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”]

Pat Deegan: ‘Loneliness: a call to generosity’

Here’s some wise words from one of my favourite people working in the mental health recovery field, Pat Deegan. This blog first appeared on Pat’s CommonGround website on 27 February 2011. Pat also reads the blog post to a slideshow. The post has appeared twice on Recovery Stories, in 2013 and 2014.

‘Like many people, I experienced periods of intense loneliness during my recovery after being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Over time, I learned that my loneliness was a call for me to be more generous and to give of myself. Here’s what I mean:

Loneliness and being alone are two different things. In my early recovery, being alone was an important self-care strategy for me.

At that time, being around people and being involved in the complexities of relationships was too much for me. I liked living in a single room in a boarding house. Closing my door, listening to music, and shutting people out helped me relax and feel safe.

Over time I learned that isolating for too long was not good and that I had to venture out into the world of people every few hours. In effect, I learned the right balance of being around people and being in my room.

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Simon’s Recovery Story: ‘Gratitude For the Life I Thought Was Over…’

Simon’s first Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting was pivotal, not just in helping him turn his life around, but also in setting him up to make future significant contributions to NA both in the UK and abroad. (8,853 words)

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Relationships, Connection and Healing from Trauma: Bruce Perry & Maia Szalavitz

For anyone interested in the healing of childhood trauma, I strongly recommend you read, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And other Stories From a Child Psychiatrists Notebook by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz. Here is a description of the book from the back cover:

‘What happens when a child is traumatized? How does terror affect a child’s mind—and how can that mind recover? Child psychiatrist Bruce Perry has treated children faced with unimaginable horror: genocide survivors, witnesses to their own parents’ murders, children raised in closets and cages, the Branch Davidian children, and victims of family violence.

In The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, he tells their stories of trauma and transformation. Dr. Perry clearly explains what happens to the brain when children are exposed to extreme stress. He reveals his innovative methods for helping ease their pain, allowing them to become healthy adults. This deeply informed and moving book dramatically demonstrates that only when we understand the science of the mind can we hope to heal the spirit of even the most wounded child.’

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‘Out of the dark into the light: The beginning of the recovery journey’ by Rosie

Whilst looking through my collection of ‘voices of recovery’ to see what might be appropriate for the book on recovery I’m writing, I came across this Recovery Stories blog post from September 2013. This is the first of a series of posts that Rosie first wrote on our online Wired In To Recovery community website which ran from 2008-12.

‘Leaving the dark place of my drinking and moving into the light of my new life has been a journey of self discovery—a journey of change—a painful journey at times—a wonderful journey—which has brought me what I was seeking most—peace.

I have come to understand that recovery is a healing process of mind, body and spirit, and time is an essential factor in this process. We cannot expect to recover from the illness of alcoholism or any other addiction overnight. We cannot undo the harm done in a short space of time. This is a fact which I believe is so often not recognised—people are not realising the importance of time in the recovery process.

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‘We Are Meant to Heal in a Community’ by Douglas Bloch

One of the key messages that I have been putting out over the years that I have worked in the recovery/healing field is  about the importance of community. Here is an excellent article from Douglas Bloch—author, mental health educator and a depression survivor—about the healing power of community which he published in 2013 on the Mad in America website. I first highlighted this blog on Recovery Stories in early 2014.

‘“Anything that promotes a sense of isolation often leads to illness and suffering, while that which promotes a sense of  love and intimacy, connection and community, is healing.” Dean Ornish

In my last blog, I talked about how I was attempting to cope with a “mini-relapse” without using psychiatric drugs. One Sunday morning in the midst of this episode I awoke in a particularly dismal state. I didn’t have a structure planned for the day. And without something to look forward to, both my anxiety and depression increased.

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Michael’s 43rd (Sober) Anniversary

My good friend Michael (Mike) Scott last had a drink 43 years (15,695 days) ago today. Tonight, we will celebrate his 43rd Sober Birthday. This morning, I’m going to celebrate his achievement with a blog post focused on some of Mike’s experiences and reflections.

Mike first contacted me about our Daily Dose website back in 2002. He loved our drug and alcohol news portal that I had launched with Ash Whitney early in 2001. Mike met Ash for the first time (on Skype) a few weeks ago and the pair were mutually pleased to have their first chat.

