‘Journeys’ Podcast with David Clark and Huseyin Djemil

In April 2021, David Clark of the Recovery Stories website was interviewed by Huseyin Djemil of Towards Recovery as the first guest on the Towards Recovery ‘Journeys’ Podcast. The podcast was launched in June 2021 on the Towards Recovery website. David edited these twelve clips from Huseyin’s original podcast and posted them on his Our Recovery Stories YouTube channel. .

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My Journey: 1. A Career in Neuroscience

Outlines my neuroscience career, from a three-year Postdoctoral Fellowship with Nobel Laureate Arvid Carlsson in Sweden to running my own research laboratory for 14 years in the UK. Our laboratory’s  research was focused on the regulation and function of brain dopamine systems, with a particular interest in addiction. In 2000, I closed my laboratory, as I did not think that neuroscience research was helping people overcome addiction.

1. Learning About Drugs and the Brain

In the third year of my Psychology undergraduate degree at the City of London Polytechnic (now London Guildhall University) in the mid-1970s, I did not know whether I wanted to go on to become a Clinical Psychologist or conduct research in Psychopharmacology (study of brain function, and the effects of drugs on brain and behaviour).

I loved my undergraduate Abnormal Psychology course—although I now hate the words ‘abnormal’ psychology—and decided that I ultimately wanted to help people overcome psychological problems.

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Revisiting Old Memories, Part 8: Recovery in the North-West

In mid-June 2008, along with my Wired In colleagues Lucie James and Kevin Manley, I visited the North-West of England, where there was a fast-growing Recovery Movement.

We travelled to Manchester where we visited Geoff Allman, Director of Spoken Image, whose team was developing a Wired In educational CD-ROM for us. Geoff was kind enough to drive us around for two days, which gave him the opportunity to see some things happening in the field.

We stayed two nights in a bed & breakfast run by a close friend of his. When I headed down to the kitchen on the first morning, Lucie asked if I recognised the room. I didn’t. She told me to look around again, but still no recognition.

Finally, she had to point out that I was in Pete and Jenny’s kitchen from Cold Feet, one of my favourite TV shows. Lucie then asked if I had recognised my bedroom. I hadn’t. She then told me that I had slept in the room that Adam had woken up in at the beginning of the first ever episode. Our host’s house had been used for two of the ‘Cold Feet houses’.

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My Journey

Some months ago, I decided to write a book relating the story of my personal journey which would be provisionally titled Those Who Came Before: A Personal Journey Into Understanding Drug Addiction and Addiction Recovery. Recently, I decided I would serialise this story on the Recovery Stories website, rather than send it to a publisher.

From next week, I will post a new chapter of My Journey each Monday. You will be able to find links to all chapters as they appear on the website on an archive page. Here is a summary of My Journey:

After spending nearly 20 years as a neuroscientist, I changed ‘career’ at the beginning of the millennium. I developed the grassroots initiative WIRED (later known as Wired In), which involved a range of activities including storytelling, a qualitative-based research programme, education and information initiatives, a drug and alcohol news portal (Daily Dose) and other websites, filmmaking, real-world and online community development (Wired In To Recovery), and recovery advocacy.

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Describes the author’s story, and his development of the grassroots initiative Wired In; the eBook Our Recovery Stories; the nature of substance use problems; changing behaviour and recovery, and the nature of addiction treatment. (4,024 words)

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Kevin and Kerry’s Recovery Story: ‘A Family’s Journey’, Part 2

Kevin’s hospitalisation with septicaemia acts as a turning point and a process of recovery begins for the family as a whole. (6,933 words)

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Revisiting Old Memories, Part 4: Wired In Charter

In October 2006, I took early retirement from my Professorial position in the Department of Psychology at Swansea University in South Wales, in part to focus full-time on developing our Wired In grassroots initiative. In January 2008, I settled down to develop a new Wired In strategy, as well as write a Wired In Charter, which was published in April. I wanted people to get a better feel for what we were about. Here is that Charter:

1. Wired In exists because of the problems that drugs and alcohol can sometimes cause for individuals and their families.

2. Wired In is founded upon Trust: we are independent, objective and honest. Wired In is about being creative, and having the courage to challenge.

3. We aim to create an environment of opportunity, choice and hope for people affected by substance use problems.

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Revisiting Old Memories, Part 3: WIRED

In a previous blog post in this series, I described how Claire Brown of Drink and Drugs News (DDN) commissioned me to write articles for the magazine that she and Ian Ralph had launched. Here is an article I wrote on WIRED (later called Wired In) that was published in that very first issue of DDN (1 November, 2004). WIRED was the grassroots initiative that I developed back in 1999.

‘Up close: WIRED

WIRED is becoming valued as a unique grassroots initiative to tackle drug and alcohol misuse that merges real world activities with a high profile web based communication system. We asked its creator, Professor David Clark, how WIRED developed.

The concept of WIRED was developed five years ago as a way of empowering people to tackle substance misuse. I felt that the internet was not being used innovatively to help the field. Its potential for supporting an integrated resource of information, support, education, training and research, as well as bringing together expertise from both within and outside the field, needed to be realised.

