If drink is costing you more than money, then there is help available today.
This article from Alcoholics Anonymous promotes information on its online meetings and phone services for people in Donegal during these troubled times:
The alcohol awareness campaign in November has been and gone, the inevitable ‘Let’s give it up for January’ New Year’s resolutions have also gone by the wayside and now The Northern Ireland Alcohol Awareness Week is around the corner in June. Those who occasionally overindulge in these uncertain times will rein in their drinking for a few weeks or so. Others will promise to cut down for good.
However, every day in thousands of households across Donegal, Northern Ireland and the entire island, people are struggling with a real drink problem in the middle of this Worldwide Emergency. According to Alcoholics Anonymous, people turning up for their first Online Meeting are not sleeping on park benches, are not homeless, are usually employed. Outwardly they appear to have normal lives. Many of them appear to be highly successful with good jobs and a family and a mortgage. They get up, they go to work if they have not been furloughed, or work from home and they drink.
Sometimes they drink at work, or in the house or maybe they have begun to hide their drinking from their colleagues, wives and their families. Some have started drinking during the day or even seeking relief in that early morning first drink. They may have become aware themselves that it might be a bit of a problem. Mostly they do not think it is a problem at all. They dismiss criticism of their behaviour; they may not be truthful about their levels of alcohol consumption. A lot of them feel unwell most of the time, a constant low hum of a hangover that gets louder now and again when they have really hit the bottle. They do not know what will happen when they pick up a drink. Sometimes they can control it, sometimes they cannot. For some, it has already passed way beyond any form of control.
We are living in unprecedented times and it is still unclear how long the current restrictions will be in place or when we can get back to the New Normal. The stresses and strains people are experiencing during the current lockdown have sadly began to see its toll with alcohol abuse and domestic violence on an alarming upward curve as recently reported, according to Senior Medical sources, HSC and the PSNI. Although Alcohol Admissions are down over 50% during lockdown according to HSC, this is probably down to the fact that the public do not want to either put themselves at risk and more importantly want to help our fantastic NHS. Anecdotal evidence suggests a substantial increase in Alcohol sales and further suggests people are drinking more alcohol during lockdown at home, according to HSC. This is a Pressure Cooker situation in Donegal, Northern Ireland and the entire island which is about to explode.
Individuals, families and communities need help and support with Alcohol problems during these troubled times more than ever. The good news is that there is support out there to anyone, anywhere who reaches out, that the Hand of Alcoholics Anonymous is waiting to help them.
Alcoholics Anonymous has been in Northern Ireland for over 65 years. AA had its beginnings in 1935 in Akron Ohio as the outcome of a meeting between Bill W., a New York stockbroker, and Dr. Bob S., an Akron surgeon. Both had been hopeless alcoholics. Following what they both considered a spiritual awakening they realised that one sober alcoholic could help another alcoholic to achieve sobriety. AA came to The Republic of Ireland in 1946 when Conor F, an Irishman who got sober in America came to Dublin on holiday. An AA Group was formed in Dublin that very year and since then has spread North of the border with Belfast opening its first meeting in Northern Ireland in 1953 on the Lisburn Road.
AA Online Meetings are free and available to anyone who has a desire to stop drinking. There are no waiting lists, or referrals. Their Online Meetings are everywhere, in every city and nearly every town across Northern Ireland, every night of the week. Daytime Online Meetings are available too. In Northern Ireland alone, there are 214 groups who were meeting weekly before the lockdown with a membership which is estimated at more than 3000. In the Republic of Ireland there are 842 groups with an estimated 13000 members. Worldwide it is estimated there are more than two million members across 181 nations and numbering 117,000 groups.
Before the lockdown Alcoholics Anonymous had over 60 Meetings per night in Ulster with over 180 AA Volunteers doing vital Service.
Alcoholics Anonymous has had to adapt into finding new ways to communicate and interact as a Fellowship in Northern Ireland during these challenging times. Social distancing restrictions have meant that all of AAs 214 Physical Meetings have had to close for the duration of the lockdown in Ulster, so AA had planned for this eventuality by introducing AA Online Meetings across the Province. The Fellowship continues with the essential work of helping those with a desire to stop drinking. All Online AA approved meetings have safeguards in place to protect the individuals Anonymity.
Far from the preconceived idea of a problem drinker these AA Online Meetings include men and women of all backgrounds for whom the nightly/daily drink became a nightmare. Using a twelve-step programme and support of others who have stayed sober, they help the drinker stop and stay stopped. Then they offer help and support to live out a happy and contented life free from a dependence on alcohol.
As spelled out in its Preamble, which is read out before every Online Meeting:
“Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.”
Alcoholics Anonymous also plans to hold Secure Online Open Public Information Meetings shortly which includes Medical Speakers, Al Anon Family Speakers as well as AA Speakers to share their Experience, Strength and Hope to individuals and family members who are affected by problems with Alcohol. Details of these meetings will be published in the coming weeks and can also be obtained from the contact details below.
AA has a local telephone line where first time callers are put in touch with an AA member in their locality who will share his/her experience on recovery and offer to put them in touch with an AA member who will assist them to their first Online Meeting. People can find details of their local Online Meetings from the AA website listed below or by ringing our Central Services Office also listed below.
The Central Services Number for Ulster is +44 (0) 28 90 351222 and covers the whole of the Province. There is also help by email at firstname.lastname@example.org (Monday-Friday). General Service Office covering the island of Ireland can be contacted on +353 (0) 1 842 0700 or alternatively email email@example.com. More information is available at www.alcoholicsanonymous.ie.