'Recovery Olympics' held in full scale for first time since pandemic

A sports day event organised to celebrate drugs recovery was held for the first time since the pandemic on Friday.

Forth Valley Recovery Community held full scale ‘Olympics’ for first time since before the pandemic STV News
The event saw enthusiastic support in the stands from volunteers, family and friends.

A sports day event organised to celebrate individual and group recovery from drugs and alcohol was held on Friday.

The Recovery Olympics was first established in 2016 in a partnership between Forth Valley Recovery Community and Active Stirling.

Standing in Stirling’s Forthbank stadium, Lorraine Beattie was feeling positive.  

Painkillers were an issue for most of her life but eight years ago, she turned to heroin, cocaine and street valium.

The 36-year-old relapsed during lockdown, but now she feels the connection she found within her recovery group in North Lanarkshire is helping her make progress and stay drug free.  

Lorraine Beattie relapsed in lockdown, but the recovery group is helping her stay drug free.
Lorraine Beattie relapsed in lockdown, but the recovery group is helping her stay drug free.

Speaking to STV News at Six, Ms Beattie said: “Lockdown was brutal. When you’re in addiction, you get stuck in your own head and it’s a dangerous place to be. 

“This is my longest time in recovery and it is working. I was ready for it, more than ready. 

“I didn’t know what help was available but when you see the amount of people that are going through the same as you, it does give you strength.”

It’s not the winning but the taking part that counts when it comes to the Recovery Olympics.

It was the first time since the pandemic that this event, organised by Forth Valley Recovery community, has been held on this scale. 

Around 30 teams travelled from across Scotland, including the Borders, Fife, Glasgow and Lanarkshire to compete in Stirling. 

There was enthusiastic support in the stands from volunteers, family and friends who know just how far those lining up on the starting line have come.

Scott Ferguson, 49, works for Forth Valley Recovery Community. 

Six years ago, he turned to them for help.

Scott Ferguson, who now works at Forth Valley Recovery Community, turned to them for help six years ago.
Scott Ferguson, who now works at Forth Valley Recovery Community, turned to them for help six years ago.

“I lost two brothers to addiction. My older brother died three years ago and I tried but couldn’t support him,” he said.

“When my brother passed away, my friends, family and old associates said to me we thought that would have been you. 

“I was addicted to opiates and street benzos and on and off a methadone programme for 25 years. I thought that was my life.”

Mr Ferguson was still on his prescription when he first started volunteering with the recovery group, even shadowing his former case worker when he started his new post.

He added: “That was surreal, she was amazed at the change in me. Believing in myself at the beginning was massive. 

“The inspiration from seeing other people in recovery gave me that wee spark to make me think I could do it too. I now try and give that to others.”

The Scottish Government’s drugs minister, Angela Constance MSP attended the games to show her support to competitors who are at different stages of their recovery.  

Those leading the teams believe tackling the country’s addiction crisis is a marathon not a sprint.

Kerryanne Clarke, of North Lanarkshire Recovery Community said: “So many people in addiction are stigmatised and treated differently. 

“They don’t actually know events like this exist where you can bring your family and friends, connect with others in recovery and be substance free.”