“YOU end up lying, cheating, stealing, going to any lengths to get the stuff, it’s a life of emotional bankruptcy. . . .”
Those are the words of local resident Joanne (not her real name) 20 years sober this week on the eve of Alcohol Awareness Week, November 16-24.
Now working for Alcoholics Anonymous, she knows the depths alcohol dependency will send people, nevermind the damage it will do to their work, relationships and their own body.
“There are a lot of myths about Alcoholics Anonymous, for instance that it’s about religion, but it’s not, it’s about a group, something bigger than yourself, helping you build resilience so that you can deal with life’s problems rather than waiting for someone to fix them for you,” she says.
“It’s about growing up, taking responsibility for yourself. Without AA I’d either be seriously mentally ill or dead, because that’s where alcoholism was taking me.”
This year Alcohol Awarenesss Week comes as evidence emerges that more and more people are reaching for the bottle due to the strains of the lockdown and Covid-19 pandemic.
But while most AA meetings have now moved online due to coronavirous, Joanne says the support is still out there.
“This year we have seen a regular influx of new faces onto our online meetings,” she says.
“It’s quite surprising, but perhaps people find it easier joining a meeting remotely.
“However, what is important is that there are many ways a person can stop drinking, and people are joining, and they are staying sober.”
Across the region AA holds more than 70 meetings every week from Birmingham to Solihull, Redditch, Worcester and Droitwich to Stratford, Rugby and beyond, all served by a local phone helpline.
Since Covid-19 calls to the helpline have gone up by 22 per cent and calls to the ‘chat now’ service have risen by 31 per cent.
The email response service has seen a rise of 32 per cent boosted by a 300 per cent increase in requests for meeting information.
For help locally call 01212 120111.