Visiting UK Recovery Friends: Part 10 (Dr. David McCartney & LEAP)

After visiting Ian and Irene MacDonald, I headed back to my usual base when I am visiting the UK, the Beech House Hotel in Reading. It’s a wonderful family-run hotel that I have been staying in for over a decade whilst I visit my three youngest children. The next morning, I delivered my hire car back to the main office, and then headed to Heathrow airport to catch a flight to Edinburgh.

I was soon on my way to my favourite UK city where I would be meeting some of my favourite people, the staff and patients at Lothians and Edinburgh Abstinence Programme (LEAP), led by my close friend Dr David McCartney. I first visited LEAP in 2007, at a time when my eldest daughter Annalie was a medical student at the university. For some years, even after I moved to Australia, I would spend the day talking with staff and patients. My discussions with David and his Clinical Lead Eddy Conroy were enjoyable, thought-provoking, and inspiring.

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2022 Recovery Stories Blog Posts, Part 2

I have recently uploaded a blog post which provides the titles of my blog posts this year, along with links to these posts. Here, I provide details of the remaining blog posts:

> The New ‘William White Papers’ Website

> The everyday lives of recovering drug users [Refers to excellent research by Joanne Neale and colleagues]

> Revised ‘Steps to Reintegration Model’ by Julian Buchanan

> Fighting Stigma and Discrimination When Recovering From Problem Drug Use

> ‘Addiction treatment mismatch: when what’s on offer isn’t always what’s wanted’ by David McCartney [From the Recovery Review blog]

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Visiting UK Recovery Friends, Part 6 (Angie and Andy Evason)

Whilst on Gower, I caught up with my old best schoolmate in Melton Mowbray, Jeff Zorko, along with this wife Marian and daughter Rosie. Jeff and I spent a number of years working in jobs in different places around the world, only to find we both ended up living on Gower. They have known my three youngest children since each of them were born. Jeff became an invaluable Trustee on our charity Wired International Ltd, which funded Wired In activities. I am very grateful for the charity work he did then and the long-lasting friendship I have had with him and his family.

One of our meetings on this visit occurred over dinner at my former local pub, The King Arthur in Reynoldston. After dinner, we were joined by two former West Glamorgan Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (WGCADA) staff members, Angie and Andy Evason. As I have previously described, WGCADA was where I first began to learn about the nature of drug addiction treatment and interact closely with staff members and service users.

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Visiting UK Recovery Friends: Part 5 (Becky Hancock)

I left Ash Whitney’s house in Cilfrew, and headed to Gower (a peninsula just west of Swansea) where I had rented a house in Llangennith for my two boys (Ben and Sam) and myself for four nights. Llangennith is a village on the west coast of Gower which is close to Rhossili Beach, a beautiful surfing beach. I spent my first year renting a house in the village when I took up a position in the Psychology Department at the University of Wales, Swansea in 1992. I ended up living on Gower for 14 years and had such a great time there. I consider Gower to be my spiritual home.

I had closed down my neuroscience laboratory in the university in 2000 because I did not feel that a medical approach and the use of drugs were the answer to helping people overcome drug addiction. I realised that I needed to learn more about the nature of addiction and how it could be overcome by visiting treatment services and talking to practitioners and people trying to overcome addiction.

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Visiting UK Recovery Friends: Part 4 (Ash Whitney)

After leaving Wynford Ellis Owen and his lovely wife Meira in Creigiau (South Wales), I headed to Cilfrew, located close to Neath, to visit my great friend Ash Whitney, of Wired Up Wales, and his parents. Ash and I have worked together on-and-off for over 20 years now, starting not long after I launched WIRED (Web-based Information REsource on Drugs), which later became known as Wired In.

At the beginning of the new millennium, I received a small level of funding from the Welsh Development Agency, which at the time was the economic development agency for Wales, to develop and maintain an online resource that would help people in Wales better understand the nature of drug and alcohol use problems and how they could be overcome. Use of illegal drugs, in particular heroin, and excessive drinking were major problems in parts of Wales, particularly in areas suffering economic and social problems such as in the Welsh valleys. These problems had increased as coal mines in the valleys closed. 

A technician in my university department, Neil Carter, suggested I approach a web-developer friend of his, Ash Whitney, to see if he would build me a website.

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Visiting UK Recovery Friends, Part 3 (Wynford Ellis Owen)

After visiting my eldest daughter Annalie and family in Manchester, and seeing recovery advocates Kevan Martin and Mark Gilman, I headed down to Reading. The next day, my youngest daughter Natasha and I flew to Rome for a week to visit one of my best friends at City of London Polytechnic (where I did my Psychology degree in the first half of the 1970s) Saifullah Syed and his lovely wife Francoise. There, I also met Jeff Simpson, one of my other best mates from the Poly, someone I hadn’t seen for 45 years!

After Rome, I visited my eldest son Ben in Southampton for a couple of days and then hired a car in Reading to travel to and around Wales. First stop was Creigiau, where I stayed for the weekend with Wynford Ellis Owen and his wonderful wife Meira.

I first met Wynford in 2007 through my role as External Examiner for the Foundation Degree on Addictions Counselling run by Action on Addiction and the Division for Lifelong Learning at the University of Bath. Tim Leighton of Action on Addiction, who was in charge of the Foundation Degree course, asked if I would supervise the degree project of one of the students who lived not far from me in South Wales.

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Visiting UK Recovery Friends: Part 2 (Mark Gilman)

Last month, I returned from a European trip of just under eight weeks, a trip during which I visited a number of friends who work in the addiction recovery field. In a previous blog, I described my meeting with Kevan Martin, Founder of NERAF (Northern Engagement into Recovery from Addiction).

Two days later, I spent the afternoon in Manchester with Mark Gilman, who many of you know. Mark was North West Regional Manager for the National Treatment Agency (NTA) for Substance Misuse, and more importantly one of the leading recovery advocates in the UK, when I first met him in 2008. He had established Recovery Oriented Integrated Systems (ROIS) in the North West, on the basis of the ideas of George de Leon. The latter’s proposition was that by coming together as part of a therapeutic community, people can learn how to live right.

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Visiting UK Recovery Friends: Part 1 (Kevan Martin)

My apologies that I have not posted on my blog for some time now. I was in Europe (UK, Sweden and Italy) for nearly eight weeks visiting family and friends. I hadn’t been back to the UK in two and half years, due to the fact that we were ‘locked down’ (our borders were closed) in Western Australia due to Covid. I came back home to Perth for a rest (!) and have also been catching up with work, which in part has involved working on a new recovery book. 

During my time in the UK, I travelled around visiting various friends who I first met whilst working in the addiction recovery field. Whilst staying in Manchester with my eldest daughter and her family, I took the opportunity to visit Kevan Martin, whose remarkable Recovery Story, He’s a Loser and Will Never Be Any Good, I first published on this website back in 2013.

After 25 years of problem drinking and eight years in and out of psychiatric hospitals, Kevan set up and ran NERAF (Northern Engagement into Recovery from Addiction) which eventually had nearly 100 staff and volunteers and provided a support service across the north-east of England. It all began in the following way:

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