The Duchess of Cambridge has spoken of the effect of trauma in childhood on the scourge of addiction, as she attended a charity gala as patron this evening.
Kate said the root causes of drug and alcohol addiction could often be traced back to the very earliest years, as she called for help to break the inter-generational cycle.
“Sadly, for many who are suffering with addiction, they just don’t receive the help they need early enough,” she told guests at a gala dinner in support of Action on Addiction.
Wearing a white dress by Barbara Casasola, the Duchess arrived at the Spring restaurant at Somerset House, London, in light rain to support her charity patronage.
Guests included Ronnie and Sally Wood, Bella Freud and film executive Eric Fellner, with a menu of a salad starter – radishes, carrots, broad beans, stracciatella and verbena oil – a main course of River Test trout, and a dessert of lemon cake with elderflower cream and gooseberries cooked under the eye of chef Skye Gyngell with help from former Action of Addiction clients.
The Duchess spent time in the restaurant’s kitchen pass speaking to Jay Otty, who has been clean and sober for nine years and now works front of house at The Brink, a dry bar in Liverpool, and Melanie Bennett, who describes her treatment at Action on Addiction’s Self-Help Addiction Recovery Programme (SHARP) in Liverpool as life-saving.
Leaning over a worktop of plates waiting to be filled for the evening, she said it must be “so rewarding” for them to now be giving back to help others recover.
In a pre-dinner speech, the Duchess said: “Action on Addiction was one of my very first patronages, and as such, it is very close to my heart.
“I’m hugely passionate about the support it provides, especially for parents, children and families who suffer from, or through, addiction.
“And in some ways, it was the catalyst for my interest in early childhood development.
“For the last few years, I’ve been focussing on the importance of prevention: how can we all really support the earliest years of life, build foundations, and help avoid adversity later on in life.
“Having met so many people who’ve suffered from addiction, I have seen over and over again that, sadly, the root causes can so often be traced right back to the very earliest years of someone’s life.
“Trauma experienced in early childhood, in some cases, as a result of separation, abandonment, abuse, or even emotional neglect, can have a lasting effect.
“What we experience during our earliest years, even while we’re still in the womb, shapes the developing brain.
“It is therefore vital that we support everyone who cares for children in those formative years, especially if we want to help with the inter-generational cycle of addiction.
“Sadly, for many who are suffering with addiction, they just don’t receive the help they need early enough. They have already reached crisis point before the support they need.
“What’s remarkable about Action on Addiction is that it goes beyond helping those who are suffering on the courageous journey into recovery – but it also lends direct support to the children and families affected by addiction – for as long as it takes.
“This evening’s dinner not only marks ‘Addiction Awareness Week’, but it also provides an opportunity for us to remember the vital work being done to help all those affected by addiction feel able to access help, hope and freedom from their addiction.
“There was never a more important time for Action on Addiction to succeed. And I, for one, could not be more delighted to support such a special organisation.”
It was the first annual gala dinner in recognition of Addiction Awareness Week, hosted by chef Skye Gyngell and Action on Addiction, a British charity working in research, treatment, family support and professional education.
A spokesman said Action on Addiction “builds communities of recovery for individuals and families by developing the best quality and most effective residential and community-based addiction treatment services in the UK and promoting self-help, peer-to-peer support, and community cohesion”.
The Duchess has previously spoken of how her work with addicts helped her realise the significance of mental health as central to many issues.
It is ” currently helping inform her work in developing a major project around support for children in their earliest years”, a spokesman said.
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