Charity launches drug and alcohol anti-stigma campaign

People are being encouraged to seek support for their drug and alcohol addiction as part of a charity’s 2022 anti-stigma campaign.

The Kaleidoscope Plus Group launched its Drug and Alcohol Recovery Programme last year to offer support to people across Sandwell and is now aiming to help end the stigma attached to those struggling with their addictions.

Faye Brecknock, Training Services Manager and Project Lead said: “At Kaleidoscope we understand that addiction is an illness, and we are striving to end the stigma around this awful disease.

“We are passionate about championing change and giving people the opportunities, support and services, they deserve to empower them to live happy and healthy lives, free from stigma and judgement.”

A video launched this week shows some of those who have been supported by the scheme talking about their experiences of drug and alcohol addiction.

One service user featured in the awareness-raising video said: “Before I was using drugs, my life was pretty normal. I had a job working at McDonalds and I was going to school. Then something happened to me in my teens that led to me getting in with the wrong crowd and I started using heroin and crack cocaine.

“When my dad died, things escalated even more, and it’s been non-stop ever since. I have been in and out of jail, it’s been relentless.

“I am getting help now, I have a long way to go but I am getting the support I need. I would say to anyone in a similar situation to mine to always seek help because there is support out there.”

Another service user said he began taking drugs after he became depressed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He added: “I’m a single dad so most of my life was pretty normal before Covid. I spent my days doing the school run and looking after my two little boys. Unfortunately, I became really unwell, I got very depressed during Covid and felt very isolated.

“The advice I would give to an addict is to ask for help. If you’re struggling just get support because it makes such a difference if you have someone on your side. I hope to become a drug worker now and support people who have experienced what I have and show them that you can recover from this type of thing.”

The Kaleidoscope programme offers support sessions for anyone affected by addiction, including those in recovery, those currently experiencing addiction and family and friends. Courses cover a range of topics, including how to support family and friends through recovery, the five ways to wellbeing, mindfulness, coping with anxiety and depression, creative crafts and confidence and assertiveness.

The interventions are complimentary to those delivered by Cranstoun, which provides the alcohol and drug service for Sandwell residents.

The service was launched with £10,000 funding from Public Health Sandwell.

Mrs Brecknock added: “The impact of addiction on mental health can affect all areas of a persons’ life and can be devastating. This may include struggling to manage finances and maintain employment or education, the threat of debt and homelessness, the ability to maintain healthy relationships and in the worst cases, a threat to life. “We know addiction can be debilitating so this project aims to support people to move forward, develop their sustainable coping skills and reduce the stigma that so many feel and experience in their communities.”

For more information about the programme email training@kaleidoscopeplus.org.uk or call 0121 565 5605.