August 22, 2014Bill White POWER OF PEER SUPPORT

The concept of “wounded healer”–the idea that people who have survived illness or trauma may have special abilities to help others facing similar challenges–has deep roots within the history of addiction treatment and recovery. During the 1980s and 1990s, the perceived value of the wounded healer was eclipsed by the growth and professionalization of the addiction treatment workforce in the United States. Between 1965 and 2010, the percentage of addiction professionals with lived personal/family experience of addiction recovery plummeted from more than 70% of the workforce to approximately 30% as educational credentials became valued more than experiential knowledge. Today, there is growing recognition of the value of peer-based recovery support services provided to individuals and families outside the framework of recovery mutual aid societies. A new generation of peer helpers is working in volunteer and paid roles within new grassroots recovery community organizations, within addiction treatment programs, and within such allied fields as primary healthcare, child welfare, and criminal justice. This trend reflects not a rejection of scientific knowledge and professional treatment, but an effort to integrate addiction science, cumulative clinical experience, and knowledge drawn from the lived personal/family experience of addiction recovery.
Working under such titles as recovery coach, recovery support specialist, peer helper, and recovery guide, peers are filling support roles across the stages of addiction recovery. Their growing presence represents a historical milestone in the evolution of addiction treatment and recovery support in the U.S.–functions that falls outside the boundaries of the recovery mutual aid sponsor and the addiction counselor. Given the increasing number of requests I am receiving for information on peer recovery support services, here is an abbreviated chronology of what I and my co-authors have written about such recovery support roles.
2004: The history and future of peer-based addiction recovery support services
2006: Sponsor, Recovery Coach, Addiction Counselor: The Importance of Role Clarity and Role Integrity
2007: Ethical Guidelines for the Delivery of Peer-based Recovery Support Services
2009: Peer Recovery Support Services: History, Theory, Practice and Scientific Evaluation (Monograph)
2012: Historical Perspectives on Recovery Support
2012: New Addiction Recovery Support Institutions: Mobilizing Support beyond Professional Addiction Treatment and Recovery Mutual Aid
2013: Betty Ford Institute Consensus Statement on the Status and Future of Addiction Recovery Support Services in the United States
2014: The Integration of Peer Recovery Supports within Philadelphia’s Crisis Response Centers: An In-progress Report from the Field
2014: Outreach Services and Recovery Management: The New Pathways Approach
2014: Recovery Agenda: The Shared Role of Peers and Professionals.
To explore how peer recovery support services are being implementing in diverse cultural contexts, readers may also wish to explore my interviews with:
Cathy Nugent on Recovery Community Mobilization and Recovery Support
Tom Hill on Recovery Advocacy and the State of Recovery Support Services
Don Coyhis and Eva Petoskey on Recovery Support in Indian tribal communities
Phillip Valentine on Recovery Support Services in Connecticut
Walter Ginter on Medication Assisted Recovery Support Services in New York City
There is a zone of energy, authenticity and effectiveness that characterizes the earliest stages of successful social and therapeutic movements. These qualities can be diluted or lost as movements become institutionalized (e.g., professionalized, commercialized or colonized by larger forces within the culture). The documentation of the earliest contributions of these movements thus takes on both historical and practical importance.
In recent decades, the addiction treatment field has been marked by a loss of recovery volunteers within the addiction treatment milieu, reduced recovery representation among addiction counselors, addiction counselor training that denies the legitimacy of experiential knowledge, and weakened connections between what are now defined as addiction treatment businesses and indigenous communities of recovery. It is in this context that new peer recovery support service roles promise several unique contributions: living proof of the reality and transformative power of long-term addiction recovery, recovery attraction via mutual identification, a service relationship lacking any hint of contempt or moral superiority, knowledge of and assertive linkage to local communities of recovery, and experience-grounded guidance through the stages of recovery.
The advent of peer recovery support services is an important milestone within the history of addiction treatment and recovery. Such services stand as potentially important resources to speed recovery initiation, enhance service retention in addiction treatment and facilitate the transitions to recovery maintenance, enhance the quality of personal/family life in long-term recovery and to support efforts to break intergenerational cycles of addiction and related problems. Cumulative experience and scientific research will tell whether the promises of peer recovery support services are fulfilled and sustained. If such service relationships achieve their promise but are then lost, their presence in this era will stand as a valuable artifact to be rediscovered in the future, just as this power is now being rediscovered.

