Read important new article on alcohol from The Guardian--see https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jun/06/even-moderate-drinking-can-damage-the-brain-claim-researchers
Evening groups starting Tuesday June 6 in Bishopston.
See below--or to find out more phone 01179428077 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
HELPING WOMEN to MANAGE their DRINKING
6 support group sessions starting June 6 th 2017
in the Bishopston area.
Tuesdays 7 p.m - 9 p.m.
Please contact for further information:
0117 942 8077
Like to read about our friendly AGM on May 11th?--SEE BELOW
Agenda for ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING--THURSDAY 11th May 2017
1. Welcome from Chair, and introductions
3. Minutes of the previous AGM – to be approved.
4. Chair’s report (Patsy Staddon)
5. Treasurer’s report (Pat Ansell)
6. Election of Officers :-
7. Chair, Vice Chair [vacant], Secretary, Treasurer and Membership Coordinator [vacant].
8. Other nominations are welcomed. Please note: Nominations for all the above posts should be emailed to our Secretary, Jackie Barron, email@example.com by 12.00 noon on Wednesday 19th May 2017. If any post is contested a ballot will be held and counted at the AGM.
9. Dr. Patsy Staddon will then talk about what WIAS has achieved this year, and where we hope to go in future.
WIAS: Minutes AGM May 11th 2017
1. Those attending: Pat Ansell, Patsy Staddon, Sian Rhiannon, Sue Willingham, Jackie Barron (all from WIAS), Jean Smith, Ellie Jones, Nigel Jordan (all from NILAARI), Debbie Temple, (BDP), Rimi Hussein (The Care Forum), Alv Hirst and Dani Yeomans (both from Golden Key Peer Mentoring Service, DHI)
2. Apologies: Karen Norton, Naomi Salisbury, (Self Injury Support), Roopindera Kaur, (Healthwatch), Tracey Tudor (One25), Sue Lloyd, Lesley Welch.
3. Minutes of AGM 2015-6: Agreed.
4. Chair’s Report: Patsy Staddon introduced this Report on the last year, 2016-7. The Report summarises the funding WIAS has received, and activities undertaken with that funding during the past year. Activities highlighted in the Report included the weekly Drop-By at Boston Tea Party in Bishopston, the Helpline, one-to-one counselling, and the support group sessions, also in Bishopston. Copies of the Report were available to all attendees, and can be sent to others on request.
5. Treasurer’s Report: This was summarised by Pat Ansell, and copies were available for all attendees.
6. Election of Officers: No nominations had been received, and none were made from the floor. Hence the incumbents were elected unopposed:
* Patsy Staddon, Chair
* Jackie Barron, Honorary Secretary
* Pat Ansell, Honorary Treasurer.
7. Patsy Staddon, Chair, then gave a short talk about why she started WIAS. She came to see the need for change from her own experiences, as a woman who had had problems with alcohol use for many years. Following her recovery, she undertook academic research – culminating in a Ph.D. – which largely confirmed her own concerns, and the need for alternative support services for women. These should comprise women-only services with a positive forward-looking approach, and which addressed the particular issues women experience (e.g. associated with stigma, shame, and abuse.) Patsy talked about how she started to develop such services (from 2004, as part of her research, and then later, with help from other women in various venues); the ongoing problems WIAS had had with funding; and hopes for the future.
Questions and comments from attendees focused on the need for further funding, and for help with social media, and the possibility of collaborative working with other organisations or individuals. The Recovery Festival (in September) was mentioned as a useful forum in which to participate. Offers of future help were also received, and will be followed up.
8. Meeting closed at 4 p.m.
Treasurer's Report 2017
Cash at Bank on 27th April 2017: £789.80
Companies House report annually 1st June to 31st May. The last report (June 2015 to 31st May 2016) submitted micro balance sheet on line February 2017, with a closing balance of £132.
Income from 30th March 2016 to April 27th 2017: £2665.96
Expenditure 30th March 2016 to April 27th 2017: £1999.75, showing £666.21 income over expenditure.
During the period 30th March 2016 to 27th April 2017, there were several donations and contributions of under £100; Crowd funding: £100: Bishopston Cotham and Redland (BCR) Neighbourhood Partnership grant of £250 for Drop-by (£170 for publicity, £80 for incidentals, to include travel and drinks for volunteers and attendees): and BCR Neighbourhood Partnership Wellbeing Grant of £1894, for Support Group sessions. (A breakdown of this grant available if required).
Publicity (flyers etc), telephone/broadband costs and room hire for support group sessions have taken up a large proportion of our income; but on reflection we have had a good year thanks to the hard work and tenacity of Dr.Patsy Staddon.CHAIR’S REPORT 2016-2017
This has been a very successful year for Women’s Independent Alcohol Support,
in particular with our being awarded funding from the Bishopston, Cotham and Redland Neighbourhood Partnership to run sets of groups in the Bishopston area (see below for further details of these). We also won a small grant from them in the summer as part of their Little Grants for Big Ideas which helped us to launch our Drop-by (see below for details of this).We have also continued to offer one to one counselling sessions (see below) and to run our Helpline every Wednesday (see below). Neither of these activities have been funded except by occasional donations (see Treasurer’s Report).
