A WOMAN from Shetland who turned to baking after becoming sober following years of heavy drinking has launched a new online support group for people recovering from addiction.
Lesley Smith said a key aim of the Facebook group was to create a support network, and a safe place, for people who may feel isolated as they look to overcome addiction.
The private group is also open to family members of those affected by addiction.
Lesley, who lives in Scalloway, was featured in the national media recently for turning her life around following years of heavy drinking – placing her focus on making cakes.
The 38-year-old said the “outpouring of love” she felt after her story featured in the media was overwhelming.
“It made me realise that people are starting to change the way they think about addicts and alcoholics,” she said.
A recovery support group, where people can receive help, encouragement and advice from folk who are – or have been – in a similar situation, is something she has thought about since becoming sober a few years ago.
“I’ve never felt I was really in the right headspace for it,” she said.
“It takes a long time for your brain to rewire after getting sober, so I was suffering through an emotional rollercoaster for the first two years of my sobriety. I never really felt I was ready.
“I thought that now would probably be a good time to try it out.”
Lesley acknowledges that due to the small size of Shetland some people may be reluctant to put their name out there.
But there is the option of posting anonymously in the group, she said.
“It might go nowhere, but I thought that I owed it to the Shetland community to try and see,” Lesley said. “Even if it reaches a few folk, even if it helps just a couple of folk, then I’ll be happy with that.”
She said that in her road to sobriety loneliness was a huge factor, and not knowing there to turn.
Lesley said groups like Alcoholics Anonymous were not an avenue that interested her. “You can’t really be anonymous in Shetland,” she said.
“So I didn’t go down that route. I just got sober myself and I found it a very isolating, a very lonely journey, and I hate to think that there are people who aren’t putting their all into sobriety because of that.”
She is also keen to raise awareness within the group of services available locally, adding that during her journey through recovery she felt there was not enough information about what help is out there.
“I’m really conscious about trying to bring that the forefront of people’s minds so they know there’s places they can go to,” Lesley said.
“But I’m not a professional – all I can do is talk to people about my own experience. I just talk from my heart, and I just talk about my experience.
“It might work for some folk, it might not work for some folk, but being able to talk to somebody who has been through a similar situation is really a great step.”
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