Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sponsor Manuals by John Elford

The Hopeful Way Foundation is experimenting with manuals produced by John Elford.  John wrote for the HWF Blog saying:

The Sponsor Manuals are an approach to teaching the 12 Steps that have been developed to include different models of education and motivation. The main aim of the model was to develop an inexpensive tool that can help facilitate peer lead recovery that is direct and follows a progressive learning curve. This tool can be adapted for groups or individuals and forms a written record of their progress through the Steps.

The books can be greatly enhanced by using motivational interviewing, counselling and CBT techniques. If you have a team of motivated people they can bring the teaching methods alive and create a really dynamic learning environment.

I have added a review posted on that sums up the approach very nicely, I have no connection to this person.

 "The author uses a six-point method of teaching to reinforce learning and to increase comprehension and promote awareness of the steps to its fullest extent. I find this approach refreshing and challenging, and an  exciting way to learn, and then to turn around and teach, the 12 steps!

 At first I was skeptical, as it seemed it all might be busywork But after investigating and indulging in the exercises and grids for a full chapter, I found myself to be a true believer and hooked on the educational system presented herein. The book had me searching within myself to define my terms, to come up with my own answers to common phrases.

 I have not yet finished this workbook, but I am taking my time in getting through this work. A work of this caliber deserves honest effort. I was very glad to find this book and add it to my recovery book collection."

 I believe that the workbooks could be a valuable asset in the development of cost effective recovery tools in Ghana and a simple and effective way to formalise the teaching of the 12  Steps. I will do my best to support the great work already started in Africa.

 Dr Mooney and I met when I spent a month in Kentucky last year exploring the range of treatment facilities and approaches to 12 Step Recovery. I was working with Chris Fajardo, my host for the month, on promoting and developing the models that I use and apply to teaching the Steps.

 As my work has developed I have had the privilege of becoming friends with Dr Mooney and recently had the opportunity to promote recovery and the Willingway Foundation here in the UK. We spent time visiting the addiction professionals of Durham County and had the opportunity to visit the many treatment facilities emerging in this area. Time was spent promoting the science behind recovery and the importance of abstinence. You can read more about the details of this on my blog at . As a result of this visit there are developments happening across the Atlantic with Durham and the Willingway Foundation and myself and Southampton University.

 Further to this visit there are three prisons now starting to use the Sponsor Manuals in their 12 Step programs and the recovery ambassadors are rolling out an outreach program to the community incorporating the workbooks into this. 

 Further groups and organisations are starting to spring up around the world that are applying the workbooks to teaching the 12 Steps. It is an exciting time for me and the development of a simple yet effective way of teaching the 12 Steps.

 John Elford
Willingway Foundation UK Liaison


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ankaful Twelve-Step Rehab

An objective of the Hopeful Way Foundation is to assist hospitals and recovery institutions in Ghana build the capacity of their members of staff.  One such facility is the Ankaful Twelve-Step Rehab where the late Bill Moore, Larry Gaines, Dr. Al Mooney, Byron Merriweather and others have shared their many years of professional experiences.  Staff of the hospitals have also participated in training programs at the House of St. Francis which have been led by treatment experts.  Mrs. Rejoice Danso heads up the 12-Step Rehab and writes about it below:

 “The 12-step drug/alcohol rehabilitation program of the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital, Cape Coast was started by Dr. Kojo Sagoe, Clinical Psychologist, PhD and the head of the counseling unit of the hospital.  Assistance was provided by Miss Diana Ahiabor and Mrs. Rejoice Danso (Registered Mental Nurses).

 The program which was started as an outpatient based department in 2009, and gradually moved into an in-house program in 2010.  Clients are housed and fed while  they undergo treatment programs which last from three months to one year.

 For the past three years, over 100 clients (addicts and alcoholics) have been helped with a success rate of 60%.  And for the past one year, free workshops organized by the Hopeful Way Foundation have improved  the knowledge of the staff in the treatment of addiction.”

