There are two addiction treatment programmes under one roof at Oasis Runcorn: the unique Oasis Strengths programme and the 12-step programme. We spoke to the manager, Christopher Long, about why his team believe in going the extra mile – to offer clients much greater involvement in their addiction recovery process.

Why Do You Offer Two Addiction Treatment Programmes?

First and foremost, it’s about offering our clients choice. Many people we work with have become accustomed to being told what they have to do to recover. They aren’t given any options about addiction treatment. We find by giving our clients a really positive choice, right at the start, it helps to establish trust. It’s about treating our clients with respect, allowing them to select the approach they think will work best for them.

Secondly, some time ago we recognised something really important. The 12-step model gets some excellent results, it really does – but it doesn’t work for everyone. Rather than say, well that’s just the way it is, not everyone is going to get it, we decided to look at why that was. One of the reasons was that not everyone wants to go to Alcoholics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings – let alone in the long-term. Some people want short-term interventions and solutions-focused therapy.

So, we created the Oasis Strengths programme to offer these people an alternative. The Strengths model focuses upfront on people’s assets and skills, then we apply these to their personal issues, including their addiction. We use a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy, SMART recovery techniques and other therapeutic approaches. We use dialectical behavioural therapy, for example, which is a very useful therapy for regulating emotions; it really helps our clients to accept and take responsibility for the vulnerability they feel.

For example, the first thing we look at with our clients is their life story. What are the significant moments in their past? What do they think has led to them being in treatment for addiction? Straight away, we consider the assets and skills they have, in connection to what they tell us about their life. So, if a client has experienced a lot of anger, we look at the emotional impact that has upon them. From there, we work with them to identify strategies to use when anger starts to rise. We help clients to create some healthier responses, to help prevent them from lashing out verbally or physically.

Oasis Strengths is all about nurturing our clients back to humanity – yes, it’s about saying let’s take a look together at the mistakes along the way and how that’s affected your self-worth – but let’s also acknowledge immediately all the positives too; let’s really emphasise what you do well. Many of our clients have never been encouraged to think about themselves in this way – it can be challenging but very refreshing too.

Our 12 step model is perhaps more familiar to people with any knowledge of addiction treatment in the UK or abroad. It is based on the disease concept of addiction. It’s abstinence-based – a central principle being that controlled or moderate usage of drugs or alcohol is not possible for people with addiction. In step 1 of the programme, we take a really close look at the specific consequences and harms of their addiction, so clients can find acceptance around the idea of long-term abstinence. Steps 2 through to 12 include: moving beyond self-reliance by identifying sources of support and inspiration; understanding and processing challenging emotions in healthier ways; identifying and changing harmful behaviour patterns; correcting past mistakes; and developing new tools to maintain sobriety and emotional wellbeing.

We offer Oasis Runcorn clients the chance to work through all 12 steps in our programme – because many of our clients stay with us for 12 weeks, some longer. The 12 steps are often most effective with our clients when they acknowledge that they have exhausted other avenues. They arrive with a readiness to accept that other ideas haven’t worked. Then they can be very receptive to this programme – and in many cases, it has excellent outcomes.

So How Do Oasis Runcorn Clients Make an Informed Choice Between Your Two Addiction Treatment Programmes?

Our clients sit down with their nominated therapist, who explains in detail the different models we offer. This is a chance to discover the differences between our programmes and which one is more attuned to them. They can ask as many questions as they want. They choose their preferred model within the first few days. Depending on their physical health and their detox process, most clients will be in their chosen groups straight away.

Of course, clients can change models, if they decide the programme they have chosen doesn’t work for them.

Why Do You Choose to Work in the Addiction Treatment Field?

Our team play a part in people’s lives changing. That’s the biggest thing. We deliver really good quality treatment to people. We’ve had clients at Oasis Runcorn from as far away as New York and Qatar, as well as local people. Our addiction treatment programme has impacts on societies far and wide; it’s a ripple effect that has benefits for our clients’ family members, friends, employers and communities. There’s a former client of ours who lives in Holland, for example; he emails me every year to tell me about another year in recovery. That’s the reward for doing this work – when people say it has improved their quality of life.

I’ve been in addiction recovery for a long time myself – and that does add some weight to my choice to work in the field – but really, I do it because it matters. Of course it’s frustrating sometimes – but it can be the most fulfilling job too. The rewards come usually when you least expect them – for example, I’m in another town and I bump into a client and they tell me they’re doing really well. It’s always great to see people so full of life.

What Do You Feel Most Proud of about Your Team at Oasis Runcorn?

I’m very proud that we have five members of staff here who are former clients – that’s quite a unique part of what we do here. Our addiction treatment programme inspired them so much that they decided to pursue a brand new career. And it takes people a fair bit of time to achieve their goal. First, they have to establish their own recovery. Then some go through a period of volunteering with us. They go on to college to get educated in a range of ways – for example gaining the Level 3 in Health and Social Care. Others pursue qualifications to become therapists – they train in counselling, gain their diplomas, one is even studying towards a Master in Addiction.

For current clients, it’s very tangible – not only to see that the majority of our staff are in long-term recovery, but that some used to be exactly where they are now. To say something like, “you’re sleeping in the room that I stayed in six years ago” – that can have a powerful effect on people’s belief in themselves and in their potential to change.

My team at Oasis Runcorn are brilliant. Everyone mucks in. I became manager here in 2017, having been a counsellor, senior counsellor and therapeutic lead beforehand – so I have first hand experience of the contributions people make to our team. Where our clients are concerned, they can see we’re all willing to do what it takes. They can sense we’re rolling in the same direction.

What’s New at Oasis Runcorn?

Recently, UKAT have made some great aesthetical changes. The landscape and our facilities have improved. We have a brand new purpose-built cabin in the garden – it looks like it belongs in the Swedish hills! We use it for group therapy sessions, yoga and dance therapy. We’ve had astroturf, benches and tables put in the garden too. This gives us more space to deliver our programmes and for clients to relax.

Find out more about the Oasis Runcorn rehab programme. Get help today with addiction by calling 0203 131 5938 or use our livechat or free call back service on this website.