"Beating Alcohol Dependency with the help of OnTrak and our local GP."

About: Locala Community Partnerships CIC / Drug and alcohol service Locala Walk in Centre NHS Greater Huddersfield CCG

(as the patient),

I’m in my early 70s, and I have enjoyed a relatively good, and health-wise, a relatively trouble-free life, but the last couple of years have proved very stressful. These last years included providing 3 weeks of daily palliative home care to my younger sister until her ultimate demise through cancer, and a house move which also proved to be an extremely stressful 18-month period. I have for many years enjoyed a drink at the appropriate moments, but by the time we moved into our new home I was drinking very heavily and had undoubtedly become alcohol dependent, I constantly felt physically ill and suffered many debilitating symptoms, I felt totally exhausted, and very depressed. My first port of call was my local GP.

My local GP referred me to the local OnTrak centre in Huddersfield where I was assigned a specialist support worker. For the first few weeks (around 6 weeks) I was closely monitored, counselled, and encouraged on a very regular basis by both my GP and the support worker. Then a detox was suggested, and following a medical assessment by the OnTrak specialist medical doctor it was agreed that a home detox would be the most appropriate route in my specific case.

The detox lasted 7 days, I was assigned a specialist detox nurse who visited me at home twice daily for the first few days, and then daily thereafter, but she made herself available at all times by telephone in case I felt that I needed her. This young woman was fantastic, she provided and helped me manage all my medication, and she provided considerable and invaluable support and advice. During detox my OnTrak support worker regularly called me on the phone to check my progress and offer support, encouragement and advice.

For quite a few weeks before detox I was quite ill. I suffered daily extreme dry retching – an incredibly debilitating and disturbing symptom, I had suffered substantial tremmors each morning and could not pick up a drink or even pour a drink without spilling most of it, I was unable to write legibly or sign my name, it made it embarrassing to be in front of other people, and I was eating very little or even nothing at all most days, and most days I never got dressed. All these symptoms were getting progressively worse.

I am now 8 weeks on from detox and been alcohol free since day 1, the start of the detox programme – all of the above symptoms have disappeared completely. I feel well again, or as well as you can for a 70 year old. Everyone I come across who knows me is telling me how well I look now compared to a few months ago - and I hadn’t noticed. That’s all good news, but the really good news is that they don’t know ‘where I’ve been’ – thanks to the discretion and professionalism of the OnTrak people and our GP. I know I still have some way to go yet to avoid regression - but I owe it to a number of fantastic people to see it through.

A Special Thanks to some Special People

Yes - People is the right word. Yes - all the people who have helped me have been professional, able, and knowledgeable about their main disciplines. But most of all - they were real people - doing more than just a job – people who cared, people who understood people and really wanted to help. All gave me a great deal of comfort, confidence and compassion.

My special thanks to:

Lynn Smith - My OnTrak Support Worker – There could not have been a better match for me as a support worker than Lynn. Lynn got the measure of me on our first meeting, put me at ease with working with her, and with working with OnTrak. Lynn has been my king-pin and key to my successes, and key to keeping me ‘on track’. She was right for me.

Katherine Bown – Detox Nurse – Katherine was fantastic, she provided and helped me manage all my medication, and she provided considerable and invaluable support and advice. But she gave me more than that, she gave me confidence that the right person was looking after me and took all my worries about home detox away. But despite appearing to work long hours and under considerable pressure she gave me absolute confidence that she would not let me down (and she never did), and that she loved her job. I’m glad my nurse was Katherine. Katherine works hard and is committed to helping her patients succeed.

Dr. Hester Dunlop – GP – Skelmanthorpe Family Doctors - Can’t praise our GP DR. Dunlop enough. Dr. Dunlop continually gave me good professional advice, always gave me sufficient time for a consultation. But again it was much more than that. She was always understanding, showed compassion and never judgmental. She was always prepared to listen, and gave me confidence in her actions. She referred me to OnTrack and regularly monitored me throughout the process.

Dr. Jack Leach – Alcohol Medical/Clinical Adviser to OnTrak - I was interviewed by Dr. Leach prior to and following detox – OnTrak seem to have all he right people – Dr. leach was another guy who was really personable, gave me confidence, and made me feel comfortable with proposed processes. I am also aware that he worked closely with Katherine Bown and Lynn Smith during my detox process.

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Response from Louise Thornton, Customer Engagement Manager , Adults Planned and Health and Wellbeing Business Unit, Locala Community Partnerships

picture of Louise Thornton

Hi Wer70

Reading you story has really made my day... 8 weeks on, no symptoms, feeling well and people telling you, you look great what an achievement! it also sounds down to your determination as well as the fantastic team that have supported you.

I have asked my colleague and team leader to personally pass your thanks to those really special people.



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