A Fresh Start for CAP Release Groups
‘I was raised by my father and an alcoholic teenage step mum. My birth mother was also an alcoholic and a prostitute. I started drinking from a young age, and was told that I was just like my mother. My father kicked me out when I was 21 and that was when I really started drinking heavily.’ – Katie
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) launched CAP Release Groups in 2015. The group was designed to combat one of the root causes of debt: addiction. Since its launch, it has grown to 79 groups across the UK helping hundreds of people each year.
The CAP Release Group course was created to tackle low-damage dependencies – such as smoking, gambling and online addictions. Delegates on the course are encouraged to identify the reasons behind their addiction and the sessions help to tackle the roots of the problem. However, it was found that 50% of people attending the course were struggling with high-damage dependencies, such as heavy alcohol or drug use.
As a result, many Release Group Coaches were finding it a challenge to support people with high-damage dependencies. Although the course was able to help people to a certain extent, delegates often needed additional medical attention or rehabilitation centres in order to overcome their addiction.
Following a survey by the Research Development and Innovation (RDI) team at CAP head office it was discovered that from a list of options the name ‘CAP Release Groups’ held the highest association with high-damage dependencies. CAP tested different names both in the UK and with CAP international and found one name that was both popular and associated with low-damage dependencies. This is why the name CAP Release Groups has now been replaced by Fresh Start.
Katie’s addiction was starting to affect her entire life, especially her mental health.
‘I moved around a lot, never settling anywhere. I was so lost. My seven-year-old son was the only thing keeping me here. I was drinking more and more each day until I fell asleep. Then one day I felt like I couldn’t cope anymore. I took an overdose and went to hospital. That’s when I realised something needed to change.’
Fresh Start is aimed at helping people discover the root causes of their dependency, setting achievable goals and working with a coach in order to break free of the dependency. The contents of the course have also been improved, with a restructure of the course outline and fresh design of the step-by-step guide. It also includes a section on recognising signs of relapse and the emotional roots of our habits.
Fresh Start also has newly recorded teaching sessions, alongside real testimonies, so that those running the course no longer need any background experience or specific knowledge about dependencies. This means that coaches have more time to engage with the group and build relationships with them, ensuring that people get the most out of the course.
‘My friend invited me along to Fresh Start; the first two weeks I was a mess, getting panic attacks and struggling to breathe. It was the third week that I started to engage and I realised that I had been using alcohol as a mask for confidence and that I actually had very low self-esteem.’
Fresh Start helps delegates identify the issues that trigger their behaviours such as anger, guilt or loss.
‘Each week a bit more was revealed to me. I didn’t like myself, I didn’t think I was good enough. I realised it all went back to my mum leaving, I had wondered why she had left me and whether she had done so because she didn’t like me.’
The Fresh Start course is an eight-week long course. Each delegate will receive a book, which they can fill in throughout the duration. Trained coaches will get alongside delegates and help them to achieve their goals, supporting them throughout the week by sending encouraging texts or meeting for coffee.
‘I started to gain more confidence; I accepted that some people will leave your life and that’s OK, some people are only in your life for a season. I learnt to manage my anxiety and thoughts. The other night I poured myself a glass of wine, then I thought, I actually want tea, so I poured it back into the bottle and made myself a tea instead. Before I would have drunk the whole bottle, and started another.’