Tackling binge drinking and finding ways to reduce alcohol intake
"We wanted to help people deal with alcohol issues safely without the need to use residential treatment."
Every new year often brings what many will feel is a clean slate or the chance for a fresh start.
Community Response - a service based in Dublin - reached out to JOE to help spread the message of safe alcohol detox.
Getting the right support for those that need it
In 2019, Ireland had the 8th highest rate of monthly binge drinking in the world. On average Irish people drank 10.8 litres of alcohol per year, equating to 113 bottles of wine, or 436 pints of beer classifying over half of Irish Drinkers as “hazardous” drinkers (O’Dwyer, Mongan, Doyle Galvin, 2021).
While most people use alcohol safely, alcohol is one of the most common forms of substance misuse. Some people who decide to stop or reduce their drinking, do so on their own or by engaging in self-help tools. For others, particularly those who regularly binge drink or drink daily may need medical and/or social support.
The Community Alcohol Detox (CAD) Initiative launched in 2019 under the Ministerial fund, one of many aimed at tackling drug and alcohol misuse around the country. This project aimed to improve the health and well-being of individuals who have alcohol dependence or are engaged in harmful drinking in specific South Dublin areas.
Community Response, a primary alcohol service, in collaboration with four local Drug and Alcohol Task Forces, hosted the project aiming to engage with people facing barriers around entering residential treatment and seeking support in reducing their drinking.
Community Alcohol Detox is a non-residential treatment option where a GP prescribes medication to support someone to manage withdrawal symptoms as they start to cut down in combination with community support in the form of key-working, groups, or counselling to support them in the process.
Individuals generally access Community Detox through their GP and get referred/self-refer to community supports. It is always recommended that someone explore their options with their GP before they start to cut down who will assess suitability for Community Detox and signpost them to services in their local area. This is particularly important for heavy or “dependent” drinkers.
This project aims to create awareness about the range of supports available for individuals and their families looking for support around alcohol. It aims to enhance relationships between healthcare providers (GPs, Primary Care Centres, and Hospitals) with local addiction services/NGOs to enhance referral pathways and ensure that anyone seeking support is always being provided with the most appropriate level of information about how to access support whether their goal is cutting out or cutting down drinking.
When the project first began, service users and a range of health and social care professionals were consulted, they had first-hand experience with Community Alcohol Detox or reducing their alcohol use in a non-residential setting. This provided the opportunity to identify what problem areas existed for individuals when accessing services and supports.
“We wanted to help people deal with alcohol issues safely without the need to use residential treatment," explains Nicola Perry, the service manager at Community Response.
Key issues arising from feedback were the lack of awareness of what type of supports were available in combination with lack of referral pathways to access such supports. In direct response to feedback, “Make the Change: An Alcohol Reduction Resource” was developed.
Make the Change: An Alcohol Reduction Resource
Make the Change: An Alcohol Reduction Resource refers to a website, manual, and video resources aimed at creating awareness around alcohol reduction, alcohol supports and a directory of services.
The Manual offers a best practice framework for alcohol reduction providing information, guidance, and workshop questions prompting individuals or professionals supporting individuals to explore their drinking in addition to guidance for family members and concerned others.
The website offers information and guidance around alcohol reduction, treatment options, and a service directory specific to Dublin in addition to an alcohol toolkit and video resources and can be used in different languages.
All resources are designed for anyone looking for support around alcohol, family members or concerned others, and social and health care professionals. Make the Change aims to be as user friendly as possible and of benefit to a variety of people.