18 November 2013

Art and stories of recovery for Alcohol Awareness Week

A new art exhibition by residents affected by alcohol where visitors can also hear stories of recovery is to go on show as part of this year’s national Alcohol Awareness Week (18-22 November).

Supported by both Brighton & Hove City Council and CRI Health Promotion Team (Drugs and Alcohol), the show in Jubilee Library lobby features art and stories by people who have been affected by alcohol. Visitors will be able to hear directly from those actually affected during the show.

These include people who have been supported by Sussex Partnership Foundation NHS Trust’s Community Alcohol Team, Brighton Housing Trust, Equinox,12-step fellowships; AA and Al-Anon, CRI, ru-ok?; the city’s specialist service for under 18’s, and Brighton Oasis Project; Brighton and Hove’s women-only service.

Poster displays promoting the week will also be featured in GP surgeries, Children’s Centres and Pharmacies, while workshops will run in the city’s Access to Music College and health promotion stands will be at both sites at City College. Both Universities support the event, and Health Promotion will be working in partnership with the Safer Roads Partnership at Sussex University on Thursday. Several workplaces have engaged with health promotion activity over the week too, and there will be a Health Promotion stand at Barts House on Tuesday.

The event comes as figures show at least 350 went through city treatment services in the last year, including 204 people who successfully met their treatment goals with CRI (alcohol) Brief Intervention Service as well as Brighton Oasis Project working with over 100 women.

As of 30 August 470 individuals were in structured treatment in just one service Sussex Partnership Foundation NHS Trust’s Community Alcohol Team.

Cllr Rob Jarrett, chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, said:

“We work with organisations across the city to provide help and support to residents whose lives are affected by alcohol and some of the stories of recovery are inspiring.

“This show is part of Alcohol Awareness Week and will help to get people thinking about alcohol how it affects us as individuals, families, communities and society.

“By encouraging people to have conversations about alcohol we hope to look more closely at our relationship with alcohol.”

Real stories

Loz’s story: Drink nearly cost me my children

I was an alcoholic for 16 years. I hide it well from friends and family though I lost relationships through drink, fell out with family and almost lost my children. That was when I decided enough was enough, and Social Services sent me to a place called Oasis for three days per week. I done groups on a programme called POCAR which stands for Parenting Our Children, Addressing Risk. I have been sober for over a year.  All three groups taught me something new and I realised I had an illness. I can’t just have one drink and leave it at that. I will need more. Since I gave up the drink, I didn’t really think about why I drank until now and I have found out I have mental health issues and was trying to block it out. I also used to drink to block things out from my past.

Now I have learnt new ways to deal with day to day life and I don’t need a drink to deal with it, there are other ways. I don’t think I could have got as far as I have without the help and support from services such as Oasis.

When I had my court case I managed to win the fight for my daughter and my son. I have given a talk at a Recovery conference and World Mental Health day. I also now have a NWQ1 in Building and a NVQ1 in Personal training and started doing other courses as well like Drug and Alcohol Awareness and St Johns Overdose training. I’m getting trained up to do a group called SMART and I want to be a volunteer in a drug and alcohol service. I’m going to do whatever training I need to be a keyworker in drug and alcohol misuse one day, that is my goal and I know that I can do whatever I put my mind to now I am not drinking.

There is life without drink as long as you want it.

Loz is supported by Oasis

Vicki’s story: I hadn’t dealt with a death so I drank

My name is Vicki. I heard about Equinox from a good friend of mine. He mentioned to Equinox that I needed help then I got a call from Amy.

I’ve been seeing Amy for 5 months. We meet up once a week for a coffee and we talk about what’s going on with me. I did a detox which Amy helped me to get. I learned about what my habits are and what causes me to drink. I have learned that I cope much better without alcohol, because when I'm drinking I am so emotional; without the alcohol I see a clearer picture.

Seven years ago, my partner died and I hadn’t ever dealt with that bereavement. It was too much for me. I also had problems with my family and I lost my job last year. I couldn’t pay my rent, so I ended up sleeping in my car for 3½ months at the park.

I’m now in a hostel. I’ve been there for a year. I have another keyworker there and I’m doing counselling. Talking really helps me because I am able to see the differences between then and now. It seems like a lifetime that I’ve waited for the counselling, but now it’s happening, there are a lot of different answers coming up for me about the bereavement.

I’ve got my family back as well: my Mum, my Dad and my brother. They are all supportive, which is amazing. I also see my dogs again after having to give them up to my brother.

I’ve learnt new ways to deal with alcohol cravings. If I feel tempted, I know to use the phone now. It’s also important not to sit alone in my room, dwelling on it, so I’ve learnt to keep active. I help others to clean their rooms, because some people in the hostel aren’t as able-bodied as me.

I didn’t think I could ever laugh without alcohol, but I can. I haven’t laughed like I have recently with friends in a long long time.

Vicki is supported by Equinox