Our weekly Friday morning drop-by was started in late September 2016 (30th). It takes place between 10 and midday, at the Boston Tea Party cafe - on the corner of Neville Road and Gloucester Road. It is open to all women who feel they want to discuss any alcohol issues they have or to find out what other services are available.
We consider that it is a good way of both making and keeping contact with women. 1. Firstly, because it is not a particularly conspicuous place to meet up. It is a busy cafe and people come and go all the time - so women can feel that they are not being viewed as anything other than a cafe user. Our table-sign displays only the initials WIAS - so anyone passing would need to know what it meant before they could deduce anything about the women attending.
Additionally, the background noise is such that those sitting away from our table will not pick up what is being said.
2. Secondly, Women can check us out without our knowing about it. That is useful if they are nervous and worry about who exactly they will be meeting with. They might feel they need to build up their courage in order to approach us and introduce themselves.
3. Thirdly, it has been a good follow-on from the Thursday sessions we have run weekly (we have another set of 6 starting in June) perhaps because women might wish to follow on with a conversation started during those sessions or feel they want more information about a subject broached during it.
But there are varying reasons that they come along to the drop-by -- for instance, as a result of a call to our helpline. They might perhaps go on to see our counsellor without coming back to see us at the drop-by and that is fine. They might call in to the drop-by as a follow-up to the group- sessions. They might come along because they want to find out more about us. Or, just because they know we will be there and they need someone to talk to.
Numbers have been relatively steady and it has been great to be able to catch up with women who attended previous group sessions.
Group sessions: Alcohol Awareness Bishopston:
In October 2016, the Bishopston, Cotham and Redland Neighbourhood Partnership awarded WIAS a Wellbeing Grant of £1,894.00. This grant enabled us to set up three sets of six support group sessions for women who were concerned about their use of alcohol and wanted to address this, and other related issues. We hired a local room for these group sessions, and organised publicity – including a press release, leaflets and flyers – and distributed this among local shops, public libratries and other suitable outlets.
The first series of group sessions started in January 2017; then after a week’s break, we started the second group in early March. These sessions were both held on Thursday mornings, and were attended by varying numbers of women (usually between 3 and 5 women each session.) The plan of each session was in two parts, divided by a refreshment break: the first part inviting women’s own accounts of how they were feeling that week, and what they thought they needed; and the second part focusing on the subject of the session. Subjects included “building a toolkit”, developing self-esteem, and the effects of alcohol on physical and mental health – the latter introduced by an NHS Alcohol Nurse, Sally Cowrie (to whom we give our sincere thanks.)
Evaluations of sessions were largely positive, more than half the women at each session saying it had been “very helpful” for them. For example, one woman said she found it helpful “just chatting to other women with the same problems as me [and] feeling I wasn’t on my own.” Despite this, however, attendance was often sporadic, which was a hindrance in our attempts to develop a progressive programme.
The third set of six sessions will be starting at the beginning of June, and will be held in the evenings, in order to attract women who might be busy at work or caring for children during the daytime.
One to one counselling service
As a volunteer counsellor for women's independent alcohol service I provide women with a safe confidential space. I accept the women as they are and I give them unconditional positive regard. Women drink for a reason, and I aim to help them understand these reasons and empower them to find alternative ways of coping with triggers which would normally push them to drink. I hope to enable them to achieve the most positive results possible. I have worked with six women this year.
The WIAS helpline is advertised as being open from 6—10 pm every Wednesday evening, when two facilitators are available. However the vast majority of our calls come outside that period. If people leave a number we call them back, but many do not want us to do that, and do not leave their number. Many callers do turn up later at the Drop-by, or agree to meet us informally for a coffee, which may seem less of a challenge initially.
Our facilitators are trained to deal appropriately and sensitively with callers, and although dealing with calls is stressful it is also very rewarding. Even if we never hear from that caller again, we feel we have shared something of hope and of value with them.
We do not know whether we shall be able to obtain external funding in the coming year, or whether we shall need increasingly to rely on donations, but our small and enthusiastic team of volunteers will in any case keep going as long as we possibly can. We are continually reassured that what we offer is unique and greatly valued, and we shall certainly do our best.
Patsy Staddon (Chair)
We believe in telling people when we spot something good out there. Club Soda (very popular with people who want to cut down on their drinking) has let us know about an online programme on Mindful Drinking which may help some of you: https://joinclubsoda.co.uk/mindful-drinking/?mc_cid=96cb728fd9&mc_eid=3da85
They report that:"Mindful drinking is an 8 week online course helping you achieve your drinking goals, whether you want to cut down, stop for a bit, or quit alcohol for good."
Maybe give it a go and let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!
