Ash Whitney and Wired In Websites

This blog post continues the story of my ‘change in career’ early in the new millennium, from neuroscientist working in my research laboratory in a university, to addiction recovery advocate working in the community in Swansea and beyond.

When I first developed Wired In, a primary aim of our grassroots initiative was to 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. I also wanted to help ensure that practitioners working in the addiction field, be they specialists or generalists, had access to high quality information about addiction to drugs and alcohol and how it could be overcome.

I wanted to develop a strong Wired In presence on the internet. My aim was realised once I met web designer Ash Whitney in 2000. Ash, who lives in Cilfrew, near Neath in South Wales, built the first Wired In website. Daily Dose was a news and information portal that focused on drug and alcohol problems.

Read More ➔

Breaking Trauma Trails: Facilitating the Healing of Indigenous People (Part 4)

3702998I recently wrote three blogs about my other initiative Sharing Culture – which is focused on the healing of Indigenous people – and what we are trying to do [Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3]. It is time to continue with another part, which will focus on our activities over the past 18 months.

Progress To Date
The first development was the Sharing Culture website, launched in late-2013. We set out with the aim of developing a small website focusing on historical trauma, healing and culture, primarily using the voices of Indigenous people (which is why you see so many quotes) within an organised framework. We wanted our audience to gain a basic understanding of key issues relating to Indigenous healing.

The information (written and film) I provided was obtained from web pages, books, science papers and personal communications. A considerable amount of research, reading and watching of films was involved in bringing this content together. In addition to this content, I included Stories, both of individuals (e.g. Professor Judy Atkinson) and initiatives (e.g. the Native American Wellbriety Movement).

Read More ➔

Breaking Trauma Trails: Facilitating the Healing of Indigenous People (Parts 2 and 3)

42115582. Working towards solutions with Sharing Culture
We developed Sharing Culture as a way to help tackle historical trauma (and its consequences) and facilitate Indigenous healing.

Sharing Culture is a grassroots initiative based on the core values of authenticity, connection, courage, creativity, empathy and forgiveness. We use a strengths-based, solution-focused approach that celebrates success and fosters positivity, acceptance and cultural pride.

We recognise that self-determinism is a central foundation of healing – solutions must come from Indigenous communities. At the same time, non-Indigenous people can contribute to this healing process in a variety of ways.

One major way that Sharing Culture will facilitate this healing process is to generate high quality educational content and Stories about Indigenous healing and the healing of trauma, and distribute it in the most effective manner to as wide an audience as possible.

Read More ➔

The Recovery Scholarship of Ernie Kurtz

Ernie GLAATC InterviewHere’s some great reading for you, from one great scholar and storyteller about another. Bill White starts the New Year with this excellent posting on his blog. Enjoy!

‘One of the distinctive voices within the modern history of addiction recovery is that of Harvard-trained historian Ernie Kurtz.

Spanning the 1979 publication of his classic Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous to the just-released Experiencing Spirituality (with Katherine Ketcham), Kurtz has forged a deep imprint in studies of the history of A.A. and other recovery mutual aid groups, the varieties of recovery experience, the role of spirituality in addiction recovery, and the personal and clinical management of shame and guilt.

Read More ➔

UK Recovery Walk Manchester 2014

Congratulations to the organisers and all participants of the 6th UK Recovery Walk which took place in Manchester over the weekend. It’s wonderful to hear that over 8,000 people attended the Walk!

It’s fantastic to see all the happy faces in the film above.

Recovery is becoming contagious. Please check out the UK Recovery Walk website.

Unrecognised Facts About Psychiatry

I really like the Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry website, in particular their Unrecognised Facts About Psychiatry. They say:

‘Most people assume that psychiatry is just like any other branch of medicine, with objective tests for diagnoses and drug treatments that cure real diseases.  In reality, however, psychiatric diagnoses and treatments differ enormously from diagnoses and treatments for say cancer or diabetes, since, for mental disorders, there are no known biological ‘diseases’ for psychiatric drugs to ‘treat’.

Here we highlight various Unrecognised Facts about modern psychiatry which every patient, practitioner and policymaker ought to be aware of.’

Read More ➔

Website statistics

Northern lights 2As this year is close to ending, I thought I’d revisit our website statistics. The website has been running now for just over six months on the WordPress platform and our visitor numbers look good. 

There have been close to 340,000 visits to the site during the six months, which have resulted in almost one million page views and six million hits. Our unique visitor numbers are approaching 160,000. In December, we have been averaging 1,600 unique visitors a day.

The countries that provide the most visitors are the USA (39% approx), Australia (11%), China (10%), UK (5%), Canada, France, Ukraine, Germany, Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia.

Read More ➔

More relections on our website statistics

rsz_img_4834Strangely enough (for me), I’ve not looked at the website statistics on the server until yesterday, relying entirely on WordPress statistics.

As I said in my last blog, I’m delighted to see how much the server reveals the website has been visited  since we launched in June. [I don’t have an explanation for the differences I see between the server and WordPress statistics, although I am told the former are more reliable]. So here is some more information (robot visits have been excluded):

Since June, we have had 132,300 unique visitors who have generated 278,500 visits. There have been 827,000 page views and 4.9 million hits (equivalent to 10 million a year).

