Hitting heads on brick walls… Re-inventing wheels part four

For a while now I have been getting more than annoyed at the lack of progress in mental health (addictions) and drug reform. You may remember me reading some of the reports and recommendations on such things as housing and being annoyed that nothing has changed. In fact, things have got worse with the widening gap between rich and poor.

Just to top it off, I purchased a HANDBOOK FOR HEALTH EDUCATORS published by the NZ DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, by AR Shearer, Government Printer, 1972. I was born in 1973!

Page 41…

Treatment of Dependence

Persons dependent on alcohol, narcotics, psychotropic stimulants, or sedatives should be treated with a combination of the psychological, medical, and social methods best suited to their individual needs, and then rehabilitated. Not all hospitals can provide satisfactory treatments programmes for such patients as yet.

Treatment services should be planned to provide support and supervision right up to final rehabilitation. The problem has so many facets – medical, psychological, social and economic – that a wide range of services must be employed, closely linked with the health services. In addition any country with a problem of alcoholism or drug dependence needs to establish at least one specialised research and teaching hospital (or hospital unit), associated with a university, to provide facilities for investigating every phase of dependence from withdrawal to rehabilitation and to train medical auxiliary staff. Doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses and social workers should receive instruction on the subject of dependence.

The range of personnel who should ideally be involved in clinical programmes on drug dependence is wide; it includes physicians, psychiatrists, social works, psychologists, nurses, occupational therapists, and religious or lay counsellors. In some cases good work can be done by unqualified persons, particularly those who have themselves recovered from dependence on drugs.

Nowadays I think they use the term “expert by experience”… But whatever the meaning, many experts from experience help others out of pure empathy.

Here is the final paragraph from the book, before it goes on to list all the “slang” and street terms for drug stuff… Is quite funny reading some of what the government authors of the day thought was “hip”.!!!

In short, drug dependence is an illness which needs treatment. A patient may never be completely cured, but by gradual withdrawal of the drug, a return to comfortable, drug-free life is possible. Psychiatrists and social workers can help abolish psychological dependence on the drug in time. The personal problems which first led to drug taking can be understood and dealt with. 


Wow. Re-inventing the wheel AGAIN. Ain’t I clever?

I tell you what would be clever – That is having half a brain to research things properly and save myself the headache (literally) of working all this out for myself. This was published in 1972.

Read between the lines of that 1972 publication and you see ADDICTION is not a disease. ADDICTION is a symptom of underlying “personal problems” (mental health).

Maybe they should abolish the ADDICTION disSERVICES and the MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES and simply call them, under one umbrella, the “PERSONAL (problem) SERVICES“. Go share this on the Kites Blog...

That way they could sign all their letters with PS or PPS’s. Brilliant marketing strategy right there.

Would it help to change the name of “mental health” to “personal”? The problems with words and stigma then quietly piss off to a dark corner and party amongst themselves.

First thing is to get “ADDICTION disSERVICES” struck from the record and brought into a new “mental health service” umbrella called “PERSONAL SERVICES” or how about “SOUL SERVICES” maybe? But that would get shortened to S.S, which would result in some horrible tagging. Trust me.

If you are a “client” or “consumer” or whatever word is the latest politically correct way of upsetting absolutely no one, then being a “PERSONAL SERVICES” user / client / patient seems pretty good to me.


Last night there was an N.A meeting at the Wellington “locked psych ward”. I have been having more than my fair share of input into this meeting, it’s rules and how it is run. I have changed a few things already, but using terms such as “marginalised from their own care strategies” when dealing with the N.A people on how to involve the “patients” of the locked unit. I really do not want a “talk to” meeting, but a more inclusive approach. The N.A handbook (rulebook) also states you must be two years clean. I am 66.6 days, and the other person there was 6.66 months (I kid you not!). So we have already re-written our own handbook on that front. We found a clause in another section that we invoked and gave more weight to. Besides which, I (we) are doing good stuff for N.A and the patients, so fuck the rules for once.

Okay, so I “fuck the rules” more often than not. But I am working on it. I even waited for the little green man to light up before crossing the street yesterday. Just to see what it was like. It bored me to tears actually. I am not waiting for little green men to cross the street anymore. Stupid rule. 

Last night was awesome. As has been every meeting I have attended at the locked ward. I have been to every single one that has been available to me since finding out about it. Both the other person from N.A and I left last night totally high. There was only one guy who came into the room with us and I tried a few new things out. We have a way to go with editing the pre-amble and other things that take too long. The sound bite is short – especially short when peoples attention spans aren’t what they should be. This guy chose the topic of the meeting, and the two of us then spent ten or fifteen minutes talking about our own experiences and how N.A has helped, can help or is helping. The patient then shared his story, and we closed the meeting quickly with the usual serenity prayer and such.

