Addiction & The Cost of Living Crisis

Addiction & The Cost of Living Crisis

Positive change

Addiction and financial hardship are often seen as connected. While there is evidence that higher levels of poverty result in higher rates of addiction, it is sometimes hard to tell which one comes first. Whatever the case may be, as Britain sinks into the cost-of-living crisis, it will come as no surprise to see addiction rates continue to increase.

Research shows that the current cost of living crisis is having a huge impact on people’s mental health and is especially negatively impacting those who already struggle with mental health issues of some kind.

A report from Rethink Mental Illness and Money and Mental Health Policy Institute shows that (of those surveyed): 

  • 59% said that over the last 12 months concerns about money had impacted their mental health “a lot”.
  • 38% experienced not having enough money to afford enough food and 46% had reduced the number of meals they ate per day.
  • Half experienced not having enough money to repair or replace an essential item
  • A third (29%) experienced not having enough money to afford utilities – the continuing increase in fuel and energy prices means that this figure is only continuing to increase. One in five (20%) had missed a payment for a bill.
  • A further survey of 1,000 adults in the UK found that over 1 in 5 experienced stress, anxiety, or depression due to financial worries.

At Kennedy Street, we are very aware of the impact that mental health has on addiction. Addictive behaviours or substances are often used as coping mechanisms for dealing with issues like stress, anxiety, and depression. 

Approximately 80% of people in drug and alcohol treatment have mental health problems including depression and anxiety.

This clip above is from a chat we had with Chris Stewart from @mindsminding Mental Health First Aid.

For those who have or are currently struggling with addiction, the growing crisis and the stress it’s causing may understandably be quite triggering. Not only that but a higher cost of living is shown to increase loneliness and isolation, relationship strain, sleep disturbance and poor diet and nutrition – all things that are shown to negatively influence addiction. 

An active addiction of almost any kind can then go on to have a negative impact on a person’s mental health and finances. As more money is spent on engaging in the addiction, or more time is taken off work due to physical or mental illness or the impacts of the addictive substance or behaviour – thus forms a vicious cycle.

So how do we break this cycle?

Sadly, the rising cost of living is out of most people’s control, and achieving financial stability may not be possible right now. But engaging in healthy, recovery-minded practices can help to reduce stress, improve mental health, and stop the downward spiral of addiction as we face these challenges.

1. Start your recovery journey

If you have never made the choice to reach out and get help to actively address your addiction, now is the best time to make that first step. Whatever addiction you might be struggling with, there is support available for you, and at Kennedy Street Recovery, we are committed to helping you start and maintain your recovery journey. We recommend abstinence-based, 12-Step recovery, and have plenty of resources to help you get started. 

Call our Recovery Helpline on 020 3416 3643 or contact us so that we can help you start or continue your recovery journey.

2. Stay connected

Being part of a community is so important for reducing stress and maintaining recovery. Even though it might seem difficult, with increased work hours or reduced budget for travel or social activities, finding ways to stay social and connected to a supportive network is vital. 

Make sure you have someone you can talk to when things get too overwhelming – maybe a sponsor, a friend or loved one, or you can call our Recovery Helpline and speak to one of our Recovery Volunteers about receiving support. You really are not alone!

If you’re in Brighton and looking to connect with a great group of people and have some free fun, why not join our team setting up our new Recovery Hub? With gardening and painting parties every Saturday in September, we’d love you to join us.


3. Stay active and get outdoors

Physical activity is a vital part of maintaining good mental health, and cutting back on gym memberships shouldn’t mean sacrificing the benefits of exercise. Daily walks (or swims if you’re lucky enough to live by the coast), enjoying nature and getting moving are great ways to reduce stress. 

Regular exercise reduces stress, improves mood and sleep, and has been shown to increase abstinence rates for substance misuse by up to 95%.


4. Try some money-saving tips

There are plenty of resources online for how to save money and help your income stretch a bit further during this difficult time. Check out resources like MoneySavingExpert’s guide of 90 tips that could help you save, or Blurt’s resource guide for dealing with the cost of living crisis alongside mental health concerns. 

