This year’s campaign focuses on the theme of ‘alcohol and cost’ and explores the costs – both visible and hidden – of alcohol related issues. The total social cost of alcohol to society is estimated to be at least £21 billion each year, but the personal costs are also alarming, with alcohol death rates increasing to the highest rate since records began from the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Somerset’s campaign features four video testimonies of people whose alcohol use led them to seek help from Turning Point’s ‘Somerset’s Drugs and Alcohol Service’ (SDAS) – whose support they described as “lifesaving.”
Commissioned by Somerset Council, Turning Point’s SDAS provides free, confidential treatment and support across Somerset to anyone who is experiencing difficulties with their own substance use or someone else’s. The service offers a range of support, from individual or group therapy sessions, mindfulness, family support, to medically assisted detox and even a digital treatment tool.
The team across Somerset includes doctors, nurses, psychologists and recovery workers, but a large part of the service is supported by ‘Peer Mentors’ – volunteers who are driven by a desire to help people change their relationship with alcohol and/or drugs. Many of these volunteers have personal experience of drug and alcohol use, and the service has now trained 40 Peer Mentors, with nine going onto additional training and employment by the service.
One of these Peer Mentors is Dan (32), who featured in one of the four films. Dan, who came from a long line of publicans where drinking was considered ‘the norm’, shared his story of becoming dependent on alcohol at the age of just 23. He said:
It was nice to be able to give back, my life experience can help other clients that are going through the same thing. It’s really beneficial not just to my recovery, but to them as well.
Sally (51) has been sober for almost four months and also featured in one of the films. She comments:
Turning Point’s SDAS has saved my life. I thought it would be a cliché saying that, but SDAS saved my life and without them, I wouldn’t be here today.
I was given a week to live and if I didn’t stop in that week then they said I would die.
Joseph Olubodun, SDAS, Mentors and Volunteers Team Leader said:
One of the most rewarding aspects of being a Peer Mentor or Volunteer is seeing the growth and progress of those you work with. Witnessing someone go from feeling hopeless and lost to finding their own path to recovery is truly inspiring. It serves as a reminder that we are all capable of healing and that we are stronger together.
Our Vision is to grow our Peer Mentor and Volunteers network in Somerset, so we can reach more people across the county who are concerned about their substance use, but for whatever reason are worried about seeking help or just don’t know where to turn. We want to expand our recovery community, which provides vital support to our clients who have left our service, as they carry on with their recovery journey.
Professor Trudi Grant, Executive Director of Public Health at Somerset Council said:
I would urge people to take a moment to watch these films. They are incredibly inspiring and will no doubt empower many who may be struggling to seek help.
Lots of people enjoy a drink, and there is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation, but it’s far too easy to drink at harmful levels without realising the damage it could be doing.
Knowing how much is ‘too much’ can be confusing when it comes to alcohol. Most of us know when we’ve ‘overdone it’ in an individual drinking session, but sometimes drinking can creep up on us and, over time, people can find that they’re drinking more than they would like. It is safest not to drink more than 14 units per week – roughly six pints of lager or one and a half bottles of wine.
Alcohol Awareness Week is an opportunity to reflect on the impact that drinking – whether ours or someone else’s – has on our health and family. If you are concerned, please reach out – there is so much support available in Somerset that is just a phone call or a click away, and you will not be judged if you are struggling.”
The films can be viewed on the below links:
- Sally’s Story – Alcohol Awareness Week – Sally’s Story
- Dan’s Story – Alcohol Awareness Week – Dan’s Story
- Steven’s Story – Alcohol Awareness Week – Steven’s Story
- Trevor’s Story – Alcohol Awareness Week – Trevor’s Story
For more information or to access support for yourself or someone you care about, call 0300 303 8788 (24/7 helpline), visit http://www.turning-point.co.uk/services/sdas or contact your GP.