Daily Archives: 30/10/2015

Friday Sober Jukebox – Rock the boat

As Halloween approaches I couldn’t decide whether this should have more of a horror feel as it seems pretty apt with the content of this post.  But this was the track that sprang to mind so I’m rolling with ‘rock the boat’ 😉

halloween thrillerYes this is how things feel psychologically currently! ……… (and it ain’t so thrilling).

I’m half way through the first term of my PG Dip at the University of Cambridge and as I may have mentioned before we have to be in weekly personal therapy and we have group therapy every week as part of the curriculum.

Now as you know from past blogs therapy is not a new thing for me and I’ve been very lucky to have had an excellent relational therapist in the past and she signposted me to a great CBT therapist who I did all the work with that formed the basis of these posts.  It was recommended at the Cambridge interview that we seek a new therapist to give us a variety of experiences so this is what I’ve done (even though I have to tell my family of origin story again).  She is also superb and luckily for me I’ve chosen someone whose speciality is addiction, family and trauma.  I don’t talk much here about why the second two elements of what she specialises in are necessary but suffice it to say she is perfect for the embodied emotional issues I need to process.  That is not where I am struggling.

I’m struggling with group therapy and came home last night with a chest crushing anxiety that had me sobbing in the bath, while running and woke me at 5am.  This is all stuff that I wasn’t expecting and haven’t experienced for a while in this journey.  For the first time in a long time the mind and emotion numbing appeal of booze crossed my mind. This anxiety is also one of the reasons why I struggle with AA and attending meetings and sharing in a public type forum.  It feels incredibly unsafe to me and not because of the other people there but because of my own internal issues.  Suffice it to say my emotional boat has been well and truly rocked.

For those unfamiliar with group therapy here is the Wiki page and here is the bit that explains (bearing in mind that I am working on family and trauma issues in my personal therapy) why I might be struggling with it:

  • Corrective recapitulation of the primary family experience
Members often unconsciously identify the group therapist and other group members with their own parents and siblings in a process that is a form of transference specific to group psychotherapy. The therapist’s interpretations can help group members gain understanding of the impact of childhood experiences on their personality, and they may learn to avoid unconsciously repeating unhelpful past interactive patterns in present-day relationships.

Yep I’ve re-entered my worst nightmare as part of my educational experience – nice one Lou!!  I know that I will be okay but it is causing some serious psychological push back from me and writing this blog post has (as usual) been extremely helpful for me.

For you as a reader the take-away is be careful when entering therapy early in sobriety and if you feel it is too much too soon, postpone it.  Sobriety comes first and above pretty much everything else.  I’m over 2 years now and if I wasn’t fairly stable in my recovery I think this would be prime relapse territory – and it’s not too late yet!!  I’ve had to be really mindful and that has also really helped me manage this emotionally stressful time too so thank you to Mrs D and A Rewarding Life for alerting me to The Mindfulness Summit that’s been running this month..  It has been an absolute life saver this last month.



Involving recovering alcohol and drug users in the delivery and design of treatment and recovery

This was on the Public Health England blog in September looking at the issue of mutual aid and involving those in recovery from substance misuse in treatment service design and delivery. This is what they had to say:

PHEalcoholSupport networks across communities and among those in treatment and recovery are an essential cornerstone of this journey.

The latest available figures show that over 300,000 adults (aged 18 and over) were in treatment for alcohol and/or drug dependency in 2013/14. Achieving the best possible recovery outcomes for those in recovery is a key public health concern in England.

To support the development of quality and effective treatment and recovery services, Public Health England (PHE) has produced a suite of resources to highlight the benefits of, and encourage local services to adopt, mutual aid and service user involvement.

PHE’s service user involvement guide was launched at our national ‘Experts by Experience: The assets brought by recovering drug and alcohol users to treatment and recovery substance misuse’ conference in Birmingham, which celebrated the positive contributions made by people in recovery to formal treatment services, including the delivery of mutual aid and the development of innovative community projects.

Support at every stage of recovery

By strengthening effective links between treatment services and mutual aid groups we can improve recovery rates. We know that mutual aid provides a platform to community integration and developing the wider assets needed to achieve recovery. NICE guidance supports this (CG51 and CG115), recommending that treatment staff not only inform service users about local mutual aid groups but actively facilitate their initial contact with a group, and support their sustained attendance.

“Mutual Aid refers to the social, emotional and information-based support provided by, and to, members of a group at every stage of recovery.”

Mutual aid groups may include people who are abstinent and want help to remain so, as well as people who are thinking about stopping and/or actively trying to stop their alcohol or drug use. The most common groups in England being 12-step fellowships, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and SMART Recovery, which apply cognitive behavioural techniques and therapeutic lifestyle change to its mutual aid groups to help people manage their recovery.

There are also mutual aid groups that exist to support families and friends of people with addictions to alcohol and drugs, such as Al-anon.

The suite of PHE guidance documents below, co-produced with representatives of mutual aid groups, commissioners and service managers, provide advice, support and further resources for creating effective links with mutual aid groups.

The individual and community benefits of service user developed support

Involving those who are in recovery from addiction in the design and delivery of support services has contributed significantly to the evolution of effective alcohol and drug treatment systems in England. PHE’s service user involvement (SUI) guidance looks at the evidence, the different levels of involvement and the impact of involvement on both service users and treatment effectiveness.

“Service User Involvement (service user being a person who is a past or present user of drug or alcohol recovery services) is about making sure that the people who use services are meaningfully involved in the planning, development and, where appropriate, delivery of effective support and other interventions provided by those and other services.”

People recovering from addiction can have very limited skills or employment experience, and often have significant problems with unstable accommodation – we know that addressing these issues gives people the best chance at life-long recovery. SUI is an opportunity to engage these people in their own long-term recovery, while at the same time inspiring others. Seeing successful stories of recovery from alcohol and drug use motivates those still suffering from addiction to engage with treatment.

They have expertise to share as well as, and an important contribution to make to the design, development and delivery of initiatives to help people affected by alcohol and drug use. Because of their direct experiences of services, service users know better than anyone what works – and what does not.

Across the country we have seen much enthusiasm for SUI with a mixture of creative and tailored SUI services, for example a furniture up-cycle project in Hertfordshire  and a community interest company in Birmingham that provides accommodation, business opportunities and accredited training.

PHE’s guide highlights four different levels that commissioners, providers and service users may want to consider in their development of SUI:

  1. Involvement in their own care or treatment plan
  2. Involvement in strategic development and commissioning
  3. Developing and delivering peer mentoring and support
  4. Developing and delivering user-led, recovery-focused enterprises

To further support the growth of tailored services, earlier this year PHE awarded £10 million of capital funding for services that are helping people in England with alcohol or drug problems. A substantial proportion of this went to projects that provide tailored education, training, skills and employment support to people in recovery, and to projects that provide safe and secure accommodation from which it’s possible to recover.

PHE continues to support local authorities and their communities in assessing and improving the effect of their substance misuse services. This is vital to ensure local prevention and treatment interventions meet the wide range of needs in the local area and we know that tailored approaches that invest in the individual and the community will lead to the best outcomes.

Maybe I could access some of that £10 million of PHE capital funding to improve the support and grow the reach of A HOF Life to help more of you out here too as a fellow traveller on the road to recovery? A girl can dream 😉