ThemesOur Themes section includes films of our interviewees that are focusing on specific topics related to recovery, addiction, treatment, and sometimes other matters.

The films have been created by re-editing our original film into short (almost always less than three minutes) clips, and then 'linking' the appropriate clips by using YouTube Playlists. The Theme films are compiled from material involving one or more of our interviewees.

8th December 2023

Nature of Recovery, Part 3

Dr. David McCartney is asked what one word best describes the essence of recovery. 'Hope,' he replies. 'Of course, you can't prescribe hope, it doesn't come in a bottle...' James Deakin makes an interesting point derived from his observations at North Wales Recovery Communities: The more intelligent you are, the more...
1st December 2023

Identity: Dr. David McCartney

Dr. David McCartney describes that as his drinking problem was becoming worse he developed the ability to split what he was drinking from what his patients with alcohol problems were drinking. The amounts weren't that different. However, David rationalised that he couldn't have a problem, as he was in a suit and seeing...
28th November 2023

Recovery Advocacy, Part 3

After seeing one person deciding to take the journey to recovery (successfully) after visiting the Towards Recovery cafe and talking with half a dozen people, Huseyin Djemil wondered what would the impact be of having a recovery conference in Henley. The first Towards Recovery conference took place in 2013.
24th November 2023

Mutual Aid, Part 2

James Deakin points out that members of North Wales Recovery Communities (NWRC) are given a variety of mutual aid options. If the person can't relate to the 12-Step approach, they can try Smart Recovery, and if that doesn't work they can try CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Theory).
15th November 2023

The Power of Hope

David McCartney describes how a doctor on the British Doctors and Dentists Group helpline told him about his recovery. That story connected with David in a way that the tablets he had previously been prescribed for his addiction had not. The story gave him hope. When asked what he felt was the essence of recovery...
9th November 2023

12-Step Fellowship, Part 2: Wendy Dossett

Wendy has studied the concept of 'Higher Power' for a long time and the key message that she wants to get out there 'is the diversity and creativity of people who engage with that concept and how they interpret it.' These people are not sitting back and accepting a 1930s concept...
2nd November 2023

Recovery Advocacy, Part 2

Wendy Dossett and Wulf discuss the problems of trying to be an addiction recovery advocate whilst working within the system, where financial interests and status are major factors. Wulf believes that the recovery advocacy movement has receded into small communities and off the national stage.
26th October 2023

Descent Into Heroin Addiction

Marcus Fair describes having a disease of obsession—an obsession for certain things, be it food, chocolate or computer games—from the time of his youth. ’Whatever I enjoyed, I kicked the arse out of, until it kicked the arse out of me.’ Marcus went through a progression of substances from alcohol, to gas and solvents, cannabis...
13th October 2023

Building a Recovery Community, Part 3: Wulf Livingston

James Deakin started to set up challenges for NWRC members, such as a 100-mile in a week challenge, in order to make recovery visible in recovery month, and to challenge the stigmatisation of people who are addicted, or have been addicted, to drugs and alcohol.
12th October 2023

Building a Recovery Community, Part 2: Wulf Livingston

Wulf points out that critical to the success of NWRC is that members have access to plenty of free environmental space on their doorstep. No-one has charged them for taking a walk on a beach or going up a mountain. It is more difficult to create a similar entity in a large city...
11th October 2023

Building a Recovery Community, Part 1: Wulf Livingston

The first of a three-part Themes series focused on building a recovery community, with my colleague Wulf Livingston using developments over time at North Wales Recovery Communities (NWRC) as an example. In 2015, Wulf was asked by James Deakin, the Founder of NWRC...
9th October 2023

Giving Back, Part 2

James Deakin emphasises that people with addiction problems cause a large cost to society, so it’s important that when they’re getting well they give something back. As he started to help others, he realised that there was so much value to giving back, and to be recognised as a positive, upstanding member of the community.
5th October 2023

Nature of Recovery, Part 2

Marcus Fair, Founder of of Eternal Media, emphasises that he was a very busy addict. When someone like him gets into recovery, they are thinking, ‘How I am going to fill those 24 hours? If you can’t remember what you used to do, or you were a kid when you got onto drugs, and you have no outside interests… now what?’
22nd September 2023

Stigma & Kintsugi

Huseyin Djemil describes working in a rehab where staff used to put a cover story together for residents so that when they left they didn’t have to reveal their past. He found that difficult and later said to residents, when he became temporary CEO of the rehab, ‘Do you really want to start your new your new life with a cover story...
21st September 2023


Shame often plays an important role when a person is developing and/or has developed a drinking problem. In the first clip here, David McCartney describes how shame was part of a major epiphany in his life. He was asked by a woman if he would see her brother and talk about his drinking problem. On the way home after seeing her...