5. Practice gratitude and mindfulness

When things feel hopeless and overwhelming, it is easy for us to get stuck in a negative state of mind. Practising gratitude – intentionally recognising the positive things, like another day of sobriety – is an important part of recovery. It is something that doesn’t always come naturally, but truly makes a difference in shifting from the hopeless mindset to one of positivity in the face of difficulties.

“It is with a big, sober, clean heart that I’m eternally grateful to Kennedy Street for their love, help and support. Trust me, these people save lives.”

Rose, 56.

Employed, cocaine and alcohol addiction.

Start your recovery right now.

You can call us 9am – 9pm 7 days a week

020 3416 3643

or you can send us a message if you’d prefer.

Hub notes #5 – June 18

Hub notes #5 – June 18

Positive change

Two ladies who had just become comfortable with those terms had shared generously their own experiences in a moving way. Lots of us could recall the early days when we didn’t feel comfortable with those words.

Emma took us back to the AA’s 12 step Big Book: ‘we learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics’. We realise that although we are writers, parents, workers, artists, creators and all kinds of other things, until we accept that we are also alcoholics or addicts, we’re often confining ourselves to a smaller life than we deserve.

Clare reminded us that there are more modern-day terminologies that some practitioners and professionals use, one being substance misuse disorder. Not quite as snappy as our ‘old’ identifiers, ‘alcoholic’ or ‘addict’. Clare mentioned FAVOR – Faces and Voices of Recovery – and their amazing website that has great resources and a great guide to recovery-friendly language, eg: 

“Most people with living or lived experience of using substances have their own use of language that is meaningful to them, however, it can often be misunderstood or not understood at all by those outside of their communities. The guide is intended to offer recommendations on using language to empower people in active addiction and recovery and to reinforce the impact of person-centred language on challenging stigma.”

It seems similar to how we are encouraged to use others’ preferred pronouns and also accept their self-identification e.g. non-binary, genderqueer etc. For older people, this can seem confusing but we all agreed that if we are open to being guided we will find we’re on a learning journey that helps us all.

Clare said, ‘At Kennedy Street, our aim is to be freed from stereotypes and contribute to everyone’s improved mental wellbeing’.

This led us to talk about sayings and slogans e.g. ‘don’t leave til the magic happens’ or ‘one day at a time’.  

Clare also reminded us of the pre-recovery interpretation of the acronym FEAR – ‘fuck everything and run’ and the post-recovery acronym ‘face everything and recover’.

Anna and Emma shared a great song by Ian Brown called ‘FEAR’ (listen to it on Spotify or watch it on YouTube) which has some other interpretations of the FEAR acronym such as ‘for everything a reason’.  

Another interesting conversation was about what to do when we meet someone away from recovery meetings – e.g. whilst you are both in Tesco doing your shopping with friends. In therapy, it’s often the case that people have an agreement on how to deal with these situations. The consensus was that we usually make eye contact and nod a friendly acknowledgement – anything beyond that, particularly if we’re with friends and family might not be appropriate for maintaining anonymity.

Positive change
Positive change

Lucy shared her experience of going to Rock of Ages theatre production this week – Kevin had kindly got us some tickets and a group of Kennedy Streeters was able to meet up for food at Cedar in Portsmouth, see the show AND have some great photos with the cast afterwards (see pic above).

Lucy recalled only having been to the theatre once when she was young – ‘I was very excited for the new experience but wasn’t sure what to expect’. It turned out to be an evening of fun and laughter and of course music. Best part?  Singing along especially with ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ (could this be our Kennedy Street theme tune?). Sarah said she thought it was a fabulous show and such a feel-good event and ‘thank you Kev’ and the Rock of Ages production for their generous ticket donation for our hard-working volunteers.

Seems there’s a possible new addiction to Lebanese Coffee (see pic below) – which we all partook in experiencing whilst on our night out. Everyone adored it and we’re now wondering if we can make this a staple when we move into the new hub!

