Annual lecture | Darlith Blynyddol









Delivered by Professor Samantha Thomas
Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia

Samantha is a public health sociologist and qualitative expert at the Centre for Population Health Research. She specialises in understanding the impact of industry tactics on health behaviours. Samantha has worked in a number of areas of health, including mental health, and obesity, but is most well known for her research into the commercial determinants of gambling harm, and public health advocacy responses to these.






Social networks

Research evidence shows that recovery support groups provide effective sobriety support networks. Such social networks have a very beneficial effect on maintaining and supporting abstinence. In order to maintain your ongoing recovery, is it important to note the principle of establishing social support networks. 


“Being a part of Living Room Cardiff has given me peace of mind, a sense of belonging, overwhelming love and contentment, the courage to allow myself to make mistakes and not beat myself up over it. To love myself, and to forgive. I have met wonderful and inspiring people. I will never forget them.” Siân.

Siân joined the “All recovery group” six months ago and has established a network of PIRs who have her wellbeing at heart and support her ongoing recovery. Today she has more real friends than ever before – friends who are authentic, real and true to themselves – and to Siân.



“I reckon I’ve developed compassion towards them (family members), I now see things in a different light. I’ve been able to let go of entrenched ideas and move forward with hope.” Lynne.


Lynne realised that there’s a little good and a little bad in each and every one of us. By finding the little good in her father she was able to find the key to forgiveness – not that her father could be let off the hook (he’d physically abused her); but that Lynne could be free of the resentment that still allowed her long-dead father to control her life.



“Can’t believe what I have packed into just 2 days. I have done some random, surreal stuff which has pushed me out of my comfort zone. But it has been worth it.


“I’m willing to go to any lengths. I have laughed and cried – felt pain, but welcomed healing. Will never forget the story of the Nepalese Yeti’s a….e….! Can’t remember laughing so much!” Una.

Una is describing her reaction to our Love and Forgiveness Retreat, when she spent quality time with like minded people – those in recovery, or family members and friends of those in recovery – and getting away from the often painful and bewildering, hustle and bustle of life. We believe there seems little difference in the pain that we all can suffer. In having these weekend retreats we believe that change is possible and life can be worth living – as Una testifies.



“Stress often results when I don’t give myself a choice. That’s when I end up at the mercy of a situation or condition. When I was a student the pressure of work really got to me and my stomach was all tied up in knots. My counsellor suggested I give myself a choice:


I could walk away from the college course, call it a day, and go and do something else if I wanted to. Alternatively, I could, stay on, knowing what the work involved, and try to cope with the stress as best I could. All of a sudden, I’d taken charge of my life. I was no longer at the mercy of my situation. I was about to make a choice. My choice was to stay on at college and to do my best to cope with the workload. Miraculously the stress eased, and I found I could manage it better from then on.” Robert.

Robert also learnt to deal with fear by making a list of the ones that were bugging him. Then he made a note of how the fear affected him – his emotional and financial security, his self-esteem, his relationship with others, his personal and social ambitions, etc. Then he looked at what he might have done to cause the fear in the first place; had he been selfish or self-seeking, had he been dishonest, irrational, or flippant, and so on. Finally, he tried to think of ways to ensure the same thing wouldn’t happen again – to think and behave differently. Robert carried out this exercise collaboratively with his Recovery Coach.



“Relapse started for me when Jane my sister gave me a funny “Oh God, not again!’ look. That was two weeks before I actually picked up a drink. I learnt that relapse often occurs after an emotional disturbance of some sort or other. The first signs are when I feel Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired (HELP).” Simon.


Simon learnt some relapse prevention strategies that helped him cope with emotional disturbances, such as phoning his sponsor, going to meetings, sharing his hurt feelings with another People in Recovery, etc. In a role modelling workshop, Simon even rehearsed what he would say to his sister if a similar episode were to happen again.



The transition to recovery from addiction is a complex process, where priorities and needs significantly change throughout. One should be aware that abstinence is just the first of many steps towards full recovery. But it’s a good base from which to effect change in other areas of one’s life.


From our work with a variety of clients, we know that individuals in recovery still tend to encounter difficulties in many areas of their lives long after having achieved abstinence. Mainly because the negative impact that active addiction has on many life domains remains and requires long-term commitment to remedy its injurious effects on relationships, healthy lifestyles, acceptable living conditions, etc. This is where the hard work begins! Achieving a healthy, productive life becomes the main aim. Abstinence is only one side of the recovery coin, what awaits us on the other side is a long journey towards improved health, wellness and quality of life.



In your recovery, we believe in the collaborative process, where you direct your own recovery journey and we come alongside you to help you achieve your goals. With regards to your recovery you can be active in many ways: 


  • It is always helpful to be well-informed and educated about your condition as this enables you to make informed decisions.

  • You can begin by finding out as much information as possible about the physical, as well as psychological impact of addiction not only on your life, but also the lives of others and close family members

  • Active approach also means asking others for help when you need it If you attend mutual aid meetings and support groups, it is suggested that you attend regularly. Recovery needs consistent and ongoing support. Stick-to-itiveness is the secret.

  • Find out about local organisations that can offer you support if you’re ever in a crisis.

  • Try to network and socialise with people that understand and positively support your recovery. Don’t go to wet places if you can avoid it and don’t mix with the old crowd. Remember: if you visit the hairdresser often enough you’ll end up having a hair cut!


