A public health approach to universal addiction healthcare

I am not alone in addressing the Scottish health emergency by actualising Addiction Healthcare Emergency Care Clinics within the settings @ A&E-NHS Hospitals, in Scotland and England to treat the spectrum of substance mis-use related conditions. 

My aim is in implementing Addiction Emergency Clinics with A&E-NHS hospitals settings…clinician’s trained in addiction medicine working alongside lived experience volunteers treating people in need of a medically assisted detox, inpatient primary care, and longterm addiction recovery community outpatient support.

I am a person in longterm recovery (30 years) whose understanding of addiction healthcare is both personal and professional.

My aspirational commitment is in creating these clinics where the clinicians expertise is on people accessing free non-judgemental specialist addiction and mental healthcare.

I advocate for evidence-based drug addiction healthcare founded on principles of public health rather than a criminal justice approach to reduce mental and physical harm associated with drugs, and where those who use drugs are treated based on principles of human rights, dignity and equality.

We are over talked asking why…we know why..yesterdays, 1187 Drug Delated Deaths in Scotland in 2018, tells us all that it is time to take action. If cutbacks in policing, mental health had not been so severe perhaps people in need may have had a chance to access help..if they could manoeuvre ridiculously long waining time—up to Two years….

Having many spent many hours in the past few years @ meetings in Westminster, Criminal Justice conferences in Durham and Edinburgh to hear from learned speakers about criminal justice, and much more…ANY essential changes in policy failed to actualise…

Brexit’s financial and political catastrophe making has manifested unsolvable impasses/deep blocks to any kind of policy change….

…what to do? I live in hope that the catalyst for change in how people in need access addiction and mental healthcare will cause changes to breakthrough ……and we can open our Addiction Emergency clinics within existing A&E -NHS settings in Glasgow…….by our team of leading Scottish clinicians, and addiction professionals whose lived experience is augmented by our evidence-based clinical knowledge gained through decades of working with clients in primary care, outpatient settings, individual and family therapy programmes.


This addiction healthcare initiative is aimed at leading scientific and medical progression in the field of universal addiction healthcare. It also exemplifies a firm recommitment to providing continued education, training and support for first responders, doctors, nurses, and associated healthcare workers.

Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Learning from a Health and Human-Centered Approach

Since Portugal enacted drug decriminalization in 2001, the number of people voluntarily entering treatment has increased significantly, overdose deaths and HIV infections among people who use drugs have plummeted, incarceration for drug-related offenses has decreased, and rates of problematic and adolescent drug use has fallen.

I am proposing we adapt the Portugal Decriminalisation model and translate this into an addiction and mental healthcare programme. Exactly the same procedure: a clinic within the A&E-NHS settings, a separate space where people in need of addiction healthcare can be assessed by an addiction psychologist, and medical team for appropriate inpatient primary care and they are given a choice…engage in a treatment process: medically assisted/supervised inpatient detox, inpatient primary care, and a total healthcare programme to begin their recovery process.

Upon discharge they will attend outpatient recovery programmes, in addition to SMART recovery and or 12step meetings to ensure their re-entry process is fully supported by people with lived experience…organisations like the Scottish Recovery Consortium has a solid volunteer programme, life skills trainings in and much more. Their ethos: Rights. Respect and Recovery is a sustainable framework, created to engender people in early recovery being fully supported to prevent relapse, engender renewal and thriving.

In January, 2019 I initiated a partnership with the American Society of Addiction Medicine primarily to introduce the “Fundamentals of Addiction Medicine Trainings” and a way forward in how the trainings can become the backbone of the proposed addiction healthcare initiative and Addiction Emergency clinics.

In my professional experience, effective addiction treatment must for everyone involved, contain the fundamentals of addiction trainings, monitoring and interventions to ensure the individual’s health and safety during detox, primary care inpatient treatment.

The ASAM “Fundamentals of Addiction Training” is designed to educate, empower and support first-responders, doctors, nurses, addiction counsellors, and associated healthcare care workers.

I am committed to recovery, to helping people ravaged by addiction to access addiction primary care treatment. Lived experience and recovery engenders in time a person who has sought help, becoming part of the solution, and an asset within their community.

