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Knowing when enough is enough

Created on 30/11/2010 @ 17:42
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As Christmas approaches, so do the heavy nights of over-indulgence on food and drink which seem to be as much a part of the Festive Period as Santa and snow.
But as Newtown area residents gear up for some big nights out, one local recovered alcoholic provided us with a sobering reminder of the darker side of drinking.
His courage to come forward from out of the shadows provides a stark wake-up call that booze can ruin lives and cause terrible health issues but, as he has found out, it is never too late to say no and to seek help.
Alcoholics Anonymous is supporting people in the area and its doors are always open. Here, we asked him what you need to know should you require help. And, remember, just like our interviewee found out, it is NEVER too late.
What is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?
AA is a voluntary, worldwide, fellowship of men and women from all walks of life who meet together to attain and maintain sobriety. We have all had the same problem. The only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking.

Is there a definition of alcoholism?
You could say it is intermittent of continual ingestion of alcohol leading to dependency or harm whether physical, mental or social. Or that drinking starts costing you more than money. Or perhaps that you drink more than your Doctor!

There are basically two types – binge or bout drinking – the symptom of which is loss of control once having started drinking – the prisons are full of this type. Then there is dependence drinking – the symptom of which is inability to abstain even for a day.

There are some indicators – blackouts, preoccupation with supply, hiding bottles, secret drinking and getting in trouble!

Are there local meetings?
Yes, several on different nights in both Newtown and Welshpool. There are also meetings in Shrewsbury, Oswestry and Bishop’s Castle. We also have groups in local hospitals and prisons. There are about 4,300 AA meetings in the UK every week and approximately 40,000 members.
What are meetings like?
They are very informal. Members share their experiences so that a newcomer can identify the problem and see that recovery is not only possible but worthwhile. Strangely, perhaps, there are lots of laughs.
The programme is about being well, not sick. And learning how to survive in a heavy drinking culture. The real therapy is helping others to recover which can be very rewarding.

How is AA funded?
We are entirely self supporting – we do not solicit funds from any outside agency. The main income is what members can afford to put in the pot (often a pint pot!) after the meeting.

How do you contact AA?
The helpline number is 0845 7697 555 – ring it and you will put in touch with the nearest group to you. There is also a sister fellowship, the Alanon Family Groups, which helps partners of alcoholics – 02074 030888.
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