As a society, most of us enjoy sipping over a few drinks with friends or to unwind, but what happens when your drinking gets out of control, leading to Court Orders and Probation? – Sasha Wylie reports.Probation Officer Lorraine Cullen has seen first hand what binge drinking and alcoholism can do and how it can destroy not only the persons life, but those around them.
So Lorraine, how many cases would you get that have been alcohol or binge drinking related?
The majority of cases within my caseload would be alcohol related and some would be alcohol and drug related. The majority of my clients would be aged between 18-24 year olds and the offences would normally happen at the weekend outside bars and nightclubs. The offences that they commit can stretch from murders, rape and resisting police and disorderly behaviour. However, in recent years there has also been an increase in older males in drink driving and a significant increase in domestic abuse in relation with alcohol. The number of females now coming through probation doors has increased and they would all be alcohol related.
How does this affect peoples lives?
Younger males will find that having a criminal record will have a long lasting impact on their life as it can sometimes stop them getting into education, work and immigration. The immigration problem at the moment appears to have the most impact on them. Older men suffer from losing their driving license which affects their employability and sometimes results in them losing their jobs. This can have an impact upon their emotional well-being and can often result in them drinking more often than what they would have previously. The prospects of being before court and the impact of having their names printed in the newspapers can leave people overwhemled and reluctant to seek help, this is were probation provides support, not only to deal with their offending behaviour but to make them look at their alcohol consumption. Young women who drink to access are a particularly vulnerable group, often ending up in domestic abuse relationships, victims of rape and being sexually exploited.
What help is out there for people suffering from this addiction? Their is a community addictions team, however this has to be referred through a general practitioner and people are often reluctant to access this service. There can be a six month waiting list prior to people being seen and for someone struggling with a chronic addiction, this can be too long to wait for help. There are in-paitent services, again this requires to be done through GPs and requires the person to be sober. Probation provides instant services and this is usually a requirement of their license conditions or Order. They can get one to one counselling from probation support workers or from a very valuable source, Breakthru. People can self refer themselves to Breakthru and will receive the support of highly trained councillors.
Breakthru Breakthru was established in 1995 by Dungannon Development Associaton as a result of what was seen as becoming two major issues in society: Alcohol and Drugs. However, they have also incorporated self-harm and suicide into work over the last few years. Spokeswoman Vicky Boyd stated that: “Breakthru’s mission is to be at the forefront of addressing substance misuse and risk-taking behaviours through the provision of effective education, information, support and interventions to young people and communities, and to support those engaging in risk-taking behaviours to address their problems and fulfill their human potential.”
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