The efficacy of ASAM trainings in addiction medicine, medically assisted impatient detoxing, addiction recovery primary care, and the continuum of care:
• Learn core competencies and knowledge needed to identify, and treat, patients with addiction
• Increase knowledge, skills and confidence for doctors, first responders, nurses and associated healthcare workers
• Experience content created specifically for primary care based on extensive needs-assessment

The ASAM “Fundamentals of Addiction Training” link to take you into the realm of addiction healthcare possibilities: https://www.asam.org/education/live-online-cme/funda

Enhancing the effectiveness of addiction and mental healthcare is in adapting the Portuguese Model for decriminalisation into an addiction medicine/healthcare model with a strong learning ethos in the fundamentals of addiction medicine trainings. Westminster needs to support this health initiative, and stop blocking Scotland’s need to take care of vulnerable to addiction community.

People are dying. Let’s transform that headline into “people are recovering” because they can readily access 24/7 addiction and mental healthcare within A&E settings.

We intend to make available 24/7 access to addiction healthcare within A&E settings to provide people in need of addiction healthcare the choice in how they receive their right to healthcare…the first priority is to make accessing healthcare as easy as possible…no more up to two year waiting times, nor having vulnerable people having to travel great distances to receive daily medication…

Healthcare is a human right…and we are facing the greatest healthcare emergency on record of our time…too many people are dying…I want to change the story from death to living in recovery…and yes it is long treatment process, but if nothing changes in the way people access addiction healthcare…then nothing changes…

The evidence- based principles for a recovery-oriented system are:
• 24/7 access to healthcare
• Inclusive of family therapy and support
• Individualised, comprehensive addiction medicine primary care programmes
• Recovery Services anchored in the community
• Continuum of of care
• Recovery resilience -based skill-building disciplines
• Commitment to peer recovery support services;
• Inclusion of the lived experiences of recovering individuals and their families;
• Prevention. Education. Person centred life-skills training

In my lived experience of working with people suffering with the spectrum of addiction: sex addiction, sugar, fat salt addiction, illicit drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol, and or workaholism…. whatever their drug of choice, there is hope…to break the cycle of deep suffering, and enter into a a primary inpatient recovery programme.

Addiction is complex…and can be exacerbated by trauma from the past being triggered in the present…creating a cascade of obsessive thinking, (cravings) irrational behaviours (compulsivity) anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation.

I am a person in longterm recovery…. who benefitted from sitting across from someone in longterm addiction recovery intervention in an A&E clinic …. she offered me a choice…. engage in an outpatient recovery programme…or be admitted, I was at Payne Whitney psychiatric hospital where addiction would not be addressed, or treated…and I would be inappropriately prescribed medication to treat anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation…

….I chose recovery…went to an A.A. meeting around the corner from my apartment that she had recommended. It was a an alumni 12step meeting started by Betty Ford. And I signed up to have daily therapy at the Smithers Foundation.

Taking that initial step into recovery was made easier by the welcoming from people in long term recovery whose lived experience was so generously shared with me…

Betty Ford came regularly to the meeting, already well known for her openness as first lady—a trend that continued long after the Fords left the White House, when she created the Betty Ford Center for addiction. Her generosity of spirit is legendary.

Eventually when fear of drinking or using drugs was no longer my first waking thought I began to feel hopeful, about the “bridge back to “normal living” my recovery was manifesting…along with sober companies we felt inspired to take meetings into hospitals, not dissimilar to my own experience in A&E, to talk to people who were being abandoned by healthcare system failures to help them… and we took meetings into prisons…

I learned from others with lived experience new ways to rewire rogue addictive neural pathways from firing off an autopilot urge for instant gratification…knowing this would trigger relapsing back to my drugs of choice: vodka, valium and cocaine….

I came to believe the truism: feelings pass, and developed patience in trusting the process….hugely helped by a lived experience, continuum of care that included for many years: Ayurvedic and allopathic medicine when it is necessary. Weekly psychotherapy, and monthly naturopathic therapies transformed my mind, body and spirit into one of thriving and optimal wellbeing.

Quitting nicotine, sugar, fat and salt…over time has become easier to maintain with daily yoga, mindfulness and meditation.

I am trained in hypnotherapy and the benefits of self hypnosis is brilliant to apply when I need to destress my thinking…and hit reset…to restore my bodies natural ability to heal…

My therapeutic biopsychosocial approach is compassionate, mindful and is about empowering people, meeting them where they are….when they in need of help with addiction.

….that A&E intervention occurred October 12, 1988. And I have been sober ever since. My recovery tribe in NYC was back then a wild mix of people, new to recovery like me..doing 90 meetings in 90 days….is essentially counting days in recovery, so people get to know me, and initiated the process of being in recovery.