In March we ran a workshop at the International Women's Day at Bristol's M Shed on Saturday March 4th!--http://www.bristolwomensvoice.org.uk/
We spoke at the Women's Health event at Bristol's Council House on Wednesday March 8th!--https://www.bristol.gov.uk/mayor/women-s-health-task-group
WATCH THE VIDEO!!--at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_FF1WEN_8M&feature=youtu.be
We were on the panel at the WOW event at Southbank on Sunday March 12th!--chaired by Rosie Boycott---https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/.../women-of-the-world
Exciting story from Bristol Post!
'Alcohol was controlling me': Bristol mum opens up about living with drink dependency
These are the words of a mum-of-one who four years ago started to develop a destructive relationship with alcohol.
Increasingly withdrawn and secretive about her drinking, the 43-year-old describes herself as having a "functional" alcohol dependency, in the sense that she could still care for her son and husband.
Yet complications during a hospital visit prompted Jacqui - not her real name - to seek help from the Women's Independent Alcohol Support (WIAS) organisation.
And, with the help of experts and support from her family, she is now in control of her drinking and can even go out and enjoy alcohol socially again.
Read more:Middle-aged women are high risk of drink-driving over festive period, according to conviction stats
Jacqui said: "If my story could even help one woman it would be worth it. I am in no way embarrassed about my dependency because I am taking a hold of it, but I would not want to think of any other person feeling the way I did.
"I think it is also important to show that an alcohol dependency doesn't necessarily have to mean a complete ban on drinking, it is just about learning control."
Although Jacqui has suffered with bi-polar disorder and depression for most of her life, her unhealthy drinking habits only developed after the death of her grandmother in 2012.
"I have always been the life and soul of the party, I love to go out and have a good time. But after the birth of my son I had severe postnatal depression and things changed," she said.
"To be honest I think I have probably suffered with mental health problems since I was a teenager, but when my nan died it tipped me over the edge.
Read more:Bristol woman returns home to find gang of thieves raiding her house
"We always had alcohol in the house, and my husband and I would only really drink socially. But after the funeral it just escalated.
"I started drinking to mask the pain and the grief. It helped to numb my emotions so I didn't care about how I or anyone else was feeling. It is hard to explain, but it was like as soon as I put that can to my lips it was like the anxiety melted away. For me it was a form of medication."
The 43-year-old started off by drinking a few cans of larger in the evening in front of the TV, but this soon moved on to drinking during the day and secretly waking up to drink during the night.
Jacqui said: "It got to the point where I would wake up in the morning and just not want to face the day, so I would have to have a can of lager.
"I would always make sure my son was looked after, he would never go without, but I basically stopped going out. I would sit in all day feeling so low that I just thought the only thing I could do was drink.
"I would send my carer to go out and buy me lager or I would go and get it myself, but always from different shops and I would be sure to use bags which you couldn't see through. I would kid myself and say I'll pick up a pack of 12 or 14, because then it will last two or three days, but then I would drink it in one day.
"I would get incredibly defensive when my friends would mention my drinking and I know my husband and son were concerned. I would never get to the point where I was passed out in front of them - I would still be functioning - but I was constantly merry.
"At the same time I was so embarrassed and I had no self-confidence. I would never put the cans outside, I would always bag them up and ask my carer to take them to the dump."
Watch:Hit-and-run driver who hit Bristol schoolgirl and abandoned her at side of road captured on CCTV
Her lowest point came in July when she was hospitalised after catching a virus.
She said: "I became seriously ill. Because I was drinking so regularly I became very dehydrated and it was dangerous. It was at this point that I knew I had to change.
"That realisation was hard though. I remember a man coming over to my bed and saying you will never drink or be able to be around alcohol again, and I just cried. For me alcohol was so much a part of having a good time that I thought I would never have fun again. That is how much of a hold it had on me."
Resolute, Jacqui embarked on a period of medication to help ease her dependency. At the same time she tried several services to support her through the transition.
"I tried AA, but it didn't really work for me," she said.
"I found that it was concentrated on alcohol and almost made it in to a big thing to be fearful of.
"Instead I wanted to talk about the reasons why I was drinking, what was causing it."
Read more:Woman in her 50s raped as she was walking home in Sea Mills, Bristol
Jacqui got in contact with the Bristol service Women's Independent Alcohol Support (WIAS) and started chatting with one of their councillors.
She said: "For me it is brilliant. There is something about talking about my dependency and other mental health problems with other women which I find really useful. With the counselling it is useful to talk about other things in my life and I leave each session feeling so positive.
"Also at home we have taken steps to help move me away from alcohol. We don't keep any in the house and my husband bought me a latte maker which means instead of sitting watching the TV with a can I have a latte.
"I also plan going out, sometimes I will drive so I physically can't drink. I still go to pubs and bars, but I have learnt that I don't have to drink to have fun.
"And it isn't a complete ban for me. I drink lager from time to time, but I know when to stop.
"I was at a point when alcohol was controlling me, but now I control my relationship with alcohol."
WIAS offers a confidential listening service and support groups for women with alcohol issues. From January the group will be launching new six week courses in the Bishopston area.
