What is recovery?

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A stumbling block to moving forward with recovery in the UK and elsewhere is lack of agreement about what recovery actually is. Highly specific definitions (e.g. recovery = abstinence) can lead to exclusion and fierce disagreement while non-specific definitions are too woolly to measure in services which are being asked to deliver measurable outcomes. Professionals and recovering people […]

AA or NA for drug dependent clients?

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In addiction treatment, study after study has shown a link between attending mutual aid and better outcomes for substance user disorders. These better outcomes include abstinence and there is consistent evidence of health cost savings. In Scotland we are fortunate to have around 1000 mutual aid meetings running weekly in our cities, towns and villages. […]

What do clinicians make of addiction recovery?

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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. The same characteristics are likely to define the best clinicians too. In a study, published a few days ago, […]

Recovery in Scotland – mutual aid at the heart

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In the fifth part of my interview with Tom, a doctor in recovery, he discusses the growth of Cocaine Anonymous in Scotland, its impact on those seeking recovery and what the fellowship has to offer women. How has CA changed in Lothian since you first started going? CA has expanded locally from 3 to 12 […]

Power and powerlessness in addiction and recovery

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In the third part of my interview with Tom, a doctor in recovery, he explains how the 12-step programme is at the heart of his recovery. You’ve said a bit about the things that made sense for you when you started going to Cocaine Anonymous meetings, but were there any down sides? There wasn’t much […]

Does AA work for young people?

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Evidence has accumulated over the last couple of decades of the association between attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous and improved drinking outcomes, including abstinence. AA is sometimes seen as an organisation that is better suited to older drinkers seeking sobriety than to folk under thirty, though there are in fact young people’s meetings in various large […]

Is abstinence a political or personal goal?

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Abstinence political? In a commentary, Drug and Alcohol Findings (DAF) tackles the contentious issue of what addiction treatment is trying to achieve – the ‘what should treatment be for?’ question. The ‘A’ word (abstinence) comes up of course – incredibly it’s still seen as contentious that a significant proportion of clients/patients might want abstinent recovery. […]

Abstinence treatment ‘a barrier’ to Opioid Replacement

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In trying to determine routes to abstinent recovery there’s a legitimate debate to be had about whether opioid replacement therapy (ORT) is a catalyst to abstinence or if it slows the process down. Some have suggested that methadone is too ‘sticky’ for recovery. On the other hand, as others have said, ‘dead people don’t recover’. I […]

What is recovery and how do we measure it?

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What is recovery and how do we measure it? It’s a contentious issue. One problem with asking services to deliver recovery outcomes is that we actually do need to measure something to see if taxpayers are getting value for money. In a recently published paper, John F Kelly and Bettina Hoeppner from Harvard, take a […]

What’s the point of harm reduction?

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What’s the point of harm reduction? To reduce harm; that much is obvious. Is that enough? Arguably it is, or it isn’t depending on where you stand. The Matrix Bites series in the carefully researched Drug & Alcohol Findings takes on this question and others in a reflective presentation on the evidence. The narrative here points […]