BLOG & NEW POSTINGS December 14, 2013 -Bill White- PERSONAL FAILURE OR SYSTEM FAILURE?

In my writings to people seeking recovery from addiction, I have advocated a stance of total personal responsibility: Recovery by any means necessary under any circumstances. That position does not alleviate the accountabilities of addiction treatment as a system of care. Each year, more than 13,000 specialized addiction treatment programs in the United States serve between 1.8 and 2.3 million individuals, many of whom are seeking help under external duress. Those who are the source of such pressure are, as they see it, giving the individual a chance–with potentially grave consequences hanging in the balance.
Accepting the mantra that “Treatment Works,” families, varied treatment referral sources and the treatment industry itself believe that responsibility for any resumption of alcohol and other drug use following service completion rests on the shoulders of the individual and not with the treatment program. This is unique in the annals of medicine. With other medical disorders, continuation or worsening of symptoms is viewed as an indication that the initial treatment is not effective for this particular patient and that changes in the treatment protocol are needed. In contrast, when symptoms continue or worsen following addiction treatment, it is the patient who is blamed and often punished. The stance is, “You had your change and you blew it! You must now suffer the consequences of your actions.” And those consequences are often quite dire, including divorce, loss of children, loss of housing or educational opportunities, termination of employment, discharge from the military under less than honorable conditions, loss of professional licenses, loss of driving privileges, and incarceration, to name just a few. Such punishments are often meted out with an air of righteous indignation in the belief that the person for whom we have done so much has failed this chance we have given them. The question I am raising in this blog is: Was it really a chance?
Put simply, we are routinely placing individuals with high problem severity, complexity and chronicity in treatment modalities whose low intensity and short duration of service offer little realistic hope for successful post-treatment recovery maintenance. By using terms like “graduation” and ending the service relationship following such brief clinical interventions, we convey to patients, to families and to all other interested parties at “discharge” from treatment that recovery is now self-sustainable without continued professional support. And this is true just often enough (but often attributable to factors unrelated to the treatment) that this expectation is maintained for all those treated. For those with the most severe problems and the least recovery capital, I believe this expectation is not a chance, but a set-up for failure with potentially greater consequences than might have naturally accrued.
What we know from primary medicine is that ineffective treatments (via placebo effects) or an inadequate dose of a potentially effective treatment (e.g., as in antibiotic treatment of bacterial infections) may temporarily suppress symptoms. Such treatments create the illusion of resumed health, but these brief symptom respites are often followed by the return of illness–often in a more severe and intractable form. This same principle operates within addiction treatment and recovery support services. Flawed service designs may temporarily suppress symptoms while leaving the primary disorder intact and primed for reactivation. But now the treated individual has three added burdens that further erode recovery capital. First, there is the self-perceived experience of failure and the increased passivity, hopelessness, helplessness, and dependency that flow from it. Second, there are the perceived failure and disgust from others and its accompanying loss of recovery support–losses often accompanied by greater enmeshment in cultures of addiction. Finally, there are the very real other consequences of “failed treatment,” such as incarceration or job loss that inhibit future recovery initiation, community re-integration and quality of life.
The personal and social costs of ineffective treatment are immense. If we as a society and as a profession want to truly give people with severe and complex addictions “a chance,” then we have a responsibility to provide systems of care and continued support that speed and facilitate recovery initiation, buttress ongoing recovery maintenance, enhance quality of personal and family life in long-term recovery, and provide the community space (physical, psychological, social and spiritual) where recovery and sustained health can flourish. Anything less is a set-up for failure.
As addiction professionals, we should always be mindful of the power we wield and its potential effects on people’s lives. That power comes from our professional decisions and actions, but it also flows from the treatment designs within which we operate. If we are going to participate in giving people a chance, then we need to make sure it is a real chance and not a set-up for what is ultimately more a system failure than a personal failure. Self-inventory, inventory disclosure and making amends have been among the essential steps of recovery within AA, NA and other 12-Step groups. Perhaps it is time for leaders of addiction treatment to conduct a similar series of steps. Perhaps addiction treatment as a system of care is itself in need of a recovery process.

Post Date December 14, 2013 by Bill White

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Friday, March 1st, 2013 Focus: I am training my mind to be at peace.

