Thursday, 31 July 2008

Stimulation in Scotland

I have just returned from an enjoyable two days north of the border, in my favourite part of the UK. Yesterday morning, I had an excellent meeting with Joe Griffin, Head of the Drugs Policy Unit of the Scottish Government, and two of his colleagues. We talked a good deal about the Scottish drug strategy and their focus on recovery. It was a really refreshing discussion! 

Joe and his colleagues are fully aware of the big gap there is between having a strategy and implementing it - in a way that maximises chances of success as well. The Scottish Government has taken on a major challenge - a really exciting one - in breaking away from the standard approach that has been in operation in the UK in recent years. I was given quite a grilling about a variety of issues relevant to the recovery agenda and I was thrilled that I was being asked so many of the key questions. I was impressed. 
I then took a bus down to Melrose - an Abbey and a rugby ground, oh and some houses - which is in a lovely part of the country. A super bus trip. I had dinner with my daughter and her boyfriend, both who are doing a period of medical training at the local hospital.
I spent most of the next day at the LEAP project in Edinburgh. Good to catch up with David McCartney and his lead therapist Eddy Conroy, both who are great guys. I also met Annemarie Ward from the west coast of Scotland for the first time - we have emailed, phoned and skyped a great deal in the past months. I was really impressed by how easily the clients at LEAP all took to Annemarie - wish I had that charm. I chatted with a number of the aftercare clients and then attended a meeting with the treatment programme clients. It was all very moving, reminding me again how lucky I am to be working in this field. 
I ended up having a good chat with Eddy about the importance of community and related factors in recovery. It's always good to talk with someone so knowledgeable and passionate. 
Cannot wait to spend more time north of the border - and I have got a lot of food for thought. 
Have a good weekend all.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Wired In Tenpin Bowling

I had an excellent afternoon bowling with members of the Wired In team, including some of our volunteers. It was really pleasing to interact with members of the Cardiff community that Lucie and Kevin have been developing. 

The current Wired In bowling champion Mark Saunders was in fantastic spirits, although he had left his bowling skills at home. I continue to be amazed by Mark's progress since I first met him and he was truly buzzing today. He epitomises the Wired In positive spirit. 
Chris Hobbs came along with his partner Sian and their lovely little boy, Michael. I'm afraid Chris tends to twist his body and his balls regularly miss the pins - and the lane! Still, there is good room for improvement!! Sian was way ahead of Chris, but not up to the standards of the other ladies. Maybe they can both blame Michael. 
It was great to finally meet David Wright - we have emailed each a lot and spoken on the phone, but never gotten together. David was cheering wildly for our team - boy, did we need it! I really took to David and no doubt we will get together and have many long discussions.
Kevin Manley had all the power and some direction, but was not consistent enough. I feel so proud of what Kevin has achieved since he joined our team. He is a real inspiration to so many people in Cardiff and further afield.
I met Patrick M for the first time. He had a real sparkle in his eyes, particularly when he was striking out! He was close to winning the first game, but lost out to our University graduate volunteer Ross Asquith. I spoke to Ross's brother Lewis the other day - he is my personal trainer - and he says she is really hooked to working with our community. It's great to see.  
Lucie was Lucie - if you know her, you'll know what I mean. Her real joy - shared by us all - was three strikes in a row on her last three throws of the afternoon. Not enough to win though, as Ross won a second time.
Kerry Manley started with a run of strikes and spares - we thought she had been hiding her talents. Sadly, Kerry fizzled out as time went on. Maybe, she just wanted to give us a chance. It's lovely that Kerry finds time to come out with the team. She has been through so much during the 15 years of Kevin's addiction problems, so it is so nice seeing her in such good spirits now.
As for my bowling - I'll say no more, other than it was awful.
Congratulations to Ross! But don't think you are going to stay as Wired In champion. Competition will be much tougher next time. 
I felt so proud being with the Wired In Cardiff community today. It was so rewarding to see a bunch of happy faces, belonging to people who have been through so much.     

