There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in - Desmond Tutu

ABC NIGHTLIFE : EPISODE ON DEFEATING ALCOHOLISM



I have taken the liberty of summarising a lengthy and interesting discussion that happened late last night on Nightlife by ABC radio for you all xx

For the full 40 minute audio interview click here: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/nightlife/nightlife/10683826


SUMMARY NOTES FOR THOSE SHORT ON TIME :


Features:

Melanie Taite (ABC) Chris Raine (Hello Sunday Morning) 'Steve' from A.A and GP Brad Mackay


''despite the destructive influence alcohol has on our nation we too often ignore it'' - Melanie Tait

INTRO/ OPENING COMMENTS:


o Alcohol abuse is the second biggest cause of cancer

o We are one of the biggest boozers worldwide

o 1 in 4 Aussies are risky drinkers

o More than 3 drinks in 2 hours puts you into the toxic zone

o There is an alcoholic gene that makes you predisposed to alcoholism

o Celtic background tends towards alcoholic behaviour



MEDICAL THOUGHTS FROM GP:


Medical professional classifies alcoholism as:


- frequently drinking more than you intend to

- having an increased tolerance

- tried multiple times to quit and cannot

- missing your responsibilities because of booze

- drinking despite ongoing negative consequenses


  • AA defines it as: is alcohol ‘’costing’’ you more than money? As per this link:

  • LINK: https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/is-aa-for-you-twelve-questions-only-you-can-answer

  • If you are presenting to a GP with booze - the very least and basic simplest question a Doctor should ask or use is the ‘’CAGE’’ questionnaire, which includes: have you ever felt you needed to CUT down? Are you ANNOYED (that someone asks you about your drinking?) Are you feeling GUILTY (because of your drinking?) Do you find yourself wanting to take an EARLY morning drink (despite wanting not to?)

  • The SMART recovery programme is also another popular option based in CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy)

  • Drugs including Antabuse can be used to induce vomiting when alcohol is consumed – this is described as ‘less than ideal’ but can be used best under supervision

  • Naltrexone can be used to stop the ‘buzz’ from alcohol designed to separate the feelings of joy and reward for the drinker


NON MEDICAL ALTERNATIVES:

  • A 12 step programme that’s been around for almost a century which is recommended for those who share the desire to quit drinking and is especially recommended for latter or more serious / end-stage alcoholism >>https://aa.org.au/

  • Suggested that you attend meetings and that you work the steps and programme with a mentor aka a ‘sponsor’


HELLO SUNDAY MORNING

  • https://www.hellosundaymorning.org/

  • Founded by Chris Raine who gave up alcohol for a year and blogged about it … the organisation grew organically from there and is currently Australia’s leading charity for alcohol awareness aimed at changing our relationships with alcohol

  • Focused on supporting people who are motivated to change their relationship with alcohol

  • Membership has tended towards middle-aged women who cannot access treatment

  • You can sign up and use their Daybreak APP which provides a community group and/or access to counsellors and coaches

  • All about individual choice rather than one specific course of action; whether the individual wants a break, to cut back, or quit altogether

  • Studies via Monash show that people are likely to change when they can stick at something for a period of time – randomised control trials will be happening in the org.


SOBER IN THE COUNTRY

Founder: Shanna Whan


** I wasn't in the interview - I am adding this for those who'd like to know how it fits in

** I will be doing an extensive interview shortly with ABC regional - stay tuned**

  • https://www.soberinthecountry.com.au/

  • A recovered alcoholic who almost her life in 2014.

  • After becoming fully recovered she began blogging about her inability to find adequate support, services, or help in rural Australia.

  • She started an AA programme in her home town and spent two years ‘waiting’ to support locals but ultimately found that nobody who needed help would walk through the doors

  • From this basis she decided to something she was told must never be done – and she broke her own anonymity and began to speak frankly, publicly and with complete candour about her battle against alcoholism; after realising that ‘anonymity’ in the bush was a complete contradiction and paradox which wasn't working in a rural setting

  • The response was astonishing – particularly from her own demographic of high-functioning fellow peers, professionals, and Mums and Dads who appeared to society as ‘’fine’’ but deep down were suffering terribly

  • Within a year she’d graduated as a health coach and begun to use her speaking background in more spaces

  • The openness of her discussion paved a way for others to gain information that was real, relatable, and made sense to others in a remote or rural setting

  • In 2018 was a finalist in the NSW/ACT Rural Woman of the Year award

  • In May 2018 she branded her conversations Sober in the Country. This has since gone national – and Shanna has appeared on SBS Insight, multiple radio interiews, and multiple print media due to interest generated off the back of her open discussions

  • SITC is based in COMMUNITY + CONNECTION and is, similarily to HSM, all about individual choice, discussion, and information-flow between peers supporting other peers who share their own stories about the challenges in rural and regional Australia

  • Recently she has partnered with Hello Sunday Morning and is now their rural ambassador

  • today she runs a support group for almost almost 160 rural peers on a private group

  • she is campaigning for funding from the Government and is a full time volunteer

  • See TED talk here for summary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drkUnlGRKVc


ADVICE FOR FAMILY MEMBERS?

  • Often a family members has continually tried to cut back or quit and is trapped in guilt and cycles; so the best way to start is to get professionals around you including a DA worker, psychologist, and other recovered alcoholics

  • Al Anon is the AA parallel that exists for the friends and family members to help support


CONCLUSIONS

  • There isn’t really a one-size-fits-all approach

  • Alcoholism is a progressive and fatal disease which is extremely complex and misunderstood

  • Community and connection is critical

  • The conversations and willingness to chat about alcohol abuse in Australia is on the rise

  • If you cannot stop – got to the AA website. TRY it. Try HSM. Try Sober in the Country. Try whatever you can do see what you can.

  • See your Doctor. See other professionals.

  • The solution begins with the drinker taking action.


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