Learning From Wired In To Recovery

As part of our Wired In strategy, my colleagues and I launched the Wired In To Recovery online community in November 2008. Our initial aims with Wired In To Recovery were to:

  • Highlight role models who show that recovery from addiction is possible, and illustrate the multitude of paths to recovery.
  • Provide information and tools that help people better understand and use the options they have to overcome the problems caused by their own, or a loved one’s, substance use.
  • Create an environment in which people can inspire and learn from each other and provide mutually beneficial support.
  • Establish a ‘people’s journalism’, or Voice of Recovery, which acts as a strong source of advocacy both for recovery and the Recovery Movement.
  • Identify key individuals who would join, or collaborate with, Wired In to help us realise our ambitions.

Read More ➔

Learning About Addiction Treatment, Part 8

In my third blog post focusing on what I learnt from the treatment agency BAC O’Connor back in 2004, I focus on two themes. Firstly, how staff deal with people who relapse during the treatment programme. Secondly, how the agency works with ‘clients’ to help them integrate (back) into their community.

BAC O’Connor were more realistic about relapse than many other treatment agencies. Relapse was considered part-and-parcel of the recovery process, and was an issue that was addressed in a pragmatic and humanistic manner. Clients who continually relapsed and left the Centres were always given the opportunity to return and receive the help they needed. Noreen Oliver said to me:

Read More ➔

Factors Facilitating Recovery: Overcoming Stigma

This is eighth post in this particular Series, which comes from my book Our Recovery Stories: Journeys from Drug and Alcohol AddictionIt ties in nicely with a previous blog, Nothing to mourn; just a drug addict, by Dr David McCartney.

Stigma can be defined as social disapproval of personal characteristics, actions or beliefs that go against the cultural norm. It can occur at a variety of levels in society, i.e. individuals, groups, organisations and systems. A person can be labelled by their problem (e.g. addiction to drugs and/or alcohol) and they are no longer seen as an individual, but as part of a stereotyped group, e.g. a junkie, alkie, etc. Negative attitudes and beliefs toward this group create prejudice which leads to negative actions and discrimination. 

Read More ➔

‘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.

Read More ➔

It’s Not Just About the Drug, Part 3

I continue my series of blog posts focused on drug, set (the person) and setting (the social context) [Part 1 is here]. Drug, set and setting is not only of relevance to addiction, but also to overcoming addiction.

The path into and out of addiction
The ‘person’ and ‘social context’ factors influence early substance use and the likelihood that a person will develop problematic use and addiction. In general, individuals are less likely to develop substance use problems if they have fewer complicating life problems, more resources (social, personal, educational, economic), and opportunities for alternative sources of reward.

One explanation is that these individuals develop a weaker attachment to the substance in that for them substance use does not serve as many emotional, psychological or social needs.

Read More ➔

It’s Not Just About the Drug

The effects of a drug depend on an interaction between drug, person (set)  and social context (setting). These three factors also influence the likelihood of addiction and recovery from addiction (2,200 words).

Read More ➔

Stopping Heroin Use Without Treatment

Research by Patrick Biernacki reveals important insights into how people recover from heroin addiction. It also illustrates the major challenges that people with a heroin addiction face on their journey to recovery (2,200 words). 

Read More ➔

‘Stigma and Service Integration’ by Bill White

Stigma and Service Integration ImageIn his latest blog, Bill White emphasises the importance of Recovery Stories and their value in tackling stigma.

‘One of the emerging trends of U.S. health care reform is the tri-directional integration of addiction treatment, mental health services, and primary health care.  This is evident in the growing integration of addiction and psychiatric treatment under the rubric of “behavioral health care,” efforts to integrate primary health care within addiction treatment settings, and increased delivery of addiction-related services within primary health care settings, e.g., physician offices, health clinics, and hospitals.

Considerable resources have been invested in creating policy frameworks for such integration (e.g., provisions for office-based treatment of opioid dependence) and developing technological innovations (e.g., screening, assessment, and treatment protocol) to facilitate such integration, but history would suggest a far greater obstacle to service integration:  social and professional stigma.

Read More ➔

‘People with psych labels suffer discrimination: mental health professionals are often guilty of such prejudice’ by Monica Cassani

Epiphany - 2014-03-23_240560_sense-of-place.jpgExcellent posting from one of my favourite blogs.

‘People with psychiatric labels suffer discrimination that is not only demeaning but can also be dangerous.

A 2007 UK study by the Royal College of Psychiatrists revealed that prejudicial treatment of mentally ill patients extends to physical medical care; they receive poorer quality of care and doctors spend less time with them possibly leading to higher rates of death and preventable disease.

Though tragic, the more scandalous aspect of the phenomena is the fact that mental health professionals apply the same prejudices to those whom they attempt to treat. The worst thing someone in mental distress can experience is dehumanizing treatment from other human beings who are supposed to be caring for them.

