Karen is currently back in Prison after breaching her ASBO, by being drunk and disorderly, within 5 days of her last release from prison. I visited her yesterday and she was very angry at being back in custody, she can’t understand why she has been locked up again. We chatted about her behaviour when she was released and she admitted that she really struggled to keep her drinking at a manageable level. She recognises that when she drinks sprits she can’t control her behaviour and she knows she needs to address this but admits that she doesn’t know how else to “cope with her problems other than to drink to forget”.
She is in court next week to be sentenced but it looks likely that she will be remanded further for a psychiatric assessment. The prospect of this terrifies Karen. She already feels overwhelmed by her own emotional problems and has stated that if she is forced to address them by mental health professionals, rather than at her own pace, then she will commit suicide. At the same time, she understands that something needs to be done about her behaviour but she feels that her ASBO and custody do not help her. I asked her what she wanted to happen next, how she would like to things to progress and she said that she would like to be released from prison into the community, either on licence or through electronic tagging and that she wants to continue to work with her alcohol treatment service.
She plans to cut down her alcohol intake by swapping spirits for drinks with a lesser alcohol content. This might not seem like a big step but, for Karen, this is really good progress. It shows she is acknowledging her problem with alcohol and is taking steps to work on this. It also shows that she is taking steps to prevent reoffending and returning to custody as she knows that she gets into trouble when she is drinking spirits. It is not realistic to ask Karen to stop drinking straight away, she has tried this and it doesn’t work, she told me that when she has been asked to do this it makes her feel like even more of a failure as she knows she can’t just stop. If she can show that she is willing to address her alcohol problems and is making steps to cut down then she will hopefully be funded to go into rehab. She has decided on the rehab that she wants to go to and seems quite positive about this. We will continue to support Karen throughout her court appearance next week and, dependent upon the outcome, will support her through her journey into rehab or continue to work with her whilst she is in custody.
Fiona, Support Worker
We are following Tom and Karen to show the nature of our work over time. The last couple of weeks really demonstrates that you can’t expect people to respond within set time frames. Both of these people are getting the same service from us; one doing incredibly well the other going around in circles.
Our ethos means that Karen is most important at the moment as she’s not really getting any positive input anywhere else. We will keep pushing, and no matter how long it takes we will turn her’s into a good news story!