A charity worker who was once warned she would die if she had another drink has told how she regained control of her life and now helps others overcome similar addictions.

Ami Laurie, 37, from Glasgow, spent three months at Abbeycare Scotland in Erskine where she received treatment for alcohol addiction last summer.

During her stay, she took part in a unique ‘Anonymous Drama’ therapy programme pioneered by the Glasgow-based charity Creative Change Collective.

She enjoyed the experience so much that only a few months after leaving rehab, she was offered a job delivering the same programme to others struggling with addiction.

“I was at rock bottom before I went into Abbeycare. I had lost my home, I had no job, I was bankrupt, I’d lost my fiancé, everything,” Ami recalls.

“I was down and out, so I had to move back in with my parents. I was suicidal, and by the end of 2022, nobody thought I was going to make it.

“I’d been in hospital for a detox over that Christmas and I was told that if I had another drink I would die – but I still kept drinking all the way until I was admitted to Abbeycare in May 2023, five months later.”

Photo: Ami Laurie
Photo Credit: Creative Change Collective

Only a few weeks into her time in rehab, Ami was invited to take part in the Anonymous Drama programme, which allows people to express themselves in a safe environment which is less emotionally triggering.

Participants speak to one another about their experiences, but do not reveal which parts of the stories they choose to tell are fictional and which parts are based on real life.

“I remembered doing drama at school and I thought: ‘I can’t do this in front of a bunch of people that I’m living with and trying to look OK in front of’,” Ami says.

“Everybody else was feeling that same fear about it too, but as soon as we got in and realised what it was actually about, people really enjoyed it.

“Everyone laughs so much. When you’re in rehab, a lot of the work you do is on yourself all day, every day, and to have that break is just such a relief.

“I rediscovered that I was quite creative, and started writing poetry when I was in rehab about my journey, and used that in what we produced.
“It’s amazing how creative some of the people in the sessions are, they just don’t know it. It can reveal a side to them that they’ve never looked at before.

“It definitely helped with my recovery by showing me I could do stuff I’m not comfortable with and helped me regain my confidence.”

Ami now works for Creative Change Collective as a lived experience delivery team member, and recently returned to Abbeycare’s clinic to lead one of its 16-week courses.

Her group is currently preparing for a live event which is due to place at Erskine Arts on Wednesday, April 3, at 7pm. Tickets are available for £5 and can be purchased online.

The event’s focal point is a group script consisting of recovery-themed monologues, sketches and spoken word.

A Q&A discussion session will follow, providing participants with an opportunity to reflect on their journey with friends and family, support staff and policy makers.

Anonymous Drama is currently delivered in Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire, Glasgow, and North Ayrshire, residential and community rehabs as well as prison and community sentence groups.

Mark MacNicol, Creative Change Collective project director, said: “As Ami’s journey illustrates, one of the unique elements of the programme is that drama therapy-type work can be successfully delivered by lived experience individuals with no prior qualifications in either drama or therapy.
“In many cases, initially hesitant participants develop a real enthusiasm for the programme. I’m appreciative of Abbeycare’s support and look forward to potentially expanding the programme across Scotland.”

Headline image: Participants from previous Anonymous Drama group programmes
Photo Credit: Creative Change Collective

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News

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