Blog

Recovery: Children, Adolescents, Transition Age Youth, and Families

Considerable efforts are underway at federal, state, and local levels to extend acute and palliative care models of addiction treatment to models of assertive and sustained recovery management (RM) nested within larger recovery orientated systems of care (ROSC). As that work proceeds, a critical question has emerged about the application of RM and ROSC to the design, delivery, and evaluation of services for children, adolescents, transition age youth, and families (CATAYF).

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With Justice and Liberty for…

The FIRST STEP Act was recently passed and was signed by the President. This was historical.  Federal passage of the FIRST STEP Act provides action on criminal justice reform. Ultimately, the FIRST STEP Act is one step in the right direction for reducing mass incarceration in the United States. The Second Chance Act reauthorization was recently included in the FIRST STEP Act. The changes will reduce incarceration for a number of lesser offenses, many involving drugs.

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Reflections on Long-Term Recovery

Addiction recovery is far more than the removal of drugs from an otherwise unchanged life. Recent definitions of recovery transcend radical changes in the person-drug relationship and encompass enhanced global health and social functioning. The authors have carried on a decades-long interest in what has been christened full recovery or amplified recovery—a state of enhanced quality of life and personal character in long-term recovery. We each know individuals we believe have achieved such status and have asked ourselves what unique characteristics distinguish such persons. Here are some of our initial reflections on this question, offered here as an expression of gratitude to such people who have enriched our own lives.      

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Radical Hope and Recovery Initiation

Radical hope—a radiant vision of new possibilities in the face of personal or collective devastation—is the catalytic ingredient at the heart of personal transformations and successful social movements. Such hope has been spread contagiously by charismatic figures like Handsome Lake, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Cesar Chavez, to name a few. Radical hope, at a personal level, allows one to rise from the ashes of addiction-related collapse and step into an unknown recovery future.

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Stages and Styles of Addiction Recovery

I have been closely observing the addiction recovery process for half a century. I have been struck by two extremes: people whose fragile recovery is forever frozen at a primitive stage of development, and people who go through metamorphic changes that transform their character, values, and the quality of their interpersonal relationships. In the former, drug use has ceased or radically decelerated in frequency, intensity, and consequences, but this change remains nested within the same self-centeredness, resentfulness, dishonesty, and intolerance that often characterizes active addiction. This former pattern has been referred to as the “dry drunk” syndrome. In the latter style, the radically altered person-drug relationship is accompanied by dramatic enhancements in global health and functioning, as well as changes in character and identity—changes AA co-founder Bill Wilson characterized as “emotional sobriety.”

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Believe It Or Not: Strange Tales From The History of Addiction Treatmentrom The History of Addiction Treatment

Efforts by professionals to “treat” alcoholism and other addictions have a long and colorful history. Alcoholics have been forced to drink their own urine and forced to drink wine in which an eel had been suffocated. They have been surreptitiously dosed with everything from mole blood to sparrow dung and subjected to the “Swedish treatment” in which everything they consumed and even their clothes and bedding were saturated with whiskey. They have been prescribed dietary treatments that included the apple, salt, grape, banana, onion, and watermelon cures. They have been fed gold, iron, and bark to quell their appetite for alcohol.

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Recovery of Social Networks: Changing the “I” Story to “We” Story

Technologies to promote recovery have targeted the individual with only token interest in interventions in larger social networks. Three provocative discoveries challenge this limited focus:  1) An individual’s prognosis for addiction recovery is profoundly influenced by the family and social environment—a point now widely acknowledged but rarely reflected in the clinical treatment of substance use disorders, 2) the resolution of alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems is often a product of social contagion–multiple people within an extended social network simultaneously initiating and maintaining recovery, and 3) the greater the density of recovery carriers within a social milieu, the greater the likelihood other addicted members within that  milieu will initiate recovery.

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Recovery Checkup

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) recently released Standards of Care: For the Addiction Specialist Physician.  The Standards outline the responsibilities of addiction medicine specialists in the areas of assessment and diagnosis, withdrawal management, treatment planning, treatment management, care transitions and care coordination, and continuing care management.  There is one sentence in the Standards that deserves particular acknowledgement:  “Recovery check-ups by addiction specialist physicians, just as those by primary care physicians or other providers, may promote sustained recovery and prevent relapse” (p. 13).

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Stigma Reduction Through Contact Strategies

Stigma Reduction Through Contact Strategies
Justice Ginsburg’s observation offers observed testimony to the power of contact strategies—public disclosure of personal stories by individuals who share a concealable stigma for purposes of changing social attitudes and social policies.

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