Sunday, 1 June 2008

Wired In Reflections, Part 1

Having developed WIRED eight years ago – as a way of empowering people to tackle substance use problems - it was with a tinge of regret that we changed our name to ‘Wired In’ at the beginning of April. This change was considered a necessity, given the well-branded WIRED magazine in the States.

At the same time, we were very excited about our new identity and commitment to recovery. We have always believed that ‘wiring in’ people (both from within and beyond the field) was an integral part of our grassroots initiative. We incorporated the word ‘recovery’ into our logo, because we had not previously made explicit our organisation’s commitment to helping people understand and be able to find recovery.

We also believe that the field itself does not focus enough on recovery, and that the vast majority of practitioners do not really understand the concept. This is probably the single most important reason why the field is not being as successful as it could be in helping people overcome substance use problems.

In the past, we have emphasised the grassroots nature of WIRED and the importance of our ‘bottom-up’ approach to producing enduring success in tackling substance use problems. We have also emphasised the importance of empowering people to tackle substance use problems.

Each of these elements - the grassroots approach, empowerment, giving the people a voice, and helping other organisations achieve their aims – all help define what Wired In actually is and what it represents. But something was missing.

Since changing our identity, the final piece of the puzzle has clicked into place. It is the simple fact that we are a Recovery Movement. Our major underlying aim is to help people find their path to recovery.     

Wired In aims to provide people affected by substance use problems with the information and tools they need to best help them overcome their problems using: (a) their own personal psychological resources; (b) the support and help of loved ones and friends; and (c) community-based treatment and support services.

We also aim to provide practitioners with education, training and information that facilitates their work in helping people find recovery. The voice of the people affected by substance use problems will form a key element of our approach.

So what is recovery? In my Background Briefings on recovery last year, I included a definition from William L White which we find particularly useful and pertinent.

Recovery is defined as, “the experience (a process and a sustained status) through which individuals, families, and communities impacted by severe alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems utilize internal and external resources to voluntarily resolve these problems, heal the wounds inflicted by AOD-related problems, actively manage their continued vulnerability to such problems, and develop a healthy, productive, and meaningful life.”

One important point to emphasise here is that this focus on recovery is part of an important new trend in the US, a moving away from focusing on the problem (addiction) to focusing on the solution (recovery). There is a greater recognition of needing to look at how millions of people have found recovery, and developing principles and practices based on these lived solutions.

In starting and driving our Recovery Movement forward, we believe it essential that Wired In has a Charter, a set of ten values and principles that help define how we think and act (see www.wiredin.org.uk).

For example, Point 2 states, “Wired In is founded upon Trust: we are independent, objective and honest. Wired In is about being creative, and having the courage to challenge.”

We have also drawn up an underlying philosophy that provides clarity and helps steer the Wired In course of action in this field. A series of statements which reflect this philosophy will be presented tomorrow.

Today, check out the introduction to our new film material on YouTube, which is the first part of a series focusing on 'Life as a heroin addict'.

6 comments:

tim1leg said...

Recovery is defined as, “the experience (a process and a sustained status) through which individuals, families, and communities impacted by severe alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems utilise internal and external resources to voluntarily resolve these problems, heal the wounds inflicted by AOD-related problems, actively manage their continued vulnerability to such problems, and develop a healthy, productive, and meaningful life.”
It was a pity the Scottish execs statement in the new strat was a bit woolly and not the clear open statement above. Why do people in this field insist on reinventing the wheel, especially wheels that haven't worked in the past. Whites work and understanding of both recovery and the suffering of addiction is unparalled, there are a many trying to build a clear path to the road of recovery, but few who even know how to point in the right direction. I for one believe Wiredin can change that under Whites Guidance.

brendan georgeson said...

could I suggest a better name for the film might be 'Life as a Heroin Addict in Recovery'.

David Clark said...

Thanks for this suggestion Brendan. I'll pass on to Lucie and Kevin.

Anonymous said...

I read with great interest another excellent article relating to the harm reduction v abstinence as a point of 'recovery' for individuals afflicted with aod excesses.

Interest for me is both personal and professional

Living sober, I still consider myself in a fortunate state of recovery maintained one day at a time since December 1981.

Professionally, my life's mission is geared towards helping others' who still suffer, and need strong support to maintain positive life fulfilling changes.

Now, it is with increasing dismay my head continues to 'spin' as the rhetoric of recovery gathers momentum.

As a fully qualified (self funded) professional I struggled to gain paid employment in the field which has become my life.

Yet I believe I am very effective and competent, as the rcipient of much adulation and gratitude for the efficacy of my counselling - especially since all of my work has been in an unpaid voluntary capacity!

With the phenomenal sums of investment 'spinning' around the pages of of wired & other media sources to support 'recovery' I have been unable to see back - up in the form of high intensity therapist employment opportunities.

The question I would appreciate an answer to is -How can someone like myself with all of the qualifications, experience etc. gain access to the 'system'?

So far, many affiliated health professionals in both primary & secondary care are only happy to have this help as a free resource leaving this particular 'helper' feeling increasingly devalued, despondent, and confused.

Who are the recovery experts, required to initiate the task (of assisting recovery)with the aod dependants and their families?

Which section of the professional field will be targeted to implement recovery procedures?

How do we create the practical bridges required to match individuals in need of the recovery help.

'White' proposes excellent communications/liasions with community based groups which is all very well & good.

I would love to think that some of the funding will come to me in the form of payment for my services! to our society and communities?

tim1leg said...

anonoymous Hi, you ask some really good questions there, can i just say in answer to the comments "With the phenomenal sums of investment 'spinning' around the pages of of wired & other media sources to support 'recovery' I have been unable to see back - up in the form of high intensity therapist employment opportunities"
AS far as Im aware Wired are on a shoe string and looking for funding constantly, as are many services in our field, which is part of the problem and one of the reasons your experience will be taken gladly for free.

I know because Im guilty of offering my own skills way under their market place value and like you at times for free because, the desperate need for help is overwhelming and we cant turn our back.

This is just one of the many issues that will have to be adressed if we are to see a growing recovery movement. Also in my experiance your skills and qualifications mixed with your history may well scare the shit out of service managers or fellow workers for obvious reasons.
As for your question "Who are the recovery experts, required to initiate the task (of assisting recovery)with the aod dependants and their families?

Im wondering this also especially in Scotland, is it going to be the guys and girls who are currently working in the SYSTEM but now they will have a different box to tick and some new rhetoric to spout about. Time will tell.
Who know perhaps my granny was right and we will be paid well in heaven ,,, lol.

David Clark said...

Hi Anonymous,
Sorry I have not got back earlier. Like you, I have been unpaid for what I do for some years now. I guess we both must be strong enough to charge for our services.
I'm afraid there is no phenomenal sum of investment around Wired In. I have been paying my own personal money (many tens of thousands) to keep WIred In going over past two years - as well as giving my time for free. I am not well off, in fact my funding has come from my early retirement money.I now need to find money for my team - and myself.
There is no rhetoric in what i do, I am committed to tackling some of the problems you outline.