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New Public Health England guide encourages recovering alcohol and drug users to design and development their own treatment


Coinciding with International Recovery Month this September, Public Health England (PHE) has launched a new guide showing the benefits of involving recovering alcohol and drug users in the design and development of their own treatment and recovery.

PHE’s Service User Involvement guide describes four different levels of service user involvement, from co-developing one’s own care plan through to initiating and running recovery-focused enterprises. The guide showcases a number of examples of unique services from across the country that have been set-up by, or run by, former alcohol and drug users.

UK Recovery monthThrough tailored and flexible approaches that aim to provide skills and training, these services promote and maintain long-term recovery often acting as a crucial step into employment. Their involvement in services at all levels increases confidence in, and suitability of the services, while seeing the successful stories of others in recovery motivates those still working to achieve recovery.

Rosanna O’Connor, Director of alcohol, drugs and tobacco at PHE said: “Those who have recovered from addiction themselves have the experiences, and often the expertise, to help others and can make an important contribution to the development of successful services.

We know that the journey to recovery from addiction is challenging and different people need different things to get there, from family and friends to jobs and homes, as well as whatever specialist treatment and support might be needed. Flexible approaches that engage the service users are essential to meeting these needs.

User-led projects vary across the country but they are generally practical in focus, offering structured support, training and employment opportunities that are relevant to the local community. RECOVER, a furniture up-cycling project in Hertfordshire was set-up and is run by those in recovery.

Ian Block, Manager of RECOVER, said: “RECOVER was created around and is driven forward by those using the service, these people feel ownership, pride and commitment to our vibrant enterprise. This in turn has supported recovery journeys beyond treatment all the way to reintegration with communities, employment and dramatic increases in self-esteem, self-confidence and feelings of self-worth and value.”

The new guide, launched at PHE’s national ‘Experts by Experience: The assets brought by recovering drug and alcohol users to treatment and recovery’ event, coincides with September’s International Recovery Month. The month provides an opportunity to raise awareness and understanding of addiction, celebrating those who have achieved successful recovery.

Recovery Month is now in its 26th year across the world. It gives recovery service providers and individuals in recovery the opportunity to celebrate and congratulate the hard work that goes into making recovery possible. While it is also an opportunity to honour the work of the many people and agencies who work hard every day in the area of both prevention and treatment.

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