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Living independently and moving on…

 Living independently and moving on…


Gwen* had a relatively stable upbringing, living with her biological parents and a younger sibling.  Gwen struggled during her secondary school years as she was bullied quite considerably.  There were no instances of Gwen ever going into the care system and Gwen has never been arrested.  Gwen expresses that it makes her sad that she lost both sets of grandparents during her teenage years.

From the age of approximately 18 years old, Gwen has not been able to drink alcohol in a responsible manner.  Gwen was referred to the substance misuse service by her GP at the onset of a bout of alcohol related illnesses.  Due to the nature of Gwen’s upbringing she is quite a naive individual and finds it difficult to maintain her personal safety.  In 2014 Gwen was raped by someone she had known in school, it is also alleged that there was more than one person involved in the attack. Gwen decided not to go-head and press charges, despite having gone through the sexual offence evidence collection (soec) process.  

Gwen is part of a very middle class welsh family which has outwardly provided stability for Gwen   however from observation the relationship between Gwen and her mother is quite co-dependent and unhealthy for both parties.  Gwen’s mother has unknowingly supported Gwen’s alcohol dependence by being a “care-taker” rather than a “care-giver”.  Gwen’s mother has always attempted to shelter Gwen from negative events, occurrences and experiences, therefore Gwen’s resilience and mechanisms for coping with negative experiences in life have never developed into that of a regular adult.  Gwen’s parents would also take her bank card away from her in an attempt to stop her from having access to money to purchase alcohol.  Gwen has never lived away from the family home and has therefore never developed any independence and financial skills.  Gwen has also never learnt to drive due to her alcohol abuse and due to the rural location of the family home is extremely limited as to where she can realistically access without having lifts from her parents.

Gwen is a compulsive liar and it has become second nature to her to lie about her alcohol consumption, and whenever she was asked if she had had a drink, her automatic response would be that she had not had a drink for two weeks, despite being clearly intoxicated.  Gwen’s parents have always acted in what they thought was in Gwen’s best interests, however misdirected.   

Gwen has for short periods held down jobs, mainly in the care sector, however due to her alcoholism has been either asked to leave or sacked due to her intoxication whilst working.  From the history that Gwen has shared it is evident that her adult life has been a constant cycle of alcoholism with brief periods of abstinence.  Gwen will drink heavily, bring her drinking under control enough to find employment, find work stressful, alcohol consumption increases, loses employment due to intoxication, drinking escalates because she has lost her job.  And that cycle has been repeating itself throughout her adult life due to the underlying issues that cause Gwen’s alcoholism had not been identified and dealt with.  

How CAIS has made a difference:
CAIS received a referral for Gwen for the supporting people service from Sharon in the substance misuse service (SMS), as Gwen had identified to them that she needed assistance to find a place to live as she could no longer stay with her family.  Gwen is also enrolled in the CAIS recovery coaching programme, during Gwen’s time on the project multi-agency working has been key to providing Gwen with an all encompassing network of support, with the three agencies working closely and communicating information constantly.   

Providing support for Gwen has at times been difficult due to her reluctance to address her alcohol issues.  The Supporting People team accompanied Gwen to a benefits check up to make sure she was accessing all the correct benefits.  Gwen was unemployed when she first came into the service but took employment in mid November 2014 which came to an abrupt end at the end of January 2015 when Gwen was dismissed from her position due to being intoxicated whilst working.  

Following a group meeting with Gwen, SMS, Recovery Coaching and the Tenancy Support team a referral was made for Gwen to go to Hafan Wen (CAIS detoxification unit, Wrexham) with a view to Gwen going directly from Hafan Wen to the Touchstone 12, rehabilitation unit in Colwyn Bay.  

Fortunately a space became available in Hafan Wen quite quickly and early in February 2015 Gwen checked in.  Despite her initial concerns and anxiety about going to Hafan Wen Gwen thoroughly embraced and enjoyed the experience and was extremely positive about her future.   

Unfortunately due to circumstances out of any of the agencies concerned in Gwen’s support and treatment, a bed in Touchstone 12 could not be secured for her discharge from Hafan Wen and Gwen had to return to her parents home in the interim until a bed became available.  After discharge from Hafan Wen, Gwen managed to remain abstinent for ten days.  

After approximately five weeks a bed became available in Touchstone 12 in Colwyn Bay, however due to Gwen’s relapse a community detoxification became necessary.  This was identified and co-ordinated by SMS and the supporting people team to ensure that Gwen would be ready to go into Touchstone 12.  

On the last visit to Gwen at her parents home the day before she was admitted to Touchstone 12 Gwen and her mother advised that it was not healthy for Gwen to return to the family home and Gwen needed to learn to live independently from them.  The realisation that despite acting in what they thought were the best interests of Gwen that the parents had actually been doing more harm than good.  Details were given to Gwen’s mother of the CAIS FFACT programme which supports the families of addicts and offers support and counselling, as it was evident that after such a long time of living with an addict support was definitely needed.  Gwen’s mother informed that she would definitely use the service.  Again Gwen was anxious and concerned about going to Touchstone 12 but was looking forward to a new start and dealing with all her issues, she realised that it would be a long process of healing but that she was ready to do this and move on in her life.  

*For confidentiality purposes, all names have been changed