It has been well documented by health and social care professionals, as well as debated in Parliament, that Scotland as a nation has an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.
Availability and affordability being the two main contributory factors, whereby alcoholic drinks at times can be cheaper than some soft drinks in your local supermarkets. There are no barriers to its reach.
Whether you live in a prestigious postcode area or a socio-economically deprived estate, there is no escape from the detrimental footprint that the misuse of alcohol leaves across our communities. Individuals who misuse or become over dependent on alcohol can often find themselves excluded from their home and family, lose their employment status and ultimately feel isolated within their own community.
Cyrenians, an Edinburgh based homelessness and inclusion charity, has worked tirelessly for almost fifty years to serve those on the edge, working with the homeless and vulnerable to transform their lives by beginning with their story, helping them believe that they can change their lives, and walking with them as they lead their own transformation.
At the Cyrenians Recovery Service in Bathgate, staff are faced with the impact of alcohol misuse from individuals who access our service on a daily basis. The aim is to assist individuals in moving towards a substance-free life, whether that be free from drugs or alcohol, through building an understanding of their addiction, confidence and self-esteem.
The focus is always on recovery from addiction and working with individuals to develop the resilience to cope with circumstances that would have previously resulted in a problematic drinking episode. There are always going to be challenges with sustaining recovery in your own town, as usually all of the individual’s past ‘triggers’ for using alcohol or drugs are around them.
As well as providing a group rehab programme and tailored one to one support, Cyrenians also runs the Recovery Hub, called ‘Pre-Sync 27’. This is a designated ‘safe space’, unique to West Lothian, where individuals who are seeking a positive route away from addiction can meet and freely share their experiences whilst providing and receiving support from their peers. The Recovery Hub is a fully functioning community facility, where people can access a range of social, educational and recovery activities such as Keep Well clinics, music therapy and reiki. It also hosts mutual aid support and fellowship meeting such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). In the last year Cyrenians Recovery Hub opened its doors to over 6300 visits, highlighting both the need for this type of facility and also the success of the interventions provided.
In Alcohol Awareness Week, we as a society should take stock of where we are in our relationship with alcohol. We should examine our communities and the results of alcohol misuse and its associated health and social problems. We should look to change a long ingrained culture and strive to educate or possibly re-educate people of all ages to the dangers linked to alcohol misuse.