Thirty years of professional practice, combined with his own life-threatening battle with alcohol, convinced Michael Pond that harm reduction, “any positive change,” offers clients the best chance at beating addictions
After two decades of helping clients battle addiction successful therapist Mike Pond succumbed to one himself. Mike lost his practice, his home, and his family to alcoholism, ending up destitute in a down-and-out recovery home. Now–years later–Michael Pond is once again a psychotherapist with a thriving practice, in Vancouver, treating substance use disorders. He offers his clients the unique empathy of having walked in their shoes. Mike is also a fierce advocate for “evidence-based” addiction treatment that is based on sound scientific research.
Mike Pond presented a workshop at the Issues of Substance 2017 conference titled “Any Positive Change: Using a Harm Reduction Approach to Alcohol Use in the Therapeutic Relationship.” He drew on material presented in his ground-breaking book Wasted: An Alcoholic Therapist’s Fight for Recovery in a Flawed Treatment System and he shared video clips from a high-profile documentary film about his personal recovery journey, also called Wasted, which aired on CBC television’s The Nature of Things. The documentary includes addiction experts who are using science to prove harm reduction is a more humane and effective approach in treating problematic alcohol use.
We speak with Michael Pond.
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About Michael Pond
As a registered psychotherapist, Mike Pond thought he knew all there was to know about treating addiction. But through his own life-threatening battle with alcohol, he learned he knew next to nothing. Worse, what he knew was just plain wrong. After two decades of a thriving private practice in Penticton, in the heart of British Columbia’s spectacular wine country, alcohol destroyed his life. He lost his practice, home and family and ended up penniless in two unlicensed, Vancouver-area rundown recovery homes rife with systemic abuse.
For two years, Mike floated through recovery homes and homelessness, dumpster diving, emergency wards and finally intensive care and prison. For Mike the man, this was no doubt the worst experience of his life. For Mike the therapist, it was a rare gift.
Pond’s memoir is Wasted: An Alcoholic Therapist’s Fight for Recovery in a Flawed Treatment System. His search for compassionate evidence-based treatment was captured in the film Wasted, which aired on CBC’s flagship science program, The Nature of Things. Through public speaking and workshops, Pond continues to fight for effective substance use treatment.
Issues of Substance 2017: Addiction Matters
Issues of Substance (IOS) is Canada’s only national conference that brings together addiction workers, healthcare professionals, researchers, policy makers and knowledge brokers from across the country. The premier learning event provides an unparalleled opportunity to share new developments and best practices, and to get practical training related to prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery. IOS is also a forum for showcasing new research and knowledge mobilization efforts in the addiction field. The theme for IOS 2017, held November 13-15, 2017 in Calgary (Alberta), was “Addiction Matters.” The annual conference is hosted by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA).
The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction was created by Parliament to provide national leadership to address substance use in Canada. A trusted counsel, CCSA provides national guidance to decision makers by harnessing the power of research, curating knowledge and bringing together diverse perspectives.
CCSA Vision: a healthier Canadian society where evidence transforms approaches to substance use.
CCSA Mission: to address issues of substance use in Canada by providing national leadership and harnessing the power of evidence to generate coordinated action.
Together with its partners, CCSA is working to improve the health and safety of Canadians: “We will achieve this goal by nurturing a knowledge exchange environment where research guides policy and evidence-informed actions enhance effectiveness in the field.”