In addition to people in recovery whose lived experience with the spectrum of substance related conditions taught me about the importance of enhancing the effectiveness of recovery. whose compassionate wisdom and learned experience in recovery supported me, who loved me until I could love myself, taught me to never quit, and how to live sober..how to become an asset in my recovery community.

…addiction had decimated my personal and professional life.. episodic outbursts of anger when I did get not what I wanted….to fill the hole in my soul, and satiate feeling worthless…helpless and hopeless… feeling as though I had no skin, no separation from me or you..eventually settled into growth spurts…life was becoming manageable, I was learning how to live life sober…

For the past 27 years since retraining in addiction therapy and counselling in 1991, I continue to help people who may not want but need recovery to engage in SMART recovery programmes and or 12step fellowships.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine’s definition of addiction: a brain disorder, an illness, cognitive impairment impacted by drug use and trauma meant my brain was similar to that of a stroke victim…

With a new addiction healthcare initiative proposal gaining traction the outcome will be actualising clinics specific to addiction treatment and recovery.

Talking, debating discoursing the shocking opioid related deaths is not going to save lives…it is listening to our call for action that will generate a change in how people in need access and receive care,

We want to the opportunity to set standards, pioneer research, educate professionals and the public, challenge stigma, with endeavours to enhance the goal of treating addiction and save lives.

The following strategic plan provides a road map to guide and prioritize that way forward.

• Positive changes are seen as starting points for the recovery process: reduced harm, safer use, reduced use, moderation and potential abstinence.

• A comprehensive initial assessment will determine an initial personalized treatment plan based on substance use severity, the psychobiosocial factors, multiple meanings and functions of the behaviour, motivation to change, and insight.

• Effective treatment has a primary focus on engagement and therapeutic alliance throughout the assessment process that “starts where the person is” with compassion, respect and acceptance, because creating safety and support are seen as essential to the therapeutic outcomes.

• Teaching self-management skills to address urges and difficult emotions is often essential. An ongoing assessment throughout treatment deepens both client and therapist awareness of the addiction severity and its meaning and functions.

• Exploring the client’s resistance to change reveals the issues that need new solutions. As these issues are clarified, positive change goals around the substance use and these issues can be established.

• And, finally, a personalized plan for pursuing these positive changes can be developed collaboratively between addiction trained doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, lived experience volunteers and holistic therapists. The plan may include a biopsychosocial approach to person centred healing… medically assisted detoxing, addiction primary care, addition centric therapeutic modalities, lifestyle changes, all depending on the client’s choice and needs.

An affordable way to introduce this fundamentals of addiction training is through training medical staff and first responders who are already working with people in a health crisis with the additional support of peer-led trained volunteers who will also be based within these services.

The following links reveal the backbone of the ASAM evidence-based research and teachings:

The ASAM definition of addiction: http:// https://www.asam.org/resources/definition-of-addiction

Recovery shape changes over time: from chaotic intensity to growing and thriving. … one keeps taking actions to maintain the momentum of recovery…I have never wanted to pick up an illicit drug, an alcoholic drink or disconnect from my recovery tribe by stopping going to meetings, isolating and falling back into self destructive behaviours.

You are not alone. Keep on doing your best to be your best. Recovery has turned my addiction into an asset – I am a person in longterm recovery, with a family, and a recovery community…I live life on life’s term, in the immediacy of daily life….with optimal lived experience, strength and hope.

Biopsychosocial Treatment and Recovery

CONNECTING THE DOTS Addiction creates complex health issues: Disorganised obsessive thinking. Constant mental and physical cravings. Compromised nutrition – sugar, fat and salt fast-food addiction. The lack of meaning and purpose in the immediacy of daily life (spiritual bankruptcy) causes great suffering…

Recovery has changed my life, and helped me reclaim authenticity, compassion, esteem and respect for myself and others.

People who are not addicts, ( I am married to one) understand addiction when I say “one is too many and a thousand not enough) because he observes me often struggle with emotional, mental and physical balance…and understands to clear the room when my character defects: frustration, procrastination, perfectionism and intolerance are making me act out in anger…he gets is that it is not about him…that we have done a lot of work around these issues is a measure of our commitment to “conscious coupling” that can left unattended slip into unconscious in a non second…but I digress…

I am person longterm. My recovery tribe – the global recovery community, is in multiple of millions, however it is an individual/person-centred recovery process….moreover the language of recovery is universal – I have sat in meetings India, Paris, Rome, Istanbul, and felt deeply connected to every single person in the recovery meeting room despite language, cultural, class, gender and age differences.

