Tuesday, 14 June 2011

How Recovery Became a Key Player Again

The third annual Welsh Council on Alcohol and other Drugs lecture will be delivered by Phil Valentine, Executive Director for the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR), USA, on Tuesday 21st June at 6.30pm at the Pier Head, Cardiff Bay. The lecture, How Recovery Became a Key Player, will be hosted by Alun Ffred Jones AM and chaired by television personality Angharad Mair.

Phil Valentine has been an integral component in the recovery community organization since January 1999. An accomplished speaker and presenter, he has gained recognition as a strong leader in the recovery community; in 2006 the Johnson Institute recognized his efforts with an America Honors Recovery award. In 2008, Faces and Voices of Recovery honoured CCAR with the first Joel Hernandez Voice of the Recovery Community Award as the outstanding recovery community organization in the country.

In 2009, the Hartford Business Journal named him the Non-profit Executive of the Year. Currently, he is spearheading CCAR’s effort to build a statewide network of recovery community centres that feature innovative peer recovery support services like telephone recovery support, All-Recovery groups and Recovery Works! employment services.

In recent years, experts have recognised the need to change the way that people can be helped to overcome serious substance use problems. Recovery has become a guiding principle and society is beginning to learn from the many people who have recovered from addiction. A transformation of systems of care is underway, shifting away from systems based on pathology to ones that promote wellness and recovery.

The recovery model differs from the medical model, on which much of addiction treatment is currently based, in that it emphasizes empowerment of the person, the importance of peer support, and involvement of family members in helping the person find recovery.

Wynford Ellis Owen, Chief Executive of the Welsh Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs, said, “We are delighted Phil Valentine is able to come to Wales and deliver our third annual lecture. It’s a great opportunity to hear about the great strides being taken as part of the recovery movement in the USA, and which have had a great impact on the development of the 'Stafell Fyw Caerdydd/Living Room Cardiff.

“Whilst professional treatment can help people manage and even overcome serious substance use problems, the success of today’s treatment system is still limited. This is due in part to the fact that society uses an acute care model, whilst serious substance use problems are generally chronic in nature. As a result, whilst many people entering treatment may achieve a temporary psychosocial stabilization, they soon relapse after leaving treatment, in large part because of a lack of continuing support.

“The 'Stafell Fyw Caerdydd/Living Room Cardiff concept will revolutionize the treatment of alcohol and drug dependence and other addictive behaviours in Wales. The emphasis will be on recovery rather than simple addiction management.”

The new promotional film for the ‘Stafell Fyw Caerdydd-Living Room Cardiff initiative, which was produced by Betty Evans and directed by the BAFTA awarding winning director Rhys Powys, will be premiered during the evening.

Tickets for the lecture, which are free of charge, are available by contacting the Council at info@welshcouncil.org.uk.

For further information please contact Rhodri Ellis Ow

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Epidemic levels of public bewilderment and governmental complicity

Last week the United Nations Global Commission on Drugs Policy attracted media attention from around the world, partly due to the attendance of such luminaries as Sir Richard Branson, and support from the likes of Dame Judi Dench, Sting and Julie Christie. However, the conclusions that the Commission has come to, have understandably generated far more discussion. The commission has recommended the decriminalisation of all illegal drugs and an end to the disastrous policy of the ‘War on Drugs’, a 40 year long failure that has seen record levels of addiction, billions squandered and a degree of bloodshed in some parts of the world that is comparable with civil war.

The British Government, rather predictably, gave the convention short shrift by stating that they were adamantly opposed to any change in policy at all. This was to be expected, governments of both stripes would be mercilessly persecuted by the British press on the announcement of the first post de-criminalisation drugs death. Their rationale is based around the degree of harm that illegal drugs pose to the health of individuals. In one key, and conveniently overlooked area of the drugs debate, however, the government are doing precisely the opposite of what they claim is their position.

Alcohol, a drug that continues to cause more deaths per year than all illicit substances combined, that if it were being measured on an indice of harm would have to be adjudicated a class A drug, continues to be sold in a manner that would make a Columbian drug lord proud.

Far from legislating against the rock bottom prices, the government’s minimum pricing policy on alcohol has been so ineffective (the Guardian on February 16th 2011 reported that only one in 4,000 drinks promotions would be affected) that one can only stretch the argument of ineptitude so far. That six of the UK’s leading health bodies have walked away from the government’s new drinks code, which calls for a voluntary pledge of responsibility, should give us all an idea of how effective the medical establishment thinks this brewer’s charter will be.

Taking the pledge was the term used in 1930’s America by drinkers who wanted to stop but were relying on willpower alone, invariably most of them failed. This pledge of good behaviour on the part of multinational drinks manufacturers is eerily similar. As with most problem drinkers back then, the distillers and brewers are completely insincere about their desire to change, and the government knows it. The voluntary code is designed to be as ineffective as the Press Complaints Commission’s voluntary code of conduct that the government is equally anxious to avoid making mandatory.

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, special adviser on alcohol to the Royal College of Physicians has recently said: “"it is not acceptable for the drinks industry to drive the pace and direction that such public health policy takes."

If we are to make any progress in what has become the pre-eminent public health crisis of our times, we must have a government that has the courage and integrity to put socially irresponsible enterprises in their place, but this is just the beginning. Minimum alcohol pricing, while important, should be part of a wider strategy.
It is essential that the deeper causes of addiction in Britain are addressed, the reason why people actively seek alcoholic oblivion and wish to escape from being who they really are is still a mystery to most of us, and yet this phenomenon plays itself out in every public house and public place in every town and city in Britain. An epidemic of addiction is still being met with epidemic levels of public bewilderment and governmental complicity.

Friday, 3 June 2011

UK Recovery Walk Cardiff 2011 update

Hi everybody and welcome to the UK Recovery Walk Cardiff 2011 Update.

Thank you all for your interest in the UK Recovery Walk Cardiff 2011, we’ve been delighted with the response we’ve had so far.

If you’re thinking of coming along and you haven’t registered already, please email us at welshrecoverywalk@gmail.com or gobaithatgerdded@gmail.com. For those of you have already registered, thank you very much for your quick response.

On Tuesday 10th May 2011 – exactly 4 months to the date of the Recovery Walk proper - we held a mini-launch outside Cardiff City Hall. Recovery coaches and champions from all over Wales and beyond gathered to celebrate Recovery and help the public preparations for the UK Recovery Walk Cardiff 2011 get under way. You can see photographs of the event and read more about it at our website. Go to


That’s right, the website for the UK Recovery Walk Cardiff 2011 is up and running. Visit us at http://recoverywalk2011.org.uk/. There are videos, photographs, route plans, downloads and, of course, the latest news about the walk.

We’ve included for download on www.recoverywalk2011.org.uk a copy of the UK Recovery Walk Cardiff 2011 poster so please print it out and put it up somewhere where lots of people will see it. Also please feel free to circulate it among your friends, family and supporters in recovery and encourage them to register.

If you have any questions at all about the UK Recovery Walk Cardiff 2011 please do not hesitate to email us at welshrecoverywalk@gmail.com or gobaithatgerdded@gmail.com.

Thanks again for your interest in the UK Recovery Walk Cardiff 2011. Have a great summer and stay safe.