For recovery week we asked what keeps you on track?

‘Nature has helped me immensely’

The past 18 months have been a challenge with regard to maintaining and developing my recovery. The basic ingredients haven’t changed – I remind myself every morning that I can’t drink or use safely under all conditions, and use prayer and meditation.

Regular communication with others who are on a similar journey, electronically and face-to-face, has been supportive.

Developing my relationship with nature has also been a significant factor in my recovery. Early morning walks by a lake, observing the swans, coots, ducks and squirrels going about their daily business without trying to impose their will on each other has helped me immensely.

I have a cherry tree outside my home and I became intimately aware of the processes of change this tree underwent over the lockdown. From bare in winter, buds appearing and magnificent blossom in spring, vibrant green foliage which becomes brighter after the recent heavy rainfall and soon back to basics.

Going on treasure hunts with my grandchildren, digging a hole when their metal detector beeped and witnessing their awe and excitement, followed by their disappointment as we unearthed an old soft-drink can. ‘At least we know your detector works,’ I would say.

Acknowledging my disappointment when I received yet another rejection from a job application. Grateful for the feedback requested and the opportunity to incorporate this knowledge in my next application.

Doing voluntary work online and via the telephone kept me in touch with reality. As a colleague reminded me recently, if I want to have a miserable day, I only have to focus on I, self, me.

Ronald Bell

‘Supporting others motivates me’

Stuart Kelly, DHI Bristol Peer Support
Stuart Kelly, DHI Bristol Peer Support

I have been with DHI since 2017, where I support others in my role as a peer mentor. I came to DHI after completing rehab and moving to Bristol from Plymouth – I wanted to start again in a brand new city. Bristol has lots to offer with culture, music, history and diversity, and people are encouraged to be who they want to be. I love living here.

At the beginning of the lockdown it felt like a novelty to me and I didn’t feel daunted by the situation. After a while, it began to get to me. There were things to do, but it wasn’t easy to find the motivation to do them. Then DHI provided us with everything we needed to work from home. I felt focused again and was able to support people who needed help – even more so in this time of uncertainty. I was able to provide a lifeline to people, which gave me purpose and motivation again.

I haven’t had a drink for five years, and my resilience comes from my motivation to keep living the life I am.

‘Be honest with yourself’

At Forward Trust we know that no one person is the same. Friendly, non-judgemental support, no matter what you have gone through is essential to recovery and sustaining positive change.

Darren Lacey, drug and alcohol recovery worker at The Forward Trust
Darren Lacey, drug and alcohol recovery worker at The Forward Trust

On 6 August, I was 900 days sober. When I decided I needed to stop drinking, I had in my head that if I could do 100 days without a drink, I could do recovery in the long term. In those first 100 days I moved house, had a family wedding and faced everyday challenges in my life and in my journey to recovery.

Support is key to recovery. I received support from The Forward Trust’s Dover Day Programme, a 13-week day rehab. The support worked for me. I learned new skills and built safe and sober friendships that I still maintain. A support network helps you through the good and the bad, and builds your resilience. Often people forget that the ‘good’ events in life can be just as challenging as the bad times when you are trying to maintain your sobriety.

I now work for Forward Trust as a drug and alcohol recovery worker, helping others find recovery. I, and many of my colleagues, have personal experience of drug and alcohol issues. We understand what people are going through. My advice is the same to everyone: try everything and keep trying. Push yourself to try new things. Get to a meeting, online or face-to-face. It can be tough, but find support you can be open and honest with. Be honest with yourself and most of all keep on keeping on. With support from likeminded people, life is good – no, life is amazing!

‘We discovered recovery in so many situations’

As a mom and daughter, four generations living under one roof, the past 18 months have taught us many life lessons, allowing us to create amazing connections and opportunities, which appeared even though we were going through difficult times. We now apply all these lessons in order to contribute to our family recovery, our amazing recovery coaching community and provide hope to others.

Naetha Uren and Calliese Conner
Naetha Uren and Calliese Conner, mother, daughter, family in recovery and founders of Recovery Coach Academy

We truly discovered the gifts of recovery in so many moments, conversations, and situations that before we only thought were difficult times. In those virtual rooms we met an eclectic mix of extremely remarkable and diverse people as we sought guidance to build the recovery community we knew we desperately needed in the UK.

We not only received knowledge and mentorship, we made life-long friends. Although we were already on a recovery coaching journey, the team at the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) believed in us, empowered us, supported us to make a bigger impact, and believed in our ability to do it.

We have created Recovery Coach Academy, become the first CCAR authorised recovery coach trainers, and the first recovery coach professionals in the UK. Calliese is now the youngest member on the board of trustees for FAVOR UK.

‘An app on my phone helps me stay focused’

On occasions, my ongoing recovery/sobriety feels simple and life becomes easy. Other times it’s a daily battle to fight off the debating society and negative committee in my head.

Robin Whitefield
Robin Whitefield

I endeavour to take everything one step at a time. Being grateful for every morning I wake up clear-headed and without a hangover, not piecing together the night or day before and being apprehensive to check my bank balance and look at social media or my phone, for fear of shame/guilt/remorse. How times have changed and being free of those apprehensions is most welcome.

I have an ‘I Am Sober’ app on my phone in order to track progress of my ongoing recovery and sobriety that details such things as money saved and time spent in active alcoholism. It helps me stay focused when things get tough, as they often do.

Comprehending how much time and effort has gone into my recovery, and how much that means to me, is a real motivating factor.

I attend the meetings on a daily basis (Zoom in lockdown and physical now lockdown restrictions have been eased) and I draw great strength from listening to other people – what they were like, what happened and what they’re like now. Meetings are a great distraction to help me get out of my own head, help other people, and the opportunity to share what’s on your mind.

‘Wellbeing is at the core’

Focus on recovery can often be distilled down to the ‘five ways to wellbeing’ and as an individual in long-term recovery, nurturing, practising and feeding these core beliefs are key.

Stuart Green, manager of Aspire drug and alcohol service, Doncaster
Stuart Green, manager of Aspire drug and alcohol service, Doncaster

It is so important in my personal recovery, to both its maintenance and leading a fulfilling and meaningful life free of dependency (not only on substances). When looking wider there is no magic wand to wellbeing – it’s down to these principles being practised and modelled by health citizenship and communities in society and easily replicated across all walks of life.

Unfortunately the pandemic has driven the gaps around inequality wider and distorted some people’s abilities to practise these principles for others – even severed them for some – demonstrating that nurture has a bigger part than nature. People who are already unwell are presenting at services’ front doors with increasing levels of mental health issues and distress. If there was ever a stark reminder of where addiction can take you, the last 18 months are it.

‘Everyone becomes part of my recovery’

I volunteer with Recovery Cymru and the local health board and have been in my own recovery for five years this coming October.

Meirion Evans, volunteer with Recovery Cymru
Meirion Evans, volunteer with Recovery Cymru

The most important part of my recovery is meeting new people and being able to share my recovery journey with all the ups and downs but with the message of hope at its heart; meeting people who just want someone to listen to them – not to be judged or stigmatised, just listened to.

I know what effect it can have through my own journey and the amazing generous people who have helped, and still give me that help, making me realise there is a life after addiction. Just to be part of that process of giving hope back to just one of the people I meet is enough for me. Everyone I meet becomes part of my recovery.❤




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