…the connection we share is compassionate and silent….until we invite other to share their lived experiences and the words we share unify, and do not divide us…our class does not separate us..it is without a doubt the most humbling of life experiences to be in recovery..to be of service, to compassionately helps others in need of sharing their problems in staying and or live a sober life…one day at a time…

I can often get caught up in the madness that is 21st centre urban living, however I am mindful of the constant need to unplug my “wanting machine” pause, return to NOW…and detach from this insta-world of want….

When a person is given the all clear after undergoing rigours treatments for cancer the doctor will state that their metabolic syndrome is cancer free…( vital organs) and their body is self-regulating to a higher level of optimal health.

The overarching burden of continued health problems in recovery is omitted in from improved health and quality of life follow-up studies of clinical samples.

Little information has been available on the health status of people in recovery within larger community samples.

ACCESSIBILITY: Everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is a fundamental human right, protected by international law.

Although the right to health is legally grounded, universal healthcare is not about law, policy or prohibitions.

Universal Healthcare is the right to health in the day-to-day work of health care professionals within a universally accepted framework of values.

The right to universal health does not ask governments to commit resources they do not possess to the provision of health care. It asks those who make decisions that affect people’s health – be they health professionals, private corporations or public bodies – to promote and protect health, and to understand and to justify the effects of their decisions.


ACCOUNTABILITY
By signing international human rights treaties that affirm the right to health, a state agrees to be accountable to the international community, as well as its citizens, for the fulfilment of its obligations.

PARTICIPATION
The right to participate in decision-making is a guiding principle of all human rights. A human rights approach to health emphasizes that good health services can only be achieved if people participate in their design and delivery.

The involvement of peer-led lived experiences within recovery communities has been shown to increase the likelihood that the needs of the community will be met more effectively and thus contribute to achieving better health. Participation helps ensure that the health system is responsive to the particular health needs of disenfranchised addiction and mental heath groups.


YOGA RECOVERY RETREAT


This Digital Retreat is for anyone dealing with addictions of any kind to be in community, create your personal holistic recovery programme. http://YOGARECOVERYRETREAT.COM

Yoga and Recovery Digital Retreat with Rolf Gates, Tommy Rosen and Nikki Myers

You are cordially invited to the Online Yoga & Recovery Retreat!

During this 3-day course, you will have the opportunity to connect in an up-close and personal way with three yoga teachers who have a combined recovery experience of over 75 years.

Tommy Rosen, Nikki Myers, and Rolf Gates are teachers who have spent the past two decades teaching individuals and families how to heal from addiction of all kinds and thrive in their lives.

This course is designed to help you embody a lifestyle and approach to recovery that is holistic, effective and tremendously f

Nikki Myers, Founder, Yoga of 12-Step Recovery
Rolf Gates, Yoga Teacher & Author
Tommy Rosen, Founder, Recovery 2.0

WHY TAKE THIS COURSE?
This online retreat experience is a combination of 12-Step philosophy and wisdom, with the power and time-tested practices of yoga.

Now you can access the best of the best of these teachings anytime, anywhere.

This 15 hour course includes:

3 Wisdom Talks
3 Full Yoga Practices
2 Introduction Talks
Multiple Q&A Videos from Each Teacher
Parting Words Video
Lifetime Access to the Course.
For the first week of this release, you can purchase the Yoga and Recovery Digital Retreat and receive $100 off the regular price.

Take advantage of this Early Bird Offer before Tuesday July 9th.

Drugs
Alcohol
Food Addiction
Codependency
Sex
Gambling
Technology
This includes everyone!

Personal Recovery: start where you are…

Personal recovery begins with subtle, small and or big changes in how to live consciously, connected and in community.

Keeping it simple is the mantra for people new to recovery. I am a person in longterm recovery – over 30 years….and taking a person new to recovery is truly a process.

Be still.Learn to love the hurt until it becomes love.

Stress causes shallow breathing….opening up the diaphragm straightens the back, relaxes the shoulders and triggers a cascade of energy from head to toe…the benefits of a micro body scan are noticeable in the present moment…oxygen is essential for the optimal health/the bodies building blocks….

Relational impasses can shift when you express your needs, without the expectation that the other person will agree, help you or take care of you….quell disappointing…but hey ho…learn this lesson now and you will end your suffering….

Holding onto resentments creates suffering…toxic energy blocks within the body….and depression…I suggest saying goodbye to fear and hello to courage.

When the body says no is expressed it reinforces self-denial of being well, happy and free from the bondage of self obsession…and is void of self-care.

