‘Journeys’ Podcast with David Clark and Huseyin Djemil

In April 2021, David Clark of the Recovery Stories website was interviewed by Huseyin Djemil of Towards Recovery as the first guest on the Towards Recovery ‘Journeys’ Podcast. The podcast was launched in June 2021 on the Towards Recovery website. David edited these twelve clips from Huseyin’s original podcast and posted them on his Our Recovery Stories YouTube channel. .

1. Personal Introduction
David describes how he changed from being a neuroscientist to become an addiction recovery advocate and launch the grassroots initiative Wired In. After moving to Perth, Western Australia, he became interested in the healing of transgenerational trauma amongst Aboriginal peoples. He describes his disillusionment with the biomedical view of addiction propagated by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) in the US and by other groups. [4’31”]

2. Addiction Recovery and Treatment
After researching biological mechanisms underlying addiction for many years, David decided to spend time with practitioners and clients at a local addiction treatment agency in Swansea, West Glamorgan Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (WGCADA), where he learnt a good deal about the nature of recovery and the elements that facilitate treatment. This world was very different to the world of neuroscience. He closed his neuroscience laboratory in 2001 and started working in the community. [6’48”]

3. Change of Career
David describes some of the highlights of his neuroscience career, and how he made the announcement of changing ‘career’ at his Professorial Inaugural talk at Swansea University in 2001. [3’54”]

4. Daily Dose and Wired In
David describes how he developed Daily Dose, a news portal focused on drugs and alcohol, and the website substancemisuse.net as part of the grassroots initiative Wired In (formerly called WIRED) he had launched. [5’14”]

5. Inspired by Natalie’s Story
David describes meeting ‘Natalie’, a former heroin addict, in his early days of working in the field. She told him that if he wanted to help people with serious substance use problems, he should tell stories of addiction and recovery. He asked her if he could tell her story and she agreed. Natalie is now over 20 years in recovery. Read her Story. [3’32”]

6. What Happened To You?
Hüseyin talks about his own recovery and reflects on the impact of trauma. ‘It’s not just about trauma causing addiction, but trauma causing a dislocation of me from myself… the drugs and all the other stuff that came after that is a searching to reconnect to myself somehow. And you just end up more lost than ever.’ He also emphasises that we must be looking at ‘What happened to you’, ‘Not what is wrong with you.’ [3’48”]

7. My Past has Become my  Future
Huseyin talks about trauma and its impact, and how people with substance use problems, many of whom have experienced trauma in their past, are demonised in society. Earlier in his life, he realised that there wasn’t anything inherently wrong with him. He could make changes in his life and get on to a different path. He wouldn’t change his past. That past and the trauma he experienced allowed him to work in the field, meet interesting people, and enjoy the life he has now. [3’49”]

8. David’s Recovery Stories eBook
David talks about his eBook Our Recovery Stories: Journeys from Drug and Alcohol Addiction and how it developed. he describes how the 15 Stories were first launched on his Recovery Stories website  in 2013, and then how most were updated for the eBook seven years later. The book, which comprises 170,000 words, can be read on a computer, tablet or mobile phone. The full Stories are now available on our website. [6’58”]

9. Recovering People and Their Stories
Hüseyin and David discuss people recovering from addiction, their journeys, and their stories. Recovering people are an asset. They have generally come through a great deal of adversity and have much to teach other people, not just those trying to overcome addiction. We need to be getting more recovering people together, and ensuring that their Stories are disseminated widely. Huseyin also talks about Towards Recovery, a community he first established in 2012. [11’36”]

10. David’s Current Activities
David talks about the sorts of things he’s currently working on. After having spent some time working on projects relating to Aboriginal people, he is now also writing and disseminating content relating to addiction recovery. He describes some of his future aims. Huseyin believes that David’s work in Australia has been a ‘rich detour’ which can contribute positively to the addiction recovery field in the UK. [7’11”]

11. Recovery is Self-Healing
Hüseyin and David discuss various issues relating to treatment and recovery. For example, Huseyin talks about how many treatment services view recovering people as an monetised asset that can be used to help attract more funding for their organisation, rather than focus on celebrating people’s recovery. He emphasises that parts of the system need more humanity in the way they interact with, and talk about, recovering people. David emphasises that recovery is self-healing. Practitioners don’t fix people; they catalyse and support the natural resources of the person. Too many practitioners think they are the one to have done the work. [7’59”]

12. Parting Comments
David summarises the three most important things he has learnt on his journey. 1. The strength of human spirit. 2. The power of human connection. 3. The healing impact of story. He emphasises the importance of empowerment and connection, and creating an environment of safety, to facilitate recovery. Environments must be created that facilitate learning, problem solving, and meaning-making. Belonging, and socialisation processes that facilitate belonging, are key for recovery. [4’36”]