Still going strong

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KarenNow one of the oldest abstinence-based treatment centres in the UK, Broadway Lodge is celebrating 40 years of offering treatment for a variety of addictions. Karen Kirby shares the  steps they have taken to adapt and thrive

In 1974, Travis Cousins, then the director of the Bristol Council of Alcoholism, and Dr Dan Anderson, the principal of US treatment facility Hazelden, got together and came up with an idea to create a non-profit treatment centre that would offer support and counselling to individuals struggling with addiction.

Broadway Lodge opened its doors to eight clients in October 1974, with the objective of providing treatment for a number of different addictions, including everything from alcoholism and drug dependency to eating disorders, gambling and gaming.

Back then, treatment centres and therapeutic communities were only just beginning to develop in the UK, offering a new approach to support those struggling with addiction issues. The charity’s approach to recovery was client-centred, based on a 12-step model with abstinence as its core. It was the first centre in the country to provide treatment based on the Minnesota model, and the organisation now has more experience than any other agency in the country at working with this programme.

Throughout the years, staff have developed an innovative approach to treatment, creating a 24-hour medical in-house team so we could take in service users with complex medical issues. Responding to clients’ needs, we have developed units to support those in recovery throughout their journey, so the facilities include two single-sex units for those who need space away from a mixed-gender environment, and third-stage houses that aid recovery in the community.

Today, we employ more than 100 people and treat more than 500 people each year, and are proud of our reputation. Our CEO Brian Dudley says, ‘It never ceases to amaze me that wherever I travel for conferences, both in this country and abroad, people approach me and say, “I went through the ‘miracle mansion’ 20 odd years ago”.’

Our former clients are spread across the country, and we often receive updates on their lives and personal memories of their time in treatment. One such individual, who came to us in 1987, wrote that they were ‘broken and desperate’, and willing to try anything to combat their addiction.

‘I had no understanding of addiction and no concept of “recovery” – I had never met anyone who had stopped using and rejoined society,’ he told us. ‘The people at Broadway Lodge seemed to know how to recover, so despite my incredulity at some of what they told me, I followed everything that was suggested.

‘I did a most thorough step one, searching my wounded memory for examples of how I had been controlled and driven by the drugs and how my life had become completely unmanageable. I attribute, in part, the longevity of my recovery to the deep understanding this gave me about my relationship with drugs and the consequences of my using. 

‘Broadway Lodge gave me the solid foundation for a lifetime of recovery – full freedom and independence, and a rich and fulfilling life. The first five steps on which I worked during the five months in treatment gave me a platform for a life of self-discovery and growth. 

‘For me the gifts of recovery are manifold. There are numerous external signals of recovery; a passport and worldwide travel, an education, the ability to support rather than distress my family, respect in society and many more facets of a life that goes beyond any expectation I had when I was a slave to the addiction. But the most profound and rewarding transformation has been effected internally – an inside job.’

SONY DSCIn 2012, we won the Independent Specialist Care Provider of the Year, which highlights good work and innovative thinking in the UK specialist care sector. Building strong partnerships with other organisations has been a key part of our ongoing innovative strategy. Keen to evolve effective aftercare, we set up the Recovery Centre with support from the Department of Health, and work alongside the Carlton Centre, Voluntary Action North Somerset (VANS), Weston Works and Alliance Homes to support clients with educational, training, employment, and housing needs. The centre provides a peer support and mentoring scheme, training volunteers who are in recovery and providing them with the skills to provide structured assistance to others. Our staff offer a number of activities, such as weekly football sessions that allow participants to get fit, have fun and meet others in recovery.

Diane Smith started at the Recovery Centre on the aftercare programme, then came back to the centre a year ago as a volunteer, helping on reception, becoming a support worker and taking on acupuncture sessions. ‘I loved the support I received from clients and staff alike,’ she told us. ‘I lacked confidence and was always encouraged to keep pushing forward. I have gained so many valuable skills.’

Each and every one of Broadway Lodge’s employees and clients has brought something different to the table, enabling us to constantly learn, evolve, and find new ways to help people.

SONY DSCOur ongoing aim to share knowledge and good practice has opened new opportunities for partnership working. We continue to run a schools programme that challenges stigma by tackling pre-conceived ideas about addiction. Clients and staff go into local schools and educate both students and teachers about the negative consequences of drug and alcohol misuse, as well as combating the stigma associated with those in recovery. Our staff also offer their expertise to  local police and probation services, raising awareness and offering insight into the issues surrounding addiction.

Other initiatives include the ‘recovery renewal’ programme, which encourages clients to participate in a number of therapy sessions and group activities that encourage personal development and reinforce recovery. A family programme works in conjunction with this, allowing family members and carers of those in recovery to come forward and share their experiences with others who understand what they are going through.

Our milestone anniversary has inspired us to create a programme of festivities, from a golf day and kayak race earlier in the year, to a reunion celebration and a black-tie evening with rugby union player Gareth Chilcott as a guest speaker.

Buoyed by all those who have made it a success, Broadway Lodge will continue to expand, evolving with its clients and offering specialist support where it’s needed. Here’s to the next 40 years! 

For more information on the events being held by Broadway Lodge to mark its anniversary, visit www.broadwaylodge.org.uk/events