Addiction charity Resolve: 'It is as simple as stopping. And as difficult as stopping'
Special report by Caroline Thain
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Drugs and alcohol dependencies destroy the lives of many. Trapped in an exhausting cycle of feeling forced to dull emotional pain to try to cope, it can seem impossible to get off the merry-go-round of darkness, frustration and shame.
Judgment from family, friends and wider society adds to the misery, in a downward spiral of being misunderstood, hopelessness and guilt. It’s not surprising that addiction is a leading cause of death.
It may be defined as a compulsive disorder, where the sufferer seeks out something that creates a feeling of pleasure or reward. These are often acceptable, every day enjoyable activities, such as having a drink with friends, a little flutter on the horses, shopping, food, work or sex.
Addicts may lose their career, partner, children, driving licence, pets and home. Or get sent to prison. They might even develop irreversible organ damage, lose a limb or kill someone. They often remain stuck - never getting help.
It is as simple as stopping. And as difficult as stopping. It is always complex and often linked to trauma in childhood, adolescence or adulthood, in which health and social factors entangle. Healing is messy, tricky and an ongoing non-linear process.
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But with appropriate medical, social and emotional support, those with personal or professional (often both) experience know that recovery is entirely possible.
Joe Heeney, founder and chief executive officer at WGC and Hatfield charity Resolve, believes connection, abstinence and lived experience from others who understand are key to improved outcomes for addicts.
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Resolve provide evidence-based abstinence drug and alcohol treatment services from centres in Mid and North Herts, including Mill Green Road, Welwyn Garden City, delivered through a structured day service treatment programme.
This consists of regular group therapy sessions, BACP-approved counselling, one to one key work to address practical issues, such as debt management, housing, work, health services and referral to other appropriate services.
Joe said: “I have lost jobs, faced prison, been in institutions and treatment. I have attended drug and alcohol day services and residential rehab twice – the last time was while setting up Resolve.
“My alcohol consumption was, at its peak between 60 and 90 units a day. I had several events over the years. Each time I tried but things didn’t last long before it got ‘bad’ again.
“On the last occasion I was in hospital following an episode involving alcohol and prescription drugs. I then went on to a mental ward and into treatment. I was very fortunate that things came together for me at that time and I was then ready to make changes.
“My story is not so special; there are many people whose lives have been adversely affected far worse and came through and are doing incredible things. Many of the team have lived experience and are now part of delivering incredible services helping others.”
Hatfield’s Sparks Community Café and community hub helps pay for Resolve’s night shelter. Customers pay what they can afford for food and drinks. It is based in Queensway and is dedicated to the late Welwyn Hatfield Mayor, Lynne Sparks.
Resolve was recently mentioned as highly commended in the community champion category of the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce Inspiring Herts Awards. It was founded when a previously commissioned service was axed and provides community services across the county.
The 55-year-old inspiration is keen to point out that addiction affects those from all social backgrounds and is viewed and stigmatised differently between classes. Outcomes for privileged or wealthy people are less restricting to them and their families than the outcomes of those from deprived backgrounds.
For example, he describes how celebrities are discussed in media and dealt with in the criminal justice system more favourably than homeless park-bench drinkers of strong beer for breakfast.
Joe added: “I live to tell others I was that person not so very many years ago. There are many times more people who haven’t sought help or been forced to address their addiction yet. Sadly, some will die, end up in institutions, prison, mental health facilities and some will simply carry on, never having seen things get ‘bad enough’ for them to have to deal with it.”
You can find @ResolveCharityand @SparksCommunityCafe on Facebook. The NHS has useful information on addiction at https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/addiction-what-is-it/.