Friday, 28 March 2008

Well done Scotland!

I was really pleased to see in yesterday's Daily Dose the article, 'Recovery will be key in new drugs strategy'. Fergus Ewing and all his colleagues in the Scottish Government, and beyond, need a pat on the back for moving their strategy in this direction. Let us hope the momentum is maintained and there is serious action. Implementation  of the strategy must be based on a full understanding of what recovery is.

It's going to take time to educate and train people to understand recovery and how we can move people from the culture of addiction to the culture of recovery. Wired In is committed to educating, training and informing people about recovery, and in supporting recovery communities. 
We must prevent people getting bogged down in the issue of 'abstinence vs. harm reduction'. So many people who do not understand recovery want to reduce things to a simplistic black and white. This must stop. Pushing the recovery agenda does NOT mean attacking harm reduction or harm minimisation  - unless the person intends that to be the case.
WIRED has been committed to recovery and empowering people to find their path to recovery from our first development. We have made this clear with our new identity, Wired In, and logo. Kevin Manley has started the first of our Recovery Blogs and you can also read his story. My Drink and Drugs News Background Briefings on recovery can be found at:
Enjoy the reads. It's been an excellent week.


Steve Rolles said...

I agree with your comment on prevention/abstinence and harm reduction being compatible, and the polarisation of that debate being counterproductive. The head of the UNODC agrees too (as reported on the Transform blog today);

"The concept of harm reduction is often made into an unnecessarily controversial issue as if there were a contradiction between (i) prevention and treatment on one hand and (ii) reducing the adverse health and social consequences of drug use on the other hand. This is a false dichotomy. These policies are complementary."

Kev said...
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Kev said...
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Kev said...

You are right, recovery isn't simple and there are many pieces that need to be in exactly the right place for recovery to be sustained. The problem is that different people need different pieces in different places! By listening to those with addictions, we will gain an informative insight into these complex issue's.

Let's listen-belief is the key.

Anonymous said...

It is most encouraging that at long last, the concept of recovery is receiving the attention it deserves. I totally agree with David that a considerable amount of training and re-training, together with some fundament changes in attitude, is going to be necessary, if the stated intention to focus on recovery is to become fact, rather than stated intention.

Whilst declining to enter into fruitless discussions revolving around ideological differences between those who advocated harm reduction methods, and those who advocate abstinence as the most effective means of harm prevention, it has always been a source of puzzlement to me that notwithstanding the various surveys which indicate that most of those addicted, would like to be drug free, the treatment protocols in the UK, have according to the EMCDDA, focused mainly on harm reduction, rather than recovery. The success of these protocols, as measured against the stated aims and objectives of the UK drug treatment policy, is subjective.

Much of the more acrimonious disputes between those who advocate harm reduction and those who consider that abstinence is essential to recovery, can be traced to the fundamental differences of opinion as to what addiction is. Harm reduction enthusiasts, hypothesise that addiction is a ‘learned experience’, and that as suchit can be
'unlearnt', therefore abstinence is not necessary. Those who advocate abstinence, consider that addiction is a three dimensional mental, physical and spiritual disorder.

I freely 'confess' to being a ‘fully paid up member of the latter’. I also acknowledge that the ‘learn, unlearnt’ theory, has always baffled me; I accept that as part of our culture we learn, for a variety of reasons, to use alcohol. I accept too, that drunkenness in some cultures such as the Native American, is a learned experience, I also accept that experimentation with other drugs of addiction occurs, for a variety of reasons.

What I have difficulty in accepting, is that the established, and documented changes, such as the progressive loss of control, characteristic of addiction, which science has shown us, take place in multiple regions of the brain, can be viewed as a ‘learned experience’, and therefore can be ‘unlearnt’. It is even more difficult to accept that hypothesis, when science informs us many of these changes are irreversible and that the continuing use of drugs of addiction, will increase the severity of addiction, to the extent, that the free will of the addicted is eroded. That being the case, I exercise my ‘human right’of entitlement to 'free speech', when i express my view that it is an oxymoron, to argue that abstinence is not necessary to recovery.

In expressing that opinion, my hope is not that others will agree with me, but that I can exercise my ‘human right’ of free speech, to express my opinion, without being subjected to the yobbish behaviour, of being ridiculed, subjected to abusive language, having my comments distorted, or taken out of context; labelled as a prohibitionist, moraliser or ‘abstentionist’; (a word recently invented by some of the more enthusiastic advocates of harm reduction) together with ill advised attempts to discredit me, by unwarranted and inaccurate public allegations of misrepresentation.

When, and if that day comes, we will be able to come together in understanding that whilst harm reduction and abstinence are two sides of the same coin, recovery is an ongoing and unpredictable journey, which to be successfully undertaken, requires considerable changes in one’s outlook and attitude to life.

As Carl Jung advised Bill ‘W’, the cofounder of AA.

‘Science has no answer to this problem; psychotherapy alone is useless. What is required is a spiritual experience’.