The Power of Addiction and The Addiction of Power: Gabor Maté at TEDxRio+20

Canadian physician Gabor Maté’s theme at TEDxRio+20 was addiction – from drugs to power. From the lack of love to the desire to escape oneself, from susceptibility of the being to interior power – nothing escapes. And he risks a generic and generous prescription: “Find your nature and be nice to yourself.” TEDx Talks. [18’46”]

Ruby’s Healing Story

Marion Kickett, Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Curtin University in Perth, shares the harrowing story of Ruby and describes how her early experiences impacted on her life. By forgiving people involved in these terrible events, Ruby started a healing process which led to her realising a dream. Sharing Culture. [9’42”]

Don Coyhis: 2009 Purpose Prize Winner

Don Coyhis developed the grassroots Wellbriety Movement that provides culturally based healing for Indigenous people. The mission of The Wellbriety Movement is to disseminate culturally based principles, values, and teachings to support healthy community development and servant leadership, and to support healing from alcohol, substance abuse, co-occurring disorders, and intergenerational trauma. Encore.org. [3’12”]

Why the Need for Recovery-based Care?

A 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). Here is a blog I originally posted in May 2013.

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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‘How Do I Know a Treatment Service is Recovery-oriented?’: Mark Ragins

Some treatment services today say they are doing recovery—using recovery-based care—when they are not in fact doing so. So how do you know that you are going to receive genuine recovery-based care when you sign up to a treatment service claiming to be recovery-oriented?

Here is some help from Mark Ragins, a leading figure in the mental health recovery field, about what to look for in a service offering recovering-based care. Mark may be talking about mental health recovery, but what he says is of relevance to addiction recovery. I first posted this blog back in June 2103.

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‘A Day With Dave’ by Annalie Clark

I posted this originally in July 2013, a day before lovely daughter Annalie headed 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. Over seven years later, Annalie is a psychiatrist working in the UK.

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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Climbing Out of Addiction and Depression: Margo Talbot at TEDxCanmore

Great talk and pics and one hell of a recovery! I first posted this film in July 2014.

‘Current research suggests that addiction and depression are symptoms of emotional distress, not causes of it, forging the link between childhood trauma and mental illness. Margo Talbot’s journey supports these studies.

Diagnosed Bi Polar at age twenty-two, Margo spent the next fifteen years in suicidal depression before discovering the healing power of presence as the antidote to emotional trauma. Being present to our thoughts and emotions, not running the other way or masking them. Where best to practice the art of presence than the frozen world of ice climbing…

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Phil Valentine Sets Off Today: Recovery on the Appalachian Trail

photo-224x300“First of all, celebrations to Phil on his five year recovery from cancer (Today!). And for over 27 years in recovery from addiction.

And if that is not enough he will – in 6 – 8 months time – be in recovery from walking the Appalachian Trail. But firstly, he’s got to walk – and today, get started!!

Wishing you the very best from down under, Phil. We’ll be following you, thinking of you, and spiritually walking alongside you. Enjoy yourself, good friend. Go, Phil, Go.” David Clark and Michael Scott

And for those of you who do not know what is going on, you can find out more here and here. We’ll be following Phil from time-to-time on his journey and I strongly encourage you to follow him directly via: https://twitter.com/pvalentine59 and https://instagram.com/pvalentine59/

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Classic blog: ‘Recovery is contagious redux’ by Bill White

recovery-contagion-220x186Here’s the latest from recovery advocate William L White.  Wonderful words, just wonderful words.

‘Those of you who have been reading my weekly blogs these past six months will recognize two simple and enduring themes: Recovery is contagious and recovery is spread by recovery carriers.  Those notions first came to me on April 14, 2010 when I stood to speak at Northeast Treatment Centers’ (NET) dinner honoring NET’s 40th anniversary and the achievements of NET members.

Here are some of the words that came to me as I stood before a room packed with people filled with hopes of what their newly found recoveries would bring.

“This night is a celebration of the contagiousness of recovery and the fulfilled promises recovery has brought into our lives.  Some of you did not leave the streets to find recovery; recovery came to the streets and found you.

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The role of GPs in the recovery process

I’m pleased that the RSA have been involved in advocating for recovery-based care over the past few years. Here’s a film they produced in collaboration with the SMMGP in 2012.

‘We set out to make a short film for local GPs and other primary care practitioners featuring local people in recovery talking about their positive and negative experiences of approaching their GPs for help.

It fast became a much more ambitious pilot thanks to the collaboration with the Substance Misuse Management in General Practice – SMMGP – which recognised the potential for this film to be an engagement tool for GPs beyond those at the two project sites.

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I Am Not Anonymous: Lauren’s Story, ‘Will To Bear Discomfort’

LaurenText-1024x682(pp_w1000_h666)I’m starting 2015 with some powerful writing from the I Am Not Anonymous website.

‘When I walked into the door to rehab in early 2008 at the age of 29, I was given a lengthy input questionnaire. I decided it was time to be honest for once.

There was just one question I had to leave blank. I pondered it for the better part of a day and kept returning to it with no decent answer.

What is spirituality? I didn’t have a clue. I reluctantly left it blank. By the time I left rehab almost three months later to return to the life I had left, I had a much better understanding of what spirituality was and how it could help me.

