Our plan is to create a cafe/bar venue on the ground floor with meeting spaces, recovery and education services above.
We know it’s an ambitious plan but if offers a much-needed facility on Tyneside where there is currently no other building offering such a comprehensive service either for the recovery community or the general public as a whole.
Newcastle Upon Tyne is this country’s capital of alcoholism and drug addiction. The cost in financial and human terms is unacceptable. Most never find a solution but those who do can expect to lead lives changed immeasurably for the better through 12-step abstinence-based recovery.
Most people who arrive in recovery have been drinking or using for many years. They have lost all social contact apart from using and drinking colleagues and their social skills have been seriously eroded.
In order to sustain their habits, users have learned to ‘people please’ and demean themselves. The programs of recovery in 12-step abstinence fellowships begin by outlining the process of restoring good behaviour and self-esteem. Their addiction led to behaviours which right-thinking people would describe as ‘insane’. Recovery brings a return to sanity.
However, the number of people who drop out of programmes of recovery is significant.
There has recently been a growth in both the major 12-step abstinence recovery fellowships of AA and NA. The Road To Recovery Trust believes that if people were given additional help, this would profoundly boost their chances of sustainable recovery. We have set ourselves the target of changing 100 lives in our first 1000 days. In coming years with experience and learning we would hope to double that and then proceed exponentially.
In so doing we believe we will enhance the lives of hundreds more people. Alcoholism and addiction are described as being ‘family’ diseases. Anyone emotionally tied to the user suffers damage of one kind or another. Recovery brings untold benefits not just to the users themselves but to fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, partners, family and friends – all of these people suffer from alcohol and drug addiction. In attracting 100 addicts into recovery we would expect to change the lives of at least 500 friends and family members.
Drinking and using is a terrifying and lonely business. Addicts and alcoholics actively isolate themselves to escape from a world which becomes increasingly baffling, frightening and hostile.
Our first plan is to create a social space where people can sit in an alcohol and drug free environment and simply be safe. This space would offer opportunities for people to get information and support:-
1) There would be training and education in literacy, numeracy and IT to get people back to work.
2) People who are actively drinking and using or who are in early recovery often suffer from extremely bad nutrition. We will not only offer healthy, nutritious, cost-effective meals. We will run advice workshops on diet, value shopping and cooking.
3) There would be wide range of social activities on offer (a drama club, a choir, a walking club) designed to help alcoholics and addicts re-build their lives with the help of others who are now managing their lives – determined to remain clean and sober one day at a time.
The basis for this program will be a recovery cafe/dry bar in Newcastle city centre based on The Brink model already established in Liverpool in 2011 which is run by Action on Addiction with support from the City Council. Already the project is showing remarkable signs of success as people in recovery find a safe haven in which to meet friends and relatives, learn new skills, socialise and enjoy themselves without drink or drugs. Alcoholics and users (and their family members or those concerned about them) can find information about the illness, its consequences and the programme of recovery which provides a solution.
Most importantly, this building will provide a focal point for the vital mutual aid meetings which form the foundations on which a sustainable recovery can be built. At the heart of all these services will be other members of the recovery community – people who have built new lives. They are clean and sober. They are teachers, health workers, accountants, lawyers, caterers, civil servants and engineers. They come from all walks of life but have one thing in common – the desire to carry the message of recovery to the still-suffering addict.