New ways to access domestic abuse support

July 8th, 2020 by

Safer Futures, a domestic abuse and sexual violence support and recovery service provided by First Light in partnership with Barnardos have launched a Live Web Chat on the saferfutures.org.uk website.

Safer Futures offer a range of support options for both those experiencing domestic abuse and those engaging in abusive behaviour. Support has been available throughout the Covid-19 lockdown and they have launched live web chat as another way for people to access support.

The Live Web Chat is available Monday to Friday 09:00 – 17:00.

 

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Enjoy the re-opened pubs safely

July 8th, 2020 by

Safer Cornwall want to ensure that everyone that wants to, can enjoy the re-opened restaurants and pubs. After weeks of being stuck at home, we know that some people will want to get out and about and have a bevvy or 2 with friends. However, we have seen from other areas, that some aspects of people emerging, have not all been fun.

We support having fun and, for those who choose to, enjoying a tipple, however, it is not compulsory to get in a mess. We can all do this safely and responsibly.

Remember, not everyone drinks, and we want to support those who don’t also having a nice time.

For those of us who do use this legal drug, sometimes, we lose track of what and how much we have had to drink. This can result in a risk of harm to ourselves and to others. Please be mindful of who you are with, what you are drinking, how much you are drinking and make sure you can get home safely. Have a plan for how you are going to do that.

One thing that COVID-19 has demonstrated is that we are actually really good at looking out for each other and making decisions that are in the interest of everyone, not just ourselves. Let’s continue to do this if we enjoy a day or night out.

www.drinksmeter.com

 

 

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We Are With You provide lockdown support

June 3rd, 2020 by

Natalie Gyll-Murray manages the volunteer service at We Are With You and during lockdown they have had 12 volunteers offering phone support to service users that have been very isolated. Over 100 service users have been contacted, some with weekly contact, and this has been hugely helpful with great feedback from service users and staff.

Additionally Natalie created a lockdown survival guide with the help of the volunteers, who gave tips about what they have been doing to get through lockdown and their favourite places to go. If you would like some ideas have a look at it!

Download PDF File WAWY Lockdown Help Sheet

 

 

 

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Finding drug packets in West Cornwall

April 21st, 2020 by

Following a number of findings of similar drugs packets, a high number of used and partially used packets of Clonazepam tablets have been found in a cemetary in West Cornwall. It is a known site for young people to congregate so YZUP have issued the below information around use of Clonazepam which will be included on their social media pages.

 

 

 

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Lockdown Home Drinking: 5. What to do if you struggle to cut down

April 16th, 2020 by

Higher Risk drinking is scored at 16 or above on the AUDIT checklist in the Drinksmeter app, but an even higher score of over 20 could indicate some degree of alcohol dependence. It’s possible to become dependent on alcohol without realising. This would make reducing drinking more difficult, and needs to be done very carefully.

Depending on the level of dependence, someone reducing their drinking may start to experience withdrawal symptoms. To keep the process as safe as possible, services that help people with this process recommend reducing slowly, starting with keeping a diary to record what you normally drink. This can be done with the help of the Drinksmeter app, but don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice too.

At this lockdown moment, when getting out to see and talk to someone about your drinking is impossible, the Drinksmeter is a perfect self-monitoring tool. For most people it’s all that’s needed, but if you find you need to talk to someone for advice, the right contact details are within the app, based on the region where you live.

In Cornwall, the alcohol support service is provided by ‘We Are With You’, who you may have heard of before as ‘Addaction Cornwall.’ Their contact details are found in the app, and their advice can also be found on their website.

They normally recommend getting professional support before trying to cut down your drinking, but these lockdown conditions aren’t normal. They advise cutting down slowly, over a few weeks, rather than just stopping suddenly. They recommend keeping a drinking diary for a week, to find out exactly how much you drink each day.

Again, the Drinksmeter will help you do this.

They also advise starting by reducing by 10% for a few days. At this stage, if you start to have any withdrawal symptoms, it means you’re cutting down too fast. Withdrawal symptoms could be sweating, headaches, confusion, sickness, blurred vision, lack of sleep, or imagining seeing or hearing things. At their most severe, withdrawal symptoms can lead to fits, which are dangerous. This is why a very gradual process is the safest approach.

Right now, we all need to do everything we can to avoid giving the Ambulance service and the NHS more work. So take it steady.

If you start to experience any withdrawal symptoms, even mild ones, slow down how much you are reducing what you drink. Keep drinking at your most recent safe level for another week, then start cutting down again. Consider cutting down by 5% instead of 10% each week.