Read More ➔

Bill White on Stigma and the New Recovery Movement

UnknownHere is a really powerful film clip from Bill White. Please pass the link on.

“Almost everyone in America know someone in recovery. The problem historically is that they did not know they were in recovery which means that they can continue to maintain incredible stereotypes about who are the people who develop alcohol and other drug problems in this country and who are the people who recover and don’t recover.

There are a lot of issues about stigma that I cannot educate you out of. I cam give you all the facts. I can read all the books to you. I can show you documentaries but nothing is going to change that embedded prejudice until you encounter personally someone in recovery who means something to you and hear their story.”

‘Beautiful Boy: More Than An Addict’ by Jim Contopulos

The beauty of the Santa Rosa Ecological Reserve in southern California provides the backdrop for a father’s lament upon losing his beautiful son to addiction and mental illness.

Walk alongside him, as together, we who survive dream of a better day, sustained and inspired by the pain, brokenness and courage of those who live with the unrelenting weight of mental illness and addiction.

Read More ➔

The culture of addiction: Part 2

IMG_2586The second part of this series focuses on the impact of legal status on drug culture. Click here for part one.

Society makes judgements about different types of psychoactive drug. As Bill White points out in his book Pathways from the Culture of Addiction to the Culture of Recovery, the social status and value attached to a particular drug by society influence several things:

  • The risks associated with use of the drug
  • The organisation of ‘tribes’ within the culture of addiction
  • The characteristics of each tribe and the impairments that members experience from both the drug and the culture itself.

 Clearly, there are likely to be differences in a variety of factors for drugs that are legal (e.g. alcohol) and those that are prohibited by law (e.g. heroin).

Read More ➔

Turning a Disease Into a Sideshow

UnknownThis great article appeared in this Sunday’s New York Times. Thanks from the ‘recovery world’ for writing this Kristen and for all your work in promoting the rights of people suffering from a drug and/or alcohol addiction.

‘“Kristen Johnston admits to being a total drug addict and alcoholic for years!”

After 20 years of being a famous person, I’m happy to say I have pretty thick skin when it comes to press. However, when I saw that headline, which ran recently on a major entertainment Web site, I stopped in my tracks. The entire article was based on two quotations from an interview I had given to a completely different publication to promote my TV Land series, “The Exes.“

Read More ➔

‘Standing on the outside: Looking in’ by Aurelius

P4091276‘Firstly, I want to thank all of the site [Wired In To Recovery] members who have taken the time to comment on my wife’s posts/queries (Whiplashgirlchild). Your perspective (and objectivity) have really seemed to help her on days when everything just stacks up and turns bad.

I met my partner just as she was working her way off subutex. She had a decade of hardcore use under her belt and almost another decade on MMT/Subutex.

I had (have) a lot to learn about the nature of addiction and the meandering paths of recovery. I have had a steep learning curve, trying to understand the stigma and prejudice that she has had to endure during the years of struggle to get free of ‘the fog’ as she likes call it.

Read More ➔

‘Shouting recovery from the rooftops’ by Beth Burgess

Shouting recovery from the rooftopsI remember Beth Burgess joining the Wired In To Recovery community in November 2011. She certainly shouted from the rooftops and it was great. Here is Beth’s first blog and some comments she received. These comments refer to the prejudice that recovering people feel and fear.

‘I have had enough. Enough of saying to people with a half-smile, “Er…yeah, I don’t really drink…any more.” “A health kick?” “Yeah, something like that.” I have had enough of putting ‘career break’ on my CV. I am fed up of insinuating rather than being honest.

Read More ➔

Kevin and Kerry: ‘A Family Story’ (Part 2)

Kevin’s hospitalisation with septicaemia acts as a turning point and a process of recovery begins for the family as a whole. (6,875 words)

Read More ➔

Learning from Wired In To Recovery

2007_0118walpole0115Wired In To Recovery (WITR) ran for over four years between 2008 and 2012, attracting over 4,000 community members. A key element of this online recovery community was blogging, providing the opportunity for people from all walks of life to describe their experiences and express this views. The site comprised over 7,500 blogs (from 1,000 bloggers) and 35,000 comments.  

When I was developing WITR, I rationalised that by providing people with the opportunity for people to blog, I would accumulate a wealth of information about the lived experience of addiction and recovery, the needs of recovering people, personal views about the care system, etc.

Read More ➔

It’s not just about the drug

IMG_3429Why not check out my article on drug, set and setting? In this article, I describe how the effects of a drug depend on the interaction between the drug, the person (set) and the social context (setting) in which the drug is taken.

Similarly, these three factors influence both addiction and recovery from addiction. As I describe, this interaction has important implications for developing systems of care to help people recover from dug and alcohol addiction.

Please let me know what you think about It’s not just about the drug.