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DDN welcomes your Letters. Please email the editor or post them to DDN, CJ Wellings Ltd, Romney House, School Road, Ashford, Kent TN27 0LT. Letters may be edited for space or clarity.

Significant step

I write to congratulate the National Assembly for Wales on passing the Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Bill on 19 June. The introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol in Wales is a significant step towards helping people around the country who struggle with alcohol misuse.

Every day in Salvation Army churches and centres we witness first-hand the damage caused by alcohol dependency to society. Alcohol misuse can have a devastating effect on our sense of self-worth and physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. It can damage our ability to form and maintain relationships, to hold down a job, and can often lead to financial hardship, isolation and loneliness.

Since the nineteenth century, The Salvation Army has worked with women and men with problematic substance abuse. Today our support services for people who misuse alcohol include preparation, detoxification and aftercare services along with psycho-social support, education and training.

We are a long-term supporter of the Welsh Government’s attempts to tackle the devastating effects of alcohol misuse on individuals and communities and have given evidence to the Health and Sports Committee about the need for a minimum unit price for alcohol.

The Salvation Army has also developed an addictions strategy for 2018-21 which sets out our clear commitment to continue to bolster the Welsh Government in its delivery of extensive social programmes helping individuals, families and communities to make positive choices about the role of alcohol in their lives.

Major Lynden Gibbs, territorial addictions officer, The Salvation Army UK and Northern Ireland Territory, London


Don’t put us down

The ‘all or nothing’ article (DDN, April, page 12) appeared to slate people’s choices of going to NA or other fellowships etc, which account for the majority of people reaching abstinence through 12 steps. It’s the usual argument that people are vulnerable and new­comers preyed upon, which happens everywhere – churches, work places etc.

The 12 steps allow people who are addicts to recover the parts of themselves they have lost.

For the last 25 years abstinence has proved to be the only way for me, as someone who was a chaotic drug user and addict. Some people are just drug users, they are not addicts – there is a difference, and if they think they can successfully go and use after a period of abstinence then either they’ll be back or dead, or they were never addicts in the first place.

I have watched many people, including close friends, try controlled drinking, only to see them die or use for years and struggle because of the traits of an addict – shame, pride, etc – and refuse to ask for help, which is a sad reflection on society, never mind fellowships.

NA continues to save many lives and will do forever, as we are fully self-supporting and we don’t need outside money to function. No one will turn up and say your funding has come to an end, like lots of other services.

Going to a programme of complete abstinence is hard work if you still want to use, so people who don’t get it then blame the fellowship instead of looking at their own patterns of behaviour. Let’s keep encouraging people to find people they identify with at the level they need.

I hear these criticisms regularly but it’s hard to criticise the second largest fellowship in the world when so many people not only get clean, they work through a programme to feel clean inside as well. Dealing with things from the past and amending things is a wonder­ful way of making sure you don’t return.

Some people, and I include some of the resentful readers who emailed you, obviously have had bad experiences and, in my experience, it’s usually they who cause more damage in these places.

Where else offers phone numbers to use 24 hours a day, people who open rooms freely, turn up when the support is asked for, and don’t turn you away for being under the influence like lots of other services?

If anyone new read that article, it highlighted mostly negative aspects. When people see something working well they always want to bring it down. Why not try a meeting or two yourself as it’s open – no secrets and definitely not a cult who chant in rooms. So please stop putting that out there – we work in co-operating with all.

Allan Houston, by email


On course?

What happened before treatment courses were available in prisons and specifically to ‘lifers’? My view is simple – lifers were released without interven­tions of any kind. If the historical perspective is to be believed, lifers as a released group reoffended in a minority of cases. This has continued to this day.

But we do not hear this view, do we? All I’m hearing is to complete this course, then this one. I’m writing to get my view challenged – did or did not lifers get released quicker before courses hit custody with a vengeance in the early ’90s. And if so, what ultimate use are the courses?

John Burns, HMP Frankland