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An older drinker’s alcoholism shock

A case study from Port of Call

Derek, 67, from Oldham regularly exceeded the weekly recommended alcohol limit – and didn’t even realise it. A few nightly cans in front of the TV and a ‘skinful’ down the pub on the weekend had been his routine for years. But, as his drinking progressed, on his doctor’s advice, Derek came to Port of Call to get some help and advice about changing the habit of a lifetime.

drinking too much

Derek’s alcoholism story

Drinking has always been my way of relaxing but it’s never been a problem for me. Alright, I like to get drunk every now and then – not as much as I used to in my younger days – but I’ve always been in control. None of that hooligan behaviour that you see on the streets nowadays.

It used to be fine to do that. Then the Government brought in all these guidelines and I just can’t get my head round it all. My doctor asked me how many units I drink in a week. ‘I’ve got no idea’ I said. What’s a unit anyway? I’m still not sure but he told me that I was drinking too much. That my couple of beers a night were bad for my health – especially for an older bloke like me.

Body can’t deal with it like it used to, apparently, and it’s dangerous with my medications. I said to the doctor: ‘How do you expect me to change now? I’ve always had a drop to drink each night.’ I’m not someone who needs help; I’m not an addict. But he said that I really should think about getting some help for my drinking and the reasons for it. He then gave me a leaflet about Port of Call.

I was a bit dubious at first. Why should I get help? But I thought of my late wife, Maureen, who always said I was too proud to get help with anything and had on many occasions got upset with me when id had one too many. Truth be told, I’d been in denial for a long time about my drinking and had surrounded myself with people who drank like me. I’d become a regular propping up the bar and since retiring from work and the loss of my wife, the visits to the pub had been starting earlier and earlier. Of late, I’d been waiting for the pub to open and often stopping off for a bottle of spirits on the way home. Life had become very small and very depressing. I did it for her, as much for me. So I dialled the number and the adviser at Port of Call listened to my story and suggested a counsellor. That’s something that I’d never have considered before but I decided to give it a go.

I went to see my counsellor, on and off, for about 12 weeks. I didn’t expect it to take that long. But I found myself talking about things that I hadn’t said out loud before. It was a similar experience at my AA meetings; strange at first but I found myself sharing things that I’d kept to myself for years. The seven years since Maureen passed especially. So to be able to talk it through like that, with a professional and other people who understood, was a big weight off my shoulders.

I really look forward to my AA meetings these days and I’ve made some lifelong friends. I’ve found that not drinking is a better way of life. I still couldn’t tell you what a unit is, or how many people should have*, but now I settle down to a cup of tea instead most nights. I’m happier, and healthier, than I have been for a long while and it’s all down to Port of Call, and my doctor, for helping me to change my habits.

* Men should drink no more than 21 units of alcohol per week, no more than four units in any one day, and have at least two alcohol-free days a week. Women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, no more than three units in any one day, and have at least two alcohol-free days a week. One unit of alcohol is about equal to half a pint of ordinary strength beer, lager or cider (3-4% ABV); a small pub measure (25 ml) of spirits (40% ABV); or a standard pub measure (50 ml) of fortified wine, like sherry or port (20% alcohol by volume). There are one and a half units of alcohol in a small glass (125 ml) of ordinary strength wine (12% ABV); or a standard pub measure (35 ml) of spirits (40% ABV).

Contact us today to find out how we can help you cut down your drinking for a happier and healthier future. Quitting drinking doesn’t always need to involve private rehab; addiction support is available in various different ways.

Disclaimer: Names and certain details have been changed to protect the identity of case study participants.

For more information about Port of Call’s comprehensive array of professional and discreet alcohol and drug rehab support services, please call 08000029010.

About the author: Martin Preston

Martin is our Founder and Chief Executive. Martin is himself in long term recovery and started Port of Call to help families navigate treatment options. In 2020 Martin will open Delamere Health Ltd, the UK’s first purpose built addiction treatment clinic.

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