New report shares experiences of addiction and accessing support

Throughout the past year, Healthwatch Essex has engaged with people who have lived of experience of gambling, drugs and/or alcohol addiction in order to find out more about addiction and how people can be supported more throughout their journey to recovery. The participants stories and experiences provided an in-depth insight into addiction and the findings have been shared in a new report ‘Addiction: Gambling, Drugs & Alcohol.’

People who had lived experience of drug addiction shared that their main incentive to seek support was their families. Several participants stated that their families had made the difficult decision to minimise contact with them in order to show them the impact that the addiction was having on them. This was a strong motivation for them to seek support as it impacted feelings of hitting ‘rock bottom’ and increased feelings of loneliness which for many was unbearable.

Participants who were in recovery from alcohol addiction shared concerns about the accessibility of support as people of different backgrounds may not have the same fair routes to recovery as others. Many of our participants attended residential rehab centres but acknowledged that these had been funded by other support organisations or by close family members as they would not have been able to afford this otherwise. Some people living with an alcohol addiction may not have the disposable income to afford this option but the support available to them may not be sufficient. People living with an addiction often try different options for support until they find the one which works for them.

For those who had lived experience of gambling addiction expressed the need for more awareness and training of gambling addiction within GP’s. Their GP was, for most, their first point of contact to seek support and many were disappointed with the responses that they received. The findings showed that often the GP prescribed them medication to help their mental health when they had made an appointment predominantly to receive help and signposting to services which could fully support them.

All participants mentioned the importance of lived experience and how seeing someone who had lived with the same addiction but was now in recovery and living a happy, healthy life had been significantly motivational within their own recovery too. This inspired our poster campaign showing that recovery is possible. These posters have been shared in GP surgeries and online, encouraging people to reach out for support. Read more about the poster campaign here or check out the posters on our social media channels.

To read the full report, click here.