Swanswell welcomes dementia and alcohol awareness in Channel 4 drama ‘The Fear’

05 December 2012

Swanswell’s praising Channel 4 for raising awareness of alcohol misuse and dementia in a new four-part drama.

The Fear, written by Richard Cottan, centres around an ageing crime boss-turned-entrepreneur called Richie Beckett (played by Peter Mullan), who suffers from an aggressive form of dementia, alongside his excessive alcohol use.

Swanswell, a national charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, believes his symptoms are similar to those experienced by people with alcohol-related dementia (ARD).         

ARD is similar to other forms of dementia, making accurate diagnosis difficult, and is brought on by prolonged, significant alcohol consumption. Swanswell is aware of cases in people as young as 27.

Through research, Swanswell knows ARD affects around 10% of all dementia cases in the UK1 but even more alarming is that it accounts for about 12.5% of all dementia cases in the under 65s2.

Yet, ARD is preventable and potentially reversible with the right treatment, if caught early enough. In many cases, people can return to independent living3.

Swanswell’s created a new model of treatment for alcohol-related dementia, which it is currently trialling in South Yorkshire, involving people affected by the condition, and their carers.

Chris Robinson, Swanswell’s Director of Services, said: ‘There is often a taboo around talking about dementia and alcohol misuse, so we welcome the fact it’s been included in a peak time drama.

Viewers have also seen how excessive alcohol use is a big part of Richie Beckett’s life, which, over time, can lead to alcohol-related dementia – a condition that affects around 10% of all dementia cases.

The effects of ARD can potentially be reversed if caught early enough and with the right treatment, so if the signs are recognised quickly, there’s a chance that those affected could lead independent lives again.

We hope the programme will help people recognise the symptoms and come forward for help if they’re worried about themselves or others.’

References

  1. Lishman WA (1990) Alcohol and the brain. British Journal of Psychiatry 156    
    635–644 and Harvey RJ, Rossor MN, Skelton-Robinson M & Garralda E (1998)
    Young Onset Dementia: Epidemiology, clinical symptoms, family burden, support
    and outcome
    . London: Imperial College Dementia Research Group
  2. Harvey RJ, Rossor MN, Skelton-Robinson M & Garralda E (1998) Young Onset
    Dementia: Epidemiology, clinical symptoms, family burden, support and
    outcome
    . London: Imperial College Dementia Research Group
  3. Smith I & Hillman A (1999) Management of alcohol Korsakoff syndrome. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment 5 271–278

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