Alcohol support

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Brian Cowie

A safe place

Brian Cowie explains how a ‘designated place of safety’ is providing a safe haven in Aberdeen for individuals to sober up and find support

In 1982 we identified that we needed to find somewhere in the city where those who were too drunk to look after themselves could be given sanctuary. This resulted in the opening of our support hostel, which housed people in recovery, with the additional accommodation in the basement used as the place of safety. After a service review in 2003, a specific four-bed unit was then built with all the required safety features, single rooms, toilet and shower facilities.

Police, ambulance and local organisations are able to bring referrals to the unit. The unit also acts as a funnel for those suffering from alcohol issues to access services, as there is a full care assessment, risk assessment and care plan put in place for each individual.

We have a highly trained, motivated and caring staff team, some of whom have suffered such problems in their own lives.

There is a full counselling service, staffed by volunteers who are specifically trained in using a CBT approach.

The organisation can also offer work with external clients looking for help and support. We offer ongoing support to those in recovery by providing access to recovery support practitioners at times convenient to the client, recovery support groups, and a 24/7 telephone helpline.

In far too many cases, we are finding people who are alcohol dependant being referred as they have nowhere else to go. Government is looking at the idea of ‘drunk tanks’ – instead, perhaps they could look at the model created in this unit as an effective and comprehensive initiative for dealing with alcohol use.

Brian Cowie is services manager at Alcohol Support Ltd (ASL)