As we’re now in the process of preparing to move into our new Hub – the volunteers got busy looking at the ‘move-in list’ for those things we need to furnish the space for opening. Clare reminded us about Amazon Smile which allows Amazon customers to link to a process which gives Kennedy Street Recovery a donation each time we buy from our Amazon accounts.  Deli’s pleased to know that her regular order of cat food subscription and crochet hooks will be supporting Kennedy Street in the long run. Others can support us by signing up like this:

First, go to

  • Click on the yellow ‘Get Started’ button
  • Sign in using your existing Amazon account
  • On the ‘Start by picking your charity’ page, put in our charity number 1189265
  • Select ‘Kennedy St Foundation’ 

As a small start-up charity, your support and sharing of this amongst your friends will be invaluable.

Positive change
Sobriety has given me a life I’ve never had – Nigel’s story

Sobriety has given me a life I’ve never had – Nigel’s story

I was often given a glass of wine when I went out for dinner with my parents from the age of around 12 – it seems strange now but at the time it wasn’t. I always liked the feeling and taste of alcohol but never drank much until my mid-20s, partly as a reward for working hard and definitely for the feeling it gave me. Rarely, if ever, was I happy with just the one drink.

I was happily married at 25 and was working hard, after I left home my parents went through a rough time and both used to ditch on us and it was then my drinking increased. My mum sadly passed away when I was 30 and that’s when my drinking really increased. I was so depressed and anxious and was already a functioning alcoholic. I visited my GP who took one look at my liver reading and sent me to an addiction psychiatrist. I was asked questions like ‘have you ever taken a morning drink?’ I was promptly diagnosed as an alcoholic and sent for treatment.

Rarely, if ever, was I happy with just the one drink.

It was May and approaching a busy time at work, I couldn’t find the time for my treatment! By July I was on my knees begging to go. I hadn’t fully realised I couldn’t drink safely again and came out after 28 days and picked that first drink up soon after. It didn’t take long for me to end up back where I’d left off, only this time worse.

By November, having been completely beaten by the disease of alcoholism, I fully conceded I was indeed an alcoholic and could never drink safely again. I was very honest this time and relieved I was able to be so. I came out of treatment and attended Alcoholics Anonymous every day, then 6 times a week for 18 months or so before dropping my meeting to two or three times a week. I got a sponsor, got to know my fellow alcoholics in recovery, and got honest. I had to keep away from places that sold alcohol with the occasional exception of having the odd meal out.

I feel grateful every single day and grateful for the fellowship of AA 

I went to Florida on my first sober holiday and went to the most amazing AA meeting which I’ve attended many times since, making lifelong friends along the way. Acceptance is still a daily thing in many ways except it is accepting I am indeed powerless not only of drink but in many cases, of people, places, and things.

Sobriety has given me a life I’d never had and to this day I feel grateful every single day and grateful for the fellowship of AA  and life skills I’ve learned over the 22 years I’ve been sober, one day at a time.

When I go to bed at night after not having had a drink, no matter what, it’s been a good day.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction please see our resource list.


My alcoholic Dad

My alcoholic Dad

Some of you may not have a clue what ‘recovery’ means. It has so many definitions, not just those found in your dusty copy of the Oxford Dictionary, but to anyone who has recovered from something.

In layman’s terms (the terms I often rely on to understand something), it’s the journey or process someone goes on to get better. So, with that in mind, haven’t we all been through some sort of recovery?

Each week, we will post someone’s recovery story. They might be members of our Kennedy Street team, our network of friends in recovery, or maybe even you.

This is my Recovery Story.

‘Recovery’ has been a word I have grown up with, woven into the tapestry of my past and etched into my psyche. I know it, I understand it, and for a long time I thought all parents lived ‘in it’.

While my primary school friends were visiting amusement parks and grandparents at the weekends, our family outings were attending AA conventions. Not every weekend, but enough for it to feel like the norm.

We’d attend parties and BBQ’s hosted by other families affected by the disease, where the only drinks served were cans of Coke and fancy sparkling grape juice.
While dad was attending AA, my mum was immersed in Al-Anon, the support group for families of alcoholics. Years later, when I asked how she coped for all those years, she just replied ‘Al-Anon saved me’.

