It’s Alcohol Awareness Week from 3-9 July 2023, and this year’s theme is ‘Alcohol and Cost.’
Developing a healthy relationship with alcohol AND a strong support system can be crucial to good mental health, for veterans and for everyone. Many among us who experience mental health struggles turn to alcohol for help managing symptoms of anxiety and depression, but the ‘true cost’ of excessive drinking is that it often makes those symptoms worse, according to the charity behind Alcohol Awareness Week. They have put together a load of resources and quizzes for you to check out here.
At Veterans Outreach Support, we have access to valuable resources through our Substance Misuse Practitioner partners, who can help veterans and their families experiencing problems with alcohol and substance misuse. These professionals can help you to cut down, stop drinking, or manage your use/misuse of other substances. They can also give you practical, compassionate advice to help you stay safe and healthy.
The staff at VOS is very approachable and understanding- we know these issues happen to people from all walks of life, and we will never turn you away if you are in need of help. If we ourselves don’t have the right in-house resources for you, we can connect you to valuable delivery partners that can provide further advice, information, harm reduction interventions, recovery planning, and reduction support related to substance misuse.
If you are a local veteran (or spouse, partner or carer to one) and you’re curious about getting help with alcohol habits or substance misuse, please do reach out to us for support or keep reading for info about further options.
Op COURAGE is Always Here for UK Veterans in Need
Op COURAGE is a free NHS mental health service designed to help Armed Forces veterans, reservists and service-leavers. One of its main objectives is “providing support and treatment for substance misuse and addictions.” You can read about its full range of support offerings here.
To qualify for help from Op Courage, you must be:
- A resident in England who has served in the UK armed forces for a full day
- Registered with a GP surgery in England, or be willing and eligible to do so
- Able to provide your military service number
Op COURAGE is run by trained professionals who are from, or have experience of working with, the Armed Forces community. It does not matter how long ago you left the armed forces or how long you served for. You can contact Op COURAGE even if you left many years ago. To refer yourself, you can ring 023 9438 7924 anytime from 9-5 on weekdays (Monday to Friday), or contact us at VOS and we can help to connect you.
Inclusion Recovery Hampshire Helps Veteran Families Locally
Inclusion Recovery Hampshire is a great service and partner of ours, offering free and confidential help to residents of Hampshire affected by drugs and alcohol. Via the NHS, they provide services across 9 main hubs: Aldershot, Andover, Basingstoke, Eastleigh, Winchester, New Forest, Havant, Fareham and Gosport.
Their services include recovery planning in conjunction with a range of pharmacological, psychosocial and structured treatment programs, as well as advice and harm reduction interventions.
Image via NHS Inclusion Recovery Hampshire Facebook
Everyone at Inclusion Recovery Hampshire understands that substance misuse impacts the whole family and wider community, not just the individual, and has an emphasis on building upon the strengths of individuals and communities. They involve peer mentors and volunteers to create communities of recovery that support individuals to maintain and move towards more healthy relationships with substances. They also ensure services such as housing, employment, health and wellbeing are accessible within those communities.
If you feel like you could use their help, you can contact Inclusion Recovery Hampshire directly on 0300 124 0103 or tell us at Veterans Outreach Support (02392 731767) and we will put you in touch.
If you are affected by someone else’s substance use or misuse here in Hampshire, Inclusion Recovery Hampshire also has a specialist family and carer support service that you can reach by dialing 02380 39 9764.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Offers Many Local Chapters
If you’ve been to a VOS Monthly Drop-In, you may have noticed a liaison officer from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) representing their organisation and having conversations with members of our ex-Forces community. You can find them at the next drop-in or learn more about the organisation here.
AA has a long history in Portsmouth (75 years!) and describes itself as a ‘voluntary, worldwide fellowship of men and women who desire to stop drinking.’ Its focus is on personal recovery and continued sobriety. AA is very experienced in issues related to veterans (they have even designed programmes especially for serving members of the Armed Services). They host meetings all across Portsmouth, Fareham, Havant, Gosport, Ryde, Newport, Southampton, Chichester, Sandown, Cowes, Emsworth, Titchfield, and more.
Image via ‘Filter,’ Alcoholics Anonymous
Both in and out of AA, recovery is not just about cutting back, but also about finding new interests and activities that motivate us more than our substance use. There are so many interventions that can help you change your life for the better, including many opportunities to get involved with Veterans Outreach Support and our partner organisations. Please don’t hesitate to join our community for whichever sort of support could benefit you most!
If you’re a veteran from the UK Armed Forces or the Merchant Navy (from any time of service) or a partner to one, VOS would love for you to join us. We are here to offer our support: call us on 02392 731 767, visit an upcoming drop-in, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.