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Guest Blog: Paddy Creedon, AAI board member and recovery advocate


We are literally surrounded by people who are in recovery from a substance-use disorder, but we don’t know it.”  (Dr. John Kelly, Harvard Medical School) 


On the November 10 1977, I put ‘the drink’ down for the last time and came into recovery. 

I am a member of the ‘recovery tribe’, referred to by Dr. John Kelly above. Free from the shackles of my addiction to alcohol, recovery stories like mine need to get aired. It is time to give those ‘countless others’ the opportunities I have been given to live a life that is free of fear, stigma and shame.


All traits that I carried with me in equal measure as my addiction went from hazardous and harmful alcohol consumption, to what a medical consultant diagnosed (in Baggot Street hospital, Dublin) as a chronic problem with alcohol in the late autumn of 1977. 


I am proud to be associated with the launch of the Voices of Recovery charter, an initiative of Alcohol Action Ireland.

First ten signatories to the initiative pictured above


Along with others in long-term recovery, we have a vision to mobilise the ‘recovery community’ (individuals in recovery, family, friends, recovery agencies etc.) into community recovery advocate networks that will work together with other like-minded organisations (local, national and international) to make the world a better place for all. We want to bring our experiences to light and use them collectively to drive evidence-based policy change on things like better alcohol treatment services, curbs on alcohol marketing and holding the alcohol industry to account for the harm its product causes. 


Looking Ahead  

I have also discovered my own ‘voice of recovery’ as I continually reflect on the ever-changing alcohol landscape reflecting the fine lines between ‘alcohol harm’ and being ‘free from harm’ as seen by me, a person in recovery. (Click here to access an infographic that I have developed).


For people like me, complacency or taking our recovery for granted is our biggest challenge. Long since gone are the physical daily cravings for alcohol and the mental obsessions on how, where and with whose money am I going to get the where-with-all for the next drink. However it’s things like a Guinness lorry (one of my drinks of the past) as I pass it on the motorway or the Heineken 0.0 advert at the Aviva stadium that triggers things like: 

I wonder what it would be like?  

Would the buzz be back without the hassle? 


To counteract such thoughts, I and others like me must have a clear line of sight to our last drinking episode, what it was like, the loved ones we let down again, the hangovers, the shakes, the overwhelming sense of shame and guilt… Back into that dark cave of alcohol harm. But not today… not for any money.  


Whilst life all-around us is shifting rapidly, the numbers of people concerned about their own drinking or that of a loved one seems to be increasing daily. If you want some help or advice I strongly recommend you contact the HSE’s confidential freephone helpline on 1800 459 459 (Monday – Friday 9:30 am – 5:30 pm) or try the HSE AUDIT tool. This could be the first step in transforming your own life and the lives of all those you care about. Talking with your GP or a trusted friend/family member can also prove to be very supportive. 


Voices of Recovery & how you can support this initiative  

If you are in recovery from alcohol addiction/dependency you can add your name* in support of the Charter. (*You need to have two years of continuous sobriety and be over 18 years old.) If you are a concerned person, professional or an organisation that supports this initiative, you can also support by signing up. 


Let’s work together without any judgements, stigma or shame as we want everybody that needs help and support to get it without any unnecessary suffering, worry or that sense of hopelessness to themselves or to others. 


I signed the Voices of Recovery Charter in friendship, with empathy and feeling the same emotions so beautifully captured in these lines by the late poet Michael Hartnett. 

I have made my choice, 

And leave with little weeping, 

I have come with meagre voice, 

To court the language of my people. 


New members who meet the agreed criteria (over 18 and with two years sobriety) can apply to join VoR by email. Those who sign up do not have to sign publicly and can simply add their names privately to support the initiative and receive information about it. 


Click here to sign up.