The wise do recover from addiction

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Wisdom’s not a very scientific term is it? We sort of know what it means, but it’s vague and not really something to value or measure in scientific literature – right? It’s a bit like spirituality; you might get a dozen different definitions depending on whom you talk to. That hasn’t stopped researchers exploring what […]

Pain management in drug addiction & recovery

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“Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” So starts a paper on managing chronic pain in patients with opioid dependence. It’s a dilemma, or is it really? It’s actually less of a dilemma because the evidence for opioids in chronic pain is pretty ropey in everybody, never mind in addicted populations. When you balance potential benefits up against the risks […]

The disease of addiction. Disabling?

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I spotted a tweet earlier today vigorously opposing the notion of addiction as a disease. A week or two back, someone I follow on Twitter was advocating for the terms “addict” and “alcoholic” to be abandoned because they are stigmatising. I thought of the tens of thousands of recovering people meeting weekly in Britain’s six […]

Improve outcomes: add in 12-step mutual aid

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Much treatment for drug problems is outpatient. Trying to achieve abstinence is tough and some evidence suggests it is more likely to be the goal of clients than the aspiration of professionals for their clients. How well do clients do? This study by Gerald Cochrane and colleagues from New York looked at those clients maintaining abstinence in […]

Recovery in Scotland: work at it!

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Thinking about recovery in Scotland? Thinking about abstinence? Don’t you just wish you had some good quality materials? Materials that would help people move from the treacle of addiction into the blancmange of recovery? Materials, for instance, that would be useful in a variety of community and residential settings? Materials, let’s say, that had been […]

Stigma: Overdosing on heroin doesn’t make you a scumbag

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On the day we heard that heroin was implicated in the tragic death of Peaches Geldof, I was reminded of another recent story. Thomas McLellan, a prominent US addiction researcher and policy advisor, lost his son to an overdose in 2008. A month or two back he wrote a piece  in the Huffington Post. He recounts that […]

The ten most important things known about addiction. Part 2

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The conclusion of this two-parter. Part one here. Professor Selman’s last five essentials: 6. Different therapies appear to produce similar treatment outcomes. Project MATCH, a huge psychotherapy trial showed similar outcomes for the techniques of motivational enhancement therapy, twelve step facilitation and cognitive behavioural therapy. Other trials including British ones have shown the same results. The […]

The ten most important things known about addiction. Part 1

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Doug Sellman is a professor of psychiatry and addiction medicine in New Zealand. In 2010 in the journal Addiction, a world leader, he attempted the difficult task of distilling the ten things you need to know about addiction from the research of the last thirty years. No mean feat. Well, what are they? Ten things are way […]

Altruism & AlAnon: in helping we are helped

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“Giving implies to make the other person a giver also.” So said Eric Fromm whose quote starts this research paper which travels to the heart of mutual aid. The clear message? In helping other, we help ourselves. The recovery saying “We only keep what we have by giving it away” hits the mark in this respect. The […]