Help seekers, their family and friends discussed the meaning of 'recovery' or 'being better'. These are some of the things they said:

What is it like for family and friends?

Being less worried about that person, you know, that they’re a time bomb, that they might fall off the wagon again, a good outcome would be where you don’t have to worry about that anymore.

We’ve worked very hard at doing things together that we’re both interested in and maybe things that we haven’t done before we are doing now, making a different life - you have to move on that way.

This is the man I married now. He is. His personality, that’s what I fell in love with then, all those years ago. And he’s back now. 


What is it like getting there?

First of all you had to lose the craving for drink. And then it progressed to getting away from the mental and physical state that you were in when you were drinking. And then it progressed to staying sober and then it progressed to not wanting a drink. And then it progressed to leading a normal sort of life. 

Yeah, because you know obviously you’ve often got to move on from mixing with other drinkers if that’s all you’ve mixed with.

My confidence is starting to come back in bucket loads.

Feeling driven, feeling inspired to do things.

So it’s just a constant work in progress but yeah your diet, if you improve your diet, it improves your concentration, it improves your sleep pattern, it improves your motivation.

Your feelings come back, your emotions and your goals, you know, even your hygiene gets a lot better and that, you take time in yourself, you know, and you make sure all your clothes are ironed and just little things that you forget that you used to do, you know, tidying up around yourself, you know, little things like that, stopping smoking dockers out of the ashtray, ‘cos you’ve got money to buy cigs.  

I get paid on a Thursday and by the next day I’ve still got money in my pocket, it was all gone on the same day before.

A good social life is moving on from other drinkers


How do I know I’ve got there?

…talking about what’s next

…when you’re happy to get up in the morning.

…you have a lot more energy; your energy levels are way up.

…feeling cared about, yeah we don’t feel as isolated.

…when I get up every day and just do the ordinary everyday things that people do, and I enjoy them.

…I just enjoy being normal.

...confidence, self respect

...seeing my grandchildren grow up. rather than existing.

...gaining some self worth

...other people respecting you is implicit ..

...having your dignity back notice the snowdrops and the crocuses

...I appreciate feeling like I’ve got my physical health

...I’m getting a sense of fitting back into normal life. I feel like I’m ... how people say normal should be. You know, just getting on with things and doing everything.

...a safe social life

...being with people who are not going to be saying to you, come on, have a drink...

...I think just having a social life.


And being given substitute drugs was not the answer

...until I’m clean of Subutex I am still a heroin addict.

…and I still don’t feel like I’ve recovered because I’m still taking an opiate based drug, like I said, I still feel like a drug addict.’re not curing us, you’re just making it look like you’re curing us by giving us methadone, you’re giving us another addiction.

If you want to look at the research behind this, see: Thurgood S, Crosby HF, Raistrick D, & Tober G. (2014) Service user, family and friends’ views on the meaning of a ‘good outcome’ of treatment for an addiction problem. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy 21(4): 324-332  DOI: 10.3109/09687637.2014.899987