Friday, 2 October 2009

Recovery History

For too long, the majority of people affected by alcohol and other drug problems have been absent from the public policy debate. Well, last night we certainly were not absent to the public of Liverpool.
All the hard work done by Jackie and Co will not have been wasted, regardless of who did not turn up, disappointing as this is. This celebratory event will continue to grow each year whether the historically dominant providers and regulatory bodies support it or not. Jac and I will continue to be inspired by the people we work with every day and the writings of historian William White.
The march was a culmination of months of work and years of a slow burning growing advocacy force among individuals in long-term recovery from addiction, their families, friends and allies. This force is now burning brightly and strongly here in the UK.
What I witnessed last night was an historic event that celebrated and honoured recovery in all its diversity, inspired by our recovery cousins in the States.
So what is recovery? What are we celebrating? Well, how about this for trying to explain?
I phone Carl Edwards, an acquaintance I know who is in recovery, who I have met briefly on a couple of occasions. Because I know he is in recovery, I know I can pick up the phone and ask him about accommodation in his city, as he very kindly paid for me to stay in a lovely hotel when I was invited to take part in a filmed debate regarding the state of current treatment provision (hope to see it soon).
So anyway, I have probably had about 10 mins conversation with Carl face to face over the years, but because we know that each other are living by a certain set of principles I know its ok to give him a ring and ask for advice about where to stay. Actually, I was hoping he had a deal with the nice hotel as I didn’t know anyone well enough in Liverpool to go stay with.
So after a 5 minute conversation with Carl I have another two 2-minute phone calls from Ellen. Not only do I have a free room in Park View, I also have my very own personal angel (Ellen) who I had also met briefly for about 5 mins at the debate, to come collect me at Lime Street station.
When I got off the train, there she was smiling brightly with open arms as if we were long lost friends (which indeed we are now). Ellen, full of enthusiasm and compassion, chatted animatedly, between bursting in to song (that she writes herself) and skipping along the streets of Liverpool.
She takes me to meet a load of other women in recovery for coffee. They embraced me whole heartedly and reassured me they were there to support me later on during my speech.
The coffee shop share up. Carol about 3 years clean and in considerable pain with letting go. Save me the biggest hug and strong words of encouragement.
Nicky (7 days), who sat quietly obviously in pain too, while we all chatted about the deepest and most painful experiences we have had, before, during our addiction and in our recovery. Nicky said, “She was taking it all in.“
Kim (still in active addiction) who the girls knew from meetings past and was passing the coffee shop before I took her hostage for about an hour to join us in our wee share up with each other. All the time my phone was buzzing with text messages from many friends and acquaintances around the UK wishing me well for the March that night.
Now remember, none of these girls know me, or I know them, from Adam and yet we are sharing with each other on a level of intimacy that I suppose others would only envy or run terrified from.
This freedom we have where we know that our experience will help others leaves us with no regrets and for some of us, even grateful that we have experienced the pain for this very reason.
Elllen then took me home to Park View where a kind gentle man who I still have not met, made my bed and room comfortable for me. Ellen has promised to thank him for me.
We shared a tuna sandwich, got our lipstick on and headed up to Genie in the Gutter to meet some others in recovery to walk to the march together. All of them fired up and again hugging me like they have always known me (which in a sense they have).
Arriving at City hall where about 600 people gathered to start the march. I again got many hugs and words of reassurance from acquaintances that embrace me like a long lost pal.
I also had the pleasure of putting faces to many cyber friends and bloggers from Wired In, again from all over the UK. Our very own Michela, Julie and Matthew from Uchoosit and James from BAC O’Conner and the coach loads he brought with him. (I hope I did them proud).
Listening to Simon speak and knowing I am not alone and others don’t have to be, listening to the wee girl sing and watch her papa cry as her daddy passed away on New Years day from this illness.
Seeing Jac keep the police and everyone up to date and inspire her raucous caucus recovery chorus to sing. Taking a moment to look out to the hundreds of faces and marvel that we are recovered, free and productive again in our communities, making ripples in those communities every day and soaking up history right there!
I hope from the wee speeches (mine was too long, sorry) we were all able to inspire and foster others to become part of the growing recovery advocacy movement here in the UK.
At the end of the speeches, Jac’s wee boy handed over the baton to me to take to Scotland for 2010 and I can confirm that I will be handing it to Simon Jenkins too take with him to London for the 2011 March.
All I have to do now is organise 2010 which I will blog about soon.
We had a great event. Everyone was so excited to know that recovery was being celebrated. We all believed that the Liverpool March was about those of us in recovery coming together and encouraging each other to organize and speak out to end stigma and discrimination.
To learn from one another and discuss ways to build stronger events, attract media attention and build advocacy into our day to day activities.
Now that is all well and good and even fantastic, but the best part of all was meeting Ellen. She’s the type of woman who has just got it! You know in recovery!! !
She had the gift of desperation and from that gift has a depth of understanding for human frailties, a love and compassion from her heart, that sings with gentleness and depth to soothe even the most troubled …. And that thing I identify with (not recognising her value to those she touches).
I’m just thinking all those things that Ellen is will annoy some. Make some scared, make some devious and want to harm her but you know what…..
Ellen is in real recovery because she sees that and feels only sad that they have not yet quite got it. But she knows it’s there, available to all of us and she has great hope that she can be a part of passing it on……

