BLOG & NEW POSTINGS July 31, 2015- Bill White – RECOVERY JUSTICE


2015 marks the 25th anniversary of passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—landmark legislation that stands as a historic milestone in reversing the longstanding social exclusion and segregation of people with disabilities. The ADA dramatically changed the lives of people with disabilities and altered community life in remarkable ways. The ADA, the regulations through which it was implemented, and weathering multiple legal challenges would not have been possible without a prolonged, in-the-trenches advocacy movement led by people with disabilities, their families, and their allies. The achievements of that movement are worthy of continued acknowledgement and celebration.

People seeking addiction recovery have, because of the social stigma attached to addiction, been similarly estranged from society. Like people with other disabilities, people seeking recovery have been subjected to prolonged psychiatric institutionalization, penal incarceration, and invasive “therapies” (spanning mandatory sterilization, psychosurgery, chemo- and electroconvulsive “shock” treatments, and harmful medication protocol). When not isolated from the community, they have been sequestered within families and socially isolated due to their restricted access to housing, education and training, employment, and civic participation.
Forty-five years ago, Congress passed the Comprehensive Alcoholism and Prevention Act (Commonly referred to as the “Hughes Act” for the Senator who championed it). More than any effort that preceded it, the Hughes Act marked a tipping point in the destigmatization, decriminalization, and medicalization of alcohol dependence. The product of a sustained advocacy movement begun in 1944 by Marty Mann’s National Committee for Education on Alcoholism, the Hughes Act and subsequent legislation (including the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act) dramatically expanded addiction treatment, but they left untouched other barriers to community inclusion.
The new recovery advocacy movement launched in the U.S. in the late 1990s and now spreading internationally seeks to assure access to community-based, high-quality, and affordable addiction treatment, but it also seeks broader community inclusion for people in recovery. Within the new recovery advocacy movement are mini-movements seeking to create space in local communities in which recovery can flourish. There is a rapidly growing recovery housing movement. Recovery high schools and collegiate recovery communities are growing in number and size. Recovery-focused education and training programs are being conceived and implemented. Recovery ministries and faith-based recovery support groups are expanding within local churches. Recovery community centers, recovery-themed cafes (and “sober bars”), social clubs, athletic venues, art projects are expanding. Special programs are opening to help people in recovery reintegrate into the community following addiction-related incarceration. And recovery advocates are legally challenging all attempts to segregate or extrude recovering people from full social participation, and they are championing efforts at restoration of civil rights (e.g., voting) and equal access to housing, education, and employment.
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) currently being considered by Congress could, by providing funds to seed local recovery community organizations, set the stage for rapid growth of the recovery advocacy movement (and its mini-movements). If you feel as I do that people seeking and in recovery deserve access to full community participation, then find a way to support passage of CARA. Twenty-five years from now, people in recovery may be celebrating the passage of CARA the same way people with disabilities today celebrate the anniversary of passage of the ADA. They may also be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the UNITE to Face Addiction march on Washington, D.C. scheduled for October 4, 2015. If you do not know about this event, check it out at http://www.facingaddiction.org/
Let’s go make some history.
UNITE to Face Addiction

Monday, July 27th, 2015 Focus: I choose to trust and allow my life to unfold.

universe
My goal with my spiritual practice is to develop a state of mind that is always allowing. In resistance, I don’t only push away the bad. I stand in opposition to life itself.

Life is ups and downs. There is no avoiding that; but you can avoid the emotional eddies. We get stuck, thinking things must be just so or we’ll be unhappy. This is a weak position. No one can conquer the unconquerable. You won’t always avoid suffering.

Can we find the courage to experience life without meddling in the outcome? It takes a great deal of trust – things might not work out. True! They might not. Or they might work out far better.

Excerpted from the article:

If You’re in Control of Your Life, Stop! Don’t Read This!
Written by Sara Chetkin.

Read more of this article…

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The Healing Curve: A Catalyst to Consciousness by Sara Chetkin.

The Healing Curve: A Catalyst to Consciousness
by Sara Chetkin.

