Motiv8 Addiction Services is celebrating 10 years of its ‘SMART’ recovery programme sessions.

SMART stands for ‘self-management and recovery training’, and the sessions look to take on a science-based approach to recovery that provides training, tools and methods to those who want to change their problematic addictions to things such as drugs, alcohol and gambling.

Only one person attended the first session on September 11, 2013. In 2023 there are now three group sessions held per week, with an average attendance of ten people per session.

During the period of April 2022 to March 2023, 138 SMART sessions were held, with an overall attendance of 1,349.

Thea Ozanturk, the chief executive officer of the Motiv8 charity, said: ‘One of the things about addiction is that you can quite often lose everything. You can lose your friends, your family and your job.

‘Coming to SMART gives people an opportunity to meet with others in the same position, and this is where the recovery community has come into its own. I’ve seen hundreds of people come through the programme and some of the most spectacular recoveries have happened through it.

‘There’s nothing like that connection and support from others that are in the same situation.’

A prominent feature of the SMART sessions is the involvement of former service users in the programme who have suffered with addictions themselves.

Louise McColgan, a former addict who is now a recovery support worker and SMART recovery facilitator, said: ‘I went to rehab in the UK for nine months, where I was introduced to SMART recovery care.

‘I came back to the island and realised that there wasn’t a service like SMART at all. I did my online training to become a facilitator and approached Motiv8 about starting the programme and supporting them while they got up and running.’

Jo Hartley, who was a service user and has just started as a trainee recovery support worker, said: ‘From my personal experience, I would not be sober or healthy without the SMART groups.

‘I had issues with alcohol for most of my adult life, but I am currently nine years sober.

‘I joined Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and it didn’t work for me. AA goes down the route of addiction being a disease that isn’t your fault, which can work for some people, but SMART encourages you to take responsibility for your actions, which worked better for me personally.

‘AA was already available when SMART began on the island, but this programme filled a gap as it opened up new avenues of recovery that hadn’t been available before.’

Over the next month, Motiv8 also hope to launch their SMART family group sessions, which will aim to support not only the individual who is experiencing the addiction problems, but their family members too.

Nicola Browne, fundraiser for Motiv8, said: ‘It’s definitely important to know that it’s not just the person that has the substance dependency that needs support, it’s their entire family network.

‘For friends and family, it can be really important to understand not just what their loved one is going through, but also what they’re coping with themselves and how they can be supported.’

Over the last ten years, there have been many experiences and stories of people who have used the SMART service which has then led to recovery.

John Ashton, a current service user at Motiv8 and an attendee of its SMART sessions, said: ‘I would not be here today if it wasn’t for these sessions.

‘I was using a different service at the beginning of my recovery, but they recommended coming to Motiv8 as they thought I needed more support than I was getting.

‘I was nervous at first, but I was made to feel very welcome and I’ve now been sober for six years. I still come to SMART sessions two or three times a week as they are extremely helpful.

‘I know it’s been six years, but this is a problem that I live with and will never go away. By coming to these sessions, it keeps me on my toes and gives me something to get involved with.’

Another service user of Motiv8, who chose to remain anonymous, said: ‘I became involved with Motiv8 several years ago at their previous location on Mount Havelock.

‘I went to meetings at Motiv8 and other recovery based meetings to keep myself sober and avoid temptation. I also met other people on my recovery journey who experienced the same thing.

‘Sadly, a month ago, my youngest son was found dead by his mother on his bedroom floor. He died of a drug overdose.

‘I’m still trying to process this but I have never been tempted by alcohol or drugs.

‘I’m so grateful for the tools and many friends that have reached out to me. I cannot emphasise enough how much Motiv8 has helped me. I hope this lets the right people know that there is help and you can get better.’

As well as hosting the SMART recovery sessions, Motiv8 also offers a further variety of services.

There are wellbeing workshops, which cover a wide range of topics such as relapse prevention and anxiety, stress and sleep management.

There are also wellbeing craft workshops which includes Christmas cake decorating, needle felting and wreath making.

These workshops aim to bring participants together to focus on other activities.

Motiv8 has also recently started serving food for their service users. Ms Ozanturk said: We identified a need for food for some of our clients because of several factors.

‘The increased cost of living means people are unable to afford warm meals, while a sense of self-care and self-worth can be a problem for those who are experiencing addiction problems.

‘The serving of the food also adds to the positive group atmosphere we have here.’

Ms Browne, who is in charge of fundraising for the charity, said: ‘All of the amazing work that goes on under this roof is only possible through fundraising.

‘We do get some support from Manx Care, which is great, but for the likes of our wellbeing groups and the lunches that we provide, it is all funded by the great Manx public and the business community that support us with that.

‘We’re always open to new people coming to talk to us and support us, so if anyone would like to do this, feel free to contact us.’