Icompotence beyond belief

I was embarrassed to read tonight that on the 22 September 2009 in the Scotsman newspaper it was stated that the number of drug addicts being treated in residential clinics is at its lowest since the SNP came to power. This is diabolical and unacceptable but…
(Here is the embarrassing bit)
”… the Scottish Government said there was no evidence that residential programmes work better than community-based treatment.”
Here is why it’s so embarrassing
The Drug Outcome Research in Scotland study, the largest evaluation of drug abuse treatment services ever undertaken in Scotland, by Professor Neil McKeganey (Glasgow Uni), jointly funded by the Robertson Trust and the Scottish Government, found that those drug users receiving residential rehabilitation were four times more likely to become drug-free than those treated in the community.
If I was this numptie’s boss, I would be very worried about letting them speak on behalf of the Scottish Government and would be seriously considering if they were fit for the purpose of their job, especially as this research was funded by the Scottish Government itself.
This level of incompetence and lack of knowledge of I presume civil servants does not breed confidence – not that I had much to start with – but this really is very basic and very very embarrassing!
By the way, does anyone know where the phrase or the origin of ‘your arse from your elbow’ comes from?

Monday, 1 June 2009

The road to recovery one year on still not good enough

A call for ACTION on Recovery in Scotland
So one year on after the launch of the new drug strategy the Government have:
“Announced that we are setting up new body, called the Scottish Drugs Recovery Consortium, to be a key driver for Recovery and drug misuse. It will meet the commitment in The drugs strategy to set up a drugs recovery network. The Consortium will advocate, catalyse and lobby for recovery to be the mainstay of drug services. It will also provide a public face to liaise with policy makers and the media and tackle the stigma that people who are in recovery too often face.”
Whilst I welcome this new body, why did it take a year for its announcement and how long before they become operational? And what if any power/influence will they have exactly?
I read the new report “The Road to Recovery: One year on” with mixed feelings. My overall impression is one year on and still not anywhere near good enough.
I feel those involved are missing the central most important point to the new strategy. The central message is not that “addiction is a disease” and the debate on the language of recovery or recovered etc, or that “treatment works”, but rather that…
Permanent recovery from drug-related problems is not only possible, but a reality in the lives of thousands of individuals and families here in Scotland already.
Also, I still find myself and others being caught in the debate over whether the roots of addiction lie in the medical arena (a problem of susceptibility) or the moral arena (a problem of culpability), and it keeps many lost in circular and unhelpful arguments when already we have real solutions to addiction…
… the evidence of which is in the transformed lives of recovering and recovered people across Scotland today.
For me, demonstrated solutions to alcohol and drug problems will do more to reduce the stigma attached to these conditions than will endless debates about the source of such problems.
The new strategy should be clear that its focus is not about finding the source or nature of addiction, nor on the solutions that science may provide tomorrow. Instead, the focus is on the solutions that are possible at this moment, if resources can be mobilised to effectuate them.
The debate I would really like to have is more about current resources being spent well on recovery focused integrated systems, instead of being spent on what we still have on the ground which is still very harm reduction focused. I have seen little about this debate and I see little change in this particular direction taking place any time soon. Or soon enough for me anyway.
I did not read in this document about the progress of people who we are supposed to be helping to recover. I also did not read anything about ’1. Building strong, grassroots organizations that develop recovery leaders, offer opportunities for recovering people to express their collective voice and provide a forum for community service.’
Nor anything about advocating for meaningful representation and voices for people in recovery and their family members on issues that affect their lives.
Certainly nothing about or related to the adequacy and quality of local treatment and recovery support services. I certainly did not read enough about educating the public, policymakers and service providers about the prevalence and pathways of addiction recovery.
I didn’t see any plans to be celebrating recovery from addiction through public events that offer living testimony of the transformative power of recovery.
And finally although there was some, I did not see enough support for research that illuminates effective strategies and the processes of long-term recovery.
One of the most powerful ways the Scottish Government and leaders in the field of addiction here in Scotland could effect change would be by putting out a call for help and guidance to the already existing recovering community who have achieved recovery from addiction and are passing as ‘civilians’ within the larger culture.
As Bill White said, “It is time we came out of hiding; it is time we announced our presence; it is time that our collective silence was broken.”
