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Recovery is possible and there is always hope

For me, drinking began at university.  It was seen as normal to go out clubbing and binge drink, or sit around in student flats sharing bottles of cheap wine.  I thought I was having fun and didn’t see my drinking as different from anyone else’s.  But with hindsight I can see I was using it as a crutch.   I had always felt like an outsider, but when I drank it felt easier to socialise.  I can see now that I was always the one who got that bit more drunk than everyone else, pushed it that bit too far.  Alcohol got its claws into me remarkably quickly and I started to feel it as a “need”.

I became dependent, drinking cider from the mornings onwards, passing out drunk in the evenings.

After university I worked and volunteered abroad.  I was away for a year and a half, and when I came back to the UK I found it incredibly hard to settle.  I had a Master’s but couldn’t get a job because I didn’t have the right experience.  Many of my friends had moved on.  The accommodation I had planned to move into with people I knew fell through.  I felt isolated and alone, without direction.  My drinking escalated very quickly.  I felt like I couldn’t handle time on my own without it.  It was filling a deep hole I didn’t know I had. 

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I became dependent, drinking cider from the mornings onwards, passing out drunk in the evenings.  I felt ill every morning and would sometimes shake, and was caught in a cycle of daily drinking. I didn’t treat people well because I was too obsessed with alcohol.  But I had no idea I was an alcoholic.  People around me tried to help, but I pushed them away, because my addiction wanted me to keep drinking.

There must have been some inner strength driving me forward however, because I managed to get a job and start developing my career.  It gave me structure and purpose and filled my time.  I realised I couldn’t continue to drink the way I was, vastly reduced my intake, and was under the illusion I could moderate.   But this took huge amounts of planning and drained my energy. 

There must have been some inner strength driving me forward

The lower amount of alcohol still impacted me, causing anxiety and sleepless nights, leaving me lying awake hating myself, and each day pretending everything was Ok.  When given free reign I would still be unable to control my drinking, leading to some frighteningly dangerous situations when travelling abroad.

Over a period of time it dawned on me that maybe alcohol was the cause of my problems, and that there might be a different way to live.  I made furrows into counselling, periods of sobriety, opening up and talking to people about what was going on for me.  I did Dry January two years in a row, I knew I felt better for it but I just couldn’t make it stick.  The third year I did it, I came across an article which mentioned the Soberistas website, an online community of peer support for people wanting to change their relationship with alcohol. 

This was a game-changer for me.  I joined and connected with other people like me.  For the first time there were people who had been through what I had showing me the way.  I connected, I learnt tools, I worked at sobriety and made it my priority.  I made my decision that I was never going to drink again.  I celebrated my sober milestones and I am pleased to say I am now over three years completely sober.

I have opened up to friends and colleagues about my alcoholism.  It helps to keep me accountable, and I have received nothing but love and support. When I was drinking I was barely existing, sobriety has enabled me to live.  I am no longer consumed with self-hatred, and the best part of sobriety for me is the honest, authentic and deep relationships I now have with others.  It was only after I got sober that I realised that I was an alcoholic, that this was the reason I had struggled so much, and I no longer blame myself for becoming addicted to an addictive substance. 

I made my decision that I was never going to drink again.

I am proud of what I have achieved.  I have spoken at Soberistas events and I am volunteering at Kennedy Street because I don’t want other people to go through what I went through.  I want to break down the stigma which is a barrier to people seeking support for addiction.  When I was younger I never ever imagined I would be able to stop drinking and some days I can’t believe where I have got to.  I want to give the message that recovery is possible and that there is always hope for everyone. 

If you or someone you know needs help with alcohol addiction then please feel free to get in contact