Eighteen months ago, I wasn’t even sure if I could break out of the destructive cycle of alcohol abuse. I had tried various routes to try and help kick the demon drink over the years, but it wasn’t until I walked into Inclusion that it seemed within the realms of possibility. With the help of a wonderful keyworker, group therapy run by amazing facilitators, and the incomparable bond that you make with fellow addicts, I now have so many opportunities available to me that go far beyond the holy grail of sobriety (that is just the beginning…).

So, now that I was sober, what next? Staff suggested volunteering, which I hadn’t considered before; it seems a strange thought now, as I love it!

Volunteering has provided me with extensive training in areas ranging from Needle Exchange, to Transactional Analysis, to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, to name just a few. Training days are informative, interactive, and very sociable, and further independent training is supported and encouraged. Co-facilitating groups is always mentally stimulating, and the ever-changing, dynamic environment means that there is never a dull moment! I have also given talks to those who support the people with substance abuse issues, which is a truly humbling experience.

The opportunities are many and varied, and you are in charge of what direction you would like to take it in. What I have found is that the more you put in, the more you get back!

It is the most supportive environment that I could ask for, both when I was a service user, and now that I am volunteering. Having had a foot in both camps, I truly believe in the value of being able to give back to Inclusion. Who understands an addict better than another (recovering) addict, after all? It is the best thing that I have done in years, and the skills I have learnt will stay with me forever.

If you would like to find out more about how you can volunteer with Inclusion Recovery Hampshire like Emma, please email us at inclusionvolunteering@mpft.nhs.uk