Sunday, April 26, 2015

A recovering person walks into an Emergency Room...

...and what happens next ain't no joke.

Popular recovery wisdom suggests that you disclose to the physicians treating you that you have a history of chemical dependence or abuse. 
Sounds good.
But what happens next?
After decades of prescribing serious pain meds (the various 'codones and 'contins) the medical types are starting to wake up to the fact that people get hooked on them. And then what? Well, they show up looking for more where they got them--the Doc!

I am sure that no one needs me to explain the legitimate problem of the sick addict tying up a busy ER while looking for a medical fix. But what about the hapless soul who has worked hard to maintain recovery, only to be treated like the scammish conniving junkie they left behind years ago, just because they were honest enough to tell the truth about their history?

Fortunately, we are beginning to see some glimmers of common sense shining through the messy confusion in the way of ER protocols designed to accurately address the problem. It is possible to separate the med-seeker from the recovering individual in a dignified manner that allows both to get the treatments they need.

But let me be clear. These protocols, at this point, are a flashlight in a mine shaft.

The bigotry and ignorance couched in phrases like "once an addict, always an addict" are hard to eradicate. And the medical field is the same as any other in that respect.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Revival Maybe

So,  how come you stopped writing that great little blog, The Interventionist? Did you stop doing interventions? Go out of business? Dry up and have nothing to say?
What is this,  multiple choice? Okay, so I stopped writing for a while. What's the big deal?
You sound defensive.
Do not.
Do too.

That, or  some approximation, is what's been going on in my  head for the past year or so. It hasn't been resolved, but it is time to write myself out of a long dry spell. I started this blog with the intention of bringing addiction treatment into the 21st century.
I failed. Treatment remains as rooted in psychosocial superstition as ever.  Most rehabilitation centers are committed to methods consistently proven to be ineffective and dominated by finance rather than patient need.
It's time to begin looking at addiction and recovery in a new context.
A bigger context.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

An Old Man's Winter Night

What's the first thing you think of when you see a homeless kid on the street? 
Where are their parents? Why aren't they in school? Am I about to get robbed?
What so you feel?
Pity? Sadness? Anger? Fear?

Well, guess what? If you thought or felt anything, you are in the minority. Most of us see or think or feel nothing when we walk past a homeless kid, because we don't even see them.

We have taught ourselves to simply keep on walking, riding or driving. We don't see homeless people. They are invisible.

Scholars, politicians and others invariably have strong opinions on the subject, but let me offer my humble opinion: It's risky to care.And because it's risky, because we scare ourselves out of reaching out, we cultivate a tunnel vision that allows go about our business, blind and deaf to the misery around us. And misery it is.
Help Covenant House help a homeless teenager

Every Year, More Than 2 Million Kids in America Will Face a Period of Homelessness

Behind the face of every homeless young person is another heartbreaking story – a teenage boy abused by his alcoholic parent, a pregnant girl rejected by her guardian, or a teenager trying to escape gang membership or a life of forced prostitution.
In case after case, the main cause of youth homelessness is physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse from parents or guardians.
The facts about homelessness are staggering ... but acknowledging the depth of the problem is the first step in fixing it.
  • 57% of homeless kids spend at least one day every month without food.
  • In the United States, as many as 20,000 kids are forced into prostitution by human trafficking networks every year.
  • According to a study of youth in shelters, nearly 50% reported intense conflict or physical harm by a family member as a major contributing factor to their homelessness.
  • More than 25% of former foster children become homeless within two to four years of leaving the system.
  • 50% of adolescents aging out of foster care and juvenile justice systems will be homeless within six months because they are unprepared to live independently and have limited education and no social support.
  • Almost 40% of the homeless in the United States are under 18.
I will be acknowledging the problem by sleeping on the streets of New York City on March 21st. Please acknowledge the problem by joining me. If you can't do it in person, please do it by making a donation to Covenant House.They have been helping homeless kids since 1972.

