Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol Awareness Month

“Sobriety has given me a life I’d never had and to this day I feel grateful every single day and grateful for the fellowship of AA  and life skills I’ve learned over the 22 years I’ve been sober, one day at a time. When I go to bed at night after not having had a drink, no matter what, it’s been a good day.”

– Nigel, Kennedy Street Recovery Story

One important thing to remember is that there is no one type of person that can be impacted by alcohol addiction. Those from all walks of life can find themselves in patterns of problematic drinking that interferes with their lives, relationships and jobs.

Current Alcohol Use in the UK

      Evidence suggests that businesses lose between £866 – £1062 million per year, in costs related to losses of labour and productivity from alcohol misuse alone.

      24% of workers admitted to drinking during the workday in the past year.

      22% of workers admit to making mistakes at work due to having a hangover.

      15% of workers admit to being drunk at work at least occasionally.

     Public Health England’s data on the indirect effects of COVID-19  found that in June 2020, over 8.4 million people (1 in 5) were drinking at higher risk, up from just 4.8 million (1 in 10) in Feb 2020.

Benefits of Stopping Drinking

While many people know the negative impacts that excessive drinking can have, most don’t realize the significant benefits that come when you stop drinking.

Healthier Body – Heart, Liver, Immune System & More

Drinking heavily has a huge impact on your health and can lead to serious and even fatal consequences, including:

  • liver cirrhosis
  • fatty build up in the liver and heart
  • increased risk of many types of cancer
  • high blood pressure
  • weakened immune system
  • & many more.

The good news is, that stopping drinking can strengthen your body and reduce these risks significantly. The liver itself can repair and even regenerate on its own!

Improve Your Brain Function & Mental Health

Long-term alcohol abuse can impact the brain in a number of ways, including:

  • impairing your motor function and reaction times
  • issues with memory and focus
  • mental health issues like depression and anxiety

It can be the cause of many serious injuries and accidents including burns, drowning, falls, and traffic accidents that can be fact. It is also often linked to suicide. When you stop drinking, your risk of these types of accidents dramatically decreases, and your brain function can begin to improve.

Better Sleep

Although many use alcohol as a way to fall asleep at night, it actually disrupts the important stages of sleep, makes it difficult to stay asleep and can interfere with your breathing at night. Stopping drinking means that your body is able to get more good quality sleep, and can help you wake up feeling truly rested, and develop a healthier sleeping pattern for the future.

Weight Loss & Nutrition

Drinking excessively can deplete the body of vital nutrients, and those with alcohol addiction often use drinking to replace meals. It can also affect the body’s ability to digest food and absorb nutrients, which can have significant health impacts. Many types of alcohol are also incredibly high in calories and sugar, so cutting out drinking can help you to lose weight and stay healthy.

Improved Relationships

Alcohol addiction can have a huge impact on your relationship with those around you. It can lead to shame and guilt, cause you to become withdrawn or avoid loved ones in pursuit of drinking, and affect your mood and how you interact with others. Prolonged excessive drinking can also impact your brain’s ability to read other people’s emotions. One of the joys of reaching recovery is that it allows you to rebuild damaged relationships and develop more healthy connections, and allows you to connect with a supportive recovery community. Stopping drinking can also increase your sex drive and sexual performance, too!

“I’ve learnt to love myself because that little shy girl doesn’t need a mask in order to tackle life. She doesn’t need to put on a show or pretend to be anything other than the being that she is today. Annie is not afraid anymore for she has dealt with things that have at times seemed impossible to the point where death was the easier option. I now have a life I love. A home I cherish and bless every day. Family and friends who I have unconditional love for. A body and brain that are still working and working well. Plenty to celebrate!

– Anon, Kennedy Street Recovery Story

Stopping Drinking

Addiction is not always about the amount being consumed, but the impact that your drinking has on your life and your loved ones. You can check out some questions here that might help you to determine if you’re drinking might be becoming and issue.

But for those drinking excessively and who have become dependent, there are some signficant risks of withdrawal that can be dangerous, if someone is to stop drinking without the proper support to detox. Signs of withdrawal can include: cold sweats, racing pulse, nausea, vomiting, shaky hands, intense anxiety, and even seizures and hallucinations.

If you’re worried about withdrawal, you can use the Drinkaware Self-Assessment Tool,, and it is important to discuss any of these concerns with your GP, who can help you access support to detox if needed.

At Kennedy Street, we don’t just want to help you to stop drinking but to also maintain sobriety and thrive in recovery! You can contact us today and find out how we can help you. Call our Recovery Helpline on 020 3416 3643 or Contact Us, and check out our Recovery Resources for more helpful tools and contacts to support you in your pursuit of recovery.

