Alcohol and Addictions

When faced with life’s stressful events we can develop unhealthy coping methods that can easily become addictions. There is no single reason why addictions develop. Addiction is a strong need to carry out a particular activity. At first, the behaviour can start off as an aid to relaxation or escape from a problem, the sufferer can feel like they ‘have things under control’ for a long time after the addiction has taken hold. They can stay in denial. Alcohol addiction is common in the UK and if you think that means stumbling around drunk every day- no, it can be much more subtle than that.

The NHS estimates that around 9% of men in the UK and 4% of UK women show signs of alcohol dependence, and certainly as an NHS GP I think it can even be higher than that. Sadly too, Wandsworth has one of the highest rates for teenage drug and alcohol problems.

If you find that you ‘need’ to share a bottle of wine with your partner most nights of the week, or always go for a few pints after work, just to unwind, you’re likely to be drinking at a level that could affect your long-term health. You could also be becoming dependent on alcohol. If you find it very difficult to enjoy yourself or relax without having a drink, you could have become psychologically dependent on alcohol.

A fantastic website I have found and have been introducing my patients to is www.drinkaware.co.uk They have a smart phone app too that helps you log your alcohol consumption and see what your risks are. This summer, while you relax and unwind, download the app and see for yourself.

Drinkline runs a free, confidential helpline. Call 0300 123 1110AA information can be found at www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk

For Wandsworth Residents there is a great friendly service based in Putney and Bridge Lane called FRESH START. Call them on 020353800882 You can phone and make an appointment for yourself if you think your alcohol intake may be doing you more harm than good. Leave a message and they will get back to you. It’s free. Opening Times 8am-8pm Monday to Thursday. 8am-630pm Friday

Victim Support for help if you are in an abusive relationship www.victimsupport.org.uk The team down there on Falcon Road are great for advice, support and helping you out.

Relate can help discuss relationships with partners, children, family www.relate.org.uk

Catch 22 is a free local service for young people with emotional or addiction issues.
www.catch-22.org.uk or telephone on 07770 573 131. We have been really impressed with catch 22 because they provide a great service. One of their counsellors uses a room at Elboorugh Street once a month to make it easier for our patients. Do check out the website or speak to one of the GPs here to find out more if you have concerns about your teenager.

Dr Q