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Helping Someone

How do you help a friend who might have a drink-related problem? How do you know if they have a problem? How do you know if you might have a problem? Try this test.

Providing help is not easy. Asking for help is a good idea if you have worries. Remember that people don’t have to drink every day to have a problem. Binge drinkers can stay dry between drinking bouts. Some of the signs include: drinking throughout the day; mood swings; hidden bottles; feeling uneasy if a drink is not available; skipping meals.

Think about talking to somebody who already has experience of helping others.

Every area in the UK has a local alcohol advice and counselling service (they go by different names). Details will be found in libraries, GP surgeries and at support agencies like the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. Look under ‘Alcohol’ in a telephone directory.

Taking Action

Drink-related problems present in a number of ways, each requiring acton related to the individual(s) concerned.

In any situation, taking time to thnk is helpful. This may not always be possible, but prior thought and preparation can help avoid a knee-jerk reaction.

A key point is that dealing with an alcohol problem is about the people involved. This means that skills involved in youth work, parenting, leadership, caring, etc, are all relevant.

Family and friends will need support. Alcoholics Anonymous recognised this a long time ago. Al-Anon (for spouses) and Al-A-Teen (for children) were founded to provide self-help support.

Provision of Care

Counselling and treatment services for people with drink-related problems are provided by statutory and voluntary agencies. These will be supplemented by voluntary groups, churches and individuals that offer support in family s well as organisational settings.

The Government aims to provide equal access to help across the United Kingdom. In reality, the level of service varies widely and depends on local funding priorities as well as existing historical patterns of what is in place.

There are also different models of care – something to be welcomed as individuals have different needs. Difficulties can arise in assessing whether a particular service is suitable for any given individual.

Thirst for life is not a treatment programme. If anyone finds that they are dependent on alcohol, then they should consult their GP or local alcohol service. It is likely that some may find it impossible to go 40 days without alcohol. This may indicate a need to seek help and the AUDIT self-help test (coming soon) will help to determine if this is appropriate. If you or someone else has tried to ‘thirst for life’ and been unable to complete the 40 days, then don’t be discouraged. The contact listed can offer support and encouragement if you or they want to try again or find an alternative approach. Thousands of people underestimate the psychological and physiological ‘pull’ that alcohol can exert on mind and body.

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