Mar 16 2012 by Tina Kemp, Lennox Herald (main ed)
CALLS to a helpline for people with addiction problems in West Dunbartonshire have increased by 50 per cent in the past 12 months.
The group which runs the out of hours helpline says the rise reaffirms the need for the service for many in desperation.
Since it was set up three years ago, the HEAR service has received more than 500 calls for help.
West Dunbartonshire Addiction Services says the rise also shows that more people are aware of the support on offer.
Scott Imrie, a member of the team who assists callers, said: “The major trend which was observed was the increased level of calls received from people who were socially isolated. While there are no typical callers, many are isolated and calling in desperation.”
One resident who used the services on Christmas Eve is 60-year-old Margo (not her real name).
Margo had lived an “average life” in her opinion until she was 52. Then, out of the blue, her life was turned upside down when her husband of 30 years left her for another woman.
Devastated Margo found it hard to cope and began to withdraw from social contact. Her sleep and eating patterns suffered and she turned to alcohol.
Over time she became more dependent on alcohol and her health rapidly deteriorated. She was suspended from work and financial troubles added to her problems.
She was referred to an alcohol service but it was closed over the festive period so her counsellor encouraged her to call HEAR for support.
Margo contacted the helpline on several occasions over the festive period and found the support she received outstanding. She managed to reduce her level of drinking and is now enthusiastically engaging with alcohol counselling and addressing her financial problems.
Margo is very grateful for the help she received and called the helpline to thank staff for the support at a particularly dark time of her life.
Addiction services manager, Tom Jackson said: “The number of calls we have received has increased due to more people being aware of the service. Our dedicated call handlers do a wonderful job and their support is vital in helping residents take control of their lives again.
“I would encourage anyone who is worried about themselves or a relative to contact the helpline to find out what support is available to them.”
If you, a friend or relative has an addiction related problem, pick up the phone and give HEAR a call on 0141 952 8815. The service operates Wednesday to Sunday, from 5pm to 11.30pm, with additional hours over public holidays, Christmas and New Year.