December 2020 - Page 19

COMMENT

I WISH …

Sophie Fox provides a Christmas wish list for supporting someone with an alcohol dependency and co-existing mental health issues
As Christmas approaches I found myself thinking about a different sort of wish list , based on my experience of supporting someone I ’ m very close to through their alcohol and mental health treatment journey .
Can we have clear guidance and lines of responsibility for those who experience co-existing mental health and alcohol issues , regardless of whether they ’ ve been given an official dual diagnosis ? The reality for many people is that they need to get worse before they get better to meet the threshold for the specialist support they need , and are ‘ ping-ponged ’ from pillar to post .
Could health and support services talk to each other more ? It ’ s no wonder that people in need of services are reluctant to access them when they ’ re asked to complete multiple assessments with different agencies , telling often traumatic stories again and again .
Could we have more support available for family and friends ? There are pockets of fantastic work taking place , but no ringfenced funding . Write to your MP using Adfam ’ s letter template : adfam . org . uk / influencing-for-change / writeto-mp
And for people affected by someone else ’ s alcohol use :
Remember to take the time to just listen . It ’ s easy to focus on what you think a person ‘ should ’ be doing instead of listening to how they ’ re feeling .
Remember that you are not alone . It can feel very lonely caring for someone experiencing significant issues which you have limited control over . But there are an estimated 5m families and friends affected by the substance misuse of a loved one in this country alone .
Try to recognise what you are able to influence and what you can ’ t . It ’ s important to remember that we can ’ t always fix everything , and nor should we .
Don ’ t forget to celebrate your achievements as a family or friendship group and your appreciation of each other as individuals . Our loved ones are so much more than just the problems they face . Whilst it ’ s important to help them with their issues , it ’ s also important to celebrate what makes them wonderful at the same time . Remember that above all else , you are a strong family ( whether biological or social ) that has shared so many positive experiences and memories , as well as getting each other through the tough times .
Sophie Fox is director of business development and innovation , Humankind

Over 50s Alcohol Helpline

A free , national helpline running 7 days �������������������������������������� information and support to anyone aged over 50 who may be worried about their drinking , or anyone worried about a loved one over 50 .
Call 0808 8010750 or visit wearewithyou . org . uk for more information .
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