Saturday, 11 March 2017
Dibyniaeth ac Awtomateiddio Am y rhan fwyaf o hanes y ddynoliaeth, mae pobl wedi diffinio eu hunain a’u gwerth drwy eu gwaith. I addasu geiriau’r Testament, “Wrth eu gwaith (nid eu gweithredoedd) yr adnabyddir hwynt.” Ond mae’r byd sy’n gyfarwydd i ni, lle gall gwaith sicrhau hunaniaeth, pwrpas a statws, yn debygol o gael ei ddileu yn ystod yr ychydig ddegawdau nesaf. Mae’r cynnydd anorfod mewn awtomateiddio yn mynd i arwain at gymdeithas lle na fydd gan y rhan fwyaf o bobl unrhyw waith o gwbl. A beth fydd yn digwydd i’n teimlad o ‘hunaniaeth’ wedyn? Unwaith y bydd hyn wedi digwydd, bydd ein cymdeithas yn wynebu her aruthrol – argyfwng yn wir. Mae hyn yn fater y dylai Llywodraeth y dydd ei ystyried, waeth mae’n ymwneud yn uniongyrchol ag economi’r wlad a, thrwy hynny, â iechyd a chysur y genedl. Yn anffodus, does dim arwydd bod hyn yn cael unrhyw sylw o gwbl. Nid yw’r broblem yn anorchfygol ond, os na wneir paratoadau, un o’r canlyniadau tebygol yw y bydd miliynau o bobl, heb lawer o bwrpas yn eu bywydau, yn troi at gysur medd-dod o ryw fath. Argyfwng gwacter ystyr yw dibyniaeth yn y pen draw; os nad oes unrhyw ystyr neu bwrpas i fywyd, yna mae encilio i ebargofiant cyffuriau ac alcohol yn gwneud synnwyr perffaith. Mae nifer o adictiaid yn gwella yn y diwedd – pan fydd y boen o golli popeth oedd yn rhoi pwrpas a strwythur i’w bywydau, yn mynd yn rhy annioddefol. Ydy, mae colli swydd, perthynas a statws yn gallu sbarduno adictiaid i wella ac, yn y pen draw, i ailadeiladu eu bywydau – ond os mai bywyd wedi ei seilio ar werthoedd materol ydyw, yna dyw problem dibyniaeth ddim wedi ei datrys. Pethau dros-dro, pethau sy’n diflannu’n hawdd, yw pethau materol (a does dim yn mynd i fod yn fwy ansefydlog na gwaith yn y dyfodol) ac mae ar bawb angen gwerthoedd dyfnach os ydym i deimlo ein bod yn fodau cyflawn. Yr her sy’n ein hwynebu yw darparu model gwahanol o gymdeithas, cymdeithas heb waith, sy’n delio ag anghenion emosiynol a dyneiddiol pobl. Waeth os na lwyddwn yn hyn o beth, bydd nifer o aelodau’r gymdeithas a awtomateiddiwyd – pobl unig, dibwrpas a digalon, yn ceisio cysur mewn dibyniaeth a phethau eraill dinistriol. Nid oes angen ofni dyfodol di-waith. Wedi’r cyfan, nid yw bodau dynol wedi’u geni’n benodol i gyflawni tasgau ailadroddus o 9-5, dydd Llun i ddydd Gwener. A beth bynnag, dim ond rhyw 250 oed yw byd gwaith fel yr ydyn ni’n ei adnabod! Ond mae chwyldro diwydiannol newydd o’n blaenau, lle nad gwaith fydd canolbwynt bywyd pobl bellach. Yn y fath honno o sefyllfa, os yw pobl i gael bywydau cyflawn ac ystyrlon, mae angen iddynt gael arweiniad i ddarganfod ystyr dwfn a gwirioneddol mewn bywyd yn hytrach na phethau materol fel gwaith. Bydd cenedlaethau’r dyfodol yn byw gydag ychydig neu ddim gobaith am waith. Rhaid, felly, eu paratoi yn emosiynol ac yn ysbrydol ar gyfer byd sydd y tu hwnt i ddychymyg llawer ohonom ar hyn o bryd.
