AFTER 13 years in thrall to drug and alcohol addiction, Andy Willsher’s weight plummeted to eight stone.
The 39-year-old remembers: “When I went into rehab I could get hold of my fingers and put them underneath my ribs.”
He is now eight years into recovery and is using his experience to help turn other people’s lives around as a volunteer at the The Matthew Project, in Thetford.
His life-affirming story was one of many that could be heard at the drug and alcohol charity’s annual open day in the Carnegie Room on Friday, where people could learn more about the journey from addiction into a new recovery lifestyle.
During the ‘recovery is fun’ event, questions could be posed to a recovery panel while people could brush up on their drugs and alcohol knowledge and enjoy activities such as face-painting, a puppet theatre, music and artwork.
Nicky Lambert, manager of The Matthew Project, in Thetford, said: “We asked our service users what recovery meant to them and they replied that it was about having fun.
“We’re about establishing a recovery community for people to join instead of going around a revolving door.
“Through the open day we’re trying to make it easier for people to talk about their drug use.”
The charity, which works with the Community Alcohol and Drugs Service, has had about 45 people complete treatment with 60 per cent either drug free or on substantially reduced drug use since April 2010.
The organisation also offers support for relatives.
A woman who only wished to be known as Diane has been using the charity’s services for six months to help her cope with her son’s heroin addiction.
She said: “The first thing the lady said to me was ‘I’ve got £40 for you to spend’ so I had my hair done which made me feel really good. It went on from there and they’ve been absolutely wonderful to me. I want to be a volunteer. My son’s going into rehab again and I want to put something into it because they’ve helped me and him.”
For further information visit www.matthewproject.co.uk