28th October to 4th November is Addiction Awareness week.
Now in its third year, this campaign, created by Taking Action on Addiction aims to improve people’s understanding of addiction and end the stigma that surrounds it.
The theme of this year’s campaign is entitled, ‘Everybody Knows Somebody’, highlighting the prevalence of addiction that runs throughout society and the deep impact it can have on so many lives.
‘Everybody Knows Somebody’ reflects an undeniable truth that addiction- in any form – harms not only the individuals struggling with the disease, but also their families, friendship groups, work and colleagues and the wider community.
By highlighting just how common addiction is, Addiction Awareness Week aims to dispel myths, remove the barriers and stop the ‘othering’ that too often surrounds those affected by this disease.
Substance-Related Deaths Reach All Time High
Last year, according to the Office for National Statistics, the number of alcohol-related deaths reached an all-time high. The vast majority of those deaths were due to alcohol dependency.
These figures, while sad, are less surprising given the rise in alcohol use during the covid pandemic.
Online surveys show that nearly half (47%) of UK adults who identified as being in recovery from an addiction, or, knowing someone in recovery from addiction prior to the COVID-19 pandemic have experienced a relapse or a re-occurrence of their addictive behaviour during the pandemic.
Key Themes to Addiction Awareness
Because addiction is often an issue experienced by an entire family unit or friendship group, the ‘Everybody Knows Somebody’ campaign is underpinned by four key themes; intergenerational impact; family stories; connection and friendship in recovery; and the ripple effects of recovery.
By using these themes it allows the campaign to focus collectively on the depth and breadth of addiction and the impact it has on different members of an individual’s network.
Addiction- in any form -doesn’t just affect the person who’s struggling with the disease, it also has a big impact on their family, and especially any children involved.
Addiction – and the associated issues- are also well known to be cyclical and the effects can last generations. It is common for many adults accessing drug and alcohol support to have previously witnessed substance use and experienced trauma in their own childhood.
Sadly, support, education and the support systems available to families can be stigmatising, while also failing to support positive change for the whole family. This inadvertently perpetuates intergenerational trauma and addiction.
Addressing this trauma is therefore a vital aspect of breaking the cycle of addiction. Read our blog on how to talk to children about addiction
Addiction can affect a whole family in many ways, including emotionally, financially, legally, and in extreme cases medically. For this reason, focusing on support for the entire family unit is so important.
Addiction also breeds secrecy and often lies as individuals struggling with substance misuse feel the need to hide their addictive behaviours from their family to avoid judgment or conflict.
While family members often witness the physical, emotional and even financial impact of addiction, they too cover it up, believing they are being supportive.
Unfortunately, this actually becomes an enabling behaviour and these family ‘stories’ can create a culture of denial and silence which only leads to further isolation of the individual and making it harder for them to seek help
Connection and friendship in recovery
Connection, friendship and establishing a solid network of support, all play a crucial role in the journey to recovery from addiction.
At its core, recovery is not just about abstaining from substances or addictive behaviours, but about forging meaningful, supportive relationships that foster growth, resilience and help create the daily routines that someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol needs to stay on the path to health.
For anyone recovering from an addiction, it helps a great deal to be surrounded by individuals, be it family, friends, or colleagues that show love and encouragement consistently during their recovery journey and beyond.
Those that have experienced this support understand its value, which is why so many Recovery Lodge users have since gone on to become counsellors in their own right and have returned to the Lodge to offer support and guidance to others.
With the help of friends and family, Julian, from Southwest London, was checked in to the Recovery Lodge, in a desperate, final attempt to save his life.
“I was waking up at six-thirty in the morning with terrible shakes. I couldn’t hold a glass still and yet all I was wondering was how I was physically going to drink a glass of vodka, but I was still in denial about my addiction”, he admits.
Julian’s saviour was a friend who persuaded him to meet an acquaintance, who was also a recovering alcoholic and having been a patient at The Recovery Lodge, helped persuade Julian to give it a go.
“The Recovery Lodge made me take a look in the mirror and accept my behaviour and my responsibilities. The Recovery Lodge taught me how to be kind to myself – and now to others.”
“Now I like to offer help to other alcoholics on their recovery journey. I want them to know that rather than picking up a drink, they can pick up the phone,” says Julian.
The Ripple Effect of Recovery
The journey to recovery from addiction doesn’t just transform the life of the individual embarking on it; it sends out ripples of positive change that touch every strand of their network. This process of healing and self-discovery can profoundly impact not only the person in recovery but also their family, friends, workplace, and wider community.
Jules from Herne Bay, Kent, is more than 12 months sober after checking into the Recovery Lodge in Kent in a last ditch attempt to save her life.
Jules’ wake up moment came when under the influence of drink and a cocktail of medication she prepared to collect her children from nursery.
She admits, “I called my sister and said, I just can’t do this anymore. I needed help.”
After her treatment at The Recovery Lodge, Jules is continuing her recovery each day by sticking religiously to the prescribed 12-step programme, which includes attending regular AA meetings – a community in which he is heavily invested.
“Two weeks into my time at the Recovery Lodge, something just clicked. Now my only friends, other than my family who continue to support me, come from the congregation I am part of. I only surround myself with winners,” she says.
Any form of addiction can be crippling to a person’s life; their personal relationships, professional work environment and emotional well-being. Often, those suffering with addiction can be relatively high-functioning i.e. they can hold down jobs, maintain personal hygiene, pay bills on time and love to socialise.
They are often able to hide their addiction for many years without having major issues, but look a little deeper and below the surface, their addiction can cause a lot of psychological and emotional damage to the individual and those around them.
Knowing the signs and where to go for help can save someone’s life.
Support for substance addiction
For those with addiction issues of any kind it is crucial that they, or those close to them know where to turn for help. With the right support and guidance, substance addiction, whether that is drug, prescription drugs, or alcohol addiction can be overcome.
The Recovery Lodge helps addicts along the road to their recovery. Trained staff, counsellors, and medical teams on site offer valuable support and services to help individuals regain control of their lives, including medical supervision, therapy, and a supportive community for when users leave the facility to continue their recovery.
If you or someone you know is suffering with addictions of any nature and would like help, advice or support to overcome this addiction, our friendly team is here to help – simply call us directly on 01795 431 751.