Comas is a community development organisation working to promote recovery and resilience amongst individuals.
Comas began working with people recovering from addiction and learned from them that there was limited support for them to look at their whole life, beyond their addiction. Existing addiction treatment programmes, once completed, could only provide limited ongoing support. Comas knew that many people who encountered a problem after a treatment programme returned to their substance misuse as a way of coping because they lacked the tools to cope in other ways.
‘Recovery is life long, not something that ends when the treatment ends’ – Ruth Campbell, Chief Officer, Comas
Comas was not initially familiar with the term ‘self management’, but soon realised the links between this and the work they were doing on recovery. Comas was relieved that LTCAS saw addiction as a long term condition, as this allowed the opportunity to look at recovery holistically, rather than in isolation from the rest of life – many health services look at one small aspect of a condition, not the bigger picture. Comas applied to the Self Management Fund to support the development of their peer support initiative within their Serenity Café project in Edinburgh.
The Serenity Café is a co-produced project, people in recovery lead the project and Comas facilitates their learning and development. They have been able to offer peer support through life coaching, developing a unique course called ‘Recovery Coaching’ with the help of the Self Management Grant. Recovery coaches are people in recovery, and their training as coaches is person-centred, based on learning from each other. The course has been adapted to respond to peoples individual learning styles and their stage of recovery.
The Recovery Coaching model is based on the learning from people in recovery that people want to find ways to occupy their time and think positively about the future, as well as learning to manage their addiction.
‘Life can look big and daunting to people – addictive patterns of behaviour gnaw away at the back of people’s minds’ – Ruth Campbell
The Serenity Café has supported people on the Recovery Coaching course to learn about emotional intelligence and brain recovery, encouraging people to understand how the brain can build pathways to support positive new behaviours. This provides people with a context and an explanation for certain behaviours. Participants learn about themselves in a safe environment, as well as learning skills in coaching others. Being coached by a Recovery Coach helps people to clarify their goals and plan the steps that they can take towards their goals.
‘Many people regard recovery from addiction as an event rather than something that needs on-going self management – we were really pleased that LTCAS understood’ – Ruth Campbell
Comas and the Serenity Café are accessible to the community they support, it is free to attend and no referral is required. The benefits of the project are multiplying – Recovery Coaches are adding to the capacity of the community to help each other, and people coming forward for coaching are able to access support. This is often during the hours that other services are closed, because this support is now available from within the community.
Comas has found that the strongest promotional tool is people in recovery themselves, spreading the news about the Serenity Café widely and positively throughout the recovery community. Comas would like to develop their Recovery Coaching programme nationally with other local communities, training peer coaches and continuing to provide recovery courses.