Be visible, be to yourself, demand respect

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FREIDENSTEINAU (above). They want to become visible, make it public, show that they exist and what they do: People who organize themselves in self-help groups of Friends of Relief Addiction speak publicly about their experiences with addiction and show that it is worth living, It is beautiful and rewarding to be able to organize everyday life. and free time without addictive substances.

In Hesse and parts of the Westerwald there are 24 groups in 14 circles of friends – from Kassel to Hanau, from Montabaur to Fulda. They meet at regular intervals for an exchange which is very important to all members.

After two years of the pandemic, it was the first time that a multi-day meeting was possible; as “addiction days” this usually takes place every two years, alternating with a one-day meeting, according to the Friends of Addiction Help press release.

The participants of the Addiction Days made carpentry for themselves, for others and for the association. All photos: T. Schlitt

Thomas Steinhäuser, president of the regional association and the Vogelsberg Circle of Friends: “Many members of the Circle of Friends have known each other for a long time and are looking forward to meeting each other again, exchanging ideas and learning from each other’s group experiences and working with addicts.”

For this reason, Addiction Days offers a lot of room for just that: input and workshops are just as important here as open, unplanned time slots where you can just meet and talk about what’s coming. And that could be anything.

“A circle of friends gathering is like a family gathering,” says Ellen Weyer. Her local circle of friends is in the Westerwald, and she is secretary of a state association. On Saturday, the main day, around 75 people were with her at the Vulkanpark in Nieder-Moos, many of them accommodated there and enjoyed the variety of offers.

Many guests accepted the invitation to a herbal hike with Bianca Zogg-Brodbeck from the Ewilp Foundation (front left).

There was a herbal tour and the opportunity to work with wood. Many people were attracted by the offer of handicrafts with bells and silhouettes, as was the joint production of an insect hotel that all groups of friends could immortalize with small wooden signs and which will remain in the volcanic park.

Process experiences and impressions in songs

The theater group of the regional association also used these days to meet and work on a new production that will be presented nationally next year. Petra Wöckel from the Kasseler Group is responsible here. He writes songs that obviously have something to do with addiction: It’s about consequences and coping, not always superficial, but experiences and impressions are always processed in the songs.

“Almost all of these offers can be shared by friends,” says Thomas Steinhäuser cheerfully, “we have a lot of resources and talents with us and are happy to show them.” Work in workshops has many aspects for addicts and their relatives who also organize here. “On the one hand, people learn what they can do and gain new self-confidence. They find a new hobby that they can take with them in their free time and on a daily basis, ”explains Ellen Weyer.

Self-help groups provide support

The daily life of addicts often consists only of “working, sleeping and consuming”, as reported by Jeannine Schneider from her own experience. Quit-takers need different content on the one hand and new people around them on the other, as often the old ones are the ones with whom you shared your addiction.

“For this reason, self-help groups like ours are also very important. We support each other and make sure that we are strong and can live without any addictive substances – no matter what, ”explains Ulrich Schermer, who has been with the Vogelsberg Friends Association and a state association for almost twenty years; for many years also as an addiction helper and group leader. “No therapist can do it as we understand and encourage one another. If we manage to stay sober or clean, it is almost always thanks to a support group. “

Thomas Steinhäuser, the state chairman of the circles of friends, wants more publicity for the work of his organization.

Working in different workshops also helps to get people to talk. “Working together on a workpiece, hiking or handicrafts creates a completely different atmosphere than in a group meeting,” Steinhäuer explains, “you speak more openly when you only have one person and are working on them.” exchange groups and friendships. Ideas that arose on this level, such as theater, continue and become the new pillars of the circle of friends.

Claudia Kessler has only been in the Westerwald Circle of Friends since the beginning of this year. She enjoyed her day at Nieder-Moos, not only because she was making one piece of wood after another, but also because when talking to others she realized: “We are all different, but we have the same problem.” One Insight seems to develop into a basic understanding, a sense of being cared for. At 42, Claudia Kessler is one of the younger members.

Different age structures

The age structure ranges from 25 to over 70 years of age. “Depending on the addictive substance, people will come to us sooner or later,” says Ursula Nahrgang, a cashier for a state association: alcoholics and drug addicts can take it longer than drug addicts, whose health deteriorates much earlier.

The Insect Hotel of the Circle of Friends remains in the Vulkanpark.

Basically, it takes time for a person to be ready to fight an addiction. The reasons for this are usually dramatic. People in their circles of friends also share these stories. The name says it all. “We really are a circle of friends here, almost a family, but without pressure, but with a lot of mutual understanding and support. It’s good to meet in such an environment, ”says Ulrich Schermer.

In addition, one of the main topics of this year’s Addiction Days was the creation of a new leaflet targeted specifically at loved ones. In addition to the advice of an external expert, those affected were also explicitly asked to contribute: What could help them when they no longer knew what to do in the face of their loved ones’ addiction? “We exist too” and “How do we get out of there?”

These two statements will be the starting points on the leaflet for the victims and will tell them that they do not have to fight alone, that they and their needs are also visible, that there are people among their friends who support them.

Thomas Steinhäuser, the state chairman of the circles of friends, wants more publicity for the work of his organization.

Overall, people in friends’ circles want more publicity, as their state president, Steinhäuser, emphasizes: “We are all people who recovered with incredible effort. We can no longer be ignored or stigmatized. “

Seek dialogue with public authorities

His association therefore strives for increased dialogue with all public bodies: from the professional point of view, it is about medicine and science, from the social side, about politics and business, and very practically about public appearances in schools, clubs and other organizations. “It’s about finding respect and attention,” concludes Steinhäuser.

At the end of the addiction days, he comes to a positive conclusion: “It was a harmonious and very constructive weekend. Old rocks and new members got involved and contributed to great results. ” The Circle of Friends wants to create alternatives to the risk of addiction for its members and all other addicts. Days like this in Nieder-Moos show that such alternatives exist.

At the end of the days of addiction, Ellen Weyer unveiled a new leaflet for those affected.

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