Addicts' service set for Tiverton move
A PIONEERING service which helps drug addicts and alcoholics stay sober is recruiting voluntary mentors in Mid Devon.
Recoverylink operates in Exeter and North Devon but is looking to expand the service to people in Tiverton and other Mid Devon communities.
The charity believes those best placed to help people with alcohol or substance misuse issues are those who are in long-term recovery themselves and who can share their own life experiences.
Sean Wheeldon, from the organisation, said Recoverylink already has volunteers in the Tiverton area but needed more.
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He said: "We believe that Tiverton is no different to anywhere else in the prevalence of people struggling with addiction. Our experience is that addiction seems to be evenly spread across communities, regardless of their demographics.
"The substances may differ but most people know of someone close to them who has struggled with alcohol or drugs. Treatment is available across Devon but rurality can make continued support by others in recovery harder to access."
Mr Wheeldon explained why the charity was keen to work with people who had previous experience of recovery from addiction themselves.
He said: "Those who have recovered from substance abuse are able to offer empathy to the people they mentor; they are able to understand the difficulty but are also able to demonstrate that it is possible to become well again and rebuild your life.
"This is very different from a trained person telling you to pull your socks up. A peer mentor will also know all the excuses, having used them themselves, and so can be firmer in their guidance."
Miles Parnell already works with the organisation as a volunteer and said he found its approach refreshing.
He said: "I have worked for Recoverylink for four years and in the field of drugs and alcohol counselling for 15 years and this is one of the best schemes I have come across.
"I found it quite exciting as this is the type of service that has not been available up until now. The mentor has trod the same path, which really helps an awful lot."
He said mentors need to only give a couple of hours a week to meet up with clients and many had found it to be a "positive experience."
Miles said he had been in recovery for 24 years himself for a drink problem. Tiverton is his home town, but he has lived all over the world and gained his counselling qualifications while in New York. He said: "I got through my own problems thanks to the support and camaraderie of others who had been through the same thing."