Recovery centre celebrates 20 years with success stories

The Living Room in St Albans.

The Living Room in St Albans. - Credit: Archant

A drug and alcohol 12-step recovery centre has celebrated its 20th birthday.

The Living Room in St Albans.

The Living Room in St Albans. - Credit: Archant

The Living Room, which hit the milestone earlier this month, works with staff, clients and volunteers to bring recovery from addiction to all parts of Hertfordshire.

The charity, which also supports people with sex, gambling and eating disorders, has two centres - one on Hatfield Road in St Albans and the other in Stevenage.

The Herts Ad spoke to some people who have taken part in day rehabilitation at the centre and who wanted to share their stories with us.

We have anonymised them as that is the nature of 12-step recovery.

‘Colin’ was four weeks sober and attending AA meetings when a new sobriety friend recommended the Living Room to him. He is now 14 years sober and attends AA regularly: “I attended the Living Room at the Glebe from January to March in 2006 which gave me a sense of purpose in early recovery.

“It alleviated loneliness and gave me unconditional love and the desire to help others.

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“I am more than 14 years sober and regularly attend AA meetings and am actively involved in service at individual and groupl level.”

The Living Room also supports family and friends of addicts. Matthew was supported by the service: “Over three or four years, life was becoming increasingly desperate as my wife was succumbing to alcoholism.

“I couldn’t come to terms with her not being able to control her drinking and I felt under immense pressure as I tried to continue with work and take care of a young family at home.”

Matthew attended the centre once a week for over a year. He said he found it helpful because he was in a room with people who understood exactly what he was going through. He explained: “It didn’t matter if the person in their life was addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling or pornography, we were kindred spirits.”

He said that he learnt how to set healthy boundaries between him and his wife and that if he was ever in a moment of crisis he could ring up a counsellor there, adding: “I think this is incredible when you think the service is free of charge.”

‘Jane’ was a drinker from the age of 13. She described how broken her family were “watching someone they love killing themselves”. The help she received at The Living Room meant she could address the physical and emotional aspects of drinking.

‘Jane’said: “Once I started to learn that behind my drinking were traumatic events, a lack of love for myself and an allergy to alcohol that wanted me dead - I was able to learn tools I could carry around with me to keep me safe.

“For the first time in my life I get to laugh, genuinely, with people who understand me. I finally feel like I deserve to be happy. I am now 7 months sober.”

The Living Room was set up by Janis Feely in the late 90s while she was working as an addiction worker at a residential rehabilitation project.

She had a vision for a unique new day recovery treatment centre, and after a year of fundraising and lobbying in May 2000 Janis achieved her vision and established The Living Room, supporting many people to achieve recovery from their addictions.

Janis retired in 2016 and since then staff, trustees, volunteers, clients and people in the community have worked hard to ensure this vision remains a reality.

Their trustees are volunteers from professional backgrounds who bring their experience and knowledge to support the charity. They are an active and dedicated board ensuring The Living Room achieves its mission.

The St Albans centre provides free, non-time limited day-time group therapy for all addictions five days a week.

It supports more than 200 people a year to obtain long term recovery and is open 9am until 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

For more information about The Living Room visit