Written by Greg

I am in my 50s and live in London. My parents were raised in London, and I love living in the city, with all its many attractions from restaurants to delis and galleries. I studied history at university and one of my first jobs was as a historian for a charity in South Asia. The travel bug had already bitten me and by 1993, I had been all over Europe and to the USA, South Africa, Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia. I have been lucky enough since then, to have travelled to many other parts of the world, always immersing myself in the food, history, and culture.

From 1993 until 2017, I had a long career in the retail side of the drinks industry. I loved the products, the people, and the customers. I spent several years in senior roles and went on to work for a wine-related start-up which was fun, entrepreneurial, and very hands-on.

In 2017, I decided on a change of direction and moved into the charity sector. Since then, I have volunteered for several charities, while finding time to help my sister with her antique business in Texas. For the last two years, I have split my time between caring for my parents and working as a cooking mentor for an organisation that works with local councils to help people living in food poverty. As a keen amateur cook, it is a privilege to help those that need it most and develop cooking skills that will help them eat both more healthily and economically. In my spare time, I also love sports and reading.

I entered the addictions treatment ward at Nightingale Hospital in June 2022, on the advice of my Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Ronan McIvor, for a detox treatment for alcohol dependency.

The programme was initially for 7 days, but I extended it to 10 days, to make the most of the classes and group therapy sessions. I had previously been a patient at Nightingale in 2018 and 2020, with the same diagnosis. On these occasions, I took the 28-day programme. This time around, I needed a medically safe environment to detox, rest and regain some health. I had already established myself in AA from April 2022 and had a strong support network to return home to. Therefore, I felt this was the right approach for me. From past experience, I knew that Nightingale Hospital was the quickest solution. The hospital and staff were also familiar to me.

Nightingale offers a very comfortable option for detox treatment, classes, overall medical care and well-being. In addition, I very much appreciated the relatively low patient-to-therapist ratio.

To be honest, everybody I came into contact with was supportive and genuinely cared to make my stay, as comfortable as possible, from the medical staff to the restaurant team. I am very grateful to my Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr McIvor, who has known me since 2018 and has been very supportive on my journey to long-term recovery.

I enjoyed all the therapy sessions, hence I extended my stay, and felt they were of real benefit. So thank you to Stuart, Sue, Debra, Richard and Francis. The Tuesday aftercare sessions with Elmer are also very valuable. On the addictions ward, both ward doctors were excellent. Thanks as always to nurses Mo, Grace, Nomusa, Anita, Emma and Godwin, who remembered me and made me feel thoroughly at home. This is so important and means, that as a patient, you can really focus on your recovery.

Overall, the treatment left me feeling healthy, detoxed and ready to re-join my support network with AA. My advice to anyone joining the addictions ward for inpatient treatment for addiction would be to thoroughly embrace all the classes and treatments that are on offer. The more you engage with the programme and the therapists, the better prepared you will be for when you leave. It is a great opportunity to listen and learn from fellow patients and all the staff.

I would very much recommend putting a resilient structure in place for when you leave, through a combination of NA/CA/AA, further therapy and using the aftercare sessions. Nightingale Hospital does a very professional job of providing excellent medical treatment and a set of tools for helping with long-term recovery. It is vital to use your time in hospital to reflect and ask for advice, so you are best placed to continue your recovery, when you leave.  

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“When you have a problem and you drink, take drugs or gamble, the problem won’t go away. Stay and tackle the problem”