Friday, September 28, 2012

"Believable Hope" in Buckhannon, West Virginia

Peter R. Coleman, M.D. 
Last week I had the wonderful opportunity of traveling to Buckhannon in West Virginia, in order to give a talk on addiction, recovery and new treatment options.  I had been asked to give this talk to the community because we have had a number of patients from that area.  The patients are doing very well and the families of these patients were very keen to have us come and talk to other parents and families and help them understand the disease and how recovery can work.  It was a fabulous trip.

The drive up to West Virginia was beautiful.  At this time of year, the mountains and the forests are incredibly beautiful.  The farmland was gorgeous.  It reminded me of my home country of New Zealand.  We were warmly welcomed as soon as we arrived. That evening I spoke to over 100 people at the local high school. There were a lot of moms and dads, grandparents, brothers and sisters, and even some small babies. 

Everyone was very interested to hear about addiction and the different treatment options.  I always like speaking about the disease of addiction.  I like explaining how the disease of addiction is a no fault illness.  There is so much evidence that the disease is caused by a brain dysfunction in the Nucleus Accumbens ( pleasure center).  These days there is also a lot of information available about how the brain works and why people have cravings and relapse.  

I find it is helpful for everyone to understand what the disease of addiction really is because it is so easy to blame addicts and look down on them and this is never helpful. The audience in Upshur County was very attentive.  There have been a number of patients who have been through our 3 day Accelerated Opiate Detoxification(AOD) program, received their  Naltrexone Implants and are now doing very well.  It was gratifying to see a lot of these people in their home communities, with their families, looking and feeling so good.

One of the nice things about a small community is just that – it's a small community. People know each other, people care about each other, and people support each other. Up in Buckhannon, it was easy to feel that level of support and love.  There are many aspects to recovery, and love and support are two of the big ones.

Another aspect of recovery is the concept of Believable Hope.  I have just been reading a new book written by Michael Cartwright called “Believable Hope” – it is very good. The idea is that in order to recover, or really make any changes in life, it is essential that we develop believable hope.  This believable hope is not just the idea that there may be hope – it is a realistic belief, a certainty perhaps, that we can recover.  One of the best ways we can get this “believable hope” is by seeing lots of other people recovering – if they can recover, and I am like them, then of course I can recover.

What is starting to happen now in Upshur County is that there is a small but growing nexus of recovering people.  It is going viral.  As one person recovers and lives a life of recovery they spread believable hope to everyone around them.  My hope is that this virus spreads like crazy.

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