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My biggest challenge, as an addict who has been off drugs for over seven years now, is coping with the entourage – or let’s call them friends or drug friends. Some are still in active addiction, some are still seeking help, others (sadly) are still in denial. I’m struggling with my unconscious need to want to help however I can, and I forget that this kind of change has to come from within.
I find myself preaching abstinence when I know how that makes me look and sound, as I remember people and family and drug workers looked like fake priests to me, who didn’t even believe what they were preaching. Not to mention that my own journey, and my responsibility towards myself, should dictate staying away till someone wants, from the bottom of their soul, my hand for that first step in admitting that help is what they sincerely want and need.
Hence I’m off preaching and I try to lead by example. Maybe that’s the best help I can provide – showing them that I’ve done it, and that what one individual can do, another individual can do too, with the right environment, the right help and above all, the willpower to take a life-changing decision.
Russell Brand: help or hindrance?
I wonder how many DDN readers watched the documentary of Russell Brand commenting on the drug war (End the Drugs War, BBC 3). Word on the street is that outspoken ‘recovering (or not) folk’ were not happy about the content, and others were just grateful that said issues are getting any airtime at all. One articulate morphine-scripted friend said, ‘the problem is that the message he gives makes it OK for treatment providers to radically reduce harm reduction services’, and that should worry us all at a time where overdose deaths have doubled in the UK and the government is planning to build more private prisons.
To give credit where it is due, Brand is an ardent advocate for ending the war on drugs and in his book Revolution he gives a whole page to recommendations that demand nobody ever be charged or arrested for mere possession of (currently illegal) drugs. For that I, for once, am grateful. On the other hand, he doesn’t seem to get the critical importance of services which provide active users with drugs and even safe, clean places to take them. His comment about the Zurich drug consumption room initially infuriated me – that it was the ‘beginnings of quarantining’ – but then I wondered whether he was simply expressing profound fear; after all, he is off drugs, but oddly exposed himself in the Zurich DCR to heroin, even smelling a fellow ‘addict’s’ silver foil.
His drug policy activist self is a few years old: he is in early adolescence, as it were. So I can understand why hardcore harm reducers have trepidation about him being our current spokesperson. I say we give him time.
Just a thought.
We should all be indebted to Rowdy Yates for his excellent letter in your February edition.
As Rowdy indicated, in the UK we constantly find that the biggest barrier to public, press and political support for successful training is the false idea sold by the psycho-pharm commercial interests to politicians, when 60 years ago they were told ‘we recommend opioid substitution therapy in the form of prescribed daily methadone doses, to be supplied free to addicts and paid for by taxpayers, because addiction is basically incurable.’
That ‘sales talk’ was swallowed hook, line and sinker by press and politicians everywhere, who have since so often repeated it that they have no wish to now lose face by contradicting themselves.
This false ‘incurable’ impression is unfortunately reinforced by the one to three years it takes well-meaning 12-step practitioners to achieve a 20 to 30 per cent lasting abstinence result – especially as, on a residential basis, it seldom if ever meets the 12 months free of addiction requirements of payment by results.
However, those low percentage, long-winded 12-step results should not, for two reasons, be sneered at because they don’t deliver on a PbR basis. One, because not-for-profit fellowship does not need payment by results to survive, and two, because we know that ARTS’ initial drug-free ‘withdrawal procedures’ can both shorten 12-steps’ duration and improve the number of successes.
Ken Eckersley, CEO Addiction Recovery Training Services (ARTS)