Our approach to recovery

We have worked with people tackling addiction and the homeless for over 50 years, and for us recovery is more than just abstaining from alcohol or drugs. It’s a way of thinking and living. We continually refine our approach and re-shape our services on what we see is needed and most effective.

For us that means:

  • Abstinence: as we can’t help addicts when they’re using drugs or alcohol
  • Therapy: addressing the emotional triggers for addictive behaviour
  • Healthy life: we help fill the gaps once the drink or drugs are gone by finding homes, jobs, education and training
  • Recovery community: support a community of people in recovery 
  • Long term: recovery takes as long as it takes

It is only through this broad combination of support that we give people the best possible chance of enjoying lifelong recovery. Much of our success is down to our fantastic, committed staff, some of whom are in long-term recovery themselves. Our residents, students and trainees tell us that they trust our team and that we’re different because we know where they are coming from and what they are going through. 

“In other places they don’t fully appreciate what we’ve been through. Even the people who give me my ‘scripts’ don’t know where I’m at. They haven’t got a clue where I’m coming from.
Lou, New Hanbury Project student.


Whilst we strongly believe that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to recovery, we have witnessed the successes of an abstinence-based approach and have seen that this is the best way to tackle addictions. Often described as giving ‘tough love’, we are strong advocates of abstinence.


Through our one-to-one and group counselling sessions, we help our community to understand that the answers to their addictions lie within themselves.

By finding ways for people to understand their past and how it impacts their present, we help them to start changing their default patterns of behaviour and deal with life in a more constructive way. The sessions often help to release the feelings of anger, shame and sorrow that surround addiction.

 “As people start engaging with the therapeutic process, they become as different as night and day. When you look at how they were at the beginning and how they come out - it's like a new person. Once they get that light bulb moment, they really get it and become empowered."
Shaun, Acorn House counsellor.

Healthy life

Successful lifelong recovery often comes down to things that many of us take for granted: a home, a job and a support network. But often the people we work with have lost these or have just never had them.

By working with each individual and finding out their interests and skills, we start to build, or re-build these resources. Not only does this give a reason for them to get up every morning, but also a more stable structure to their lives.

Recovery community

For some, relapse becomes a bigger threat during the later stages of recovery - once they have moved out of supported housing and are back on their ‘own’ and having left behind the community of people who shared their recovery journey.

That’s why we work to build a supportive, local community of clean and sober people who are in recovery. People tell us that they gain a huge amount from each other as they continue to meet, socialise and take part in counselling together, long after they first began recovery.

“People know where I come from and they know my business…Over a period of time you’ve got this rapport. I don’t tend to do the courses here anymore, but the group I would be lost without.” Lesley, Choices regular.

Long term

Recovery takes as long as it takes. Often it’s a case of two steps forward, three steps back, one forward again. Each person is different and the length of time it takes to rebuild a life also varies.

Whilst our programmes are not open-ended, they are longer than many others and we only move people on when they are ready to, not because the clock is ticking.

“I came here 2 years ago but I started drinking and I was politely asked to leave. Fair enough. I’m back now and what’s good about here is that it’s all about recovery. A big focus on recovery.”
Geoff, New Hanbury Project student.

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