LOUD and PROUD
Addiction Awareness Week is a chance to get together on a farreaching campaign , says Mike Trace
Forward Trust campaigns to raise public awareness around the causes and nature of addiction , raise support for people struggling with the condition , and instil a sense of belief in the potential for change and recovery . Part of this campaigning and communications work is the ‘ Taking Action on Addiction ’ campaign , built around an annual Addiction Awareness Week in the first week of November .
Now in its second year , this large-scale , multi-partner , publicfacing campaign reframes existing perceptions of addiction . It builds awareness of the causes and nature of addiction , improves understanding , reduces prejudice and enables more people to ask for and receive help . With our founder partners – NACOA , Music Support , FAVOR UK , Phoenix Futures , Amy Winehouse Foundation , Steps 2 Recovery and Kaleidoscope – we joined forces with providers across our sector to promote all our work through a range of events and media activities .
You will have seen the campaign across social channels , engagement with sporting and music partners , publication of a new piece of polling on the cost of living , and high-profile messages of support which amplify our cause and the voices of the people we help .
We can ’ t match the glitz provided by last year ’ s campaign launch at BAFTA in Piccadilly with our royal patron the Princess of Wales and national treasures Ant and Dec . But we are at least hoping that Tony Adams has given us a mention on Strictly Come Dancing .
Behind all this is an attempt to move the dial on public perception , which still primarily views addiction as a moral weakness and
lifestyle choice and believes that people struggling with addiction are not capable of change . A secondary audience is made up of people in the helping professions ( including our own ) who are sceptical about individuals ’ capacity to confront the root causes of their addiction , to break the cycle , and live positive and fulfilling lives .
I recall seeing a survey result saying that , when asked what percentage of people receiving treatment for addiction are capable of overcoming it , the average answer from healthcare professionals was 7 per cent . Forward Trust ’ s answer is 100 per cent – not everyone will have the strength or support to turn their lives around at any given point , but everyone has the potential . And it is our job to do everything we can to strengthen their self-belief , and support them in whatever changes they want to make .
Forward Trust has just gone through a process of refreshing our strategic statements on vision , mission , beliefs and values . Prompted by the need to articulate a unifying purpose to an increasingly diverse set of services and client groups , we ’ ve tried to describe what we believe about social exclusion and emotional
There are several public-facing activities that we can all support , simply by sharing , liking , or clicking on content , even after the week has passed :
TAKING ACTION ON ADDICTION social media assets have been running through the week . Please continue to interact with our channels : @ actiononaddiction on Instagram , @ ActionAddiction on Twitter and @ ActionAddictionUK on Facebook – tag and share away .
SHARE THE HASHTAGS – # AAW2022 # NotAChoice # RecoveryIsPossible # SupportNotStigma
pain in our society , why we ’ re motivated to do the work we do , and how we organise our services to remain focused on our mission .
Through stating our beliefs we ’ re making a statement of why we believe our clients are often victims of their circumstances , as well as responsible for their own choices . The poverty , social injustice , alienation , emotional pain and despair felt by our clients is real , and represents a strong driver of risky , self-destructive or anti-social behaviour . This is a difficult concept to articulate without stereotyping or further stigmatising our clients , but we know that childhood abuse , neglect and trauma , or mental health problems such as anxiety , loneliness or depression , are highly represented in the people who need our services .
I would guess that most people in our sector are attracted to this work because they see these injustices and want to help people overcome them . It ’ s why I came into the field back in the 1980s , and why I still love my job now . But we have to shout it louder , and that ’ s why
Forward Trust are putting more effort into campaigning . In addition to Addiction Awareness Week , our ‘ More Than My Past ’ website and podcast showcase dozens of life stories and our Forward Connect peer recovery network goes from strength to strength with activities around the country .
So please do all you can to learn about Addiction Awareness Week , but also use your skills , expertise and passion to push these messages out to your networks throughout the year . We at Forward Trust have started to get busy on this challenge and know there will be loads of creative ideas that we can work together on . If you or your organisation wants to pursue an idea or develop campaigns together , please get in touch with me .
Mike Trace is chief executive of Forward Trust , mike . trace @ forwardtrust . org . uk
CONTACT LOCAL MEDIA to promote your service , linking to the messages of the campaign and using details from the polling to show the impact the cost-of-living crisis and the aftermath of the pandemic is having on addiction and recovery .
DISTRIBUTE THE CAMPAIGN POSTERS , which encourage people to reach out and ask for help , a message that we want to share well after Addiction Awareness Week is over . Please email takingactiononaddiction @ forwardtrust . org . uk to request copies .
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