Positive thinking

  • Get involved in activities that you enjoy and find fulfilling

  • Try something new, or get involved in the creative arts and express yourself


Our supporters

All Churches Trust 
The Henry Smith Charity
James Pantyfedwen Foundation 
Lloyds Bank Foundation 
The Presbyterian Church of Wales 
Welsh Assembly Government

Our vision

Our vision
We belive that recovery is about people (re)building meaningful and valued lives, where they can realize their aspirations, be treated with respect and dignity, and contribute to society. Our vision is to provide ongoing emotional and psychological support in a peer-led community setting, with professional help from experienced recovery coaches in a warm, friendly and informal environment. We also aim to create a space for clients’ self-realisation and opportunities for growth. We would like to make continuing support accessible and approachable and create a recovery community, that will help to raise awareness and put a face and voice to recovery. Our services are free of charge.

Our support
The LRC provides support for those engaged with and leaving clinical service provision with a view to eventual formal transfer out of these services and into longer-term support through community based recovery support services. Collaborative working is at the heart of the LRC’s approach.

The LRC has existing relationships with local statutory health care provisions and clinical treatment and support services, receiving referrals through these avenues and community based referrals. To date 44 external partner agencies or organisations have referred to the Living Room, in addition to community based and self-referrals. The LRC also maintains a database of over 80 professionals who are kept informed about the services available and current news and information. The LRC also works collaboratively with a range of partners to address the diverse and changing needs of service users, signposting and supporting service users to access numerous organisations throughout Cardiff and the Vale, and involving the centre in the overall picture of recovery within Wales.

Our Philosophy
The LRC’s philosophy embraces Prochaska & DiClemente’s Integrated Model of Change and the principles of the 12-Step programme. Services are 12-Step informed but also utilise other interventions including MI, CBT, NLP, and talking therapies, amongst others, according to the individual service user’s needs. The LRC also utilises the support of Fellowships, including AA, NA, SSA to further imbed the recovery philosophy and provide additional on-going support and aftercare to those in recovery from various addictions. In 2011, the LRC and WCAOD led partners in the first ever Welsh National Recovery Walk in Cardiff to counter the stigma and discrimination that still exists in society towards people with substance misuse problems and mental health issues. Mutual aid approaches are supported through annual lectures, Tree of Hope ceremony, Volunteers Ceremony and Birthday Concerts, including more frequent events, sessions, groups and activities on a service user led basis.

The process of recovery is augmented through the use of the LRC’s peer-based recovery support services, spanning the various stages of recovery and encompassing support at an individual, family, neighbourhood, and community level, further support improved treatment outcomes. All services, groups, classes and social activities are service user led, with confidentiality and mutual respect being paramount in all service areas. Provision is not mandatory, nor restrictive with regards to timing, thereby allowing service users the freedom to attend in a manner they identify could most benefit their recovery. Those in recovery are encouraged to talk about and share their recovery with others in the recovery community. Such activities demonstrate recovery capital as ‘real’ for individual service users, rendering it maintainable and achievable for themselves and others and ensuring that recovery capital is highly valued in the eyes of others. People with low recovery capital could be described as having “burnt their bridges”. Services provided by the LRC “lend” those seeking recovery some of the peer’s own recovery capital and social credit, until such time as the recovery seeker can regenerate his/her own personal and social assets. Such assets may include (amongst many others) hope, determination, self-confidence, socialisation, clothing, food, money or shelter. Working on a holistic basis and becoming a “giver” instead of a “taker” is fundamental to the LRC’s recovery philosophy.

Past community members matter to the LRC as much as present ones. Contact with those who have or are at risk of disengaging is additionally maintained through the Telephone Recovery Support Service. This service reaches out to service users through our Living Room Recovery Radio programme on Cardiff Radio 98.7FM and by ‘keeping-in-touch’ telephone calls, the frequency of which are pre-agreed through the client agreement completed at the point of registration. The LRC’s weekend on-call crisis line also addresses the needs of those currently engaging and provides access to support outside of the LRC’s usual service delivery.

LRC also utilised its Recovery Champions in articulating ambition, championing routes to recovery, supporting individuals in treatment; keeping a recovery focus at all stages of a service users journey and challenging assumptions, such as ‘people with Addictions don’t recover’, ‘recovery is distinct from treatment’, ‘those with Addictions can only be addressed in acute care settings’ and ‘that treatment can only get better if you throw more money at it otherwise you can change very little’, etc.

LRC is represented at the Substance Misuse Network meetings; Supporting Substance Users Task Groups, the drug and alcohol users’ forums (CARDUF & ASFA) and the Children & Young People’s Substance Misuse Task Group (CYP); and our CEO represented the Recovery Community on the Substance Misuse Strategy Implementation Board. LRC, through its CEO, is a member of APoSM Recovery Group, which formulated the Recovery Framework for Wales, and which will be responsible for monitoring its roll-out nationwide.

Counselling is delivered by trained, accredited Counsellors, with Recovery Coaches being trained in delivering appropriate and accessible support to service users. Training and monthly supervision is provided to all staff and volunteers by specialist trained professionals both internal and external to the organisation.

The LRC is volunteer led and maintains a volunteering structure which encompasses the diverse needs of individuals whilst aiming for “sharing, learning and personal development”. The programme was designed involving the service users and includes a placement facility for those wishing to learn more about addiction and recovery. All service users wishing to volunteer and contribute towards service delivery within the recovery community are matched to appropriate roles following assessment of their recovery status, skills, experience, personal drive and learning objectives, in order to ensure that all service users helping to provide services within the recovery community are supported, trained and equipped to fulfil the needs and obligations of the roles they undertake.