Additional Support

AA – Alcoholics Anonymous

For those seeking help with an alcohol problem. AA is about personal recovery and the continued sobriety of individual alcoholics who turn to the Fellowship for help.
0800 9177 650

Sobriety Counter – Stop Drinking (EasyQuit)

This is a great motivational app for those that have stopped drinking. It tracks several elements, including how long you’ve been sober, the relevant health benefits, motivational tips and money saved. It’s easy to use and highly rated.
iPhone app store
Android app store


This app helps you track your drinking from day to day, provides you with your current risk level, and also offers a GPS function that can offer you some encouragement if you’re near a ‘trigger’ location for you. Available on Google Play and App Store:

Kennedy Street meets Win Parry

Kennedy Street meets Win Parry

You can watch the original full-length Recovery Talk here and read our follow-up Q&A further down this page.

We hope you enjoy both!

KS: Tell us about your journey to becoming an addiction recovery therapist

WP: I came to therapy a little later in life. I was married with two children with a good job at Hoover as a Sales Trainer. I gave a good external impression of success and confidence which wasn’t perfectly mirrored internally. Life difficulties lead to some problematic drinking which led to my own personal recovery journey.

I’d always greatly admired people in the psychiatric profession. I thought they sat on the right arm of God and never really aspired to join them myself, but friends gradually persuaded me that I had the right abilities and skills to explore it.

I did my training at Edgbaston and joined the Priory Group as a trainee addiction counsellor. My first thought was to work with the homeless but I soon found myself working with people at the Priory who could afford to pay for their own treatment and I threw myself into it. I came to realise that regardless of their background and circumstances the emotional deprivation and desolation was just the same among addicts.

KS: Tell us about your work at the Priory

WP: I practiced the Minnesota Model which advocated total abstinence. 40 years ago this was seen as controversial. I remember being laughed and jeered at for speaking about it at conferences at a time when everything revolved around harm reduction and controlled drinking. There were few places which opened up to abstinence model back then, but the Priory was one of them, along with Clouds.

KS: What turned that around?

WP: It wasn’t easy to stand up for it, but the likes of Dr Brian Hore championed it, as did the Priory. People began to see that the recovery rates were so much better, so the proof of the pudding was in the eating. I was training others in it in Altrincham and had to be very patient with those less familiar with it. The statutory bodies were a closed shop, but AA was spreading too and the tide gradually turned.

Alcoholism wasn’t even seen as an addiction and much emphasis was placed on treating the root cause and correcting the reason, such as childhood trauma etc, but this approach meant that addicts were left with no shift in emotional resources. It seemed to make sense to get the alcohol out the way first and then resolve the underlying issues. Often there was a genetic predisposition too, you could see a history of alcohol abuse in families for instance.

Fellowships like AA started to be taken more seriously, when they were once dismissed as pseudo-religious, cult-like entities. I would host groups from the statutory bodies to pass on this learning. It was very gratifying to educate others to really understand addiction. But it’s only been in the past fifteen years since abstinence became the accepted model. Soon there were addiction programmes popping up all over the country and it became credible at long last.

KS: Kevin was one of many celebrities to benefit from your treatment Win. What are the main challenges associated with treating those in the public eye?

WP: Most ordinary people who come to the Priory can do so with few people knowing. They can hopefully ease their way back into work gradually. But it’s very difficult for famous people because they have a certain image to protect and can’t escape the glare of publicity during their recovery. It’s harder and more threatening because the focus is intensified on them. It’s not uncommon for a therapist to offer some support in attending events for this reason. The difficulty of attending a wedding or a funeral for example is magnified and only adds to existing anxiety about such critical situations.

Of course there are other challenges too. Celebrities are used to being liked and it can be hard to get them to stop performing when they attend groups. It’s not just celebrities though. Doctors and dentists have their own specific groups to attend so that they don’t have to worry about the stigma of their own patients finding out they have a problem.

KS: In the recent recovery talk we did with you, you covered the subject of denial in some detail. What’s important to understand about denial?

WP: It’s pointless pushing someone who’s lying about addiction into a corner. Eventually though they’ll reach a point where they can’t sustain the lie. Remember that not having a crutch to regulate your emotions is a terrifying thing. If you’re living with a young person who’s lying and stealing to fund their habit the best thing you can do is simply remove your valuables from the house, rather than telling them not to do it, which won’t wash.

When the dishonesty reaches a point that the consequences are just too great you have to be prepared to give an ultimatum – clean up or get out. Never give one unless you’re prepared to carry it out, avoid empty threats. Also have some help ready and available to the addict. Family members can often be a powerful lever to those needing help, so don’t underestimate the influence you weald.

