Saturday, November 29th, 2014 Focus: I choose to think more of how I can give joy to others rather than how they can give joy to me.

It goes to eleven
We are trained to think that satisfying our desires is the way to happiness. Actually, to go beyond desire is the way to happiness. Even in relationships, if we’re not holding on, if we’re not clinging, if we are thinking more of how we can give joy to the other rather than how they can give joy to us, then that also makes our relationships much more open and spacious, much more free.

We are basically very selfish people. When anything happens, our very first thought is, “How will this affect me?” Think about it. “What’s in it for me?” If it doesn’t negatively affect oneself, then it’s all right, and we don’t care. This very self-centered way of viewing the world is one of the principal causes of our unrest, because the world is the way it is; the world is never going to fit into all our expectations and our unrealistic hopes.

If we think less about how we can make ourselves happy, and more about how we can make others happy, somehow we end up being happy ourselves. People who are genuinely concerned with others have a much happier and more peaceful state of mind than those who are continually trying to manufacture their own joys and satisfactions. The only true happiness lies within us. That’s where it is.

Excerpted from the article:
The Way to Happiness: From Attachment to Detachment
Written by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo.

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RECOMMENDED BOOK OF THE DAY

Into the Heart of Life
by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo.

Down-to-earth, approachable, and deeply informative, this collection of talks and dialogues covers a wide range of topics, always returning to practical reflections on how we can enhance the quality of our lives and develop more sanity, fulfillment, wisdom, and compassion. Into the Heart of Life is addressed to a general audience and presents practical advice that can be applied whether or not one is a Buddhist.

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Classic Blog – Untangling the elements involved in treatment NOVEMBER 27, 2014 BY DAVID CLARK


