Monday, 2 June 2008

Wired In Reflections, Part 2

At Wired In, we have drawn up a series of statements forming an underlying ‘philosophy’ that provides clarity and helps us steer our course of action in this field. We believe that the statements are not just important for Wired In, but for the field as a whole. We ask you to consider them and let us know what you think. I’m sure we’ve missed key points.

  1. Wired In considers substance use problems and addiction as a heath/social issue (which they are), rather than a criminal justice issue as the current treatment system does.
  1. Wired In focuses on ‘drug, the person and their social context’ rather than on the drug itself, as the current system does. Unless the implications of the former interaction on addiction and recovery are understood, we have no hope in tackling substance use problems.
  1. We do not just focus on the physical aspects of addiction, but also on the culture of addiction and how it impacts on the individual. We cannot help people overcome serious substance use problems without understanding how to move people from the culture of addiction to the culture of recovery.
  1. Wired In focuses on ‘behavioural change’ rather than the ‘drug’. There seems to be a lack of realisation amongst many in the field that the key to recovery from addiction involves understanding behavioural change, rather than telling people about drugs. People with substance use problems already know about drugs!   
  1. Substance use problems rarely occur in isolation, but are often one part of a much larger cluster of problems (containing, for example, emotional and/or social problems). This means that we must provide access to a range of integrated services that target a broader range of life functioning. To do this effectively, individuals in these other services need a better awareness and understanding of substance use, the associated problems, and how these can be overcome.
  1. Since addiction is a chronic disorder caused and complicated by a variety of psychological, social and biological factors, we need to understand that treatment can be complex and protracted. The current system has been developed for an acute disorder – it needs changing to be able to tackle the chronic nature of addiction.
  1. Wired In is concerned with a wide range of substance use problems arising from use of various illicit drugs (e.g. opiates, stimulants, sedatives, cannabis), prescription drugs and alcohol, rather than primarily focusing on Class A drugs (heroin, crack cocaine). Substance use problems occur on a continuum of severity. We are committed to providing information and support for people experiencing all levels of substance use problem, not just those with the most serious needs.
  1. Wired In focuses on recovery, not on treatment – treatment is too often considered an end in its own right, whereas it is only one way of helping a person overcome their addiction. Recovery sustainability is rarely achieved in the short span of time that treatment agencies are involved in peoples’ lives.
  1. We recognise that treatment is very important, particularly for people with serious problems and low recovery capital (internal and external resources that can be used to help find recovery). However, treatment must be part of wider programme of recovery support.
  1. We believe that recovery comes from within the person, it should not be imposed on someone by a practitioner. The practitioner must understand that their role is to act as a guide and facilitator in helping a person utilise a self-change process. They must show warmth and empathy, and have a deep understanding of what it takes to help someone move from the culture of addiction to the culture of recovery.
  1. We believe that people should be informed on an ongoing basis of the range of options that are available to help them overcome their problems (and be able to access these options), rather than just be offered a substitute prescribing option that can result in a switch from one addiction to another, as commonly occurs in the UK treatment system today. The system today can be viewed as containing the problem, rather than tackling the problem.
  1. Wired In aims to empower people to tackle their own substance use problems and those of their loved ones. The average human being has a great deal of resilience and many people are capable of using their own resources if taught well and provided with the right sort of support (including empathy and understanding). This support may involve helping people deal with a variety of other life problems, to ‘free up’ their personal psychological processes so that they can focus on finding recovery.
  1. To help people overcome substance use problems, Wired In uses key principles that are known to underlie successful therapeutic interventions, e.g. believe it can be done; information is key; enhance motivation; goal-setting; use support networks; learn relapse prevention; giving up substances must feel good.
  1. We are committed to developing communities of recovery (internet- and real-world-based) that provide hope and opportunity, and enable people to help others find their path to recovery. These communities of recovery will carry a powerful voice of people who have been affected by substance use problems.
  1. Commissioners and other people involved in developing policy about substance misuse treatment must have a deep understanding of what it takes to help someone move from the culture of addiction to the culture of recovery.
  1. Wired In is committed to reducing prejudice and the stigmatisation of substance users, ex-users and families in society. A key element of recovery is the substance user being accepted as ‘normal’ by a so-called ‘normal society’.

1 comment:

tim1leg said...

Proff I fully support your series of statements here ,I am writing a little upset today after being reminded of a young man who used to live on my street, so excuse me if im not as coherent as usual.

I know from experience that you can solve your drug problem and whilst yes no longer be at risk of criminal behaviours and certain health complications my and many others experience is that you may still not be any closer to an effective productive satisfying life.

In my own case I worked and functioned throughout my active addiction and externally there was very little anyone looking in could point to being defective.

In the case of a long term clean now friend however it was very obvious to anyone who cared to look to see that his drug use was evident in every area of his life.

What we both have in common though is that in order to stay clean and recovered we had to find out what the problems underneath were/are not living your life effectively, not living it with truth.

The problem for us as our clean time lengthens is not the drugs.

We have various differing opinions of the various debates within the field from criminalisation, harm reduction legalisation, medicalisation ad infinitum but we agree and most in recovery would agree Im sure that even if you could legalize drugs, even if you find chemical ways of neutralizing the effects of drugs, the end result will be the same, the root problem will still be there, and the person who has that problem will suffer in a variety of different ways.

If it's not drug addiction, if it's not incarceration, it'll be family dysfunction or abuse or other issues. These are all manifestations of a deeper problem, just as drug addiction or alcoholism is a manifestation of a deeper problem.

It's that deeper problem that has to be treated when the user rids her/his body of poisons and finally gets clean.

I would also like to ask readers to consider that most addicts have had to endure the absurdities of various attitudes whilst using and when trying to sustain their recovery, these deeper problems that are a result of addiction have to be addressed.

Anyone who has been shamed and punished for addiction needs understanding and support. Very Simple but not easy to provide in our field.

Could I just make the point yet again that the situation with illegal drugs is crazy, as opposed to alcohol or prescription drugs, in making users subject to the law and for all those guys and girls in Scotland and across the world who are in and out of prisons because they stole in order to maintain their addiction? If the money was spent on projects like the one in Edinburgh like LEAP as opposed to keeping addicts in jail where in somewhere like LEAP addicts are taught to come to terms with what’s going on in their head and heart as a former client (Claire) I think her name was, recently so eloquently spoke about here on the Scottish news.

We are all aware this would be a massive saving in tax payers money because On the recovery journey they will be up against many obstacles that may not be in the public consciousness e.g. "Try getting a student loan, a job, or sympathetic in-laws after serving time in prison,"

If I lived in a society where heroin use was not a crime but a health problem and where it was cheaply available, then addicts wouldn’t have to steal, wouldn't have to go to prison over and over, and they might not have to take their own life after a 3 week period of abstinence (with no support and completely alone believing he was somehow to blame and a moral degenerate) like a young man in my neighbourhood just recently aged only 19.