The first contact with Dean came through his concerned family. They were having to ensure that he was eating properly, paying his bills and, immediately prior to admission, they said they were going round to check he was still alive. When I first spoke to Dean he broke down and admitted that his drinking had got control of him, and he was really scared. When he walked through the New Leaf front door, he had no colour in his face, no light in his eyes and felt completely lost. When he sat down, shaking and sweating, he simply stated ‘I can’t do this anymore'.

During the first three days, Dean needed a lot of physical and emotional support. He was withdrawing physically but was also feeling guilty and shameful about how he felt he had disappointed and burdened his family. The reality that he may also lose his job was becoming clear too, so he was practically broken. He committed to a twenty-eight-day programme and the work began. We have a comprehensive and structured treatment programme, which is varied and busy, encompassing topic-based group therapy and sharing of experiences and ideas, assignment work and reading, self-reflection and growth exercises, and different holistic therapies. Dean, though, had always struggled with reading and writing. His long-term employment was mainly manual, so he had coped well, but the thought of writing his life story, for example, or a list of the negative consequences of his drinking, filled him with fear. So, a programme had to be tailored to Dean’s specific needs. He found visual learning easier and benefited from talking about the past which helped him to develop consequential thinking strategies to combat triggers. Roleplay, mimicking vulnerable environments and situations also helped Dean to build confidence. Whilst it was important to help Dean understand the processes and relevance of denial, resentment, co-dependence and self-pity, and the role they play in addiction, he preferred to keep things simple: if I pick up a drink, what will happen? What has always happened?

Dean is over two years sober now and gives up his Friday afternoon and evenings to share his experience, strength and hope with current residents, and escort them to a local fellowship meeting.

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