Fresh Ideas about Alcohol; in Association with the NHS Drinking Experts Have Come Together to Tackle Booze Misuse in a Holistic Way. Health Reporter HELEN RAE Explains

Article excerpt

Byline: HELEN RAE

ALCOHOL misuse campaigners gathered in the region to explain why a new holistic approach was needed to support people with the problem.

Kevan Martin, chief executive of the North East Regional Alcohol Forum (NERAF), set up the national charity after the system failed to help him through his own journey out of addiction.

Addressing experts at a special Alcohol Abuse Symposium, hosted by Northumbria University's Centre for Public Policy, Mr Martin said it was pointless giving people detox as the only form of support.

"It is essential that we move towards a more holistic approach to tackling alcohol misuse," he explained.

"It's pointless giving people detox alone as it just doesn't work in isolation - you have to look at all other aspects of life at the same time as providing treatment.

"Relationships, housing and debt are just some of the external factors that can all impact on a person's treatment programme and ultimately on their recovery.

"We believe that by taking this holistic approach, it will enable people to enjoy a total and radical lifestyle change, which is what is needed for people who have been misusing alcohol for many years."

Alcohol misuse affects every area of life, from education, employment and health to crime and disorder.

At the event some of the strategic priorities for reducing the risks of alcohol abuse were addressed.

The event focused on alcohol misuse in its broadest sense, with a specific interest in young people and binge drinking.

It also looked at the links between alcohol and domestic violence and focused on alcohol policy within a regional context.

The Centre for Public Policy, which has had a team of staff working with NERAF, organised the meeting.

They have devised an extensive toolkit that is set to help people experiencing problems with alcohol, as well as providing a wide source of data regarding misuse.

Rob Wiggins, business manager at Northumbria's Centre for Public Policy, said: "This project is part of a major initiative called Urban Regeneration: Making a Difference.

"The aim of the scheme is to tackle some of the real and very complex problems facing communities across the North of England.

"Working with NERAF has given us the opportunity to provide academic and research expertise to a valuable organisation while working alongside the team in a holistic way."

He added: "We have devised a special toolkit that enables individuals to chart how alcohol is affecting their lives overall, including their health and wellbeing, relationships with family and friends, finance and employment and their self-esteem.

"The progress results will be charted on a specifically tailored database that will then give a clear view of the wider social and economic impact of alcohol misuse in the lives of the individuals.

"The results from this database could also potentially have a policy impact in terms of the way individuals receive and respond to treatment, as well as the implications for wider society. …