HLN meets… Annalice Argyle, TRAC UK
Annalice shares her inspirational journey from being homeless and addicted to drugs and alcohol to an award-winning businesswoman transforming thousands of lives.
After suffering from substance misuse for over a decade, becoming homeless and being a victim of domestic violence and abuse, Annalice has been at rock bottom.
She turned to alcohol to escape and was introduced to Class A drugs which she says ‘destroyed her life.’ But with her strong will, determination and motivation to give her son a better life, Annalice decided not to let her addictions take control and define her, so she turned her life around.
Annalice has now been sober since 2009 but looking back she feels like there was a lack of guidance and support when she was most vulnerable. So, she took the matter into her own hands and in 2015 The Recovery Advocates and Consultants UK (TRAC UK) was born.
Now she uses her experience and tells her story to help transform other recovering addicts’ lives. TRACK UK is a grassroots independent recovery advocacy service that provides a voice for men and women with substance misuse issues and has created a Women Only Service after recognising that women recover differently.
We caught up with Annalice who shares her inspirational journey from being homeless and addicted to drugs and alcohol to an award-winning businesswoman transforming thousands of lives.
What’s TRAC UK all about?
The Recovery Advocates and Consultants UK provides an alternative to mainstream commissioned services that they feel do not serve them or whom the service finds difficult to service.
Most of all we provide choice, promote equality and fairness, and educate and advocate. We believe in recovery, not punishment. The prison system doesn’t work, there are more vulnerable people in prison than criminals at taxpayers’ expense whilst the criminals at the top of the chain are harder to reach and the war on drugs is not working, nothing is changing.
What inspired you to start TRAC UK?
As a woman in long term recovery from substance misuse, homelessness, domestic violence and abuse, I have a passion for helping others transform their lives.
When I was at my most vulnerable and felt like I struggled to cope to bring up my six-month-old son after his father left us, I didn’t have someone independent to help me navigate through a complex system. I felt injustice in the fact that my son and I were not given the best chance of working with services and staying together.
After turning my life around, I became employable and was given the opportunity to work as a therapist in a male prison. This is when I set up the Women Only Recovery Group on Facebook, a hybrid recovery platform with over 4,500 local women members with the understanding that women recover differently from men, require a space where they can feel safe, heard and loved, and experience many more barriers.
Congratulations on winning the Inspiring Others Award at the Tees Business Awards and being nominated in four categories for the Northern Power Women Awards and She Inspires UK. What do you feel it is about this charity that is proving so respected and necessary?
I have created a women’s recovery movement, a platform of united strength and hope. Firstly, I understand what it’s like for women in addiction and recovery through my own story and I’m very vocal about it in the hope others transform their lives and find a way out of the guilt and shame. But I’m not special there are many other brave and courageous women out there, too.
The awards help show visible recovery, how to be a ‘real model’ not just a role model and have helped to raise my profile and TRAC UK’s. This carries a message that we are so much more than our addiction. We aren’t bad women or mothers, and we all have a back story but recovery is accessible to us all no matter which recovery path you choose we can all overcome adversity with hard work, willingness, resilience and determination.
You’re organising a Women Only Wellness Gathering in June. Can you tell us a little more about what we can expect from this?
From Friday 10th to Saturday 11th June, there will be a gathering of women at The Sentry Circle in Northallerton. The idea is to create a space for one weekend only every year where we give ourselves permission to connect freely away from our daily lives and duties to spend time on ourselves. There will be many wellness workshops and the event will raise money for TRAC UK to continue to make recovery and wellness accessible to all women.
What are the most common misconceptions about people in recovery, or wanting to enter recovery, from drug and alcohol abuse?
Common misconceptions are ideas like once an addict always an addict, that we don’t change our negative behaviours.
What would you say to anyone here in the North East struggling with addiction or substance misuse right now?
Don’t wait until you hit rock bottom, there’s help out there. Be honest with yourself and look at the amount you are drinking and if this is causing negative effects on your life. Don’t let shame and guilt hold you back from reaching out. Join my group and search for local drug and alcohol services in your area. Binge drinking and functioning drinkers are not immune from consequences or addiction.
What advice would you give to other women here in the North East who may want to start a charity of their own?
If this is your purpose the only regret is not doing it. Be prepared for a lot of hard work and knockbacks. Being self-employed is not easy and you have to do everything in the beginning, wearing many hats before you are able to employ someone to help you. Make use of volunteers who can lend the skills you need and require. Don’t give up and listen to yourself.
What do you love most about your work?
Although I don’t feel like I’m at work most of the time because I’m doing what I love and although I still have people to answer to, I am my own boss. I can organise my diary to ensure a work-life balance. I work from home, so I am able to own three beautiful dogs who help my mental health.
What can we do to help your charity?
I’m running a #SEEMe campaign, where I’m asking people to see the person with an addiction holistically. Rather than thinking about why the addiction think about why the pain? If we keep discriminating against addicts, they’ll continue to live in guilt and shame and they will not seek the help they need.
What are your ultimate ambitions for the future of TRAC UK?
To let it continue to organically grow and continue to transform thousands of people’s lives.