Alcohol Related Brain Damage conference held

A group of people holding umbrellas stand in a garden

Published: Thursday, 9th November 2017

A successful multi-agency conference on Alcohol Related Brain Damage (ARBD) was held on 8 November.

Representatives from the Council, NHS Borders, the third sector and family members met to discuss development an integrated care pathway, commissioning strategy and action plan for people with ARBD and their families.

As ARBD is an umbrella term to describe a number of conditions for which excessive alcohol consumption is found to be the primary cause of physical brain damage, attendees were all asked to bring an umbrella as a symbol of unity and support.

Key speakers

Key speakers at the event included:

  • Dr Julia Lewis, a consultant addiction psychiatrist, clinical lead and ARBD specialist from Wales
  • the Glasgow Specialist ARBD Team
  •  the award winning Loretto ARBD Care Service from Glasgow
  • Penumbra Milestone from Edinburgh whose team includes individuals who have themselves experienced the ARBD recovery journey which they shared with conference participants through interview and song.

Information gathered from the day will be used to:

  • drive forward the work needed to develop the integrated care pathway and action plan
  • support the work of the ARBD Co-ordinator and ARBD Steering Group.

This will be based on the principles of recovery and early intervention which are central to tackling ARBD before it reaches the most impaired stages.

Councillor Tom Weatherston, Executive Member for Adult Social Care

“Alcohol is so much a part of our everyday lives that we can sometimes forget the serious harm that can be caused to our physical and mental health if we don’t drink in moderation. However, there is clear evidence that if we don’t aim to drink sensibly, over time we run the risk of experiencing changes to both the way our brain works and its physical shape and structure. This can bring some very serious consequences, including changes in personality and problems with thinking, mood, memory and learning. Ultimately it can lead to being diagnosed with ARBD with all difficulties that this can bring.

“For individuals and their families in the Borders who are living with the reality of such a diagnosis, it is vital that there is a strategy that sets out what support will be available for them. This conference was an important step towards making that a reality by bringing everyone around the table to share ideas, information and knowledge and it was encouraging to see such a good attendance which resulted in such valuable and helpful engagement and networking.”

“It is important to know that ARBD is not a degenerative illness and that 75 percent of people who are diagnosed make some form of recovery. We would ask anyone who may be experiencing symptoms to seek help, whether that is from their GP, one of the support groups (mentioned below) or directly to the Council’s ARBD Co-ordinator. Support is also available to the families of people affected and they should not hesitate to reach out and access help in their own right."

Support is available

The ARBD Co-ordinator can be contacted on 01835 824000 ext. 5856. Advice and information is also available from:

  • Borders Addictions service: 01896 664430
  • Addaction Galashiels: 01896 757843
  • Border Carers Centre: 01896 752431
  • NHS 24 111
  • Action for Children: 01896 750173

More information

An image of conference attendees with the umbrellas they were asked to bring is available on our Flickr page.