Addiction & Automation For much of human history, people have defined themselves and their worth through their work. To adapt a well-known TV advert, “We are what we do”. However, the world we have always known, where work can provide an identity, purpose and status, seems destined to be swept away in the next couple of decades. The inevitable increase in automation will eventually lead to a society where most people will not have a job. Once the ready-made identity that work provides is no longer available, who and what will we be? Once this happens, the challenges that will face society are significant – a real crisis, in fact. It is a matter for the Government of the day to consider – a matter essentially linked to the economy and, therefore, the health and well-being of the nation. Unfortunately, there seems to be almost no thought devoted to this universal global problem. The problem is not insurmountable but unless plans are put in place to prepare for this looming crisis, one of the likely consequences will be that millions of people, devoid of purpose, will seek stupefaction. Addiction is ultimately a crisis of meaning; if life has no meaning or purpose, then the retreat into the oblivion of drugs and alcohol makes perfect sense. Many addicts finally get well when the pain of losing everything in their lives that gave them purpose and structure becomes too acute. The loss of jobs, relationships and status can spur addicts into finally getting well and eventually rebuilding their lives. But a life where value is based on external things is not the real solution to the addiction problem. Not only are the ‘things’ of the world transitory and fleeting, especially in the case of work itself, but they cannot answer the deeper needs of the individual – the need for connection and wholeness. The challenge ahead is to provide an alternative model of society, post work, which addresses the real emotional and humanistic needs of people, because if we fail to do this many of the lonely, bored and disaffected members of the automatised society will seek comfort in addiction and other destructive pursuits. There is no need to fear a workless future; after all, human beings were not specifically born to perform repetitive tasks 9-5, Monday to Friday, and the world of work as we know it is only 250 years old anyway. But there is a new ‘industrial revolution’ ahead of us, where ‘work’ will not be the defining factor in people’s lives any more. In that scenario, if life is to be meaningful and fulfilling, people need to be guided to seek a real meaning derived from within, not from externalities such as work. The generations that will live with little to no chance of work need to be prepared emotionally and spiritually for a world that, currently, few of us can imagine.
Thursday, 29 December 2016
A message for the New Year from Living Room Cardiff In the days since his sad and untimely death, George Michael has been revealed to be not just a good, but a great man. His many acts of compassion, kindness, generosity and love, often to complete strangers were carried out anonymously. He seemed to avoid attention when he gave to others but in his passing these examples of caring and concern have become public knowledge. George Michael has died at a time when ideas of kindness, gentleness, solidarity and concern appear to be in retreat across the world; there is one other attribute he possessed which we might all do well to emulate and that is courage. In 2002, as many millions of people across the world looked on anxiously at the unstoppable march to war with Iraq, George Michael publicly spoke out against the war, knowing full well that he would be crucified by the tabloid press. He spoke out because he believed that the war was wrong and that it would end in catastrophe and history appears to have vindicated him on both counts. In the next twelve uncertain months