A NEW centre for people seeking help for drug and alcohol addiction has officially opened it’s doors.

Saddler House Recovery Centre, in Bishop Auckland, aims to encourage abstinence by providing confidential one-to-one support, group work and structured activities to get people back to their families and leading drug and alcohol free lives.

Latest statistics show the estimated cost of dealing with the personal, social and economic consequences of excessive alcohol consumption in County Durham is more than £200 million per year.

The figures show that alcohol is responsible for more than half of violent crime nationally and 35 per cent in County Durham.

In 2013/14, almost 40 per cent of domestic abuse incidents were recorded as being alcohol related, and between 2011 and 2013, there were 181 vehicle collisions involving at least one driver who had been drinking, resulting in 279 casualties.

Cllr Joy Allen, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said, “Our priority is raising awareness of the harm caused by alcohol and drugs to individuals, families and the wider community and to promote treatment and recovery services that can transform lives.

“This new facility has been designed to ensure those seeking help and support can do so in a clinical and professional environment.

“The majority of people seeking support want help with alcohol addiction. Services such as this are vitally important if we are to reduce the risks alcohol poses to safety, health, young people, the economy and the environment.”

The centre replaces outdated facilities in the town’s Market Place and provides a new base for County Durham Drug and Alcohol Service, which is managed by the Lifeline Project, a national charity specialising in substance misuse services.

It has been funded by Durham County Council and Public Health England and will provide a range of programmes proven to help people get into recovery, including the use of clinical interventions and using the experiences of those who have been through their own recovery journey.

Dennis, a recovery ambassador for the service, said: “I never thought change was possible until I had only two choices, suicide or give change a try.

“Fear had kept me where it wanted for a very long time so I gave change a try and, it works if you want it hard enough.

“It worked for me and I was labelled as ‘never going to change’ by society as a whole but miracles can and do happen. I’ve been to hell and back so I know what it feels like.”

Carl, also a recovery ambassador, added: “If it wasn’t for the service, I would still be in active addiction and breaking the law. I would probably be homeless and possibly even dead.”

Saddler House, on Saddler Street, Bishop Auckland is open to anyone in need daily from 9am to 5pm.

To make an appointment, call 03000-266666.