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Revisiting Old Memories, Part 1: Drink and Drugs News (DDN)

I’ve just been reading through a chapter I have written for a book I am working on, tentatively called Those Who Came Before: A Personal Journey Into Understanding Drug Addiction and Addiction Recovery. In the chapter, I describe how I started writing for the magazine Drink and Drugs News in late 2004. I wrote a series called Background Briefings for nigh on four years. Here’s how it all started:

‘In the summer of 2004, Simon Shepherd of the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals (FDAP) was approached by Claire Brown and Ian Ralph, who worked for a public health magazine. They asked him whether there was a case for a regular magazine focused on the treatment of substance use problems to be distributed bi-weekly for free to the field. The idea was for costs of the magazine to be covered by advertising. Together, they sketched out the bones of what the magazine might look like, and came up with the name Drink and Drugs News (DDN). 

Simon contacted me and asked if I would meet with Claire and Ian, as he thought that my community initiative WIRED (later known as Wired In) could play an important role in this venture. The four of us met and planned a strategy. Soon after, Claire and Ian left their jobs, rented a new office near the Thames River in London, and a special new venture began. 

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Visiting UK Recovery Friends: Part 5 (Becky Hancock)

I left Ash Whitney’s house in Cilfrew, and headed to Gower (a peninsula just west of Swansea) where I had rented a house in Llangennith for my two boys (Ben and Sam) and myself for four nights. Llangennith is a village on the west coast of Gower which is close to Rhossili Beach, a beautiful surfing beach. I spent my first year renting a house in the village when I took up a position in the Psychology Department at the University of Wales, Swansea in 1992. I ended up living on Gower for 14 years and had such a great time there. I consider Gower to be my spiritual home.

I had closed down my neuroscience laboratory in the university in 2000 because I did not feel that a medical approach and the use of drugs were the answer to helping people overcome drug addiction. I realised that I needed to learn more about the nature of addiction and how it could be overcome by visiting treatment services and talking to practitioners and people trying to overcome addiction.

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Visiting UK Recovery Friends: Part 4 (Ash Whitney)

After leaving Wynford Ellis Owen and his lovely wife Meira in Creigiau (South Wales), I headed to Cilfrew, located close to Neath, to visit my great friend Ash Whitney, of Wired Up Wales, and his parents. Ash and I have worked together on-and-off for over 20 years now, starting not long after I launched WIRED (Web-based Information REsource on Drugs), which later became known as Wired In.

At the beginning of the new millennium, I received a small level of funding from the Welsh Development Agency, which at the time was the economic development agency for Wales, to develop and maintain an online resource that would help people in Wales better understand the nature of drug and alcohol use problems and how they could be overcome. Use of illegal drugs, in particular heroin, and excessive drinking were major problems in parts of Wales, particularly in areas suffering economic and social problems such as in the Welsh valleys. These problems had increased as coal mines in the valleys closed. 

A technician in my university department, Neil Carter, suggested I approach a web-developer friend of his, Ash Whitney, to see if he would build me a website.

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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.

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Learning About Addiction Treatment, Part 4

I’ve spent three blog posts, the first of which can be found here, describing my experiences and what I learnt during my initial visits to a local treatment agency, West Glamorgan Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (WGCADA) in Swansea. In addition, my last blog focused on an article written by my oldest daughter Annalie about a day in the life of an addiction treatment support worker at WGCADA, Dave Watkins.

Many of the clients I met at WGCADA and in other treatment services I visited over the years knew what they wanted—a valued and meaningful life. They just did not know how to achieve what they wanted, and they lacked the internal and external resources to take the journey to recovery and the life they wanted. 

My early experiences at WGCADA resonated loudly when some years later I read How Clients Make Therapy Work: The Process of Active Self-Healing, a seminal book written by Arthur C Bohart and Karen Tallman and published by the American Psychological Association. The following quotes are particularly pertinent. 

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Brain Chemicals to Human Connection, Part 2

In an earlier blog, I described how I spent nearly 25 years working as a neuroscientist in academia. In 2000, I made the decision to close my neuroscience laboratory and focus on working in the addiction field with humans (rather than laboratory rats). I set up an initiative called WIRED (later to become Wired In) and a charity Wired International Ltd. I continued by job as a Professor of Psychology, but when I wasn’t teaching I was engaged in a range of activities in the addiction field. The following section is taken from the last chapter of my new eBook Our Recovery Stories: Journeys from Drug and Alcohol Addiction.

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about-us-2-largeI’d like to welcome you to Recovery Stories, a new website that is focused on helping individuals and families recover from serious problems caused by drug and alcohol use.

We’ll not just be trying to help people directly affected by drug and alcohol addiction, but also help people whose lives have been indirectly affected by the substance use problems of a loved one. Family members and friends also need to find recovery.

One important feature of this website is that it will carry the ‘voice’ of recovering people. Solutions to serious substance use problems are manifested in the lives of millions of people who are in long-term recovery. These lived solutions can provide important insights into principles and practices that underlie recovery from addiction.

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