DDN February 2021 DDN February 2021 - Page 10


HAVE YOUR SAY Write to the editor and get it off your chest claire @ cjwellings . com

They said what ..?

Spotlight on the national media
WE HEAR OF COMPLEX PROBLEMS , medicationassisted treatment , hard-to-reach subgroups and reference groups – academic terms that deflect from the simple solutions that need to be implemented . We are trying to treat a large , infected wound with a sticking plaster . We cannot continue to roll out the same old lines about ageing cohorts of drug users , wider naloxone provision and responding to nonfatal overdose – all of which is important , but does not provide the treatments needed for such a large , infected wound … I have no doubt Nicola Sturgeon and Angela Constance want to act . However bold and brave actions are needed – no more subgroups , working groups or published strategies . Let ’ s get overdose prevention centres open and safe supply optimal dose prescription medication to people when they need it . Peter Krykant , Daily Record , 13 January
THIS YEAR IS THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY of Westminster telling the world that its Misuse of Drugs Act ( 1971 ) would stamp out illegal drugs for ever . The act failed utterly , but it has never been repealed . Among other horrors , the industry it created now enslaves an estimated 27,000 children and teenagers , some as young as eight , in ‘ county lines ’ drug gangs . The government has no answer but to throw a few of them in jail … The Home Office in Whitehall is terrified not of the facts , but of the tabloid press . Simon Jenkins , Guardian , 15 January
SOME IN THE INDUSTRY suspect COVID is being used covertly by neo-prohibitionists to permanently remove the pub from its central role in British life . If this were true , it ’ s hard to imagine what the government would have done differently . As with any conspiracy theory , the more likely answer is lazy incompetence and indifference . As the government ’ s farcical inability to decide on what constitutes ‘ a substantial meal ’ in the autumn demonstrates , there was no real policy here beyond ‘ look tough on pubs ’, and no coherent rationale to support that policy . Pete Brown , Guardian , 23 January
IT ’ S A VASTLY COMPLICATED PROBLEM and contradictions abound . There is no pat answer to why Scotland ’ s drug story has become a public health emergency on such a scale . It ’ s easy to point to the ravages of de-industrialisation in the 1980s which baked-in poverty for generations . Yes , Glasgow , Ayrshire and Tayside suffered . But so did Merseyside , Tyneside and the Welsh Valleys … Ironically , and tragically , it ’ s hard to remember a time when Britons have been so attuned to public health data . And in Scotland , where the COVID death toll has passed 4,000 , it ’ s hard to make the case that drug deaths deserve more political and journalistic oxygen . At least , not right now . Colin Brazier , Catholic Herald , 4 January
Dry January ? As someone in recovery from alcoholism and other addictions , and who has worked as an addictions therapist , I would not judge anyone who chooses some behavioural change for a healthier lifestyle , even if it was short term . The experience , supported by a collection of disparate people , either visible , via social media , or some other community , may create some desire for a deeper , long- term change .
As mind and mood altering substances have been around in some form since forever , and alcohol is taxable and legally accepted by the UK government , at present people have the choice to use it as they wish . Dependence is another process with its own challenges . Dry January participants may find that they struggle , or indeed find it easy , and this might give insight into their relationship with alcohol . From there , a jumping off point perhaps , for something of a deeper nature .
In my experience life is not linear . We may have a grand plan , or just a daily programme for life . Whichever it is , the world will always throw something unexpected at us , good or bad . This in turn may cause us to change our behaviour due to emotional , physical , or mental challenges . We can be drawn to actions that mollify , or mediate the turmoil effectively , for a while , but eventually make our lives unmanageable . A period away from alcohol , or other drugs , can give clarity , let the sediment settle in the foggy brain .
I have worked with quite a number of people whose lives were blighted by binge drinking . There was often no obvious pattern , trigger , or rational cause to these bouts of damaging consumption . What was often a successful solution was abstinence – choosing to not drink every morning gave these individuals a much better quality of life , relationships , and sense of self-worth .
I think reasons why individuals take the Dry January journey can be manifold . The impact may be great , or there may be no impact at all . People who ask me why I don ' t drink are often interested only from the perspective of their relationship with alcohol . If my life choices today offer some insight into a change process for someone heading over a cliff with theirs , then that can only be helpful . I like the idea of Dry January , but not New Year ' s resolutions .
The former can be seen as a bit of a challenge between family , and friends , with the possibility of longer-term change , a real potential . The resolution process is invariably a way to set yourself up for failure , with the negative feelings that will no doubt follow . If we make a heart-felt , deep choice , profound change is possible – with time , and support .
Richard Renson , by email
For my doctoral thesis , I am interested in understanding more about people ’ s views and experiences of positive life change since being in recovery from problematic alcohol and / or drug use .
We would like to invite DDN readers to participate in our online survey – the link is here : https :// sotonpsychology . eu . qualtrics . com / jfe / form / SV _ cT3rowGxRF0JS7P
The survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete and is anonymous ( your email address will be held separately from survey data ). The study has been approved by University of Southampton ' s ethics committee .
Dr Sophia Chambers , trainee clinical psychologist , Taunton & Somerset NHS Foundation Trust , School of Psychology , University of Southampton
DDN welcomes all your comments . Please email the editor , claire @ cjwellings . com , join any of the conversations on our Facebook page , or send letters to DDN , CJ Wellings Ltd , Romney House , School Road , Ashford , Kent TN27 0LT . Longer comments and letters may be edited for space or clarity .
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