My brains’s hardwiring does the firing. Codependency – same relationships problems, different day…is defined as being in a rut and decorating…no-one to feels like a victim…

24/7 cycles of expectations and resentments….wishful/woeful thinking” they will change. next time will be different…maybe if I try harder….maybe if I love them more…maybe baby …will never happen…the illusion is that we think we change another person’s behaviour….the reality is that I can choose to change mine…

Life in the the blame game” passively aggressive disempowering dynamics gets smaller and smaller, we lose our voice, our narrative occurs in our head and not in reality…rumination perpetuates procrastination…

If I am tired, hungry, angry, lonely, or vulnerable I need to return to the moment, self care with boundaries…not a barricade and take an action to halt the negativity ..I choose to switch to a YES breathing….Pausing….and stating to myself: “What I need in this moment….to restore feeling safe, potent, powerful and present?”

My 5am mantra: Gratitude @ waking up….prompts an out of bed and into a morning meditation and yoga ritual… fabulous for easing into the day with a positive, fluid intention: to be my best…

Today, it was warm and I went into my garden for a walking meditation, totally felt sense immersive connection to all this… dewy, damp earth beneath my feet – thousands of nerve endings gently stimulated into love and life…life at its best…

Self-care is essential to wellbeing. However you want or need to begin the day, believe this: you can heal your life…in the present moment: breathing in hope, deep belly breaths that internally massage on a cellular level any issues with the tissues!

May you be well, happy and enjoying the present moment. Metta.

How do love? How can we reclaim our sense of innocent childhood joy? We incarnate as the intent archetype…dependent upon our caregivers love us unconditionally may not be your childhood memory…it is never to late to have a hepper childhood….if you revisit painful memories visualise connecting to you younger self with love, compassion and forgiveness….have a little chat this younger version of you…let them know that you are there for them…you will not abandon them with an addiction to disconnection…you will be their shadow…you have their back…you love them…the power of positive biofeedback is in how this changes the life script…from being lonely to being part of a wider recovery community…you are not alone!

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Margery Williams Bianco – The Velveteen Rabbit

Be prepared for life to be perfectly imperfect! Love is unbounded….the one making it conditional is you…return to that time in your life when everything made sense, and move on……your higher self wants to love you back to wellness.

Hope is a heartbeat away in the searching for meaning

VIKTOR FRANKL’S Mans Search for Meaning is one of the great books of our time. Typically, if a book has one passage, one idea with the power to change a person’s life, that alone justifies fies reading it, rereading it, and finding room for it on one’s shelves.

in the 1930s, Frankl was cast into the Nazi network of concentration tration and extermination camps. Miraculously, he survived, in the biblical phrase “a brand plucked from the fire.” But his account in this book is less about his travails, what he suffered and lost, than it is about the sources of his strength to survive. Several times in the course of the book, Frankl approvingly quotes the words of Nietzsche: “He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.”

Terrible as it was, his experience in Auschwitz reinforced what was already one of his key ideas: Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life. Frankl saw three possible sources for meaning: in work (doing something thing significant), in love (caring for another person),

and in courage during difficult times. Suffering in and of itself is meaningless; we give our suffering meaning by the way in which we respond to it. At one point, Frankl writes that a person “may remain brave, dignified and unselfish, or in the bitter fight for self-preservation he may forget his human dignity nity and become no more than an animal.” He concedes that only a few prisoners of the Nazis were able to do the former, “but even one such example is sufficient proof that man’s inner ner strength may raise him above his outward fate.”

Viktor E. Frankl. Man’s Search for Meaning (p. x). Kindle Edition.

JUST FOR TODAY

Three words.

Would I rather be right or happy? I used to want to be both! Instead I was desperately unhappy in my addiction to drama, drugs, alcohol and pain…

I am in longterm recovery ….30 plus years of lived experience of living clean and sober…life is exactly how it is supposed to be…one day at a time…

The mantra “just for today” helped me learn how to trust the process of recovery and cope particularly in my early recovery with disappointment, disagreements, caused by expectations for example…and the illusion that I was in control of people, places and things…

…eventually my thinking and focus were in alignment ergo intentional, and underpinned by the motivation to be the best version of me…

I hold onto the ever present unconditional support from my global online and in the rooms, recovery tribe…the people who loved me until could love myself…until I could allow the hurt to become love…never quit on me…. nor I on them…

you are not alone…if I can recover so can you…don’t quit… ever…

A CALL FOR HELP


“To be a more successful country we need to see an overall improvement in our population health, and we need to close the gap between the health of our wealthiest communities and the health of our poorest.

