Recovery Rises ISSUE 3 - Page 17


“Religion is for people who don’t want to go to hell, spirituality is for people who have been there”

Lindsey: How did you go about bringing Mutual Aid and Treatment Services together, and if any, did you come against any resistance particularly from fellowship due to their traditions?

Mark: Remember the song ‘Shot from both sides’ by Magazine well that’s how it feels in this situation, and we knew this would happen, because we have never had anything like this before you know we’ve had AA since 10th June 1935, we’ve had methadone maintenance since 1964 – 65, CA, NA and MA etc all stem of the original ‘Dr Bob and Bill AA’ so recovery in that sense is 30yrs older than the treatment approach. In other words people have been recovering longer than they have been medically treated. But bringing them together to be on the same page has been very difficult, from the clinical, evidence conventional based treatment side there’s been suspicions as to what really goes on in fellowship meetings. There has been less suspicion about SMART meetings because treatment professionals are very used to cognitive behavioural therapies, rational, emotional therapies etc. SMART is a better fit with orthodox treatments whereas 12 step fellowship meetings are much further away from a commissionable service in the UK 1. The UK is quite a secular nation, not a lot of people go to church, believe in god etc, so when you have a 12 step program that talks about GOD of your understanding, and it’s a very hard sell. That’s why am up and down the country, trying to sell a spiritual program to a secular audience. 12 step facilitation talks to local organisations. In my I talk I mention public health practitioner Bruce Alexander.

“People have been recovering longer than they have been medically treated”

In his book he talks about addiction ravaging urban deprived, run down areas, his book is subtitled ‘A study in poverty of the spirit’ he talks about spirituality, not GOD or religion, he talks about the effects of alcoholism on indigenous people of Canada, Australia and Native American Indians, he asks ‘is there something in here that’s more than just abject poverty and that’s explained in the book’s subtitle. We have seen many times the addict/ alcoholic gets clean and sober doesn’t have any program or address the underlying issues and low and behold their obsessions pop up in sex, food etc.. The external stuff will not fix you as it won’t have its weight in depth, but there is a way out of this there is a three city study in Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool about male mortality, men in Glasgow die up to 7 years or more earlier than their democratic mirror images in Liverpool and Manchester, if it was a poverty issue they would die in equal numbers, there are hypothesis’s are vitamin b deficiency because its darker, their famous fried mars bar, or is it just that man are not very good on their own, so men plus social equality plus drink and drugs equals no good.

So in answer to your question ‘Are we breaking traditions’ we would say ‘no’ an example would be if you were in a 12 step residential treatment centre and you were sent to a AA or NA meeting, would the treatment centre be breaking the traditions? Well we feel that’s all were doing, we are directing people to mutual aid. We’ve been encouraged by the likes of William White and Keith Humphreys being the main two whom have been through this in America and there is no breech of the traditions in terms of ‘Attraction and not promotion’ but the whole thing about anonymity needs reviewing and this is why the film ‘Anonymous People’ will be crucial as William White says we must never be anonymous to the addict or alcoholic who is still suffering, anonymous as an individual at level of press, radio or film, but you can identify yourself as a person who is recovering, that way you don’t break traditions. We’ve never been on the same page before and so we’ll have these teething problems. Another thing is as I’m very conscious as I’ve been criticized by treatment professionals for being anti-treatment and for shining a light on the problems of treatment, I’ve also shone a light on the problems of the Fellowship too.

Read more of this Mark Gilman interview where Mark speaks in more detail of his hopes for 12 step facilitation and Asset Based Community….

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