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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Why the need for recovery-based care?

testimonials_07A resonating message I have picked from many people affected by serious substance use problems over the years is their desperate need for hope (that they can recover) and understanding (of how to recover).

There is a dearth of readily accessible information on how to achieve recovery, information that is also relevant to the day-to-day struggles and obstacles that people face in trying to overcome addiction and related problems. Many people do not know anyone who has recovered from addiction. Many find the treatment system to be disempowering and lacking in hope.

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A letter to Alcohol

IMG_4467Here is a letter that Beth Burgess, recovery coach from Smyls, wrote in her early recovery:

“Dear Alcohol,

Well it’s been a while now, and although you are a bad influence, I do miss you sometimes. I miss our secret relationship, the way that no-one else was part of it and could never get in on it. I miss the way you comfort me when I’m down. It sometimes creeps up on me unexpectedly how much I miss you. And other times I am glad you are gone.

Of course you have changed – and I know that. You’re not fun any more. But I seem to forget that when we’re not together. I don’t know why my memory is so short and why I always remember the good times with such intensity. It hasn’t been that way for a while.

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Introduction to our Recovery Stories section

2007_0116walpole0067You will see that I have put up 16 Recovery Stories on the website. They comprise part of a book I have been writing. This book is taking longer than originally planned, so I thought it was important that people see them now rather than later.

In putting together these Stories – some of which have been written by the person, others written by me after interviewing the person – I’ve wanted to provide insights into people’s journeys into and out of addiction. To me the most important part of these Stories is the recovery process, but it also also important to see how people travelled into addiction and how they lived a life that was dominated by substance use problems.

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‘Will I ever smile again?’ by Maddie

IMG_2338As some of you know, I developed the online recovery community Wired In To Recovery (WITR). I always loved it when a community member wrote their first blog on WITR, particularly when they described their lives and feelings. Sometimes, people ‘surfaced’ with just a few sentences like, “I’m Bob, I have just accessed treatment after ten years heroin addiction. I’ll be back soon and blog again.”

And sure enough, most would be back and their blogs would increase in length and number. Some people were looking for help online and they would receive comments from other community members. And they would respond to these comments.

One person who surfaced on WITR was Maddie, someone from somewhere in Australia. I started to comment on Maddie’s blogs and I then started to provide some help by e-mail. It wasn’t long before we were emailing each other regularly.

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