Only through an effective partnership can we make the best use of our collective resources and work together to tackle our most difficult challenges – making a real difference to the prosperity and wellbeing of our communities.”
Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP
First Minister of Scotland

Universal Addiction Healthcare is a longterm recovery legacy programme, founded in January, 2019 by myself and Mike Delaney to create within UK & Europe public healthcare services: 24/7 Addiction A+E clinics. Holistic primary inpatient healthcare clinics, and continuing care-outpatient programmes.

An interdisciplinary holistic approach, facilitated by trained in the fundamentals of addiction medicine healthcare professional and like-minded volunteers from recovery communities.

The addiction medicine trainings ensures people in need of addiction healthcare have access to all levels of treatment. From crisis to calm: medically supervised detoxes, nutrition, stress-management somatic therapies: breath-work, yoga, tai-chi, Ayurveda & TCM medicines, homeopathic and allopathic complimentary supplements, and when it is needed prescribed medication to create a continuum of care (stabilising the stages of addiction recovery) mind, body and soul.

Universal Addiction Healthcare’s continuum of compassionate care safeguard a person’s vulnerability to stress-related relapse – with mindfulness stress management techniques to reduce anxiety and mood swings.

Compassion. Community. Connection.

The first clinics are scheduled to open in Edinburgh and Glasgow in the Autumn, 2019. For too long people in need of specific universal addiction and mental healthcare are continuously prescribed the wrong medication to help them in their recovery from active addiction.

Few doctors understand the addictive component to medication. And that medication needs to be monitored for side effects.

Compassion. Community. Connection.

Health Emergency

We are experiencing a global health crisis. The number of opioid overdoses is increasing on a daily basis. People in need of addiction healthcare are being denied treatment because they lack funding.

Recently in Edinburgh Railway Station, we came across a man who’s suffering was palpable, without a home, friends, visible means of support ground down by a life of abject poverty, partially collapsed against the railing, disenfranchised from society, in utter despair. His ravaged face remains etched in my memory of that moment in time…he is one of many homeless people, who on a daily basis fade into the background, ignored and isolated from basic human rights to healthcare, compassion and community.

We stopped to give him money and spent a few minutes in silence, compassionately praying for his safety. As we walked away with heavy hearts it was easier to remain silent than to talk about feeling powerless to help him beyond the offer of money…

I know what it is like to have nothing, addiction took everything from me…the priceless love and respect of my family and friends…my home, job, and by the grace of god I did not die despite wishing I could…I was once I committed to living sober, rebuild a life in recovery.

I am beyond grateful that the obsession to drink and drug was lifted 30 years ago. Freedom from the bondage of self obsession. My life today is one of hope, love and happiness. The past has no power over me..The present unfolds with grace and effort…

I have my recovery tribe to thank for helping me stay sober, and the hundreds of hours I have sat in the chair, at a 12step recovery meeting, sharing my experience, strength and hope…with people who loved me until I could love myself….people who tell me the truth, have my back and never let me forget to keep coming back…

From the early days of being sober, to today it is my responsibility to do service within my recovery community…whether it is simply reaching out to a newcomer at a meeting, speaking at a conference about healing trauma, stabilising addiction recovery is what I do with an un-tired spirit… to carry the message of help, hope and recovery.

Every day is a new beginning…And I feel blessed to have the support of colleague and friend, clinician Mike Delaney. We decided last year that enough was enough ….that it was time to commit to changing the way people in an addiction crisis access help…

So…we are partnering with the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and a multinational pharmaceutical company to create “Addiction Emergency Clinics within the A&H- NHS hospitals.

The ASAM has devised a sustainable “Fundamentals of Addiction Medicine” training programme that supports doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and counsellors in the US and we want to bring this training into the public health sectors, within the UK and Europe.

Time takes time….and we are very patient…the task at hand is to convince Scottish Health Ministers to support universal addiction healthcare…and a significant change in how healthcare is accessed is near…soo it will be a green light and we, along with volunteers from the recovery community form alliances with doctors, nurses, healthcare workers to open 24/7 addiction emergency clinics starting in Glasgow and Edinburgh…to help people regain their lives free from the hell on earth that is active addiction.

