Horses to help Kickstart Addiction Recovery!

Following a successful pilot over the summer Lloyds Bank Foundation has given their backing to a partnership project working with those who are ‘stuck’ or disengaged from talking therapies for their drug and alcohol use.

The Horse Course charity and EDP Drug & Alcohol Services have been working together to offer the ReStart course to 12 EDP clients from Dorset, an evidence based 5 day programme designed to kick start recovery. Participants learn and repeat key resilience skills with feedback in the moment from specially trained horses and 1-to-1 facilitator support.

The pilot, funded by BIG Lottery Awards for All, concluded that the group engaged far better than was expected and made significant progress in the 8 key skills taught. These are: confidence as a learner, calmness, assertiveness, focus, communication, empathy, responsibility and realistic analysis and planning. The average distance travelled for the group across all 8 skills was 42%, and the greatest improvement was in the ability to manage anxiety.

Development of these key thinking and emotional skills has led to participants re-engaging with their treatment and support at EDP. The partnership will be monitoring real-life outcomes including substance misuse, work and relationships over the coming months and years.

Harriet Laurie, Founder of The Horse Course comments “Working with drug and alcohol clients builds on our success in prisons, where we saw a 27 % point decrease in reoffending. Many of the offenders we worked with have drug and alcohol problems, so we were confident we could help EDP’s clients too. The pilot was a great start to our partnership and together we will monitor outcomes closely.”

Theresa Oliveira Meneses, Team Leader for EDP in Dorset, said “I had consistent contact with seven of the twelve attendees and they all, without exception, reflected deeply on the course, their own behaviour and how their conduct impacted on the horse. All clients showed increased confidence and motivation and EDP services noted that clients showed a calmer demeanour and were less likely to react impulsively. We are really excited to continue this work in partnership with the Horse Course and hope that, through offering complementary support to those who have found it difficult to move on in their recovery journey, real positive change can be achieved.”

The funding from Lloyds Bank Foundation will support the project for two years with a conditional commitment for a further two years, reaching at least 40 more clients. Paul Streets, Chief Executive of the foundation commented “It is unusual for us to support work involved with animals. The fact that your application was so highly rated at peer/panel assessment, (one of the highest), speaks volumes for the importance of what you do. We are delighted to support you.”

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