A WOMAN whose son suffers with alcohol problems has spoken about how she wants to end the “stigma” around the illness. 

This comes as the latest statistics show alcohol-related deaths in Scotland have reached their highest level since 2008. 

Karen, from Glasgow, said she first discovered her son had an alcohol problem when she picked up a leaflet at the doctor’s surgery in 1995 which asked a series of questions about whether or not you were concerned about somebody’s drinking. 

Speaking to The National she said: “One of the questions they asked was about memory and I realised I would phone my son up and he would forget I had called him the previous evening. 

“This is someone in a highly responsible job and I think he became what’s known as a high-functioning alcoholic. 

READ MORE: Alcohol deaths in Scotland reach highest level since 2008, NRS finds

“He was holding down the job but nobody really knew he had a problem.”

Karen’s brother-in-law also suffered from similar problems and died in 2007 after taking a fall induced by alcohol. 

She said that her son lost his driving licence in 2018 and had to move nearer to his work in Edinburgh which was when she began taking him to rehab. 

From a family point of view, they were able to access help through the charity Scottish Families Affected by Drugs and Alcohol. 

The group aims to support anyone who is concerned about someone else’s alcohol or drug problems. 

Karen emailed them and was able to speak with one of their staff who she described as “immensely helpful and supportive”. 

Asked what it’s like to be the family member of someone struggling with alcohol, Karen said: “It’s like being blindfolded on an extreme rollercoaster. You don’t know when the plunge is going to come but when it does, you plunge into this nauseating despair and chaos. 

“Slowly you climb back out of it and you watch the person getting better and things evening out but you don’t realise it’s going to happen again. 

“It might be a little or a big plunge again but you always end up back in that sickening, gut-wrenching chaos.

“It goes for your nerves and for me it’s that really tight feeling you get in your stomach. You wake up in the middle of the night and picture all the horrors the person is going through.”

Karen stressed that although Scottish Families Affected by Drugs and Alcohol run meetings for people to go to, they are also available for a phone call or cup of coffee for anyone who doesn’t want to speak in front of a group.

She said: "I realised we are not alone, we have other people who are just as badly hurt by this as us from all backgrounds and walks of life. 

"I do think that over time the support system available to people has improved."

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon addresses Scotland's 'unacceptable' drugs deaths crisis

The Scottish Government has said it is continuing to work with Public Health Scotland on the issue and that it is supporting the UK Government in reviewing guidelines for alcohol treatment. 

Karen said that she did not feel the stigma surrounding alcoholism had changed since she first picked up that leaflet in 1995. 

She continued: “I want to end the stigma and the shame that go with all addictions because they’re not a moral failing, they’re a neurological disorder. 

“It’s something that doesn’t happen to everybody but for some people, once they start drinking it leads to an incredible craving. 

“Once people become ashamed they can’t reach out for help. They then might not know until it’s far advanced."