It’s Alcohol Awareness Week! It’s a week of awareness-raising, campaigning for change and discussing alcohol and mental health.

You don’t have to use alcohol to be affected by it. Problem alcohol use affects families, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and communities, with the result that there are actually far more ‘affected others’ than there are problem drinkers. Many ‘affected others’ are severely traumatised by prolonged exposure to the consequences of the addiction of a loved one. Anxiety levels escalate as they attempt to contain the situation by shouldering ever-increasing levels responsibility. Partners and parents become carers, grandparents take on parenting roles, and children find themselves ‘parenting’ adults.

‘Affected others’ often play a significant role in the addict’s recovery, providing practical and emotional support, and helping to restore self-esteem and motivation. Yet, although vast sums of public money are invested in the treatment of alcoholism, comparatively little is invested in providing support to ‘affected others’. Most of the available support comes from national and local voluntary services.

In Cornwall, the Freshfield Service provides a Telephone Helpline. Shame, embarrassment, and stigmatisation can lead ‘affected others’ to conceal their situation from relatives and friends, leaving them feeling isolated and unable to talk to anyone about their problems. The Helpline provides an opportunity to talk to someone in confidence.

The Helpline (01872 241952) is open from Monday to Wednesday between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.