In terms of countries, the most visits come from the USA (38.3% of audience), Australia (12.2%), China (12.2%), UK (4.8%) and France (4.0%). This distribution is markedly different to my former website Wired In To Recovery, which had an audience predominantly (over 50%) from the UK.

Read More ➔

Mindfulness Video Testimonial: Gareth Walker

Gareth, the founder of the Everyday Mindfulness website, talks about the benefits of practising mindfulness and how it helped him changed his life for the better.

‘The cumulative effect of not getting entangled in these stories of the mind has been an enormous benefit to my wellbeing and to the amount of peace I experience. The change in my life has been absolutely enormous.”

Our new look

IMG_4834Yes, welcome to our new look Recovery Stories. Now you know why I’ve been quiet on the website the past few days.

I’ve been very busy uploading our content from one management system to another – and then checking it all thoroughly. Nearly drove me mad. But you can see how happy I am now.

I guess there are three questions here. The Why? The How? And the Who?

The Why? The new system has a much better look and feel to it, at least as far as I am concerned. It now has the Wired In brand in place. The new system also offers the opportunity for much more functionality, some of which is already in place. We will do much more with the website in the future.

Read More ➔

‘Five things to make you happier in recovery’ by Peapod

“Helping others is not only good for them and a good thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also connects us to others, creating stronger communities and helping to build a happier society for everyone.”

“Helping others is not only good for them and a good thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also connects us to others, creating stronger communities and helping to build a happier society for everyone.”

Happiness has become a science. You can study happiness and researchers have taken a look at the things that make us happy; they have surprisingly little to do with money.

So much so that some governments are looking at moving away from measuring success by focusing so much on gross domestic product (GDP).

A new initiative called Action for Happiness has suggested ten keys for happier living. There’s not much to argue about there.

I thought, how could you distil, blend and adapt these for recovery? Here’s my attempt:

1. We are happier when we relate to other people So get connected to recovery communities. Find the local mutual aid groups in your town or city – groups like AA, NA, CA and SMART and get involved. The research says that the more involved you get the better the quality of your recovery and the less likely you are to relapse.

Spend quality time with family and friends too.

2. We are happier when we help other people Action for Happiness says this on their website:

Helping others is not only good for them and a good thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also connects us to others, creating stronger communities and helping to build a happier society for everyone.

And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good!’

My suggestion: help someone at the start of their recovery journey by supporting and encouraging them, or help out a recovering friend who is having a hard time.

3. We are happier when we connect to things greater than ourselves Finding purpose and meaning in life is important to us. I can’t put it better than Action for Happiness does:

‘People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression.

But where do we find ‘meaning and purpose’. It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves.’

So the science backs up finding a power greater than ourselves, though of course this does not need to be a religious power, just something that is outside of us.

What gives you meaning in your recovery?

4. We are happier when we find self-acceptance We spend a lot of time comparing ourselves with others and worrying about how we appear, what we say and how others perceive us. Wasted energy. Being gentle and kind to ourselves leads to more happiness.

Many of us are tortured by shame and guilt and self-doubt in addiction. Recovery is about letting go of that, being our own best friend and being grateful for who we are and what we have.

Being more comfortable in our own skin also helps us to accept others, warts and all.

5. We are happier when we have a positive attitude

More from Action for Happiness:

‘Positive emotions – like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride – are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an ‘upward spiral’, helping to build our resources.

So although we need to be realistic about life’s ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation – the glass half full rather than the glass half empty.’

In the 12-step programme, sponsors will often ask those they are working with to write a ‘gratitude list’ of things they are grateful with in life.

The language of recovery is a positive language and focusing on what’s going well in recovery rather than what’s not will lift us up.

Finishing on a positive Given the thrust of the blog, it seems appropriate to end with a suitable anecdote, which may or may not bring a smile to the lips. The most delicate-natured readers should go no further. This is a true story:

‘President de Gaulle decides to retire from public life and the American Ambassador and his wife put on a grand social function in his honour to mark the occasion.

All the appropriate dignitaries are invited to the ball and dinner. At the dinner table the Ambassador’s wife is placed next to Mm. de Gaulle and they exchange pleasantries between courses

“Your husband has been such a prominent public figure, such a presence on the French and International scene for so many years,” says the Ambassador’s wife. “How quiet retirement will seem in comparison. What are you most looking forward to in these retirement years?”

“Oh, that’s very straightforward… a penis,” Madame De Gaulle replies.

The Ambassador’s wife arches an eyebrow and looks at her cutlery for a long moment. A hush descends over the table. All the assembled dignitaries have heard her answer and no one knows quite what to say next.

“What did you say again?” the Ambassador’s wife eventually pipes up.

“A penis.”

Finally, De Gaulle leans over to his wife and puts everyone out of their misery: “Ma cherie! I believe zee Americans pronounce zat word, appiness.”’

PDF document >

The Anonymous People: Theatrical trailer

On Thursday, I blogged about and showed a video of a documentary film – The Anonymous People –  that is going down a storm in recovery communities in America. Coincidentally, Greg Williams launched his film website a day after ours and with it comes this amazing trailer. I say no more.