‘Peer recovery support: a bridge to hope and healing’ by Dr. David McCartney

I’ve just been reading another excellent post from Dr. David McCartney on the Recovery Review blog.

Good human relationships and social connections are potent protections against both physical and mental ill health. In an analysis [1] involving hundreds of thousands of people researchers looked to see to what extent social relationships influenced the risk of death. They found that those who had stronger relationships were 50% less likely to die early. Loneliness and social isolation have significant negative impacts. You want to live a long and healthy life? Get loads of friends.

In the same way, being connected to pro-recovery social networks improve outcomes in addiction treatment. For a variety of reasons, not least because of stigma, those suffering from substance use disorders are often relatively socially isolated. Guidelines consistently recommend connections to peer groups like mutual aid and LEROs [Lived Experience Recovery Organisations], though this has historically not been a priority for some services. For recovery from alcohol use disorders, being part of mutual aid has an impact at least as great as evidenced psychological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy. [2]

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Is Medication Assisted Treatment like the Hotel California?: David McCartney

When I worked in the addiction recovery field in the UK running Wired In, I was a strong advocate of harm reduction services, including medication-assisted treatment. However, I spoke out against a treatment system that locked people into a methadone maintenance programme that provided no other therapeutic options, and no opportunity for abstinence-based treatment if people wanted to move on from daily use of methadone. Many people on methadone maintenance programmes were not even made aware of other treatment options.

Here is an excellent recent post on Recovery Review which discusses this highly pertinent issue by one of my favourite bloggers, Dr David McCartney from Edinburgh.

‘The tragedy of Scotland’s drug-related death figures has been in my mind this last week or so. The media may have largely moved on, but those of us who work in the field of addiction, those of us who know individuals who have died and those of us with lived experience of addiction will not be able to do the same.

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‘Addiction treatment mismatch: when what’s on offer isn’t always what’s wanted’ by David McCartney

Another really except blog post on Recovery Review by Dr. David McCartney, this one focused on what people want from addiction treatment.

“I never knew that rehab was available to guys like me”, he said to me just before he completed his rehab programme. He’d been in and out of `treatment for many years before he got to rehab. “Why did nobody tell me?” I was left struggling for an answer.

This is one of the things that still upsets me in my work with patients. It is still happening – even in my area where there are clearly established pathways to rehab with no funding barriers to navigate.

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‘Rehab works!’ by David McCartney

Here’s another excellent post from Scotland’s Dr David McCartney on the Recovery Review blog.

‘When it comes to trying to improve access to residential rehabilitation in Scotland, one thing I’ve heard too often from doubters is: ‘there’s no evidence that rehab works’. Ten years ago I was hearing the same thing about mutual aid, which was recently (at least in terms of Alcoholics Anonymous) found to be as effective, if not more effective, than commonly delivered psychological interventions.

There are a some problems with the ‘there’s no evidence that it works’ line. The first is that even if we accept the faulty premise that there is a poor evidence base, this is often taken as evidence that rehab doesn’t work, which is illogical. The second problem is that while there is evidence, some people don’t know about it or, for a variety of reasons, choose to dismiss it. What we can say is that the evidence base is weighted towards some areas (e.g., medical interventions) at the expense of others. The third issue for me is that while we need to find ways to balance the evidence base, we will not find more evidence if we’re not looking for it.

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‘None of them will ever get better’ by Dr David McCartney

I love Dr David McCartney’s blogs. He writes so well about issues that really matter. He’s also a great guy who cares passionately about addiction recovery and recovering people. And he’s someone I always enjoy visiting when I am in the UK. [Can’t wait until the next visit!] Anyway, here’s David’s latest post on the Recovery Review blog.

Therapeutic nihilism

“None of them will ever get better”, the addiction doctor said to me of her patients, “As soon as you accept that, this job gets easier.”

This caution was given to me in a packed MAT (medication assisted treatment) clinic during my visit to a different city from the one I work in now. This was many years ago and I was attempting to get an understanding of how their services worked. I don’t know exactly what was going on for that doctor, but it wasn’t good. (I surmise burnout, systemic issues, lack of resources and little experience of seeing recovery happen).

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‘Wiping Out Stigma’ by David McCartney

Here’s another excellent post from one of my favourite bloggers, David McCartney from Edinburgh in Scotland. It’s on a topic which is close to my heart—tackling stigma. Here is what David wrote on the Recovery Review blog recently.

‘Reducing the stigma associated with addiction – the word itself now tagged with a degree of stigma – is a priority in drugs policy. Stigmatising attitudes contribute to drug harms and deaths through delaying access to treatment, leaving treatment early and increased risk-taking behaviour.

Brea Perry and her colleagues at Indiana University took a look [1] at the scale of the problem of stigma for non-medical prescription opioid use and dependence in a representative sample of over a thousand adults in the USA.

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‘Women: Drinking and Recovery’ by Dr David McCartney

My good friend Michael Scott, of Michael’s Recovery Story, and I attended a Public Awareness Meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in a Perth suburb today. I was asked to talk for five minutes about my recovery work over the years. I also described some of the factors that facilitate recovery.

We listened to a number of AA members share their stories and I have to say that I was blown away by the high quality of the shares. They were moving, inspirational and insightful. More women than men spoke. It was such a good meeting and I really enjoyed talking to people after the actual meeting ended.

Imagine my surprise when I got home to find that my good friend Dr David McCartney had just uploaded a blog post about women, drinking and recovery.

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‘Nothing to mourn; just a drug addict’ by Dr David McCartney

When I developed Wired In and worked in the addiction recovery field, I was living in South Wales. When my daughter Annalie was in medical school in Edinburgh, I used to fly up from Cardiff to visit her. I soon came to love Edinburgh. That positive feeling for the city increased greatly when I met Dr David McCartney.

David ran Lothians and Edinburgh Abstinence Programme (LEAP), a programme that offered structured treatment based in the community using a blend of evidence-based interventions. The patient group in treatment operated as a therapeutic community. David was in recovery himself. I loved visiting LEAP every time I was in Edinburgh, and meeting the patients and staff. I’d sit in on group sessions and spend time talking to the patients. David and I became good friends and I hold him in the highest regard.

I’ve recently been checking out David’s blog on Recovery Review. He writes so well and covers a number of key themes relating to addiction recovery. Here is David’s latest post, ‘Nothing to mourn; just a drug addict’, focused on the issue of stigma.

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