Monday, 28 July 2008

'Less division, more reform', rightly calls Mike Trace

I was very pleased to see Mike Trace’s erudite letter in Drink and Drugs News, ‘Less division, more reform’. Mike expressed a concern that much of the debate on abstinence and harm reduction he has been reading on the letters page of DDN has been based on the ‘‘either/or’ language of the 1980s’.

I would agree with Mike – in fact, I would go further and say that I have read and heard too much of this ‘black-white’ debate not just in DDN, but in other places, and for a long period of time. It has intensified recently with the greater interest being shown in recovery. However, as I have said in earlier blogs, an interest in recovery does not preclude an interest in methadone prescribing and harm reduction practices. They are not mutually exclusive!

As Mike points out, what is needed is a menu of services in each geographical area - encompassing outreach, harm reduction, and various forms of structured drug-free and prescribing-based treatments - that provide accessible and good quality care for drug users that is appropriate to their wants and needs.

‘The vision was that any drug user would be motivated and supported to change their behaviour in ways that suited their individual needs and circumstances, whether that be immediate life-saving or health protection measures, help to stabilise their use and behaviour, or help to make significant changes or cease their drug use, and reintegrate into family and community life.’

Mike points out, quite rightly that in the UK it ‘is far easier for drug users seeking treatment to access substitute prescribing services than it is for them to go into structured drug free programmes. This is not an appropriate situation where more than half of the target population are not primary opiate users, and most want eventually give up drugs. Furthermore, too many referral and placement decisions are being made on the basis of what is available, or the preferences of the assessing authority, rather than the needs and wishes of the user. This is what needs to change.’

I agree wholeheartedly with these sentiments.

Mike Trace then goes on to point out that these shortcomings should not be seen as failures – as I've said on many occasions, we cannot get it all right in one go – but as challenges for the future. 

However, he is concerned ‘that those who are responsible for managing the treatment system themselves fall into this ‘either/or’ mentality, or seek to defend the status quo. This is a surefireway of inviting increased disillusion from policy makers and the public about the vast amounts spent on our sector – disillusion that will eventually result in bad policy or serious disinvestment.’

Again, I agree wholeheartedly.

Mike ends with a call, which I for one support – ‘So please, lets expend less energy on dividing into camps and swapping arguments, and devote a bit more time to the reforms necessary to achieve an integrated treatment system that balances the best of all effective services.’

What do you think?

PS. Please excuse me for such liberal quotes, but why reinvent the wheel. Mike Trace has put over very well a view which we need to take seriously – please read his full letter in DDN.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

The National Drug Strategy: a guide for local partnerships

Another day of post-holiday catching up at Wired In, but at the end of day thought I better read something for this Blog. Turning to Daily Dose, I decided to tackle a document on Sara McGrail's Blog - with my jet-lagged brain.

Now, I knew the various elements involved in the implementation of the Drug Strategy are complicated, but after reading Sara and David MacKintosh's document, 'The National Drug Strategy: a guide for local partnerships', I realised that they are even more complicated than I had envisaged. I have to confess that I mightily glad that I am not involved in the process of delivering the drugs strategy at the commissioning level. Far too complicated for my brain!
It's bad enough thinking about being involved in that process - how on earth did anyone write about all the stuff involved? I am in admiration of what Sara and David have achieved with their document. Piecing all of that together in the way they have done involves a special brain (or two) - and they deserve a massive pat on the back.
So if you are involved in implementing the drug strategy in some way, it is important and worthwhile that you read this excellent document, so you can gain a better understanding of what is what - and all the nuts and bolts. Mind you, I cannot promise that your brain won't get fried like mine. I'm going to have to watch a mindless film now.
But well done Sara and David! 

Lifeline's Film Project

I spent all day yesterday catching up with Wired In things and planning for the future with Lucie, so there wasn’t a great chance for me to catch up with what has been happening in the wider field.

I did take the opportunity to look at the Lifeline Project film offering with Ian Wardle interviewing three professionals in the field - Dr David Best, Mike Ashton and Tim Leighton. I really enjoyed these film clips and I strongly recommend that you watch them. Well done, Ian, Maggie, and your interviewees! You certainly deserve to be the subject of my first post-Oz Blog!!