If the only time, the only way that we could meditate was when it was perfectly quiet and our body was perfectly comfortable to begin with, we would rarely manage to meditate. And what use would it be to us anyway?

So do what you can. Choose a conducive environment and adopt a conducive posture.

But then accept what you are unable to change or alter, and transform any challenges into something that actually supports you as you train your mind to be at peace with what is.

Excerpted from the article:
Developing Meditation Muscles: From Light Weight to Super
by Ian Gawler and Paul Bedson.

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Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 Focus: When people are bugging me, I ask myself, ‘What can I do that will help them?’

Our natural expression is Love. Any other expression we find ourselves in is just a warp of our true identity.

One of the great things I learned from Tibetan Buddhism is that we pursue enlightenment not for ourselves, but so we can help others wake up, help others move beyond their suffering and difficulty. This value is quite different than what we have here in our culture where we think mostly in terms of ‘I’m better than you are’ or ‘I’m going to be enlightened before you are.’

There’s a great, great Buddhist practice of praying that others will wake up before you do. Boy! Does this ever change your relationship with the people who are bugging you! You begin to ask, ‘What can I do that will help them?’ It’s a very powerful meditation.

Excerpted from the article:   
No One Is An Island: We Are Companions, Not Competitors  —  by Margaret Wolff.

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013 Focus: I choose to make exercise a “play break” that can be a highlight of my day.

We are physical animals, and daily exercise is essential to our health. In previous generations people’s days were filled with physical activity, but today we must find ways to fit movement into our lives. Our parents and grandparents needed to walk regularly and perform many other physical tasks to get through their days. But now we sit on our bottoms most of the time, and our main exercise is pushing buttons.

You can pick from a wide array of options: dancing, walking, swimming, skating, martial arts, cycling, tennis, yoga, to name a few. As the yogis say, “Follow your bliss.” Because exercise does more than just boost your physical health — it can enhance your mental and spiritual health as well.

The best way to achieve the full spectrum of “body and soul healing” accessible through movement is to approach this powerful therapy with the excitement and pleasure we knew in childhood, running outside on a beautiful day to play with friends. Instead of a dreaded “workout,” exercise then becomes a much anticipated “play break” that can be a highlight of your day.

Excerpted from the article:
Healing Moves: An Ideal Self-Care Strategy
by Carol Krucoff and Mitchell Krucoff, M.D.

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Sunday, February 3rd, 2013 Focus: Nothing in my mind or in my dreams is real.

Observe how the thoughts, beliefs, and stories, just like the feelings and emotions they trigger, are ever-changing, appearing and disappearing, but you are the awareness that is always present, always here. So, breathe and be the clear, unchanging awareness you are . . .

When you do this practice enough, you eventually realize that what you are is simply clear, radiant, present-time awareness itself. When you are no longer identifying so much with the contents of your mind — with thoughts, beliefs, and stories — you are freer of emotional stress and reactivity, and you experience more ease and harmony.

However, in order to pass through the final door to awakening or inner freedom, you have to use this practice to face everything in yourself, including all your demons. You have to face fear itself. If you truly face it and stay with it long enough, you’ll discover it isn’t real. Nothing in your mind or in your dreams is real. Only what is timeless, changeless, and always here is real.

Excerpted from the article:
A Dog Named Love & A Dog Named Fear: Which Are You Feeding?  —  by Jim Dreaver.

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Monday, December 3rd, 2012 Focus: I practice slowing down and being more present.

– Practice slowing down and being more present: Allow the light of your conscious presence into your daily activities.

– Take a few deep breaths, noticing the four parts of breath: in breath, pause, out breath, pause.

– Imagine an open flow of clear communication and light down through the energy center at the top of your head (crown chakra). Feel the whole body brighten and lighten. Ask the universe to guide you to whatever you need to know.

Excerpted from the article:
Illuminating the Illusions: Practicing Attention & Intention  —  by Roy Holman.

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Forward today’s Daily to a friend! Share the blessings 🙂

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Healing Self, Healing Earth: Awakening Presence, Power, and Passionby Roy Holman.

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HolmanA comprehensive, yet practical and easy to read guide to being human. Learn how to be present, care for the body, overcome adversity, and be your authentic, powerful, and passionate self. Includes Native and indigenous wisdom regarding 2012 Earth changes and how to prepare oneself, while helping heal the Earth.

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