About Recovery Continuum

Why blog?

This blog is primarily about challenging polarised thinking in the Australian harm reduction and addiction treatment sector and the wider recovery community, especially in Australia.

In particular I take issue with the “incompatibilist” position – that the principles of recovery from addiction are irreconcilably at odds with the principles of harm reduction and one must yield to the other.

I take a ‘compatibilist’ position. That despite tensions, both approaches are necessary and neither approach, on its own, is sufficient to tackle the issues of problematic drug use and addiction in our communities. In my short online activist career I have been largely active on the recovery side of the continuum but always with a compatiblist slant.

I feel passionately about these ideas and feel compelled to engage when zero tolerance, abstinence-only advocates misuse recovery ideals to campaign against valuable, life saving harm reduction initiatives such as needle and syringe programs, safe-injecting rooms and community based naloxone programs.

I also get particularly riled when people from a hard-line ideological, harm-reduction-only (HRO) approach, which is common in Australia, put a lot of effort into denigrating and ridiculing abstinence and recovery based approaches to addiction. HRO is far more entrenched and influential in the Australian drug and alcohol sector than many outsiders realise and I believe it is dangerous and should not go unchallenged.

Both of these incompatiblist positions deserve challenge and both unchecked have a very real potential for harming the people they claim to act on behalf.

Why not blog?

I have long thought about blogging on these topics but have held back. I have had problems of becoming over-involved with debates and argument about this stuff online, sometimes to the detriment of my wider life and even health through sleepless nights and hand strain. Usually my desire to engage is motivated with good intentions, but at other times ego runs riot and gets me into trouble. In many ways online activism is like using. There have been some days when I have been so fired up and elevated that my heart races  – even my pupils dilate with the intoxicating expectation of hitting    . . .  the send button.

I have often thought about quitting and walking away from the good fight – it does not always bring out the best in me. However abstaining from acting on these urges has not served me well either. Bottling it up and denying myself has led to some impulsive acting out resulting in rash emails in public forums which have caused me some excruciating embarrassment and sometimes required grovelling apologies.

So in the interests of personal harm reduction I have decided to give blogging a crack because in a more public forum I hope I my contributions can be more constructive and less random.

To Blog or not to Blog

One thing I learnt from my short time going to Smart Recovery a few years ago was the Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA)  worksheet. It is designed to help people decide whether they want to continue using or not, both in the short term and the long term.  I still have a CBA on a piece of paper from when I decided to try stop using and this tool has continued to be enormously useful in recovery especially when making big life decisions. And so in the spirit of the CBA, here are my arguments for and against blogging.

The Case for Blogging

Advantages (benefits and rewards) of blogging

  • Making a difference
  • Engaging in important debates
  • Challenging misunderstandings and misrepresentations
  • Advocating for recovery and for the interests of treatment seekers
  • Drafting and getting feedback on ideas for more formal academic writing
  • Satisfying my creative needs
  • Networking  and generally making a name for myself
  • Showing off
  • Correcting people on the Internet (see cartoon below)

Disadvantages (costs and risks) of blogging

  • RSI
  • Sleepless nights
  • Neglecting health and work
  • Domestic discord
  • Showing off
  • Correcting people on the Internet (see cartoon below)

The Case for NOT Blogging

Advantages (benefits and rewards) of not blogging

  • More time and energy to spend on things that ultimately maybe more important.

Disadvantages (costs and risks) of not blogging

  • Sleepless nights
  • Domestic discord
  • Acting out in email forums
  • Sinking into apathy … and I never want to do that

wrong on the internet

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