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June 25, 2015-Bill White- A NEW RECOVERY COVENANT


Leonard Campanello, former narcotics officer and now Chief of Police in Gloucester, Massachusetts, has recently proposed three provocative ideas: 1) stop arresting people solely for their status as addicts, 2) establish the police department as a safe haven where people with substance-related problems can get linked to effective treatment and recovery support, and 3) use assets seized from drug dealers to expand local addiction treatment and recovery support resources.
Drug control policy in the United States is in desperate need of fresh ideas and approaches after decades of failed efforts as a country to incarcerate our way out of a public health problem. Chief Campanello is to be commended for his courage in breaking with tradition and setting forth these new proposals.
Chief Campanello’s first proposal suggests that we hold citizens accountable for what they do (e.g., criminal conduct), but not punish them for who they are or for health conditions not of their choosing. This position is reminiscent of earlier Supreme Court decisions holding that the status of drug and alcohol addiction cannot in itself be considered a criminal act (e.g., Robinson v. California, 1962; Powell v. Texas, 1968).
Chief Campanello’s second proposal offers a bold new contract between local communities and their addicted citizens. In essence, this new contract says:

If you commit yourself to long-term recovery–by any means necessary under any circumstances, we as a community will support you through that recovery journey. If you meet us halfway, we will assure you high quality addiction treatment and recovery support services, welcome you back into the mainstream life of our community, and forge the physical, psychological and social space within our community in which you can live as a person/family in long-term recovery.

Such an offer recognizes that people with alcohol and other drug problems are not some alien seed, but our own wounded family members, friends and neighbors. Such an offer recognizes that people can be held accountable for their decisions and actions and still offered the community’s helping hand. Such an offer recognizes that there is no more effective strategy for promoting public health and safety than recognizing and resolving alcohol and other drug problems at the earliest stages of their development. Communities wounded by alcohol and other drug problems can begin to heal themselves and their constituents by offering and fulfilling this recovery contract with their citizens.
Chief Campanello’s third proposal reflects a new slant on the concept of restorative justice which in principle suggests that those who inflict harm on the community have a responsibility to make amends to wounded parties. This proposal suggests a different kind of contract between a community and its members:
If you inflict harm on our community by your actions or inactions, we as a community will hold you accountable for that harm and its remediation costs.
Community connotes a place of safety and sanctuary. In its protective functions, the community pledges itself to challenge any person or enterprise (licit or illicit) that threatens the safety and health of its citizens. Where harm is inflicted by any person or institution, the community has the right and responsibility to seek restitution for such harm. In doing so, it declares that every individual and corporate entity is responsible for injuries incurred as a result of personal or institutional decisions and actions.
Chief Campanello’s proposals reflect a new slant on how we as communities can define and distinguish personal/corporate culpability and expectations for moral, legal, and financial responsibility. I hope his proposals will spark renewed discussion about drug policy alternatives at the local level.

Post Date June 25, 2015 by Bill White
Categories Articles
Tags community recovery | drug policy | Recovery contract | recovery space
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Updates from William L. White | Blog Blog & New Postings


