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Recovery Plus 26 Feb 2016 Click for presentation Click Addiction comes in people, not packages I never wanted to be a therapist or the anti-fun squad talking in schools about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. No: I was destined for wider horizons, I was destined for the stage. I was probably good enough to have a proper shot. But as I dreamed of stardom, the days turned into months then years and the sad reality was that I was falling deeper and deeper into the self-destructive behaviour that I now understand to be addiction. It didn’t look like addiction at the start, it looked like brilliance, potential, devil-may-care. And as that brilliance turned sour, I was ‘the one’ who threw it all away. Despite having ‘so much going for me’, I am lucky to be alive. And now I live each day to tell the story and work with others who suffer as I did and who want to get well. Personal experience tells me that addiction is misunderstood by society in subtle but vital ways. When I say I work in the field, people’s thoughts turn immediately to drugs and alcohol – to what I consider to be two manifestations of addiction rather than the condition itself. Because of this attentional bias, the goal often becomes sobriety, to my mind a shallow and stressful goal compared to seizing and living the day. Further, I have long wondered if addiction is indeed a ‘chronic relapsing condition’ or whether our focus on sobriety as the goal enables this. Perhaps we as treatment professionals should re-examine our treatment focus and methods, as in my experience it is not only possible to get completely well from addiction, I would also claim that it is possible to prevent it. That prevention starts at home. For too long we have invested time, resources and energy into the fire-fighting end of this condition alone, prioritising the decriminalisation debate. But what about prevention: teaching the tools of recovery to children such as education, selfregulation, personal responsibility and emotional intelligence. You do not ‘air drop’ into chronic addiction, you travel there through what often appears to be normal, if stressed or avoidant, behaviours until suddenly you ‘find yourself’ behaving in ways you never imagined you would. Thus, hidden in plain view, addiction can pollute individual perspective, destroy families and run rampant through the very fabric of our society before it appears as one of the manifestations. There are high risk factors in any individual, too, that are well known in the addiction-treatment industry but which don’t yet seem to have reached the wider medical community where early intervention is most often possible. Too often in assessment for treatment, I discover a long history of mental illness – sometimes spanning decades – of an anxiety disorder, depression, repeated disturbed behaviour, that within a matter of months, or possibly a year, has been successfully, and sustainably, treated by an addiction programme. I feel frustrated by the system that serves this patient with culde sac answers that too often leave a person dependent on medication. The denial round this condition crucially blinds those suffering from the onset of addiction and Don’t miss Mandy Saligari’s TV series on Violent children, desperate parents: www.channel5.com/ show/violent-childdesperate parents. You can also use our online journal to link to her presentation at Recovery Plus 2015:


RecoveryPlus1
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