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2 Q. What is Oxford House? A. Oxford House is self-help supportive housing for recovering alcoholics. Each House follows a standardised approach refined over 40 years of operation. How Oxford Houses can make treatment more effective Both residential and outpatient treatment providers recognise the value of time and support for the recovering alcoholic to learn and become comfortable with new behaviour. Historically, the halfway house was developed as a means to provide the kind of time and support for the recovering individual to develop a lifestyle free of alcohol use. Unfortunately, neither society nor the health care system has the resources necessary to establish enough halfway houses to provide space for all who could benefit from living in an environment supportive of recovery. Oxford Houses can address the shortfall in suitable accommodation for those seeking recovery; they are self-managed and financially more efficient, self-supported houses. Started in 1975, Oxford Houses have developed a sound system of operations and a movement of more than 1,200 individual homes across the US. In the US many residential and outpatient treatment programs have discovered that Oxford Houses are relatively inexpensive to get started and assure better outcomes for their clients. The move toward Oxford House living during or after treatment has been accelerated, as individuals and society at large have demanded better outcomes from treatment providers. As the tolerance for chronic relapsing has decreased, the number of Oxford Houses has increased. Nearly 80% of the residents in Oxford Houses stay clean and sober. 1 See the De Paul University studies funded by NIDA and NIAAA grants. Reported in AP story August 18, The primary purpose of Oxford House is to establish enough self-run, self-supported recovery houses to provide an opportunity for every recovering individual to learn a clean and sober way of life forever. Going back to where you came from after treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction almost always spells failure a return to old behaviour. Mark Spence, CBS 60 Minutes Recovering from alcoholism Alcoholism is a chronic and progressive problem. The alcoholic becomes hooked on their drug of choice and physically all cells in their bodies call out for a steady supply of the drug. This physical compulsion causes the mind to trigger any kind of behaviour needed to get the next drink of alcohol or other drug fix. Once addicted the only cure is total abstinence stopping the use of the alcohol forever. Stopping the use of alcohol is difficult, but not impossible. Most addicts go through a number of periods where they stop drinking. When an addict stops, he or she feels sick because of withdrawal; i.e., every cell in the body is calling out for alcohol and the body shakes, sweats and produces great anxiety. The addict really feels he or she is going to die unless alcohol is obtained quickly. This is called detoxification and it usually ends within minutes after the addict has ingested his or her drink of choice. However, for a fortunate few who can go three to seven days without taking their drug of choice detoxification is the beginning of a whole new life. Short-term treatment in a hospital setting or a supervised detoxification facility is the usual way to stop an addict s compulsive use of alcohol. Treatment can educate and motivate an individual to stay stopped and Oxford Houses can help make treatment successful. Finding a suitable house, recruiting initial residents, teaching the system of operation to the residents and recovery community is provided by trained outreach workers at very little cost. Once started it costs very little to keep houses on track because residents run the house. Staying stopped Behaviour change is never easy and it is especially difficult for the individual who is recovering from addiction. While the physical craving for alcohol ends within a few days, the mind tries to trick an individual into returning to alcohol use. When you think about it, the mind is doing what comes naturally forgetting pain and remembering pleasure. Professionals speak often of denial when dealing with recovering addicts. The addict really does not believe that alcohol use produces harm. The addict remembers the good feeling that came from the alcohol and wants to recapture it. At the same time, he or she forgets the violence, irrational behaviour, fights, loss of job, loss of family and physical withdrawal that makes one feel sick to the core. Treatment plus Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) twelve-step self-help programs have helped millions of recovering addicts to change their behaviour to adopt lifelong abstinence. Unfortunately, many recovering individuals need more support than AA alone; Oxford Houses provide the additional support and the time to learn new behaviour. 2 3

