CURING THE WORLD OF SUBSTANCE MISUSE DISORDER: HELP ANYONE ANYWHERE, ANYTIME
Whether you’ve had personal experience of drug use disorder or have witnessed the chaos and pain of a loved one battling to overcome it, it’s likely that somehow, sometime, addiction has impacted you. As the fastest-growing epidemic in the world today, it’s a condition affecting all ages, creeds, cultures, ethnicities, income brackets, education levels, professions and population groups. It truly is the most democratic illness in the world.
In the UK, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), there were 2 917 recorded deaths from illicit drug use in 2018 – a rise of 17% and the biggest annual increase in drug deaths since records began in 1993. Most of these deaths were due to opiates, although cocaine use has doubled in the past three years. Some have blamed this startling statistic on government cuts to treatment programmes (particularly opioid substitution treatment), while others have pointed to the proliferation and comparative affordability of “recreational” drugs, particularly among youngsters.
The Crime Statistics for England and Wales report of 2019 found that about one in 11 (94%) of adults aged 16-59 had used a drug in the past year. (Source: www.ons.gov.uk)
The World Drug Report estimates that some 35 million people are known to be suffering from illicit drug misuse disorders and that the number of opioid users is currently an estimated 53 million – up 56% from previous estimates. Opioids are responsible for two-thirds of the 585 000 recorded drug misuse-related deaths in 2017. (Source: www.bbc.com)
These are the deaths. The number of people currently in active illicit drug misuse, whose lives are at risk, is considerably higher – and when one adds to this the number of people currently misusing prescribed or over-the-counter drugs, the statistic is likely to be staggering.
And then there are the other, less obvious – but equally destructive – compulsive disorders: from gambling, to sex, to sugar, to food in general, to shopping, to social media, to a plethora of behaviours which can and do impact relationships, families, communities, careers and imprison countless individuals in unhappy, depleted lives.
If you’d like to become part of the solution for ridding the world of this scourge, and helping others shift from a culture of misuse disorder to a sustainable, meaningful culture of recovery, please read on – you can make a difference!
THE U-ACT TRUST
The UBUNTU ACADEMY OF COACHING TRAINING (U-ACT PBO-930 037 894) Trust, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, is a SAQA-registered organisation which is internationally recognised and is ISO 17024-compliant. It was founded by David Collins, an internationally qualified master coach with a background in the corporate banking and IT sector, whose personal journey to recovery prompted him to open his own rehabilitation facility, as well as the U-ACT Trust.
Both the rehab facility and the trust are staffed and run by people with lived experience in drug misuse disorder, who draw on their own recovery as well as the primary tool of Recovery Coaching in their approach to treating and supporting clients.
RECOVERY COACHING: A LIFE EMPOWERMENT TOOL
Recovery Coaching is a unique and proven approach to treatment, based on the principle that recovery does not end with detoxing, which is a comparatively simple medical procedure – it only begins there. Physical addiction to a substance or behaviour is not the problem per se; rather, it is the symptom of an underlying problem which begins long before a youngster starts drinking or misusing a drug. Recovery, therefore, must be directed to that underlying problem.
The real work lies in helping addicts find a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives which can drive their recovery, restore their confidence and help them regain the moral and emotional literacy needed for sustained wellness. This is done through RECOVERY COACHING – an innovative, proven and proactive relationship model premised on the belief that clients already know within themselves what a happy, fulfilled life would mean for them. For this reason, Recovery Coaching begins on the premise that the client is well and is capable of identifying and acting on choices that will lead them to a more rewarding and fulfilling way of living. Rather than dispensing to them an arbitrary, judgemental form of counselling, Recovery Coaching guides addicts towards articulating and – crucially – implementing the steps needed to fulfil the demands of their daily lives and become accountable for their actions. It combines recovery orientation and specific coaching skills, bolstered by ongoing support in wellness groups and an extensive network of resources, as well as continual encouragement and validation. The remarkable success rate it has achieved among addicts is testimony of its efficacy and sustainability.
The Recovery Coaching approach is by no means limited to addicts. It is equally effective when used on any individual, regardless of age, ethnicity, circumstances or background. It is a form of self-excavation which guides clients towards the unique solutions that are right for their unique problems. It is also effective as a business coaching model.