Covenant House Sleepout NYC 3/21/2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sleeping On The Street: Help Me Help Covenant House

A teenager on the street is the most vulnerable creature alive, fresh meat to every conceivable predator, addiction and abuse. Sometimes they believe they can't go back to their families; sometimes they literally cannot.
When I started working with teenagers in trouble, back in the 1970s, Covenant House was already there, doors open to kids in need.
Later this month some friends and I will be sleeping on the streets of NYC to draw attention to the problem of homelessness among teenagers, and to raise money for Covenant House to continue to do its good work.
The streets may be no country for old men, but they're no place for a kid, either.
Thanks to all of you who have contributed!
For those of you who haven't, well, I'm begging you. Whatever you can give. no contribution is too small. I'm begging so some kid on the street doesn't have to beg, or worse, to get a meal and a warm place to sleep.

Young Professional Edition 2014 - New York: Ken Williams - Sleep Out: Young Professional Edition - Covenant House

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Tips For Everyone: Remember, It Didn't Work Out Well For The Indians, Either.

Surviving Thanksgiving

Think surviving is too strong a word? The National Safety Council estimates between 365 and 517 traffic deaths over the Thanksgiving Weekend, with estimates of non-fatal accidents ranging from 39,000 to 55,300.

Overdose deaths are on the increase for the 11th consecutive year, presently averaging at nearly 40,000 per year. Or 105 per day. It’s a lot.

And there are always the smaller but significant statistics, the unfortunate souls who burn down the house while cooking the turkey, and the guy who electrocutes himself while putting lights up.

And that’s just for starters: How about mental health? While the old myth about suicide rates increasing over the holidays has been laid to rest, the fact is that there is something about the warm embrace of family and friends over a meal consisting of alcohol, starches and tryptophan that can really make you want to jump out of your skin, especially the warm embrace of the inevitable inebriated relative that lingers way too long.

What you can do:

Sober alcoholics in AA have developed some wonderful concepts that can be helpful to anyone dealing with a touch of holiday blues.

One Day At A Time: You don’t have to be an alcoholic to appreciate this one. Thanksgiving, Christmas New Years—when you break it down, each one is just another day. This helps to whittle down the juggernaut of “The Holidays” into a series of days, each one of which is manageable.

If family relations are strained or frayed, the holiday dinners and parties are a lot easier to get through if you are looking at it as just one day to get through and nothing more. It’s going to be a few hours of that day, actually, and anybody can handle a difficult relative for that time. Focus on the people who you really want to see, do your best with the ones you don’t, and always have an escape route!

Another bit of recovery wisdom useful this time of year is “Easy Does It.” Another therapist once asked, “You want to know what gets people crazy over the holidays?” His answer: “Their expectations.”

If you think about it, most holiday stress is self-generated. When did busting through the door of the big box store become the iconic image of the holiday season? Is there anything less appropriate to a season of gratitude, generosity and appreciation than a frenzy of greed? Easy Does It. Take a moment to think about what you really need. What you can give rather than what you can get. Easy Does It. Your party doesn’t have to be the biggest to be the best for your family and friends. Easy Does It, a good mantra for a hectic time of year.
A last recovery slogan that is helpful with the holidays is “Live And Let Live.” It’s common that over the holidays you may find yourself in social situations with people you would rather avoid. The anticipation of having to cozy up to someone you despise at the office party, or sit next to at the family Thanksgiving dinner, is enough to spoil the event before it has even happened. Live And Let Live lets you remember that obnoxious as someone may be, they have their life, and you don’t have to live it. It eases that judgmental part of ourselves that knows, down deep inside, that all would be well if everyone did exactly what we wanted them to do. All the time.

So, take the holidays one day at a time. When you find yourself stressed by slow traffic, long retail lines, endless Christmas lists, remember: Easy Does It! And when Uncle Jack from upstate decides to tell you everything that is horribly wrong with the last candidate you voted for, Live And Let Live. Take it easy on the booze and don’t burn your house down and you will have a good holiday season!