They also give some other tips for this stage of the process

  • Ask a loved one for help. They could help you measure your drinks, record your intake or look after your alcohol for you.
  • Having someone going through this with you makes it both easier and more safe.
  • Gradually switch to a lower-strength drink. For example, replace a can of super-strength lager with a standard-strength can.
  • Add water or a mixer to your drinks.
  • Consider alternating, so that you drink one non-alcoholic drink for every alcoholic drink you have.
  • Try to eat healthily: avoid sugar, and try to eat plenty of brown rice and wholemeal bread. These are good for your vitamin B12 (thiamine) levels.
  • Take a vitamin B12 (thiamine) supplement. Ideally you should have 100mg of thiamine, three times a day. You can buy it from health stores online if you don’t already have it.
  • Keep hydrated with plenty of non-alcoholic drinks – but avoid coffee and energy drinks as these can cause sleep problems.

It may be best to keep reducing gradually all the way to zero, but at the point that you have reduced to a lower risk level and decide it’s safe to stop drinking altogether, make sure that someone knows you are about to do this, because you may still need support in an emergency.

Ask the people you live with to be ready to call an ambulance if you:

  • Have a fit or a seizure;
  • Become confused;
  • Develop double vision;
  • Become unsteady on your feet, or
  • Experience hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there).

These symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous.

In addition, don’t stop drinking entirely if you have previously experienced had any of those symptoms around drinking or stopping drinking. If any of this describes your experience, please feel free to call ‘We Are With You Cornwall’ (Addaction) on 0333 2000 325.

Again, at this lockdown moment, when getting out to see and talk to someone about your drinking is impossible, the Drinksmeter is a perfect self-monitoring tool. For most people it’s all that’s needed, but if you find you need to talk to someone for advice, the right contact details are within the app, based on the region where you live.

If you have any comments, questions, problems or feedback, please email us at daat@cornwall.gov.uk

 

 

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Lockdown Home Drinking: 4. How to cut back

April 16th, 2020 by

In the checklist within the Drinksmeter, the AUDIT tool, a score of 8 to 15 is defined as Increasing Risk.

This would cover anyone drinking above the 14 unit per week guidelines, and could represent up to a third of all people who drink alcohol.

Within that range, some people are drinking just a bit too much, and could do with cutting back a little and then monitoring their drinking to make sure they can keep it within safe levels. Again, the Drinksmeter is the perfect tool for doing this.

Other people may be drinking rather more, perhaps even without realising until they do this type of self-monitoring process, and then they may find that reducing their drinking is more of a challenge than they expected.

This means that you could find that you might be in one of these categories:

  1. Someone whose drinking is under control within the healthy guidelines;
  2. Someone drinking above the recommended limit, but who can carefully bring it down a little on their own;
  3. Someone drinking above the recommended limit, but who then tries to reduce and finds it difficult; or
  4. Someone who is drinking at more risky levels, and who needs advice or support to carefully and safely reduce their drinking.

The only way to work out where you sit within that range is to keep a record of what you are drinking, to see what that means in terms of units of alcohol and risk levels, and then to set a reduced level you feel you can achieve and try it to see how it goes.

All of those processes are covered in the Drinksmeter app. At this lockdown moment, when getting out to see and talk to someone about your drinking is impossible, the Drinksmeter is a perfect self-monitoring tool. For most people it’s all that’s needed, but if you find you need to talk to someone for advice, the right contact details are within the app, based on the region where you live.

If you do find that the amount you’re drinking is higher than you expected, and puts you in the Increasing risk range, a sensible approach is to reduce slowly. If you regularly drink 30 units per week – for example about 12 to 15 cans of cider, or above 3 bottles of wine – to suddenly go ‘dry’ might sound a good goal, but could be more difficult for you than reducing what you drink by a manageable amount over a few weeks.

If even that is a problem, then the contacts listed in the Drinksmeter can give you good advice. However, for most people, if you reduce slowly, it will help to make it manageable and safe.

The next in this series will cover what to do if you realise you are in the Higher Risk drinking category.

At this lockdown moment, when getting out to see and talk to someone about your drinking is impossible, the Drinksmeter is a perfect self-monitoring tool. For most people it’s all that’s needed, but if you find you need to talk to someone for advice, the right contact details are within the app, based on the region where you live.

If you have any comments, questions, problems or feedback, please email us at daat@cornwall.gov.uk

 

 

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Lockdown Home Drinking: 3. How to interpret Drinksmeter scores

April 16th, 2020 by

The types of scores in the Drinksmeter are explained as it takes you through the process, and it then gives advice based on those scores. This still leaves you in control of where you choose to set your own goals from then on.

