Case Studies

“There’s a lack of compassion for those who have the illness of addiction”

Section: The ALLIANCEType: Case Study

Recovery Practitioner for Penumbra, Dan, talks about Alcohol Related Brain Damage and the stigma that comes with the diagnosis.

“Instantly if someone says they have Alcohol Related Brain Damage they’re revealing the cause of their illness and there’s a lack of compassion for those who have the illness of addiction. People are opening themselves up to the stigma that comes with it.

It’s normally described as ARBD, Alcohol Related Brain Damage. ARBD is a B1 vitamin deficiency caused by chronic alcohol misuse and malnourishment.

People think it’s not worthy of compassion, it’s not worthy of support, ‘it’s your fault, you’ve brought it on yourself’. The general public, well there’s a lack of understanding.

I’m a recovery practitioner for Penumbra in Glasgow. I support people in their homes, in their communities, to live as independently as possible. I enjoy my job, I feel as if it’s worthwhile, I feel as if it’s helping people, supporting.

Personally, I never judge somebody, maybe that comes with experience. I’d like to think most people don’t judge someone because of a diagnosis or because of the way they present.

People can recover. In terms of alcohol dependency people recover by abstaining and living their life in recovery and in terms of ARBD, 25% of people with that diagnosis can make a full recovery – but what does recovery mean?

The people we work with, we know they’ve been through very traumatic events in childhood. To reach the age of 40/50 to have been through all they’ve been through, to now be abstinent and maintaining their tenancies, having a circle of friends, engaging in support, not having any debt – that’s an achievement.

We’re products of our environment. One hundred per cent of the people I support are products of their childhood. They’ve all been exposed to the toxic trio: mental health, addiction and violence and there must be a connection here. No, they’re not to blame. It could be us.”

You can read more Humans of Scotland stories on our website. 

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