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It never crossed my mind that I was an alcoholic’ Jan 24, 2018

‘It never crossed my mind that I was an alcoholic’ Declan could see he was going down a slippery slope and that he had to do something. I used to drink a bottle of wine at home, not every day, but I’d look forward to it. It kind of happened more frequently as time progressed. A bottle of wine between us would turn into two, would sometimes turn into three. And as time went on, I realised that as we moved on to the second or third bottle, it was mostly me drinking it. I tried to make it look like it was shared, but it wasn’t.” The months and years passed and Declan recalls tricky questions being asked. “I remember flashpoints, for example when my wife said: ‘Gosh, you’re drinking a lot aren’t you?’ I knew when she said that that she was watching and noticing. And because she was noticing, the next night I would have two bottles of wine on the go – one we were both drinking from and another only I was drinking from.” The couple did not have children at that stage, but would go on to have a daughter. After his daughter was born, Declan’s routine changed. “I would sit up drinking when she had gone to bed. Very gradually, I was drinking more and more and more until it got to the stage that I was drinking every day. There were empty bottles around the place and I knew there were too many empty bottles, so I started moving bottles into the car just to keep the numbers down.” Declan stuck with wine. “I never moved onto spirits, but I couldn’t get enough from beer,” he says. “I moved from nice wine to screw-top bottled wine. I would put the screw top back on the bottle and put it under a cushion, behind a curtain, anywhere. If my wife went to the toilet, I’d unscrew the cap and take another swig.” He knew his wife was watching him, though, because she would say, “you’re not drinking again are you?” Declan knew that his drinking was being noticed so he would go to the pub on his way home and have “one or two, three or four or five. Then, instead of arriving at the pub at 6pm, I’d arrive at 4pm and drink from then.” When he did get home he would have another glass of wine. 'It was only wine' Not even having his daughter, who he loved, made Declan get home earlier. At the time, he felt his wife was confrontational. “I didn’t see that I had a problem. It was only wine,” he says. He could always come up with a reason to stay in the pub, he says. It was Christmas, it was someone’s birthday. “It never crossed my mind that I was an alcoholic. That was someone on the street with a coat in a bag and no job. I had a job I had a car,” he says. The car was to come in handy as something other than a manifestation of his apparent normality. “I started to drink in the car. If I was driving, I’d take a bottle from the glove box and have a drink.” They were dangerous times, but Declan still considered himself a good father. “When I was there, I was a good dad, but I was quite happy to not be there so I could drink.” The couple moved apart as their schedules moved apart. Declan would leave the house later to take their daughter to her crèche. “I was able to rationalise that my drinking was not affecting my daughter.” The couple stayed together, but had separate bedrooms. “We never went back, though, and separated a couple of years later.” In 2009, Declan checked in to the Rutland centre, the largest private addiction rehabilitation centre in Ireland. Declan had known for a long time that all was not right. At night he would ring his friends and family, but would not remember what he had said. His drinking had started like it does for many people. “In the park. Snakebites. At the time that was just what everybody did.” Everybody was not Declan, though. I knew I had crossed a line. I was drinking in the morning, then in the afternoon, then in the evening Eventually, the drinking blew up in his face. “One day I remember going up to the crèche to collect my daughter on the way home and the guy who owned the crèche wouldn’t release her to me and then let me drive. I had a row with him I walked home with her that night.” Declan’s chickens were coming home to roost. He says that it got to a point when he was “preferring to drink and drive than admit to my wife that I was drinking”. Drink-driving Finally, after he was stopped by gardaí for drink-driving in the Phoenix Park, he started to face facts. “I knew I had crossed a line. I knew when I was drinking in the morning, then in the afternoon, then in the evening. When I was drunk-driving with my daughter in the car I knew it could not go on. “I was drinking too often. I’d say that most people who ask themselves if they drink too much are asking for a reason. Non-alcoholics don’t ask themselves if they are alcoholic,” he says. “I knew about the Rutland Centre, so I went to the centre with my wife.” They talked to a counsellor together, then Declan was on his own. The counsellor told him he was a chronic alcoholic, he says. “And I thought, ‘f**k you’.” “I didn’t even consider it weird that it was 11am and I had drunk a bottle of wine on the way over. I said that I could stop drinking on my own, and I did, for a while, but then I started to drink. A lot.” It took three and a half years and his marriage having broken down before he checked in to the Rutland Centre to get residential treatment for his alcoholism. Declan went into the south-Dublin centre for five weeks. “I moved in there. No phone. No outside world.” For five weeks Declan had group therapy with people with other addictions – drink, drugs, gambling. He hasn’t drank alcohol since. Irish culture He finished treatment in 2009, eight years ago. He has been tempted, though, and the culture in Ireland has not helped, he says. “If you go out with people here and you don’t drink, it is a problem.” After he finished treatment, Declan went back to his wife and daughter. He stayed until 2013 when he moved into his own house. He has faced tough times but even when his mother died last year he didn’t feel the need to drink. He has learned to cope with challenges in other ways. “Things can happen, but you prepare for the big things,” he says. Declan has got his life back on track. “The best thing I ever did was to stop drinking. It gave me back a life. It gave my daughter back her dad; my wife a friend. It is just made things so much better for me. Just to be happy with who you are is absolutely fabulous.” If you are concerned that you or someone you care about has a problem with alcohol, Call Talbot Grove. Read More