3 Q. What is Living Sober CIC? A. Living Sober is a Community Interest Company (CIC) that has been offering an Abstinence Based, Peer Supported Recovery Service to severely dependent drinkers across Redcar & Cleveland for the last 10 years. Typical Living Sober clients tend to have failed to integrate successfully with mainstream services and revolve around the system for prolonged periods. In order to sustain long term recovery, in July 2011, in partnership with Coast & Country, we set up the UK s first Oxford House in Europe. Oxford House offers a safe, secure, alcohol and drug free living environment for those individuals seeking sustained recovery. The Living Sober approach to recovery is based upon individuals reducing their reliance upon alcohol, maintaining an abstinent lifestyle and then beginning to address the issues that lead them to rely upon alcohol as a coping strategy in the first place. Real recovery requires the individual to take on responsibility for their own lives and that requires, where possible, access to sustainable employment. We have thus far been successful in placing 38 previously heavily dependent individuals into sustainable employment. The vast majority of who had previously been long term recipients of health related benefits. Oxford House integrates with our existing programme of support, delivered by individuals who themselves have lived through the process, bolsters the individual and helps promote sustained recovery. Our support model promotes positive activity, boosting physical and mental health, increasing interaction with positive role models and reducing the amount of free time likely to lead to relapse. In 2012, the project received funding from North East Procurement that has allowed Oxford House to employ an Outreach Worker. He has so far worked with Redcar & Cleveland College to develop a horticultural course based on organic gardening methods that will be used for Oxford House s own community garden that is being developed next to the Oxford House residence at Overfields. Six members have attended the course that is designed as a route to permanent employment. He continues to work with Coast & Country to identify a suitable property to open the second Oxford House and is liaising with De Paul University on the research project. The Community Garden, adjacent to Oxford House, is now established and has received backing from Awards for All, to allow for the purchase of poly tunnels and additional raised beds in order to increase the original scope of the project. Oxford House has been visited by a national private sector provider of Offender Services in order to see what potential there is for expansion of the model outside of the Tees Valley. Two additional visits by interested parties from the South East are planned over the next few weeks. We have been approached by a regional provider of recovery services regarding potential joint working across the Tees Valley. The Community Garden is now a fully fenced area with utilities being installed over the next couple of weeks. Oxford House has been recognised locally with seats on the Board of the local third Sector support forum and Redcar & Cleveland Healthwatch. A house resident has been successful at interview and is awaiting his DBS (formerly CRB) clearance in order to start working as a support worker for individuals with learning needs. Oxford House & Living Sober Saves Society Money On average, the project has saved hospitals 13,000 per client Oxford House saved over 35,000 on medication costs in 2012 Over 15,000 was saved on counselling thanks to Oxford House and Living Sober The average cost to society per client was 120,000. A study of the seven Oxford House clients showed that in the five years before they entered Oxford House, their total costs to society were 1.47m. This includes health, rehabilitation, probation police, legal costs, benefit and unpaid debts. Oxford House Before and After 4 5

4 Oxford House Resident A: Oxford House Resident B: I was an active alcoholic who had no hope for almost 20 years. Years of drinking had cost me everything I had desired in life. I started drinking at the age of 14, self-harming at the age of 16, and my first arrest was at 17, only having a love for alcohol and football violence. Alcohol gave me a warm glow, confidence and a feeling of superiority. As the years progressed so did the drinking, arrests, job losses and my defiance to authority. By my late 20 s to early 30 s everything I did involved alcohol, it was with me 24/7: at work, at home, at football and even whilst driving. I had lost all control over my drinking. At 35 I had a wife, daughter, house, job, holidays and money, everything I had ever wanted in life. By the age of 38 I was divorced, homeless, jobless, without a car and driving license, no holidays, no money and I could only see my daughter with my mother present. Despite all this I still continued to drink, even three alcoholic seizures and bankruptcy still couldn t make me stop. I had countless counselling sessions, tablets, group therapy and all to no avail. In July 2009 I was introduced to another alcoholic in recovery, he ran a group known as Living Sober which met five times a week. I attended meetings for two and half months before I relapsed. But something had changed in me and I immediately went back where I was helped to reduce my drinking until I was sober again. I struggled in my first 14 months of recovery and had four relapses in total. Since entering Oxford House I have remained sober and have the chance to live a whole new life. I have done two charity runs in Middlesbrough and have taken part in a charity swim across the English Channel for Children in Need. I am in full-time education at Askham Bryan College studying horticulture and I am currently in the process of setting up my own gardening business. I now have new friends, my driving license back and most importantly I have my daughter back in my life. I first realised that I had a problem with alcohol whilst I was working full time, living in a city centre apartment and in a relationship. I knew I drank a little too much but really didn t see that I had much of a problem with alcohol, besides at 26 I was much too young to be an alcoholic! A year later I was back living at my parents after my girlfriend had left me and I had been evicted twice, I had lost my job and now I was a mess. I was regularly at the hospital emergency wards and drinking pretty much round the clock. After I had received another medical detox I came back to Living Sober but I still believed that I was too young for this to be happening to me and I felt different from the other people there but I stayed and everyone seemed to go out of their way to make me feel welcome. Now I m living in Oxford House, I have completed various college courses, I have passed my driving test and I have now re-engaged with my family and have a host of friends in sobriety. Staying sober was hard work for me in the first few months because I was full of resentment and thinly masked anger but again everyone within Oxford House was really supportive and encouraged me along the way. Since residing within Oxford House I have maintained my sobriety. Two months ago I managed to secure myself a job, I doubt any of this would have been possible without Oxford House. Once I was a burden on society, now, I am striving to be the best version of myself that I can be, and become an asset to my community. None of this would be possible without Oxford House. 6 7

5 Contact us Ennis Square, Dormanstown, Redcar, TS10 5JR COAST & COUNTRY 2014

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