that we will live through, we must all try to live in a spirit of compassion and courage both globally and in our everyday lives. At the Living Room Cardiff these values are central to everything that we do, compassion for the still suffering addict and courage in announcing the beliefs, ideas and values that the service encapsulates. In 2017 we will continue to research, plan and tackle the causes of compulsive gambling, we will offer comfort and support to addicts of all walks of life but also those in the clergy and the medical profession. We will focus on teaching recovery coaching to a new generation of skilled helpers to take the message of recovery and hope far and wide. We will also put a face and a name to the illness of addiction to draw it away from shame and secrecy. We will continue to challenge policy makers, brewers and retailers, casino chains, advertisers and every other branch of the addiction industry to put people before profits and to live up to the common humanity that binds us all. Uncertain times require quiet, persistent and bold action, taken in the spirit of kindness humanity and love. The great and good George Michael demonstrated this capacity for powerful positive action, combined with the utmost humility and the Living Room will do all it can to ensure these values live on. Neges i’r Flwyddyn Newydd oddi wrth Stafell Fyw Caerdydd Yn ystod y dyddiau diwethaf, ers ei farwolaeth drist ac anamserol, datgelwyd George Michael nid yn unig fel dyn da, ond fel dyn mawr. Cyflawnwyd ei dosturi, ei garedigrwydd, ei haelioni a’i gariad, yn aml i ddieithriaid, yn hollol ddienw. Roedd fel petai’n ceisio osgoi sylw pan oedd yn rhoi i eraill. Ond, oherwydd ei farwolaeth, mae’r enghreifftiau hyn o ofal a chonsyrn wedi dod i’r amlwg i’r cyhoedd. Mae George Michael wedi marw ar adeg pan mae egwyddorion caredigrwydd, tynerwch, cydsafiad a chonsyrn yn ymddangos fel petaen nhw’n diflannu. Mae yna un nodwedd arall iddo efallai y dylen ni i gyd ei hefelychu a hynny yw gwroldeb. Yn 2002, wrth i filoedd lawer ar draws y byd edrych yn bryderus ar y daith na ellid ei hatal, i ryfel gydag Irac, roedd George Michael yn siarad allan yn gyhoeddus yn erbyn y rhyfel, gan wybod yn iawn y byddai’n cael ei groeshoelio gan y wasg dabloid. Roedd yn gwneud hyn oherwydd ei fod yn credu bod y rhyfel yn hollol anghywir ac y byddai’n gorffen mewn trychineb. Mae hanes yn ymddangos fel petai wedi cael ei brofi’n gywir ar y ddau achlysur. Yn ystod y deuddeng mis ansicr nesaf y byddwn ni’n gorfod byw drwyddyn nhw, rhaid i ni i gyd geisio byw mewn ysbryd o dosturi a dewrder yn fyd-eang ac yn ein bywydau ni bob dydd. Yn Stafell Fyw Caerdydd, mae’r gwerthoedd hyn yn ganolog i bob peth rydyn ni’n ei wneud, tosturi tuag at yr adict sy’n dal i ddioddef a gwroldeb i gyhoeddi’r credoau, syniadau a’r gwerthoedd y mae’r gwasanaeth yn eu coleddu. Yn 2017, byddwn yn parhau i ymchwilio, cynllunio a delio ag achosion gamblo eithafol, byddwn yn cynnig cysur a chefnogaeth i adictiaid ym mhob maes bywyd ond hefyd i’r rhai o fewn yr eglwysi a’r proffesiwn meddygol. Byddwn yn canolbwyntio ar ddysgu hyfforddiant adfer i genhedlaeth newydd o gynorthwywyr cymwys i fynd â’r neges o adferiad a gobaith ar draws bob man. Byddwn hefyd yn rhoi wyneb ac enw i’r salwch o ddibyniaeth i sicrhau ei fod yn ddigywilydd a heb fod yn gudd. Byddwn yn parhau i herio gwneuthurwyr polisïau, bragwyr a mân werthwyr, cadwyni casino, hysbysebwyr a phob maes arall o’r diwydiant dibyniaeth i roi pobl cyn elw ac i ddilyn egwyddorion dynoliaeth gyffredin sy’n ein clymu ni oll. Mae amseroedd ansicr yn gofyn am weithredu tawel, cyson a dewr, gan ystyried yr ysbryd o garedigrwydd, dynoliaeth a chariad. Roedd y George Michael mawr a da’n dangos y gallu hwn i gymryd camau positif pwerus, ynghyd â’r gostyngeiddrwydd eithaf a bydd y Stafell Fyw’n gwneud popeth o fewn ei gallu i sicrhau bod y gwerthoedd hyn yn parhau.
