BEHIND the blue painted door of a former church in Alloa lies a success story rapidly gaining momentum in the fight against alcohol and drug misuse.

Every Monday evening, people on the road to recovery drop into a cafe to share food, warmth, companionship and support.

Many of the volunteers are on this journey themselves, determined to try to stay sober or ‘clean’.

People like James, a mechanical engineer, who is a recovering alcoholic and has been dry for seven months.

He said: "At my worst, I was drinking a litre of spirits a day.

"Dark rum was my preference but if I couldn’t get that, it was whatever was available. It did affect my work. It got to the stage I was using it to function.

"I’m a mechanical engineer to trade, a job where you have to have all your wits about you because there’s a big safety factor. You think your drinking is invisible and nobody notices.

"You would think that the withdrawal symptoms, the rattles, sweats and nausea would give it away. I even drank in the morning before going to work to stabilise the withdrawal."

James' descent into alcoholism was sparked by dire domestic circumstances.

He has had several inpatient detoxes and also enlisted the help of Signpost Recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous.

It was Signpost who pointed the way to the Recovery Cafe, where James now dons an apron and indulges in his love of cooking.

He said: "The cafe certainly offers great support and mutual aid, and helps me change my thoughts and behaviour towards my addiction.

"It gives me pride within myself that I have been able to come through this period in my life and gives me hope for the future.

"Just now I get more of a buzz being sober and alive than anything drink ever gave me."

The Alloa cafe, at 2 Ludgate, is one of four throughout Forth Valley and, since they opened last year, they’ve already clocked up some 4,000 visits.

However, Elaine Lawlor, co-ordinator for the Forth Valley Alcohol and Drug Partnership, believes thousands more people could benefit.

She said: "Through the support received at the cafes some people have been able to get back into employment and others are encouraged to reach their full potential again and positively contribute to society."

Around 3,000 people in Forth Valley are affected by drugs and a further 50,000 by alcohol.

Members of the public can help by making teas or coffees, preparing food, or even running an interest group in subjects such as music, relaxation or alternative therapies.

Anyone affected by substance use who would like to give some time can contact Jardine on 01324 673669/07920234694 or email

For more, follow on Facebook or twitter @FVrcvrycmmnty

Alloa cafe: Monday, 4-9pm, 2 The Gate, Ludgate, Alloa – tea/coffee/food/12 Step meeting, SMART Recovery, arts and crafts activities, recovery films and discussion.

Stenhousemuir: Wednesday, 1.30pm-4.30pm, The Tryst Community Centre, Stenhousemuir – Wii Sports, pool, board games, yoga and meditation, circuit training, five-a-side football, SMART Recovery, meet our recovery volunteers and peer supporters.

Stirling: Friday, 1-6pm, Ochil Community Centre, Raploch, Stirling – Great food, home baking, learn to play an instrument, meet our recovery volunteers, SMART Recovery, NA meeting.

Falkirk: Saturday,10.30am-3pm, ASC Falkirk, 32 Vicar Street, Falkirk – Live music and entertainment monthly, home-made food, NA meeting, SMART Recovery speakers, complimentary therapy spa.