Author Archives: Jason Schwartz

About Jason Schwartz

Jason Schwartz, LMSW, ACSW, CADC, CCS, is the Clinical Director of Dawn Farm, overseeing treatment services for its two residential treatment sites, sub-acute detox, outpatient treatment services & detention-based juvenile treatment program. Jason is also an adjunct faculty at Eastern Michigan University’s School of Social Work and School of Leadership and Counseling. Jason blogs at and has been published in Addiction Professional magazine and in a monograph Recovery-oriented Supervision with the Addiction Technology Transfer Center. Jason serves on the advisory boards of Eastern Michigan University’s School of Social Work and School of Leadership and Counseling. Jason also serves as a board member for the Livonia Save Our Youth Task Force, a substance abuse prevention coalition in his home community.

Love and faith

hopePara-professionals working in the field of alcoholism are overwhelmingly recovered alcoholics. Most of them credit their recovery to AA, some to the facility where they are currently working, an increasing number to a combination of both, and a few to still other forms of therapy. One thing they all share is their attitude toward sick alcoholics, whether those alcoholics are in treatment, approaching treatment, or in and out of treatment with their motivation barely showing. Their attitude even encompasses all those sick alcoholics out there, who have not yet appeared anywhere at all seeking help, some of whom are known to the recovered alcoholics, but who cannot yet be reached. What is this attitude that I call the key to successful treatment? First, it’ is accepting of the other person just as he is, for exactly what he is. Second, it accords him the dignity of his humanity quite apart from his illness which may have buried that humanity deep out of sight. He is regarded as a person, in great trouble to be sure, but not a non-person for all that. Third, it offers him understanding and, as a result of that, compassion, or as many recovered alcoholics flatly put it, love. Finally, and perhaps most important of all, it exhibits faith, a belief that he too, this alcoholic whoever he may be, can and will recover.

There is nothing about this crucial attitude that need be, or is in fact, confined to recovered alcoholics. It is the attitude of many professionals both in and out of this field; it lies within the power of any human being, professional or otherwise, to achieve. But it has been sadly apparent for many years that far too many non-alcoholic professionals, and other people surrounding the alcoholic, do not have this attitude. They have instead a composite of opposites to the points enumerated above. They are condemning, and therefore often hostile. They are quick to blame the alcoholic for his condition and to see the horrors of the condition as the man. They unwittingly treat him as less ·than human because he is not as they are. They are contemptuous of his weakness, his failure to stand up to life. They are sometimes punitive, believing that what he really needs is to be taught a lesson. They do not understand him and so they do not really like him. And he knows it.

It has been said that alcoholics are like children and dogs; they do not hear what you say, they feel what you feel. Their nerve ends are as if extended out from the body; probing, feeling, responding, often unconsciously seeking the rejection they have become accustomed to getting, testing the counselor.

— Marty Mann (1973)

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Hope is created in community

hopeAcross the disciplines, we see a movement away from individually focused understandings of hope to more communally and relationally dependent models. Many focus on connectedness as a central aspect of hope. This takes the form of friendship, solidarity, and bearing witness as central relational aspects of hope. Within the recovery model and other models of care, the relationship with caregivers is central for engendering hope. Caregivers are often required to carry hope on behalf of those for whom they care. Hope exists as an interpersonal possibility reflecting the extent to which humans are made for relationship, for love. When we are living in relationships of love, hope is present. Isolation, lack of belonging, and lack of connectedness reflect that which distances from hope. The experience of connection with another, even in the midst of pain, opens up hope’s possibility. . . . Hope is created in community.

Pamela McCarroll

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hope inspires the good to reveal itself


A great truth, attributed to Emily Dickinson, is that “hope inspires the good to reveal itself.” This is almost all I ever need to remember. Gravity and sadness yank us down, and hope gives us a nudge to help one another get back up or to sit with the fallen on the ground, in the abyss, in solidarity.