July 24, 2015Bill White
RECOVERY OF SOCIAL NETWORKS (“I STORY” TO “WE STORY”)
Over the past two centuries, addiction recovery has been understood as primarily an intrapersonal process, though recent decades have witnessed growing interest in the related concepts of family recovery and community recovery. Technologies to promote recovery have targeted the individual with only token interest in interventions in larger social networks. Three provocative discoveries challenge this limited focus: 1) An individual’s prognosis for addiction recovery is profoundly influenced by the family and social environment—a point now widely acknowledged but rarely reflected in the clinical treatment of substance use disorders, 2) the resolution of alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems is often a product of social contagion–multiple people within an extended social network simultaneously initiating and maintaining recovery, and 3) the greater the density of recovery carriers within a social milieu, the greater the likelihood other addicted members within that milieu will initiate recovery.
Two fascinating studies confirm the power of social networks as potential recovery catalysts. The first, conducted by Mark Litt and colleagues, examined the effects of changing the social networks of alcohol dependent patients to improve long-term drinking outcomes. They found that adding just one abstinent person to a patient’s social network increased by 27% the probability of the patient’s abstinence during the next year. A second study by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler investigated the smoking patterns in a social network of more than 12,000 people over the course of 32 years. They found that one’s own chances of continued smoking decreased dramatically when members of one’s social network stopped smoking. The odds of smoking decreased 67% if one’s spouse stopped smoking, 36% if a friend stopped smoking, 34% if a co-worker in a small firm stopped smoking, and 25% if a sibling stopped smoking. This social influence of smoking cessation extended to three degrees of separation (friends of friend’s friends). They concluded: that “smoking behavior spreads through close and distant social ties” and that “groups of interconnected people stop smoking in concert.” They went on to suggest that “collective interventions may be more effective than individual interventions.” The Litt and Christakis and Fowler studies move the potential for addiction recovery from the arena of a personal decision to that of a collective decision shaped by rising social consensus and influence, raising the possibility of recovery cascades (rapid bursts in recovery prevalence) spreading through large social networks.
How could such influence be spread? Three potential strategies are being explored. One, a fledgling social marketing campaign has begun to encourage people in recovery and their family members to share context-appropriate news of their recovery status within their extended family and social networks. Two, cadres of recovery volunteers are being trained to be recovery carriers via recovery messaging training. Three, the prevalence of trained peer recovery coaches and other recovery support specialists is expanding exponentially within a broad spectrum of community service settings.
What have been called “contact strategies” for combatting social stigma and what has been christened the “helper principle” (the therapeutic effects of helping others) in the clinical and mutual aid literature may have even greater value in spreading recovery through larger social networks. This would shift recovery from a person-centered clinical outcome to a community-centered public health strategy.
The new story of recovery is a collective rather than a personal story—a “We story” rather than an “I story.” As long as media coverage of addiction focuses almost exclusively on AOD–related deaths and mayhem, isolated stories of personal recovery will always be viewed as moral exceptions to the rule: “Once an addict, always an addict.” The goal of the new recovery advocacy movement is not to get a few more personal recovery stories into the public mind. It is instead to tell a much larger we story—the story of millions of Americans and other citizens of the world who once faced life-threatening AOD problems but who today live healthy, socially productive, and personally meaningful lives free of such problems. The new recovery advocacy movement is reaching individuals, in part, by making recovery socially contagious. It is achieving such contagion by increasing the social visibility of recovery via living proof of its numerous varieties and styles. It is strategically increasing the density of recovery carriers via its mobilization of people in recovery to serve as advocates and peer helpers. And it is achieving this by expanding the physical and social space—the physical and social recovery landscapes–in which recovery can thrive within local communities.
As a field, we are presently so preoccupied with what is going on inside peoples’ brains that we are neglecting the recovery-linked power of what is going on in their intimate and social relationships. It is time that power was fully exploited as a public health strategy. That grassroots effort has begun with little recognition from the professional community.

Monday, July 20th, 2015 Focus: I take a minute to restore a sense of balance to a hectic day.

Beautiful
Many of us know that a few moments of connecting with our inner resources can have dramatic and healthy effects in restoring a sense of balance to a hectic day.

But who has the luxury of spending 45 minutes to one hour calming themselves down in the middle of a rushed day? (Hooray for you if you do. We encourage you to meditate for as long as you can.)

There’s no right or wrong way to meditate. Anyone can meditate. If you’ve ever daydreamed or “spaced out” in line at the grocery store checkout counter, you can meditate. The point is not how long you meditate but to meditate!

Excerpted from the article:

Got A Minute? Meditation… Express Style
Written by Nancy L. Butler-Ross and Michael Suib.

Read more of this article…

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Meditation Express: Stress Relief in 60 Seconds Flat
by Nancy L. Butler-Ross and Michael Suib.

