Detach with love

The story of a son’s spiralling descent into alcohol addiction and the effects on one ordinary family and their fight to save him.

Alcohol Addiction Professionals

Alcoholism is a disease and no-one wakes up one morning deciding to self-destruct. We loved him for who he was and just wanted him to get better


Work with, treat or teach young people in universities and colleges

Who come into contact with people with alcohol addiction through helping, counselling, or treating?

Dear One of the above ,

Doctors, nurses, counsellors, therapists, policemen, ambulance man, paramedics, university deans, student advisors, local authority housing and health officers, managers of private and public clinics. Or one of the many addiction support helpers dedicating their time to help addicts.

Dear Reader,

I didn’t have to write this book and at times it would have been easier not to, but that would have meant that all the efforts we made to try to help save our son from this terrifying illness, all the heartaches and pain, would have been in vain.

It was in vain to some extent because our son died, but that does not mean other people's sons have to die. Very soon after I started to set out the layout of the book, we decided that it needed to be part of a bigger process of trying to inform and help those involved to better understand this tragic illness that is alcohol addiction.

I know you are busy people and may not have time to read my book (although you should) but please take some time to look at some of the extracts below.

All I ask is that you examine how you and your organisation works and responds to alcohol addiction and ask yourself honestly “do we do these things better? Are things improving here”? If not what can you do about it but please do something.

On this page are some extracts from the book which I hope you can take some time to read and then ask yourself are things improving?

  • About University; At no time while he was at Reading University were we given any indication that he was struggling, or that his time was spent not studying but steadily drinking himself into oblivion
  • About GPs; As I recounted the problem it became obvious that she (our doctor) had no insight into alcoholism or the correct procedures in dealing with it.
  • About GPs; I do not know if she (our doctor)thought I was exaggerating and was simply describing a student life of heavy drinking, but from my description of the last awful few days she must have seen how serious things were. Having described his condition it was obvious that she needed to see David herself. Instead she gave me advice over the phone assuming, I suspect, that he was in the throes of a heavy hangover.
  • About GPs; As a doctor, she should have known that there are safety procedures that must be followed for anyone coming off drink or drugs safely. If she had seen David she would at least have been in a position to judge and take professional advice if she was not capable of dealing with him herself.
  • About hospital; The hospital was pushing us to take David home as soon as possible so they could abdicate any responsibility and free up his bed. There was not a neat little niche in the NHS system to provide the type of specialist treatment so badly needed for our son.
  • About GPs; With breath-taking disregard of the severity of the problem, he (our GP) suggested that a little’ social drinking’ in the home would not do any harm; that it might help to buy a breathalyser so that each time David went out we could check whether he'd been drinking.
  • About GPs; Once again, as we had seen in the past, our GP (yet another in the same surgery) was a ‘professional’ who was ill equipped in dealing with alcoholism as a disease.
  • About Detox; Having gone through this trauma at home, I find it appalling that unless treatment is paid for privately or the alcoholic is physically capable of waiting weeks to be treated by a charity, the only option is to detox at home with all the dangers involved in the procedure.
  • About Psychiatrist; The psychiatrist didn't appear to be worried by David’s lapse. Only to discuss the dangers of heavy drinking. Never once were his psychological problems discussed, or a procedure put in place to help him stay off the drink.
  • About counselling; He said there was nothing he could offer. That he heard cases like this every day. That he could give us the name of some clinics we could visit in a few weeks time and started to look up addresses in a book on his cluttered desk.
  • About counsellor, psychiatrists and GPs; David, Pete nor ourselves ever heard from any of the doctors, the hospital or the addiction counsellor with whom we had placed so much of hope. Once again the support that we as a family needed so much fell away.
  • About GPs; He took one look at David and told him to come back when he had sobered up. I suppose what he saw was a young man who was unable to control, what he thought, were his excesses. He did not have the capacity to see any further – to see that here was a young man crying out for help.
  • About GPs; Pete begged the doctor to change his mind knowing that for David sobering up alone at this stage wasn’t going to happen. Reluctantly the GP agreed to prescribe tablets to ease the effects of alcohol withdrawal, with a stern warning that if David combined drink with the tablets the results would be life threatening.
  • About GPs; The suggested treatment at this stage of David's drinking was ridiculous and frankly dangerous. He might just as well have put a loaded gun to his head. How could an intelligent man, never mind a trained doctor, be so foolish?
  • About hospitals; Even with his awful injuries and for reasons we couldn’t understand, the hospital decided to release David. Pete couldn’t believe it, hoping that an overnight stay with medical observation might just be the chance we were waiting for.
  • About GPs; Angrily the G.P. told him he had to stop drinking – if only he could - and then prescribed tablets, which David was told once again, were very likely to kill him if he drank. At the moment, David was having a pretty good go at doing that himself.
  • About Alcohol Help Lines; Either nobody answered the phone, or when I did get a reply, the help given was useless and I was offered a consultation for a few weeks time. Nobody appeared to understand the urgency of the situation and time was running out. I couldn’t afford to wait. The vodka was gone.
  • About the Local Council; Despite the fact that we begged the district council to help, they never returned our calls or answered our letters and appeared to have no resources to deal with David’s situation. We were frustrated, enraged and frightened.
  • About Courts;We found an unopened letter weeks later, in which the court asked David to pay a hefty on the spot fine. (for shoplifting alcohol) As he was penniless the whole episode was an empty gesture.