South East Wales

Newport magazine aims to help drug addicts into work

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAraminta Jonsson said her drug addiction left her feeling "lost and isolated"

A magazine written for and by recovering drug addicts has been set up to support users' rehabilitation and get people back into work.

Araminta Jonsson, 31, started Pipe Down in April after leaving rehab following an 18-year battle with drug and alcohol addiction.

Set up with grant funding, it now has contributors from across the UK and has helped her secure a job in the media.

Gwent Drug and Alcohol Service said it gave addicts a focus to stop relapse.

Ms Jonsson, of Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, was inspired to start the free magazine in a bid to "give herself a voice" after leaving treatment.

Having previously completed a degree in journalism and creative writing, she focused her efforts on creating a publication for addicts, by addicts.

While volunteering with Gwent Drug and Alcohol Service (GDAS) in Newport, Ms Jonsson proposed the idea for the magazine and received funding to produce three copies.

She wrote the first edition herself and later encouraged readers to submit content.

Each issue has a theme based on an emotion - having so far covered anger, fear and joy - to reflect the tumultuous feelings of dealing with an addiction.

There is also an "agony aunt" page, reviews of rehab centres, books and films, as well as personal accounts of recovery.

The magazine is distributed in rehab centres across south Wales and south west England, as well as Parc, Usk and Prescoed prisons, where Ms Jonsson is to start a creative writing class with inmates, with a view to including their stories.

Ms Jonsson, who has now been clean for a year, said: "It's about giving them [addicts] some sort of focus, so they learn about writing, they learn about communication, they learn about expressing themselves.

"I think it's really important, really cathartic, as an addict to be able to write down my experiences."

She said many people "struggle talking about their emotions" and writing was "a free ticket to doing or saying what you want".

Image caption Recovering addict Alex Drummond is working with Ms Jonsson to expand the magazine

Sian Chicken, head of operations at GDAS, said the magazine gave recovering addicts a focus to prevent them from relapsing.

She said: "People would come in for treatment, we would do lots of work with them and they would leave and sometimes be left with an empty nothingness and end up using again.

"So there's been a real push on what happens when someone stops using [the service]. Araminta has been part of that journey."

Now funding has run out, Ms Jonsson is working with fellow recovering addict and former businessman Alex Drummond to help take the venture forward.

The pair are setting up a charity, the Pipe Down Foundation, with a view to continuing the magazine online.

They also aim to teach recovering addicts about writing, with a longer-term view to work with businesses who could offer Pipe Down's contributors' volunteering placements and eventually paid work.

The latest figures from the Welsh National Database for Substance Misuse showed 6,964 people were referred to services for drug and alcohol abuse between January and March.

More on this story