EXCLUSIVE by James Bryce
AN expat author has helped shape the UK government’s strategy on alcoholism through her book presenting first-hand accounts of the subject.
Renate van Nijen, author of Cheers – The Hidden Voices of Alcoholism, was asked to give written evidence to the House of Commons Health Committee, set up to review government policy.
The Dutch writer, from La Herradura, lived with an alcoholic partner for 12 years and interviewed partners, children and friends of alcoholics for her book.
She also spoke to health workers and alcoholics themselves in an effort to show the human side of the illness.
Van Nijen told the committee she is pleased wider attention is being paid to the subject, but stressed more emphasis needed to be placed on those indirectly affected, such as family and friends.
“I feel honoured they have taken my information seriously,” van Nijen told the Olive Press.
“My ex-partner is now back in England in full recovery, but his story is not unique.
“The experience of interviewing people affected by the problem showed me not only how having ‘a life consumed by alcoholism’ can happen to anybody, but also how those indirectly affected by it feel they have no voice in today’s society.”