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
In 1999, in a three square mile area of a major conurbation, armed violence fuelled by drug gang rivalries reached its peak. During that single year there were 270 firearms discharges, 43 gun-related injuries and 7 fatalities. Caught in the middle of this savagery, law enforcement services struggled to cope. On one occasion the local police headquarters was strafed by automatic gun fire, taking out the windows while the station commander sat at his desk. The city in question was not Chicago or Bogota, but Manchester – and the police commander in question was me. For those asked to deter and investigate the drug gangs of Manchester it was an extraordinary time, but strangely rarely a fearful one. When I patrolled the streets of Longsight, or led a firearms operation, it was exhilaration rather than apprehension that captured the emotions (but then I was a much younger man!). The estates of Manchester are a little quieter these days, thanks to programmes of civic regeneration and gang intervention, but there and throughout the world the war on drugs continues. Year by year the number of addicts grows, the complexity of the market develops, and the rewards associated with the trade grow ever more absurd (currently estimated at two trillion dollars per annum). Nations such as Mexico and Afghanistan are utterly undermined by the traders and the obscene violence they foster. The North Wales Police Commissioner’s recent call for a discussion on the legalisation of drugs follows many similar suggestions over the past couple of decades. Some ten years ago the North Wales Police Authority and Chief Constable came to a similar conclusion. In Colombia, a country which has suffered four decades of civil war fuelled by drug money, President Juan Manuel Santos has called for a global re-think on our approach. However, attitudes remain as polarised as ever. Across the other side of the globe, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines sanctions vigilante hit squads to eradicate the estimated three million addicts in the country. Following recent statements on drug policy from various quarters I have regularly been approached in the past few weeks for media statement on the local and national picture. I have declined to comment. In fact, this is a debate I have stayed out of for some time; not because I haven’t got any opinions but because expressing them is pointless. In Britain and in the nations capable of making a global difference there is no political appetite, at the level where decisions can be made, for a rational and evidence-based discussion. Critics, many of the highest academic credentials, are labelled feeble. Advisers are firmly put back in their box. The focus remains on creating law and then trying to enforce it. Meanwhile, the misery continues for hundreds of thousands of individuals across the UK: university towns are awash with MDMA, the streets are again flooded with heroin and our prisons are drowning in Spice. As it was for the police in South Manchester, the front line in the war against drugs can be an exciting place. The enemy is clear, the rules of engagement are rehearsed and with the chase comes the thrill. There is also the absolute certainty that by following this approach you will never be out of a job. So, at least for the time being I will refrain from entering the debate. Through CAIS I will continue the work of helping victims recover from the scourge of addiction and supporting them to lead more prosperous lives. At this season of goodwill, which for so many reasons seems misplaced in 2016, I hope that decision-makers can one day reflect that conversation costs nothing and that you don’t solve every problem by fighting a war. Merry Christmas. Clive Wolfendale CEO CAIS Ltd.
Monday, 12 September 2016
Winners & Losers At the Living Room Cardiff, time and again the underlying cause of addiction in our clients is a deep seated sense of worthlessness and a belief that they are ‘not good enough’. The belief is so prevalent and is no respecter of age, gender, social status or education that one might be forgiven for thinking that it is a virtually universal psychical condition in Britain. Our society could be likened to a factory for producing feelings and identities, its institutions and rules almost guarantee that a large portion of the population will constantly see themselves as failing, even when this belief guarantees that they will emotionally suffer throughout much of their lives. How does this happen and why have we contrived to treat so many people so cruelly? Nearly all of this harm is first done to children, worthlessness as a belief is first powerfully acquired at a young age, when there is no other frame of reference to challenge it. The pressures to be successful, to consume ever greater quantities of the world’s finite resources and to be loved, special or famous are drip fed to children by parents, schools and the media. A society based on illusory notions of competition and success is unlikely to educate children into any other world view than that there are winners and losers. The winners are permanently ill at ease, worried they might one day not be good enough to stay on their podiums and pedestals and the losers are educated that there is little, if any hope or role for them. In recent months the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, has made various promises about a new society of opportunity for all. However, when judging the real intentions of our rulers, it is more instructive to look at what they do, than listen to what they say. The announcement this week that grammar schools will be reintroduced into Britain, with the inevitable selection via the eleven plus (or equivalent exam) should tell us all a lot about the new opportunity Britain that is on the way. Despite all available peer reviewed data showing that grammar schools do not help social mobility, the government are pressing ahead with the repeal on their ban, perhaps knowing full well that they are divisive. It is all too easy to claim that an institution creates ‘winners’, while editing the ‘losers’ from the story, but we would invite the government to look at the situation from another perspective, that of a child. Seeing a small number of children being sent to a grammar school because, by all measures they are seen as ‘better’ can be a shattering experience. The idea that children must be taught at an early age to accept winning and losing, to toughen up and stop complaining, or the long held aversion in the British tabloid press to concern for ‘self-esteem’ are all part of a toxic ideological brew that our young people are forced to drink. Creating a pecking order of the ‘special’ and the ‘rest’ is a crucial part of the construction of class in Britain and it is also a crucial part in the creation of worthlessness. It is this worthlessness that many spend their entire lives evading because it is so painful and a significant number find the solution to their pain in addiction.
