Nov 11th 2019

Volunteer who battled alcoholism now helps others

A former alcoholic has told how she has become a volunteer at the NHS Trust that helped her on the road to recovery to quit booze.
Rachel Bassett used to drink 12 pints of cider a day and had found herself jobless and depressed.

But after being referred to the Alcohol Team at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, she turned her life around.

Since she revealed her struggle a year ago, Rachel has joined the organisation as a volunteer where she shares her experiences with patients who are seeking help for their addiction.

Speaking during Alcohol Awareness Week (11-15 November), she said: “My recovery has gone from strength-to-strength and I’m now doing something really worthwhile – giving valuable advice to people who were once in the same position as myself.

“I’ve been there and I know how awful it is. To me cider was my world and I loved it so much that I’d drink up to 12 pints a day. I couldn’t function normally without a drink in my hand. I lost my job and I was left housebound because it affected my health so much. I was diagnosed with malnutrition because I stopped eating and my weight went down to six stone.

“Many of the patients who come into the clinic for treatment want to talk about what they are going through to someone who understands and I am able to relate to them directly.

“They can feel nervous and agitated, but I can help calm their nerves by telling them what to expect and giving them reassurance.

“I can also offer a bit of a distraction too by taking their mind off things if they want to talk about something else.”

Rachel, from West Bromwich, attends clinics held on a Monday and Tuesday at City Hospital where she speaks to new patients who have come for their first assessment, those who are pre-detox, and some who are post-detox.

“I’ve had some very positive feedback, with some patients asking if I will be there when they come for a follow-up appointment,” added Rachel. 

She joined as a volunteer in August and as well as interacting with patients, she has also been assisting the Alcohol team when they attend promotional events.

“When I think back to my time as an alcoholic I would never have thought I would be here at the Trust volunteering and helping patients who have been through what I have.
“I could barely walk, let alone talk during my darkest days. But I am now able to offer my insight and advice to others going through a similar experience to mine and I hope that it does help them in some way.”

Lead Alcohol Nurse Arlene Copland said: “The feedback we have received from patients who have met Rachel and spoken to her about their experiences has been really positive.
“Not only is she able to relate to them directly, but she is also a true inspiration. She shows them that there is hope and that they can recover and go onto live a normal life.”


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