Within the Drinksmeter there is a 10-question checklist that was formed by the World Health Organisation. This is called the ‘Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Tool’ – AUDIT. We use it in Cornwall as an assessment tool for anyone asking for help around alcohol, and it can be a form of reassurance for those who are ok, or a way of identifying the severity of a problem and the type of support needed for someone needing a bit of help.

At the end of the checklist you will have scored between zero and 40.

0 – 7 is defined as ‘Low Risk’.

This means that someone is drinking within the recommended safe guidelines, and is very unlikely to have any negative health impact from their drinking. That level is around 14 units per week for an adult. Someone in this category may only need to answer the first 3 checklist questions, but the Drinksmeter will work that out and guide you through it.

An easy way to remember the low risk level guidelines is ‘2-3-4’. In other words, low risk drinking means:

2: Only having 2 normal servings of alcohol on days when you choose to have a drink;

3: Only drinking alcohol on about 3 days in any week, and

4: Keeping the 4 days without alcohol in between the drinking days, to give your body a break.

This looks something like this:

Increasing Risk is scored at 8 to 15.

This would mean that someone tends to drink above that 14 unit per week level. This may not cause immediate problems, especially for someone young, fit and healthy, but this pattern will cause gradual and undetected health impact if maintained over a long period, however it could cause immediate problems where ‘binges’ lead to accidents or lack of self-control.

The further up the Increasing Risk score someone finds themselves, the harder they may find it to cut down their drinking.

The same is true for Higher Risk drinking, scored at 16 or above. This type of pattern may be connected to someone suffering from depression or anxiety; or a range of physical health issues, such as increased blood pressure, heart problems, liver issues, or cancers that start from the toxic impact of the journey of alcohol through the body.

If all of this begins to affect choices and responsibility, social impacts on family, relationships and behaviour may make an impact on someone’s life, as well as those around them.

Although many Higher Risk and Increasing Risk drinkers can bring things under control without outside help, for example by following the advice given in the Drinksmeter app, other people in this bracket may need more support if they find that keeping things under control is a struggle.

Some people make genuine efforts to cut down their alcohol, and just find that they can’t. We’ll look at this issue in the next in this series.

There is one more category above Higher Risk drinking, at a score of 20 or above. Someone scoring that high may be dependent on alcohol, with immediate health issues related to their drinking, and for whom cutting down becomes very difficult and dangerous.

Again, that will be covered later in this series.

At this lockdown moment, when getting out to see and talk to someone about your drinking is impossible, the Drinksmeter is a perfect self-monitoring tool. For most people it’s all that’s needed, but if you find you need to talk to someone for advice, the right contact details are within the app, based on the region where you live.

If you have any comments, questions, problems or feedback, please email us at daat@cornwall.gov.uk

 

 

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Lockdown Home Drinking: 2. How to use the Drinksmeter

April 16th, 2020 by

In the previous article, we invited you to try the Drinksmeter so that during the lockdown you can keep your drinking at a level that you have chosen.

In order to do that, you need to find, download and use the Drinksmeter app.

The app, which is free, can be found either here https://www.drinksmeter.com/ or on your usual app store.

Downloading it on to your phone is as easy as for any other app you use, and then the app itself gives you step by step instructions.

Once you get used to it, you are completely in control of where you want to set your drinking amounts, based on the advice that the app gives you.

Here’s what to expect:

When you first log in, the app gives you an id code, which means that then you can access it from any phone, tablet or computer.

In the initial set up, as well as asking roughly where you live, it asks you for an outline of your normal drinking, or what you drank last week. One of the more complicated aspects of keeping an eye on your alcohol risk level is working with the idea of units of alcohol across different types and strengths of drink, but the app takes that difficulty away by working that out for you.

It also works out the calories in your normal intake, which is important if you’re keeping an eye on your weight and fitness. Again, rather than staying in technical language, it will give you an idea of what that number of calories means in terms of food.

After this, based on your own estimates, the app then works out your normal spend on alcohol, and how that spreads through the week.

At this point it begins to look at how all of that compares to the guidance around alcohol related risk, so that you can decide whether this is something you want to take into account as you make your own plan. In addition, it will then check any other health or risk factors, so that you can take them into consideration. Finally, the app then uses a 10-question checklist to see what impact alcohol has had on you up to now.
All you need to do is give honest answers, knowing that no-one will look at this other than yourself.

These questions have been put together by the World Health Organisation, and give a Risk Level score. They start off by looking at your drinking pattern, and then check how alcohol has affected aspects of your life.

