Making Sense of... a participant's experience One one the people who joined our seminars from August 2020 describes how listening to the Making Sense Of... Podcast and discussing their thoughts with others changed the way they saw themselves and their history of addiction. "FfC has allowed me to make a quantum leap in my journey towards being a happy and fulfilled human being." I’m an addict and an alcoholic though to me, there is little difference. I drank and used drugs from childhood, I’ve always needed something to change the way I felt, needed to take something to make me feel better. And there lies the rub - it wasn’t drugs or alcohol that were the problem, it was how I felt. A life of ever increasing chaos ensued, a chaos that many who have experienced addiction will understand. Police stations and hospitals slowly became worryingly familiar. I became a father and started a career but the wheels which were already spinning so quickly began to come off. I found myself in Alcoholics Anonymous in my early thirties, the promise of a spiritual awakening to solve all of my problems sounded like the answer I’d been looking for my whole life. In my opinion, AA is often however a mostly unregulated hospital waiting room - like most hospitals it contains some very sick people, the patients, as well as some amazingly wise and truly altruistic ones, the doctors and nurses perhaps. Only in AA sometimes it’s tricky to spot who is who, since they don’t have badges or uniforms. I was desperate, naive and willing to do anything to solve my problem and I made some very bad choices in who I asked for help. I’d used many substances addictively in the past but when my “sponsor” at the time gave me some codeine tablets to help my insomnia after a desperate white knuckle 14 months of being clean and dry, he immediately created a codeine addict. When the merry-go-round of addiction starts it doesn’t stop, spinning ever faster until the bottom comes up far too quickly to hit you in the face. Codeine led to harder drugs, and prescription meds, and eventually - to my sheer horror - back to alcohol. The desperate loneliness and self-loathing that come with active addiction addiction returned with a vengeance. It took me 10 more struggling years, thousands of AA meetings and a good smattering of NA meetings to finally start to see some light and again get some sobriety. After a truck load of bad luck, I was picked up by a sponsor who had previously been through the Psychology for Change course, delivered by Foundation for Change (FfC). Through his kindness and wisdom I was able to really get clean and sober for the first time and thoroughly engage in the AA program. I felt as though I was really making progress with my sobriety but my life somehow still seemed to be crumbling into pieces. Despite almost 3 years of solid sobriety and thoroughly engaging in all of the 12 steps, my career was falling apart, I could see that my relationships were a dysfunctional mess, my physical health was precarious and my mental health had hit an all time low, all the result of a lifetime of addiction. I’d put down the substances but I was still very much the addict. Needless to say I felt terrible, but as many people say - when you hit the bottom the only way is up and my luck began to change. Through the foresight of my sponsor I’d been accepted onto a coronavirus friendly online version of the support FfC offer called the “Making Sense Of... Programme” that consists of fortnightly podcasts covering a range of topics and four seminars or discussion groups to process and take apart the topics with others. I'd also simultaneously taken the long put-off plunge to get some face-to-face individual talking therapy. Immediately I began to see positive change with an increased understanding of myself. FfC gave me the vocabulary to accurately describe how I had been feeling my whole life. This was coupled with the knowledge of why and how through their teaching of the psychological theory and principles underpinning these feelings. The talking therapy then gave me the valuable personal space to explore this new self knowledge at a much deeper level. Together, the effect was transformational. "FfC gave me the vocabulary to accurately describe how I had been feeling my whole life." Throughout my life I had always cringed when anyone asked my name, where I was from, or what I did. This feeling was particularly overwhelming whilst in addiction. For most of my life I’d never been able to look another adult in the eye. I had no idea what that feeling was but it was always there. I was therefore astounded to discover the work of Dr Aaron Beck and his ideas of the three negative core beliefs of helplessness, worthlessness and unlovability. Here was a psychological concept which described how I’d been feeling for most of my life. Through the topics covered on the podcasts and the seminars, I was able to see how my behaviour was driven by these core beliefs. Further learning on 'shame' was equally insightful. No wonder I’d struggled with relationships my whole life. Combined with a new understanding of the concept of 'authenticity' that was covered, I was able to also understand for the first time why throughout my whole career I had felt so uncomfortable at work. "New topics are delivered by the wonderfully knowledgeable, experienced and kind team at FfC, with the follow-up series of seminars allowing for a more detailed and personal unpacking of the topics." New topics are delivered by the wonderfully knowledgeable, experienced and kind team at FfC, with the follow-up series of seminars allowing for a more detailed and personal unpacking of the topics. A small group of fellow 'students' in the seminars allow for all important peer learning in a supportive and relaxed environment.An opportunity to reflect, hear others' views and to challenge my own. Having spent most of my adult life talking about my addiction in the rooms of 12 Step Fellowships, this new forum took some adjusting to but it was so refreshing. Change takes time and consistent effort but I was slowly beginning to see that I had some choice in it all. I began to notice how my mind worked and this gave me the space to make choices about my actions. "Change takes time and consistent effort but I was slowly beginning to see that I had some choice in it all." FfC has allowed me to make a quantum leap in my journey towards being a happy and fulfilled human being. I can choose who I want to be. My life at almost 50 years old isn't over - it is hopefully only just beginning. It’s my belief that I will never be able to safely drink or use drugs again, and to be honest I really don’t want to. But as I said earlier, substances were a solution. What I really needed was to understand my difficulties and then continue to make positive changes having understood what they were and where they came from. FfC has done exactly what is says on the tin: providing me with the knowledge and space to create a foundation for change. I cannot recommend what they do highly enough and I hope you get the opportunity to grow with them as I did.