Here’s a summary of a piece of research that Lucie James and I conducted some years ago. I am very proud of this piece of work and it certainly opened my eyes to the importance of gaining a sense of belonging in the recovery journey.
‘To understand how treatment helps people overcome substance use problems, it is essential to understand the elements that operate in the treatment process, and how they might interact to facilitate behavioural change and a person’s path to recovery from addiction.
Lucie James and I set out to gain initial insights into these issues by using a qualitative analysis of the views and experiences of clients on the RAPt treatment programme in one male and one female prison in the UK.
This successful and highly regarded programme has a 12-Step approach at its core, complemented by various other elements from different treatment types.
A total of 15 males and 15 females, who had a long history of substance use problems and criminal offending, were interviewed about their experiences and views of the treatment programme. Transcripts of the semi-structured interviews were analysed with Grounded Theory.
Our study participants believed that this treatment programme was life-changing. They had decided to stop using drugs and try to ensure that this decision was maintained once they left prison.
The participants found that a wide variety of elements operating within the treatment programme were critical in helping bring about the cognitive, emotional and behavioural changes occurring in themselves. They emphasised the importance of the programme focusing on all aspects of their lives, not just their problematic substance use.
Four inter-related themes were derived from the Grounded Theory analysis, labelled: ‘Belonging’, ‘Socialisation’, ‘Learning’, and ‘Support’. Each of these themes impacted on a fifth theme, ‘Personal Change’, comprising two key components, motivation to change and self-esteem.
Belonging
On the RAPt treatment programme, inmates met other people with similar experiences and realised that they were not alone.
A sense of belonging helped them to open up and share their thoughts and experiences. It enabled them to build trusting relationships, leading them to feel more able to be honest with themselves and others.
Belonging to a group of people who had similar experiences and problems, but who were successfully addressing their substance use, also enhanced the participants’ motivation and self-belief in overcoming addiction.
It facilitated the learning of new skills revolving around improved communication and better quality interpersonal relationships.
Socialisation
Participants got to know and relate to other people on the programme, and share thoughts and experiences.
They learned that they were not the only one to have certain experiences and beliefs – also, to ask for and give help, and listen to and provide feedback.
They became more able to trust, be honest, respect others, and learn about themselves. They began to feel they could talk to their counsellors and peer supporters.
Study participants described how their self-esteem and confidence increased as they learnt more social skills and became better at interacting with other people.
The development of social skills contributed to an increased self-awareness, an understanding that participants needed to change their previous destructive thought and behavioural patterns, and a belief that they could leave their old lifestyles behind and work towards a more positive future.
Learning
Learning about the disease model of addiction and admitting to being addicted helped to change self-image, as participants no longer blamed themselves for their prior destructive behaviours .
[I must emphasise that it is not necessarily learning about the disease model per se that is important here. It is likely that learning about anything that helps a person understand what underlies their problems and how it can be overcome is important.
The RAPT programme focuses on the disease model, but learning about another addiction model or combination of models as an explanatory framework would likely have been as important. The person must understand and relate to the model – it must be believable and ‘actionable’ to them.]
Understanding that they would have to abstain from all substances if they were to attain the goal of recovery led to significant changes in the participants’ thinking.
During the Step-work, participants began to see how out-of-control their lives had become and how their substance use had impacted negatively on others.
They were helped to come to terms with, and let go of, their pasts and focused on a positive future free of substance use, a process which was facilitated by understanding and utilising the concept of a Higher Power.
As they learnt about addiction, themselves and their capabilities, the participants became more motivated and determined to change and abstain from substance use.
Meeting other people who had gone through the same stages also helped to motivate and give hope that recovery was attainable.
Participants began to understand the relationships between their drug use and their thoughts and behaviours.
They learnt a great deal about recognising certain thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and became better ‘armed’ to deal with any potentially destructive thoughts or behavioural patterns.
Support
Support was a key factor in the perceived success of the RAPt programme, and in the changes that the participants saw in their thinking and behaviours.
This support came from various sources – staff, peers, peer supporters, family members – and involved different aspects of the programme, e.g. group therapy, one-to-one counselling, family conferences, Fellowship meetings.
In addition, the participants developed the ability to offer support to others, which helped boost their confidence and made them feel like a valued member of the group.
Support was paramount in enabling and encouraging the participants to open up about their thoughts and experiences, and let go of the past and focus on the future.
The participants received positive feedback at every step they made towards developing their new lives, and this reinforcement helped to boost self-esteem and confidence.
Personal Change
The participants frequently referred to their self-esteem and confidence, and to their motivation to change.
Other research has shown that these are critical elements influencing a person’s ability to overcome their substance use problems and find their path to recovery.
In the present research, a variety of elements related to the themes described above enhanced self-esteem and increased the participants’ motivation, and confidence in their ability, to change.
These elements included aspects related to the socialisation process and belonging, the education programme, and the feedback and support available from various sources.
Seeing others doing well in the programme and in Fellowship meetings also played a significant role in enhancing hope and motivation to change.
The interviewees emphasised that a critical element of the success of the programme was that attention paid to all aspects of the participants’ lives, not just their substance use issues.
The programme showed participants that their problematic substance use stemmed from issues that occurred in their lives. This completely changed the way that many viewed themselves, as they had previously thought that it was their own fault that they couldn’t stop taking drugs/alcohol.
Participants also obtained a better understanding of themselves, and the relationship between their thoughts and behaviours, and were taught how to divert potentially destructive behaviours.
This all enhanced self-esteem and helped them become more confident in their ability to abstain from substances.
As they implemented what they had been taught during the Step-work, they saw the positive changes that this made, and this acted as a further reinforcement to change.
Many of the participants described beginning to like themselves and understand who they really were. Seeing oneself differently (in a positive sense), and liking oneself, are powerful facilitators of recovery.
One final aspect of personal change emphasised by interviewees was that programme participants must want to change, and must work hard if change is to occur. Many of the clients described periods of emotional distress occurring during the programme, which they considered an important part of the change process.
In conclusion, our research revealed that interviewees perceived a wide variety of interacting interpersonal and intrapersonal elements to be important in changing their thinking, emotions and behaviours, and in contributing to the success of the RAPt treatment programme.
We concluded that treatment needs to involve a socially engaging environment with multifaceted activities in which clients can learn, implement new skills, and receive feedback from a variety of sources (practitioners, peers, others in recovery, and family members), in order to facilitate motivation to change and enhance self-esteem of clients.’
You can find out more about the factors that underlie recovery in my article Factors that Facilitate Recovery.

Friday, November 28th, 2014 Focus: I practice non-resistance to what is.


Grateful people flow easily into each moment without resistance, absorbing and becoming their experience. Such a simple and powerful practice!

Be thankful for that pencil, for this glass of water, for this car, for your dog — whatever. By doing this, we are also practicing non-resistance to what is. We are shutting down the tendency of the mind to separate itself from what it perceives with judgment.

I encourage you to begin to journal your thoughts and feel­ings, especially those that come to you in Silence. Ask daily to see others as pure Spirit. Doing so in your meditations makes it more likely that you will actually remember and feel this about others as you go about your days.

Excerpted from the article:
Learning To Be Grateful: Be Thankful for Everything
Written by David Ian Cowan.

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RECOMMENDED BOOK OF THE DAY

Navigating the Collapse of Time: A Peaceful Path Through the End of Illusions
by David Ian Cowan.