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‘Recovery in an Age of Cynicism’ by Bill White AUGUST 21, 2014 BY DAVID CLARK

Play music
There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”
For What It’s Worth, Buffalo Springfield (1966)
Lyrics by Stephen Stills
Recovery in an age of cynicism requires seeking the less traveled path.
We live in a strange era. Pessimism seems to be seeping into every aspect of global culture – fed by leaders who divide rather than unite, who pander rather than educate and elevate, and who ply the politics of destruction to mask their own impotence to create.
Poisoned by such cynicism, we as a people act too often without thinking, speak too often without listening, and engage too often to confront and condemn rather than to communicate, until in our own loss of hope, we lapse into disillusioned detachment and silence – shrinking our world to a small circle we vow to protect.
Under such circumstances, the search for hope from any source intensifies, leaving us vulnerable to exploitative demigods who dice the world into boxes of superiority and inferiority and warn us of alien threats rather than reminding us of our common humanity.
False hopes and manipulation abound in such a climate, leaving one questioning where authentic hope and community can be discovered. There are many such pockets, but one can be found in a most unexpected of places – among people recovering from life-threatening and life-deforming addictions.
There is nothing inherently ennobling about recovery from addiction, but there is the potential for profound change within the recovery experience and the potential for a profound experience of community as people support each other through this process.
Addiction recovery can be a democratizing process – welding together men, women, and near-children; people of all ages, racial and ethnic groups, sexual orientations, and social classes; people of all faiths and no faith; people spanning all varieties of education and occupation; and a range of political views that under no other circumstances coexist in the same room.
Two things bind people in recovery together: the belief that change – even transformative change – is possible, and the recognition that we are all broken and yet can rise above such brokenness to heal ourselves and each other.
The living proof of those twin propositions is affirmed daily within these communities of recovery.
There is also a degree of growing consensus across religious, spiritual, and secular pathways of recovery about the core values that make such personal and collective redemption possible. Such values include personal responsibility, humility, tolerance, mutual respect, compassion, honesty, forgiveness, gratitude, humor, simplicity, and service.
Recovery in an Age of Cynicism 2If people who have courted death and experienced the darkest corners of human despair and desperation can discover hope, meaning and purpose, common ground and community across a rainbow of differences, then why can’t we do that as a country and as a world?
Perhaps in years to come we will witness a Recovery Effect – recovery communities, through their expanding size and maturity, exerting a collective healing influence on our larger communal life.’
Powerful writing from Bill White and this follows on nicely from my last two blogs which focus in part on community recovery. and this follows on nicely from my last two blogs, which focus in part on community recovery.

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 Focus: I change my automatic negative behaviors into newly formed positive actions.

Right Brain
I believe that a lot of what we do on a day-to-day basis is unconscious and automatic — stemming from reasons that we usually don’t understand. If we’re lucky and have had enough positive life experiences throughout our childhood and subsequent adult relationships, then these automatic ways of coping may serve us well.

If, however, the past was filled with disappointment, unrealized potential, or examples of unsatisfying relationships, then we’ll most likely continue to live out this cycle of defeating actions. Even if we intellectually realize that this pattern is harmful, we’ll continue to do what we know!

So any therapy – whether it’s done with an actual therapist or by reading a book – must have the goal of understanding at its roots. We can then change these automatic negative behaviors into newly formed positive actions that will enhance our relationships.

Excerpted from the article:
Don’t Give Up On Your Relationship
by Kelly Johnson, M.D.

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A Relationship For A Lifetime: Everything You Need To Know To Create A Love That Lasts
by Kelly E. Johnson, M.D.
A book on everything you need to know to create a love that lasts for a lifetime. It’s therapy without having to go to the office. You can create the relationship of your dreams, if you do the work to become your own relationship expert.

Info/Order book

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Thursday, August 21st, 2014 Focus: To move anger energy constructively, I acknowledge it as mine, as residing within myself.

It’s human to feel angry when experiencing an injustice or violation. The first tool is dealing with the emotion itself by moving the hot, surging, wordless energy out of your body constructively. Think about a small child in the supermarket. When he’s denied the sugar cereal he saw on television — an injustice in his eyes — he flops on the floor and throws a tantrum. He spontaneously moves that energy out of his body in whatever loud and outrageous way it comes. At some point, it’s over. He cries, falls asleep, or gets absorbed in something else. He’s then back, fully present with no negative lingering after effects.

Transforming your anger takes surrendering your pride because adults too need a physical way to move anger energy. To expel this emo­tion, you need to do something where you can safely let go, such as yelling into a pillow, stomping around, or pushing against a doorjamb. What’s important is you don’t destroy anything of value (including yourself) while getting rid of the physical sensations. Make hard and fast movements with total abandon until you experience a noticeable shift and feel the anger energy dissipate.

What you think and say to yourself while pounding is crucial. Blam­ing or cursing others will only perpetuate your anger. Other people and situations are just convenient targets. To move the energy constructively, you need to own it as yours, as residing within you. While pounding or pushing, make primal sounds, grunt or growl or say, “I feel angry. I feel so frustrated.”

Excerpted from the article:
Learning to Shift from Anger to Love
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.