For more information visit the group's website or call 0117 942 8077.
November 10th 2016 Your friendly women's service has just been funded further, to develop small women's support and information sessions in Bishopston, starting in January 2017.
Grateful thanks to Bishopston, Redland and Cotham Neighbourhood Partnership!
To find out more, phone us or email, and make sure you leave a name and phone number if we are out.
September 30th 2016 Our drop-by will start today!! --come and meet us
FRIENDLY AND CONFIDENTIAL
FRIDAY MORNINGS 10—12 at
Boston Tea Party, 293 Gloucester Road, Bishopston, BS7 8PE
Look for the booth with the WIAS sign
September 17th 2016--we have won a small grant to publicise and start up a 'drop by' at one of Bishopston's cafes. The idea is that women can 'drop by' and have an informal chat about any alcohol concerns. The grant was won at the Bishopston, Cotham and Redland Neighbourhood Partnership Community Fair at St. Michael's Church Gloucester Road--a very big thank you!--and we will be on the job on Monday 19th SO WATCH THIS SPACE FOR DETAILS!!
August 18th 2016
BBC Woman’s Hour on August 18th included a piece on the need for women-only treatment services for women who are addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. See -
August 4th 2016
OUT TODAY!---an account of how the organisation got to where is is today in 'We did it our way:Women's Independent Alcohol Support', by Patsy Staddon, and published in Searching for a Rose Garden: challenging psychiatry, fostering mad studies, edited by Jasna Russo and Angela Sweeney, PCCS Books (2016)
July 20th 2016
Over the summer our group is meeting informally for coffee and chat before re-starting with formal sessions in September. Keep in touch online or via the phone, especially on Wednesdays between 6 and 10 pm. Remember it is email@example.com or 0117-9428077
May 30th 2016
Busy month--we now have a Monday early evening group running--a set of six sessions designed to help women to cut down and deal with issues which may make them fill the glass too often.
This group is now closed but we shall be running more--so let us know if you are interested. Just email contact
@wiaswomen.org.uk and we will get back to you.
We have also been able to address the Complex Needs Network in Bristol to talk about our work. You can see our slides at https://www.bristol.gov.uk/social-care-health/bristol-complex-needs-network
April 22nd 2016--from Valerie Chandler, University of Greenwich.
"Why are more women over 30 drinking alcohol at home? Take the survey and give your views - It’s anonymous and confidential".
Use this link for more information: https://greenwichuniversity.eu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_d4IoKgPXS3oRMKp
May 22nd 2016 Upgrading our services!
In addition to our Filwood drop-in on Friday mornings, (Fridays from 10.30--12.30 at Filwood Community Centre) and our helpline (every Wednesday from 6 pm to 10 pm on 0117-9428077) we now run Tuesday one to one sessions with a qualified counsellor. To request a place please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are starting a new small support group in central Bristol on May 23rd .
April 21st 2016
WIAS joined other organisations last Saturday at Filwood Broadway, to promote our Filwood drop-in (Fridays from 10.30--12.30 at Filwood Community Centre) and network with other organisations. It was cold but sunny and good to see new faces.
March 15th 2016th
Someone else has spotted the (deliberate?) error in the 'story of addiction'--this clip is fun to watch but very serious message--for treaters and treated alike:
WIAS event to celebrate International Women's Day!
Women's Independent Alcohol Support celebrates International Women's Day
Meet some the WIAS team on Saturday March 12th at Bristol's M Shed!
Our stall will have useful material to look at and our friendly women will also be available to chat
See you there! (See below for more info on the really fabulous day!)
Celebrate International Women’s Day with workshops, activities, stalls, music, speakers and more, including a curator-led tour of the galleries highlighting women featured in the displays and a women’s trail.
The theme of the day is ‘Women Making A Difference’. Bristol Women’s Voice is pleased to welcome back the popular Breathing Fire: a black women’s playback theatre group which will be running an interactive drama workshop exploring the different ways we communicate with each other. Bristol Women’s Voice also introduces Chango World, which will be providing women with an opportunity to learn traditional African drumming, while Refugee Women of Bristol will be teaching women traditional dances from cultures around the world.
Saffron Records and Bristol Women in Music will host sessions on songwriting and mixing, where women of all ages and abilities can learn to mix music together, support one another and perform with each other.
There will be a lunchtime panel debate looking at women’s representation in the media with guest panelists from Bristol Post, BBC Radio Bristol, Ujima Radio and What The Frock! Comedy. Further panel debates and discussions will cover the gender imbalance in the music industry, women’s mental health and young women’s activism.
The day will also see Bristol Women’s Voice launching its manifesto for change, ‘What Women Want’, which focuses on key issues for Bristol women, including women’s safety, the position of women in Bristol’s economy as well as actions around education, housing and representation.
Dr Madge Dresser of the University of the West of England will be launching her book ‘Women in the City’ (published by Bristol’s Redcliffe Press), which exposes the hidden histories of Bristol’s women. Dr Dresser said: “Some were wealthy, many were poor and most have been forgotten, their stories untold, trivialised or ignored until now.”
