Wild look

Snow, photo by Rodolfo Clix, Sao Paulo, BrazilAn identifying characteristic of someone who is using drugs excessively can sometimes be that no matter how attractive they are they have a wild look. A look that threatens any notion of the personal safety of those around, even though it may not be intentional. That look appears to see through people and lacks intimacy. It creates a feeling that the afflicted person is possibly out to take whatever they can and we need to protect ourselves and our possessions. Yet the person in question thinks that no one can tell that they have be using drugs. Therefore, it is important to challenge the behaviour safely and tell them what we see, instead of pretending it is not obvious.

Patrick came to pick up Judy to go to their friend’s dinner party
as she opened the door she noticed a difference in him – a wild look
so she asked him to come in and as respectfully as she could
told him that he appeared strange and that was putting it mildly!
he excused the look by saying he had a disagreement with his boss
Judy trusted her gut feelings and stood her ground saying that she
was not comfortable with going out when he looked like that
of course he stormed off cranky but he knew that
his appearance was not as invisible as he’d thought
which was the first step towards changing his behaviour

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Adult children

silhouetted friends 1, photo by aernst, PA, United States,Parents have the responsibility to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children. Being a role model for a loving relationship is both satisfying for the parents and rewarding for the children because it helps them all live a functional, healthy lifestyle. When children become adults it is important that parents learn how to let go and let their adult children get on with their lives. Parents can trust that their childrearing practices were beneficial and that their adult children will make the appropriate choices in life. Sometimes this parenting stage can be the most difficult part of all, because we need to observe and not interfere or make comments no matter how useful we think they may be. At such times our contributions can be perceived as criticisms or disapproval. What makes it difficult is that we need to then change the parenting role from one that’s based on responsibility and guidance to one based on validation and support.

Simone was concerned about her son who
was out of work and his marriage was suffering
she could not help herself and at the first opportunity
lost her cool and criticised Joseph in an attempt to
snap him out of his lethargy, or so she thought!
but her daughter-in-law, Sue, defended him
and what was intended to be a rescue mission
by a caring mother, then turned out to be a disaster
Joseph felt incompetent,
Sue became protective of her husband and
Simone was demoralised
it would have been more useful if Simone
kept her supportive parent role until
Joseph found himself again with the
support of his wife

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Teaching respect

Family Concept 2, photo by Lynne Lancaster, UKChildren can get bored easily unless there are games to occupy them or they have the full attention of those they are with. However, it is important that they learn how to participate politely so that they get the attention of everyone instead of monopolising the attention of one person, usually a parent. In this way teaching respect helps them to learn how to entertain themselves. It’s a socialisation skill they need to learn as early as possible.

usually when her mother becomes involved
in a conversation with a friend? then
6 year old Angela would whisper in her ear
it was her first attempt at holding her mother’s attention
but Julie knew the dance well and she would
look at Angela in her eyes and remind her
that if she had something important to say she
would need to say excuse me and wait
otherwise she could do something else until
her mother was free to talk to her
I could see that Julie’s parenting skills
were teaching respect and in the long run
would help Angela develop good life strategies
instead of demanding that others make her happy

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13th Step Syndrome

Couple kissing, photo by Margarit RalevIn March 11 2006 I wrote about avoiding the 13th Step which means “screwing someone crazier than you” – a term clarified by Dr. Stephen Jurd (a leading addiction psychiatrist). There have been more comments on this post than any other post I have written. The more recent comment on 12/10/07 by the author of Damn That Ojeda! website is worth mentioning here because of the enthusiasm with which the message is being relayed, and in order to correct the interpretation of my qualifications. The author refers to Coulter, ‘a right winged journalist’, intending to promote her book whilst appearing on a Carlson program which should discourage similar types from being edified because they are described as having…

spewed out such horrendous slanderous nonsense for no other reason than to let them promote more of their hate [which] will be diagnosed by me as having Dr. Affie Adagio Syndrome.

Allow me to explain.

Dr. Adagio herself does not have this condition. She’s a physician consulting chemically addicted clients and helping them go through the 12 steps of recovery. A noble and worthwhile cause indeed.

But in her treatments and counseling, she’s added one more step:

The 13th Step: Don’t Screw Anyone Crazier Than You

This, I would argue, is the problem with Carlson, et al. They allow themselves to electronically bed with Crazy Coulter for no justifiable reason. If she’s such a callous moron with nothing noteworthy to say before she goes on your show, why would you think your own program will be any different?

As the good doctor explains:

“It is not helpful to enter into an intimate relationship with someone who needs our assistance to recover from any illness or needs to improve their skills.”

Affie’s response: The author of Damn That Ojeda! has, indeed, the correct interpretation of the use of the term 13th Step which I also intended for people outside the 12 Step recovery program. This is because I believe it is a symbolic term of that extra step in any program which trains professionals to provide a service to others and therefore be responsible for not abusing the privilege.

One important correction that needs to be highlighted is that I am a qualified Family Therapist/Life Coach specialising in compulsion and recovery (addictions), a Doctor of Philosophy not a Medical Doctor or Physician. My PhD research was in Compulsion and Recovery and as a result I believe in a diversity of approaches – a synthesis or a balanced approach to recovery.