 Rejoice Danso

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Edwin Speaks at Convention

From 29 August to 1 September, 2013, Edwin A. represented Ghana at the 15th Annual Oxford House World Convention held in Washington, DC.  Over 700 people participated in the gathering.  As former president of the Hopeful Way Oxford House and the chief executive officer of the House of St. Francis, Edwin spoke at the breakout session on International Houses.  He said that he gives thanks to Oxford House for being clean and sober today.  He added that “before moving into the house on 31 January, 2011 I had been going in and out, in and out of psychiatric hospitals for many years.  One day some visitors came to the hospital and told me that there was something called a 12-step solution to addiction that was practiced in the Oxford House.  The guys asked me to come and join them and I did because I had been in the hospital for one and a half years and the doctors were telling me to leave.  I was filled with fear of relapse when arriving at the house.  Soon I was elected secretary and treasurer because there were only four of us living in the house.  After some months I became president and was responsible for enforcing the rules and carrying the 12-step recovery method to hospitals.  About 40 residents have lived in the house during the past three years. I was there for two years and another member has been there for three years.  We follow the main Oxford House concepts in Ghana but do a few things differently.  For example, if someone is found to be smoking, it is considered to be a relapse because Ghanaian culture relates smoking to the use of drugs.  We also have a big challenge in finding employment for members of the house who numbered 12 at one time last year.  I am presently working at the House of St. Francis, a three-month treatment facility that sends clients to the Oxford House.  A second house exists in a remote area of Ghana but at present has no members.  This will soon change and a house for women will open before the end of the year.  An Oxford House Chapter is also being put in place with the help of an Oxford House representative in Ghana.  Finally I thank Oxford House, Inc. for inviting me to the convention and for making it possible for Byron Merriweather to help us in Ghana where the Oxford House idea of recovery without relapse is being firmly established.”

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Informadtion Center in Kukurantumi

Since March of 2013, the Books For Africa Library Project has been supporting an Information Centre on Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Kukurantumi, Eastern Region. During weekdays the Centre's representative, Yaw Obeng, goes into Kukurantumi, meets with people and invites them to an open AA/NA meeting held every weekday night at the Information Centre.
Attendance at the AA/NA meeting varies from 5 to 8 people on the average, with at times up to 3 women attending.
There are challenges in maintaining a recovery meeting in a small town, but Yaw and the Centre's Directory, Kwabena Dokyi are making headway.

Kirt Bromley

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Shelia Stigall at the House of St. Francis

My name is Shelia Stigall and I recently had the pleasure of working in Ashaiman, Ghana at the House of St. Francis.  I was there from June 28th through August 16th as part of my education in the field of social work.  I had the opportunity to connect with many people, addicts and “normies” alike, who are working to make recovery happen in Ghana. It was a life enhancing experience and I am very grateful for the time I spent with these amazing people.  I am especially grateful to Dan and Agnes for making this opportunity a reality.

Following is an entry from my blog about my experience working in Alcohol and Drug Treatment over the course of an 8 week stay in Ghana.

Recovery is Definitely in Its Infancy Here

This will be my longest and, perhaps, least entertaining of all posts on this blog but this, after all, is why I am here in Ghana.  A lot has been happening and this is a subject that I am passionate about; though I realize it may hold little interest to others.  So, read or don’t read; it is my blog!!!  As always, the comments that follow are my opinions and interpretations of what I have been told or have personally observed and may bear little or no resemblance to actual fact.

I am a student of social work at Portland State University.  The chance to enhance my education by doing an international field placement with a social services agency in Ghana was put on my path.  I am so grateful that I did not turn down this opportunity.  It has been a rewarding experience in so many ways.  I have learned that I actually have useful knowledge, skills, and abilities in the field of Addiction and Recovery.  I had mentally taken work in this field “off the table” as a career path.  I have found, through the work I am doing in Ghana, that not only do I enjoy working with clients in early recovery, I seem to have a knack for the work, and I feel that I am doing something important.  Although the field of Alcohol and Drug Treatment is not quite back on the table it is no longer shoved to the back of the pantry!!
Recovery is definitely in its infancy here.  Religiosity is apparent in nearly every aspect of Ghanaian life, including the ideas, beliefs, and attitudes about addiction and recovery.  One man told a story of his family’s belief that “juju” (magic or witchcraft) had been worked on the family in the form of his “disgraceful” use of alcohol.  The belief was that a demon had been placed in his belly with a thirst for alcohol that could not be quenched as a form of punishment for some perceived sin or wrongdoing.  The man was subject, on more than one occasion, to community members trying to “beat” the demon out of him.  Another talked of being forced to participate in week long “prayer services” in the hopes that he would be “saved” from his own sinful ways.  

