Sunday, 3 August 2008

Watch Mike Ashton talking about addiction and recovery

I recently watched some film clips of Mike Ashton, a leading researcher taking part in the Lifeline film series, which re-emphasised to me the unjust way that society treats people with a drug problem. And helps exacerbate the drug problem. I can strongly recommend a quick look at Mike's film clips.
In society today, we have a climate that works against people overcoming drug use problems. We stigmatise people with a drug problem, in particular those who use heroin. We criminalise users and make it more difficult for them to find social support, housing and a job. We make it more difficult for them to access treatment by placing the treatment system within the criminal justice system - many users feel they will be stigmatised by accessing this system. The leader of the National Treatment Agency even tells problematic drug users that the only reason the government is interested in helping them is because heroin users are a threat to society because of the crime they commit.
People with a drug problem are often told that they have a chronic relapsing condition (addiction) and given little hope that they can overcome their problem. The social capital that they require to help them on the path to recovery has often been stripped away - as a society we contribute to this stripping away, and do not help alleviate the situation as much as we could.
People with drug and alcohol problems need to help themselves in finding their path to recovery. However, it is very much easier for them to do this when they have the understanding and support of people close to them and in the wider community.

1 comment:

Peter O'Loughlin said...

The fact that addiction is a chronic and irreversible condition, does not equate to the preposterous suggestion that there is ‘little hope of recovery’. In my opinion anyone who posits such a ridiculous notion is, either totally stupid, or completely contemptuous and ignorant of the resilience of human beings to recover; or perhaps both.

We know that recovery is a viable proposition; we also know it does not happen overnight, or in any arbitrary period of time. We know it can take anything from a week to several years for people to move from the ‘contemplation’ stage to the ‘preparation’ stage. We also know that people ‘cycle’ back and forth between those stages, sometimes for extended periods, before they move on to the ‘action’ stage and that even then, relapse is beckoning. None of those precludes recovery.

The barriers to recovery are to be found treatment strategies which in defiance of empirical and universal evidence, are confined to a subjective period of time. They can also, sadly, be found in treatment protocols where again the scientific evidence, which clearly shows, that the ongoing use of addictive substances, serve only to increase the severity of the addiction, rather than ameliorate it, is ignored, rubbished, or sacrificed, with a complete disregard for the mental, physical and spiritual well being of the addict.

I suggest that it is no coincidence that it is the ‘practitioners’ and proponents of both who are inclined to disregard the wishes and aspirations of their clients.

The latter combined with limited time and ongoing use ‘treatments’ are what makes recovery difficult, if not impossible. Since both dominate our current treatment strategies, it is a miracle that so many actually survive them and eventually find their own road to recovery.