Monday, 27 June 2016
Butterfly Blog Number Two (24/06/2016) Greetings and welcome to the second edition of the butterfly blog. Developing your support network The first few weeks I have to say were about getting through each day clean and sober by whatever means possible. In times gone by when I had tried to stop I didn't change any of my other unhelpful behaviours that sat alongside the addiction. So for example I'd still lay in bed all day isolating myself and hiding away. I didn't reach out to anyone as I was convinced that I didn't deserve to be helped, supported or loved by anyone, but trying to do it on my own didn't work. We all need support in fighting the addiction demon. So this time I knew I had to be more active and put more effort into my recovery. I guess one of the reasons why I had been actively addicted for so long is because I was waiting for there to be an easy solution and eventually I had to get my head round the fact that there was no easy, quick fix. That I would have to work at getting well. A major challenge for me has been social anxiety and trusting anyone enough to let them in. My main source of support has come from all the people I have met at the Living Room Cardiff (LR), and I have spent every weekday at the LR since I stopped using skunk cannabis. I have made some great friends here, people who know the ups and downs of addiction and recovery. People who do not judge because they have gone through similar experiences. People who see the good in you at a time when the addiction has robbed you of all your self-esteem and self-love. People who will listen and understand. At first I found accepting this love and support very difficult because I struggle with such a low opinion of myself, and like many of us I have issues around trusting other human beings. I hold some very unhelpful beliefs about myself and others too which create barriers to letting people in. Such as “I am unlovable”, “I am not good enough”, “I am not worthy or deserving of love and support”, and “people will hurt and abandon me” etc. But my friends at the Living Room have been so patient with me during the ups and downs of the first month. They have provided me with a perspective that has challenged my unhelpful beliefs, seeing good things in me which I could not see in myself. They have challenged me and supported me, and accepted me however I’ve been. So I believe through my experience that developing a good social support network in recovery is so very important. Don't try to cope on your own - reach out. Accepting step one of the 12 steps of AA / NA Admit and accept that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addiction and that your life has become unmanageable. Over the last month I have struggled with this step. Prior to stopping, whilst still in the active addiction phase, I thought I had this idea nailed, but it turned out I may have grasped it intellectually (I knew it) but I hadn't truly got it (I hadn't truly accepted it). Over the last month I have had a few slips, usually at weekends when I am not at the LR and I have to deal with spending more time alone with myself, including all my thoughts, feelings, cravings etc. During the week I felt safer and more confident that I would not use, but there was something about the weekend that has had me really craving to get high on cannabis. Each time I have experienced one of these slips I have managed to use for an evening or a day and then flush the rest of the cannabis down the toilet, preventing a full blown relapse. But each time this happened I knew I was playing with fire – a dangerous game, but still I could not totally let go of wanting to use. I kept giving myself permission to use by telling myself lies like; a small bag won't hurt, I can manage just a little bit, I can't cope without getting high, getting high will make me feel better. Each time I slipped I tried to remain as aware as I could, and thus I was able to learn a lot from each slip. I guess that I ultimately learned that I couldn't control my use. I couldn't have one or two, no I'd be smoking constantly getting so stoned that I made myself feel physically and mentally unwell. I might get a very brief moment of relief from the way I was feeling, but the negative payback was way too great. I finally came to Admit and accept that I, of myself, am powerless to overcome my addiction and that my life had become totally unmanageable. Book of the week – The power of Now by Eckhart Tolle Quotes of the week - • Be around the light bringers, the magic makers, the world shifters, the game shakers. They challenge you, break you open, up-lift and expand you. They don't let you play small with your life. These heartbeats are your people. These people are your tribe. • It's not about perfect. It’s about effort and when you bring that effort every single day, that's where transformation happens. That's how change occurs. • NO ONE is ever too broken, too scarred, or too far-gone to create change. Never stop fighting. Never lose faith.