I was very interested in Ian’s selection of interviewees, because they are three of my favourite individuals in the field. They are leading the way in the quality of their research, thinking and writing – and they are not frightened to speak out and challenge others. This is so important in a field where there is so much spin, poor quality research, misleadings, amateurish efforts, poor level of understanding, top-down meddling, etc. 

By speaking out regularly, as they do, Ian’s three interviewees are helping protect the rights of people affected by substance use problems, helping ensure they get better treatment, and helping those practitioners who are trying to make a positive difference in the field.

Strangely, I have never met David Best, although this will soon change. I have been to so many places where people have said, ‘You and David Best must get together, you are so alike, in your passion, your caring and in what you are trying to do.’ I have to say I could see that passion full-on in the Lifeline film clips – and David also has a wicked gleam in his eyes. Well, David and have been doing a good bit of talking together recently and we will soon meet. We are also planning a research project with some other leading researchers, assuming we get the funding. Exciting times ahead!

The other two interviewees are the two most knowledgeable people I have met in the substance use field - the ‘fonts of all knowledge’. Mike Ashton, Editor of that great magazine (and website) Drug and Alcohol Findings, is also a member of the Wired In Advisory Board. I am often on the phone to ask Mike whether he knows of any research on so-and-so subject, or to get his opinion on such-and-such issue. He is such a thoughtful person (in both ways) and I really enjoy our discussions. I’ve changed some of my thinking following challenging discussions with Mike.

I’ve known Tim Leighton since I first became involved with the education programme at Clouds (now part of Action of Addiction). I played an external role in assessing the quality of the degree course they were setting up, and then acted as External Examiner for four years. During my periods of reading many exam scripts, Tim would bring in piles of new books and papers to see if I had read them. We would then get involved in wonderful discussions about a variety of topics before I would have to drag myself back to looking at the exam scripts. Tim recently came to my house for the afternoon for me to finish off some exam work and we spent some hours discussing recovery. We decided we must now have regular get-togethers to discuss key issues.

There are two other great things about these three guys. One is that we don’t always agree, and may even finish a discussion without agreement, but they always respect my opinion  (I think), as I do theirs. There is a humbleness about them. And secondly, these three guys have big hearts and they care passionately about the people who are affected by substance use problems. I’ve learnt in this field that there is a very good correlation between how well I get along with someone – and the size of their heart.

Please go watch these film clips. There’s some straight and important talking there.  

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Back from Australia

Have returned from holiday in West Australia, where I had a relaxing and very enjoyable time. I will resume normal blogging tomorrow. 

Meanwhile, I would like to thank Lucie James and Kevin Manley for maintaining my Blog whilst I was away. It's great to know that you can go away and leave your Blog in good hands.

I'd also like to thank all those who contributed to the 'What Recovery Means to Me' series run by Lucie on this Blog. I really enjoyed reading and watching the contributions by Patrick M, Brian White, Chris Ling, Kerry Manley, Sean Rendall, Chris G, Annemarie and Mark Saunders. If you haven't already, please take the opportunity to read and watch!

I am also very pleased with the continuing film work that Lucie, Kevin and Jon Kerr-Smith have posted on our You Tube channel. Kevin's piece of film that he created on the Mac I gave him to play around with is super. Well done Brian White and Kevin for the excellent 'Reflections on my journey into recovery'!

Monday, 21 July 2008

Benefit clampdown on heroin and crack users

I (Kevin) read with interest, yesterday's Daily Dose that highlighted the recent announcement of a benefits clampdown on heroin and crack addicts. It seems that the numbers of addicts in this country who are receiving benefits, could be as high as 300,000 people. 

While I like the idea of more people being offered treatment, I think being forced into said treatment is a totally different ball-game. In fact it could even cost the tax payer more than just keeping people in benefits. In my experience, when people are forced into doing something they either don't want to or are not ready for, than usually it tends to fail and what happens then?
But I think I need to backtrack a little. Firstly, I'd like to know what kind of treatment is going to be on offer? At the moment treatment just seems to consist of a substitute prescription - is that what this is? A scheme to get more people on methadone against their will? To subdue them, keep them quiet and then forget about them!
If people are going to be offered a complete range of treatment options, and ongoing aftercare for as long as they need it, then great bring it on. But call me cynical if you like, when I say this just isn't going to happen. I fear this is just another second rate response geared to raking in more votes. Labour knows that the next general election is lost, and is once again announcing measures it is not going to be able to follow up on. Empty promises once again!
I hope this isn't the case and that it is going to be worthwhile venture - but my gut tells me differently! I'd like to know what the Daily Dose readers think of this announcement - please email me or leave your comments on the blog for everybody to see.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Opioid substitution treatment in jail - A practical guide