— Anne Lamott via Maria Popova


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Sentences to ponder

thousands-of-peopleThis headline is for all the legalization activists who point to the legal status of tobacco and alcohol.

A sobering thought: One billion smokers and 240 million people with alcohol use disorder worldwide


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when we pit pain against drug misuse, nobody wins

…when you try to balance the damage caused by pain against the damage caused by drug abuse, nobody wins.

Barry Meier on Fresh Air

Vox looks at the pain patients vs. opioid misuse conundrum:

Drug policy is hard. There’s no perfect solution to the conflict between treating pain and curtailing the abuse of opioid painkillers. Really smart people have been arguing where the balance lies, as the debate in Stanford shows.

“There’s always choices,” Keith Humphreys, a drug policy expert at Stanford University, previously told me. “There is no framework available in which there’s not harm somehow. We’ve got freedom, pleasure, health, crime, and public safety. You can push on one and two of those — maybe even three with different drugs — but you can’t get rid of all of them. You have to pay the piper somewhere.”


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What would it look like if we were serious about marijuana as medicine?

Marijuana AdvertisingIt might look something like this:

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids (CCIC) have launched a registry for users of medical cannabis in Quebec that will allow physicians to better manage its use and monitor patient safety. This innovative project represents the world’s first research database on the use of cannabis for medical purposes and places the province at the forefront of research in the field of medical cannabis. The registry was launched in response to a call by the Collège des médecins du Québec (CMQ) for guidelines on the use of medical cannabis in accordance with new government regulations. As of April 1, 2014, cannabis can only be prescribed “within a research framework,” as it is not a medically recognized treatment.

“This registry has been developed to address the lack of research data on the safety and efficacy of cannabis,” states principal investigator Dr. Mark Ware, Director of Clinical Research of the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit at the MUHC and associate professor in Family Medicine and Anesthesia at McGill University. “We need this database to help develop and answer future questions on the medical use of cannabis, such as who uses it, for what reasons, through which methods, and at what dose.”

The Quebec Cannabis Registry will be used to compile and store clinical data collected directly from patients who use medical marijuana. The data will be gathered from sites and clinics across Quebec, and each participant will provide data for four years after recruitment. Any licensed doctor practising in the province wishing to authorise cannabis for their adult patients can enrol participants in the registry.

What does the absence of this kind of model say about “medical” marijuana?


Medical marijuana activists don’t want a registry or physicians as gatekeepers. (Despite the argument that it’s similar to a sex offender registry, medical registries are widely used.)

And, the Quebec College of Physicians (QCP) has taken the position that marijuana is not a recognized medicine and physicians should not prescribe it. (Keep in mind that there will be physicians who don’t care what the QCP says.)

What should we infer from this?

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“revolutionary changes in the way we treat this DISEASE”

428870_252832988160571_1423930274_nThis has already gotten a lot of attention, but it’s pretty great. I hope they are provided the resources to meaningfully assist people seeking help.

Police chief Leonard Campanello announced on the department’s Facebook page that, starting June 1, any addict who voluntarily brings in their stash won’t be arrested as long as they agree to get treatment, which they’ll get help paying for.

The department’s unconventional policy developed out of a recent city forum aimed at addressing the local opiate crisis, according to the post.

This year alone, four people have died from overdoses in the town that’s home to only about 30,000 people, reported. Across the state, more than 1,000 people died last year from overdoses of heroin and other opioids, according to the Boston Globe.

Recognizing that addiction is a disease that requires treatment, not punishment, the Gloucester Police Department has vowed to provide anyone who approaches the force with on-the-spot help.

Addicts will immediately be assigned an “angel” who will help guide them through the process. And, Addison Gilbert Hospital and Lahey Hospital and Medical Center have partnered with the department to help fast track anyone who seeks rehabilitation byway of the police department.

This is a good example of vast array of options between drug warrior mass incarceration and legalization.


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