A Glasgow writer behind a life-saving initiative using drama to help people understand and cope with trauma and addiction wants it to go national.

Mark MacNicol developed the programme after his brother died of a drug overdose.

Through drama techniques, the course, which is run in the community and in prisons, including Barlinnie, Low Moss and Shotts, helps with issues like alcohol addiction and offending.

After seeing it help hundreds of people, he is hoping to take the sessions Scotland-wide.

We spoke to Mark as part of our Glasgow Times Investigates series which looks at the impact alcohol has on offending and the justice system.

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The Glasgow Times has looked at the level of offending at the city’s Sherrif Court where alcohol has been mentioned as a factor and also at the specialist Alcohol Court giving people second chances if they commit to taking action.

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In our upcoming articles we look at the people involved in looking beneath the surface to help those affected change their lives for the better.

Mark, an author and scriptwriter, got involved with Creative Change Collective and over the last eight years has helped develop and deliver the programme to more than one thousand people.

Mark has a strong personal interest in helping people with their recovery.

His younger brother, Jason died of a drug overdose.

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He has gone from his professional scriptwriting taking up most of his time to spending the majority of his working week on the recovery programme.

Mark said: “My brother died of a heroin overdose. Growing up, my mum and dad were both alcoholics.

“And so, for me, the priority is having a positive impact on the alcohol and drug death rates.

“We know that it's not a silver bullet and not everybody who goes through the programme is going to make it but we know from evaluations independent and external, enough of them are positively impacted by the programme.”

READ NEXT: Half of Glasgow Sheriff Court cases are alcohol-related

Mark said it is not a drama group instead it is about learning techniques that people can use in daily life.

For people to begin to understand the trauma they have experienced and how that affects their behaviour.

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He said: “And then they can use that to help with other parts of their recovery, whether it's addressing the offending or addressing substance use.”

He said people explore the issues they want to address through a character they play in the sessions.

He said: “It’s what I call anonymity protocols, which basically means that if you're a participant in one of our sessions and you want to talk about your mum's alcoholism, then our delivery team will stop you and they will direct you to talk about a character's mum's alcoholism.

“It's a very subtle shift of focus and basically what we're saying is, yes, you can talk about mum’s alcoholism, but you'll be doing it relating to this character so very subtle shift created a very unique environment where participants were operating in a space where basically nobody knows the difference between what's lived experience and what's fiction.”

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He said the project grew from Glasgow to Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire and Wet Dunbartonshire.

He now wants Scottish Government backing to take it to every council area in Scotland.

 “I'm trying to persuade government to give us a commitment that they will back us nationally.

“To help expand the programme, because for me the next step is to open up to individuals. “At the moment the only way you can access the programmes is either though a residential rehab or a community rehab.

“Then obviously we can reach, we can reach a lot more people.”

One of the successes he sees is when a participant progresses to be a team member delivering the programme.

Mark said: “For me, that's a massive success.”

Glasgow Times:

The programme takes 16 weeks of creating monologues, sketches and spoken word, and culminates with the opportunity to present a performance of between 45 minutes to an hour of material to family and friends.