Recovery Stories: Peer support for connection and compassion enabling recovery from alcohol and drugs

Recovery Stories: Peer support for connection and compassion enabling recovery from alcohol and drugs

This podcast series shares community empowerment experiences from peer supporters working with Turning Point Scotland in Aberdeenshire helping communities dealing with alcohol and drug problems. Practitioners and peer support workers share how they have used their personal experiences to help at-risk groups supporting recovery from addiction through processes of connection and compassion.

Communities play critical roles in public health. The active participation of communities in health services has long been recognised as a pro-equity approach enhancing legitimacy and acceptability of decisions, and furthering trust in public institutions. Community empowerment can complement health systems responses, address health inequalities, and build future resilience.

The pandemic severed many, critical links between service users and providers, however, and put extraordinary demands on existing services. There is lack of trust within and between experts, institutions, health care workers, and population groups, who experienced significant impacts. In this scenario, support mechanisms enabling connection and trust relationships require urgent attention.

Despite support, there is a lack of practical guidance on how to ‘do’ community engagement and empowerment, especially in the settings and for the populations most severely affected. While health systems are committed to tackling inequalities, connecting with people living with complex lives and needs is highly challenging.

Peer support is the process of giving and receiving nonprofessional, nonclinical assistance from individuals with similar conditions or circumstances to achieve long-term recovery from psychiatric, alcohol, and/or other drug-related problems (Tracey and Wallace, 2016). Turning Point Scotland (TPS) provides an established community service bringing together people with shared experiences in safe spaces of connection and compassion.

If you would like to find out more about support services, please get in touch with the service directly at

The series is hosted by Dr Lucia D’Ambruoso from the Aberdeen Centre for Health Data Science within the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition.

Image caption: ‘Medication, Recovery and Me’ meeting, Westhill, December 2022 Image credit: Di Mitchell

Transcripts are available below

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Episode 1 Ashley's Story Transcript
Episode 2 Kathleen's Story Transcript
Episode 3 Amanda's Story Transcript
Episode 4 Di's Story Transcript