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Classic Blog: ‘Family Stories, Secrets and Survival’ by Dr. Judith Landau

This talk will provide you with insights into intergenerational trauma and how addiction arises as a coping response. It will show you a way forward to recovery and healing, through Story. Understanding the past can help us deal with the present and help create a better future.

Judith, thank you for this wonderful talk! Here is the Youtube intro:

‘Dr. Judith Landau tells the story of trauma and recovery through generations and gives clues along the way for healthier families.

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‘Losing a Self: Lying to Yourself’ by Stephanie Brown

rsz_41a-shrpktl_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_sx342_sy445_cr00342445_sh20_ou02_I’ve made reference to Stephanie Brown’s brilliant book A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety, and Radical Transformation in past blogs. I’ve recommended this book to several women in early recovery and they have really like it. Here, Stephanie describes how one’s self (or identity) changes in a negative manner during the process of addiction. She focuses on lying to oneself.

‘… addiction develops over time, and it involves changes in the way you behave but also changes in the way you think: the way you think about drinking, the way you think about yourself, and the way you think about life.

You start to build your sense of self on a a false belief, the belief that you can control your drinking or other addictive behavior. This isn’t an easy thing to do. Since you really don’t have control, you’re going to have to lie to yourself in order to believe you are not addicted. You have to tell yourself more and more elaborate lies over time, as evidence to the contrary becomes more and more compelling, and you have to rationalize or explain it away. All your energy goes into pretending….

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‘A Different Kind of Evidence’ by Bill White

Addiction Journals Credit Wiley Asia BlogMore wisdom from Bill White.

‘Some years ago, a noted research scientist was invited to speak at a local community forum on the subject of addiction. The presentation to more than one hundred interested citizens consisted of a sweeping overview of modern scientific studies on addiction and its clinical treatment.

In the question and answer session that followed the presentation, a member of the audience posed a question about the effectiveness of recovery mutual aid groups like AA, NA, Women for Sobriety, and SMART Recovery.

The speaker responded that there had been few randomized trials comparing the differences in long-term recovery outcomes between these individuals who had achieved recovery with and without mutual aid participation.  The scientist declared that no definitive scientific evidence yet existed on the effectiveness of such groups.

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Behind the Pages with Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD

“The vast majority of drug abuse is associated with earlier trauma. It’s very rare to see somebody who becomes a drug addict who not also has a history of abuse and neglect.” Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD

Behind The Pages host Diane Goshgarian interviews author Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD about his new book The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Interview recorded at 22-CityView Cambridge on October 08, 2014.

As I said last week, this book is essential reading if you are working in the mental health and addiction fields.

‘The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma’ by Bessel van der Kolk MD

UnknownI have been saddened over the years by how little attention the addiction treatment field pays to the role of trauma in the development and maintenance of addiction. Tremendous efforts are made to argue that addiction is a disease or the person’s fault, but where are the arguments about the role of trauma (Gabor Mate being a notable exception)?

It is quite possible that the majority of people who develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol suffer from the impact of trauma. They use drugs (illicit and prescription) and alcohol as a coping mechanism. Many of these people will have been traumatised as children, and many will have been retraumatised through their experiences in the treatment system. 

I am just finishing an extraordinary book which is essential reading for anyone interested in trauma. I amazed by the advances that have been made in our understanding of trauma – in terms of its effects on our brain, mind and body – and how we can help people heal from its impact.

Bessel van der Kolk has written a classic. And the work that he and his colleagues – and a whole network of centers around the US – are doing is remarkable. As a scientist, it really excites me. As a person who cares, it really gives me hope.

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Classic Blog – Untangling the elements involved in treatment

P4061087-220x164Here’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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Classic Blog – ‘How do I know a treatment service is recovery-oriented?’ by Mark Ragins

Some treatment services today say they are doing recovery – using recovery-based care – when they are not in fact doing so. So how do you know that you are going to receive genuine recovery-based care when you sign up to a treatment service claiming to be recovery-oriented?

Here is some help from Mark Ragins, a leading figure in the mental health recovery field, about what to look for in a service offering recovering-based care. Mark may be talking about mental health recovery, but what he says is of relevance to addiction recovery.

In summary, Mark emphasises three key features of recovery-based care:

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Classic Blog – ‘What is a Recovery Carrier?’ by Bill White

P4071151-220x164I 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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‘A Discussion of Labels, Part One: Disability’ by Melissa Bond

mbondI’m very wary of labels in health. Here’s a great blog and beautiful writing from Melissa Bond on the Mad in America website on labels.

‘When my son was born six years ago, the word “disabled” was suddenly all around me. It came from everywhere – the nurses, the doctors, the physical and occupational therapists, friends and family.

I remember looking into his ice blue eyes and so marveling at the lines of white that extended so symmetrically from his irises that I began calling him Star Boy. I felt a new mother’s sense of protection. The label surrounding my Star Boy was a smoke so thick I felt I could barely breathe.

Disabled. My boy with an extra chromosome was disabled. He wore a label that expressed negation, a subtraction. He was defined by the world at large by the Latin prefix denoting “apart,” “away,” or “having a privative and reversing force.”

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