Alcohol recovery at Equinox Sutton

Posted by on 6 February 2013 | 0 Comments

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Equinox Sutton at Greenford Road offers counselling and a day programme for people with alcohol dependence, as well as their families and supporters. In this article, Helen Marshall and Paula Hoppin explain Equinox’s work in Sutton and Merton, where they are part of a team of 4 who are helping people toward recovery from alcohol dependence.

Helen, Equinox Group Facilitator, explains the Equinox Sutton group programme...

“I run groups three days a week from 10.45 to 1pm. The clients who attend our group programme at Greenford Road have often tried harm minimisation – such as cutting down their units of alcohol – but they have come to the point that whenever they pick up a drink it leads to full relapse.

“The Equinox programme at Greenford Road is abstinence-based. We have a wide mix of ages on our group programme and we are finding that more young people are asking for help sooner.

“We keywork every service user as well; everyone gets 1-2-1 time, a support plan and typed up keywork session reports – to progress their short term and longer term goals.

“All group participants at Equinox Greenford Road are breathalysed three times a week, at the start of each session. Most of our service users really like that measure – they say it provides an extra level of security in their recovery from alcohol dependence.

“Often our service users have had their children removed, so social workers ask for breathalyser reports and attendance reports from us. This is one very positive outcome of Equinox Sutton’s work – it has been linked to our service users getting their children back.

“For example, Alicia*. Alicia first came to our service three years ago. She had two young children and she was having difficulty taking care of them. When she came back to Equinox last year, her children had been taken away from her.

“Alicia had a detox and she took on board a lot of the alcohol education provided here at Equinox. She went on to do a mentoring course, a Health and Social Care course and she’s now looking at an addiction course. 

“Overall, Alicia took huge responsibility for her recovery. She kept coming to group. She attended AA meetings. And together, we looked at what she wanted to do for the future. Alicia was very mindful of the situation with her children, liaising with social services continuously. Social services are now looking at Alicia’s children being returned to her, as well as providing her with more appropriate housing.

“It’s fair to say that Alicia’s got her life back on track.

“We also take referrals here at Equinox Sutton for people with dual diagnosis. People are alcohol-free here, which helps them to stabilise in terms of their mental ill health. Whilst they are with us, we help people to understand that they may be using alcohol to help manage their mental health condition, which often makes things worse.

“We also have a maintenance group at Equinox Sutton for people who have completed our 12 week group programme. And there is a Living Sober group, run by our volunteer counsellor Lesley. This group has formed itself as a women’s group and supports Equinox service users with their recovery from alcohol, as well as their family life.”

Paula, Equinox Supervisor and Counsellor, explains the 1-2-1 counselling service at Equinox Sutton...

“We have an influx of different clients here – from people who refer themselves through to referrals from Probation, Sutton and Merton drug and alcohol teams, GPs and social services. We work with people who have alcohol dependence issues and also those who have dual diagnosis.

“We offer a maximum of 8 sessions, once a week for 50 minutes, and we also do telephone counselling.

“I have a current caseload of ten clients. I do assessments and I tend to get family history on the first session. We look together at the alcohol intake – it’s about acknowledgement of the problem and working out new ways of living.

“Our approach at Equinox is to show empathy and willing with all our service users – I follow BACP guidelines in terms of how to work with my clients. It’s critical to respect boundaries, confidentiality and of course have the appropriate qualifications.

“People come here for 1-2-1 counselling and they do succeed in cutting down their drinking. They also start to engage more with the community, accessing education, employment and training. We also help people to understand the damage that can be done by alcohol to the brain – people can be physically and mentally very ill when they come into recovery.  So we work really hard in the time we have to help people manage their lives and deal with their emotions properly.”

Find out more about Equinox Sutton on our Services page.

*Alicia’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

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