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Priory expert expecting rise in alcohol related admissions

    • Dr William Shanahan expects a post-lockdown increase in alcohol and substance issues at world renowned clinic
    • Number of people seeking help already back to pre-lockdown levels
    • Priory psychotherapist: Lockdown may have tipped some into an “addictive process”
    • Some people may not be able to return to pre-lockdown levels of consumption

The Clinical Director of Addictions at Priory’s Roehampton Hospital has warned that there is likely to be “a large increase in those seeking help for alcohol and other substance-related problems”, as the Government eases lockdown restrictions, and people begin to take stock of their behaviour. The drop in enquiries about Priory Group alcohol services during lockdown mirrors a drop in people seeking help for other medical conditions which occurred during this period. It was reported that during April only half the usual number of people were going to NHS A&E wards.He also expressed concern that people have developed “the erroneous view that indulging in alcohol is acceptable as it compensates for the freedoms that we have lost and sacrificed during the lockdown". The charity MIND says that 69% of adults reported feeling bored or restless during the restrictions. The combination of unfilled time and heightened anxiety has affected how people see their drinking. “There is a sensation of hunkering in our trenches as we wait for the enemy to be destroyed”, said Dr Shanahan. “This inconvenience invites us to forgive ourselves the luxury of a ‘few extra drinks.’”“Right now”, says Pamela, “we are seeing a lot of people surprised by the way their use of alcohol and/or drugs has escalated”. However, that does not mean lockdown is the direct cause of dependency; “When people take a really good look at this, they start to see the problem was already there.” Roberts says that the slide into addiction is a “gradual development”. Lockdown, like any stressful period, may have taken this development to the point where it is “out of hand”.Conquering the stigma which can be attached to seeking help is vital. Pamela Roberts warns that “it is a block often to getting any help”. She explains that addiction is a complex condition, which involves “more than the drinking itself”. One way to look at addiction is that it is “often a way of self-medicating for life itself, until the medication becomes the problem”. Treatment at Priory Group is offered at locations around the UK, and involves a “holistic” look at “life experiences, social circumstances, relationships, culture” and a host of other factors to understand each individual’s issues. Both inpatient and outpatient care is offered.

The fact that more people are willing to seek help should in some ways be seen as a positive. Pamela Roberts notes that it means they are “open to seeing their drinking has got a greater hold of them”. An indication that this point has been reached is when people start rationalizing their drinking, and this can include blaming the lockdown. Someone claiming that “if this wasn’t happening I wouldn’t have to drink so much” can actually be an early sign of dependence.

Priory psychotherapist Pamela Roberts, addictions therapy manager at Priory’s Hospital in Woking, Surrey said she was also expecting an increase in the number of people seeking help, now the restrictions have been eased. However, she says many will be “resistant to the idea of giving up”, but rather “wanting to get things back to where they were before lockdown”. While she believes that may be “absolutely possible” for some people, for others there will be “no going back” once an “addictive process” has begun.

“Right now”, says Pamela, “we are seeing a lot of people surprised by the way their use of alcohol and/or drugs has escalated”. However, that does not mean lockdown is the direct cause of dependency; “When people take a really good look at this, they start to see the problem was already there.” Roberts says that the slide into addiction is a “gradual development”. Lockdown, like any stressful period, may have taken this development to the point where it is “out of hand”.

The fact that more people are willing to seek help should in some ways be seen as a positive. Pamela Roberts notes that it means they are “open to seeing their drinking has got a greater hold of them”. An indication that this point has been reached is when people start rationalizing their drinking, and this can include blaming the lockdown. Someone claiming that “if this wasn’t happening I wouldn’t have to drink so much” can actually be an early sign of dependence.

Conquering the stigma which can be attached to seeking help is vital. Pamela Roberts warns that “it is a block often to getting any help”. She explains that addiction is a complex condition, which involves “more than the drinking itself”. One way to look at addiction is that it is “often a way of self-medicating for life itself, until the medication becomes the problem”. Treatment at Priory Group is offered at locations around the UK, and involves a “holistic” look at “life experiences, social circumstances, relationships, culture” and a host of other factors to understand each individual’s issues. Both inpatient and outpatient care is offered.

For interviews with Dr Paul Mclaren, please contact communications@priorygroup.com

Notes to editors

 For further information or interview with Dr Shanahan or Pamela Roberts, please contact communications@priorygroup.com

About Priory Group

The Priory Group is the leading provider of behavioural care in the UK, caring for around 30,000 people a year for conditions including depression, anxiety, drugs and alcohol addiction, eating disorders and self-harming. The Group is organised into four divisions – healthcare, education and children’s services, adult care and the Middle East. The Priory Group is owned by NASDAQ-listed Acadia Healthcare, which is recognised as a global leader in behavioural health.

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