Shinning on a light on male eating disorders Sep 15, 2017

Shinning on a light on male eating disorders Friday, September 15, 2017 From bigorexia to bingeing, more young males are experiencing eating disorders. But the stigma of having what is often seen as a woman’s illness is stopping many from seeking help, writes Sharon Ní Conchúir. Eating disorders are still commonly seen as conditions that only affect females. However, the life experience of Zayn Malik, Russell Brand, John Prescott, Elton John, Billy Bob Thornton and Welsh rugby referee Nigel Owens prove that this is definitely not so. Their stories show that men can restrict their calorie intake just as much as women. Zayn Malik recently revealed that he would often go for days without eating when he was in One Direction. It was only after he left the band and moved back in with his parents that he was able to begin addressing his problem. In the late 1990s, Billy Bob Thornton lost 59lb and was diagnosed with anorexia. He has since recovered and regained the weight. These men’s stories show that it’s not just women who binge eat either. Russell Brand, John Prescott, Elton John and Nigel Owens have all struggled with this. Trish Shiel is the clinical manager of the Eating Disorder Centre in Cork, where they are increasingly seeing an increase in the number of men coming forward with eating disorders. “This may not be because more men are suffering from eating disorders,” she says. “It may be that they are now more prepared to admit to having a problem. When we started in 2008, very few men came forward. Now, it’s at least one in 10.” While it certainly helps that more and more high-profile men are opening up about their mental health issues, Shiel thinks more needs to be done to encourage boys and men to come forward. Read More

'I couldn't stop, I had to have it' - John Joe O'Sullivan Jul 17, 2017

'I couldn't stop, I had to have it' - John Joe O'Sullivan The final years of his drinking life were a nightmare for John Joe O'Sullivan before he sought help Read More