KS: Once an addict has stopped using, how long can they expect that feeling of a void left by using this substance to last?

WP: Some people can last a while going cold turkey, but it can be a miserable existence getting by purely on white knuckled willpower. Without the right support users in recovery don’t know how to change their thinking and regulate their emotions. The early euphoria doesn’t last. You’ll soon hit reality when life deals you something difficult.

It’s only when you start to change your attitudes and learn new coping strategies that you’ll feel better. You find new ways of regulating stressors and that abyss fades and shrinks once you do. People’s desire to drink leaves them if they practice a programme of abstinence through therapy and support groups. You have to submit yourself fully to recovery and accept that abstinence is the only possible way to become well again.


KS: After a long and successful career at the Priory you retired and went into private practice. How did you find that transition?

WP: I did some general counselling courses at Keele University, pursued some different specialisms and advanced my training overseas too, as I knew that it was important to be as knowledgeable about general life issues as I was on addiction. But I found it relatively easy really and my practice soon grew to be full time. I was well known after 25 years at the Priory and had a good referral base.

I’d made good connections with various faith groups and many of my clients today come from these. Some of my clients are third generation now – their grandparents would have seen me and referred them on.

Today around 50% of my practice focusses on addictions, and that which doesn’t often looks at repeated behaviours which causes problems. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result and that’s very true of all addictions. The addictive object disinhibits them. It can turn the mildest, gentlest people into monsters.

KS: Finally Win, do you have any words of encouragement for anyone newly entering recovery today?

WP: If you’re listening to and learning from others who’ve recovered and are enjoying a good quality of life then wonderful things await you. Your life will change beyond your wildest dreams. That may sound trite but it could mean for example that you can be free of that tyrannical relationship, finally become a healthier parent or simply face every day without fear or anger. You will find connection in life to your thoughts and feelings which you’ve been searching for in an addiction and which always eluded you.


Sobriety has given me a life I’ve never had – Nigel’s story

Sobriety has given me a life I’ve never had – Nigel’s story

I was often given a glass of wine when I went out for dinner with my parents from the age of around 12 – it seems strange now but at the time it wasn’t. I always liked the feeling and taste of alcohol but never drank much until my mid-20s, partly as a reward for working hard and definitely for the feeling it gave me. Rarely, if ever, was I happy with just the one drink.

I was happily married at 25 and was working hard, after I left home my parents went through a rough time and both used to ditch on us and it was then my drinking increased. My mum sadly passed away when I was 30 and that’s when my drinking really increased. I was so depressed and anxious and was already a functioning alcoholic. I visited my GP who took one look at my liver reading and sent me to an addiction psychiatrist. I was asked questions like ‘have you ever taken a morning drink?’ I was promptly diagnosed as an alcoholic and sent for treatment.

Rarely, if ever, was I happy with just the one drink.

It was May and approaching a busy time at work, I couldn’t find the time for my treatment! By July I was on my knees begging to go. I hadn’t fully realised I couldn’t drink safely again and came out after 28 days and picked that first drink up soon after. It didn’t take long for me to end up back where I’d left off, only this time worse.

By November, having been completely beaten by the disease of alcoholism, I fully conceded I was indeed an alcoholic and could never drink safely again. I was very honest this time and relieved I was able to be so. I came out of treatment and attended Alcoholics Anonymous every day, then 6 times a week for 18 months or so before dropping my meeting to two or three times a week. I got a sponsor, got to know my fellow alcoholics in recovery, and got honest. I had to keep away from places that sold alcohol with the occasional exception of having the odd meal out.

I feel grateful every single day and grateful for the fellowship of AA 

I went to Florida on my first sober holiday and went to the most amazing AA meeting which I’ve attended many times since, making lifelong friends along the way. Acceptance is still a daily thing in many ways except it is accepting I am indeed powerless not only of drink but in many cases, of people, places, and things.

Sobriety has given me a life I’d never had and to this day I feel grateful every single day and grateful for the fellowship of AA  and life skills I’ve learned over the 22 years I’ve been sober, one day at a time.

When I go to bed at night after not having had a drink, no matter what, it’s been a good day.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction please see our resource list.


My alcoholic Dad

My alcoholic Dad

Some of you may not have a clue what ‘recovery’ means. It has so many definitions, not just those found in your dusty copy of the Oxford Dictionary, but to anyone who has recovered from something.

In layman’s terms (the terms I often rely on to understand something), it’s the journey or process someone goes on to get better. So, with that in mind, haven’t we all been through some sort of recovery?

Each week, we will post someone’s recovery story. They might be members of our Kennedy Street team, our network of friends in recovery, or maybe even you.