I’m not expecting that all or even a majority of persons will go public with their recovery story, but that a sufficient number will choose to do so and that this choice will widen the doorway of entry to recovery for those who are still suffering.
This does not mean a simple brochure or pamphlet that only those in the field will be likely to come in to contact with. This would have to be a general public call to all of Scotland, perhaps dare I say a whole population approach!
Drug/Alcohol misuse in Scotland is not an Issue, it is THE ISSUE. Remember the Audit Scotland report released a few months ago. It’s costing the country in excess of £5 billion. Is there any other issue in our country costing us more than this financially, never mind mentally, spiritually or emotionally?
If we did have a whole population approach to a call for recovered people to come forward, what would such a campaign achieve.
Well, for starters it would make clear that instead of always portraying alcoholism and addictions as problems, we could highlight that there are viable and varied recovery solutions. In doing this, they would be providing living role models that illustrate the diversity of those recovery solutions…
… and in doing so, countering any public attempt to dehumanize, objectify and demonize those with problems.
It would also highlight and advocate the variety, availability, and quality of local/regional treatment and recovery support services, good and bad.
For me, the Scottish government need to help recovery forums organise (like what’s happening in the NW of England at local and regional levels). We must build these forums within local recovering communities while building connecting tissue and forging an inclusive identity across these communities.
Given the diversity of local groups, both in terms of their membership, composition and their primary foci, the Scottish government/ the new Recovery commission/network/consortium must be able to embrace groups with widely varying philosophies and agendas.
The Recovery agenda/strategy must be, above all, grounded in recovery values: honesty, simplicity, humility, gratitude, and service. I am certain that these values are not current practice in the leadership of our field here in Scotland today.
I was pleased to see that there is to be investment in research, as the question of “How do we get persons suffering from alcohol and other drug problems into treatment?” needs to be reframed to the question of ”How do we get them into recovery?” The answers to these two questions are not necessarily the same.
The future of the recovery agenda does not hinge solely on recent or future scientific data on the etiology of AOD problems/addictions. It hinges on the emergence of a science of recovery extracted from the lives of those who have achieved such recovery. This is one area of research that has to be heavily invested in and I welcome the start of this.
I have to remind myself social change is like personal change, in that it involves the twin challenges of initiating change and then sustaining that change over time. Social change, like personal recovery, requires a maintenance program in order to avoid regression and relapse.
During my own recovery, it has been interesting to watch those people who came to their recovery path after me, whose own transformation spans years of false starts and regressions, get involved in advocacating for better services and watch them like me become impatient and angry at the slow pace of change in our communities.
I have to remind myself that conversion experiences are rarer for communities than they are for individuals. Social change often involves the same slow stages of change that so often mark the process of Personal recovery.
Finally, again I will leave you and me with a Bill White Warning:
“Carefully heed the adage ‘He who pays the piper picks the tune’; find your own voice and sing only your own song. Be aware of seeking funding from any source that changes, no matter how subtly, your thinking, your vocabulary, your mission, or your methods.
Find a way to use money temperately to achieve your mission; money has no value and becomes destructive when it takes your “eyes off the prize.” If you evolve into funded treatment agencies, you will have failed by professional absorption.”
Finally finally, I will repeat… Yes, I am impatient and yes, we/the government have made a start but no, it is still not good enough, one year on!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Gilts Slump as Demand at U.K. 40-Year Bond Auction Falls Short March 25 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. government bonds slumped, extending three days of losses, after an auction of 40-year gilts failed to meet the amount of debt the Treasury offered. Investors bid for 1.63 billion pounds ($2.4 billion) of notes, lower than the 1.75 billion pounds of 4.25 percent notes the Treasury had slated to sell, the U.K. Debt Management Office said today.

“Basically it’s the first failed auction,” said John Wraith, head of sterling interest-rate strategy at RBC Capital Markets in London. “They didn’t receive enough to cover it all so the market’s obviously sold off extremely heavily.” U.K. bonds fell, pushing the yield on the 10-year gilt 10 basis points higher to 3.43 percent by 11:02 a.m. in London. The 4.5 percent security due March 2019 slipped 0.82, or 8.2 pounds per 1,000-pound face amount, to 109.04. The yield on the two-year note rose three basis points to 1.29 percent. Yields move inversely to bond prices.