I gave Mike a big shock when I called him one day back in 2009 and suggested that we have lunch together. He replied, ‘How can we do that? You live on the opposite side of the world.’ I told him that I had moved to Perth on Christmas Day 2008.

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Relationships, Connection and Healing from Trauma

UnknownI’m reading an excellent book at the moment, which I can strongly recommend to you. If you’re working in the trauma field, then The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And other Stories From a Child Psychiatrists Notebook by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz is an essential read.

The book really gives you a feel for how our understanding of childhood trauma and its healing has moved along over the years. Bruce Perry is a real leader in this field and I feel blessed to have learnt of both Bruce’s and Bessel van der Kolk’s work in the past year. Thank you Judy and Carlie Atkinson.

Here’s a little section from the book:

‘Trauma and our responses to it cannot be understood outside the context of human relationships… The most traumatic aspects of all disasters involve the shattering of human connections. And this is especially true for children…’

‘Because humans are inescapably social beings, the worst catastrophes that can befall us inevitably involve relational loss.

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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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‘Newsflash – Heroin Addicts CAN Be Good Mothers!’ by Robin Sherwood

9e84425a-905c-44d9-a250-d4307755d13a-620x372Thanks to Mike Scott for finding  this great article in the Huffington Post.

‘I was eight years old when I accidentally walked in on my mum injecting heroin in the kitchen. I’ll never forget the confused look on her face – the warm embrace of the opiates blunted any acute feelings shame and panic, leaving her with an ugly, dumbfounded grimace.

Luckily, this episode was the turning point in both our lives; she knew that she needed to find help and enter rehab, otherwise she’d either OD or I’d be taken away from her. Sadly, not everyone is blessed with the same foresight.

Without knowing what kind of parent Peaches Geldof was it’s really hard to comment on the latest revelations about her death without sounding like a sanctimonious hack, but in my experience of growing up with a junkie for a mother, I’d like to make two points: 1: Being addicted to heroin does not necessarily mean you’re a bad mother and 2: They fuck you up your mum and dad (to paraphrase Philip Larkin).

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‘I am 14 years sober today!’ by Veronica Valli

ID-100227306-300x300Congratulations, Veronica! And thank you for your great blog.

‘Today is my 14th sober birthday. When you get to my age, birthdays aren’t something you necessarily want to shout about.

But recovered addicts and alcoholics have a different attitude to their sober birthdays. Every year we have under our belts has been hard fought for. This did not come easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, so hell yeah; I’m going to let everyone know how proud I am to have got this far. [Too right! DC]

So here are the 14 things I’ve learnt about sobriety along the way…

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’12-Step Programmes Help Thousands, but Are Outdated and Sexist’ by Jessica Smith

Geological wonders: picture three‘Addiction is everywhere. The drug of choice may be alcohol, or it may be food, sex, romance, gambling or shopping, but the basic problem is the same; the inner void created by a culture that sells us the empty promise that reaching for external things will make us happy.

When all that striving for money and possessions, and for status through jobs and relationships, still leaves a gaping hole inside us, many of us reach for the bottle, the chocolates or the credit card – and the cycle is complete.

In an article in the Guardian on May 30, Damian Thompson argued against the disease model for addiction, as developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. The roots of addiction, he wrote, lie in environmental factors, in the fact that “contemporary capitalism is ruthlessly targeting our mental reward circuits.”

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‘Family Recovery, Al-Anon & Altruism: in helping we are helped’ by DJ Mac

w600_c83da257562805a91d9b09b368a04f2ePeer support is of immense value in helping people find recovery from addiction and mental health problems. However, what is it about peer support that is so important? How does it work? Here, DJ Mac looks at a recent science paper focusing on this issue. 

‘“Giving implies to make the other person a giver also.” So said Eric Fromm whose quote starts this research paper which travels to the heart of mutual aid. The clear message? In helping other, we help ourselves. The recovery saying “We only keep what we have by giving it away” hits the mark in this respect.

The researchers in this Finnish study looked at communication and support in Al-Anon groups, a 12-step mutual aid network for family and friends of alcoholics. In Finland, 97% of Al-Anon members are female and three quarters are partners of alcoholics. They conducted the research through questionnaires (169) and 20 interviews. In the survey they focused on two questions:

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’18 Ways to Live a Successful Life (That Have Nothing to Do With Money)’ By Alexa Cortese

Geographical wonders travel picture quizHere’s an interesting article from the Huffington Post. Picture is from The Guardian.