Before dad’s recovery began, when I was about seven years old, we had existed in a cycle of his binges. Chaos and the inconsistent had become frighteningly consistent. Dad would be brilliant and fun for weeks, months, then one day simply disappear into his room and mum would set up camp on the sofa. Instructing us not to go into her room, as dad was ‘poorly’ again. The bedroom carpet drowning in a sea of empty vodka bottles, the stale air filled with his sick, strained voice pleading for more ‘booze’ (a word that still fills me with discomfort and sadness, when I hear it). Family members would arrive and whisper incoherently in the kitchen. Finally, the day would come when dad would be wheeled out of the house on a stretcher, neighbours’ curtains twitching. Mum’s head hung in shame, following him into the ambulance. An aunty placing an empathetic hand on my shoulder. Weeks would pass and dad would return home. Always presenting us with a ‘guilt gift’, the tightest hug and the remorseful promise that he was so sorry for putting us through this latest episode and would never drink again. Life resumed, until the next time.

But for about seven years dad was in recovery. This new and improved Superdad was just that, Super. Our home was no longer consumed with the stench, or sound, of ‘booze’. He was our funny, consistent, sober dad.

I can see now that he finally, after many years, tears and thousands of pounds spent on treatment, had managed to commit himself to his recovery. Something suddenly worked for him. Was it the imminent threat of losing his family? His drinking had destroyed two previous marriages. Or was he finally taking the Twelve Steps seriously? Who knows. Attending meetings, conventions, socialising with people he had shared experiences with, had all become his life-saving support network. He was finally in recovery, we were all finally in recovery.

Life was good and my parents decided to relocate us from the Midlands to Torquay, the palm tree-lined utopia we’d spent many a family holiday in.

Dad continued attending meetings and was even running a helpline for alcoholics, as well as visiting prisons, supporting the convicted addicts.

Our new norm was great. Unfortunately, this perfectly normal life was short-lived and the bubble soon burst. I’m not sure what happened to my dad. His new support network was solid, but clearly, something was missing. Within a few years of moving to ‘The Bay of Dreams’, his new business had failed, we were forced to move from our spacious four bedroom detached house, to a pokey first floor flat. It clearly had a profound impact on him. He’d been raised in wealth, was privately educated, owned large homes, drove fast cars and led a fast life. Mum used to compare him to Georgie Best. Sadly, their demise was also all too similar.

One day, something just snapped in his mind. He wanted to drink again, he could ‘handle it’, or so he said. Six years of sobriety washed away with a pint. Five years, multiple visits to the local ICU and a psychiatric sectioning later, he was dead. Years of liquid abuse had taken their toll on his weak, yellow body. His stubborn organs had finally surrendered, too battered, bruised and inflamed to continue fighting him. His mind was his body’s worst enemy. He had spent the final years of his life pleading with me and my brothers to kill him. We’d launch a counter plea, begging he try recovery one last time. Life could be good, he had all of us. But he’d given up. His mind was gone, his body and soul trying so hard to follow. Life became a struggle and chore, his zest and enthusiasm were gone.

This was life living with my dad and his addiction in a very tiny nutshell. What I have written really doesn’t do justice to his illness, or what we went through as a family. Perhaps I’ll write more in a future blog.

But it gives you an idea of what addiction recovery is, and the profound importance it has on addicts and their loved ones. The reason I’m so passionate about Kennedy Street, and I’m working so hard with the KS team to make this dream become a reality, is because I am painfully aware of the importance of creating positive, safe settings for people in recovery. A place to focus on something other than their addiction. This will be an opportunity for them to nurture talents, as well as self-belief, that have been overshadowed. Perhaps if my dad had found something he was passionate enough about, something that lit a fire inside him, he might still be here. Watching his children grow, fall in love and have kids of their own.

So next time you are faced with someone either in the depths of their addiction or trying to recover, consider what they might be going through. What has happened in their life to reach that point and how could you help them?

Thanks for reading,