Working with other local organisations including African Initiatives, Acorn Bristol, Refugee Women of Bristol and Bristol Women In Music, there will be opportunities for women of all ages to come together to collaborate, discuss key issues and learn new skills and experiences.
There will be a free crèche on the day, as well as free transport to collect and take home groups of women from across the city. BSL interpreters will be provided so that Deaf and hearing women can celebrate together.
To book free transport or for further information, email email@example.com or call 0117 916 6555. Find out more on the Bristol Women’s Voice website.
If you have specific access needs, please let us know in advance by contacting us or calling 0117 352 6600 and you’ll be given priority booking.
Main image: Women are strong © Nicci Peet
New women’s Helpline opens!
This week, WIAS launched our new helpline for women who are concerned about their use of alcohol. At present, the helpline is open every Wednesday evening from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Just ring 0117 942 8077 and you’ll be able to speak directly to another woman, who will offer support by listening, making suggestions, giving information and signposting to other organisations, as appropriate. At other times, you will be able to leave a message, which we’ll respond to within 24 hours.
We know that many women often use alcohol differently from men – for example, they are more likely to drink at home, alone, and their alcohol use may be linked to previous or current domestic or sexual abuse, or to issues of self image and low self-esteem. For those reasons, they may often prefer to talk to other women, in complete confidence, and this is what our Helpline can offer.
Our new Helpline is an addition to our other women’s only services: the two women’s support groups we are running in central Bristol (on Tuesday evenings), and at Filwood Community Centre on Friday mornings from 10.30 to 12.30. For more information on any of our services, contact WIAS on: 0117 942 8077; or email firstname.lastname@example.org
WIAS also had some publicity this week on BBC Radio Bristol: Patsy and Jackie were interviewed on the Thursday morning breakfast show. We are also expecting Points West to be running a short item on WIAS very soon – so keep a look out.
REMEMBER IT IS OUR AGM ON APRIL 9TH !
Please let us know if you would like to attend by March 18th . We can then book a suitable room.
Hoping to see you there!
January 4th 2016
CELEBRATE THE NEW YEAR!
Delicious drinks without alcohol
Yesterday, the Observer (4/1/16) published an article on “booze-free cocktails for the new year”. They featured an alcohol-free bar (Redemption - in London, of course!) but also gave three recipes for alcohol free cocktails. Here is one of them:
Beet-o-Tini at the Redemption
200 ml. coconut water
10ml. beetroot juice
10ml. orange juice
Squeeze of lime juice
Put a few ice cubes into a cocktail shaker (or similar).
Add all the other ingredients, and shake vigorously for 20 seconds.
Pour into a glass from a height.
Why don’t you try it and see what you think?
DECEMBER 31st 2015--Happy New Year everyone! Remember you can already phone us on 0117-9428077 and leave a number for us to call you back.
BUT--within a couple of weeks we will have a dedicated
Helpine time slot from 6 pm till 10 pm every Wednesday--there will always be one of us there at that time to talk to you. We will let you have a date very shortly.
We listen, we support, we signpost to other services as appropriate.
Our services are completely confidential*. You do not need to give us your real name.
*The only occasion when this might not apply would be where a child or vulnerable adult was understood to be at immediate risk of harm
NEWS--JANUARY 8th 2016
New Guidance, issued today by the Chief Medical Officer, states that there is no “safe” level of drinking, as any alcohol leads to a (slightly) increased risk of developing cancer – particularly breast cancer (which is the most common type of cancer). Otherwise – for women, and also, now, for men – the advised limits remain at 14 units per week, with at least two days alcohol-free.
However, don’t panic if you are currently drinking more than this: the risks – of heart and liver disease, and stroke, as well as various forms of cancer – do rise very gradually, for each increasing amount you drink; and remember also these are lifetime risks.
But if you do want to cut back on your use of alcohol – or stop drinking altogether – WIAS can help. We are currently running two women’s support groups in Bristol (one in the centre on Tuesday evenings, and one in Filwood on Friday mornings); and we are about to start a women’s Helpline on Wednesday evenings (6 p.m. to 10 p.m.)
For more information about any of these services, ring 0117 942 8077 or email@example.com
FROM OUR SPOT ON PHIL HAMMOND'S SHOW
Some helpful tips for women at home getting Christmas ready
Christmas is hard work—STRESSFUL--get in a range of soft drinks, ice and lemons and make long soothing drinks
No alcohol required--try and see!!
Don’t let yourself feel hungry
Have treats for yourself--special food, a present for yourself
Don't take up special offers and get extra wine in
Plan to cook yourself some special meals--with pudding!!
