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My name is Kenny and I am an addict in recovery.

My childhood was an unstable mix of living with family and in foster care. I started to experience homelessness and social exclusion from my teen years and first went in to rehab in my mid-20s.

I have experienced long periods of sobriety, during which I would manage to build my life up. I got married and had kids, found full time employment and new career paths, and even bought a house. However, none of these things stopped me from starting to drink and use drugs again, and my life would come crashing down around me (again).

I simply could not live life on life’s terms. I wanted to escape the reality of just ‘being me’.

I knew I was an addict, but I never understood what it ‘meant’ to be an addict. I thought it was about taking drugs, but it wasn’t. It was about my inability to endure being clean and sober.

It wasn’t until I started attending Cocaine Anonymous meetings (on the back of destroying my life, again) that I
began to understand the true nature of my condition and started to truly recover. The 12-Step Programme showed me the way to live my life, successfully, that I have always wanted. It’s not for quitters: it’s for people who try, try and try, and can’t quit! It’s for people who had difficulty living before they used. People like me.

The days of being ashamed about addiction and recovery are over. It’s all about honesty.

I now work as a registered Mental Health Nurse; I am a productive member of society and I still attend regular meetings. I have also started to work with the Nursing & Midwifery Committee to help deal with nurses returning to the profession who have, or are, experiencing personal problems themselves.

Cocaine Anonymous has given me my children back, my life, my career and my relationships. Most of all though, it’s given me a way of life that means, one day at a time, I never ever have to use again.

If you’ve been effected by Kenny’s story and would like to speak to one of our recovery connector volunteers call 01273 758561 or email clare@kennedystreetcio.org. Or click here for a list of recovery fellowships.

Whether you’re new to addiction recovery or have been on your recovery journey for a number of years, the current lockdown in place due to Covid-19 and the uncertainty of what lies ahead is inevitably causing unwanted anxiety. Don’t let the situation interfere with your recovery.

Below are some tips from the Kennedy St team to help you navigate your recovery journey and manage addiction recovery during Covid-19 and these challenging times.

Keep connected.

At times like these, if you have an addiction issue, having the right support is not only vital, it can be lifesaving.
There is often a tendency to self-isolate when you have an addiction problem. With the temporary closure of local services and lockdown restrictions in place this can feel like the easiest option. However, it’s essential that you make contact with a recovery community and of paramount importance to seek medical support if necessary.

Don’t worry about technology – if you haven’t worked out the wonders of Zoom, or can’t fathom WhatsApp, recovery support is just a phone call away.

There is an abundance of recovery fellowships in our communities that are run freely by volunteers with a lived experience of recovery. They are ready and waiting to connect you to their online meeting platforms that are up and running every hour of every day. If taking this step seems rather daunting, and you’re unsure which group could help you, the Kennedy St team of recovery connectors are also on hand for a confidential chat or online guidance to find the best fit for you.

Wherever you are on your recovery journey, it is so important to realise that you’re not in this alone.

Take control of your day.

Staying focused, motivated and busy can be difficult when your normal routine has been upset. It’s easy to give up and give into boredom, to return to unhealthy coping mechanisms and withdraw within yourself.

We would suggest when you wake up to take a couple of moments and identify a recovery focused intention for the day. Start simply: ask someone about recovery support. At Kennedy St, as a team we use the mantra ‘Think, Believe, Become’.

Bring some structure to your day by scheduling times to get up and go to bed. It doesn’t need to be a rigid hour-by-hour agenda, but simply a revised, adapted routine to give you a sense of purpose. Making a small list of achievable goals works for some people, and it can be rewarding to tick off items as you go.

Take care of yourself.

One activity many of the Kennedy St team have found beneficial, especially when feeling overwhelmed with a racing head, is mindfulness. You don’t need to be a yogi, or religious, or even particularly spiritual. It doesn’t have to involve sitting in the lotus position with your eyes closed until your legs go numb. It’s simply about taking a few moments to reconnect with yourself in the here and now. There are a few free mindfulness apps available: Headspace is one that our volunteers find helpful.

If this doesn’t sound like your thing, even just sitting quietly at a window or on your back step, picking out something beautiful to look at, listening to the birds, or focusing on your breathing for a couple of minutes can have a calming effect. Take time to slow down for a few moments every day and connect to the beauty that is around you: small actions can bring positive change.

Physical activity has been shown to improve mental health, reduce anxiety levels and combat depression. The lockdown rules permit going outside to take exercise. If you feel comfortable, leaving the house for a walk, a jog or a bike ride in the fresh air will work wonders. It doesn’t need to be intense activity to help you feel good. Eating well is equally important. It may be tricky to find some ingredients – flour is still in short supply – but try to focus on eating nourishing, nutritious meals.

If you’re interested in recovery and would like to speak to one of our recovery connector volunteers call 01273 758561 or email clare@kennedystreetcio.org. Or click here for a list of recovery fellowships.

Remember this pandemic and the lockdown rules will not last forever.
Have hope. Stay well. Stay positive.

The amount of information regarding addiction, overcoming addiction and addiction treatment can be overwhelming and confusing. It can be difficult to sort the fact from the fiction. Below are five common addiction myths and the facts behind them.

Myth: Overcoming addiction is simply a matter of willpower. You can stop using drugs if you really want.
Fact: Prolonged exposure to drugs alters the brain in ways that result in powerful cravings and a compulsion to use. These brain changes make it extremely difficult to quit by sheer force of will.

Myth: Addicts must hit rock bottom before they can get better.
Fact: Recovery can begin at any point in the addiction process: the earlier, the better. The longer drug abuse continues, the stronger the addiction becomes and the harder it is to treat. Don’t wait to intervene until the addict has lost everything.

Myth: Treatment didn’t work before, so there’s no point trying again.
Fact: Recovery from any addiction, can be a long process that often involves setbacks. Relapse doesn’t mean that treatment has failed or that sobriety is a lost cause. Rather, it’s a signal to get back on track, either by going back to treatment or adjusting the treatment approach.

Myth: You can’t force someone into treatment. They must want help.
Fact: Treatment doesn’t have to be voluntary to be successful. People who are pressured into treatment by their family, employer, or the legal system are just as likely to benefit as those who choose to enter treatment on their own. As they sober up and their thinking clears, many formerly resistant addicts decide they want to change.

Myth: Addiction is a disease. There’s nothing that can be done about it.
Fact: Most experts agree that addiction is a disease that affects the brain. The brain changes associated with addiction can be treated and reversed through self-help, therapy, medication, exercise, good nutrition and other treatments.

These myths are just the tip of the information iceberg when it comes to addiction. If you need help understanding the truth, the Kennedy St team are on hand to offer advice and guidance. Call 01273 758561 or email clare@kennedystreetcio.org. Or click here for a list of recovery fellowships.