RecoveryBlog

RecoveryBlog - A BLOG FOR RECOVERY ADVOCATES!

Our recovery advocacy blog is produced by individuals in recovery!  Here you will find commentary and personal discussions on different aspects of addiction recovery and advocacy. 

 

Imagine seeking assistance from a health care facility and being told that you have a progressively debilitating and potentially fatal medical disorder (one widely recognized in the research community as a brain disease), but then discovering that no physician or other medical personnel will be involved in the assessment, diagnosis, acute treatment, or continued monitoring of your condition. Imagine that the vast majority of organizations specializing in treatment of your condition have no affiliation with a hospital or other primary healthcare facility. Imagine the existence of FDA-approved medications specifically for treatment of your condition, but that you will not be informed about nor have access to these medications as part of your prescribed treatment. These are precisely the circumstances encountered today by the majority of people entering addiction treatment in the U.S.

Between blogs, there has been period of thinking and searching for an idea or a prompt for a subject of interest or at least one worthy of attention. This time it came from reading about the annual world convention of Oxford House August 2017, in Washington, D.C. I first became aware of Oxford house early in my tenure as board chair of Faces and Voices of Recovery. Oxford House™ was born in 1975 when thirteen men living in a county-run halfway house that was closing needed a safe living place to continue their recovery. It has continually focused on providing opportunity for long-term recovery. From it’s beginning, Oxford House™ has drawn on three legacies inherent in American history: individual liberty, participatory democracy, and entrepreneurial freedom. This focus has paid off. Today, there is a national network of 2,200 Oxford Houses (17,490 beds) with continued expansion and recovery outcomes second to none. Sober living is essential but recovery living for the long term is the goal. We are pleased to have several Oxford Houses on the front range of the Rockies. Available are housing, help, hope—and healing.

Proverbs are the daughters of experience. (Rwandan proverb)

Knowledge that can be brought to bear on the recovery experience can be drawn from diverse cultural traditions. Such knowledge is often conveyed as metaphors, slogans, or proverbs. Below are a few examples drawn from the traditional wisdom of Africa. Where available, its origins within Africa are noted.

“Disruptive innovation, a term coined by Clayton Christensen, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

The worlds of addiction treatment and recovery mutual aid are on the brink of being radically disrupted and transformed. New recovery support institutions and bold innovations in how, when, and where recovery supports are delivered will pose unprecedented threats and opportunities for established players within the treatment and mutual aid arenas.

“Disruptive innovation, a term coined by Clayton Christensen, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

The worlds of addiction treatment and recovery mutual aid are on the brink of being radically disrupted and transformed. New recovery support institutions and bold innovations in how, when, and where recovery supports are delivered will pose unprecedented threats and opportunities for established players within the treatment and mutual aid arenas.

If you have spent any significant time in the worlds of addiction treatment and recovery, you have witnessed couples who survived everything addiction inflicted on their relationship only to have that relationship disintegrate during the recovery process. What is going on here?

Recovery from addiction can answer long-proffered prayers, but, without transitional support, recovery can also threaten the stability and future of intimate and family relationships. That provocative conclusion, drawn from the original research of Drs. Stephanie Brown and Virginia Lewis, has profound implications for the design and delivery of addiction treatment and recovery support services. A long-term perspective on intimate relationships is critical to the provision of family-focused addiction recovery support services, as is awareness that missteps in the provision of such support can undermine relationship viability.

While our nation’s transportation infrastructure is in need of repair, upgrade, and expansion, deaths from transportation-related accidents continue to be dwarfed by addiction and drug overdose. Sound roads and bridges are one key facet of American safety and wellbeing. Just as roads and bridges transport us from one location to another, a strong public health infrastructure serves as the framework to transport those suffering from active addiction to a place of safety and recovery.

A founding group met in St Paul in 2001, and during the construction and building of our campaign to show the faces and give voice to the millions in the recovery community. We determined that our primary messages would be delivered though the power of our stories. We were committed to examine many roads to recovery. I am of an age to remember dual-lane highways and not much infrastructure. Now there are multi-lane highways, with lots of choices for the journey of recovery.

One of the existential turning points within the recovery experience is marked by the diminishment of backward sense making (What happened to me?) and the increased urgency regarding one’s post-sobriety future (Okay, what do I do now?). All manner of emotions feed this transition: release, relief, gratitude, unworthiness (survival guilt), remorse (guilt over past transgressions), a gnawing sense of emptiness, and, not uncommonly, a passion to help others similarly afflicted. Many forces coalesce to push people out of addiction, but finding a higher purpose in one’s life is a potentially powerful pull force within the process of long-term recovery. For many, that purpose is found in service to others.

The understanding of addiction as a brain disease has been a central organizing principle within the research agendas of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Promotion of the brain disease paradigm stirred controversies over its scientific legitimacy and contentions and counter-contentions over its effects on addiction-related stigma, but it exerted unquestioned influence on public and professional conceptions of addiction and approaches to the treatment of addiction in the United States. Interesting variations in the conceptualization of addiction as a brain disease occurred contemporaneously in other countries. The challenge across cultural contexts has been to integrate recent research on the neurobiology of addiction to create more dynamic biopsychosocial models of treatment and recovery support.

One of the most innovative examples of such integration can be found within the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Congress 60 recovery community. Encompassing more than 57,000 active members across 58 branches in Iran, Congress 60 combines a medication-assisted transition into recovery with an extensive menu of psychosocial supports. The rationale for medication support and the unique scheme of such support (the DST method) has been outlined by Congress 60 Founder Hossein Dezhakam in what he christened the X Theory.

A.A. is so decentralized that in a very real sense, there really is no such single entity as “Alcoholics Anonymous”—only A.A. members and local A.A. groups that reflect a broad and ever increasing variety of A.A. experience. To suggest that Alcoholics Anonymous represents a “one size fits all approach” to alcoholism recovery, as some critics are prone to do, ignores the actual rich diversity of A.A. experience in local A.A. groups and the diverse cultural, religious, and political contexts in which A.A. is flourishing internationally. (Kurtz & White, 2015)