Make nights out safer and more fun--use tactics
Avoid pre-loading (getting tanked up before you go out)
You end up drunker than you intended and are at risk
Meet friends at the pub, and AFTER you have had a good solid meal
Get there first if you can and buy yourself a long drink which you can make last
When your friends arrive they will be drunker than you and will not notice so much what you are drinking
Try to keep on buying your own drinks
If people buy drinks for you it’s easy to look as if you drink them—if they are drunk they will not notice
Get dancing to work off alcohol and avoid too many rounds
Alternate soft drink and alcoholic drink
Have a good reason for having to leave early and get a taxi home— (Friend from Overseas calling to wish happy Christmas?—relatives staying?)
Maybe have a taxi already booked
December 12th 2015
Today we will be broadcasting for the second time on Radio Bristol, in the Dr. Phil Hammond show--we will be giving tips for enjoying Christmas with less alcohol or no alcohol at all! Listen in at 10.55 on December 12th !--AND NOW SEE ABOVE
December 11th 2015
A small team has now begun training (with thanks to our crowdfunders and to Self Injury Support, our trainers) and our HELPLINE is now set to open for one evening a week on Wednesdays in January 2016.
As we build our volunteer base and obtain further funding we hope to be able to be open more frequently--but we are ready to go!!
NOVEMBER 30TH 2015
SUPPORT FROM A ONE-TIME AA MEMBER
At last! Someone who has used AA – and has found it useful – but has nonetheless stated publicly that alternative treatments need to be widely availably as well.
Jon Stewart - who spent 14 years attending AA meetings – is quoted in The Observer on Sunday November 29th as saying that “other options” should be much more widely publicised. He compares the low success rate of AA - maybe no more than 8% - with the much higher success rate (apparently up to 78%) of other methods, such as that developed by Dr. David Sinclair in the mid-1990s. (See Lance Dodes (2014) The sober truth. )
Stewart particularly highlights the quasi-religious elements of AA, which he (and many others) find a particular turn-off; and rightly criticises the way in which women are often targeted at AA meetings, and subsequently seduced when they are at their most vulnerable, by men attending the meetings. (This is often called the “13th step”.)
Clearly for women, in particular, other ways of responding to alcohol issues are essential.
See http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/nov/29/alcoholics-anonymous-saved-my-life-but-i-lost-my-faith for more on this story.
Our crowdfunding bid for funding to train women to operate a women's alcohol helpline has enabled us to start training in December!--so THANK YOU to our many well wishers. We hope to be running a LIVE phoneline to start the New Year. We shall probably start with a weekly slot but build up as quickly as possible to three slots--one in the evening, one at the weekend and one in the day. Women who are interested in helping should email us.
October 22nd saw us live on Radio Bristol in the Dr. Paul Hammond Show on Saturday morning. We were lucky enough to have a half hour slot and will be appearing on the show again soon.
To hear the programme (we are on at just after 10 a.m.) go to http://www.programmes/p001d79q
We now have some first rate volunteers but are still looking for more, particularly women who feel that their recovery story is a little different.
Work can range from office work to training to run groups and work on a telephone helpline.
Do get in touch!--at 0117-9428077 or
September 23rd 2015
We question the view that 'alcoholism' is a disease and that it is for life. We are finding increasing support for this position and an increased realisation that alcohol issues are a consequence of unhappy or unsuitable life conditions, such as poverty, abuse, stress and loneliness--not to mention a host of mental health problems. See report in Guardian--link below
May 2015--article by Patsy Staddon in Community Care on better approaches to women's alcohol use, especially for social workers
Supporting women with alcohol issues: what social workers need to know
"Problematic alcohol use among women is often associated with domestic or sexual abuse or self-harm and requires a tailored and sensitive response from practitioners", says Dr Patsy Staddon
Alcohol is a pleasurable and attractive drug, easily accessible and socially acceptable. It helps with relieving anxiety and stress, and beginning to use it is part of the process of achieving and demonstrating adulthood. It helps us to try out other ways of being ourselves, what is sometimes called ‘acting out’.
At specific times, such as Friday and Saturday evenings, or at Christmas, it is seen as an acceptable way to stretch boundaries a little – or a lot – to enjoy a sense of carnival, even transgression. These are all behaviour patterns common – though not always acknowledged as such – to all societies, and more accessible to some social groups, such as the rich, celebrities or young men, than others.
Escaping miseries However women, in particular, may sometimes drink not so much for pleasure as to be acceptable to their peers; and, more worryingly, an estimated 50%-90% (Women’s Aid, 2005) may also drink to escape briefly from such miseries as domestic abuse and depression. Other reasons include loneliness, mental health issues and poverty, conspiring to make a woman take refuge in alcohol in the first place.
As a society we expect ‘femininity’ in, especially, young women, and drunkenness is seen as interfering with its performance. ‘Women who drink’ may be seen as greedy, immoral and shamed. It would be naïve to believe that either social workers, or those working within the alcohol treatment sector, including GPs, nurses and other specialists, are unaffected by such feelings themselves. Shame, embarrassment, and concern about professionals’ reactions are among the reasons why women may be less likely than men to admit to an alcohol problem.
