Journeys – Making Recovery from Addiction Visible

Huseyin Djemil from the UK has this week launched a new podcast focused on recovery from addiction, which he describes as such:

‘A new series from Towards Recovery CIC – making recovery from addiction visible.

Huseyin Djemil speaks to people who have lived experience of recovery from addiction, people who have been affected by addiction and those working in the addiction and recovery field – in its many contexts. There is a lot of information about addiction, but people get better and their stories need to be visible to give others hope.

Recovery is not a linear path from A to B, it’s more of a winding road and we want to explore those journeys and get those stories heard, because our stories have power.’

The first episode, The Power of Stories, is 84 minutes long and is described as such:

‘In the first of the series, Huseyin speaks to Prof David Clark. On his journey, David has been a neuroscientist, an addiction recovery advocate (he developed the grassroots initiative Wired In), and a developer of initiatives focused on the healing of intergenerational trauma amongst Aboriginal peoples. He recently published the eBook Our Recovery Stories: Journeys from Drug and Alcohol Addiction. From Henley-on-Thames, UK to Perth, Australia, Huseyin and David are friends from the field, separated by many years and miles!’

Yes, I am the first interviewee and I feel honoured to be so. And it’s the first podcast in which I have ever been involved. It was an interesting and enjoyable experience. I can’t remember the last time I talked about recovery for such a long time. And Huseyin really knows his ‘stuff’, and is in recovery himself, so that made it all the more interesting.

I think the last time I met Huseyin was about 15 years ago. I’ve always been impressed by what he has done in the field, back then and since we last met. In 2012, he set up Towards Recovery, with the aim of making Recovery more visible in Henley-on-Thames and the surrounding areas.

In 2017 Towards Recovery became a Community Interest Company with ‘the aims of:

  • Making Recovery more visible
  • Showing that Recovery from addiction is possible
  • Demonstrating that people in Recovery are responsible citizens and community assets that positively contribute to the wellbeing of those around them
  • Offering a growing, supportive and active Recovery Community expressed in real world and online interactions of those in (and seeking) Recovery, their families and friends, other drug and alcohol (and allied) services, employers and other social enterprises, charities and the institutions that make up wider society.’

In our podcast, Huseyin first asks me about my transition from being a neuroscientist to an addiction recovery advocate who set up the grassroots initiative Wired In (or WIRED as it was initially called). Why did I change ‘career’? He asks what I initially learnt about addiction recovery and treatment, and I describe some of things that fired up my passion for the field. I emphasise the positive impact that practitioners and clients at a local treatment agency in Swansea, West Glamorgan Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (WGCADA), had on me in the early-2000s.

We go to discuss a variety of matters, including the impact of recovery stories, trauma and its impact, recovery communities, the treatment system and what do people in recovery want. We talk about my new book Our Recovery Stories: Journeys from Drug and Alcohol Addiction. We finish by stressing that recovery comes from the person – it is self-healing. We finish by discussing what this recovery process is about.

Here is a short extract of Huseyin’s words that I found moving and have transcribed from the podcast.

‘Trauma is affecting us all and when we start to talk about addicts as some special breed, it suddenly demonises people and turns them into ‘them’, it turns them into ‘other’… there is no ‘them’ and ‘us’, there’s just ‘us’. When we deal with people, we deal with ourselves and actually I take some comfort in knowing that my addiction and my behaviour, my criminality, whatever you want to call it, came about from some of that trauma. I know that there was always an element of pleasure-seeking within there, though some of that pleasure-seeking might be the stopping of pain.

But I also believe that because there wasn’t something inherently wrong with me, I could get back onto a different path. I could make changes in my life. It wasn’t because I was genetically-disabled in some way. I could use my choice and get back on track. I really loved that. I think that an added benefit is that my past and that trauma has allowed me to work in the field. My past has become my future… I wouldn’t change that because it has given me the life I have got now.’

You can listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or on Spotify, or via Anchor. We hope you enjoy. A big thanks to Jasmine Plowright for helping Huseyin with the podcast and keeping me in the loop.