My Addiction & Recovery: Dr. Wendy Dossett

Wendy identifies as a person in recovery from addiction. She describes herself as recovering, rather than recovered, as she believes that if she were to drink alcohol again, she would quite likely eventually return to the same position she was in at the height of her drinking problem.

At that time, her life was unravelling, she was experiencing a lot of suicidal ideation and attempting suicide, and was clinging on to a job with ‘splintering finger nails’. She was living in a mouldy touring caravan in a field, showering in the university she worked at, and trying to pretend everything was okay. She thought alcohol was keeping her alive.

When Wendy reached what she considered was her rock bottom, a time of absolute agony, she reached out for help. She didn’t go to treatment, and attributes her recovery to mutual aid. As her sobriety continued, her mental health improved incrementally.

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Recovery Voices: Dr. Wendy Dossett of the University of Chester

In the fourth of our Recovery Voices series, Wulf Livingston interviews his good friend Dr. Wendy Dossett. Wendy describes how she reached out for help 18 years ago at a time when she was in absolute agony due to her drinking problem. She has not had a drink of alcohol since that time. In their fascinating discussion, Wendy and Wulf cover a wide range of topics, including the nature of addiction, a wide variety of aspects related to AA, foundations of recovery, grassroots community, recovery advocacy and the system, and recovery friendly universities. [16 films, 85 mins 55 secs]

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Bill White’s Talk in London, 2009

Film from William L White’s talk at an addiction recovery conference on 18 March 2009 in London organised by Action on Addiction and Wired In. Six clips focus on recovery advocacy, recovery communities, recovery management and treatment. 

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Recovery Guide Films of Beth Burgess

A series of six short films on key issues by Recovery Coach, NLP practitioner & recoveree Beth Burgess. You can read Beth’s Recovery Story on this website, and find many more of Beth’s film clips on her YouTube channel.

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Reflections of Beth Burgess

A series of blogs from recovery coach Beth Burgess of Smyls. Beth has written articles about addiction recovery for the Huffington Post which means she has had a large audience.

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Stephanie Brown on Recovery

A series of my blog posts based on Stephanie Brown’s wonderful book, A Place Called Self: Women, Sobriety, and Radical Transformation. In her book, Stephanie talks about what happens to women in recovery, how they think, how they feel, their problems, the good things, etc. (The book is relevant to men as well!)

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Addiction, Recovery, and Treatment: An Introduction

A brief look at the nature of addiction, the main types of help that facilitate recovery from addiction, the stages of behavioural change, and some of the features of addiction treatment. (1,911 words)

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Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), 12-Step Movement, and Minnesota Model

Describes the nature of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), other 12-Step programmes, and the Minnesota Model, how they developed, and the key assumptions that underlie their approach. (1,320 words)

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Recovery, Reintegration, and Anti-Discrimination: Julian Buchanan

Key research highlighting the social exclusion that dependent drug users experience, and the difficulties they face in trying to reintegrate. Julian Buchanan describes a model for integrating problematic drug users back into mainstream society. (2,756 words)

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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 (2,283 words). 

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My Journey: 2. Learning About Addiction Treatment – My WGCADA Experience, Part 1

I visited West Glamorgan Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (WGCADA) in Swansea in order to learn about addiction, recovery and treatment from treatment practitioners and people who have accessed the treatment service for help with their substance use problem. (1,285 words)


Last week, I posted the first part of a serialisation of My Journey, my wide-ranging career in the field of addiction, mental health and trauma. This first part focused on my career in neuroscience, which lasted almost 20 years. In 2000, I closed my laboratory, as I did not think that neuroscience research was helping people overcome addiction.

Given that I did not feel that a biomedical approach and the use of drugs were the answer to helping people overcome drug addiction, what were the answers? And what methods were used in treatment services that were successful in helping people overcome substance use problems?

Clearly, I needed to find and listen to people who were in recovery from addiction, as well as people working in a treatment service that was obtaining good outcomes in helping people recover. I also wanted to learn how the treatment system worked, at a local and a national level. 

