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Social Stigma, Recovery and Addiction

Last week proved to be an exciting one for all of us at CLI. Not only did we have our very first ‘Recovery Fest’,  we also had the pleasure of welcoming BBC Look East in for a sneak peak at what we do. The BBC were keen to report on our new event, but more interested in finding out more about our service and Mandy, a service user, who has previously struggled with alcohol abuse. 

The Voice of Lived Experience

Encouraging those with lived or personal experience to use their voice to influence change is at the heart of everything we believe here at CLI. People who have faced severe challenges in life often have a unique insight that can help shape more effective services.  

When the opportunity arose with the BBC, we felt what better way to get their voices heard. Mandy, who is currently being supported at CLI, was keen to share her story and with the support of her mentor, Ricki, she felt able to do so. Like many of those that come through CLI’s doors, Mandy has a powerful story to tell and one that has the potential to make a difference. 

Over the years Mandy has endured the implications of alcohol abuse. She has tried to kick this way of life on a few occasions without success. However, with the support of the CLI community and her new Mentor she is now committed to her recovery. Mandy has achieved so much already and excited for what’s to come. 

Speaking on live TV can be daunting for anyone. However, Mandy spoke with such clarity and confidence, a true testament to the the hard work she has put into her mentoring relationship.

Theo, from the BBC, was superb at making Mandy feel at ease. Addiction is a tricky topic to approach but it was handled delicately. 

“I had shared my experience a lot in different support groups, but as you can imagine I’d never really talked about my addiction on camera. I was surprised by how relaxed I felt, the BBC staff were very friendly and professional.” – Mandy


Stigma and Addiction

The stigma surrounding substance misuse is still commonly seen in our society. These powerful and negative perceptions people have about addiction can have the potential to impact someone negatively and prevent them from accessing treatment.

It is our hope that stories like Mandy’s will help create a more helpful and supportive picture of addiction. That people will see this and understand that with the right guidance and support people can achieve their full potential and move forward in life. 

“It was nice to feel I was doing something in whatever small way I could to remove whatever ‘stigma’ there is still surrounding having a problem with alcohol.” – Mandy

This kind of publicity also allowed CLI to reach out to directly those who either need help themselves or know of someone who may. Remind them to not be ashamed and that there is support available. 

A message from Mandy’s Mentor

GROW Trainee and Mentor, Ricki Barton, expressed in his interview why he feels peer led support with someone with lived/personal experience can play such an important part in someones recovery. 

He also spoke of his and Mandy’s mentoring relationship and the progress she has made.  

“Since Mandy came to CLI and I became her Mentor, her willingness to commit to changing her life has been exemplary. Watching the process of Mandy finding her potential and interests has been a humbling experience. When coming in to recovery I was told there is only one thing that needs to change, and that is everything. Mandy, has opened herself to implementing change in all aspects of life.” 

Going forward CLI hope to be sharing many more stories of people with lived/personal experience of addiction. Their voices and wisdom needs to be heard to provide a deeper understanding that can influence change.

If you or someone you know is currently looking for support with this issue please don’t hesitate to contact:

Pathway2Recovery (local drug and alcohol treatment service) 

Or, if moving forward with your recovery is what you need support with contact us here at CLI. Go to ‘contact us’ page. 

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