I don’t pretend to understand addiction, although I do have some knowledge on the subject, nor do I wish to be perceived as sitting in judgment of beliefs that conflict with my own.  Joseph Campbell once said, “Remember, one man’s superstition is another man’s religion.”  I try to be open-minded when it comes to other belief systems.  I do believe, however, that addiction is “a primary, chronic, progressive, and fatal disease,” which, with help, can be managed.  Much as with the disease of diabetes, people can manage the disease of addiction and live long, productive, and useful lives.  In the United States this idea is gaining wide acceptance and, fortunately, the idea is catching on in Ghana, too.*
House of St. Francis

For the past month I have been working 40 plus hours per week at the House of St. Francis (HSF), a residential treatment center for men in Ashaiman, Ghana -- one of only a handful of treatment centers in the country.  The house currently has about 15 clients with room for up to 44.  There are six staff members including two full-time resident cooks (Matthew and Rueben) who prepare 21 meals per week, a resident house manager (George), two resident peer counselors (John and Mark), and a program supervisor (Byron) who lives off site.  To the best of my knowledge these dedicated and devoted men are volunteers who receive room and board and/or a small stipend for their service.*

Dan O. is the chair of a Non-Government Organization (NGO) called the Hopeful Way Foundation and is the man who made my work at HSF possible.  The NGO was established to encourage and support recovery in Ghana and helps fund HSF.  It gets pretty complicated and my summary here simplifies matters to an extreme.  The Catholic Archdiocese for Ashaiman actually owns the facility and is set to take over its daily operations in two years.  The Catholic Church gave Hopeful Way Foundation three years to get the program “up and running”.   The first year anniversary of HSF is August 1st.  

 Dan has tirelessly sought funding and support from various sources to keep HSF going.  He divides his time between the United States and Ghana.  There is expectation among Hopeful Way board members, HSF staff, and their supporters that, at the end of the three years, the house will be registered as an NGO whose board of directors will set policies for facility to be run by volunteers and recovery professionals.  Helping to promote and support recovery in Ghana has been a labor of love for Dan and many, many others over the last several years.

 When I was preparing to come to Ghana I was under the impression that I would be working with women who have substance abuse issues.  Indeed, HSF launched a women’s outpatient treatment facility on 16 July, 2013.  I was there for the “big” day.  No one showed up.  The women’s center has been open for a couple of weeks now and we are still waiting for our first client.  I did not have a clue the extent of stigma placed on alcohol and drug use and abuse in this country.  It’s bad for men but it is even worse for the women.  Even the male clients I work with are, in general, very negative about women using, let alone abusing, drugs and alcohol.  In this culture, heavy into denial, “women just do not drink, smoke, or use drugs.”  Professionals say that there is a “conspiracy of silence” about the prevalence of substance abuse among women and the problem is firmly behind closed doors.  It will take a very courageous woman to step out of the doors of her isolation and through the doors of the treatment facility.  Once she does, I believe others will follow in quick succession.*
Water Carriers


So, what have I been doing? – A great deal of education about the disease of addiction.  There are three woman who are “in charge” of the facility.*
Sister Brigid

The Church has assigned a nun, Sister Brigid, to oversee the program on their behalf.  She is firm in her belief that overcoming the “weakness” of addiction is a matter of learning “self-discipline”.  There are also two*

Clinical Psychologists, Jennifer and Stella, who are involved in the project.  They are fully aware of the “disease concept” of addiction but are genuinely puzzled as to why a person, after becoming aware of and educated about the disease, could ever choose to use again (relapse).  I daresay that neither of these beliefs is all that different than the belief of many people in the United States.  I also need to add that these three women are all dedicated to helping people with the disease of addiction and are willing to learn.  Although not addicts themselves they see the devastation caused by the disease to the addict, their families, and society. They genuinely want to help make a difference.

