Drink and Drugs News DDN Nov2017 - Page 11

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‘ I wish we had been able to seek support ’

Amy Beth describes losing her sister Carys
MY SISTER WAS A 21-YEAR-OLD UNIVERSITY GRADUATE WHEN SHE FIRST BECAME ILL . Seven years later , aged 28 , Carys passed away as a result of the irreparable damage alcohol had caused to her body .
Shortly after completing her accountancy degree in 2009 , Carys ’ long-term relationship came to an end and her life began to fall apart . As a family we started notice worrying changes in her behaviour . I returned home from university for the summer holidays and I was shocked to see the change in my sister . Within a few weeks , it was apparent that Carys was drinking daily . I frequently found bottles of vodka stashed our bedroom and in her handbag .
After much persuasion Carys agreed to attend the GP but , once there , she denied that she had a problem with alcohol and just explained that she was upset following the break-up . The GP reassured my mum that it was most likely a ‘ phase ’ and Carys was simply sent away with leaflets and advice .
For seven years we battled as a family to get Carys the help she needed to beat her addiction . Many people , including medical professionals , found it difficult to accept that Carys was an alcoholic and often assumed that we were exaggerating the extent of her addiction . Carys didn ’ t ‘ look ’ like an alcoholic . She was a blondehaired , blue-eyed woman in her early twenties . She had a degree , a home and a loving and supportive family – she didn ’ t fit the bill .
The stigma that surrounds alcoholics , or indeed any addict , followed her and my family throughout her illness . While my sister was desperately ill , I didn ’ t feel that I was able to share her illness with the people around me . I quickly learnt that if I opened up about it , people were eager to judge , which made an already difficult time harder . Even close friends failed to appreciate the severity of the situation , and I felt very alone .
I have come to accept that many people view alcoholism as a ‘ self-inflicted ’ illness . This is drastically inaccurate – and besides that , the cause of the illness itself is irrelevant when considering the impact it has on family members . We were still the family of a person with a terminal illness . We were still having to witness our daughter , sister , loved one , deteriorating in front of our eyes . The only difference for us was that we were going through that process without sympathy or support . I wish that we had been able to seek support from our friends and colleagues . That would have made a horrible situation a little easier . decided to visit her family for Christmas . Her outpatient psychotherapy at her local hospital had just come to an end and this , combined with the season and other complicating factors , resulted in a lapse . She became distressed when she left the family to go home , and began drinking .
She was distraught and struggling to forgive herself , but her relationship with Orbit staff meant she was able to disclose this lapse and address it before it could become a full-blown relapse . A plan was agreed with the multiagency team ( MAT ) and she was allocated a family support worker and linked into other community groups .
Kirsty has not drunk for almost a year now and is accessing universal childcare and starting college . Her case is now closed to children ’ s social care , but she continues to attend one-to-one appointments at Orbit . Without our help , Kirsty would not have been able to access support as the main drug and alcohol services are adult-only services which do not cater for families .
I ’ m delighted to see Kirsty and her baby thrive . They have both come a long way . Kirsty ’ s primary trigger for drinking was anxiety combined with isolation , so it ’ s really pleasing to see her grow in confidence and engage so positively while continuing to develop a support network .
* Name changed to protect identity
www . drinkanddrugsnews . com November 2017 | drinkanddrugsnews | 11
More on safer drinking at www.drinkanddrugsnews.com ‘I wish we had been able to seek support’ Amy Beth describes losing her sister Carys MY SISTER WAS A 21-YEAR-OLD UNIVERSITY GRADUATE WHEN SHE FIRST BECAME ILL. Seven years later, aged 28, Carys passed away as a result of the irreparable damage alcohol had caused to her body. Shortly after completing her accountancy degree in 2009, Carys’ long-term relationship came to an end and her life began to fall apart. As a family we started notice worrying changes in her behaviour. I returned home from university for the summer holidays and I was shocked to see the change in my sister. Within a few weeks, it was apparent that Carys was drinking daily. I frequently found bottles of vodka stashed our bedroom and in her handbag. After much persuasion Carys agreed to attend the GP but, once there, she denied that she had a problem with alcohol and just explained that she was upset following the break-up. The GP reassured my mum that it was most likely a ‘phase’ and Carys was simply sent away with leaflets and advice. decided to visit her family for Christmas. Her outpatient psychotherapy at her local hospital had just come to an end and this, combined with the season and other complicating factors, resulted in a lapse. She became distressed when she left the family to go home, and began drinking. She was distraught and struggling to forgive herself, but her relationship with Orbit staff meant she was able to disclose this lapse and address it before it could become a full-blown relapse. A plan was agreed with the multi- agency team (MAT) and she was allocated a family support worker and linked into other community groups. Kirsty has not drunk for almost a year now and www.drinkanddrugsnews.com For seven years we battled as a family to get Carys the help she needed to beat her addiction. Many people, including medical professionals, found it difficult to accept that Carys was an alcoholic and often assumed that we were exaggerating the extent of her addiction. Carys didn’t ‘look’ like an alcoholic. She was a blonde- haired, blue-eyed woman in her early twenties. She had a degree, a home and a loving and supportive family – she didn’t fit the bill. The stigma that surrounds alcoholics, or indeed any addict, followed her and my family throughout her illness. While my sister was desperately ill, I didn’t feel that I was able to share her illness with the people around me. I quickly learnt that if I opened up about it, people were eager to judge, which made an already difficult time harder. Even close friends failed to appreciate the severity of the situation, and I felt very alone. I have come to accept that many people view alcoholism as a ‘self-inflicted’ illness. This is drastically inaccurate – and besides that, the cause of the illness itself is irrelevant when considering the impact it has on family members. We were still the family of a person with a terminal illness. We were still having to witness our daughter, sister, loved one, deteriorating in front of our eyes. The only difference for us was that we were going through that process without sympathy or support. I wish that we had been able to seek support from our friends and colleagues. That would have made a horrible situation a little easier. is accessing universal childcare and starting college. Her case is now closed to children’s social care, but she continues to attend one-to-one appointments at Orbit. Without our help, Kirsty would not have been ab RF66W727W'B2FPG'VrB66W'f6W2&RGVBǐ6W'f6W2v6FB6FW"f"f֖ƖW2ञ( FVƖvFVBF6VR'7GBW"&'F&fRFWfR&F6Rrvश'7G( 2&'G&vvW"f"G&涖rv0熖WG6&VBvF6F6N( 2&VǐV6rF6VRW"w&r6fFV6R@VvvR66FfVǒvR6FVrFFWfV7W'BWGv&ࢤR6vVBF&FV7BFVFGfV&W"#rG&FG'Vw6Ww2