Mike and I are working a living legacy programme that will provide healthcare to addicts in need…medically supervised detox, primary inpatient care from trained in addiction healthcare doctors, nurses and therapists…then when it is time to go to the next level of recovery ongoing sustainable support from the wider recovery community to ensure safety, help and hope continues between recovery meetings…

Compassionate universal addiction healthcare is percolating away in our minds and hearts. Soon we will let you know where to go to get help for yourself and or someone you know is suffering…..

Meanwhile have hope, and know you are not alone.

HOPE: RECOVERY FROM EMOTIONAL STRESS

ANXIETY: can feel overwhelming, and it is something I have learned how to master at different stages in my life… that I was prescribed valium as a teenager to “calm me down” is another story…about what not to do…but this gateway drug became one of the drugs I used to numb the the pain of existence with…

Because until I came in to recovery from addiction in 1988 when I needed to learn new ways to eventually stop an internal “ringing bell” from causing mental and physical agitation/overthinking.

Panic. Reactivity. Impatience. Frustration. Procrastination. Perfectionism.

Behaviours plus trauma triggers worked to disconnect me from reality… and I needed in my early recovery to learn how to feel safe, boundaried and present….A lifetime of habitually abandoning myself…people pleasing, enmeshment, fusion…velcro relationships based upon trauma bonds were tricky to stay in and and hard to leave behind….in part because my hardwired childhood coping mechanisms fired off to quickly and caused conflict my only available coping mechanism was to run…

Based upon my personal experience in the various stages of recovery that began with a medically supervised inpatient detox and continues with an evolved in spiritual practices and humanistic psychotherapeutic disciplines my “who am I?” easily answered to day: I am a person in longterm recovery.

I recommend to people beginning a recovery process that they ask for help in finding therapist in addition to connecting with a sustainable recovery tribe to support the process between meetings etc… isolation is a trigger and the sense of being that get from my recovery tribe is just beautiful…a small group pf men and women who love me unconditionally but keep my honest. committed to recovery and authentic…

I could not have done this alone…my friends in recovery are still my friends today…without the flow of reciprocity I would not have learned how to grow up..because the first time around in my childhood one did not ‘grow or thrive” …

Enduring a childhood in which chaos was a normal, nurturing rare, and happiness fleeting meant I survived rather than thrived…it has taken many hours in therapy, unpacking my soul’s exquisite pain.. became the building blocks that signify the foundation of my personal recovery.

…this is due to staying current with my recovery tribe, morning and evening meditation, breath work and a mantra…that begins with I am…

I learned the value of breath work when the stress from being in early recovery was overwhelming…to help I began attending immersive retreats to learn how to be comfortable with uncertainty, reduce the free-floating fear of the unknown and be present…. practicing in silence was an advantage that I promptly forgot when I returned home to the frantic pace of 21st century urban living…

The universe, my family and friends have my back..so it is easier to be mindful of how I am showing up, constantly observing myself with the intention to be the best version of me helps silence negative thinking……I do this by continuously affirming and empowering ways to reduce the stress and anxiety that occurs comes from overthinking…

Throughout the day I make the time to pause, step away from the computer, and begin with bring attention to the breath…the first sign I am stressed is when my breathing becomes shallow…so it makes sense to do a few deep belly breaths…this helps reduce tightness in the neck and shoulders…opens up the diaphragm, and on the exhale reduces carbon dioxide levels within the body…

I find visualising being gently pulled up from the crown chakra, from a loving “higher-self-golden thread” straightens my spine, opens up my shoulders, which releases any mind/gut tension and increases oxygen into the body, gently…and soon calmness is restored…and I feel positively grounded in integrity…

Mindful awareness helps me be the best version of me… authentic, autonomous, boundaries and naturally at peace within myself… How important is meditation? For me..it it is essential…I have been practicing meditation for over 40 years, and I consider meditation a way of life…

In the 70’s I spent time training in Transcendental Meditation in the 70’s using a mantra and breathwork. This practice changed my life, but did not stop me from progressing someone with a problem with drugs and alcohol to an addictive personality whose daily dependency upon drugs and alcohol had devastating consequences in all areas of my life……I hurt people, family and friends. It states in the “BIG BOOK” of alcoholics anonymous that prisons, institutions and death await people who use to their detriment…

that I escaped from hell on earth is a miracle…I did not want to get sober for the first time I went to rehab…it was only after a five month relapse and a medical intervention that I surrendered…and stopped self medicating, sabotage and engaging in the slow-suicide that is active addiction..