 I have been sharing my experience in this area and answering the rapid fire questions that each of these three women have about the disease.  Often my answer is “I don’t know” and I have been doing a lot of research to try and find answers.  Other times I think I offer valuable insight into the biology and psychology of the disease and offer the idea that addicts are not “hopeless” and, given the chance at recovery, will become useful and productive members of society.  

 Stella, Jennifer and I have also been doing some brainstorming to try to identify barriers to reaching women addicts and identifying ways to overcome these barriers.  We have been talking to doctors in clinics, religious leaders in churches, social service agencies, youth groups,*
Reaching Out to Youth Groups

and women’s groups.  We are planning to speak at churches (hopefully I will be able to participate in this before I leave Ghana) and are in the process of getting permission from various church leaders to have some time devoted during the weekly services.  There is also the idea of going into the market area (which is so not like the market experience in the United States!!)*
To Market, To Market.......

and distributing informational flyers.  Literacy, although fairly high in general, is often lower among women.  We are discussing the use of a “pictorial flyer” that will be more readily understandable to a greater number of women. 

Because I have several hours work each week and the women’s program is, regrettably, taking so little of my time, I am also working with the male clients and staff at HSF. Mr. Amigashi from the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital’s Addictive Disease Unit (ADU) refers men to HSF.  There is one client from Cote d’ Ivorie (Ivory Coast) who speaks only French.  I have access to a translator program and have used it to translate much of the material used at the treatment center from English into French so that this client can have a better understanding of what is being taught at HSF. 

 The current curriculum used at HSF is called Recovery Dynamics; a 12-Step based recovery program.  Although it is very good it does not contain a Relapse Prevention segment.  I have been doing a lot of research in this area and have put together a 4-hour training session on recognizing stages and signs of relapse and understanding how to turn a potential relapse around.  I have facilitated an education and discussion training session based on my research and existing knowledge of the subject. I will be delivering this training one more time before I leave Ghana and staff members at HSF are working with me to further develop this training material and turn it into a regular part of client education.  

 I have also been given the opportunity to do some one-on-one “counseling” with the men at HSF.  What this actually amounts to is my listening to them talk about their experience and nodding my head empathetically. Since there is so little “long-term” recovery in Ghana I have also been given the chance to do some 12-Step work with individual men.  Although AA is alive and kicking in Ghana, meetings are not always easy to get to and sponsorship is not always easy to find.  I have some knowledge in this area and have been helping to guide a couple of men at HSF through Steps One, Two, and Three.*
The Principles

One last area where my skills are being put to use is in the development of Position Descriptions for the jobs that the dedicated staff members at HSF are currently doing on a voluntary basis.  There is hope that, someday soon, there will be funding available to make these paid staff positions.  When that happens there is a need to be ready to justify funding for each, hopefully, well-defined position.  I am glad to be able to contribute my talents in this endeavor.  

I have also had the opportunity to spend some time with Sylvester Adu from the Narcotics Control  Board of Ghana (NACOB).  NACOB’s main goal is to ensure a drug-free society through simultaneous supply and demand reduction measures. This is being done through enforcement and control, education and prevention, and treatment, rehabilitation and social re-integration.   Mr. Adu is really an incredible man.   He is the Head of Social Rehabilitation and Precursor Chemicals Unit of NACOB and is really dedicated to social education on the disease of addiction.  He has spent time in the United States visiting various treatment centers and received training in Recovery Dynamics in Little Rock, Arkansas.  He spends time teaching at HSF and is dedicated to NACOB’s efforts to reduce demand for illegal drugs in Ghana.  Much of the time he spends on social education and working with clients at HSF goes above and beyond his duties as a NACOB employee.*
Dr. Al Mooney

I have also had the opportunity to meet Dr. Al Mooney, who is co-author of “The Recovery Book” and chair of the Willingway Foundation. For the last half century this Georgia born foundation has been committed to reducing the suffering of individuals and families who have been impacted by alcoholism and other drug addictions.  Dr. Mooney has also been involved in starting an NGO called Recovery Africa, which is still in its initial stages of formation and growth.  

