Extra help is on hand across Salford for anyone struggling with drink problems during Alcohol Awareness Week which runs from November 11-17.

Salford is fortunate enough to have a number of centres available to provide help and advice to those residents with alcohol issues – but unfortunately this is also a reflection of how large a problem alcoholism is in this area.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) support groups have led to successful sobriety for many of their members, including those in Salford.

Public information officer Julian (whose surname has not been disclosed for confidentiality reasons), 47, said: “AA is a global fellowship. It’s been around since 1935 and there’s millions of people who owe their lives to the recovery they found through it.

“We’re a mutual aid fellowship but we keep ourselves very much to the primary purpose of alcoholism and helping those who are still suffering alcoholics … we’re anonymous but we’re not invisible.”

Help and support is available where you see this sign. Credit: Olivia Morris

He added: “We have a Manchester Intergroup and there are 254 meetings in Manchester every week. There’s one every day that people in Salford could get to.”

The recovery programme promotes how alcoholism is an illness, and encourages those struggling to seek AA support.

Julian said: “What we offer really is a place where people can get knowledge of what’s wrong with them and they can get that understanding. We also offer peer support and sponsorship.”

Although sponsorship is available immediately, it is suggested that sponsors themselves have undergone 12 months sobriety and have therefore already gone through the 12 steps. Sponsorship is recommended as part of their continued recovery with experienced members encouraged to support other sufferers, sharing their own experiences with those beginning their sobriety journey.

He said: “AA offers hope, it offers a way out, it offers empathy… the service that we offer to people is invaluable.”

Residents with alcohol problems in Salford now highest in the UK

At Alcoholics Anonymous individuals are encouraged to follow the 12 step recovery programme, which has been incredibly successful.

Julian said: “Walking through the door for the first time is the hardest part but the first session can make a huge difference.

“You can feel like the world’s lifted off your shoulders, you’re not having to carry it around anymore. One of the key messages from AA is that you are never alone, and of course that’s one of the hardest parts of alcoholism, as it isolates people.

“AA offers hope, it offers a way out, it offers empathy.” – Julian

The Alcoholics Anonymous groups are extremely diverse and welcome members from all faiths, race, social environments and differing backgrounds- with the support service being free of charge.

As well as adults, alcoholism can also affect young people. The Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS service, Achieve Salford Young People Team located at The Beacon Centre, Salford, is just one of the many support systems available.

‘Early Break’ is a Young People’s Drug and Alcohol Service which began working in Salford in April 2018. It is a partner in the Achieve Service Contract and supports Salford individuals struggling with alcohol related issues.

Rhyse Cathcart, 43, operational manager for Salford Young People Substance Misuse Service, said: “We offer a comprehensive assessment of individual need – we can offer a full range of medical intervention – 1:2:1 support in the community, prescribing (if needed) and a structured and care planned treatment offer that looks at harm reduction and holistic interventions.”

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Mr Cathcart, who has worked for Achieve Salford Young People’s team for six months, added: “The work that we do can be to help them [young people] to understand what is going on for them in their lives and the impact that alcohol is having on them.”

Excessive alcohol consumption is a contributing element to mental health issues and many young individuals are requiring help.

Mr Cathcart said: “We have increased our work in schools, however the age range that we work with is usually fairly consistent.

“We get peaks in referrals generally around certain times of the year but these are more aligned with school and public holidays.”

As Julian concluded: “The problem isn’t going away, I think we’re not talking just in society and just in Salford, I think it will always be around. I think we can always do more for those still suffering.”

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with alcohol issues, please access the help available in Salford- it really could change your life.

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