14 September 2016

Plans to reduce alcohol-related harm are being introduced by Sheffield City Council. The latest data shows that 130 people die from alcohol misuse in the city every year, and 100 of them are men.

A new Alcohol Strategy has been developed to cover the next four years, and is being discussed by the council’s Cabinet on Wednesday 21 September. Plans include screening more people for problems earlier on, encouraging more people to take up treatment and working with partners to support a safe night time economy, whilst raising awareness of alcohol issues.

Danny, a recovering alcoholic, has been affected by alcohol for 16 years. He said: “I had a normal upbringing in Sheffield, was an average pupil at school and did an apprenticeship. I joined the Army when I was 20 years old. I finished my career in the Army 22 years later, and found the transition to civilian life very difficult, and that’s when my drinking started to get out of control.

“It wasn’t a problem as I saw it at first, it just started to increase. But by 2009 I was starting to drink 24/7 and my life was being run by alcohol.”

Danny joined Alcoholics Anonymous in 2009 and stayed sober for 18 months but relapsed following bereavements and was diagnosed with severe depression. He underwent further treatment including rehabilitation. He stayed sober for long periods before relapsing again.

He said: “I found it fairly easy to stop drinking but staying stopped was the problem, I became complacent and would use any excuse to start drinking again. I started to have bad dreams, lived in my shed for a week, wasn’t eating or sleeping properly, washing or shaving, and a couple of times I tried to kill myself. I couldn’t see another way out of the misery I was causing myself, my family and everyone round me. I’d lost my family, all credibility, everything really…. I tried to detox by myself and started fitting, and while in hospital realised that if I relapsed again, I would die.”

He added: “There are a lot of people out there with addiction problems. I don’t want people to go through the same nightmare as I did if possible. You come out of the other end battered and bruised, but it is well worth the effort to get sober. I’m telling my story now, so that hopefully others will realise you can come through it, there is help out there. Use it.

“You’ve got to admit to yourself that you’ve got a problem and only you can do that. And if you are wondering if you’ve got a problem then you probably have. Get yourself help and go to a meeting. You’ll be welcomed with open arms.”

Danny has now been sober for more than 18 months. He participates in events organised by Sheffield Recovery Community, raising awareness of addiction problems and is willing to share his story to help others affected by alcohol.

Councillor Cate McDonald, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said: We have made it easier to access alcohol support services in Sheffield so that more people will use them. There’s also a strong recovery community and anyone affected by alcohol issues is welcome.

“Our plans for the next four years include identifying people affected by alcohol earlier on so treatment can be offered to stop problems from getting worse. We will also continue to work with other services and explore new ways to tackle the problems.

“Our aim is to reduce the harm caused by alcohol in Sheffield to keep more people safe and living well.”

Anyone worried about their alcohol use who would like to talk about this can do so easily either by calling 0114 226 3000 to speak confidentially to someone from the city’s alcohol service, or drop into their premises between the hours of 9am and 5pm, Monday-Friday, at 44 Sidney Street (Matilda Street entrance), Sheffield, S1 4RH.