We are in the midst of a 25-year transitional period of planetary shift. The Mayans had a term for this transitional period: the “Time of No Time,” indicating that, post-2012, time as we know it or experience it may not exist at all or will have changed dramatically. In Navigating the Collapse of Time, David lets us know what to expect as events continue to unfold to their prescribed conclusion and how to navigate this time of change.

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“It doesn’t work for everyone” – a take on 12-step approaches’ by DJMac NOVEMBER 26, 2014 BY DAVID CLARK

Excellent blog from the DJMac website. Good discussion as well.
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‘What follows is a guest blog by a GP who gives a personal view on professional perspectives of mutual aid:
“Astonished”
I was astonished the first time I was taken to an NA meeting. I mean, really gobsmacked – you could have knocked me off my seat. The room was full of recovering heroin addicts; something I’d never seen in my 20 years (at that time) in practice.
I was both excited – at the possibilities – and ashamed – at the fact that I didn’t know such places existed. It curls my toes to think of it now, but I had not referred my patients to them. That was a while back.
Resistance
When I began to talk mutual aid with colleagues in practice and with our local addiction psychiatrist, I observed a peculiar thing in many people – a resistance to the concept of self-help at best and downright hostility at worst. I was pretty solidly bamboozled.
Nothing I was doing was working hugely well. I mean, methadone was kind of making things a bit better, but I wondered who was benefiting the most; the patient or society.
I was being trained in the evidence for reducing the risk of blood borne virus transmission and reducing crime but that helped society as much as it helped the individual. Don’t get me wrong; I prescribe methadone and Suboxone, I’m convinced that harms are reduced, but I’m yet to be convinced that lifelong prescribing is what everyone wants or needs.
What did the individual want? A normal life. Not to be tied to chemists or prescriptions or be in this relationship with a prescriber where there might be unpleasant consequences if they screwed up. And, lets face it, is the nature of addiction in so many people not to screw up endlessly until they pare away all the things that are important to them?
Who wants to be at the mercy of the prescriber as to the ‘consequences’? That’s a top down relationship. As I say, don’t misunderstand, I’m absolutely convinced of the value of replacement therapy, but folk need to know all the options and for that to happen, I too need to know all the options.
I’m not saying this top down thing was what it was like everywhere or all the time, but you heard some horror stories of patients being punished. I remember a colleague making a patient wait a while (a long while) for a prescription because they had missed an appointment, or another forcing the patient to pick the prescription up at a chemist (pharmacy) miles away from where the patient lived as a ‘punishment’ for being late.
Then there’s the spectre of forced reductions. Does that still happen I wonder?
“It doesn’t work for everyone”
Once I took a look at the evidence about mutual aid, I wasn’t shy – not a bit of it. I asked colleagues what beefed them about AA and NA. These were the sorts of answers I got:
– It doesn’t work for everyone (the commonest response)
– It’s dangerous to come off methadone
– There’s not a bit of evidence behind it – that’s what the specialists said
– It’s religious mumbo-jumbo
– Drug dealing happens at NA meetings
– Patients don’t like it
– It’s non professional – “these people” don’t know what they are doing
– Or another version of that – these places are not regulated
– Everybody goes to the pub after an AA meeting
– Nobody stays clean
– Talking about addiction doesn’t make addiction go away
And so on. It was amazing how many folk had so many rationalisations that effectively acted as barriers to their patients getting to meet other recovering people.
Of course, not everyone was like that. Many colleagues were open-minded. There was this addiction consultant who firmly believed AA could do more than he ever could and got so many people there. His name was mentioned by patients a lot of times because of that.
Underlying reasons
What did I think was behind these opinions and perspectives? A lot of things.
Ignorance was one, but lack of understanding of what the evidence says doesn’t explain the emotional response, the degree of resistance that some colleagues have – there’s something else going on there. I think it’s better now but the response, “it doesn’t work for everyone” was like a refrain ten years ago.
I began to have to bite my lip when I heard it because it was such a common reply and I started to find it amusing. Paracetamol [Tylenol to American visitors] doesn’t work for everyone who has a headache, but we try it and see if it works, because it works for quite a lot of people. I don’t get the retort “it doesn’t work for everyone” when I talk about paracetamol. Paracetamol doesn’t get folk arguing or getting emotional.
I think part of it is feeling threatened by a process – recovery – that takes place out of the consulting room or clinic. It is non-professional, but instead of being a bad thing, this is actually perfectly healthy and the way it should be.
Most of us go into the caring professions to help people, but some of us are threatened at our core when our patients need less of our help than they once did. Those of us who are like this are not very likely to have insight to see it. I think that’s part of what’s going on in some people when mutual aid comes up. It disempowers the professional. [I think the author is absolutely right here – DC]
Then there are philosophical or ideological objections. People will argue endlessly about whether the 12-step programme is spiritual or religious. For some, one is as bad as the other! They prefer to turn a blind eye to the atheist and agnostic members of AA because they undermine the firmly held objections.
The bottom line is they don’t like it so they don’t think their clients should go. I’m sorry to say that there’s plenty of that around. [I agree -DC]
SMART Recovery might make a difference. Then there are plenty of recovery community things, other than mutual aid, around. It doesn’t have to be like that though. It shouldn’t be like that.
Getting better
In any case, the evidence is strong and getting stronger that mutual aid, recovery community resources and connecting to other people in recovery is right at the heart of long term, sustained, healthy recovery. Professional objections to mutual aid might be heard less often these days, but my gut feeling is that the problem has not gone away.
At the moment, groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous are exploding in our area. SMART is going from strength to strength. Recovery is visible on the street and in communities. That’s great!
I still wonder though how much effort professionals put in to getting clients along to mutual aid. I do think it’s better than it was, but I think it needs to get a whole lot better still.
As I say, mutual aid has an evidence base. It’s true that “It doesn’t work for everyone”, but it works for many and unless someone knows something I don’t, we don’t know who it will work for and who it won’t, so let’s give everyone a shot at it and get as many of our patients or clients connected as we can.’

