Reflection over the last year 2021

The UK in lockdown – struggles with drink

The year started off with the UK in lockdown. The constant back and forth with lockdowns and the unknown of the pandemic created a lot of problems for people. A lot of the population were struggling with their mental health during this time. It also had a nationwide impact on the amount of alcohol people were consuming. With many people being furloughed from work and stuck at home, home drinking increased. This could be down to many factors, struggling mentally with the current situation, struggling with addiction and not being able to seek sufficient help or just boredom.

According to the government statistics between March 2020 and March 2021, there was a 58.6% increase in the proportion of respondents drinking at increasing risk and higher risk levels.

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In July there were a few news items which appeared some are mentioned below:

Government response to Dame Carol Blacks report on drugs

Dame Carol Blacks report in 2020 was looking at the review of drugs. Her findings were important and highlight that more needs to be done to people suffering with addiction. Adding that there needs to be more funding into the right health care services on offer.

The government has been urged to boost spending on recovery services and treatment for drug addicts by the independent review.

The report by Dame Carol Black said cuts have left services "on their knees" and urged an extra £552m investment over five years in England.

It also advised a £15m boost towards jobs support for those in treatment.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said ministers would "look closely" at the recommendations.

The government has announced it will follow one of the recommendations, to set up a new cross-government unit on tackling drug misuse.

Mr Javid said it would ensure "strong collaboration" on the issue, which is the shared responsibility of several different departments.

Labour MP Dan Carden speaks emotionally on his alcohol addiction

An MP gave an emotional speech on his family's support as he battled his alcohol addiction.

In a Commons debate on Pride Month, Labour's Dan Carden said addiction was "killing more people and ruining more lives than ever", including those of MPs.

The Liverpool Walton MP said: "I hope my openness today can help challenge the stigma that stops so many people asking for help."

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Newport’s woman’s story on addiction in Lockdown

A lady explained to the BBC her addiction story during lockdown and the pandemic.

'Before the pandemic Kathleen Edge from Newport, south Wales, had what she described as a healthy relationship with alcohol.

Like many people she started to drink a bit more when the stress, strain and boredom of lockdown started to take hold. And that relationship turned sour.

"It got to the middle of December and my friend came over to bring a delivery up, and it had got to the point where I could not walk any more… if I wanted to get between the bed and the sofa it was virtually crawling," she says.

"And I knew something was wrong. I said to him 'please just take the booze away - it is killing me'.

"I probably owe him my life. He told me I looked dreadful and that he would not leave until I had got help. Until I had got an ambulance."

Her story so similar to many during this time. To read more about this story go to the BBC News page - linked Here.

Cleveland chief says criminalising drug addiction is causing death

A police chief said treating drug addiction as a criminal matter is causing "entirely preventable" deaths.

According to The Guardian, Cleveland Chief Constable Richard Lewis said the "war on drugs" was actually a "public health crisis".

He said a "fundamental change of approach" was required, including a national roll-out of a scheme which saw addicts given heroin.

The Home Office said it was taking a "wide-ranging approach" to drug use.

Mr Lewis, who is leaving Cleveland after two years in the role to join Dyfed-Powys Police, said focusing on drug addiction as a crime had been "counterproductive".

He said the "war on drugs" had been waged for 50 years, but figures from 2020 showed Teesside had 123 drug-related deaths, "the highest number since figures have been collated".

"The vast majority of those deaths would have been entirely preventable," he said, adding: "In 21 years of police service I have slowly, perhaps too slowly, come to the conclusion that framing this crisis as a criminal justice problem has not simply been unhelpful, but counterproductive.

"This nationwide epidemic is a public health crisis."

FM urged to back bill to tackle drug addiction

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross asked Nicola Sturgeon to support his proposals to tackle Scotland's drug addiction problems. The first minister agreed "speed of action is necessary" and would consider his Right to Recovery (Scotland) Bill proposal. Ms Sturgeon decided that while there might be "common ground", she cannot commit to voting and backing a bill that she has not yet seen.

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November was filled with news involving drugs and alcohol. Some of which is mentioned below.

Domhnall Nugent: fighting back against drink and drug addiction

Irish football player, Domhnall Nugent told his story of his own drug and alcohol addiction.

'Nugent was 20 years old and living out of a rucksack having spent everything he had on an alcohol and cocaine that had brought him to rock bottom, where he was left to feel that life itself was no longer worth living.

That morning, seeing the devastating impact his downward spiral had on his family, proved a catalyst for recovery and remains a crucial, if deeply uncomfortable, life event.'

"Every time that I am getting it tough, or any time that I do think about maybe having a drink it's a gentle reminder that I don't want to put anybody through that pain ever again," Nugent told Good Morning Ulster.

This again brings to life to realities of addiction. It aims to destigmatise and that anyone can become dependant on drugs or alcohol.

To read more of Domhnall's story go to the BBC Site - Linked here.

Sobriety tags introduced

The launch of ‘sobriety tags’ in Wales has started today, with England set to follow in their footsteps. The government are hoping to reduce the rate of alcohol-fuelled crime by tagging criminals with a ‘sobriety tag’ which will mean they are banned from drinking.

It’s been said that criminals facing the ban can be tagged for up to a year. It will monitor the alcohol levels through individuals sweat. The amount of alcohol fuelled crime committed costs £21 billion a year.

In Wales, the scheme has been used for more than 100 offenders and they have remained sober on more than 95% of the days they were monitored, the Ministry of Justice said.

Alcohol Awareness week

It was also alcohol awareness week this month. This year the main focus was on alcohol and relationships. This looked at how people suffering with alcohol consumption may affect their relationships with others around them. This could include family and friends, work colleagues or a partner.

Alcohol awareness week is a positive thing to come out of this year. As with every year, it brings to light the issues surrounding alcohol. It also aims to destigmatise addiction which is something that is very important.

In December in the run-up to Christmas there were a few stories in the news some of which are mentioned below:

Announced complete abstinence for prisoners suffering with addiction (no methadone)

This announcement by the government has caused some controversy. With plans now for prisoners who are struggling addiction to be denied methadone on entry and instead having to par-take in complete abstinence. For many this is a positive decision as they believe the only way to treat addiction is through complete abstinence. As treating an addiction with another drug substitute isn’t solving the problem. However, for others they say that this isn’t helping the problem within prisons. It may cause more anger and violence within the prison due to withdrawals.

December in general can be a difficult time for many. With the new variant of Covid-19, Omnicron, the uncertainty of the future and potential for another lockdown looming, people will be struggling.

The festive season can be especially tough as there can be lots of temptation for those who may be in recovery. Work Christmas parties, New Year’s Eve parties, with celebrations taking place around you, it might be hard to stay on track but remember that there are support groups taking place every day. AA, CA and many more are all available over the festive period for you or your loved one to seek help and support if they are struggling.

Find out where to seek support here

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