A blog by Dr Colleen Kelly PhD, MFT
I remember going to my first iCAAD conference in London three years ago and feeling totally overwhelmed. I am Swedish to the core of my being and there were so many people and different ideas to grasp. It probably took me a full day to adapt and then I felt it. The heart of what it was really about – a strong commitment to recovery and helping people. Here was something that I had never encountered before, a platform for everyone interested in addiction and recovery that reached beyond ideologies, nationalities and professions. A international platform with a VERY big heart where it was ok to have different opinions, to ask questions and honestly ask for help.
It began with this. A simple post from a dear friend on Facebook. It said please do not hire interventionists who are not professionally trained, who are inexperienced and have no certifications or insurance.
A while ago, a friend of mine came to me and told me that he was trying to come off his Subutex script. He had set up an appointment with his local drug and alcohol services and been to see them earlier that day. During his appointment they worked to get a plan together to help him through the detoxification period. This plan included offering him a Valium script. Fortunately my friend is thoroughly dedicated to his recovery and his goal to become totally drug free. He knew he could not accept the offer of Valium, not least because within his medical history, it stated that he had previously had an issue with Valium and other prescription drugs. In fact, only as far back as a year ago, when he had been put on to his current Subutex script, he had sat with his GP and informed him that all drugs were problematic for him. In that appointment he had especially emphasised, Crack, Alcohol Heroin and Valium. He even informed his doctor that his last relapse, and the reason for this Subutex script, had begun after taking some Valium.
I met two wonderful professional women recently who both are in recovery and they asked me, ‘what do you do and why do you do it?’ I started off by saying, ‘well I’m not actually a nurse, I’m a trained mathematician!’ I explained that I always knew I wanted to do more with the skills and training that I had, and that the archetypal view of a mathematician was never going to be me. I was fortunate in that I met a Scottish Biomathematics Professor, Alastair Woods, and he introduced me to the contribution mathematical modelling can play within epidemiology. This was an area where I could use both my problem solving skills and my need to make a meaningful contribution.
Michael Gillis (MSW, Clinical Social Work; BA Psychology) is Chief Clinical Officer at The Cabin Group. He joined The Cabin in August 2018 and is primarily based in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand.