Will the booze help kill the loneliness

Corona crisis and alcohol addiction: loneliness is the greatest danger

How high is the proportion of inquiries about alcohol addiction compared to other addiction topics in the Caritas advice center?

Last year, 70 percent of the inquiries revolved around the subject of alcohol. 9.7 percent of those seeking advice dealt with illegal drugs, 3.4 percent with gambling addiction. 2.2 percent related to the subjects of eating disorders and media addictions.

When do we actually talk about alcohol addiction?

The diagnostic criteria include an increase in dose as well as physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms and neglect of hobbies and interests.

Kirstin Damm also speaks of limited control. “You can no longer manage to regulate in such a way that you consume what you set out to do beforehand.” And: You consume despite health or social dangers, for example in the case of diabetes or a previous heart attack or impending conflicts in relationships . Damm: “You shouldn't drink a lot of alcohol and still do it.” Negative consequences are accepted with approval.

Is there actually a low-risk alcohol consumption?

According to the WHO, a man can consume 0.5 liters of beer four to five days a week in order to drink low-risk, a woman half.

How many people use the Caritas addiction counseling service?

A total of 626 people (including 244 people in Haltern) used the counseling services in the joint counseling center in Dorsten and Haltern in 2020 - 346 men and 280 women. A year earlier there were 794 people seeking advice - 433 men and 361 women.

According to statistics, the alcohol consumption of Germans has increased since Corona. The number of addictions is also increasing. Does that also apply in Haltern?

Only hypotheses are possible here. With the beginning of the pandemic, there was initially a decrease in the number of requests for advice. But that doesn't mean that people drank less. “On the contrary,” says Kirstin Damm. Because of Corona and the risk of infection, people initially held back and avoided contact with the advisors. Especially since some offers of the Caritas addiction counseling, such as self-help groups, could not take place in direct face-to-face contact at times. There were more frequent breaks in the normally five basic meetings. “We suspect that people continued to drink anyway,” explains the social worker. "Also because consumption often goes unnoticed due to social isolation."

In the meantime, however, the addiction counselors have noticed a significant increase in inquiries. "We suspect that we are now seeing the increase in alcohol consumption as a delayed phenomenon."

Why could Corona lead to more alcohol illness?

Stressful factors (homeschooling, home office, short-time work, loneliness) are increasing. At the same time, stabilizing contacts (social contacts, work colleagues, self-help groups), often combined with social control, are lost. Here, the functionality of alcohol can have something of a relief. There are also relapses.

Loneliness is the biggest factor in negative addiction development. "Those seeking advice have often formulated this," says Kirstin Damm's team.

In times of Corona, many Caritas offers did not take place - what is the current situation?

For a long time, Caritas was unable to offer a group offer in direct contact. Now, gradually - depending on the incidence - outpatient rehabilitation and aftercare groups are to take place again. There is currently no self-help group in Haltern that enables direct contact. Direct one-on-one discussions and online advice are still possible at Caritas.

How old are clients with alcoholic disorders?

With 36.1 percent, the 50 to 59 year olds are most strongly represented. This is followed by the 40 to 49 year olds (20.1 percent), the 30 to 39 year olds (15.5), the over 60 year olds (12.9) and the 20 to 29 year olds (10, 3).

How does the addictive behavior arise?

Addiction is a condition that changes brain physiology. Important: An addiction memory develops. Drinking as a relief or the functionality of the substance is quickly perceived by the brain as so good that it keeps saying: "In this situation, drinking is the first solution".

Often this happens below the level of consciousness. Kristin Damm: "The addiction memory creeps up and outwits the will." This creates addictive pressure and desire, although one actually knows better.

What are the consequences of alcohol addiction?

There is social withdrawal. Loss of relationships, marital problems, and difficulty finding a job can all be other consequences. Health problems - for example secondary diseases such as diabetes, liver diseases or coronary heart diseases - are inevitable. Kirstin Damm says it straight away: "Alcohol disease will be fatal if it is not treated and managed."

What role does shame play in taking advantage of offers of help?

A very big part. It leads to reservations about possible counseling offers. "But alcohol addiction is a disease," says Kirstin Damm. "It can affect anyone." And: "Nobody has to be ashamed of that."

What does the treatment look like?

It differs from person to person. Advice from Caritas is an “open-ended offer”. The social pedagogue explains: “We see what the client actually wants. One strives for abstinence, the other a drinking reduction. ”The counseling offer is“ accepting and accepting ”, emphasizes Damm. Accordingly, the duration of the consultation and treatment also varies from person to person.

What help options are there?

There is a wide range of support options: After around five basic discussions, inpatient treatment, therapy in a day clinic, work in a self-help group or outpatient rehabilitation (10 months) may be indicated. Damm emphasizes: "A relapse is part of the clinical picture, we work with it."

Caritas team, costs and contacts

  • The Caritas addiction counseling team includes Kirstin Damm (Tel. 02364/109030, Mail: [email protected]), Julia Kühling (Tel. 02364/109031, [email protected]) and Hartmut Giese ( Tel. 02364/109034, [email protected]).
  • The joint advice center is made up of the advice teams in Haltern and Dorsten.
  • Advice (in person, by phone or online) is free, as are self-help and online groups.
  • The costs for rehabilitation measures or inpatient therapy are usually covered by health insurers or pension providers.
  • Relatives of addicts also accept the Caritas offer well. They can learn that they are not responsible for any family member's addiction problems. You learn to set yourself apart and get support. It is important to find out how addiction “works”.
  • The Blue Cross Addiction Aid Association also makes a professional online offer with its website www.mog-bke.de.

How hard is the way

You have to invest and work to change things. You have to pull yourself up. And you have to look for other rewards that lead to the release of happiness hormones (endorphins).

What could rewards look like?

Clients report great satisfaction when they take more care of their physical well-being (sauna, relaxation techniques). Damm: "Stressful situations can be coped well with practiced breathing techniques, for example." Walks in the forest, quality time with your partner, listening to music - all of that could help.

What are the advantages of addiction counseling?

Kirstin Damm says it urgently: “I can only recommend everyone to take addiction counseling - be it anonymously, in face-to-face contact or online. For those people who no longer know a solution or are ashamed, it is a great relief and there is a bit of hope again. ”The good thing about the addiction is:“ You can stop drinking at any time, this is not possible with another disease . There is a possibility to get out. "