Alcohol Awareness Week urges problem drinkers to consider the impact of their addiction on family

William Smith


William Smith


WITH this week marking Alcohol Awareness Week, the manager of a local residential detox facility has urged those struggling with alcohol to think about the impact their addiction is having on their relationships.

This year's Alcohol Awareness Week campaign runs from November 15 to 21, and follows the theme of Alcohol and Relationships.

With many drinking more during the pandemic for many different reasons, relationships at home, with friends and at work can become even tougher. However, taking control of drinking can create happier relationships, as well as improved health and well-being.

Ramona House, a detox and support service Western Trust area, offers a two-fold service providing two separate services for persons, male and female, who have been impacted by their problem drinking. According to service manager, Frances McElroy, alcoholism is a problem that not only effects the drinker, but the entire family.

"Alcohol awareness week this year asks us took take account of our relationships, many families have been impacted by a loved ones drinking," she said. "Alcoholism is a disease that affects not only the drinker but the entire family. Family members say its like grieving someone who's still alive.

"Alcoholism is a disease of the mind, body and spirit. In Omagh itself there are two Anon Family Groups who provide support and guidance for families and friends of alcoholics, in a twelve-step recovery programme.

"It has been our experience on many occasions that many problem drinkers do not recognise they do have an issue with alcohol and deny that they have lost control, or that it's really their wives or husbands or jobs etc etc fault they drink so much, and that really they can control it. When someone arrives in Ramona House they are no longer in control."

Frances explained that Alcoholics Anonymous call addiction 'the great remover', due to the negative impact that it has on a person, who tends to prioritise drinking over family and other elements of live.


Frances continued: "We believe no one chooses to become addicted to any substance. It can be as simple as drinking an extra glass of wine each night and then you find your drinking a full bottle, or that your drinking to help you cope with a loss or a trauma, and you find that you crave that extra drink or really can no longer cope without drinking.

"Eventually drinking will seep into all parts of a person's life, start affecting their relationships with others, their job, their health and unfortunately without help death. Alcoholics Anonymous call addiction 'the great remover' and sadly it certainly is."

Fortunately, help is at hand. Ramona house offers a detox beds service, funded by the Western Health Social Care Trust, and works in partnership with several statutory service during this process, including GPs, Community Addictions Service, and both SWAH and Altnagelvin Hospitals.

Frances said: "Our support bed service is a regional service were we work closely with NIHE to provide accommodation for those who have become homeless or are threatened with Homelessness due to their addiction.

"Omagh has many meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, who through a twelve-step recovery programme will provide a means to remain sober and and get their lives back on track. Drinking alcohol is really only one of the symptoms of this disease."


As families struggle with a loved one's addiction, there are often many hard questions that are asked. A common question is: "I am the partner of a problem drinker, and I have a family who is greatly impacted by this person’s drinking. The drinker is reluctant to take responsibility or the title of an alcoholic. What help is there for me and my family?

The answer to this question is: "There is an organisation called Al-Anon who help the families and friends of problem drinkers.

"Al-Anon is freely available to anyone who is or has been affected by someone else’s drinking, including children of alcoholic’s parents, partners, other relatives and friends of alcoholics.

"Over the years many members have shared that without Al-Anon they would have found living with the effects of someone else’s drinking too much to deal with. Contact 028 9068 2368 and a volunteer will be able to guide you to a local meeting."

Leave your comment

Share your opinions on Alpha Newspaper Group

Characters left: 1500