Generally, articles that try to address the population’s consumption of alcohol and other substances fall into two categories.
Firstly, there are those that are prompted by yet another government report into the national mania for changing the way we feel through beer, wine, and other more illicit concoctions.
These usually roll out a series of statistics about how we all should feel a bit guilty about overindulging and consume our substance-of-choice moderately and sensibly. Secondly, there are reports concerning the tragedies of addiction: individuals who have become trapped in the nightmare struggle of drink or drug dependence, and have been unable to save themselves from its inevitable terminal conclusion.
We need to read both kinds of articles, but we also need to read something else. We need to read about the stories of those who have suffered drink or drug addiction, and who have come out of the other side of that horrific struggle. This and other articles throughout this month will see how addicts are rebuilding their lives after the trauma of substance misuse, the kind of support hey receive and how if you feel you have a problem you too can seek and receive help to get and stay well.
A crucial part of championing the stories of those who have recovered from addiction is to reach out to those who feel guilty or embarrassed because of their problems. Addiction, like its close cousin mental illness, can still be viewed as a stigma in society, something to be ashamed of, something to be hidden away.
By getting into the public eye stories of people who are proud of the victories they have fought and won over the demons they drink, smoke, inhale, or inject, then people can be encouraged to get help early. A volunteer for the Alcohol Recovery Community, Adam Gutteridge, said: “Talking about addiction is hard; but not talking about it is deadly. September is ‘Recovery Month’. Events will be taking place throughout the country where people will be coming together to raise awareness of those who have come through addiction into a space where they once again feel able to take control of their lives.
“There’s more to recovery than just getting well, though, and stepping away from the drug of choice. Research underway led by Professor David Best at the Sheffield’s Hallam University is showing how people who have moved away from lifestyles of dangerous dependence are actually ‘better than well’: the strength they gain through overcoming their problems, the desire to help others do the same, and even the feeling that they have lost time to make up for all mean that they’re frequently more socially engaged and contributing more to their communities than they were even before their problems began.” Firstly, drink and drug dependence, left on its own, will tend towards getting worse than better. It’s important to reach out to someone for help.
Secondly, reaching out for that help can be the hardest thing anyone can ever do.
Yet organisations are there to help: no-one will ever judge, discriminate, or turn anyone away.
Thirdly, you don’t have to be sleeping on a bench to have a problem. If you’re drinking more than you want to, drinking despite wishing you weren’t, or using something to change your feelings because you feel as though you couldn’t cope with them sober or straight, then maybe it’s time to look again at what and how you drink.
There are thousands of people who have looked at their lives, taken a decision to get help, to turn their life around, and have gone on to live amazing and full lives of serenity and peace-of-mind. You could be one of them!