Yorkshireman founds rehab clinic in Sheffield inspired by his own experience with addiction
Jonathan spent four months at the facility at the age of 30, marking the start of a recovery journey that has now seen him remain sober for nine years. In that time, he has dedicated his life to helping others and this weekend, the 47-year-old will witness the launch of a new treatment centre for drug and alcohol addiction, which he has founded in his hometown of Sheffield.
Eleven Recovery is a four-person residential service which is described as offering a blend of medical expertise and therapeutic practices, as well as a continuing care pathway once people are back in the community, to help prevent relapse. "Our motto is get sober, stay sober and everything we do is geared towards helping people achieve long-term sobriety,” Jonathan says.
Many of the staff, like him, have lived experience of addiction. “It’s vitally important because the therapeutic value of one alcoholic or addict helping another is without parallel,” he says. “It allows somebody in the early days of their recovery journey to understand how somebody else has ascertained recovery and see how happy they are and how much they’re enjoying and embracing life.”
Before Jonathan checked into rehab, he had been holding down a job as a salesperson in IT and technology. “But my whole life was fake,” he says. “I tried to hide from the world my insecurity, my low self worth, my anxiety. I masked that with humour and with alcohol and other substances.”
He later found himself drinking and using alone, with a drink driving offence to his name and having lost his job and run out of cash. He was also caught in a cycle of fear and anxiety.
“I’d wake up in the morning feeling so anxious from drinking and using the night before and swear I wasn’t going to do it again because I felt dreadful. Then by one o’clock I’d start to feel better and justify in my mind that it was okay to have a drink…then I’m in the cycle again, I’m in the loop.”
His father suggested that Jonathan needed to get help. He can still recall now being told by his dad ‘I think you’re an addict’. “I was not happy with that label, that statement. I felt ashamed and was very angry because an addict for me was somebody who was maybe homeless, drinking on a park bench, who didn’t have anything material. I was like that’s not me.
"It wasn’t until I went into treatment and got educated around addiction, that I learnt it doesn't matter if you’re rich or poor, addiction does not discriminate. It was humbling to learn and understand that and to now be able to share that with others.”
“My dad found the treatment centre and thought it would be good to get me as far away from Sheffield as possible for as long as possible,” father-of-four Jonathan explains. “It’s the best thing I ever did. It gave me the opportunity for the first time in my life to focus on me.”
When he returned to the UK, Jonathan stayed in recovery for nearly four years, before sadly suffering a relapse. His drinking led to a relationship separation and the loss of his business and in 2014, he recognised everything had “began to slip away from me again”.
He followed a 12-step treatment programme with Alcoholics Anonymous, recovering in the community, and then re-trained as a ‘sober coach’. Since then, he has worked for various treatment centres to help others in similar situations, spurred on by the death of his mother from alcohol-related illness. “That further emphasised my need to help people and that’s the trajectory I’ve been on ever since,” he explains. “It’s wonderful to see life come back into somebody, a renewed sense of purpose.”
The Lord Mayor of Sheffield paid a visit to Eleven Recovery as it prepares to launch. “Jonathan Edgeley, the founder, and the team have lived experience of addiction problems themselves and this makes it more plausible as to what Eleven Recovery does to help the guests through their struggles,” Coun Colin Ross said. “They aren’t coming from it from a judgemental place, they are coming at it from a place of empathy.”