A civil rights movement

Powerful language from wired in to recovery:

Many people would argue that the UK treatment system, in main, is simply managing symptoms and accepting long-term disability or discomfort of people with serious substance use problems.

These same people would not argue against the value of treatment per se, rather it needs to be provided in a different way.

The recovery movement is first and foremost a civil rights movement. It is about helping disadvantaged people, people with problems, improve their well-being.

It is about helping people with substance use problems (and often many other problems) reclaiming or claiming their right to a safe, dignified, meaningful and gratifying life in the community, sometimes despite their problems.

A recovery oriented system of care places the person with the problem at the centre of the system. It does not just build places where people go and get ‘treatment’ – it builds forms of support theroughout the community.

It accepts that the struggles of the person are not just with what is going on within their own body and mind – it is about their social struggles, which they experience because of the prejudice, discrimination, stigma and marginalisation that occurs in society.

13 thoughts on “A civil rights movement

  1. You make it sound like addicts are victims of society. Why do people in recovery expect special treatment and accolades? If they are "marginalized" in the first place it's because they victimize everyone around them. How about some accountability instead of incessant demands?

  2. "special treatment" – The recovery advocacy movement is not about special treatment, it's about equal treatment. Effective treatments exist for addiction and they are out of reach for far too many people. Health plans exclude addiction treatment, charge co-pays that are far higher than for other treatments and limit coverage."accolades" – Where did you read that?"If they are 'marginalized'" – Let's address that word "if". From the early 1980s to the to the early 2000s, the number of inmates whose worst offense was a drug crime grew by 1540% in federal prisons and 1195% in state prisons. From the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s spending on treatment dropped by 74%. This is in the context of explosive growth in health care spending, the cost of a family health insurance plan has climbed by 134% over the last 10 years.Even bleeding heart social workers "marginalize" us. In my community, one executive director of a human service agency proposed creating a hospice like program for addicts. Another, in a fund-raising appeal, stated "our clients are not your typical irresponsible alcoholic", implying that some people are worthy of your help, alcoholics are not."it's because they victimize everyone around them." – Some victimize others, most do not. (The same could be said of any class of people.) I suspect that this is the heart of the matter. I believe addiction is an illness, your comments suggest that it's a character problem.

  3. Like someone forced them to take drugs and get addicted? Poor them, poor you. They're in jail for a reason.

  4. Nope. No one forced them. They have an illness. Most people in the US try drugs and never develop a problem, some people respond differently and become addicted. This is not that much different from type II diabetes or cardiac disease. Poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute but many people can eat poorly and be sedentary and never develop either problem. When they show up looking for medical care should we tell them that no one forced those twinkies down their throat and tied them to the couch–tough luck? One could even argue that their behavior victimizes others. They're health and lifespan issues affect their families, they drive up the cost of health care, they drive down productivity at work due to sick days, they're more vulnerable to infectious disease and can pass them on to others, etc.If an addict commits a violent crime or a property crime, they should face the consequences for it. However, note that those statistics were for people whose WORST offense was a DRUG crime.

  5. Just endless excuses. Diabetics don't treat people badly any more often than anyone else does. I never met a drug addict that didn't treat people very badly, take advantage of people, rip them off, use them etc. So fine, treat drug addicts if they want treatment, maybe some will be decent people if you treat them but why enoble them by claiming their civil rights are at issue. That's all I have to say. If you want to feel sorry for them and sorry for yourself, that's your right.

  6. Got it. You don't want it framed as a civil rights issue. What do you call it when we refuse to provide treatment to one class of people with a treatable illness and instead criminalize the illness? (Again, I have no problem with someone going to jail for stealing your tv, hurting you, drunk driving, etc. I also don't have a problem arresting people for possession, but only if we use it as an opportunity to help them stop.)Sorry that you've run into so many nasty addicts. They're not all like that, though people are often shitty to other people when they're in crisis and, for a lot of reasons, addicts are often moving from one crisis to another. That's not your problem, but it's not unique to addicts. Also, people can be pretty shitty when the other person treats them with the expectation that they "treat people very badly, take advantage of people, rip them off, use them etc."

  7. I hit publish too quickly. I meant to say that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy and a vicious cycle.

  8. I am sure there are drug addicts who treat other people OK but it is not usual. It is usual for addicts to blame everyone for their problems. So now if an addict treats people badly it's not the addict's fault, it's because of other people's "expectations," and because they are always in a crisis, which of course is not their fault either, if people would only treat them as they feel they deserve to be treated and take better care of poor them then they wouldn't be in crisis and then they wouldn't be compelled to treat other people so badly, since nothing is their fault or their responsibility. Pardon me if I don't buy it, but since you say that society treats addicts so badly then guess society doesn't buy it either.

  9. I see stigma is alive and well. In treating addiction as an illness we instantly become solution focussed instead of punishment or protection focussed.There are precedents in other illnesses for difficult and dangerous symptoms to be managed as part of the illness without attribution of blame. Diabetics sometimes become aggressive when they take hypos. Epileptics may harm themselves and others when taking a seizure. Some mental illnesses produce very difficult to manage behaviours.The point of your blog that excited me Jason, was highlighting the framing the recovery movement as a civil rights movement. That really is likely to mean change for us in the UK, and change is long overdue.The fear that this is causing is encapsulated in this week's DDN (Drink and Drugs News) letter pages, where a powerful figure in international harm reduction calls the recovery agenda 'dishonest' and flying in the face of the evidence. That's not all he says, but there's not enough space here to address all the negativity!Part of the reason for the reactivity is because, here in the UK, the people are speaking out and won't be ignored.

  10. @anonymous In the history of civil rights questions, "society doesn't buy it either" has been a pretty weak argument.

  11. It is unfortunate that the opinions expressed in the comments are all too common. Ignorance is the norm. We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go!

  12. It's so much easier to make an accusation of ignorance than it is to acknowledge the truth, or, Heaven forbid, be accountable. You want to believe addicts are nice people as often as anyone else and the only crimes they commit are posession and the only wrongs they do are because everyone treats them so very opressively. Never mind the numbers of people in prison for other crimes who comitted them under the influence of alcohol or drugs, never mind the sky high prevalence of domestic violence or child abuse associated addiction. Anyone who has ever lived with an addict knows otherwise, but dream on, maintain your denial if it's comfortable for you.

  13. Addicts commit many crimes because they are not nice like other people. People who believe they are nice are in a state of denial. People who treat them like they are sick are not holding them accountable for their abhorrent choices.If you had ever lived with an addict you would know that I am right.

Comments are closed.