In 2012 it was estimated that 95,000 people across England and Wales had illicitly used opiates in the past year. Approximately 47,000 of them had taken heroin (Home Office, 2013), which remains one of the most frequently listed drugs by the majority of patients seeking drug dependency treatment (NTA, 2013). As such, the ongoing need for quality information on opioid dependence and the options to tackle it continue to drive My Recovery My Choice, an important awareness campaign seeking to address these issues and empower people affected by opioid drug addiction.
The sixth annual DDN service user conference, Be the Change, marked the first anniversary of this highly visual outreach initiative and a further opportunity to share a powerful resource. Since last year’s launch, the campaign has become established as a highly valued information source. Developed in consultation with The Alliance and a number of other key groups, My Recovery My Choice is now endorsed by 15 national drug support organisations including CRI, Addaction, Adfam and the Scottish Drugs Forum. The programme is looking to extend its outreach through collaborative development of content relating to keeping healthy, hepatitis C infection and alcohol use. The focus remains to provide those affected with meaningful information and non-judgemental support to help them decide what, if any, steps they might consider taking in their own personal recovery.
The campaign’s website feedback shows that more than 80 per cent of respondents feel better informed about opioid dependence and more confident about treatment decisions. Using clear language and sharing genuine patient and family member experiences, the site offers a range of supporting materials which are freely available for any organisation or group that has contact with the drug-using community. Nearly 60,000 materials, including booklets, posters, postcards, leaflets and wallet cards, have been distributed across the UK with nearly a third of orders coming from national health services.
In the past 12 months, My Recovery My Choice has visited 14 key recovery conferences across the UK to engage with its peer community. Excitingly, our endorsing partners have welcomed the opportunity to represent the campaign at conferences and engage additional local user groups.
The focus of the campaign evolves from the belief that it is a person’s right to decide if and when they want treatment and it provides a detailed overview of all of the treatment options available and how they can be accessed. Furthermore, in recognition that people want and need different approaches and outcomes on their recovery journey, information is given on psychological therapies, rehab, detox and complementary therapy. The campaign also recognises that it is not only the drug user who is affected by heroin use, as friends and family members often struggle with the knowledge that their loved one is heroin dependent.
To date, the campaign has been credited with outstanding feedback:
‘The most important drug resource in the UK today.’
‘A great resource for people with concerns about their own or a friend/family member’s addiction, and great advice for those looking to enter drug treatment.’
‘Good to see such a balanced approach.’
‘I’ll be commending this to all my colleagues for dissemination through their services, indeed to pretty much anyone.’
The campaign takes a refreshing approach to the notion of recovery, providing tips on how to improve chances of success, as well as background information on how work, benefits or childcare may be affected and providing confidence for each person’s journey. Similarly, the campaign describes rights in treatment and what can be expected from health services. Through recognition of these values, London’s Biggest Conversation (LBC Radio 97.3) interviewed Ken Stringer, chief executive of The Alliance, on how to ‘assist people to make the best use of treatment’ and the support available to opioid-dependent users.
My Recovery My Choice is an evolving initiative and we are always looking to develop and improve the campaign. If you have any suggestions on improvements that can be made to the site or have a story that you would like to share, we would love to hear from you.
If you are part of a community drug organisation and would like to represent My Recovery My Choice at a conference in England, Wales and or Scotland, please get in touch. Similarly, if you would like to endorse the campaign with a logo or backlink to the website, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The information on My Recovery My Choice is for educational purposes only and should not be a substitute for the advice of a medical professional. The website and related materials were produced by PCM Scientific (a medical education company) and the Alliance, who redrafted a set of internationally available materials to make them suitable for the UK. Undertaken in consultation with other partners, this is an ongoing process. The creation of these materials was made possible through an educational grant from RB Pharmaceuticals Ltd.