Couple kissing, photo by Margarit Ralev http://ralev.com/

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Rose Garden Pavilion for Weddings

Pink Rose, photo by Marcel Holtjer, Bellingwolde, NetherlandsOne of the loveliest venues in Sydney is the Rose Garden Pavilion for weddings. The position is opposite 139 Macquarie Street through the Palace Gate. The Pavilion has a slate floor and benches all around so it is ideal for rain or shine. Guests can sit inside or out. Self catering is permitted by the Royal Botanic Gardens and parking can be at meters inside or outside the Gardens or in parking stations nearby. It is possible to dance in the Pavilion too. Even if the roses are not in bloom the immaculate gardens with the white lion statues guarding the Pavilion create a magic environment. There is a hire fee for the Pavilion and the nearby toilet but the cost is well worth it. This is how the Royal Botanic Gardens website describes the venue:

Consisting of six design elements the Sydney Rose Garden has a romantic pavilion with views over three huge beds dispaying traditional and contemporary roses. The rose beds complement a fig tree on a central lawn.

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Authority over Autocracy

Authority, photo by Daniel, San Antonio, United StatesThe difference between authority and autocracy is as huge as the difference between functional and dysfunctional or negotiation and abuse. Having authority when we want to make a point means we are using our assertive skills to get a point understood whilst keeping it short and sweet. When a point is made in an autocratic punitive manner and wordy then the lesson is lost. Our defenses block out any information that is given to us in a loud critical manner. Whether this method is used on children or adults the outcome can be the same – a failure to communicate.

young people who were Wards of the State
and in our residential program
had experienced autocratic punitive communication
throughout their lives and they
had become dysfunctional!
over a short period of time we befriended them
and the model was one based on assertive skills
yet maintaining the authority as their carers
the change in their behaviour which became
much more mellow was indeed a relief
and proved that better results are gained
in this manner and transforms conflict

Authority, photo by Daniel, San Antonio, United States

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PhD Graduation Celebration

Graduation 2, photo by Christopher Rayan, Selangor, MalaysiaLast Saturday I had my PhD Celebration at the Rose Garden Pavilion in the Royal Botanic Gardens between 12.30 and 4.30. Many weddings and other celebrations are held there because it is such an attractive venue with ambiance. There were 61 people and those who wished sat on the comfortable benches around the inside of the Pavilion and others sat outside in the beautiful garden. Everyone commented on this amazing venue. I bought food from Peter’s Cafe – roasts and baked potatoes ready sliced in nice trays. Also delicious foods prepared by my daughter Tina and my daughter-in-law Nella with help from their husbands Bill and Paul. I invited guests to bring their own drinks and desserts so that individual needs could be taken care of personally, without tempting those who don’t drink alcohol and those who don’t eat sweets.

I had intended to provide dance music so that we could let our hair down and indulge in some Greek dancing as well as other dances. However, my equipment didn’t work – drats! The Pavilion has slate flooring which is ideal for dancing. I hired the Pavilion including the nearby toilet for four hours at what I thought was a reasonable fee for such a delightful place.

Well known celebrity Bruce Barry, my dear friend, played the role of MC. Bruce shared about his experience of reading my Doctoral Thesis cover to cover, and in his charming way introduced my University Supervisor and mentor – Dr. Neil Davidson who spoke about our journey together which resulted with my graduation. Neil also read emails from Professor Stuart Hill, the founding Chair for the School of Social Ecology where I began my Uni studies in 1991, and from Debbie Horsfall – my previous Supervisor and mentor. Their kind words warmed my heart. This was followed by another friend, Steve Kirkham, reading out friendly congratulations from Bob and Colleen Ellicott who reminded me of our association which began when he was the Member for Wentworth and I was a Welfare Worker in the Community Centre in Surry Hills over 30 yrs ago. Many constituents benefited from The Hon. Bob Ellicott’s monthly visits.

Community leaders and close friends also expressed their congratulations on Saturday. These were Greek speaking community workers/radio announcers Fay Giallusi, Sophia Catharios and Litsa Diakovasili as well as John August, President of the Humanist Society of NSW.

Finally, my son Paul Zagoridis who spoke on behalf of my daughter Tina and their spouses Nella and Bill respectively and their children (who all struggled along with me on my academic journey). His words filled my heart. The previous day they attended my Graduation and as I looked at them from where I was seated on the stage next to the ‘top brass’ of UWS, I felt honoured and overcome with emotion.

Another delight of the Rose Garden Celebration was having people enter their congratulations in a book chosen for that event in which I have also glued the congratulation cards received. I got home and arranged the flowers which were given to me and opened the remaining gifts. What a delightful day.

Many thanks to all who came to share my celebration. Also my thanks to the printer: MBE who produced my new coloured business card in 3 days when others said it would take 2 weeks and for giving me a discount too.

Click here to download the Affie Adagio PhD Thesis in PDF format

Graduation 2, photo by Christopher Rayan, Selangor, Malaysia

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13th Step Consequences

Addicted 4, photo by Nicole Dee, Landing, OntarioI have written about the dangers of getting sexually involved with someone who is early in recovery from addiction and/or any other vulnerable state. This is commonly known in the 12 Step fellowship as 13th Step consequences and needs to be treated as a serious warning, even though the term causes nervous laughter.? Steve’s comment is an example of such a traumatic outcome and here is my response:

Steve, I was sorry to read that you have had such a traumatic experience and that you are now disabled with a muscle disease too. Not all AA members are as thoughtless as the one who hurt you and your partner. There are many AA members who are careful not to get involved in that way and who make good supportive friends for each other and for new members. Perhaps you could both try another meeting if you want the benefit of the program. Then again no one says you must use AA. There is a group known as SMART Recovery and it does not encourage friendships? between its members, as there is no buddy system. It is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and does not use a God perspective.

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