Whilst Dave makes the most of his few remaining days in paradise, I (Kevin) thought I would discuss a topic I read with interest on yesterdays Daily Dose -

The guide, recently published by BIS-Verlag with the support from WHO and UNODC, aims at providing a reference document supporting prison doctors, prison health care workers, prison administration, NGOs and others in delivering or supporting substitution treatment to opioid dependent prisoners [Connections]

Well, what a step forward! I'd like to talk a little bit about my experiences of substitution treatment in prison. Before I entered jail in early 2003 I was being prescribed a mixture of drugs by my GP. I was on 50ml of methadone, 12x30ml dihydrocodiene and 60ml valium, everyday. On top of this I had recently started to use heroin again.

On entering Parc prison in Bridgend, I applied to see the Doctor. This took around 10 days to happen, during which time I was a right mess! When I got to the medical centre I told the Doctor that I was a heroin addict and had been receiving treatment from my GP. He told me there wasn't anything he could do for me. A bit shocked, I explained what my GP had prescribed me and asked for his help. He laughed in my face. At the time I figured he thought I was lying so I said that he could check it out with my GP. With that he held up a blank piece of A4 and said 'medical report'. He then put it in the shredder!

With that the prison officer took me back to the cell I was living in and that was that. I was ill for the next 2-3 months, suffering a couple of blackouts and the worst detox I have ever gone through. I could not believe it! Does the Hippocratic oath mean nothing?! That was my experience of prison opioid substitution treatment.

Yes of course a practical guide for prison Doctors, nurses etc is a good thing. The guide itself (what I've read of it - well it is quite long!) is coming from the right direction and has solid advice in it. But all of that is for nothing, if the prison Doctor doesn't want to follow it. The guide will just go in the shredder!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

What Recovery Means To Me - Patrick M

Today is the last day of the ‘What Recovery Means To Me’ series. First off I would like to sincerely thank all those who have participated and had the courage to share their views with others. The strength of character that you all show amazes me, and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to learn from you.

To conclude the series we will hear from Patrick M about ‘What Recovery Means To Me’. Patrick has been a Wired In volunteer for about seven months and has taught me a lot about the role of positive thinking – I marvel at his positive outlook on life, and how he tackles his problems head on and with a smile on his face! You can learn more about Patrick, and our other volunteers, in the Our Community blogspot.

Monday, 14 July 2008

What Recovery Means To Me - Brian White

Last summer Wired In went to a drugs project in Swansea to do some filming with their clients. At the end of the day, just as we were packing up, we got chatting to a guy named Brian White. Not long into the chat I realised that Brian had a very powerful story to tell. The camera got switched on and an impromptu conversation was filmed!

Whenever Wired In does filming we always try our hardest to find those who were involved to show them their edited footage. Normally this is a relatively easy task. But not with Brian! I spent over six months trying to track down Brian – asking at local homeless hostels, drug agencies and even every Big Issue seller I came across! Brian’s film work had really impacted upon me –the footage was very raw and emotional. To be honest, I was quite worried about what had happened to Brian due to the chaotic nature of his life at the time.

Then, at the start of 2008, I bumped into Brian on a treatment program in Cardiff. But, I barely recognised him. Not only was he looking much healthier, there seemed to be a peacefulness about him. He seemed very comfortable with himself. Watching through his footage together was quite emotional for us both! Brian had come so far, and I think the footage helped him to realise exactly how much he had changed.

Since that day we have worked very closely with Brian and it has been an absolute pleasure to see the many changes in him. Brian wanted to share his views on ‘What Recovery Means To Me’ although he did reiterate that to him recovery is quite simple – he now has a life.

