Blog Addicts Become Role Models At Scotland’s Recovery Village

Addicts Become Role Models At Scotland’s Recovery Village

Mountain landscape during sunset in Scotland

A recovery program in Scotland uses a novel approach to treating addiction. It could potentially change the way that addiction rehab is approached in Scotland. The River Garden Auchincruive program has been running since 1978 and uses a unique approach to treat addiction.

Traditional rehabs facilities typically offer programs that are one to three months long, although they may be longer in some cases. These rehab facilities focus on detox and providing therapies to reduce the chance of relapse. These programs are led by trained healthcare professionals and help people to achieve and maintain sobriety. 

The River Garden Auchincruive program in Scotland is very different from a traditional rehab facility. Their program is designed to take three years, and instead of being designed as a traditional rehab facility, it is designed as a village where people can recover and be productive in a community setting. The program is designed to instill a sense of community in patients while they overcome addiction and prevent idleness that could lead to setbacks occurring.

For the first half of the three-year program, those recovering from addiction live in the village as volunteers, helping to repair buildings, garden, grow food and run the community cafe. At the halfway point in their stay, those in the rehab village become members of the staff there, teaching newcomers and helping them as they adjust to a sober lifestyle. Once they graduate to become teachers, residents begin getting paid. These staff members serve as role models and help to guide newcomers.

The River Garden Auchincruive program combines features of other programs that have had similar methodologies and philosophies. San Patrignano in Italy and Basta in Sweden both have a similar long-term, community-centered approach to addiction recovery. The River Garden Auchincruive was initially based off of the San Patrignano model and uses the same community-based philosophy in achieving addiction recovery.

According to Independence from Drugs and Alcohol Scotland, this type of program has a 70% to 80% success rate. This rate is better than the national recovery statistics in Scotland, where 80% of people who have completed rehab relapse within one month. While this success rate is impressive, there have been no studies that independently confirm the long-term success rate of this type of program.

While these long-term, community-centered programs may not gain widespread popularity due to the long time commitment that is necessary, they have been beneficial for those who have enrolled in them. Currently, only a few programs use this treatment model, and it remains to be seen if this style of rehab will become more popular and what the long-term results of this unique treatment style will be. 


San Patrignano. “San Patrignano.” 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019.

Basta. “Basta.” 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019.

Independence from Drugs and Alcohol Scotland. “What IF people in Scotland could be free from the blight of drugs and alcohol addiction?” 2017. Accessed June 18, 2019.

McKay, Fiona. “First Ever Drug Rehabilitation Village Opens its Doors.” The Herald Scotland, March 22, 2018. Accessed June 18, 2019.

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