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Struggling with Dry January in 2019?

Struggling with Dry January in 2019?

“Dry January” the month long campaign and fund-raiser, run by the charity alcohol change (www.alcoholchange.org.uk) has involved over four million UK participants, this year, all of whom sign up to give up alcohol for the whole month.

 

“Dry January” has fast become part of the national consciousness.  Like Black Friday, or Christmas Jumper Day, something which started off as a small fundraiser and awareness campaign, now involves many of us.

 

calendar-151591_1280 Struggling with Dry January in 2019?

 

The charity alcohol change, which was formed from the merger of Alcohol Concern and Alcohol research UK, champions the benefits of giving up alcohol for a month:  They claim that 88% of participants save money, 71% of participants had better sleep, with 67% of them reporting having higher energy.  Meanwhile, a further 58% of participants lost weight.

 

Dry January is .marketed as “the perfect opportunity to reset your relationship with alcohol”  The charity’s website tells us: “Lots of us feel like we’re drinking a bit too much, or too often, or just like we could do with some time off”.  Alcohol Change suggests that Dry January could be the first step in a longer term change.  “It only takes three weeks to break a habit so this could be your route to a happier, healthier drinking long-term.”

 

All of this sounds very appealing.  Dry January participants regularly take to social media to discuss brighter skin, weight loss or better sleep.  Many of them post about events they now enjoy without alcohol.  There is a collective wisdom that come 1st February, each of their relationship with alcohol will have changed.

 

According to the World Health Organisation’s alcohol AUDIT, 72% of people who do Dry January are still drinking less riskily six months later.  With the  proven links to heath conditions such as liver disease, high blood pressure, depression and at least seven types of cancer, lower drinking rates are indisputably a good thing.

 

But what about those who start the new year determined to stop drinking or at the very least, cut down their alcohol intake, and fail to get past the first few dark days of January?  Dr Ian Hamilton, a lecturer in mental health and addiction at the University of York, has raised concerns that those who attempt an abstinence in January, and fail, could be discouraged from seeking further help.  “The problem for them is if they start Dry January and don’t complete it, it does nothing for their confidence.”

 

He goes on: “We know that treatment services for people who develop problems with alcohol have been savagely cut – so in some ways, campaigns (such as Dry January) are a distraction from people who really do have a problem.  Dr Hamilton argues that those people who complete Dry January are those who don’t have a problem.  Yet little research has been carried out on the numbers of people who fail to stick to Dry January or any other attempt at sobriety.

 

According to The Independent, nine out of ten people who attempt to give up or even cut down their drinking in January, fail.  A whole host of different reasons are cited: January’s a miserable month with its cold weather, lack of light, credit card bills and tax demands.  Many Dry January “sliders” claim it’s the worst month to give up drink.

 

One journalist maintains that setting ourselves up for an entire month without alcohol is setting ourselves up for failure.  “The problem with these artificial challenges like quitting smoking for Stoptober or Meat-free Mondays, is that unless you set out with Olympian determination, you are setting yourself up to fail.  And then you feel worse, and the idea that you can’t stop is re-inforced”.

 

Some of this may be true.  But what about the UK’s estimated 10.8 million problem drinkers (Source: Alcohol Concern Survey 2018), who regularly consume enough alcohol to pose a serious threat to their health?  Specialist Addiction Psychotherapist, Rebecca Sparkes, says that few of these men and women will be helped by a campaign such as Dry January.

 

“Most heavy or problem drinkers struggle to change their behaviour around alcohol without specialist support,” she says.  “Heavy drinkers in particular need to be aware of the physical risks of stopping drinking suddenly.  Many of those who try to stop completely will experience sweating, palpitations, headaches and nausea.  A medium to heavy drinker should have medical support from their GP and use medication in a cutting-down period.”

 

Rebecca recommends anyone who has struggled to stop their drinking or cut down their intake should contact their GP or seek help from one of the alcohol awareness charities.  “It’s really tough stopping or cutting down, especially if alcohol is a big part of anyone’s working life or social life.  Doctors and alcohol charities can put anyone struggling in touch with a number of support services which can be really valuable in the first few days and weeks.”

 

Many heavy or problem drinkers admit that there are underlying stresses or problems in their lives and that alcohol is a way of numbing those difficulties.  Work stress, financial problems, relationship difficulties and loneliness are all common reasons cited for heavy drinking.

 

An experienced alcohol and addictions counsellor or psychotherapist will be able to help anyone whose drinking is under-pinned by life problems, help tackle whatever issues are causing difficulty, as well as support the process of abstinence.

 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (“CBT”) can be a very useful way of working with problem drinkers.  CBT helps people better understand their triggers for drinking and how they can introduce different behaviours or strategies.

 

Anyone who is struggling with depression, anxiety or low self-esteem might benefit from a more in-depth approach from an addictions psychotherapist.  If alcohol has been a way of coping with low mood or feelings of emptiness, there will be an added layer of shame and hopelessness.

 

~”Most people who are drinking as a way of coping or managing also know that alcohol is making their problems worse,” says Rebecca Sparkes.  “But they believe they can’t face a life without alcohol.  An experienced therapist can help people better understand their difficulties and tackle problems more effectively, without alcohol or other substances.”

 

If you or a friend/family member are experiencing difficulties with alcohol, please contact Help4addiction 0203 955 7700

Nicholas Conn / 6th February 2019/ Posted in: Alcohol, Latest News

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Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Diazapam (vailium)


Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

  • Naltrexone
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Nalmefene
  • Acamprosate (campral)

Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

*based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

Local treatment

Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

Treatment Away

Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.