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014 Focus: My harsh judgments and “failures” are really a human invention and not at all the way Higher Self sees it.

Violin
During the first few years of practicing forgiveness, I kept a journal in which there was a section for the messages and insights that came out of my self-forgiveness exercises.

Each time I reached the transpersonal point of view and forgave myself, I also taught myself something very important. I learned that I am way too hard on myself, and that my harsh judgments and “failures” are really a human invention and not at all the way my Higher Self sees me.

How does my Higher Self see me? How does yours see you? Our Higher Self sees us as perfect and whole, cherished children of the Universe, learning what we need to learn.

Excerpted from the article:
Falling Short: A Human’s Quest for Perfection
Written by Mary Hayes Grieco.

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RECOMMENDED BOOK OF THE DAY

unconditional FORGIVENESS
by Mary Hayes Grieco.

Mary Hayes Grieco offers a simple, effective eight-step program to discover forgiveness, or in other words, true freedom. The act of forgiveness is more than just letting go of old baggage—resentments, bitterness, and distrust — it’s about healing wounds and wiping away scars. It’s about physical and emotional well-being. It’s about living your life with purpose and truly moving forward.

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Drug and Alcohol Statisitics

Self Help Survival

Drug and Alcohol Statistics

Addiction-of-Illicit-Drugs-among-teens

Addiction Place is a site that provides personal stories and informational articles about addiction and self help resources.  Addiction has become an epidemic in the United States and in the world.  

The National Institute of Drug Abuse has reported that in October of 2014, there was a three time fold in the number of overdoses from the year 2011.  In October of 2014, it was also reported that in fatal automobile accidents, 1 out of 3 drivers were under the influence of some type of drug.  Abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs is costly to our Nation, exacting over $600 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and healthcare. 

These are staggering statistics that are continuing to rise with the number of new drugs being developed by the day and that are being imported to the country from different places in…

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Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 Focus: I have access to both my masculine and feminine nature.

Mom
Although we tend to compartmentalize our lives — this is work, this is family, this is entertainment — it doesn’t actually work that way. Everything we think and do and feel is interconnected, and what occurs in one realm of our lives affects all the others.

We all contain both masculine (yang) and feminine (yin) characteristics. Masculine qualities include such things as muscular strength, analytical and rational thinking, active, assertive, and aggressive energy, as well as self-reliance and independence. Feminine qualities include passivity/receptivity, softness, compassion, nurturing as well as intuitive thinking, cooperation, and responsiveness.

For people to be fully balanced, they must have access to both their masculine and feminine natures and be able to draw from both yin and yang energies.

Excerpted from the article:
Dancing Changes Everything
Written by Johanna Leseho, Ph.D.

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RECOMMENDED BOOK OF THE DAY

Dancing on the Earth: Women’s Stories of Healing and Dance
edited by Johanna Leseho PhD and Sandra McMaster MEd

The essays in this dynamic compilation are a testament to dance as a healing art. The women’s narratives all share a deep appreciation for the connection between mental, spiritual, and physical dimensions, offering dance as a transformative power of renewing and rebuilding that bond.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.
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