‘Shedding Skins in Recovery’ by William L White

Shedding Skins in Addiction RecoveryMore wonderful reflections from Bill White in his latest blog posting.

‘For years, the following quote has rested over my writing desk:  “The Phoenix does not mourn what lies in its ashes; the serpent does not mourn its old skin.” Arthur Frank

Addiction recovery involves a progressive unpeeling of the self and focused efforts of self-construction.  It is helpful in thinking of this to distinguish between remission and recovery.

Remission of an illness can involve little more than the removal of symptoms and a return to the earlier trajectory of one’s existence.   In this sense, remission is regressive – a return to an earlier level of functioning. 

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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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‘The Role of Harm Reduction in Recovery-oriented Systems of Care: The Philadelphia Experience’

images‘While harm reduction can be viewed as an end in itself with a focus on mitigating harm to individuals, families and the community as a whole, harm reduction strategies can also be viewed collectively as a platform or point of access for promoting long-term health, and, for those with severe alcohol and other drug problems, long-term personal and family recovery.

If our goal is to promote health and reclaim lives, then we must understand the direct and sometimes circuitous paths through which individuals and families achieve and sustain such health. We must meet each individual and family with fresh eyes in every encounter with a belief that each encounter is an opportunity for movement, no matter how small, towards health and wholeness.’ Arthur C. Evans, Jr., 2013

‘Bridging the harm reduction and traditional addiction treatment and recovery worlds “requires openness to the possibility that our worldview and the cherished concepts we use to describe it may need to become subtler, more fine-grained, amended or even discarded; and, that approaches which don’t work for one person can, equally, be life-saving for others, when all the time our own beliefs, experiences, perhaps even our entire biography, shouts out that this can’t be so.” Neil Hunt, 2012

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‘Recovery for the Health of It’ by Bill White

rsz_heatlh_imageThe threats to health that occur during active addiction have been widely communicated in the popular media and in the scientific literature, but the health profile of  people in long-term recovery from substance use disorders remains something of a mystery. 

While one might assume that physical and emotional health rapidly improves following recovery initiation and stabilization, a health survey of Philadelphia and surrounding counties just published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs reveals a more complex and ominous picture.

In 2010, the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services contracted with the Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) to incorporate recovery-focused items into PHMC’s 2010 Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) Household Health Survey of Philadelphia and four surrounding counties. 

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Stigma and Recoveryism

UnknownBill White has been pushing out the blogs recently and I have missed some. I want to try and help to increase his readership, so it is catch-up time. Here’s the first, from August 28th – it represents some powerful writing. In my humble opinion, Bill at his best!

‘The suggestion that there are multiple and diverse pathways of long-term addiction recovery has evolved from a heretical statement to a central tenet of an international recovery advocacy movement. As tens of thousands of people representing diverse recovery experiences stand in unison in September’s recovery celebration events, it is perhaps time to explore and then put aside past divisions within and between communities of recovery.

In 2006, Tom Horvath, President of SMART Recovery, penned a brief article in which he coined the term recoveryism.  He used the term to depict assertions that a particular approach to addiction recovery was superior to all others – that there really is only ONE effective approach to addiction recovery. 

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The culture of addiction: Part 1

384985_10150365241281765_1866835833_nThis is the first of two blogs on the culture of addiction. I will later look at the culture of recovery, and after that consider how we can help people move from the culture of addiction to the culture of recovery.

These articles are based on the seminal writings of William L White, in particular from his book Pathways from the Culture of Addiction to the Culture of Recovery. In this book, Bill provides key insights into how we can help people move cultures – essential in their journey along the path to recovery.

‘Culture’ generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activities significance and importance. Wikipedia

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Bill White’s talk in London in 2009

Film from William L White London talk in 2009 (organised by Action on Addiction and Wired In) on addiction recovery. Includes recovery advocacy, recovery communities, recovery management and treatment. [6 clips]

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Peer Support Groups

This page provides links to the home pages of a number of key peer support groups, e.g. AA, SMART Recovery. Learn why peer support is important.

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Reflections on recovery – From seven years ago

2007_0116walpole0008This is from the website Articles section. Thought you should see how I was thinking seven years ago:

‘This article comprises two articles I wrote seven years ago for Drink and Drugs News (DDN) in the UK – with a few small changes and additions (including headings).

The original two articles focused on the writing of William L. White and colleagues in the US. I thought it was interesting to look back and see what I was writing at that time.

1. Problems with our treatment system
“Something got lost on our way to becoming professionals – maybe our heart. I feel like I’m working in a system today that cares more about a progress note signed by the right color of ink than whether my clients are really making progress toward recovery.

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The future of treatment

P4071117The following quote is taken from one of my favourite books, Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America by William L White.

‘During the past 150 years, “treatment” in the addictions field has been viewed as something that occurs within an institution – a medical, psychological, and spiritual sanctuary isolated from the community at large.

In the future, this locus will be moved from the institution to the community itself. Treatment will be viewed as something that happens in indigenous networks of recovering people that exist within the broader community.

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What is a Recovery Carrier?

P4071151I was recently reading an interesting Bill White paper on Recovery Carriers. Thought you might like to hear what Bill has to say:

‘Recovery carriers are people, usually in recovery, who make recovery infectious to those around them by their openness about their recovery experiences, their quality of life and character, and the compassion for and service to people still suffering from alcohol and other drug problems.

The recovery carrier is in many ways the opposing face of the addiction carrier – the person who defends his or her own drug use by spreading excessive patterns of use to all those he or she encounters. The pathology of addiction is often spread from one infected person to another; some individuals are particularly contagious.

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The Recovery Advocacy Movement

William White describes how recovering people have been stepping forward and challenging social attitudes and the treatment system. He emphasises that many more recovering and recovered people (and their families) need to step forward if we are to overcome the stigma that is associated with addiction.

Treatment and Recovery disconnection

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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The Anonymous People

“Many of us have carried a message of hope on a one-to-one basis; this new recovery movement calls upon us to carry that message of hope to whole communities and the whole culture. We will shape the future of recovery with a detached silence or with a passionate voice. It is time we stepped forward to shape this history with our stories, our time and our talents.” – William White

There is something cool happening in America a the moment. The Anonymous People are becoming less anonymous, thanks to film-maker Greg Williams.

Greg is touring the country at the moment showing his new documentary The Anonymous People, a film about people in recovery. And people are loving the film from what I am hearing. Here’s the film synopsis and a promotional video used for Greg’s Kickstarter campaign:

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