RECOVERY COACHING IN ACTION
The process of Recovery Coaching is based on engaging an individual in a series of intensive, carefully directed conversations in which he or she is asked powerful, searching questions. At no stage does the coach prescribe solutions to their problem or advise them on any particular course of action. Instead, the client themselves – by identifying the origin, scale and intensity of their situation – must arrive at their own vision of the life they would like. By articulating his or her own predicament, the client simultaneously learns to identify options for getting out of it which do not involve dangerous or unhealthy behaviour. The coach helps the client clarify this vision by exploring his or her potential, passions and ambitions and then – crucially – having them set action goals towards realising them. At every stage, the client is held accountable for achieving the objectives they have set out and taking the steps needed to progress from there.
This coaching method is premised on the belief that no two individuals are the same. Their abilities, aspirations and circumstances are all unique to their particular lives and they are the best-informed experts on their own lives. Accordingly, there is no “one-size-fits-all” path to recovery. Each individual, by being helped to understand the fears and frustrations which led them to substance misuse disorder, is likewise helped to understand what recovery means to them – and how they can find it.
While the Recovery Coaching model respects and encourages the role of faith-based organisations and ideologies in clients’ path to wellness, it is entirely non-denominational, unaligned to any political party, ethnic group or religious movement, and driven purely by its own healing guidelines.
RECOVERY CAPITAL: A SUSTAINABLE PATH TO EMPOWERMENT
For these reasons, the Recovery Coaching model is an ideal vehicle for helping individuals with substance (whether legal or otherwise) misuse disorders or harmful compulsive behaviours to develop “recovery capital”, a term referring to the personal resources each individual utilises in finding a sense of purpose, belonging and joy in their life and realise their full potential.
The coaching model is also ideal for helping the families, teachers, employers and other affected individuals find healing from the impact of living with a misuse or compulsive behaviour disorder. The coaching enables them to come to terms with the devastation they have suffered due to the chaos of the condition, deal with their anger and disappointment, understand his or her pathology and break through the prejudice of communities who still regard substance misuse disorder as a choice indicating moral failure, rather than a condition which was unforeseen and can no longer be controlled by the user. Recovery Coaching aims to empower, enlighten and entrench a sustainable culture of wellness.
THE U-ACT UMBRELLA: GWEN AND TIA
U-ACT is an umbrella organisation comprising two global education programmes: the GLOBAL WELLNESS EDUCATION NETWORK (GWEN) and THIS IS AFRICA (TIA). Both these initiatives are based on the central philosophy of using RECOVERY COACHING as the preferred approach to recovery.
This approach was sparked by the realisation that the vast majority of recovery facilities in the world (including the UK) offer only short-term, symptomatic treatment to substance misusers and almost nothing to their families, who – in most cases – are impacted as much as, if not more than, the user. As a result, patients admitted to these facilities continually suffer returns of symptoms, as their treatment has barely skimmed the surface of their pathologies. Any form of guidance or therapy they receive is prescriptive and often judgemental, demanding that users basically rely on willpower, total abstinence or a lifetime of being monitored and regimented in order to be functional. Alternatively, substance misuse disorder is outsourced to the church, the state, the courts or mental hospitals, all of which offer only superficial and transitory recovery, at best, and punitive treatment, at worst.
The recent government cuts to NHS treatment programmes has significantly exacerbated the problem.
Recovery Coaching takes a diametrically opposite view of both substance misuse disorder and wellness.
GLOBAL WELLNESS EDUCATIONAL NETWORK (GWEN) AND THIS IS AFRICA (TIA)
The U-ACT’s GWEN and TIA are sister initiatives which are part of a dynamic and expanding global university with the overall objective of training Recovery Coaches and Peer Recovery Specialists worldwide, eliminating substance misuse disorder (and other destructive, compulsive behaviours). By training and certifying coaches, it also creates employment and uplifts families and communities by educating them about the condition and helping them deal with it.
GWEN and TIA have seen the establishment of training centres – both classroom-based and online – in various countries around the world, including South Africa, Botswana, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the USA, Papua (New Guinea), Sri Lanka and Israel.
In the UK, GWEN has established a highly successful and mutually beneficial relationship with Recovery Connections, a rehabilitation facility with branches in Middlesbrough and Gateshead which draws on the Recovery Coaching modality for its treatment programmes as well as for training its staff. Its services include recovery support, community recovery support, volunteering, residential rehabilitation, families and carer support, volunteering and a Young People in Recovery programme. It is supported in these initiatives by David Collins, who operates supervisory sessions with the centres’ employees.