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As anyone working in the medical or psychosocial field knows, substance misuse is a problem growing at an exponential rate throughout the world, including the UK. The reasons are manifold and vary, according to countries’ specific socio-economic circumstances. In the UK, these include disintegrating family structures, unemployment and social alienation (ironically, driven by the massive shift towards social media and digital – rather than actual – interaction: we have never before had so many ways of communicating, yet so many lonely people), among others. This has been exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19, which has destroyed livelihoods and social connections, vastly increasing the incidence of depression, stress and anxiety around the country. This, in turn, has resulted in a dramatic increase in substance misuse and its related mental disorders.

Substances such as alcohol and narcotics are by no means the only areas of addiction. Increasingly, people are becoming hooked on sugar (and/or other foods), technology (cellphones, gaming, social media platforms), gambling, promiscuity, shopping, and other behaviours.

Whatever the substance or behaviour being misused, the outcome – and its impact on human lives – is always the same. Addiction is an avenue offering short-term relief, but long-term pain and misery to the user. Its effects on the mind, the body and the spirit have been exhaustively documented, but an effective, sustainable solution to the problem has not been forthcoming – until now.


The U-ACT Trust, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, has a Recovery Wellness Coaching module – developed by its founder and CEO, David Collins – which has proved to be a unique and remarkably effective approach to treatment. Based on the principle that sustainable recovery – and a culture of wellness – can only be achieved by helping clients find a sense of purpose and meaning in their lives, it is a positive, proactive relationship model premised on the belief that clients already know within themselves what a happy, fulfilled life would mean for them. Rather than dispensing to them a one-size-fits-all, arbitrary form of counselling, Recovery Wellness Coaching guides substance misusers and those impacted by their behaviour towards identifying and – crucially – implementing the steps needed to fulfil the demands of their daily lives and become accountable for their actions and choices. It combines recovery orientation and specific coaching skills, bolstered by ongoing support in wellness groups and an extensive network of resources, as well as continual encouragement and validation.

David Collins is also the founder and CEO of his own rehabilitation centre, the Foundation Clinic, based in Oaklands, Johannesburg, South Africa, a substance misuse treatment facility registered with the South African Department of Social Development and the Department of Health.

In 2008 he opened the UBUNTU ACADEMY OF COACHING TRAINING (U-ACT PBO-930 037 894) Trust, a SAQA-registered organisation which is internationally recognised and is ISO 17024-compliant. U-ACT is an umbrella organisation comprising two global education programmes: the GLOBAL WELLNESS EDUCATION NETWORK (GWEN) and THIS IS AFRICA (TIA), as well as an extensive schools outreach programme. All of these initiatives are based on the central philosophy of the Recovery Coaching approach to recovery.

Through its Global Wellness Education Network, the U-ACT Trust has pioneered this work around the world, including Cape Town, Durban, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Botswana, the USA and the Netherlands, where it has established a partnership with Vista Health, an organisation offering Recovery Wellness Coaching to patients who “fall between the cracks” of the state healthcare system and have nowhere else to turn to.


We have also established a firm presence in the UK through our relationship with Recovery Connections, an award-winning, key rehabilitative and supportive charity centre offering a multi-pronged recovery programme to substance misusers, their families, their communities and – indeed – anyone living with or impacted by addiction. Recovery Connections, which has a branch in Middlesbrough and another in Gateshead, has become our officially licensed sister organisation in the UK. It is actively involved in educating communities about substance misuse and empowering them by training Recovery Coaches, who can then apply their skills within their own environments. It endorses and shares the principles underpinning the Recovery Coaching approach to treatment and, like U-ACT, has instilled them not only in its clients, but also in its staff and volunteers, and has adopted them in its modus operandi as a community resource.

Our training was also vindicated in our recent successful work with the Office of the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner , where we worked with the team in developing community peer mentors whose members were taught the approach of recovery wellness coaching when dealing with families and individuals in crisis. The students were trained to replace an authoritarian approach – which invariably elicits a defensive, mistrustful, unco-operative response – by establishing a rapport with those they were interviewing, thus enabling an authentic emotional interaction in which the needs of the interviewees could be effectively articulated and dealt with.


We offer a number of Recovery Coaching training modules, which are currently operating in several parts of the world, either online or as classroom-based teaching. Our students are widely diverse, including medical professionals, social workers, those involved in the recovery industry, business people, social leaders, academics, teachers and individuals who have themselves entered recovery through our coaching and are now interested in becoming qualified Recovery Coaches. Lived experience of substance misuse is a key criterion for all our coaches, who comprise a widely diverse cross-section of ethnicities. However, our definition of lived experience is that “everyone” is impacted by SUD and therefore anyone will benefit from our trainings.

