be like that could support recovery.

Stephanie Brown: I think we understand much better today that the family encounters a vacuum on entering recovery with or without formal treatment or outpatient therapy. This vacuum within the family, and the same kind of vacuum in the community – the neighborhood, town, city, work, school, and social environments – is a significant problem.

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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.

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Many Faces1Voice: Phil Valentine

images“I don’t think we’re all that good at handling relapse. We talk about it like, ‘The person wasn’t ready, you know, or it was their fault. And maybe there is some truth to that. But how often does the recovery community, or providers or the system rally behind someone that’s relapsed.

And the native Americans taught me something on their thing, that they, if you truly believe that addiction is a force of darkness or a force of evil or whatever you want to call it, and you’re fighting a battle and once you’re in the light you’re finally fighting a battle against this darkness. Then, in a sense, we’re warriors, aren’t we? Are we? We’re on this side of light, we can be warriors.

You know what this two-word programme is that the native Americans have? Warrior… Down. Do you leave a warrior on the battlefield?” Check out Phil Valentine on Vimeo

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Recovery Stories Highlight: 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.

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Recovery Stories Highlight: ‘What is Recovery?” by David Best

Unknown-3I thought I’d devote Saturdays to re-publishing some of my favourite blogs. Here is the first:

‘David Best has done a huge amount for the addiction recovery field and for the Recovery Movements in the UK and Australia, in terms of his research, writings, advocacy and a wide range of other recovery-based activities. Where he gets his energy from, I have no idea?

I thought it was worth showing what David thinks about the question, ‘What is Recovery’. I’ve followed his arguments and included quotes from his excellent book, Addiction Recovery: A Movement for Social Change and Personal Growth in the UK.

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Chiara de Blasio Tells Her Story

Chiara is daughter of New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. In this professionally prepared clip, she talks about her depression and anxiety and her illicit drug use and treatment. Chiara also emphasises that recovery can’t be done alone.

YouTube clip intro reads:

‘For many, the holiday season is a time for joy. But it’s also a time when many of those battling depression and substance abuse find their struggle most difficult. In the hopes of helping others, Chiara de Blasio wants to share her personal story.

If you think you have a problem, don’t wait. Ask for help. Talk to a friend, family member, or health professional today.’

‘Personal Failure or System Failure’ by William White

System Failure‘In my writings to people seeking recovery from addiction, I have advocated a stance of total personal responsibility:  Recovery by any means necessary under any circumstances.

That position does not alleviate the accountabilities of addiction treatment as a system of care. Each year, more than 13,000 specialized addiction treatment programs in the United States serve between 1.8 and 2.3 million individuals, many of whom are seeking help under external duress.  Those who are the source of such pressure are, as they see it, giving the individual a chance – with potentially grave consequences hanging in the balance.

Accepting the mantra that “Treatment Works,” families, varied treatment referral sources and the treatment industry itself believe that responsibility for any resumption of alcohol and other drug use following service completion rests on the shoulders of the individual and not with the treatment program. 

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A Journey Toward Recovery: From the Inside Out

IMG_2364-220x165Today, I thought I’d repost a blog from our early days. It is from 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.

At the the time, the original article had been ‘lost’, due to the original website  being redeveloped. However, I  have found it now! Enjoy!

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.

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‘Coaching, cajoling, caring: All good for recovery’ by Peapod

rsz_o8pvekePeapod was the top blogger on Wired In To Recovery before retiring. Here is a snappy piece on peer-based support, originally published in March 2011.

‘What do people in recovery remember as the key things that helped us initiate and then maintain the recovery journey? Do we remember the doctor getting our medication dose just right? Do we remember a brilliant care plan? Do we remember diaries and charts and exercises? Probably not.

What I remember are the people on my path. The person who answered the phone in my hour of need and who listened; the kindness and wisdom of the staff in the treatment centre; the warmth and practical help shown me when I had very little to draw on and didn’t know where to turn. Sometimes people supporting me cared enough to be honest and told me things I didn’t particularly want to hear.

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ManyFaces1Voice: Jim Ramstad

Unknown-1It is wonderful to see politicians advocating for recovery. Here is film of former Congressman Jim Ramstad, who has done so much recovery advocacy work, talking about recovery. This film is from ManyFaces1Voice and The Anonymous People.

“I woke up in a jail cell in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on July 31st, 1981. It was the fifth month of my first term in the State Senate. I was mortified, I was humiliated, I was embarrassed beyond words, I wanted to be dead. I wanted to be dead.

But, instead of being the end of my life, the end of my career, it was just merely the beginning. For the first time in my life, I decided to tell the truth about my drinking. Even though it was very, very humiliating and embarrassing to wake up in jail, to be under arrest, it was also very freeing to be able to talk about who I really was.”

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‘Hope and Recovery: Part 1’ by Pat Deegan

lighthouse_01‘Hope is important to recovery because hopelessness and biological life are incompatible (Seligman). When faced with adversity, human beings need hope in order to overcome. Mental health professionals can contribute to hopefulness for recovery or they can convey hopeless messages which are toxic and soul killing.

When I was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 17, my psychiatrist told me that I had a disease called schizophrenia and that I would be sick for the rest of my life. He told me that I would have to take high dose haloperidol for the rest of my life. He said, I should retire from life and avoid stress.

I have come to call my psychiatrist’s pronouncement a “prognosis of doom”. He was condemning me to a life of handicaptivity wherein I was expected to take high dose neuroleptics, avoid stress, retire from life and I was not even 18 years old!

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