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Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.

Attitude Reconstruction is your inside guide to building a better life, right now. It blends the best of western and eastern approaches, and shows you how to harness the innate tools you were born with to build a life of joy, love, and peace. This step-by-step guide will get you there if you’re open, willing, and ready to fly. The book is a 2012 ForeWord Reviews gold award winner in BOTH Self Help and Psychology, the 2012 winner of the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award in Self Help, winner of the 2012 Nautilus Silver Award for personal growth/self-help/psychology, and Indie Excellence Book Awards finalist.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book.
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“You’re all going to hate the word ‘recovery’” by DJMac AUGUST 15, 2014 BY DAVID CLARK

One of the problems with an aspirational and non-prescriptive definition of recovery is that it is hard to measure. The definitions most commonly featured in the literature share some elements including wellbeing or health, abstinence and citizenship.
Clearly if you can’t define it precisely, then it’s hard to commission services to deliver on it. In this case proxy outcomes are used. There’s a lot of debate amongst professionals on recovery definitions and measurements, but what about service users? What do they make of ‘recovery’?
In a teasingly titled paper (‘‘You’re all going to hate the word ‘recovery’ by the end of this’’: Service users’ views of measuring addiction recovery) Joanne Neale and colleagues scope the views of clients and patients in a variety of settings and run past them professional perceptions on recovery measures. How different are the perspectives?
What did they do?
Ran five focus groups in two English cities with using clients, drinking clients, service users in detox, in residential rehab and with people who described themselves as ‘ex drug or alcohol users’. The numbers are small (44 service users), but this is qualitative research, so we’re looking for nuance, themes and meaning.
What did they ask?
Researchers asked service users to take a look at a list of 76 measures of recovery provided by ‘senior addiction service providers’. The list contains items as apparently inconsequent as ‘going to the toilet regularly’ and ‘dealing with toothache’, but also has enough meaty content (‘reduced drug use’, ‘using time meaningfully’) to make it look robust.
What did they find?
Nine themes came out of the research with reasonable agreement across the groups:
Expecting the impossible: service users felt that service providers expected more of them than was reasonable.
Outcomes that don’t capture the effort involved in recovery.
The dangers of progress (e.g. confidence turning into complacency)
The hidden benefits of negative outcomes: affective states in early recovery as indicators of change or tiredness being evidence of doing the work.
Contradictory measures: the apparent finding that some recovery measures sit in opposition to each other (e.g. reduced drug use vs. abstinence or independence vs. seeking help and support)
Failure to recognise individual differences: programmes being too generic.
Entrenched vulnerabilities: resistance to some issues (e.g. trust) because of experiences and perspectives and this not being recognised
Getting service users’ feelings and behaviours wrong (e.g. measuring getting appetite back when appetite was good all along)
Getting the language wrong: outcome measures clearly designed by people who didn’t have experience of addiction and recovery.
Service users experience recovery as a process and personal journey that is often more about ‘coping’ than ‘cure’.
Involving service users in designing measures of recovery can lessen the likelihood that researchers develop assessment tools that use inappropriate, contradictory or objectionable outcomes, and ambiguous and unclear language. People who have experienced drug or alcohol problems can highlight important weaknesses in dominant recovery discourses.
I wonder if recruiting people who described themselves as being ‘in recovery’ or those in longer term recovery post-treatment would have added slightly more nuanced views or at least broader perspectives. I guess if you ask a wide range of people to comment on 76 points you will have a hell of a lot of information to make sense of.
I have to say that this is an incredibly good effort in that regard. It must have been a challenge to identify the 9 strands and lay them out so clearly. However now that you have these, what you do with them is harder still.
The point that’s made here is that it is not possible to have a reliable single tool that measures recovery. Recovery is a complex process and it’s not fundamentally a clinical journey, but a social one and doesn’t fit under the microscope easily and resists simplistic analysis.
Then there’s the issue that if some of points had been explained or dissected a bit, a rationale given say, then there may have been more agreement between professional markers of recovery and service users’. The comments of service users bring this paper to life and I really, really wanted to be there in the midst of the discussion. That would have been a lot of fun.
To be fair, the authors do acknowledge this – the idea that some of the conclusions might have worked out differently if feedback had been allowed. I didn’t end up hating the word recovery, but I did struggle to make sense of the meaning of the findings given some of the caveats.
Again I think folk who are a bit further along the recovery path would have had a different take from those actually in treatment. Maybe that’s what the researchers will do next; bring the stakeholders together and get some discussion going.
Insightful quotes from the research
On the nature of recovery
Thus, our findings support Laudet’s argument that recovery is experienced as more of a process than a fixed state or end point (Laudet, 2007).
On the reality of recovery
Recovery is often more about ‘coping’ than ‘cure’; for example, managing negative feelings and bodily changes rather than trying to prevent them from occurring or denying their existence.
On the paradoxes
Recovery will require balancing acts which involve developing confidence without becoming over confident; taking control whilst also handing over control to those who might help; acknowledging the need for both dependence and independence; combining self-belief and self-doubt; and being supported whilst supporting others.
On the dilemma of high aspirations
If we set expectations too high, we risk further excluding those who are already marginalized; if we set expectations too low, there will likely be little satisfaction in making progress.
On changing things for the better
Whilst undoubtedly an important scientific exercise, the clinical utility of measuring recovery will almost certainly be maximized when people who use services engage in the process because they find it interesting and helpful, rather than because it is imposed upon them by a target driven treatment system.
Neale, J., Tompkins, C., Wheeler, C., Finch, E., Marsden, J., Mitcheson, L., Rose, D., Wykes, T., & Strang, J. (2014). “You’re all going to hate the word ‘recovery’ by the end of this”: Service users’ views of measuring addiction recovery Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy, 1-9 DOI: 10.3109/09687637.2014.947564