The training modules comprise the following:

Recovery Coaching: A three-module programme delivered as either a three or five-day intensive course. Upon completion of these modules, students will receive an attendance certificate. Those that which to receive a professional qualification wishing to certify as professional recovery coaches must acquire 60 hours’ practical coaching (40 hours’ coaching and 20 hours’ being coached), submit two recorded coaching sessions with two separate clients for assessment (as well as notes documenting those clients’ progress, and the coach’s own reflections during the coaching), do a live coaching session in front of two assessors and write an open-book exam. Students who complete these requirements successfully then receive certification as Recovery Coaches, enabling them to work either independently or in institutions or businesses.

Facilitator training: Courses for recovery group facilitators are offered online to students around the globe.

Peer Recovery Coaching: An online programme for students around the globe to qualify in assessing and directing substance misusers towards the resources they require for recovery in their part of the world. This programme is intended to prepare substance misusers for treatment, support them through and after it, and make them aware of the options available to them in building a fulfilled, purposeful and sustainably productive lifestyle.

An important element in all our training modules is help and support for family, employers and others who have been traumatised by substance misuse, and who are too often overlooked – or only superficially involved – in the recovery process. Our view is that substance misuse is a metastatic problem which erodes families, communities, businesses, industries and, ultimately, national economies.

All students who enrol for our training are automatically given access to the U-ACT’s intranet (running on the digital Workplace platform). This is a large and vibrant online community, with a continually evolving hub of support and interest groups, chat rooms, videos, blog sites, cultural groups, faith-based groups, and educational material. Students can connect 24/7 with other trainee or qualified coaches, as well as with recovering or active users facing similar challenges. The great diversity in backgrounds, cultures, professions, ages and economic brackets of those on this platform makes interaction with them dynamic and instructive.

The network is continually expanding, with a host of satellite platforms offering members a chance to voice their opinions, read about new schools of thought in substance misuse treatment, share their concerns and insights, relate their personal experiences and engage with a vast network of like-minded individuals who offer support, encouragement and assistance. They can also coach each other and be coached online, thereby acquiring the practical hours needed for successful certification as Recovery Coaches.


Based on the notable success we have had with Recovery Coaching wherever we have taught and implemented it, we believe that we have much of value to offer the NHS (National Health Service) in its ongoing battle to treat and reduce the number of British people of all ages who are either active substance misusers, or who are living with – and impacted by – substance misuse.

We believe that by offering this training to the NHS and the many institutions and organisations under its auspices who are working in recovery, we can make a significant and valuable difference to those in need of help.

We can also help reduce levels of crime and domestic violence (which is closely associated with substance misuse), offer help to families through support groups which put an end to isolation and stigmatisation, and offer understanding and a recovery tool which is designed to fit any individual and their particular circumstances, aspirations and backgrounds.

In addition, we can save British taxpayers millions of pounds spent annually in recovery initiatives which, at best, are only temporarily successful and, at worst, do not work at all, resulting in repeated returns of symptoms, re-admissions to rehabs and a vicious, downward cycle which drags with it many other people who are helpless witnesses to a loved one’s decline. The approach we offer is systemic and forms the basis for informed and consistent pro-recovery policies and funding priorities.


We would be most grateful for an opportunity to meet with the relevant stakeholders to discuss the possibility of forming an ongoing, working relationship with it as a training service provider. Our training modules are currently being taught not only in rehabilitation centres and clinics, but also in corporates, parastatals, schools, universities and community centres.

The training is delivered by David Collins and/or his team of qualified, experienced facilitators. All students are provided with course material and automatic access to our online training and support facility. The modules can be taught in any suitably sized classroom, auditorium or hall and require only a whiteboard, pens, seating for the students and two or three tables for the facilitators.

Alternatively, we can deliver training online to groups of students.


The cost per student is £250 for Peer Mentors or Peer Recovery Specialists, who can further their training once committed to the process and become Certified Professional Recovery Coaches at a cost of £500. People who currently work in organisations and are well established within their own professional lives and careers can become Systemic Wellness Practitioners at a cost of £750. This is a highly cost-effective approach which is evident and has been calculated and adjusted based on our lived experience and what best suits the budgets of NPOs, charities and faith-based organisations.


To contact the U-ACT Trust and the Global Wellness Education Network, call:

David Collins +44 (0) 749 842 7971(UK) +27 (0) 83 288 0309 (SA) Private Zoom Room Training/Coaching

Ubuntu Addiction Community Trust

©2021 The Foundation Clinic All information shared through the website, via e-mail or telephone, or on admission to the clinic’s treatment programmes or any of the trainings, is treated in the strictest confidentiality and no information will be shared with third parties and marketers. The clinic is a licensed substance use treatment centre. PR 047 000 0281360 The clinic forms part of the UBUNTU ADDICTION COMMUNITY TRUST (U-ACT) Section 18A Trust IT 9717/07 Public Benefit Organisation 930/037/894 243-605 Non-Profit Organisation


Company number 11983213

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