Last week we also did some filming with Brian – almost an update on his life and how things have changed. I’m sure you too will see the differences in Brian between the filmed series ‘Life as a Heroin Addict’, and his recent work, ‘Reflection of my journey into recovery’.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

What Recovery Means To Me - Chris Ling

Everyone has a different approach to life, and the same can be said about people’s approaches to recovery. The recovery journey of Wired In volunteer Chris Ling is an approach that I will never forget.

Chris has literally taken life by the horns since entering treatment for alcohol addiction ten months ago. I meet Chris on a weekly basis, and rarely a week goes by where he hasn’t completed a course or applied for voluntary work that will help him achieve his dream of working in the substance misuse field. His caring nature and passion for helping others is lovely to see, and I am sure he will be an asset to this field.

The positive outlook that Chris has towards life and his future is truly inspiring – although I have no idea where he gets his energy from! Chris jumped at the chance to share his views on recovery, and we decided to have a go at filming our discussion. Please take a look at Chris’s views on ‘What Recovery Means To Me’.

You can learn more about Chris Ling and his journey through addiction and recovery in Our Community. Feel free to share your comments and experiences with us.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

What Recovery Means To Me - Kerry Manley

When addiction strikes a loved one, the consequences are often severe for the rest of the family. They have to watch as someone they love changes into something they can hardly recognise. Feelings of helplessness, worry, even anger for what the rest of the family is going through, are the norm.

Kerry Manley first decided to get involved with Wired In after her son, Kevin, became a volunteer with us. That was over two years ago now, and we have had the pleasure of watching Kerry and Kevin rebuild their lives and their relationship.

Kerry volunteers with Wired In as she wants to help other family members understand more about addiction. But most importantly she wants to give others hope that addiction can be overcome and life can go on. Kerry has filmed her personal story with us, in conjunction with Kevin, and has also done other filmed and written projects with us. For more information about Kerry, and her experiences of addiction and recovery, please visit Our Community.

When you meet Kerry, you instantly realise what a gentle, loving person she is. It is also evident that what she went through with her son impacted on her greatly. Here she talks about a happier topic, that of ‘What Recovery Means To Me’. Feel free to comment and share your experiences and views with us.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

What Recovery Means To Me - Sean Rendall

Last week I was sent an attachment that I felt was spot-on for helping people to understand addiction and recovery. It was an Addiction Tree, sent to me by Sean Rendell. This simple, yet powerful illustration shows the many components that need to be understood and/or dealt with for addiction to be overcome.

The Addiction Tree illustrates how much help and support people need when addressing their substance use. It can be easy to just focus on the substance use itself, but there are so many other areas and components that need to be dealt with. To me, this emphasises the need for readily available long-term, diverse and intensive help and support – and not just for those lucky few!

Alongside sending me the Addiction Tree, Sean also sent me his views on ‘What Recovery Means To Me’. Again, I have been blown away and humbled by such an honest and inspirational account. I hope you enjoy Sean’s article, and please share your views and experiences.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

What Recovery Means To Me - Chris G

Ten months ago I received an email from a guy called Chris G. He was asking if he could write something to be published on Daily Dose – he wanted to thank his key worker for all her hard work in helping him to stop using cocaine. Although we were unable to do that (for fear of being inundated by others!), Chris became a much valued Wired In volunteer.

I have worked very closely with Chris over the last ten months, albeit from a distance as he lives in Luton. It has been a pleasure getting to know Chris over this period, seeing the many changes he has made and watching him grow as a person. There have been many ups and downs in his recovery, but he has battled through and learnt to deal with what life has thrown at him. He has been an inspiration to me and many others.

When I mentioned to Chris about the ‘What Recovery Means To Me’ series he jumped at the chance to share his view of recovery. Within the hour he had sent me his article - ready and waiting! I hope that you enjoy reading Chris’s views on recovery – please comment or share with us your views.

You can learn more about Chris G in the Our Community blogspot, where some of his other work is displayed. His personal story is soon to be completed so watch this space!

Monday, 7 July 2008

What Recovery Means To Me - Annemarie

When I first left university I thought I knew it all! I’d done the addictions module (courtesy of the Prof) and I thought I had a good grasp on what addiction was and how it affected people. How wrong could I be!

