Someone relatively new to the substance use disorder area asked me recently why I thought there was so much division and hostility in the addiction and recovery field, compared to other parts of health and social care. Do we really have more conflict than in some other healthcare areas? There are strongly held positions which … Continue reading Polarisation, tension and hostility: just another day in the field of addictions.
When it comes to trying to improve access to residential rehabilitation in Scotland, one thing I’ve heard too often from doubters is: ‘there’s no evidence that rehab works’. Ten years ago I was hearing the same thing about mutual aid, which was recently (at least in terms of Alcoholics Anonymous) found to be as effective, if … Continue reading Rehab works!
1. Hope matters in recovery I’ve been musing a bit recently on the place of hope in addiction treatment and in recovery journeys. Researchers from the USA identified that hope, although recognised as essential for recovery, was not well researched in terms of how it helps recovery progress. They used validated tools (questionnaires) to assess hope … Continue reading Three things about recovery that are really worth knowing
Recovery journeys can be long and involve several attempts in order for people to resolve their problems. Treatment can be part of this for many, but there are multiple factors outside of treatment that also influence outcomes. One of these is housing. Homeless people with substance use disorders have higher risks, exacerbated further if there … Continue reading Sober living houses – life worth living
Therapeutic nihilism “None of them will ever get better”, the addiction doctor said to me of her patients, “As soon as you accept that, this job gets easier.” This caution was given to me in a packed MAT (medication assisted treatment) clinic during my visit to a different city from the one I work in … Continue reading “None of them will ever get better”
A tweet from a colleague affected me this week. The subject was stigma in substance use disorders and he related how, at the funeral of a relative who had died very young from a heroin overdose, a family member callously slandered the dead man and skillfully ‘othered’ him. The message was ‘he was not at … Continue reading Top ten of 2021 #1 – Nothing to mourn; just a drug addict
Reducing the stigma associated with addiction – the word itself now tagged with a degree of stigma – is a priority in drugs policy. Stigmatising attitudes contribute to drug harms and deaths through delaying access to treatment, leaving treatment early and increased risk-taking behaviour. Brea Perry and her colleagues at Indiana University took a look at … Continue reading Top ten of 2021 #2 – Wiping out stigma
Switching from doctor to patient was not an easy transition for me. My first attempt at recovery was medically assisted, but only got me so far. What I needed was something more profound: hope, healing and connection to other recovering people. In this podcast for the National Wellbeing Hub, Dr Claire Fyvie interviews me about … Continue reading Top ten of 2021 #3 – The genesis of hope: a recovery story
In a compelling study from Dublin, Paula Mayock and Shane Butler (Trinity College) make the point that little is known about the stigma experienced by individuals attending drug treatment services over prolonged periods. They explored this through the lived-experience narratives of 25 people prescribed long-term methadone. Their findings ‘reveal the intersection of stigma with age … Continue reading Top ten of 2021 #4 – Growing older and more stigmatised on methadone
As a GP in inner-city Glasgow in the 1990s, I looked after patients with heroin addiction. I got to know many of them well, I knew their families, I immunised their children and, distressingly, I saw some of them die. Because of the nature of general practice, I saw the dreadful impact of those deaths … Continue reading Top ten of 2021 #5 – Choice in addiction treatment