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Sober October has been and gone, as has the alcohol awareness campaign in November,* and now the inevitable 'Let's give it up for January' New Year's resolutions are upon us. Those who occasionally overindulge will rein in their drinking or smoking for a month or so. Others will promise to cut down for good.
However every day in thousands of households across the UK, people are struggling with a real drink problem. 10.8 million adults are drinking at a level likely to pose a risk to their health and of those, 1.6 million have some level of alcohol dependency. Harmful drinking costs society 21 billion Pounds. * (Public Health England source)
According to Alcoholics Anonymous, people turning up for their first meeting are not sleeping on park benches, are not homeless, are usually employed. Outwardly they appear to have normal lives. Many of them appear to be very successful with good jobs and a family and a mortgage. They get up, they go to work, they come home and they drink.
Sometimes they drink at work, at lunchtimes perhaps, or maybe they have begun to hide their drinking from their colleagues and their families. They may have become aware themselves that it might be a bit of a problem. Mostly they don't think it's a problem at all. They dismiss criticism of their behaviour, they may not be truthful about their levels of alcohol consumption. A lot of them feel unwell a lot of the time, a constant low hum of a hangover that gets louder now and again when they have really hit the bottle. They don't know what will happen when they pick up a drink. Sometimes they can control it, sometimes they can't. For some, it has already passed way beyond any form of control.
Alcoholics Anonymous has been in the UK for 70 years this year. Unlike treatment centres, AA meetings are free and available to anyone who has a desire to stop drinking. No waiting lists, no referrals. Their meetings are everywhere, in every city and nearly every town across the UK, every night of the week. Daytime meetings are available too, meetings stay open on Bank Holidays and at Christmas and New Year. In the UK alone there are about 4,500 groups meeting weekly with a membership which is estimated more than 40,000. Worldwide it is estimated there are more than two million members across 181 nations and numbering 117,000 groups.
Far from the preconceived idea of a problem drinker these AA meetings include men and women of all backgrounds for whom the nightly drink became a nightmare. Using a twelve step programme and support of others who have stayed sober, they help the drinker stop and stay stopped. Then they offer help and support to live a happy and contented life free from a dependence on alcohol.As spelled out in its Preamble, which is read out before every meeting. "Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions.
A.A. is not allied with any sect,
denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in
any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose
is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety."
AA has a national free helpline where first time callers are offered help by an AA volunteer who will share their experience on recovery and offer to put them in touch with an AA member who will take them to their first meeting. Some people find details of their local meetings from the AA website or other sources and come along on their own. If drink is costing more than money then there is help available today.
The national free number is 0800 9177 650 and covers the whole of Great Britain. There is also help by email at email@example.com and lots more information at www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk including where to find meetings. There is also a Chat Now facility on the website.
Note to desk - we can supply local recovery stories and contacts and local meetings lists are online.
*Alcoholics Anonymous Awareness month is November each year, there is also an alcohol awareness week which was 13-19 November 2017
*Statistics sourced from Public Health England - full statistics can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-harmful-drinking-and-alcohol-dependence/health-matters-harmful-drinking-and-alcohol-dependence?utm_source=Blog&utm_medium=ToolsBlogAlc&utm_campaign=HealthMatters
Please contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org