So what does this mean????

Interest rate rises or slashing public expenditure are the only solutions.

Its only one auction, but still significant enough.

Imagine the vicious circle, falling GDP, falling Tax revenue, Increased borrowing, Low demand for Bonds(Gilts), higher rates to stimulate demand for bonds, leading to lower GDP, lower tax, higher Borrowing, Higher on and so on..........

Answers to this on a postcard to Mr A Darling, 11 Downing Street.

Tracker mortgage anyone?

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

addiction children

Addiction and Children

A wee boy not even two years old yet died at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee on 16 March 2008, his name was Brandon Muir.

His injuries included broken ribs and a ruptured intestine.
Medical experts said the injuries had been caused by a “massive blow” to his stomach area.

He had been left in the care of Martin Cunningham (a heroin user )the day before he died while his mother Heather Boyd (also a heroin user) went to the supermarket.

Pathologists who conducted a post-mortem examination on Brandon’s body found cuts and bruises on his head, shoulder blades, abdomen, back, hands and abrasions on the inside of his eye.

Police reports said the injuries dated from the last three weeks of Brandon’s life, the period after Martin cunningham had moved inwith Brandons mum.

Today Martin Cunningham was convicted of culpable homicide after jurors took just one hour and 25 minutes to return their majority verdict.

Brandon’s father, John Muir, said the verdict had brought him no comfort.

He said: “Robert’s been done with culpable homicide, which is five to ten years and if he gets five years, he’ll be out in a year and a bit.

“Brandon’s life was [worth] more than that.”

The night Brandon died he was at a “party” where all the adults were under the influence of either drugs and alcohol or both.

These are the facts! not opinion, not hearsay, not judgement.


Rest in peace little Brandon

Thursday, 22 January 2009

British Gas to let you eat.

BRITISH Gas has agreed to leave you just enough money so you can eat.
The energy giant is to cut its prices after a drop-off in demand was linked to an increasing number of its customers starving to death.
Now the company has pledged to reduce tariffs to the point where consumers can afford just enough food to continue to live while spending the rest of their meagre incomes on gas and electricity.
A spokesman said: "This winter an increasing number of people have had to choose between freezing to death and starving to death. You're absolutely no use to us dead.
At least until we're allowed to burn corpses instead of coal."He added: "In these difficult times our challenge is to set prices which create that happy medium somewhere between hypothermia and having just enough energy to switch on the oven.
"The company is also publishing a series of tips and hints on energy efficient cooking in its new booklet Pressure Cookers Give You Cancer.

Tips include:* Raw vegetables are deadly. Use the biggest pan you have, filled to the brim with water.* Cook huge joints of meat. Cutting it into smaller pieces means it will cook too fast and you will die of vomiting.* To prevent deadly food poisoning always leave the oven on for at least an hour after you have eaten. * Always boil water on the hob. Every year kettles kill more than 500,000 people exactly like you.Elizabeth Bradford, 67, from Dorchester, said:

"Once again I shall taste the sweet nectar of Asda Smart Price cream of tomato. Thank you British Gas. I love you."

Thursday, 8 January 2009

QuanTITative easing

So the chancellor is denying getting the printing presses up and running although he did say they are considering a policy of quantitative easing
here's what quantitative easing means
from WIKI

Quantitative easing is a tool of monetary policy. It effectively means that the central bank prints new money, in order to increase the supply of money. 'Quantitative' refers to the money supply; 'easing' essentially means increasing.
Quantitative easing was used notably by the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to fight domestic deflation in the early 2000s. More recently during the global financial crisis of 2008, policies announced by the US Federal Reserve under Ben Bernanke to counter the effects of the crisis have been likened to quantitative easing coupled with the issuance of new debt on the US federal balance sheet.[1][2]
In Japan's case, the BOJ had been maintaining short-term interest rates at close to their minimum attainable zero values since 1999. With quantitative easing, it flooded commercial banks with excess liquidity to promote private lending, leaving them with large stocks of excess reserves, and therefore little risk of a liquidity shortage.[3] The BOJ accomplished this by buying more government bonds than would be required to set the interest rate to zero. It also bought asset-backed securities, equities, and extended the terms of its commercial paper purchasing operation. [4] Despite Japan's sustained near zero interest rates, the quantitative easing strategy did not succeed in stopping price deflation.[5]:11

heres an amusing article from the bullion vault By Adrian Ash Created 6 Jan 2009 - 09:11