From self-respect to shame A major factor in the recovery process is regaining self-respect, thus moving away from shame. Those who work with women recovering from alcohol issues should do so ‘in a manner that is empowering, compassionate, and respectful, and to allow people self-determination and risk taking where no one else is harmed’ (Galvani, 2015, p.5). This approach is similar to the ‘unconditional positive regard’ advocated by Carl Rogers (Rogers, 1951) – but throughout the alcohol treatment sector, this is often inadequately supplied.
In addition, women benefit particularly from women-only treatment. Also very much appreciated are identification and brief advice (IBA) centres, These resources are not available in all areas, and are too little advertised, but some support on similar lines is also provided online. An example of this is the Club Soda website.
Women-only support The shaming nature of the condition means that women-only support may be needed in dealing with the loss of family and other social networks, and in discovering what their own real needs are. This is much more likely to be problematic in a mixed-sex environment, where women may take on a mothering role to help male members of the group and not attend enough to their own needs. Some may also enter a relationship with men in recovery. Not only is this likely to be too early to take on new emotional ties while they may still be vulnerable, but there is also the considerable risk that should one of them start drinking again (often called ‘slipping’) the other is likely to follow.
Women frequently feel too embarrassed to share freely in mixed groups, particularly if their drinking has been associated with, or been a response to, sexual, physical or emotional abuse of any kind. Painful and humiliating experiences need to be disclosed in a safer place.
There may also be issues with childcare, so the times of their groups need to be chosen carefully, for example so women can get to and from the group while their children are at school); and they may worry about how much to tell their families.
Peer support Facilitators should be female, and ideally one of them will be a woman who has herself recovered from alcohol issues – for at least a year – who can talk from personal experience about the different strategies and tactics that were of help to her. Such a group will begin to develop life-skills, and life-long friendships may develop.
This is the approach we have adopted at our small, third sector organisation in Bristol, an approach which research consistently recommends as being the best way to restore confidence, side-step the ‘revolving door’ syndrome, recognise the person you are and what are your needs, and to move forward with a good chance of achieving these.
What can social workers do if they find that their area lacks the breadth and the depth of provision which is recommended? For social workers in London, Gloucester, Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire a new approach is being provided by the Family Drug and Alcohol Court, which tries to keep drug and alcohol using families together, under supervision. The scheme is to be extended to other parts of the country, following its success in these areas.
Link with domestic abuse It is also important to remember that over half of the women who develop alcohol issues will have suffered from, or will still be suffering from, domestic and sexual abuse, including having been abused as a child. Such abuse may not be evident initially, but responding to it appropriately will be an enormous step forward in helping a woman recover from alcohol misuse.
Women’s Aid and Refuge jointly run a national helpline for domestic abuse survivors (0800 2000 247) and can refer callers to local support services which offer expert advice and support which may well be a crucial turning point in the recovery journey. Other useful support organisations might include NAPAC (National Association of People Abused in Childhood), and The Survivors Trust, an umbrella organisation that holds information on lots of rape and abuse support services around the country.
Self-harm Many women who are using alcohol as a prop are also using other methods to try to deal with their distress. For example, self-harm is a common strategy which women might use to try to deal with their feelings of shame and worthlessness, including actions such as cutting, starving and bulimia. Social workers need to be aware of support groups and services in their local areas, and ensure that their leaflets are readily available (preferably on display).
Many women’s services are offered by small, third sector organisations, often set up by women who themselves experienced problems. Their variety is their strength, for each person’s alcohol journey is different, their recovery road will be different, and it is only in recognising the need for multiple responses to a complex set of problems that we can succeed in helping women to improve their lives.
For example, Self Injury Support (previously Bristol Crisis Service for Women and now a national organisation), now a national organisation, offers support for women and girls who self-harm: clients can access the service themselves and speak with or text and email with the workers. The section of the Mind website dealing with self-harm may also be of help to some women.:
Building social capital Additionally, increasing clients’ social capital is central to their recovery from alcohol and development as people (Bogg with Bogg, 2015), and encouraging participation in almost any social activity is likely to have beneficial effects, whether it is volunteering to help in a play-group or joining a zumba class.
The latter is particularly good at boosting feelings of well-being, perhaps previously only encountered by using alcohol. Increasing a variety of social interactions, wherever possible, whether in person or on social networks, is most likely to help women in moving away from the despairing circle of detox, slip, relapse which we have seen far too much in alcohol treatment services to date.
This article is based upon workshops run at the British Association of Social Workers and the Social Perspectives in Mental Health Network (SPN) conference on 15 February 2015. Dr Patsy Staddon, a trustee of SPN, recovered from alcoholism in 1988.
She runs Women’s Independent Alcohol Support, the small peer-led charity, which is able to discuss issues around women and alcohol with social workers and treatment providers. For more information visit its website.
Women and alcohol: social perspectives,which Staddon has edited, has just been published by Policy Press.
References Bogg, D, with Bogg, T (2015) ‘The social model in alcohol treatment services: the impact for women’, in Women and Alcohol: social perspectives, ed. Staddon, P. Bristol: Policy Press.