The app guides you through this, but the simple scoring system puts Low Risk at 0 to 7 – this would mean that you are generally drinking within the safest 14 unit per week level; Increasing risk is scored at 8 to 15, meaning that you tend to drink above that 14 unit per week level; and 16 or above as High Risk, for which more support may be needed if you find that keeping things under control is a struggle.

Finally, the app gives an advice summary, but then it’s over to you to decide where you want to set your levels from now on. Then it allows you to keep a record, so that you can see if you are on track.

At this point, if there’s anything there that concerns you, there’s some local contact information, based on info you’ve given about the region where you live. If you’re in Cornwall, you should be given details for Healthy Cornwall, or our Alcohol support provider, ‘We Are With You Cornwall’.

From then on, it’s over to you to use it to keep control of your own drinking.

In the next post we’ll outline what those Risk Level scores mean in more detail, and what to do if you find that keeping your drinking at the level you have chosen is more of a struggle than you expected.

At this lockdown moment, when getting out to see and talk to someone about your drinking is impossible, the Drinksmeter is a perfect self-monitoring tool. For most people it’s all that’s needed, but if you find you need to talk to someone for advice, the right contact details are within the app, based on the region where you live.

If you have any comments, questions, problems or feedback, please email us at daat@cornwall.gov.uk

 

 

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Lockdown Home Drinking: 1. How to keep things under control

April 16th, 2020 by

It goes without saying that these are strange times.

We’re all staying at home, going out for exercise or essentials, and working out of the way at home as much as possible.

Meanwhile a run of sunlit Cornish blue skies and the Easter holidays have made this a weird mixture of enjoyable relaxation, despite the bad news gathering around us, as we wait for this storm to pass.

Gone is the easy option of a night out, or even a coffee and a catch up.

We have time on our hands in which the community spirited thing to do is genuinely to keep safe at home and watch a movie.

In that context, it’s all too easy to sit back and open another can or bottle of your choice of refreshment, and let the hours pass. This helps you to relax, and it takes your mind off worrying news from around us, or even from your own family. It would be all too easy to stop watching what you drink, and then let the alcohol units start to add up unnoticed.

This could be an excusable short-term response, but there are some problems to be aware of.

For a start, alcohol isn’t really an effective way to de-stress.

It might work in the short term, but if it becomes your go-to, your normal routine, you’ll find that you start needing to drink more to get the same effect.

And you may find that it helps to knock you out and get you off to sleep, but most people then find that you end up with restless and interrupted sleep, which doesn’t leave you refreshed.

Also, the calories may start to add up with the alcohol, and weight could become a problem.And if alcohol really takes hold, the last thing you want right now is to have an accident or make yourself ill, and end up having to go to your nearest hospital.

Right now, you need to avoid that. And the brilliant NHS staff have more urgent matters to take care of.

That would be one avoidable visit to A&E that we’d all be better off without.

So here’s our suggestion.

No-one’s expecting everyone to give up alcohol in this situation. Handled carefully, it remains a valid way of relaxing for many people. But to make sure you keep the amount you’re drinking at a sensible and healthy level. That means being clear how much and when you choose to drink alcohol, and sticking to it.

This is where the Drinksmeter App is a really helpful tool.

By using it you decide where your level is, you monitor that you’re not gradually drinking more, and you stay drinking in the way that you have chosen.

At this lockdown moment, when getting out to see and talk to someone about your drinking is impossible, the Drinksmeter is a perfect self-monitoring tool. For most people it’s all that’s needed, but if you find you need to talk to someone for advice, the right contact details are within the app, based on the region where you live.

In the next post, we’ll guide you through how to use the Drinksmeter app.

It’s easy. If you’ve used an app on your phone, you can do it!

If you have any comments, questions, problems or feedback, please email us at daat@cornwall.gov.uk

 

 

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Lockdown Home Drinking

April 15th, 2020 by

As the current social distancing restrictions mean staying at home, it is easy to use alcohol  to unwind and take your mind off everything that is happening. You may be more relaxed about your drinking levels and the alcohol units may add up without realising.

In the short-term this is excusable but there may be problems you are not aware of. Over the next couple of weeks we will be providing information about drinking at a sensible and healthy level as well as support and advice if you are drinking at high risk levels.  The Drinksmeter app is available to help you monitor your own drinking levels and we will be providing information around how to use the app to stay healthy.

We will be discussing the following topics in 5 separate articles which you can find by returning to the Safer Cornwall website or by following us on Facebook and Twitter

  1. How to keep things under control
  2. How to use the Drinksmeter
  3. How to interpret Drinksmeter scores
  4. How to cut back
  5. What to do if you struggle to cut down

 

 

 

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Safer Cornwall are a working partnership involving: