We can all relate to waking up to the sound of the alarm beside the bed. Immediately, we get struck by the sound of the wind and the rain trickling down the windows. Upon removing the blanket and sensing the cold room, a thought appears. "I wish I could go back to bed for couple more hours". After this, we usually leave to drive to work or take the bus. Often, we get asked, "How are you?", to which we often say "good", despite the only desire to go back home and watch a movie in bed. 

                                [Climate zones] 

Not every place on the planet experiences this sentiment. That is because winter is a season experienced only by the people living far from the equator. Likewise, humans are not a species that hibernate as some other animals do. Therefore, when referring to human hibernation in this article, I will use it as a clever analogy, not a biological must. However, solitude is something these populations face in these areas due to unforgiving winters and subfreezing temperatures. In the Nordic countries, candles and deserts are a common winter stock similar to chocolate, tea, and Netflix are to Ireland. However, it is important to note that our periods of hibernation need to be interrupted with moments of social contact, or else we unravel.

"New data presented at The International Liver Congress™ 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, suggests that colder and less sunny regions of the world have higher rates of alcoholic cirrhosis, a disease caused by excessive drinking, resulting in irreversible scarring of the liver. An international team of scientists analysing data from over 190 countries found that every increase in temperature of one degree Celsius was linked to a decrease in the alcohol-attributable fraction (AAF*) of cirrhosis of 0.3%. Heavy alcohol intake causes a perception of warmth, while fewer sunlight hours have been linked to depression which in turn, may lead to alcohol abuse. As a result, the researchers hypothesised that colder countries would have higher rates of alcohol consumption." Source: European Association for the Study of the Liver

As indicated above, winter can be a challenging time for some people, especially those who have been cut from their social connections or have lost their employment. Solitude is something that human beings are not designed for. Regardless of the person's social standing or status, nobody is immune to the effects of solitude and many turn to drink & drugs. Everyone's life can spiral down a negative path if they are not surrounded by good influences.

Autumn is a perfect opportunity for those that start a program at one of our centres. Short days, lack of sunlight, and the remote location contribute to a person becoming more inward orientated and retrospective. When nature sleeps, we can calm down and dig deep.

 At Tiglin, we have a team of counsellors and project workers that provide the best possible service. As a result, our students can create a new structure, attend the recovery meetings, and learn new skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. At this time, Tiglin operates as a commune of thirty to forty people who work hard collectively; and the collective spirit is strong.

                                 [Wicklow Mountains] 

Key working, housing duties, educational courses, study time, recovery meetings, etc. are intended to promote interaction between people and collaboration. As a result, friendships are made, mentor-student relationships and a real sense of family is felt. This time of hibernation serves as a protective cocoon for the students to work on themselves. This restoration process doesn't only heal them, but also the people around them and their families.

Even beyond the extent of recovery, friends provide many mental health benefits. Friends are valuable for support and counsel. According to the Mayo Clinic, friendships increase a sense of belonging and purpose, boost happiness, and help with self-confidence and self-worth. A common phrase in the treatment world is that "the opposite of addiction is connection" and it is vital for people in recovery – especially early recovery – to find a community of support. Community is essential for maintaining and enjoying sobriety, avoiding feelings of isolation, rediscovering self, and connecting with others who understand what you’re experiencing.

The end of a treatment program is just the beginning of a lifelong recovery journey. Laying the foundation for a robust support system through peers, groups, and other healthy communities with shared interests is essential to thriving and growing throughout the recovery of our students.

I wish to take this opportunity to wish you a very good and enjoyable hibernation this winter, but remember don’t forget to hang out with someone every now and then; no man is an island. And if you are really stuck for friends, get in touch with us!

Here at Tiglin we cherish friendships.


Tiglin Column: October 3rd of 2021