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“Recovery Ambassadors”

Teaching Skills to Recovering Clients in My Community

By Fatima Abiola Popoola
Principal Staff Officer, Drug Demand Reduction
National Drug Law Enforcement Agency
Kaduna State, Nigeria

August 2021

Recognizing that one has drug use problems and agreeing to seek treatment to attain sobriety is a first step to the long journey of recovery. Lack of, or inadequate, resources to continue the process of continuum of care are part of the factors that prevent successful recovery – especially in a low-income community like mine. During this journey it is possible for the person in recovery to stumble many times before attaining a strong stand and the challenges can be worse where there is no adequate after-care supports and services. There is the need for the support of all aspects of recovery capital – personal resources, family and social resources, community resources to equip the patient with recovery tools to support the process. Recovery, like addiction, is not a matter of willpower or moral failure; it is a process that must be nurtured to fruition, this requires a lot more than strong will and good intentions. In most cases we tend to concentrate more on treatment of substance users than their recovery, once the treatment is done and the patient is discharged from the hospital, he is expected to heal on his own, but the fact is that recovery does not work this way.

Realizing these challenges, a group of 10 young men who have endured substance use problems, completed treatment and are in recovery in my community came together under the name Recovery Ambassadors (a closed group). The Recovery Ambassadors help other drug users who have passed through addiction treatment and need supports for their recovery journey; in addition, these young people, under the auspices of Recovery Ambassadors, help in the recruitment of other users in the community to join this recovery group. In the past 3 years, the Recover Ambassadors have helped over 50 youths in various empowerment programs and improved their wellbeing such that they are useful to their families and the community. Twenty-five of these youth went through 6 months of vocational skills in tailoring, shoemaking, and paint making; 7 of them went back to college; the rest are involved in crops and livestock farming and are earning a living! Other assistance being rendered by this group includes making sure that the youth keep hospital appointments, follow-up visits to the counselors, and use their medications as prescribed. The journey through recovery needs close monitoring, family and community supports and consistency; these are what the Recovery Ambassadors are teaching their members in my community. It is high time we cared for people in Recovery. Recovery from addiction is achievable, recovery is happening.