Christmas may be the time to eat, drink and be merry, but there are many out there for whom the season of excess poses particularly tough challenges, for example, those living with addiction issues and their families. Sean O’Rourke was joined by recovering alcoholic Niamh Elliot and singer Frances Black, founder of the Rise Foundation. Niamh has been fourteen years sober and explained to Sean how easily seemingly normal drinking habits can descend into problematic behaviour. “It was very subtle and it seemed very normal at that the time,” Niamh said, commenting that she drank a lot less than her friends, but a move to Paris and a hectic social life exacerbated the situation and left her with an addiction problem. She describes the first few years of maintaining her sobriety at Christmas as “very, very difficult.”
“I still today feel a little left out or isolated but certainly the earlier years of trying not to drink was very difficult around Christmas because that’s what Christmas in Ireland is all about… Be it Christmas parties, getting together with friends you haven’t seen for the year, family occasions, it’s all centred around alcohol, unfortunately.”
Frances’ foundation works with families of those living with addiction and she is keen to highlight the impact of alcoholism on children.
“(When you drink) if you’re angry, you’re going to be aggressive, if you’re sad, you’re going to be devastated… that message that it sends to children is that it’s ok to behave like that… Children are like sponges, they pick up the negative energy so I would ask people just to make a conscious effort to be mindful of their drinking around children this Christmas.”
Support can be found at www.therisefoundation.ie or at www.alcoholicsanonymous.ie.
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