What do you do?
I’m the founder and CEO of Help4Addiction, the UK’s largest addiction advisory service, and host of the ‘CONNversations with Nick Conn’ Podcast.
How did you end up doing it?
I worked as a policeman before leaving the force because of my cocaine addiction, and moved to Berlin where my encounters with the Albanian mafia became part of the inspiration for my book ‘The Thin White Line.’
When I began to look for help with my addiction, the only rehab I had ever heard of was The Priory, but I didn’t have the £25,000 needed to go there so it wasn’t an option for me. I wasn’t getting the help I needed from local services, and I had absolutely no idea where to turn.
Eventually, a family friend guided me in the right direction and when I came out of rehab I began taking a closer look at rehabilitation centres – what their costs are, what they do, what therapies they use, who their service users are, and so on. What I began to form as a result of this research became my organisation Help4Addiction, which is now the UK’s largest addiction advisory service.
How would you define an addict?
To me, an addict is someone who develops consequences through the using of their drug (et al) of choice. Many people will disagree with this, but an addict will not surface and look for help if every area of their life is going great.
What would you say is the most important aspect of recovery?
Abstinence, of course, but to me it’s to be honest and open. If you keep honest, you’re on the right tracks.
What was your experience during COVID?
As an organisation, it was the busiest we had ever been. Unfortunately, it negatively affected so many psychologically, particularly in recovery or with addiction issues.
How did COVID change your work?
Fortunately for us we were already set up to work remotely, but many day centres had shut, and we seemed to get a lot of those people coming to us looking for help.
How do you think COVID affected people’s addiction and recovery?
I think what we saw was a real worsening of people’s problems – people who might have been ‘functional addicts’ or those who might never have previously struggled, started to struggle. Secret drinkers started to get caught out at home.
Unfortunately those who were new to recovery, or even those who simply relied on the regularity or fellowship of their 12-step meetings, relapsed as a result of the isolation and loss of routine.
During COVID, online 12-step meetings moved online and seem to now be a semi-permanent fixture. Do they work as well?
Personally, I believe that working online is as effective as any other method, but it’s also crucial that people have multiple avenues of support – whether local support or telephone numbers of people you can reach out to.
What’s the mission of Help4Addiction?
We want to help change people’s lives for the better. Our service is run by people in recovery themselves, and we’ve all walked those first frightening steps along the same paths as our service users.
Why do people relapse?
A lot of people don’t realise that a relapse happens before you pick up a drink or drug. The first thing to go is your behaviours. If you are not keeping a check on your behaviours, a relapse will almost inevitably follow.
Are you ever recovere-d?
Tell us a random fact about you?
I love music production- Recovery for me is about enjoying life, and finding new hobbies can be a great way to do exactly that.
Your favourite recovery saying/mantra?
The drink/drugs are not the problem, they are the solution.
What advice would you give to someone who thinks they have a problem?
Get honest and get help.
Founder of Help 4 Addiction, podcast host and author of ‘The Thin White Line’
In addition to running Help4Addiction and hosting his podcast, Nick is a regular media presence and considered one of Britain’s leading voices on addiction and recovery.
His book, ‘The Thin White Line’, is available on Amazon and his podcast ‘CONNversations with Nick Conn’ can be found on YouTube and all podcast platforms and apps.
His service Help4Addiction can be found at www.help4addiction.co.uk