Dame Carol Black ’ s review had given us an ‘ amazing opportunity ’ said the government ’ s recovery champion , Ed Day . We were at a pivotal moment , where ‘ all the things we wanted ’ had been identified in the report – more funding , a boost to workforce skills , better commissioning , and the will to reinvigorate all the different elements that should make up a treatment system . Furthermore , the invitation was there to fully involve the true experts – the people with lived experience whose peer support could do more to connect people with treatment than any learned method .
So if it was indeed the ‘ tipping point ’ he described , how should we grasp the opportunity to help deliver the next stage ? How do we achieve the aspiration of a recovery orientated system of care that , in Day ’ s words , meant
‘ high quality clinical services with harm reduction at the front door ’ alongside ‘ high quality recovery support services ’? Furthermore , he asked , ‘ What could each part do to make the other parts thrive ?’
‘ Many things unite us , not least that we all want to make a difference ,’ said Danny Hames , who as chair of NHS APA represented 16 NHS trusts . But he was realistic that it would take courage and honesty to ‘ maintain balance ’ without turning inwards and fighting each other . ‘ Everybody is going to have to give away a little bit of power to come together ,’ he said .
Chris Lee , chair of the National Commissioners Network , agreed with this and called for greater parity in making sure all voices were heard . Commissioners were ‘ public servants like many of us and work in systems ’, he said . They needed to work closely with lived experience communities to ‘ shape policy and direction of the sector in a coherent manner ’.
HONESTY AND UNITY With these aspirations for honesty and unity in mind , Cormac Russell – an ‘ itinerant storyteller ’ with an interest in social movements – opened up the discussion . People were coming to this forum with open hearts , ready for some of the risk-taking that was needed to get in the right relationships , he said . So what were the challenges ?
First and foremost , we needed to be honest about what had gone before , suggested Michaela Jones of the Scottish Recovery Consortium . ‘ Part of moving forward is recognising that hurt we ’ ve experienced from being locked out , even from our own recovery ,’ she said – a sentiment that many others identified with .
‘ If we want the community to buy into this , we have to acknowledge that they ’ ve been hurt and that they also have a voice ,’ agreed David L . We needed to be all-inclusive from the beginning .
The other important part of the
equation was acknowledging the devastating effect of the COVID pandemic , said Michelle from Calderdale . ‘ We ’ re in the middle of a terrible time , with loneliness , isolation and trauma at the centre of it … We ’ ve got a lot of sorting to do .’
Tina from Talk Change Grow added to this : ‘ Staff are traumatised . They don ’ t know if they ’ ll still have a job .’
THE FUTURE IS ' WE ' So there was appetite for an alternative future and agreement that to move forward would require honesty , unity – and the courage to take risks . What then , might this future look like ?
‘ We would like to see addiction reframed as part of the human condition ,’ said Michaela . ‘ Everybody is on a spectrum of addiction , everybody is using something to make themselves feel better . It ’ s not just about drugs and alcohol – it ’ s about all of us trying
12 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • OCTOBER 2021
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