 From July 17 – 25, 2013 Dr. Mooney was in Ghana to help spread the message of addiction treatment and recovery and to conduct training sessions for interested Ghanaians.  I was fortunate enough to be in Ghana at the same time as Dr. Mooney and was able to benefit from his extensive knowledge in the field of recovery.   

 One of his training sessions was billed as a “Peer Counselor Training Course”.   This was anything but “peer” training.  Most of the attendants were not addicts which meant, to me, that they were not “peers”.  I was getting a little incensed that the training was not “going my way”. Then I started paying attention to what was really happening.  I realized that there are pockets of recovery all over Ghana.  Most of these are run by caring individuals who fight for funding and resources.  They are dedicated to the ideas of education, treatment, and recovery, that addiction is a disease that can be managed, and that addicts in recovery can benefit society and are “worth the effort”.  

 I started to realize that Dr. Mooney’s training was the first time that these isolated pockets of individuals and groups working in recovery had the opportunity to get together as “peers” in the field of treatment and recovery.  They exchanged ideas and contact information.  People who felt they were alone in their efforts were shown that there are many throughout Ghana dedicated to the same principles of recovery – though they may go about it in different ways.  I began to realize that I may have been witness to a giant step for recovery in Ghana; the beginning of a collaborative process between different social service agencies working towards the same goal.  I felt grateful to be witness to something of this potential magnitude. 

 Change is a process not an event.  Recovery is definitely in its infancy here.   I would love to be able to transport into the future to see what recovery, for women and men, looks like in Ghana in five or ten years.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Texas Tech and Kristen Harper Talk About Recovery in Ghana

What the Hopeful Way Foundation is doing in Ghana is AMAZING!  Our students and staff have been able to experience life and recovery from a fresh perspective.  During our trips to Ghana, for the past two years, we have had the opportunity to meet and work with addicts and alcoholics who seek the same solution that we have all found easily accessible, here in the U.S.  Having the chance to serve people, just like us, half way around the world has been a true gift, beyond our wildest expectations.  I look forward to continuing our work in Ghana with HWF so that our students may have the most fulfilling collegiate experience possible. I am grateful to our many friends in Ghana I have cherished the opportunity to work with the HWF to assist Ghana in its recovery efforts.
If there is anything that the Center for the Study of Addiction and Recovery (CSAR) at Texas Tech University can do to assist with addiction and recovery services in Ghana, i.e. consulting with other colleges on future international trips, please let me know.  For logistical questions/concerns, please feel free to send them our way, as we love sharing our Ghana stories. I know I do not have to say this to you, but I want you to know that our relationship has not gone unrecognized or appreciated by our staff or our students.  You are doing life changing work!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hopeful Way & House of St. Francis go to Cape Coast

On 19-20 August, 2013 Byron, Mark, Mawuli and Sam went to Cape Coast to work with Fr. Asantey and Sr. Rosette. They met at Mercy Centre where 13 participants participated in sessions on Recovery Dynamics, the History of AA in Ghana and how to start and conduct an AA meeting. Each participant had practice in chairing a meeting, and a name was given to a new AA group – “Ahunto Just for Today Group”. Because Mark and Mawuli were both past clients of Mercy Center, they were well positioned to share with the present clients about life after treatment. Stories were told about the action and willingness required to maintain sobriety.  Mark said that “It was a great experience to see AA growing in Cape Coast and to see the enthusiasm of Sr. Rosette about starting an AA meeting”. Board member of the Hopeful Way Foundation, Dr. Eugene Dordoye, is currently based in Cape Coast and is helping with carrying of the 12-step message.