Saturday, August 16th, 2014 Focus: I resolve that I’ll not go to bed angry or feeling hateful.


Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Focus: I resolve that I’ll not go to bed angry or feeling hateful.
Right Brain

A very simple way we can monitor our junk emotions is to resolve that we’ll not go to bed angry or feeling hateful. I’ve heard that many couples say this is the secret why their relationships have lasted: they don’t go to sleep angry at each other. This means they find the time to talk about whatever it is that’s upsetting them, and don’t allow themselves to go to sleep (or lie awake unable to sleep) without dealing with the negative emotion.

Not only does this mean that the individuals in the relationship are likely to get more sleep and be more rested, and thus not as likely to be in a bad mood the next day; but it means that they can begin that day refreshed and renewed, ready to deal with that day’s emotions.

Of course, what was said and done the previous day may not be resolved and some difficult and painful decisions may need to be made. But the negative emotion will have been removed or reduced, which will make the solution to the problem easier to discern and easier to deal with.

Excerpted from the article:
Releasing the Junk Emotions by Washing Your Mind
by Venerable Yifa.

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Authenticity — Clearing the Junk: A Buddhist Perspective
by Venerable Yifa.

Clearly and compassionately, Ven. Yifa explores junk in all its ramifications: junk food, junk stuff, junk relationships, junk communication, and junk thoughts and feelings. She shows how our obsession with materialism, convenience, and the fast-paced nature of our society is diminishing our ability to connect wholeheartedly with others and making it harder for us to lead authentic lives. Through consciously separating out what is junk from what is genuine, she says, and through practicing right-mindedness, we can gain equanimity, clarity of purpose, true friendship, and the ultimate realization of our Buddha-nature.

For More Info or to Order This Book
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Friday, August 15th, 2014 Focus: I look at my creative ideas or projects for ways in which they help others.

Feeling good about yourself is healthy. When self-love turns to self-worship, it’s easy to get illusions of grandeur. As a productive counter, it is a good practice to look at your creative ideas or projects for ways in which they help others.

Any small business owner will tell you that finding and filling a particular need is the key to success. When what you do or create will positively help others, it can become a practical way to gain satisfaction and affluence.

If the intention behind your efforts is to provide real services, the public will reward you.

Excerpted from the article:
Vanity and Pride vs. Prosperity and Being of Service to Others
by James Dillehay.

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Overcoming The 7 Devils That Ruin Success
by James Dillehay.

The author describes the powerful forces within us all that battle for ultimate control of our destiny. While Spirit brings love, fulfillment, and success. Its enemy, an animalistic force called the negative self, ruins happiness and achievement through seven devils of destruction. To ignore these forces invites perilous risk. Master them and they unite to become a genie from a magic lamp who serves you.

For More Info or to Order This Book.
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Living in Awareness: Creating A Life In Which We Enjoy Being Who We Are
by don Miguel Ruiz Jr.


What To Do with Justified Anger: Transform It Into Nonviolent Power
by Stephanie Van Hook.


What Did I Want to Be When I Grew Up?
by Heather McCloskey Beck.


The Suffering Me: My Pattern of Suffering and My Identity of Pain?
by Nick Inman.


What To Do When Fear Has Hold of You
by Jan Frazier.


You Are Not Alone: There Is A Sacred Intelligence Awakening You With Its Call
by Guy Finley.


Advice on Alcohol, Salt, and Gluten for Hunter or Farmer Food Types
by Mark Liponis, M.D.


The Radical Homemaker’s Guide To Telling Your Kids “No”
by Shannon Hayes.


This week’s astrological column: August 11th – 17th

Last week’s astrological column: August 4th – 10th


Breakthrough In Understanding Chronic Pain Could Lead To New Treatments
by Amanda C de C Williams