Saturday, 18 June 2016
All the names of people have been changed and no one else’s journey will be discussed here so as to maintain confidentiality. Greetings and welcome to the butterfly blog. This blog is about my recovery journey from the early days to … at the Living Room Cardiff. The back story I am in my forties and have been abusing drugs and alcohol since I was a teenager to escape the pain of repeated trauma experiences during this time of my life. Over the last five years I have stopped using alcohol and class A drugs, but my main problem has been the extreme and prolonged use of skunk cannabis. Skunk is a very strong form of cannabis bred specifically for its high THC content the active ingredient in cannabis that gets you high. This I am truly addicted to. I have used cannabis daily for the last 20 years. For 12 of those years I managed to hold down a job, social life and long term relationship despite my daily use, but in 2007 my relationship broke down. Then in 2008 I experienced a mental health breakdown leading to a three month admission to a psychiatric hospital. The year after I lost my job due to extended periods of sickness due to mental health problems including my addiction to cannabis. The following eight years have been devoted to getting stoned from waking up till going to bed. It has been a 24/7 occupation. I was either getting stoned, stoned or sleeping it off. I estimate that I have spent in the region of £25,000 over the last eight years on skunk. So the addiction has cost me dearly: my relationship, my career, my financial security, my social life and my physical health and sanity. I gave up everything I held dear for the addiction, including my morals. It’s fair to say that skunk has totally ruled and ruined my world for a very long time. Living Room Cardiff I heard about the Living Room from my GP who had been encouraging me to seek help for my addiction for a long time. For many years the denial was so great that I didn’t see the true extent of my problem, which now looking back seems like madness. At first I found it hard to fully engage. I had weekly 1:1 sessions with a lovely counsellor but I didn’t always turn up for them. I wouldn’t attend group therapy at first because I felt so anxious in group situations. So this is how I went for the first 19 months, dipping my toe into the recovery world. I managed to cut down my consumption during this time from nearly £700 a month to around £280. A real achievement for me. Then almost a month ago I hit my rock bottom and stopped completely. Rock bottom My rock bottom was prompted by a true realisation of what I was doing to my mum in order to maintain my addiction. Unbeknown to her I had been spending the money she had been giving me to pay my mortgage on skunk. I had felt terrible about this for a long time but the addiction was so strong that I hadn’t been able to stop myself behaving in this way. It wasn’t until my mum became the victim of a mail order draw scam that it truly hit home. I hated the scammers for doing this to my mum and I felt enraged at the company responsible, but then I had the realisation that what I had been doing was just the same, that I had also been scamming her all along. This lead to me feeling very suicidal to the point where I was planning my method. Suicidal thoughts and feeling are not new to me I have had to cope with them since the age of 13. The thing that had always kept me alive was the thought of what my suicide would do to family and friends, especially my mum. But now I didn’t care, I believed they’d be better off without me. I shared this with my brilliant peer support worker, others at the Living Room and my GP who all supported me brilliantly. I felt it was stop using or die time, so that’s what I did I stopped. I ceased to use skunk from the 19th May 2016 (bar three short lived slips). The blog I have been invited to write a blog for the Living Room about my recovery journey. Each week I’ll update the blog to keep you all update on this voyage into the unknown. So welcome aboard my recovery bus. I hope you’ll find riding alongside me interesting and maybe even useful.