This is my Recovery Story.

‘Recovery’ has been a word I have grown up with, woven into the tapestry of my past and etched into my psyche. I know it, I understand it, and for a long time I thought all parents lived ‘in it’.

While my primary school friends were visiting amusement parks and grandparents at the weekends, our family outings were attending AA conventions. Not every weekend, but enough for it to feel like the norm.

We’d attend parties and BBQ’s hosted by other families affected by the disease, where the only drinks served were cans of Coke and fancy sparkling grape juice.
While dad was attending AA, my mum was immersed in Al-Anon, the support group for families of alcoholics. Years later, when I asked how she coped for all those years, she just replied ‘Al-Anon saved me’.

Before dad’s recovery began, when I was about seven years old, we had existed in a cycle of his binges. Chaos and the inconsistent had become frighteningly consistent. Dad would be brilliant and fun for weeks, months, then one day simply disappear into his room and mum would set up camp on the sofa. Instructing us not to go into her room, as dad was ‘poorly’ again. The bedroom carpet drowning in a sea of empty vodka bottles, the stale air filled with his sick, strained voice pleading for more ‘booze’ (a word that still fills me with discomfort and sadness, when I hear it). Family members would arrive and whisper incoherently in the kitchen. Finally, the day would come when dad would be wheeled out of the house on a stretcher, neighbours’ curtains twitching. Mum’s head hung in shame, following him into the ambulance. An aunty placing an empathetic hand on my shoulder. Weeks would pass and dad would return home. Always presenting us with a ‘guilt gift’, the tightest hug and the remorseful promise that he was so sorry for putting us through this latest episode and would never drink again. Life resumed, until the next time.

But for about seven years dad was in recovery. This new and improved Superdad was just that, Super. Our home was no longer consumed with the stench, or sound, of ‘booze’. He was our funny, consistent, sober dad.

I can see now that he finally, after many years, tears and thousands of pounds spent on treatment, had managed to commit himself to his recovery. Something suddenly worked for him. Was it the imminent threat of losing his family? His drinking had destroyed two previous marriages. Or was he finally taking the Twelve Steps seriously? Who knows. Attending meetings, conventions, socialising with people he had shared experiences with, had all become his life-saving support network. He was finally in recovery, we were all finally in recovery.

Life was good and my parents decided to relocate us from the Midlands to Torquay, the palm tree-lined utopia we’d spent many a family holiday in.

Dad continued attending meetings and was even running a helpline for alcoholics, as well as visiting prisons, supporting the convicted addicts.

Our new norm was great. Unfortunately, this perfectly normal life was short-lived and the bubble soon burst. I’m not sure what happened to my dad. His new support network was solid, but clearly, something was missing. Within a few years of moving to ‘The Bay of Dreams’, his new business had failed, we were forced to move from our spacious four bedroom detached house, to a pokey first floor flat. It clearly had a profound impact on him. He’d been raised in wealth, was privately educated, owned large homes, drove fast cars and led a fast life. Mum used to compare him to Georgie Best. Sadly, their demise was also all too similar.

One day, something just snapped in his mind. He wanted to drink again, he could ‘handle it’, or so he said. Six years of sobriety washed away with a pint. Five years, multiple visits to the local ICU and a psychiatric sectioning later, he was dead. Years of liquid abuse had taken their toll on his weak, yellow body. His stubborn organs had finally surrendered, too battered, bruised and inflamed to continue fighting him. His mind was his body’s worst enemy. He had spent the final years of his life pleading with me and my brothers to kill him. We’d launch a counter plea, begging he try recovery one last time. Life could be good, he had all of us. But he’d given up. His mind was gone, his body and soul trying so hard to follow. Life became a struggle and chore, his zest and enthusiasm were gone.

This was life living with my dad and his addiction in a very tiny nutshell. What I have written really doesn’t do justice to his illness, or what we went through as a family. Perhaps I’ll write more in a future blog.

But it gives you an idea of what addiction recovery is, and the profound importance it has on addicts and their loved ones. The reason I’m so passionate about Kennedy Street, and I’m working so hard with the KS team to make this dream become a reality, is because I am painfully aware of the importance of creating positive, safe settings for people in recovery. A place to focus on something other than their addiction. This will be an opportunity for them to nurture talents, as well as self-belief, that have been overshadowed. Perhaps if my dad had found something he was passionate enough about, something that lit a fire inside him, he might still be here. Watching his children grow, fall in love and have kids of their own.

So next time you are faced with someone either in the depths of their addiction or trying to recover, consider what they might be going through. What has happened in their life to reach that point and how could you help them?

Thanks for reading,