Addaction turns 50!

Addaction’s 50th anniversary is a cause for celebration and an opportunity for reflection. Much has changed in 50 years, but our work is more necessary than ever.

Fifty years ago, the Guardian newspaper published a letter from Mollie Craven. Mollie’s son had been a registered heroin addict since the age of 18 and, feeling powerless to help, she wrote: "we parents of addicts are a neglected and ignored group.” Her vision was for a parental support group that could research the little understood issue and support each other to find effective ways of helping children with drug problems.

That organisation was founded in 1967 as APA, standing both for the Association of Parents of Addicts, and the Association for Prevention of Addiction. Sadly, Mollie's son died at the age of 21, but she continued her pioneering work into the 1990s, helping to influence policy in the UK. APA also continued, moving increasingly into harm reduction and treatment services throughout the heroin epidemics of the 1980s and 90s, and rebranding as Addaction in 1998.

Addaction has grown significantly since then, from 19 services in 1998 to 120 today.  Staff numbers have increased ten-fold in that time, taking in nurses, doctors and pharmacists as the charity has expanded its remit into more clinical work. The staff profile has also changed. The number of former service users volunteering as recovery champions has grown and the people who use Addaction services now have influence across the entire organisation, including in senior leadership settings.

We’re now looking to the future with a broader offer, supporting people in all of their complexity, and taking action early to tackle harmful behaviours. We believe that our role as a charity can’t be limited to service delivery but requires us to influence policy to provide easier and more equitable access for all.

None of this would be possible without Addaction’s staff and volunteers, who have contributed with compassion and determination throughout the course of our history and continue to transform lives today.

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