Just a few notes…

Hi all. Here are a few updates to fill the idle hours of summertime.

First, the homepage of this site has been revised, thanks to Victor (my web guy). It now includes links to a number of blogs, magazines, and other online entities that deal with addiction (mostly drugs and booze…but other stuff too) and recovery. I hope this will make it easier for all of us to get informed, find help, and/or explore the ongoing waves of late-breaking news.

Here’s a quick guide:

The ScienceDaily Addiction News page reports on research concerning substance use and addiction.

The Berridge Lab site describes the research findings of a particular team — one I greatly respect.

Heroin and Cornflakes and The Fix present research, social issues, news, interviews, and stories related to substance use and addiction.

Addiction and Recovery News, Addiction Blog, and Dryblog give you news, stories, opinions, and links re drugs, booze, and recovery.

Drug Addiction Support, Harm Reduction for Alcohol (HAMS), and Recovery Nation specialize in what’s old, new, available and useful in treatment and recovery (along with their individual biases, of course). These are the places to go for immediate help.

Gabor Mate’s site is about…Gabor Mate. Mostly his books and talks, about addiction and other psychological messes.

PLEASE let me know if there are other links you think should be added to the list.

Second, I’ll have a live interview with the HAMS blog today at 6 PM EST. I should have announced this days ago. Oops. Anyway, these guys are pretty serious. They have a number of interesting and relevant interviews posted here. Including one with Stanton Peele, whom I always enjoy. An old geezer (older than me!) who knows a lot and likes to be controversial.

Third, through multiple communications — which I’ve been pleasantly drowning in — I’ve started to piece together a perspective on treatment politics at the international level. It seems that in North America and especially the U.S., the treatment network is dominated by the disease model and an overarching focus on full recovery (most often 12-step based). In contrast, in the U.K. and Europe, the treatment network highlights harm reduction — living with addiction.

Each of course has its benefits and drawbacks. A primary drawback of the harm reduction ethos is that people become stagnant in their addictions, living life on methadone or just continuing to use, and dropping out of dynamic contributions to their society, in terms of employment and lots else. The drawbacks of the disease model…well, I’ve already expounded on those enough in this blog, but it looks like that’s where my next book is taking me.

Which brings me to #4: Countless emails have revealed a thicket of upsetting, sometimes toxic, interactions between people who really want to improve their lives and a treatment industry that is narrow in scope, demanding in its policies, and one-sided in its interpretations of addiction. That’s where I now think my next book is going, along with my trademark (?!) emphasis on neuroscience and biography. I didn’t think I’d be heading in that direction, but more and more I see that the social-political side of addiction is important to understand as part of a well-rounded picture. (And it connects with my recurrent dreams of trying to deceive suspicious doctors in white coats. Yup, still get em.)

Enjoy your local brand of climate change, wherever you are. We’re heading to the south of France, which is just around the corner, for two weeks. But I’ll have another post up soon anyway.

14 thoughts on “Just a few notes…

  1. China Darrington July 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    Enjoy the two weeks in the south of France, sounds amazing! I look forward to reading your upcoming contributions to the field of addiction & recovery neuroscience.

    • Marc July 12, 2012 at 9:14 am #

      Thanks, China. Good to know you’re still hanging about. Your story was one of the first that got me thinking about the incredible obstacles people face trying to get treatment. I see more and more that the courage it takes to fight addiction has to be ratcheted up a few extra notches to fight the treatment community, or at least to survive it. As someone who both survived addiction AND treatment, you were and still are a source of inspiration to me.

  2. Jordan O. July 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

    Hi Marc,

    Having read your memoir back in January, I was recently turned onto your blog and would just like to thank you for the thoughtful entries and insight.

    Another resource that I find helpful is Dirk Hanson’s “Addiction Inbox” where he offers features and intriguing commentary.

    http://addiction-dirkh.blogspot.ca/

    • Marc July 20, 2012 at 6:27 am #

      Hi Jordan, and welcome aboard! I think we’ve established a fantastic “community” here, and the insights keep on coming, from all of us.

      Thanks for your suggestion. I checked the site and yes, I agree, it’s intriguing. I’ll add it to the list as soon as I can figure out how to create a link directly on a page — or else wait till Victor (my web guy) comes back from his vacation.

