5 essentials for a successful recovery


Gordon Cruden knows more than most when it comes to successful recovery.

As a young man he battled his own alcohol addiction, until he found the path to total freedom through faith in God, while in rehab 26 years ago.

Today, Gordon is Area Manager of Teen Challenge North East Scotland and has worked with hundreds of hurting addicts; helping, supporting and encouraging them to start fresh, clean lives.

Drawing on that experience, Gordon has identified 5 practical areas that he feels a person must focus on in order to, not only change, but stay changed.

Gordon explains: “During the 11 years that our men’s residential centre, Sunnybrae, has been helping addicts, we have pinpointed 5 essential elements for lasting recovery.

“On moving on from one of our centres, it’s imperative that residents:

  • Pursue a career – not just a job.
  • Establish a home – not just a house.
  • Ensure finances are in order – and kept in order.
  • Become rooted in a strong social network.
  • Maintain a positive emotional wellbeing.

Career options

“It is important that recovering addicts don’t just look to secure a job but, instead, pursue a career – something that will provide them with true fulfilment. This isn’t achieved instantly as it involves time, effort and commitment. Indeed, anybody can get a job but it takes guts, courage and determination to chase a career.”

Home requirements

“It’s equally vital that ex-addicts work to establish a home rather than just move into a house, which is simply shelter. This also usually involves a process and can sometimes see people staying with parents or living in temporary accommodation, while they work towards securing their own place.

“The geographical location of a home is also key, as a recovering addict obviously doesn’t want to be living in an area which has a serious drug problem.”


“Getting finances in order, and keeping them in order, can have a huge impact on a person’s long-term recovery. Anyone embarking on a new life must link up with a financial advisor of some kind to help them develop a repayment plan for any debt, which addicts often run up.”

Social network

“For men and women who are re-entering society, it’s critical that they are rooted in a strong social network, made up of good friends and family. They must also have an awareness of certain pitfalls, such as those that come with wrong relationships and damaging friendships.”

Emotional wellbeing

“In order to live a full, abundant life – completely free from drugs – a person must have a positive emotional wellbeing. To start afresh, with a clean slate, they must have no skeletons in their closet. For example, all convictions, debt and personal issues must be out in the open.

“At Teen Challenge North East Scotland, we provide all of our residents with expert support in each of these areas, giving them the opportunity to really establish a relationship with God and start living out their new-found freedom.”