Live from the Federal Reserve. You may find some scenes dis-comforting...
- WHAT on earth...?
- Sorry, if you could just keep turned to the wall...
- But what in the hell is that?!
- This? Why, it's's the Easer!
- The what?
- The Easer. You know, for the Quantitative Easing. Now, if you could just keep facing the wall for me...
- Does it really have to be so big? Jeez, it looks medieval...
- Aw, but this is state of the art. Ground-breaking, in fact! And you are a very sick man, as we discussed. The blood-tests would prove it...if only we had time to wait for the lab to come back with the results.
- I don't know about this, doctor. I'm feeling kinda bloated already...
- Precisely the problem, my good man! If you were up-to-par today, you'd be feeling ravenous...gobbling down whatever slop the clinic's canteen was serving. But since you can't stomach any more down the usual route, then we'll just have to go in...well...go in the other way, as we doctors call it. You see the logic, of course.
- Hmm, I guess. But this Quantitive Easing...How does it work exactly?
- It's not quantitive, it's Quanti-tay-tive....and you must forgive me, but explaining this to a layman – even a smart guy like you, and a guy with such deep pockets too – really would take too long. We need to cut to the chase, see. There's not a moment to lose. Besides, I'm due on the golf course at three...
- There's really no other option?
- In technical terms, you should be dead by now. In fact, I'm not entirely sure that you aren't already...
- Can't we run through the alternatives first?
- The alternatives?! Look, I spoke with my colleague Dr. Paulson over at the renowned Washington Clinic across the street. I checked with Dr. King at the Threadneedle Clinic in London...y'know, just off Harley Street? Then I called Dr. Roth's team in Switzerland...Hell, I even rang the Chinese, just to see if there wasn't something I might be missing with tigers feet or panda roots or such like! But they all agreed. You need a mega-dose of quantit̩ Рand quick...
- A mega-dose of what?
- Of quantité. Y'know, from the French. As in Quantitative Easing. As in the treatment you've come get your quantité eased...
- So this procedure is French?
- What's with all the questions? You're not here from 60 Minutes are you? I already got Dr. Paulson to sign the consent form for you. So if you could just face the wall, we can get started, and then I can hand you over to Dr. Obama's after-care clinic...
- I simply want to know what's happening...
- Jeez, okay, okay. The treatment was perfected in Japan about a decade ago. Y'know...shiatsu, Shiseido, ground wasabi, all that mineral extract stuff. Hell, you could walk of here today with the clear complexion of a Tokyo school girl! Well, maybe not walk exactly. Not today...- But will it work, doctor?- Work? You just saw the size of The Easer, right? Thing is, the Japanese applied too little, too late. My analysis proves it...or rather, it would prove it...if only we could roll back the clock like I've rewound the US to the 1930s. But see, during the Depression, the clinical consensus for unblocking pipe-work was a diet of liquids and liquidation. Crazy, ain't it?! And in Japan, it was like 10 years before Tokyo dared to use The Easer. That's why the effect was so muted.
- Hang on...You mean Quantitative Easing has never actually cured anyone?
- Not in practice, no. But in theory? This is cutting edge. You're gonna make history! Really, this thing works magic. On my econometric models, it's already prevented the Great Depression and Japan's Lost Decade, too...
- You just said that it failed in Japan...
- Only in reality...
- Are you sure you know what you're doing? Are you even qualified?
- See that certificate on the wall up there?
- Graduate of Spring Break, 1978...?
- Just look at that gilt frame! See the workmanship...? Look hard now...keep looking...keep looking...and away...she...goes...!
- HEY! Now just hold on, Doctor Bernanke! I really am feeling much better today. Just a little run down, you know? And bloated, like I said. So I just can't see how yet more of your easing is going to help. I mean, Dr. Greenspan swore blind we were all done with ease and easing and easy after four years of the damn stuff back in 2005. But now look at me! Swollen and flabby...and with more gas than Russia. Really, all I think I need is a rest...
- A rest?! In your condition?! You'd freeze up entirely, man! Your entire Liboric system could shut down...
- My what?
- Your Liboric system. It could shut down. Entirely.
- You guys make it all sound so complicated...
- Aw, c'mon – just look at The Easer! You think this is rocket science?
- Looks more like a giant turkey baster...
- That's the spirit! I've always preferred goose, myself...Anyways, if you could just relax for me. Trust me, this will be so much easier if you just try to forget what's actually happening.
- That's what Dr. Greenspan said...