Alcohol is issue for most at addiction centre Jun 7, 2017 More than 60% of the clients who attended an addiction treatment centre last year are holding down full-time jobs. Of those who attend programmes at the centre, alcohol is still the number one drug for the majority and is abused in combination with other substances by other clients. New figures compiled by Talbot Grove in Castleisland, Co. Kerry, reveal that over half of all clients are referred by either a family member or friend and not a medical professional. Over 38% of people sought help on their own behalf and only 8% were referred by the Health Service Executive (HSE). The statistics also reveal that 27% had a third-level qualification and almost 70% had sat the Leaving Certificate. The centre is also dealing with more women seeking help for addiction problems and this usually relates to alcohol abuse in the home. Independent senator Frances Black is a former client and sought help for her addiction issues at the Kerry centre. The age profile of clients is also startling as six in ten are over the age of 40. Con Cremin has been the director of Talbot Grove since 1996. He says the statistics are reflective of Talbot Grove’s rural base and the profile of their clients would differ from an addiction treatment centre in an urban area. “Alcohol abuse is still the main issue for about three-quarters of the people who come here and it’s either them or their family makes the first phone call to us and not a doctor or other medical professional,” he said. “What’s also significant, though not surprising, is that 85% of the people who came in here last year completed the residential course.” Talbot Grove was founded by a voluntary group in 1993 and deals with adult clients mainly from a rural hinterland in Kerry, Cork and Limerick, who complete a 30-day residential programme followed by a further two years of continuous care. Of the 15% who didn’t stay the course, most would have left against staff advice, two people were asked to leave and one had to be medically discharged. Mr Cremin clarified that of those who left against staff advice, most felt after 10 days they had done enough and could handle the rest of their recovery themselves. “The more rural people are in their geography, the more self-sufficient and self-reliant they are. “So very often, they will seek help in crisis but once the crisis subsides, they will generally try to sort it out on their own,” he said, adding that this was particularly true of peninsular people. Last year, the centre dealt with 137 clients, including 86 men and 51 women. Forty-two of these were over the age of 50 and only 11 were aged between 18 and 24. Alcohol was the main problem substance for 105 or 77% of clients. Cannabis use was a factor 8% and cocaine, opiates and benzodiazepines effected 5, 4% and 2%, respectively. Addictions to gambling, spending, gaming, porn or sex were the main issues for 6% of clients. Apart from the 137 people who sought treatment, the centre also offered support to 371 family members or significant others. Talbot Grove can cater for up to 12 people at a time, who are accommodated in its five twin or treble bedrooms. It occupies the former presbytery on the outskirts of the town and is largely self-funding but also receives some support from the HSE. Read More

One of Ireland’s leading Addiction Treatment Centres, Talbot Grove, Jun 6, 2017

One of Ireland’s leading Addiction Treatment Centres, Talbot Grove, releases participant treatment statistics for 2016 85% of all participants successfully complete Residential Treatment Programme at Talbot Grove Alcohol continues to be the main drug of addiction in Irish society Success and value of residential treatment is reflected by the Talbot Grove figures Tuesday 6th June, 2017 Talbot Grove Addiction Treatment Centre, Castleisland, County Kerry, has today released its annual treatment statistics report for 2016. The only facility of its kind in the South-West of Ireland, the report affirms the Centre’s reputation as a national leader in the treatment of addiction, with 85% of Talbot Grove participants successfully completing their 30 day Residential Programme. The newly released figures also reveal that those seeking treatment were predominately male (63%) with 37% female and 55% of all participants are in full employment and educated with 42% completing Leaving Certificate and 27% having a third level qualification. Participants tend to seek treatment as they get older with 58% of all participants over 40 years of age. Family was the main source of referral at 48%, with self referral at 39%, followed by HSE financially supported referrals at 8%. The Talbot Grove figures show that the primary reason people seek treatment* (but not exclusive) is alcohol at 77%, followed by cannabis at 11%. There was a small, but significant increase in those seeking treatment for Cocaine use from 3 - 5%, reflecting trends nationally. For more information - The Talbot Grove report highlights that location is a strong influence on where those suffering from addiction seek treatment and 47% of residential participants were from Kerry, with 22% from Cork and 17% from Limerick. As almost half of referrals are from family members, they then continue to play an important role in the treatment programme at Talbot Grove with the majority of participants in the residential programme having 3 or more family members/significant others, involved in the Family Support programmes run at Talbot Grove. Con Cremin, Executive Director, Talbot Grove “Talbot Grove’s excellent residential treatment programme completion rate, and the high numbers who continue to attend our aftercare services, compares very favourably with other addiction treatment facilities nationally. We attribute our success in treating addiction to our ethos of only working with a small group (maximum capacity of 12), so we can completely focus on each participant as they take their personal journey on the road to recovery. The profile of person that comes to Talbot Grove is very broad, crossing all sectors of society and reflects the fact that addiction doesn’t respect social and geographic distinctions as it can affect anyone, as shown in the released figures. It is also very clear that alcohol continues to be the main drug of addiction in Irish society, and hopefully the new National Drug Strategy will reflect this. Equally the success and value of residential treatment is reflected by the figures released by Talbot Grove. They show that Talbot Grove is a vital and valuable service to have in the South West of the country, and that the residential nature of the service is key to the success of many people in starting their life of recovery from addiction” Talbot Grove was established in 1993 to provide residential service for people with addictions, including alcohol, gambling, drugs and other related issues and to support families living with addiction. Talbot Grove provides a pleasant, private and peaceful therapeutic environment in a homely setting surrounded by secluded gardens. All treatments are broadly based on a combination of the Minnesota Model of Addiction Treatment and the 12 Step approach originally developed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Services are delivered by a team of professionally qualified & highly experienced Addiction Counsellors. Talbot Grove was recently awarded the prestigious ISO 9001: 2008 for excellence in Systems & Processes supporting the delivery of services, and also reaccredited with the CHKS Accreditation Award for Healthcare. It has also been selected for the second year running as one of the principal charities of the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle to help with fundraising for future planned development. BACKGROUND INFORMATION * Alcohol is the primary addiction issue presenting, however many of those will also have problems with other substances such as benzodiazepines, over the counter medications, opiates, cannabis and cocaine, or have gambling, eating disorders or other addiction issues. * Statistics collated from anonymized data supplied to the Health Research Board from total of 137 participants in Talbot Grove in 2016. Read More