Through Wired In I have worked closely with a number of people with substance misuse problems. I have been fortunate in that I have also worked closely with a lot of people in recovery. I appreciate that not all workers in this field get this opportunity – which is one of the main reasons for running the ‘What Recovery Means To Me’ series.

I think that it is so important that people working in this field get a better understanding of long-term recovery, so that they can help their clients find their path to recovery, and support them in the long-term. There is no quick fix solution to addiction, but with a better understanding we can help people achieve a stable, happy and fulfilling life in recovery.

After three years of working for Wired In I still find that every day is full of new surprises. There’s always something new to learn. The Wired In volunteers have been a fountain of knowledge to me. I could sit there for hours listening to their views and experiences of addiction and recovery. They are all such caring, talented and enthusiastic people, who desperately want to help others realise that recovery from addiction is possible.

Today we will hear from Anne Marie as she shares with us ‘What Recovery Means To Me’. Please feel free to comment or share your own opinions or experiences.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

What Recovery Means To Me - Mark Saunders

Whilst Dave is away sunning himself in Northern Australia, he has relinquished control of his blog to Kevin and I (Lucie). We thought long and hard about what we could do (and the possible consequences of some of those actions!) and finally decided that we would do a series of blogs entitled ‘What Recovery Means To Me’.

Over the next week and a half we are going to talk to a number of people who are in recovery, and provide a platform from which they can share their views and experiences with you. We strongly encourage others to post comments on these blogs, and share with us what recovery means to you – the good, the bad and the ugly!

We hope that this blog series will encourage discussion and debate about what recovery means, and how the experiences of people in recovery can be used to help others find their path to recovery.

The ‘What Recovery Means To Me’ series will kick off with the views of Wired In volunteer, Mark Saunders. Once you have read Marks views on recovery please take some time to look around his filmed and written work in Our Community.

P.S. The latest Wired In film footage has been launched, this week focusing on people's views on waiting lists for treatment.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

The Coming Revolution: But First, Holiday Time for DC

'Recovery is 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.' William L White, 'Addiction recovery: Its definition and conceptual boundaries' in Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 33: 229-241, 2007.

It has been an interesting, but sometimes frustrating, past few years working in this field. It has been rewarding, but sometimes annoying. Pleasurable, but often tiring. Challenging, no doubt.
There needs to be a revolution in the drug and alcohol treatment field, in the UK and further afield. A revolution that will markedly increase the number of people who find their path to recovery. One that will help professionals, recovering addicts, family members and many others become much better at helping others find recovery from addiction. 
I know that Wired In can help instigate the major changes in the field that will see so many more people find their path to recovery. We can facilitate that revolution and maintain its momentum in a wide variety of ways.
However, I also know that what we are trying to do is a massive challenge, particularly as Wired In is a small team with minimal funding. I know that it will draw upon much of my and other peoples' energies to create and maintain the necessary changes. We need people to join up and help us - which is already occurring - and we must attract significant funding.
I know that the vision my colleagues and I have is attainable. The Recovery Movement will impact significantly. It will gain momentum, reach a tipping point and flourish in our communities. However, I also know that it will be a long and often hard journey, with many pitfalls ahead in the coming years. Have no illusions, the changes needed in society will take a long time to achieve - so we need to start now! 
One of the significant obstacles to be faced is summed up by William L White: "... the greatest obstacle may well turn out to be the tendency for treatment professionals to declare they are already "recovery-oriented" or to mask treatment as usual behind a new recovery-focused rhetoric.' This is already happening in the UK. So it will be important to continually promote the true recovery cause. 
If you are committed to seeing the changes I have been proposing over the past two months in my Blog, please contact us at If you want to help in any way, let us know. Remember, we are trying to develop an initial network of people who are committed to the recovery agenda. And we want to hear your recovery stories.
If you want to read more about recovery from addiction, then please take a look at my Background Briefings from Drink and Drugs News, beginning with the 'Helping People Towards Recovery' article and continuing through the articles above on this Blog. Also look at the extensive literature of William L White.  
I'm on holiday in Perth, West Australia, my old home town. It has been so good to renew old acquaintances, relationships - 40 years on from when I left as a youngster. And now I am building new friendships, relationships and networks ... that will also facilitate the Wired In agenda, to help people overcome substance use problems.
But for now, I am focusing on my holiday within a holiday, starting tomorrow. I am flying to Broome, in the North West of Australia. Sun, sea, rest and peace.
So I am handing the Blog over to Lucie and Kevin...
Byeee and see you soon. David.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Wired In Recovery Community, South Wales