    • Marc July 20, 2012 at 6:33 am #

      Thanks John. These are great, and I hope others will explore them as well. Since these sites aren’t primarily devoted to substance-use/addiction, I think I’ll leave them out of the growing list on my homepage.

      La francais est tres bien. Except that sometimes my hard-won Dutch words come out when I mean to speak (high school) French.

  3. Peter Sheath July 12, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    Hi Marc
    Enjoy your break in the South of France, I’m just finishing 3 weeks fishing in the English countryside. One link that I would like to see you include is wired in to recovery. It’s an on-line recovery community offering support, guidance, info sharing, etc. to people in recovery, families, professionals and the general public. It’s UK based, I’m on the board of directors, but covers the globe. It was set up by a fellow neurologist, Prof David Clarke, and is a very good resource.
    I am very much looking forward to your new book, it sounds like its something that those of us working in the field have been looking for for a long time.

    • Marc July 20, 2012 at 6:42 am #

      Hi Peter. Thanks, the break is good….but I’m stil drawn to blogging while others (another family plus ours) are basking in the sun.

      I found your site: http://wiredintorecovery.org/ It looks really great, and it’s important to have direct links to active recovery-based groups and programs. I’ll get it into the list in the next few days.

      Given your background and present practice, it’s great to have your voice here on this blog.

  4. Dirk Hanson July 12, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    Thanks for the shout-out, Jordan O. As a matter of fact, I reviewed Dr. Lewis’s book on my blog, Addiction Inbox:

    http://addiction-dirkh.blogspot.com/2012/05/review-memoirs-of-addicted-brain.html

    • Marc July 20, 2012 at 6:51 am #

      Having discovered the site, I finally read your review. It’s great! I really appreciate it. You picked some of my favourite passages from the book. Having those passages visible to a community focused on the science of addiction is great advertising for the book, and hopefully helpful to those who wish to understand more about addiction to foster their own recovery.

      • Dirk Hanson July 20, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

        My pleasure. A brave and informative book.

  5. Steve Matthews July 16, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    Hi Marc,

    I’ve been following the blog a little since our earlier exchanges, and I thought I’d post a URL of a very moving account of addiction – the case of Ben (see below). It’s extremely sad, and at the same time helpful to see what’s at stake in the cases deserving of the disease title. Perhaps there is a subset of cases for which this title, ‘disease’ (or actually I prefer ‘disorder’ or perhaps even ‘syndrome’) is appropriate. This account, and many others I’ve seen does provide insights into what might motivate our view of addiction as a medical condition, in addition to a ‘problem in living’ as some sceptics (of the disease model) might have it. Anyway, I encourage people to check it out, but be warned, it will bring tears to your eyes. It did in my case, and that’s unusual. Cheers all.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7thZbHTvZIQ

    • Marc July 20, 2012 at 6:58 am #

      Thanks, Steve. I can’t watch the video yet, because my laptop forgot how to use its speakers. But I will when I get home.

      Meanwhile, I’m glad you’ve continued the definitional debate. I think it’s important. Whether there’s a subset of addicts who DO fit the disease model remains to be explored. I wonder. But if you’re content with the word “syndrome” then so am I — as an overarching label. “Disorder” ranks as a compromise, I guess. But if OCD and depression are classed as “disorders”, then addiction probably should be too.

      More to come…

  6. nik July 19, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    That’s a very moving account in the video. Yes, it certainly looks like
    a disease or disorder. It seems to have come upon him, so to say.
    And ate him up, just as cancer would.

    At the same time some things might have affected its course, including
    decisions from him. Especially I noted the ‘enabling’ by his parents,
    including buying him heroin. I don’t blame them and maybe if they’d
    been harder, if would have made no difference, but…

    It also makes me think that the milieu of the addict is determinative.
    He never really left his circle of users and suppliers. It seems like
    the only thing that would work is for him to be transported to a remote
    island to tend sheep for a number of months.
    It’s awfully sad to see the erosion of all self respect and self will. Too,
    it does make one think that the concept of ‘hitting bottom’ as somehow
    leading to change, is wrong. He seems to have dwelt there and lost
    the capacity to do anything about it.
    Thanks for the link. I hope none of us have to go the route he did.

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