Erna's Story

Erna's Story

Giving up alcohol for Dry January can be a great way of raising money (like James Carlin is doing for DHI), saving money and, most importantly, feeling better. Better sleep, weight loss and more energy will often result from a period away from alcohol. However, it is hard to stop drinking even if you are not usually a heavy drinker and don’t experience the many factors which can lead people to alcoholism.

Erna was one person for whom giving up alcohol was a particular struggle. When she first engaged with DHI, she was in her 40s and had been drinking heavily since she was 22. She had suffered with domestic violence, losing her home and debt. She was living in a second floor room in a supported house, which combined with her poor health and severe mobility issues was putting her at risk of accidents.

When Erna was admitted to hospital with drink related health issues, DHI staff visited her, built a relationship with her and encouraged her to recognise the need to change. When she was discharged from hospital, she came to DHI and we assessed her support needs.

Because of DHI’s approach of looking at the person and not just the individual problem they have presented with, we were able to identify that the hopes of recovery were hindered by Erna living in inappropriate accommodation. We therefore referred her to our supported housing project, Burlington House, where she was able to undergo a medically supervised detox while still living in her community. While there, she developed a five day a week treatment plan with her key worker and she built strong relationships with other tenants in recovery. She rebuilt relationships with her sons and attended one of their weddings. After completing her treatment at Burlington Street, she moved out to alternative accommodation where she can access support on a more light-touch basis.

Erna is now abstinent and more independent thanks to her determination and the opportunity she had to detox in the community at Burlington House.

DHI are currently trying to buy our Burlington House facility to secure it for the future, which will give many more people the opportunity to detox in the community and at a fraction of the cost of a traditional rehab. To support our appeal, please visit

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