Russell Brand’s Trew Era Café is not the first Recovery Café – but it has been helpful in creating more attention for this growing brand of restaurants both inside and outside the addiction community.

The outspoken comedian and actor Russell Brand has been an advocate for the de-stigmatisation of addiction worldwide, helping to spearhead an addiction revolution where he envisions addicts and those in addiction recovery being treated as people suffering from a serious illness rather than criminals.

His newest project is a recovery café called Trew Era, which opened its doors last March. The café employs recovering addicts and is used as a space for NA and AA meetings in the evenings. Brand says the café is a social enterprise — which means it is aimed at improving human and environmental well-being rather than making a profit. It seems the café is doing just that by offering former addicts a place to work in a supportive atmosphere, as well as bridging the gap between the local community and those in addiction recovery.

Employees at Trew Era café must be working an abstinence-based addiction recovery programme such as the 12 Steps. However not everyone is at the same place in their recovery, with some employees sober for years and others still in the beginning stages of living a sober life. But they all share dedication to their recovery and Trew Era gives them the space to be themselves and improve their self-esteem, while, of course, earning a living.

However, Trew Era is not the first of its kind in the UK. A few of the employees at Trew Era Café began their barista training at another London recovery café, Paper and Cup. While Trew Era pays employees a London living wage, at Paper and Cup most work as volunteers and receive on-the-job training. Paper and Cup was started to offer recovering addicts and those with long term unemployment the opportunity to gain work experience.

For many, their experience as employees in a supportive and professional environment at a recovery café such as Trew Era or Paper and Cup, has given them the chance to gain not only work skills, but confidence and support needed to sustain their addiction recovery.

More about Recovery Cafés

There are many types of recovery cafés with Trew Era and Paper and Cup being just two examples. These two social enterprises focus on providing opportunities for people in addiction recovery who often face stigmatisation as they try to enter the job force.

Recovery cafés also offer space for recovery meetings to be held after hours and some function as an alcohol free alternative to a bar. The Brink is a recovery café in Liverpool that is aimed at shifting the alcohol culture in this town by offering a trendy alcohol-free venue for both people in recovery and the general public. On first glance, The Brink appears like other bars. Inside, however, it not only offers great food and service, but space for group counselling sessions and individual counselling walk-ins.

At The Brink, offering a non-stigmatised space for people to talk to someone about their active addiction or addiction recovery was a key aspect to the concept. Being able to walk into a bar at 10pm when you are struggling with your addiction and get counselling services is revolutionary. If appropriate, the counsellors will then refer people to long-term addiction treatment options. The Brink also offers support to families who are affected by a loved one’s addiction.

From providing job opportunities for recovering addicts, to offering a drug and alcohol-free alternative to socialising in a bar, a recovery café has an important role within the community it serves.

Benefits of Recovery Cafés for those in Addiction Recovery

With many types of recovery cafés popping up worldwide, the wide range of benefits recovering addicts receive from these services are not to be overlooked. Of course each café will have its own style, but these are some of the common benefits that they aim to provide.:

  • A therapeutic community for those in recovery.
    Some cafés are focused 100% on supporting people who are struggling with mental illness, alcoholism or drug addiction. These cafés provide a community of peer support, offering recovery-based activities throughout the day. Many are member-based and serve as an alternative treatment model for providing community-based care.
  • A drug and alcohol free social space.
    Other cafés, such as The Brink, are meant to be trendy establishments for dinner and socialising without alcohol. While of course these cafés are popular amongst the recovery community, they are also marketed toward the general public and work like sober bars to shift the drinking culture by offering an alternative to getting wasted every night.
  • Employment training and opportunities for people in addiction recovery.
    Unfortunately, many people in recovery face stigmatisation as they try to re-enter the work force. Places like Paper and Cup offer job training and help people gain confidence in themselves. By employing only recovering addicts at Trew Era Café, employees support one another in their recovery and are not faced with the temptation to drink or use socially with their co-workers.
  • Space to hold recovery specific meetings and family activities.
    Many recovery cafés serve coffee by day and host recovery meetings by night. Providing comfortable space for meetings to take place and offering sober activities and gatherings for people in recovery and their families helps to foster the social support that is so crucial for staying sober.
  • Reduces social stigmatisation of addiction.
    Something all recovery cafés have in common, and one of their greatest benefits, is their commitment to de-stigmatising addiction within society. By employing recovering addicts, talking openly about addiction and addiction recovery, and offering a space for people of all backgrounds to enjoy an alcohol-free environment, recovery cafés are working to end the stigma.

For those struggling with a substance abuse disorder, receiving help from an addiction treatment centre like The Cabin’s inpatient drug and alcohol rehab in Thailand is only the first step towards life-long abstinence and addiction recovery. Ongoing support and lifestyle changes are essential to prevent relapse and improve one’s overall well-being. Recovery cafés offer valuable community connections for people in addiction recovery and we hope to see more and more emerging to help end the stigmatisation of this disease.

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