I am in longterm recovery (over 30 years) my world stopped for a few moments 12th October, 1988, in the moment I heard a voice say…”addiction will not kill you, it will make you lose our mind” and I knew that there was another way and I had to return to 12steps fellowships to find my way out of this living hell on earth…

It is story for another place and time…suffice to say I am a work in progress…with a healthy measure of humility I remain teachable, willing to change, and be the best version of me…my personal recovery is a journey that has taken me to many places…one that proved to be profound was a year spent living in a rural Indian village in 1998.

During this timeout time I had the opportunity to travel to visit sacred sites, ashrams and meet with remarkably spiritual people. I am grateful for this time because of the abundant lessons that helped my in my quest for meaning… I added to my knowledge of meditation by studying Vipassana meditation: “The Art of Living” which means to see things as they really are, and is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation.

This non-sectarian technique aims for the total eradication of mental impurities and the resultant highest happiness of full liberation.
Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind.

It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.

The scientific laws that operate one’s thoughts, feelings, judgements and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace.

1998, Life in rural India with the local villagers whose love, laughter and hard work imprinted within me the need to be present, aware, autonomous and happy!

BREATHE. BE STILL. BE YOU.

A new study reports the rhythm of your breathing can influence neural activity that enhances memory recall and emotional judgement.

Source: Northwestern University.

Breathing is not just for oxygen; it’s now linked to brain function and behavior. 

Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered for the first time that the rhythm of breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall.

These effects on behavior depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth.

In the study, individuals were able to identify a fearful face more quickly if they encountered the face when breathing in compared to breathing out. Individuals also were more likely to remember an object if they encountered it on the inhaled breath than the exhaled one. The effect disappeared if breathing was through the mouth.

“One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation,” said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, all across the limbic system.”

The study was published Dec. 6 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The senior author is Jay Gottfried, professor of neurology at Feinberg.

Northwestern scientists first discovered these differences in brain activity while studying seven patients with epilepsy who were scheduled for brain surgery. A week prior to surgery, a surgeon implanted electrodes into the patients’ brains in order to identify the origin of their seizures.

This allowed scientists to acquire electro-physiological data directly from their brains. The recorded electrical signals showed brain activity fluctuated with breathing. The activity occurs in brain areas where emotions, memory and smells are processed.

This discovery led scientists to ask whether cognitive functions typically associated with these brain areas — in particular fear processing and memory — could also be affected by breathing.

Image shows the location of the amygdala in the brain.

The amygdala is strongly linked to emotional processing, in particular fear-related emotions. So scientists asked about 60 subjects to make rapid decisions on emotional expressions in the lab environment while recording their breathing. Presented with pictures of faces showing expressions of either fear or surprise, the subjects had to indicate, as quickly as they could, which emotion each face was expressing.

When faces were encountered during inhalation, subjects recognized them as fearful more quickly than when faces were encountered during exhalation. This was not true for faces expressing surprise. These effects diminished when subjects performed the same task while breathing through their mouths. Thus the effect was specific to fearful stimuli during nasal breathing only.

In an experiment aimed at assessing memory function.  m— tied to the hippocampus — the same subjects were shown pictures of objects on a computer screen and told to remember them. Later, they were asked to recall those objects. Researchers found that recall was better if the images were encountered during inhalation.

The findings imply that rapid breathing may confer an advantage when someone is in a dangerous situation, Zelano said:

“If you are in a panic state, your breathing rhythm becomes faster,” Zelano said. “As a result you’ll spend proportionally more time inhaling than when in a calm state. Thus, our body’s innate response to fear with faster breathing could have a positive impact on brain function and result in faster response times to dangerous stimuli in the environment.”

Another potential insight of the research is on the basic mechanisms of meditation or focused breathing. “When you inhale, you are in a sense synchronizing brain oscillations across the limbic network,” Zelano noted.ABOUT THIS MEMORY RESEARCH ARTICLE

Other Northwestern authors include Heidi Jiang, Guangyu Zhou, Nikita Arora, Dr. Stephan Schuele and Dr. Joshua Rosenow.

Funding: The study was supported by grants R00DC012803, R21DC012014 and R01DC013243 from the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health.

Source: Marla Paul – Northwestern University
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Video Source: The video is credited to NorthwesternU.
Original Research: Abstract for “Nasal Respiration Entrains Human Limbic Oscillations and Modulates Cognitive Function” by Christina Zelano, Heidi Jiang, Guangyu Zhou, Nikita Arora, Stephan Schuele, Joshua Rosenow and Jay A. Gottfried in Journal of Neuroscience. Published online December 7 2016 doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2586-16.2016CITE THIS NEUROSCIENCENEWS.COM ARTICLE