News About Addiction, Recovery and Advocacy

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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.

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)

The devastating effects of addiction on physical/emotional health and social functioning have been meticulously catalogued, but far less attention has been given to its toll on character and the role character reconstruction plays in the recovery process. A recent rereading of David Brook’s The Road to Character has spurred this reflection on character and addiction recovery.

The Idaho Association of Recovery Community Centers (IARCC) is a consortium of nine recovery centers providing a broad spectrum of recovery support services across the state’s 44 counties (37 of which are rural or frontier). Each center operates with 1.5 staff and a larger volunteer workforce (more than 23,000 volunteer hours across the centers in the past year) with an average $140,000 operating budget. Funding of the centers comes from state grants and private local donations.

An early criticism of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was that its program of recovery was drawn primarily from the collective experiences of white men and thus unsuitable for people of color. Such declarations have since been challenged by surveys within communities of color indicating AA as one of the preferred choices for people seeking help with alcohol problems, recent surveys of AA membership revealing significant (11-15%) representation of non-White ethnic minorities, and studies of treatment linkage to AA indicating that people of color are as likely, or more likely, than Whites to participate in AA following professional treatment. Also of note are the growth of AA meetings within communities of color and the cultural adaptation of AA’s Twelve Step program within these communities. What has until recently been lacking is a definitive history of the racial and ethnic diversification of AA, including first-hand accounts of how the first non-White men and women experienced AA and attracted increasing numbers of people of color to AA’s program of alcoholism recovery. Glenn C.’s just-published Heroes of Early Black AA marks a major step in filling this void.

Addiction counseling has become an increasingly professional and pristine affair, and service relationships reflect a more detached process than in years gone by. And yet one worries about the loss of something precious in our current fixation on the technical mastery of evidence-based counseling practices. We would suggest that this endangered precious quality is captured in a word rarely if ever written in the professional counseling journals or spoken in addiction counselor training programs. The word is LOVE.

Missing in the media coverage of the unrelenting legions of drug overdose deaths in the United States is an equally important but less heralded story. What subsequently happens to people who experience a drug overdose but are successfully rescued through emergency medical intervention? What is their fate after they leave the hospital or other emergency care setting? New grassroots recovery community organizations (RCOs) are collaborating with first responders and hospitals to influence such outcomes.

We have covered a lot of territory within the more than 50 communications we have shared in 2017. From concerns about troubling directions in national drug policy to the prevalence, pathways, styles, and stages of personal/family recovery; we have taken time each week to explore critical issues related to addiction recovery.

The purpose of this study is to gather information about the experiences of family members, with a view to informing the education, prevention and treatment of gambling related harm.

Knowledge about the effects of addiction on families and the family recovery process has grown exponentially as a result of scientific studies and cumulative clinical experience. Among the most important conclusions to date that can be drawn from this body of knowledge are the following.

1. Alcohol and other drug (AOD) problems spring from diverse influences; unfold in widely varying patterns of severity, complexity, and duration; and are resolved through multiple pathways and styles of personal and family recovery.