We then had such a good time informally sharing and sitting around talking shit that it was well after 8pm by the time we went to leave. Absolutely brilliant.

I only hope the guy remembers some of the conversation we had. Actually, no. I don’t care. He got to “feel” and “attune” to our stories via our tones, our vocal pose, our expressions. He felt our empathy. He totally understood that we understood him. I was open and honest with my sharing, but you have to hold something back. You do not know the circumstance of the others in the room, and do not want to upset them (triggers???)… .

I think people are amazed when other strangers talk openly about their personal problems. Addiction is the top layer. Under there you will find depression, anxiety, fear, anger, rage. All three of our stories were very similar. It just so happens that he is a tough as nails old Maori boy. The other N.A person is a well dressed fourty something lady with a good career. And me. A shitty white boy with an attitude.

Yet we all connected brilliantly. We talked well and were totally happy. We were all sad to say good bye. The other N.A person there commented that is was “absolutely brilliant” and that “it was absolutely brilliant you were there” in relation to the guy patient and me. As luck would have it, I was in the right place at the right time. Co-incidence. Another lecture, another post.

That, my friends, is more peer lead recovery than 60,000 pages of documents to government has produced in three decades.

We really need open and honest discussion about deep issues to be accepted in life. That is the biggest issue with stigma or dogma today. Everyone I know could benefit from an open “personal problem” group. Everyone.

Mike King, for OBE. SIR MIKE KING.

Me? I would be happy getting a bit of time off any sentence handed down for chasing a policeman up the road with my car.


And uhm, how exactly is reading books from 1972 helping me get my family court paperwork done?

Did I really just spend an hour getting completely side tracked again?

I think I may be ADhD….



  1. wow, yer damn right in all this. 1972 and we are still made to feel like we have a deadly disease! gWho ever wrote the book, should be making it public all around the world. The ‘DPC’ OR ‘TDMS’ in my area are no where near the stage they need to be to be successful with methadone treatment. They are easily fooled and maniupulated I know this cause I don’t it for a year or two, come on am a addict!! we have all done it at some point. Most of reach points where we know we are not better than some but that we have sank to our personal lows and we deserve better than chasing a bag every day! or ten! I don’t believe that anyone fully recovers from addiction, we are always going to struggle at some point with things but that is natural. Most workers I have met with (and that is LOADS) seem o believe that we all get better FULLY and after we are in stable treatment for two years that we are cured!!! None I have met have ever had any issues with addiction and therefore have no idea what they are talking about. What really gets up my nose is when they compare stopping smoking to stopping injecting or smoking foil, can they not see the addicts are addicted to ritual of cooking up, or burning foil. It aint just about the drugs its the whole life style. I loved the needle, I loved the chaotic life I led, I can admit that now but couldn’t at the time. I still am learning to live without drama. its hard but I am trying to not create drama to get on with it. I am so lucky, I have real love yet it is jepordised because of my need for drama. in time I will get better but will always struggle with not just going an taking drugs, as I have done ALOT the last few weeks, but handling it the ‘right, normal’ way but fully recovered?!?! Nah, never!

    as for the part on LABELS, I agree, ‘Personal Services’ is way more appropriate and takes stigma away from all of us who have addiction and/or mental health issues. so happy to read your blog and see that there are others who know and see things the same way.


  2. Thank you for the comments — There ARE a lot of people around the world thinking the same way. The chaotic lifestyle actually suited me and my underlying ADhD style brain. I loved always having something to do. Someone to make happy. Going to bed at 2am and being woken before 7am (although I was usually already awake, just laying very still wishing I wasn’t)…. And running around constantly robbing Peter to pay Paul. And then robbing Paul to pay Peter back by lunch time. Hahahahaha.

    I find it INCREDIBLE that people at the forefront of this process are seemingly only catching up to some government advisory from 1972! The very mention of “””A patient may never be completely cured, but by gradual withdrawal of the drug, a return to comfortable, drug-free life is possible. Psychiatrists and social workers can help abolish psychological dependence on the drug in time. The personal problems which first led to drug taking can be understood and dealt with.””” is just awesome. And then combine that with it running in the medical problem (not a law and order = Jail problem) just shows how stupid the right wing law makers have been over the years. Even the old parties of the left seem more concerned with fiscal results than real live personal living standards.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write!


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