The AfterCare Recovery Group is a day programme for recovering addicts based in Dublin city centre. Participants generally engage with the programme for approximately one year, although this may be extended or reduced depending on the needs of the individual. After an initial assessment a participant may be taken on for a part time induction phase, during which they may need to discontinue any psychoactive
medications that they are prescribed. This phase allows them to become familiar with the structure of the programme and get to know the other participants before entering the therapy groups. Participants receive funding from the Department of Social Protection under the Community Employment scheme which replaces any Jobseeker's or Disability payment. Travel Allowance may be obtained from the participant's local Community Welfare Officer.
The day starts at 9:30am and finishes around 3:30am. There are 3 group therapy sessions in the week, Mon-Wed morning, including a gender group on Wed and a group centred on a specific topic on Tues. Lunch is cooked every day by a member of staff (a wonderful, chatty woman named Maureen while I was there) and participants eat together. In the afternoon from Mon-Thu there are different activities ranging from auricular acupuncture to meditation, head massage, yoga, reflexology and a drama class, while on Fri afternoon there is a weekend planning group to ensure that everyone has a healthy structure planned for their days off. Participants are encouraged to go to recovery meetings or socialise together. Thu morning is usually a group outing which could be anything from a trip to the cinema, a museum, a walk along the beach or even kayaking or some sports. Tuesday afternoon and Friday morning are gym sessions.
Each week participants will be allocated different chores which can include cleaning the kitchen or any of the other parts of the house. These tasks are generally rotated and don't tend to take too long. They are done just after the afternoon activity, prior to finishing up for the day - aside from the kitchen which is cleaned immediately after lunch.
Along with the group therapy, everyone is assigned a staff member who has one to one sessions with them. The therapeutic staff are all highly committed, caring and experienced with recovery. They really care about the participants. The entire structure of the place and attitudes of the staff - even the building, which appears to be an old Georgian home - creates a family atmosphere which I could sense when I walked in there on the first day for my assessment. Rather than rigidly trying to force participants to follow a certain 'style' of recovery, the staff work with everyone and tailor things to suit the individual (although you are, of course, expected to stick to the structure of the programme, including your weekend plans, a certain number of recovery meetings per week and any directions the staff give you). The project manager is a highly charismatic, experienced, engaging and caring man who is the heart of the ACRG. During my assessment I immediately felt at ease with this man.
Towards the end of their stay at the ACRG, participants are gradually wound down, spending less time in groups and given more freedom from the structure as they become ready to return to the world, whether that be work, education or family life and the staff assist this transition where they can. If necessary they will assist you in sourcing funding for education/training. The manager even got me funding for Krav Maga self defense lessons during my time there - how amazing is that? The staff warmly greet any past participants that return to visit and engage with them to support them if need be.
It's a really wonderful place and during my time there I became happier and more confident in myself than I think I have ever been. I grew to love many of the staff and other participants as we all supported and engaged with each other and I had a lot of good times.
If you are a recovering addict
in Ireland and have completed primary treatment, give the ACRG a shot. They really are a fantastic bunch and will do everything they can to get you back on your feet.