In my years working in the recovery field in the UK, I was both inspired and disillusioned. I was inspired by some of the people working in the field, often people with lived experience who were helping others, like David McCartney, Noreen Oliver and Wynford Ellis Owen, to name just a few. I was disillusioned with the mainstream government-run treatment system, much of which was not focused on helping people find recovery, and often seemed to care more about its own wellbeing rather than those who were seeking its help.
In the two films below, we learn how James Deakin, Founder of North Wales Recovery Communities (NWRC), was also both inspired and disillusioned when he was working in the field, in his case as a Drug Interventions Programme (DIP) worker. [In contrast to James, I was not working as part of the treatment system.]
James also mentions two men who inspired him greatly, who similarly inspired me greatly. Mark Gilman (Left) and the late Rowdy Yates are shown in the photograph above, which was taken when Mark and I visited Rowdy in Stirling in March 2009. They were both major recovery carriers for many years.
James is totally inspired by attending the Recovery Academy in Glasgow in 2010. He listens to David Best talking about addiction recovery, and Mark Gilman describing Asset-Based Community Development approach (ABCD). The latter approach is a primary foundation of the North Wales Recovery Communities (NWRC) that James is later to develop. He views the late Rowdy Yates and, in particular, Mark Gilman as recovery carriers having a huge influence on him.
James meets Mark Gilman on the train home from Glasgow and pumps him dry of recovery knowledge. Mark emphasises that recovery is an organic experience and can’t be commissioned through treatment services. He argues that we must must build bridges between treatment and mutual aid.
Wulf says that treatment should be helping people get off drugs and alcohol, whilst staying off occurs via a person’s peers in the community. James points out that people working with the medical model still don’t understand this distinction. He becomes disillusioned with the system—‘how can it be so dysfunctional?’—and thinks about leaving his job. Someone points out that maybe the system is so dysfunctional deliberately.