"A long way to go but the support is there"

About: Inclusion UK / Buckinghamshire STARS (in partnership with Oasis)

(as a service user),

I had been drinking too much for a long time. Stress circumstances meant I was being tested and I relieved it by drinking more, becoming swamped and depressed.

After a number of serious life threatening events to my close family, continuing to work, I had a bit of a meltdown, drank way too much and worried the family.

My family asked me to see the GP to have help with the alcohol.

I went to the GP. Was told that they have another service who deal with alcohol abuse. So very trusting I rang the number and made the appointment at this assessment and referral service. The appointment happened, I was honest, told the representative everything. They told me some 'rules' but thinking everything was "confidential" I paid little attention.

I signed the forms, very pleased that I was making my family happy.

Then they dropped the bombshell. I had 2 days to inform my workplace or they would. I was gobsmacked, upset, furious and confused.

So I told them and in that one email I lost my credibility, my self esteem, and felt huge shame and fear. I went from being a successful employee to a wobbling jelly.

I went into decline, depression and panic.
I was then referred by them to STARS.

I went on to the next stage to meet with the Stars key worker. She was fabulous, listened, talked to me, not at me.

But it got worse to the extent when so depressed and upset I took an overdose and tried to seriously self harm.

That failed.

I caused huge stress to my GP who had no idea I was in such a bad place, and over time and with various demands from Stars that the GP was grumpy about. His view was he did not need to input because 'stars' were in control. Unfortunately against his wishes he became marginally involved.

I needed support, I needed counselling, I needed medical assistance to get me through this time, whilst around me the family crises continued and I was 'coping' superficially.

Despite taking medication to help control the alcohol I was drinking more, being off work was devastating as rumours as to why I was off were circulating ( I was never off).

Going back to work proved tricky but I made it.

I made a decision and stopped drinking for 2 months. But over confident I thought I could re introduce it and control it. I did not take the medication correctly and had side effects, changed medication but it was less effective.

In all this time, with a few wobbles, I stayed with Stars and my key worker was especially kind and supportive. She was there even when I became oddly neurotic, theatrical etc. She supported and helped me to think through what I was doing.

My keyworker has had a totally different way of talking to me, without talking down to me, but the damage from the first assessment and referral service added significantly to my own ability to deal with everything. 

I had seen a Doctor at Stars who was strict but fair. Emotionally I found his rules difficult and stressful. But he knew what he was doing.

Sadly he left and was replaced. I met the new doctor and he listened, talked through the 3 most stressful things in my life but spelt out the rules.

He put me back on the first medication.

I am back at work properly and slowly regaining confidence and slowly reducing my alcohol intake with a view to permanent abstinence.

My life continues to have crises but I am beginning to realise that being sober helps me cope better than being inebriated.

There is still a long way to go but the support is there.

I am not grateful to the first referral service but very grateful to STARS.

My thanks to the stars service, especially to my key worker and the expertise of the doctors.

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Response from Tracy Braddock, STARS Service Manager, Inclusion

Thanks for your very detailed and honest feedback. STARS are really glad you stuck to your recovery goals dispite the initial obstacles you faced.

Our clinical staff have consistent boundaries to ensure safe practice and prescribing for all of our service users.

STARS are pleased that you have such a positive relationship built with your keyworker, keep being honest and focussed on your recovery and your small goals will soon become manageable and achievable. Keep accessing all our service has to offer, remember there is lots of choice both within STARS the structured treatment service and the recovery community. Thanks again for you post.

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