On Saturday 14th June, John Taylor joined around 100 family members and carers in Bristol, UK for a unique one day festival hosted by charity Developing Health & Independence (DHI). The day was held to raise awareness of and improve the lives of families and carers of problematic drug and alcohol users.
John shared his own personal experiences with addiction and its impact on others. John has long been supportive of DHI’s work, and his presence helped to bring media focus on to what is often a hidden problem for families and carers.
Not only did John give the headline speech, he also gave interviews to the local BBC TV station, helping DHI raise awareness and reduce stigma:
“DHI’s work with families is vital because their problems are very different to those of a person struggling with addiction, and they need help in their own right. Sometimes it’s harder on the families because they are living with it every waking moment.”
Delegates heard stories of recovery from three family members who bravely chose to break the silence that is usually associated with caring for a loved one struggling with substance misuse.
Delegates also took part in three workshops: one to produce a toolkit of advice for families and carers; the second to examine why it takes up to seven years for families and carers to access support and ways to shorten the waiting time; and finally, an opportunity to try a taster peer support workshop. The day also featured a Question and Answer panel with peers, policy makers and professionals, and was rounded off by John’s keynote speech.
John talked about his route into addiction, the denial, being resentful and his changed behaviour. In spite of having a lot of success, he shared very frankly about how at times he was miserable and terrified, with so much fear, shame and pain going on. These were emotions that the families attending the event could all too well identify with, and John’s talk clearly touched hearts and minds.
Thankful that he was able to complete rehab in Arizona, John recognised the importance of having accessible community services in the UK, such as those run by DHI. John said:
“It’s been almost 20 years since I’ve had a drink. There is no harder work and that’s why it’s vital that there are services like DHI’s.
“I love that DHI is encouraging independence. DHI is giving people what they need to be able to stand on their own two feet and be the best they can be. It’s about possibility and never shutting the door on possibility.”
John met families and carers in a special meet and greet session at the end of the event, when many were delighted to meet the Duran Duran bassist.
John went on to say:
“It’s always great when you see somebody who has come out from under the yoke of addiction. It’s never a smooth road, but for people that do stay on the path, it’s a fantastic thing to see. Over the last few years living in Bath I’ve seen a number of people that have got on top of their substance misuse through the DHI programmes and I feel that a human being who has been offered that kind of transformation is the most valuable thing in our society because they’ve been there, they’ve seen it and they’ve survived it.
“DHI approached me and they thought I could be useful to them. I wasn’t sure but I went with the flow and I feel like I’m a friend to DHI and if I can be of use, then I’m happy to be that person.
“Families have to have their own peer to peer support and today has been an opportunity to raise the profile of the help available. It’s an opportunity to highlight the problems and challenges around addiction, and if I can be a voice in that conversation then I want to be.”
Rosie Phillips, DHI CEO, said:
“We were thrilled that John was able to lend his support to families and carers. His speech underlined how problematic drug or alcohol use is no respecter of persons, and our delegates were very moved to hear his experiences. Having John’s support is a huge boost to DHI and the families and clients we work with, and we hope to continue working closely together in future.”