Irene’s story

case studies

Irene was referred to Addaction after she went to her GP for help. Her GP initially referred her to statutory alcohol services, however when they sent an appointment out for her to attend for an assessment, she never opened her mail. Her GP found out about the over 50’s service at a health centre information session.

The day she was referred by her GP a team member went to visit Irene at home. Her health was very poor, her house in a state of disrepair with lots of unopened post and she was very isolated. She was also grieving for her husband.

‘‘I had been drinking heavily on a daily basis and was isolated in my home, with hardly any contact with the outside world. My alcohol use escalated out of control as a means of coping with the passing of my husband from cancer whom I had cared for”.

It took a while for Irene to trust her worker and on some occasions she would not even answer her door, but we kept visiting. We started by helping Irene sort out her finances which were in a bit of a mess. We supported her to attend housing meetings and health appointments. Slowly she started to get her affairs into place. We then started talking about Irene’s drinking and set realistic goals for change. Over the course of a few months we visited Irene twice weekly and her alcohol use reduced. We also met Irene’s son who had become very frustrated by his mum’s drinking, so we discussed ways the family could support Irene in her recovery.

When she felt up to it Irene started attending our recovery meetings at a local community centre. Initially she needed a lot of support to attend and we arranged taxis to collect Irene, and would meet her at the door to accompany her in. In the beginning Irene was very subdued and would sit and quietly listen to others share their stories. She soon gained confidence and developed relationships with the other group members. Irene started attending of her own accord, as well as becoming involved in lots of other social activities. A year down the line Irene is still alcohol free and providing support by volunteering within her community.

“The group activities were great, helping me get off and stay off the drink. I got to meet a lot of people. They gave me, and I gave them confidence. I’m now volunteering in a day centre. I am so optimistic about my future and hardly have any spare time in the week now. If you had told me a year ago that my life would end up like this I wouldn’t have believed you”.