A new centre for people seeking help for drug and alcohol addiction has officially opened in Bishop Auckland.
Saddler House Recovery Centre, which replaces outdated facilities in the town’s Market Place, has been funded by Durham County Council and Public Health England.
It provides a new base for County Durham Drug and Alcohol Service, which is managed by the Lifeline Project, a national charity specialising in substance misuse services, and will offer immediate access for anybody needing support with drug or alcohol problems and their families.
Offering a bright and inspiring environment, its aim is to encourage abstinence by providing confidential one-to-one support, group work and structured activities to get people back to their families and leading drug and alcohol free lives.
It will provide a range of programmes proven to help people get into recovery. The aim will be to motivate behaviour change using clinical interventions and using the experiences of other people who have been through their own recovery journey.
Cllr Joy Allen, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said, “Our priority is raising awareness of the harm caused by alcohol and drugs to individuals, families and the wider community and to promote treatment and recovery services that can transform lives.
“This new facility has been designed to ensure those seeking help and support can do so in a clinical and professional environment. I have visited drug and alcohol centres throughout the county and have been impressed to hear from service users about their journey to complete recovery by becoming drug and alcohol free.
“The majority of people seeking support want help with alcohol addiction. Services such as this are vitally important if we are to reduce the risks alcohol poses to safety, health, young people, the economy and the environment. However, we must never lose sight of the bigger picture in our efforts to reduce alcohol related harm such as the risks posed by low cost, high strength ciders, minimum unit pricing, promotions that encourage binge drinking and the dangers of drink driving.”
Latest statistics show the estimated cost of dealing with the personal, social and economic consequences of excessive alcohol consumption in County Durham is more than £200 million per year. This is across the NHS, criminal justice system, licensing, workplaces and social services.
Alcohol is responsible for 53 per cent of violent crime nationally and 35 per cent in County Durham, while in 2013/14, almost 40 per cent of domestic abuse incidents were recorded as being alcohol related.
Between 2011 and 2013, there were 181 vehicle collisions involving at least one driver who had been drinking, resulting in 279 casualties.
Anne Bell, Lifeline Services manager, said: “Our programmes use the influence of others who have changed their lives to inspire and bring hope to those at the beginning of their recovery process. We take people from every walk of life, including young people, families including grandparents, carers and veterans to help them to become free from addiction and then encourage them to become ambassadors to support their peers and promote the recovery message.”
Dennis, a Recovery Ambassador for the service, said: “I never thought change was possible until I had only two choices, suicide or give change a try. Fear had kept me where it wanted for a very long time so I gave change a try and, it works if you want it hard enough.
“It worked for me and I was labelled as ‘never going to change’ by society as a whole but miracles can and do happen. I’ve been to hell and back so I know what it feels like. “
Carl, a fellow Recovery Ambassador, said: “If it wasn’t for the service, I would still be in active addiction and breaking the law. I would probably be homeless and possibly even dead.
“I never had any hope for the future or really cared about anything but, since being sober and working with the ambassadors I have loads of hope and self-worth.”