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BLOG & NEW POSTINGS July 17, 2015 – Bill White – THE EDGE OF RECOVERY


There is a boundary between addiction and recovery that marks the point of reciprocal passage between these two physical, psychological, and cultural worlds. This edge of recovery can be friend or enemy—friend when approached close enough during active addiction to hear its welcoming call, and enemy, when during recovery, we drift close enough to this edge to hear a different kind of beckoning call.
Some people enter recovery through a type of conversion experience that forever cleaves their lives into the categories of before and after. In such fortunate circumstances, one is unexpectedly, positively, and permanently changed at a most fundamental level in what can be experienced as a cognitive or emotional lightning strike. While there may remain considerable debris to clean up from one’s life in addiction, such individuals often report never again experiencing the obsessive thoughts and sustained physical cravings that so often plague the earliest stages of recovery.
In contrast to such sudden experiences of transformational change, the journey from addiction to recovery for most people is marked by a state of ambivalence in which addiction has been destabilized but recovery not yet firmly established. What is simultaneously the edge of addiction and the edge of recovery constitutes the boundary of entrance to or egress from recovery. When one occupies this border region, the voices of addiction and recovery compete for our very soul. The image of the whispering devil on one shoulder and the whispering angel of our better nature on the other has long been used to portray this painful state of conflicted ambivalence.
Working one’s way through that ambivalence is not a point-in-time decision but a long series of small and big decisions, each of which moves us closer to or further from the edge. Precovery is a recovery incubation period arising during active drug use that moves one from the center of addiction to the edge of addiction. Experiences within this stage prepare us for the potential break-up of the person-drug relationship and move us close enough to the recovery territory to feel its contagious pull. Brief sobriety experiments within this boundary region do not constitute sustainable recovery, but they have the potential to incrementally move us to the center of the recovery experience and the physical and cultural world in which that experience is nested. The center of recovery is a region of stability and safety within the recovery process.
What has traditionally been called “relapse prevention” is about assuring the stability of one’s life within this center region of recovery. Put simply, you can’t fall off the edge of recovery if you do not get close to it. The devil/monster/beast/dragon of addiction folklore sits at this boundary with inviting promises that appeal to weakened memories of the pain that lies behind the promised relief and pleasure on the other side. If you are close enough to hear the devil’s voice, the edge is too near.
Recovery is about edgy people learning to live away from the edge, rooting oneself in the center of one’s aspirational values and the recovery experience. Some have questioned the need for a definition of recovery. Without a definition, at least for oneself, there is no way to gage one’s distance from the center and edge of recovery. Mindfulness in recovery is, in part, about understanding the meaning of recovery and maintaining daily awareness of one’s position in relation to its edge and center.

BLOG & NEW POSTINGS July 10, 2015-Bill White RECOVERY AS GENESIS

“There is nothing about a caterpillar which would suggest that it will become a butterfly” – Buckminster Fuller

Much of the literature on addiction recovery is focused on the past. Recovery is portrayed through the dominant images of a prolonged addiction downfall and an equally prolonged process of retrieving those lost assets. In reading such literature, one has the image of men and women, defined by their history, slowly walking backwards toward health and wholeness with lives haunted by the past and measured each day by what they no longer do.
There is an alternative to this rather bleak, grey image of addiction recovery, and that is one that defines recovery as a process of personal transformation—more a process of rebirth and discovery than of escape. This distinction is evident in comparing the concept of remission as used by addiction researchers and the concept of recovery as extolled in secular, spiritual, and religious mutual aid fellowships.
For the epidemiologist or clinician, remission means the amelioration of disease—people who once met diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder but who no longer meet such criteria due to their sustained cessation or deceleration of alcohol and other drug use. Health in this sense is measured by the absence of pathology.
Within the recovery fellowships, remission as defined above is celebrated, but one finds in discussions of recovery there a much greater emphasis on what is added to, rather than deleted from, one’s life. Recovery is portrayed as far more than a de-addiction process—more a beginning than an end. Entrance into recovery is portrayed as an opportunity of great value that might not have been otherwise available—something analogous to comments sometimes heard from cancer patients who talk about how their C-confrontation changed their lives in unexpected and positive ways. People in recovery claiming such benefit are not glorifying the addiction experience—there is nothing ennobling about addiction. They are instead suggesting that the struggle to rise out of addiction’s quicksand affords opportunities to discover previously unknown and valued assets within and beyond the self. Listening carefully, one finds in such stories not so much gratitude for retrieval of an old self, but gratitude for the emergence of a new person and a life of enhanced meaning and value.
Pain can push one towards remission, but it takes hope to pull one towards recovery. Remission is a tale of endings; recovery is a tale of beginnings.