Drug Users Climb Road to Recovery with British Military Fitness

News item posted: 19 June 2017

Former drug users in central London are being helped to get their lives back on track through military style exercise and have now completed the gruelling Three Peaks Challenge
The three men and one woman climbed the UK's three highest peaks in 24hours as part of a programme run by British Military Fitness (BMF), an organisation of serving or former members of the Armed Forces.

The programme is aimed at boosting the confidence of people previously dependant on drugs and putting participants through their paces as they rebuild their lives and leave drugs and alcohol behind them.

John *, who is a former rough sleeper and was a regular crack user, was one of the group who successfully climbed the three peaks. "I've gained so much from this" he said.  "I'm a lot healthier and feel so much better in myself. I've climbed the three biggest peaks in Britain and now I feel I can do anything and really move on with my life." 

Since joining BMF he has found a new home, trained to become a fitness instructor and is completely abstinent from drugs.

Becky*, 50 is a former crack cocaine user but with the help of the scheme has been clean for four months and is now studying maths and English in college.  On completeing the challenge she said: "It keeps me busy and physically it makes me fitter.  I used to take crack cocaine but have been clean for 4 months now.  After I finish exercise my mind is clear and because I am busy I don't miss my old friends.  I'm now at college and would like to teach people who are illiterate to read and write."  

The BMF Community Scheme is a joint venture funded by Westminster City Council and provided by  health and social care organisation Turning Point. 

Cllr Daniel Astaire, Westminster council's cabinet member for adults services and health, said: "People who have been dependent on drugs or alcohol face a number of difficult issues when rebuilding their lives and establishing themselves back in the community.

"This scheme provides a new way for them to get their lives back on track and build their self-confidence and independence while also providing structure in their daily lives and a sense of belonging to a supportive group."

David Parkinson, a substance misuse worker for Turning Point, says he has noticed a "huge decrease" in the use of drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine since service users began attending the tailored training sessions with BMF. 

"The natural high of endorphins through exercise takes away the need to use stimulants like crack cocaine", he said.

"Some of the people we support were using drugs every day before we began engaging with them. They were caught in a vicious cycle of drug use, but BMF has given them a routine, and a purpose. They have been able to cut down or completely stop their drug use and begin to rebuild their lives."