Minister Byrne Drops in on Talbot Grove Mar 14, 2017

Minister of State for Communities and National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne TD, paid a visit to Talbot Grove, addiction treatment centre here in Castleisland on Friday. Minister Byrne was invited by Talbot Grove Executive Director, Con Cremin, who gave her a guided tour and introduced her to key members of the team and those receiving treatment at the centre. Talbot Grove was recently awarded the prestigious ISO 9001: 2008 for excellence in Systems & Processes supporting the delivery of services, and also reaccredited with the CHKS Accreditation Award for Healthcare. Significance of Awards Con Cremin outlined to Minister Byrne the significance of these awards and the high standard of treatment on offer at Talbot Grove. They discussed the challenges of providing these services with what is essentially a self-financing voluntary organisation, while acknowledging the support from the HSE and the Southern Regional Drug & Alcohol Task Force which comes under the remit of her department. He also outlined to Minister Byrne their major development plans for new facilities on their grounds in Castleisland, which will ensure the continuity of this valuable service for future generations and emerging needs. Committed Support Minister Byrne committed her support to Talbot Grove in accessing Capital Funding from the State toward the development plans. Read More

The 2017 Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle Feb 20, 2017

We are delighted to be able to inform you that Talbot Grove (Addiction & Family Services) has been selected again this year as a main beneficiary of the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle. Last year’s event was a great success for Talbot Grove, with €111,000 being raised by cyclists towards the fund for the new facility on our grounds in Castleisland. We are very grateful to all who contributed as cyclists, sponsors and volunteers in making it such a success. The 2017 Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle will take place on Saturday 1st July, with registration opening on Saturday 25th February 2017. We would be delighted if you and other family, friends and associates would select Talbot Grove as your charity for this event. All registration will be done online with a €100 registration fee on a first come first served basis, with additional donation/fundraising options being available upon registration and in the coming months. We will be able to send you a link prior to registration which will take you directly to our registration page. I attach a press release from the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle for your information and will be in touch with you again in the days prior to registration Read More

Alcohol and other drugs kill two people a day in Ireland Dec 14, 2016

Alcohol and other drugs kill two people a day in Ireland Fatalities up 62% over 10 years, with half of those who died aged 39 or younger Two people a day died from causes related to alcohol and other drug use in 2014, according to latest figures from the Health Research Board. Read More