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Recovery Stories on Website Updated

Our Recovery Stories BookThe Recovery Stories on this website were written in 2012, ready for our launch in 2013. Some of these Stories were written by the person, whilst others I wrote after interviewing the person (or people) on a number of occasions. In these latter cases, the stories went back and forth across the world, as most involved people lived in the UK and I had moved to Australia.

In 2020, I decided that it would be good to update the stories—I was still in touch with most of the people. Most agreed to the update which would appear in my 2021 eBook Our Recovery Stories: Journeys From Drug and Alcohol Addiction.

I recently decided to add these updates to each Story onto the website, along with a pdf document of each full Story. Please check out the Stories and feel free to pass around the pdf documents. I believe each of these Stories is inspirational and can teach us a lot about addiction, recovery and treatment.

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Who is Natalie?: Natalie Logan McLean

Natalie charts her life and decisions reeling from one adverse childhood experience after another, what triggered lasting change, and her commitment to removing stigma in order to reconnect with all the parts of ourselves as a society. Natalie set up Sisco, a charity whose main objective is to build a bridge between prisoners and society. From peer lead recovery cafés in the Scottish Prison Service to soccer training in the community, Sisco’s model is built on trust, integrity and honesty. TEDxCumbernauldWomen. 25 February 2022. [15’49”]

Climbing out of addiction and depression: Margo Talbot at TEDxCanmore

‘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…’ 16 November 2016. [10’29”] Check out Margo’s website and her ‘Margo Speaking Demo Reel’ short film.

Ed Mitchell – Lost and Found

Almost two years on from his last drink in December 2007, former BBC and ITN broadcaster Ed Mitchell revisits the places that played an important part in his homelessness and subsequent recovery in this latest mini documentary. He explains his thoughts and feelings on what happened to him and what he has learnt that might be useful to others. Ed also chats with his son, Freddie, and to his partner, Mandy, who gave up alcohol on the same day as he did. 9 October 2009. [7’03”]

How I Became an Emergency Department Recovery Coach | Addiction and Recovery: CCAR

Hear about CCAR’s revolutionary program from the view of the recovery coaches who serve in the Emergency Department, the hospital staff who work along side the coaches, and those who have experienced the benefits of these collaborative recovery support services. This nationally recognised model has had a 93% success rate with since it began in the Spring of 2018. CCAR Training. 8 August 2019. [12’00”]

Voices in my Head: Eleanor Longden

To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. That was until the voices in her head started talking. Initially innocuous, these internal narrators became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, turning her life into a living nightmare. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, Longden was discarded by a system that didn’t know how to help her. Longden tells the moving tale of her years-long journey back to mental health, and makes the case that it was through learning to listen to her voices that she was able to survive. [14’18”]

This could be why you’re depressed or anxious | Johann Hari

In a moving talk, journalist Johann Hari shares fresh insights on the causes of depression and anxiety from experts around the world — as well as some exciting emerging solutions. “If you’re depressed or anxious, you’re not weak and you’re not crazy — you’re a human being with unmet needs,” Hari says. TED. [20’31”]

Johann Hari on uncovering the real causes of depression, from his new book

Benjamin Ramm talks to Johann Hari about depression and its unexpected solutions. openDemocracy. [24’34”]

A Genesis of Hope: Dr. David McCartney

I hold Dr. David McCartney in my highest regard. He not only overcame his serious alcohol problem, but also set up Lothians and Edinburgh Abstinence Programme (LEAP), a programme that offers structured treatment based in the community using a blend of evidence-based interventions. The patient group in treatment operates as a therapeutic community. I used to love visiting LEAP in my Wired In days, interacting with staff and patients as described in my last blog post.

David is very knowledgeable about addiction and recovery, and posts content to the Recovery Review blog, as part of a community of recovery-oriented experts who write about recovery and related matters. In April 2021, he appeared in a podcast about his addiction and recovery.

‘Switching from doctor to patient was not an easy transition for me. My first attempt at recovery was medically assisted, but only got me so far. What I needed was something more profound: hope, healing and connection to other recovering people. In this podcast for the National Wellbeing Hub, Dr Claire Fyvie interviews me about my own experience of addiction and recovery – warts, wonder and all.’

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