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In 2013, a pilot scheme developed by staff at The Bridges, RAPt’s residential rehab unit in Hull, was commissioned by Hull City Council. The ‘DRR Pilot Scheme’, as it has become known, created a new pathway for clients issued with a Drug Rehabilitation Requirement (DRR) by the courts. DRR’s are a community order for the treatment and support of clients presenting with substance misuse issues, which are intended to be used as an alternative to custody. The aim of the pilot is to guide criminal justice clients with long-term substance dependency towards abstinence based recovery.

We met with Dean, one of the pilot’s first clients, to find out more about his experience of the project:

“I’ve had 25 years of thinking about drugs and drugs only. It might seem like a long time, but a year when you’re in active addiction is like a couple of weeks – time just slips by. I’ve never been in prison, but I’ve been on a ‘script’ (a prescription for substitute medication, such as methadone) for pretty much all of that time.

When I got arrested I thought – well, I don’t know what I thought. But since I’ve been on the DRR, everything’s fallen into place.

People say there comes a time when it just clicks, and for me, that happened when I came to the DRR – I’ve never been so focussed! I’ve done other programmes but they didn’t work for me – they either didn’t seem genuine or weren’t structured enough for me. But the first time I went to the DRR, it just clicked. When I first got to the meetings, I thought it would be just one-to-one counselling, so I was surprised to find out that the sessions were in groups.

I have group sessions three times a week, and we have a different counsellor for each day – Laura on Monday’s, Annabelle on Wednesday’s and Billy on Fridays. They’re trained in different aspects, and you do a different subject every group (modules are taken from the Stepping Stones and Seeking Safety modules developed by RAPt). Some things stay the same though – you do a ‘check in’ every session, where you tell the group how you feel. We also have a Peer Supporter, which makes a real difference – they know first-hand what it’s like.

The groups cover include a lot of practical things, such as how to deal with anger, how to cope when you see old friends who are still using and tools to help you stay strong and not get involved. I also have one-to-one keywork sessions once a week, every Thursday, where we focus on the things covered in the groupwork sessions and my personal progress. The programme has been really good at giving me structure in my life – getting out of bed early and having a purpose for the day keeps you focussed and positive.

As well as the sessions, the team have been really good at explaining what further help there is in the local area, such as the fellowships. The first time I went to an NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting, I was welcomed with such positivity, and I met people from all over England! It was such an inspiration to meet people who were managing to live clean and sober. I normally find it really hard to mingle with people, but everyone was so friendly that they really helped me to come out of my shell. I go to meetings twice a week now – it is so inspirational to see people who have been worse than I am and have managed to get clean. Now they seem to buzz off being clean in life!

My counsellor has also helped me to find a volunteer placement, helping people to learn gardening skills (I’ve been a gardener in the past) every Tuesday and Wednesday. The people I volunteer for have gone out of their way to help me – even though they know all about my past, and it’s been really good for my confidence.

I’m coming to the end of my time at the DRR now. The staff have been amazing – they see something in you and how much you want to be clean. They helped to get me a place at a community detox unit in Bradford, and once I finish there, I’ve got a place at The Bridges. I’m really excited about going to The Bridges and getting clean. It will be hard work – you’ve got to fully commit to it – but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve met a lot of people who’ve been through The Bridges – there’s a big recovery community of RAPt grads in Hull – and it’s great to hear from people who’ve come through this themselves and are living clean, sober and happy lives.

Everything’s changed since I got involved with RAPt. I find it difficult to explain, but what they’ve done for me is absolutely massive. I’m really excited about going to The Bridges and getting clean – I feel positive and hopeful for my future.”

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