‘People are always talking about success. It’s a word we hear often and an idea that seems to be constantly dangling in front of our faces – just out of reach.

But what does it mean? How, exactly, does one measure “success?”

We read articles that promise to enlighten us on “How to Be Successful.” They always tell us to work hard, ask for that raise, be innovative, not to waste time being unproductive, not to surround ourselves with those loser friends who have no interest in climbing the proverbial ladder. Someday, these articles promise, enough hard work and the right amount of luck will make us successful. (In other words, very rich and very powerful).

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‘Recovery is contagious redux’ by Bill White

recovery contagionHere’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. 

Read More ➔

‘We Are Meant to Heal in a Community’ by Douglas Bloch

dbloch“Anything that promotes a sense of isolation often leads to illness and suffering, while that which promotes a sense of  love and intimacy, connection and community, is healing.” Dean Ornish

‘In my last blog, I talked about how I was attempting to cope with a “mini-relapse” without using psychiatric drugs. One Sunday morning in the midst of this episode I awoke in a particularly dismal state. I didn’t have a structure planned for the day. And without something to look forward to, both my anxiety and depression increased.

As I lay in bed, trying to convince myself to get up, the phone rang. It was a cycling friend, Sandy, calling to see if I wanted to go on a bicycle ride.

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‘My Story of Recovery: Prayer, Community, and Healing’ by Douglas Bloch

dbloch‘In his book, Prayer is Good Medicine, physician and researcher Larry Dossey maintains that praying for one’s self or others can make a scientifically measurable difference in recovering from illness or trauma. It is one thing to understand such a healing intellectually; it is another to know it from experience.

Such an experience came to me in the fall of 1996 when a painful divorce, a bad case of writer’s block, and an adverse reaction to an antidepressant medication plummeted me into a major depressive episode. For the next ten months, I was assailed by out-of-control anxiety attacks which alternated with dark, suicidal depressions. Each day felt like an eternity as I struggled to stay alive in the face of overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and despair.

My depression was called “treatment resistant” (a condition that applies to 10 – 20% of those who suffer from a depressive disorder) and for good reason. Medication, the mainstay of conventional treatment, simply did not work. Drugs, such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, made me agitated; others such as Lithium made me even more depressed; and the rest did nothing at all.

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Indigenous Circle of Hope

‘Welcome to the Circle of Life/Hope. This animated visual short film you are about to see is a story of prophecy.

The story of man going down the wrong path, with one day the possibility of finding the path of peace and love. What we are seeing around the world with wars, genocide, diseases, climate change such as global warming, and potential earth changes that have been foretold by many seers and indigenous peoples.

This is that story in animated visuals and soundtrack that will shake you to your roots. We must shift to this path, without hesitation.’

‘Out of the dark into the light: The beginning of the recovery journey’ by Rosie

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy good friend Wynford Ellis Owen of The Living Room Cardiff was a regular blogger on Wired In To Recovery. While he was on holiday, his ‘stand-in’ Rosie wrote some beautiful blogs. Here’s the first.

‘Leaving the dark place of my drinking and moving into the light of my new life has been a journey of self discovery – a journey of change – a painful journey at times – a wonderful journey – which has brought me what I was seeking most – peace.

I have come to understand that recovery is a healing process of mind, body and spirit, and time is an essential factor in this process. We cannot expect to recover from the illness of alcoholism or any other addiction overnight. We cannot undo the harm done in a short space of time. This is a fact which I believe is so often not recognised – people are not realising the importance of time in the recovery process.

Read More ➔

‘Figuring out self-acceptance’ by Matt Kay

rsz_unknownBy popular request, another Wired In To Recovery blog by Matt Kay.

‘Self-acceptance means accepting our whole self; the talents and strengths along with the bad habits and pain. When we deny, repress or hide any aspect of ourselves it is likened to rejecting ourselves.

The very things we want most in life include being accepted, loved and acknowledged, yet we often don’t give these gifts to ourselves. We are all here to grow, learn and enjoy life, and no one is perfect. Making mistakes, experiencing pain and embarrassing ourselves are all a part of the package.

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