Recovering alcoholic shares his experience of battling addiction

shutterstock_8160544A recovering alcoholic who drank himself to the brink of liver failure is encouraging people to think about their drinking as Dry January draws to a close.

Jason, not his real name, has been receiving assistance from Royal Surrey County Hospital’s Alcohol Liaison Service since it launched in September 2014.

At his worst he would think nothing of drinking 12 pints of strong cider per day.

Years of abuse, which led to regular hospital admission, have taken their toll of his body.

Now Jason, who is in his forties, is suffering with cirrhosis of the liver caused by continuous long-term liver damage.

This deterioration cannot be reversed, but he is working hard with Anthony Gartland, the team’s Clinical Nurse Specialist, in a bid to curb its progression.

Jason, who endured a difficult upbringing, was just 13 years old when he started drinking and his abuse of alcohol continued into adulthood.

“Depression led me to severe alcoholism,” he said.

“Whenever I felt a bit lonely or down alcohol was my answer.”

Alcohol related liver damage does not cause any symptoms until the organ has been seriously damaged.

Jason first discovered that his drinking was impacting on his health when he started passing blood.

“It almost killed me at the end of last year and that gave me a real scare,” said Jason.

“It was a real eye opener. I want to live; I want to see my children grow up.”

The liver is very resilient and is capable of regenerating itself.

It can develop new cells, but prolonged alcohol misuse over many years can reduce its ability to regenerate.

“Without the team I don’t think that I would have been able to keep going,” said Jason.

“They are always there for me and have picked me up when I have dropped down.”

Jason is now encouraging other people to think about the consequences that their drinking may be having on their health.

“I would like everyone to read my story and understand that drinking too much alcohol can impact seriously on your health,” he added.

Within its first 12 months of operation, the Trust’s Alcohol Liaison Service saw and assessed 1,472 people, ranging from 13 to 102 years of age. Around 30 per cent of those seen by the team are considered to be high risk.

Anthony Gartland, the team’s Clinical Nurse Specialist, said, “It’s a fact that regularly drinking too much alcohol can have a severe effect on your health. The long-term effects of drinking may include high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, liver cirrhosis and cancer.”

“We provide a non-judgemental service for patients admitted with alcohol-related problems. Since the service launched we have seen a reduction in the number of people requiring a detox, and have introduced greater management for frequent A&E attendees.

©2017 Royal Surrey County Hospital

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