Thursday, 18 June 2009

Taking the "heads" with the "tails"

When I was drinking I though my salvation lay in my own hands; and unless the cards were stacked right I was a very unhappy bunny indeed, always wishing for the impossible.

A friend took me aside shortly afterwards to explain things a little better to me. He reached for a coin from his pocket. “Remember how you were as a child, Wynford”, he said, “always wanting the ‘heads’ to land uppermost and not the ‘tails’? Well”, he said, “in order to possess this coin, I’m going to have to take the ‘heads’ with the ‘tails’ – there’s no other way I can place it in my pocket and call it my own. The same is true of life. If I want to live life fully and enjoy it in its entirety, I’m going to have to take the tears with the laughter, the sadness with the happiness, the poverty with the richness, the disappointment with the elation. Because, you see, they’re all basically one and the same. And if you experience one negative aspect in your life today, isn’t it heartening to know that on the other side lies its positive counterpart – and that that too is equally achievable, provided you accept without condition what you’re given today?”

He went on to relate a story from ‘The way of the peaceful Warrior’ by Dan Millman: A priceless white horse belonging to a farmer from Hapsburg escaped one day and ran away. The local people said, “O! What bad news!” The farmer just said, “Bad news, good news, who knows?” The following day the farmer’s only son fell down a ravine whilst looking for the horse and broke his leg in three places. “O! What bad news!” said the local people, the farmer just said, “Bad news, good news, who knows?” A week later the white horse returned with a hundred wild horses – each as priceless as the original. “O! What good news!” said the local people, “Good news, bad news”, said the farmer again, “who knows?” The following day, the king of Hapsburg declared war on the neighbouring country, and all the young people of Hapsburg under thirty were called up to fight in the war. Of course, the farmer’s son was exempt. He’d broken his leg in three places, remember? All the local people said, “O! What good luck,” the farmer just said, “Good luck, bad luck, who knows?” ‘

“And that’s the way life goes on – perfect in every way”, explained my friend, “provided we accept it all as the farmer from Hapsburg did.”

Can I accept life on life's terms today? Am I bravr enough to confront the burden of being human?

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I had a wonderful day yesterday (Thursday) - I had a very productive meeting with Mark Isherwood AM who was very supportive of my work (I'll also be preparing a paper for him on 'Children of Alcoholics' (COA's). I had a laugh with Andrew R T Davies AM, who has sponsored one of the prizes for the Cartoon Competition (which you can access on our website) www.welshcouncil.org.uk, and I was introduced to Jonathan Morgan AM and was given a committment that we would meet soon to discuss the Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs' 3 Year Strategy. Additionally, all Welsh Assembly Members received a copy of the Council's Inaugural Annual Lecture given by Dr David Best on "Evidence of hope: what do we know about sustained recovery from alcohol and drug addiction?"

Below is a copy of that letter:

Dear........................./ Annwyl.........................

Please find enclosed a copy of the Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs’ Inaugural Annual Lecture. The lecture was delivered by Dr David Best, Reader in Criminal Justice at the University of the West of Scotland, on the subject ‘Evidence of hope: what do we know about sustained recovery from alcohol and drug addiction?’

This lecture was very well attended and will, we hope, influence future Welsh Assembly Government thinking around treatment provision for alcohol and drug dependent people.

In essence, Dr Best is saying that most addictions treatment is not good enough and that treatment itself is not enough – it is not sufficient in its current form to support recovery. Dr Best, however, recognizes that recovery does happen and happens in community settings where indigenous resources provide the basis for the recovery journey. The evidence is there clear for us to see – now, with your help, we need to bring it alive in Wales and make available the help and support people need and deserve.

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Gweler yn amgaeedig gopi o Ddarlith Flynyddol Agoriadol Cyngor Cymru ar Alcohol a Chyffuriau Eraill. Traddodwyd y ddarlith gan Dr David Best, Darllenydd mewn Cyfiawnder Troseddol ym Mhrifysgol Gorllewin yr Alban, ar y testun ‘Evidence of hope: what do we know about sustained recovery from alcohol and drug addiction?’

Daeth cynulleidfa dda i’r ddarlith a gobeithiwn y bydd ei neges yn dylanwadu ar bolisïau Llywodraeth y Cynulliad i’r dyfodol parthed triniaethau addas i rai sy’n gaeth i alcohol a chyffuriau eraill.

Yn ei hanfod, dywedodd Dr Best nad yw y rhan fwyaf o driniaethau at ddibyniaeth yn ddigon da ac nad yw triniaeth ei hun yn ddigon - nid yw’n ddigonol yn ei ffurf bresennol i gynnal gwellhad. Mae Dr Best yn cydnabod, sut bynnag, bod gwellhad yn digwydd a’i fod yn digwydd mewn cyd-destun cymunedol ble mae adnoddau cynhenid yn sail i’r daith i wellhad. Mae’r dystiolaeth yna’n glir i ni ei weld – yn awr, gyda’ch help chi, mae angen inni ddod ag ef yn fyw yng Nghymru a pharatoi’r cymorth a’r gefnogaeth y mae’r bobl hyn ei angen ac y maent yn ei haeddu.

With every best wish/ Gyda’m dymuniadau gorau,
Wynford Ellis Owen
Chief Executive/Prif Weithredwr

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And the highlight of the day? Three highlights, in fact: working with a young person who has realised that he has a problem with alcohol and needs to do something about it; paying the downpayment on my youngest daughter's wedding dress - Rwth, Meira and I celebrated afterwards with a cup of coffee; and making arrangements to have lunch today (Friday) with my eldest daughter, Bethan. Aah! The joys of recovery.

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