Galvani, S (2015) Alcohol and other Drug Use: The Roles and Capabilities of Social Workers. Manchester Metropolitan University.
Rogers, Carl R (1951) Client-centered Therapy: Its Current Practice, Implications and Theory. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Women’s Aid (2005) The Survivor’s Handbook. Bristol: Women’s Aid.
September 22nd 2015
Over the next 28 days we are raising money for our helpline via Just Giving.
Our unfunded group, Women;s Independent Alcohol Support, is trying to raise the money for training to run an alcohol helpline for women. If you could spare a pound to help us please do. For details and pic(!) see link below. Thank you.
The abstinence versus controlled drinking debate continues!--from Findings
(Originally published in Mental Health Today as The Bigger Picture)
One of the hardest things that survivors of the mental health and substance use services have to do is to create and maintain a positive self-image. We are often seen as sick, yet also sinful. This is a disabling approach, encouraging self-hatred and disgust (Plumb 2005). The diagnosis of alcoholism in particular is seen as the individual responsibility of service users, who ‘should have’ managed better their mental distress, sexual and domestic abuse, poverty, depression and/or anxiety differently. They are guilty of embarrassing the public and of apparently choosing to damage their own health.
This reading of such conditions as overweight, smoking and alcohol addiction, and potentially including any illness which we may be told was caused by a choice we made, is becoming commonplace and increasingly ridiculous. Weight gain, for example, may be caused by a variety of prescribed drugs, for example for epilepsy, depression, diabetes, and high blood pressure (Shrubb 2009). Alcoholism may be caused by domestic and/or sexual abuse (Galvani and Humphreys 2007), many mental health conditions, poverty and hopelessness (Ettorre 2007).
Yet much alcohol treatment still maintains a punitive element in its approach to an illness which is widely seen as a consequence of over-indulgence and irresponsibility. This occurs alongside overwhelming evidence that using alcohol to relieve distress is most helpfully seen in a social context, not a medical one (Bride and Nackerud 2002; Ettorre 1997). We should therefore look for causes for people’s need to misuse alcohol. Alcohol is a consequence, as well as a cause, of numerous problems. Neither Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) nor Moderation Management acknowledges the massive impact of social factors such as homelessness, abuse and poverty, or the necessity for society as a whole to accept responsibility (Wilkinson and Pickett 2009).
What can be done? People do fear what they do not understand and they also fear it may affect them. They need to understand that alcohol misuse may be driven by despair; a need for comfort; a need to escape from feelings of hopelessness and mental distress. It is a drug we can prescribe and obtain for ourselves and use as we think appropriate and in that respect it is both moral and equitable. The focus should be upon providing alternatives which are less damaging to the user and to others.
Ideally, we should accept and manage the inconvenience of people’s alcohol misuse, seeing it as a cry for help, which we can best answer by offering positive and unconditional regard, and refraining from the ‘blame and shame’ approach embraced by some treatment centres. We can work on constructing positive self-images (Tew 2005) and we can help each other to do this in small, self-organised, self-run groups (Beresford 2005). This has begun in some parts of the country, but funding is hard to find, and the strength of the traditional model of alcohol misuse as something shameful and degrading is a hard one to shift. However it must be shifted if people are to get well—to become the people they were meant to be. That is the goal of the No Shame, No Blame movement (Staddon 2011).
Dr. Patsy Staddon is a medical sociologist who suffered from severe alcoholism for many years but recovered 25 years ago. She now researches and practises in the sociology and the resolution of alcohol issues. She is a member of the Social Perspectives Network and of INVOLVE
Beresford, P. (2005) ‘Social Approaches to Madness and Distress’, Social Perspectives in Mental Health, ed. Tew, J. London: Jessica Kingsley.
Bride, B. E. and Nackerud, L. (2002) ‘The disease model of alcoholism: a Kuhnian paradigm’, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 29 (2) pp. 125-141.
Ettorre, E. (1997) Women and Alcohol: A private pleasure or a public problem? London: The Women’s Press Ltd.
Ettorre, E. (2007) Revisioning Women and Drug Use: Gender, Power and the Body. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
Galvani, S. and Humphreys, C. (2007) The impact of violence and abuse on engagement and retention rates for women in substance use treatment. A Report for the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse. London: NTA.
Plumb, S. (2005) ‘The Social/Trauma Model: mapping the mental health consequences of childhood sexual abuse and similar experiences’, in Tew, J. (2005) Social Perspectives in mental Health: Developing Social Models to Understand and Work with Mental Distress. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Shrubb, R. (2009) Mental Health Today, June: 13-5
Staddon, P. (2011) ‘There Are Many Roads to Recovery’, The Big Issue, Jan. 10-16 2011.
Tew, J. (2005) ‘Power Relations, Social Order and Mental Distress’, in Tew, J. (2005) Social Perspectives in mental Health: Developing Social Models to Understand and Work with Mental Distress. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Wilkinson, R. and Pickett, K. (2009) The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better. London: Allen Lane.