It gives me such a pleasure working in this field, in particular working with people who have overcome or are trying to overcome serious substance use problems. Many of these people had life problems before they started to use substances – in fact, substances were often used to help them forget about or deal with these problems. They have often shown tremendous courage in their recovery efforts and in finding their path to recovery.

I am thrilled that Lucie James and Kevin Manley are developing a new Recovery Community in South Wales, members of which introduced themselves on a new Wired In Blog on Monday. Their individual pages contain personal introductions, Personal Stories and various other pieces of material. Some of these eight people have appeared in the Wired In film material.

Please take the opportunity to look through these Community Blogs. There is a lot of material that you will find of interest and may want to pass on to others. For example, treatment agency workers can readily print off the Personal Stories for their clients. The members of our community are very excited about the prospect of their writings helping people with substance use problems, and facilitating the education of practitioners working in the field.

Please note that these Blogs will move to our new web community site ( when it is developed over the summer. We’ll be encouraging other people to engage in a wider community, via a personal web page we will provide that operates within our new content management system. Exciting stuff!    

Another lovely day in Perth, sunny and 20 degrees. I lunched with an old school mate Clyde Bevan, who not only runs one of West Australia’s best eating places but is also Chair of the State Lottery Commission. You can guess what we talked about for some of the time – substance use problems in the UK and WA.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Reaching Out to Those People Who Wish to Support the Recovery Movement

It’s a beautiful winter day outside, without a cloud in the sky, and I want to head off into Perth to enjoy the day and meet up with a close school friend. However, I just wanted to prepare something for the Blog I’ve been meaning to say for a little while now.

When Lucie, Kevin and I were in the North West of England two weeks ago, someone described to a colleague that Wired In was leading a new Recovery Movement in the UK. I pointed out to them that this was not strictly the case. 

Wired In is facilitating the growth of a new Recovery Movement in the UK (and beyond), a movement that has no leader or national headquarters. We are helping individuals and organisations who support recovery and recovery advocacy to recognise the existence of each other and come together as a collective ‘we’.

This Recovery Movement aims to facilitate the development of a culture of recovery in the drug and alcohol addictions field. This culture of recovery will facilitate the efforts of individuals and families to overcome problems caused by substance use. It will also improve the way that organisations, communities and the nation as a whole help people find their personal path to recovery from addiction. 

In facilitating the growth of a new Recovery Movement, it is important to learn from others who have undertaken a similar journey. William L White and colleagues have developed a New Recovery Movement in America.  The history of this Movement, key underlying principals, and many other facets, are described in the seminal writings of Bill White.

There is little point in the UK drug and alcohol field reinventing the wheel when we have such excellent guidance as a starting point. Of course, we will end up taking different journeys in developing the recovery culture due to cultural differences between the UK and America. In the years to come, it will be interesting to compare the historical development of the recovery in both countries.

At this stage of our development, Wired In is trying to reach out and bring together people in recovery, and organisations and individuals who are helping people find recovery, in order to facilitate growth of the Recovery Movement. Therefore, please pass on details of our Blogs to anyone who you feel might be interested.

Wired In is also passing on the message that there are a multitude of different pathways that people have used to find their recovery from addiction. We want to provide hope to those affected by serious substance use problems, and show the diversity of recovery solutions, by providing living role models. We are therefore looking for people who are recovering or are in recovery, to write about their experiences and views so that they can be published on our website and/or Blogs. If you would like to do this, or discuss the matter, please contact us at

Now, it is time for me to head out into the sun and remind myself of the beauty of the city of Perth. This weekend I head up to Broome in the North West of Australia to catch the sun for 10 days. And a much needed rest. 

PS. Have gotten back 'home' from the city since writing this and it really was a lovely day.