Loneliness and isolation are bedfellows of addiction. Anything that intensifies loneliness will come with increased risks in tow. Of course, it’s not just those with substance use disorders who suffer from loneliness. In 2014, Professor John Cacioppo presented at a conference in Chicago, pointing out that that the impact of loneliness on premature death ‘is nearly as strong … Continue reading Loneliness in the pandemic: risky times
In the midst of winter here in Scotland when days are short, snow is on the ground and we’re in lockdown, it’s easy to get low. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about residential rehabilitation and where it fits into treatment options. I think it's true to say that rehab has felt a bit stuck … Continue reading Is the winter over for rehab in Scotland?
Which teachers were the best when you were at school? Likely the ones who believed in you, connected with you, who had a vision for where you could go and who enthusiastically helped you get there. I remember struggling with maths at school - I was always a writer, not an adder. Unfortunately I needed … Continue reading Clinicians’ attitudes to recovery
Drink does not drown care, but waters it, and makes it grow fasterBenjamin Franklin When we consider the things that make us vulnerable to addiction – trauma, poverty, lack of opportunity, stress, stigma, genetics and environment, it’s no surprise that relapse and the development of problems with other substances occur after treatment. These problems don't … Continue reading Drinking when in recovery from other substances
What do patients want when they come to treatment? My own experience suggests simple things: relief of emotional pain; a healed life; to be a better mum, dad, partner, human being; to let go of shame; to have a job and to be free from the Groundhog Day experience of addiction. Modest goals. Some people … Continue reading Is treatment offering what patients and their families want?
Addiction to alcohol or other drugs is not always easy to recover from. However, there are many pathways to recovery, including through treatment. One group of patients does far better than most other groups. In fact, their results are so impressive that many commentators have urged us to learn from what’s different about their treatment … Continue reading 2020’s Top Ten Posts #5 – Gold standard addiction treatment
Graphic from European Drug Report 2020: Trends and Developments It's not often graphs elicit an emotional response, but this one did for me. It's from the EMCDDA's recent report on drugs in Europe. The map shows that the UK has high levels of drug-induced mortality compared to most of Europe. But look at the dotted … Continue reading 2020’s Top Ten Posts #8 – Drug Deaths: Scotland’s Shame
Does mutual aid work? If you are a member of a mutual aid group that you believe is keeping you sober or drug-free, then it's pretty much assured you will say ‘yes’. That’s understandably not good enough for researchers and some others. Nearly two decades ago, I asked a consultant addiction psychiatrist why he didn’t recommend … Continue reading 2020’s Top Ten Posts #9 – Alcoholics Anonymous – the evidence
This is a version of a blog I published a few years ago, but thought it still relevant today. Doug Sellman is a professor of psychiatry and addiction medicine in New Zealand. In 2010 in the journal Addiction, he attempted the difficult task of distilling the ten things you need to know about addiction from the … Continue reading 2020’s Top Ten Posts #10 – The ten most important things about addiction (part 1)
Addiction is normally framed as a chronically relapsing disorder, but a recent research paper from John Kelly and colleagues challenges us to think again. We actually don’t know as much as we might about recovery trajectories and, in terms of the number of attempts needed, there may be grounds for greater hope. Previous research Kelly and his … Continue reading Recovery attempts – how many times?