"I'd drink as soon as I woke up"

If you asked me 10 months ago:

Me, a problem drinker? Maybe. Me, a heavy drinker? Probably. Me, an alcoholic? Absolutely not.

If you ask me now:

Was I a problem drinker? Yes. Was I a heavy drinker? Yes. Was I an alcoholic? Yes.

It’s amazing how one’s perceptions (truths) change over time. Before coming to Life Works I had no idea how bad things had got with regards to my drinking. I was having constant rows with my wife, my step-kids were becoming more and more distant from me and I lost my second job through alcohol. I was also experiencing routine blackouts which were, in every sense of the word, literal blackouts - one minute I’d be standing, and the next thing I knew I’d be lying on the floor or concrete path, unable to get up. I’ve lost count of the number of times I fell asleep on the bathroom floor and haven’t been able to pick myself up. My face bore a number of cuts and bruises from such falls but I never consciously blamed this on alcohol. However, in the back of my mind, I knew that something wasn’t right and perhaps, just perhaps, I knew that my drinking was the problem.

Back in the day I would start drinking as soon as I woke up in the morning, sometimes as early as 5am, and then would continue throughout the day. I even drank during my commute to London each morning; I would have a water bottle half filled with water and topped up with scotch, just to keep me going on the one-hour train journey. This would sustain me until I got to work where a bottle in my office would keep me going until lunchtime. I would then go to the pub for a liquid lunch followed by more back at the office and again on the train back home. I would drive to and from the station and was, undoubtedly, driving under the influence most days. How I never got caught I’ll never know.

Starting my alcohol rehab journey

After a lot of soul searching and encouragement from my family, I dragged myself through the doors of Life Works to start four weeks of alcohol rehab, which ultimately turned into six weeks. During this time I learned a lot about my behaviour and how it was affecting those closest to me especially when, in front of the rest of my group, letters from my wife and step-kids were read out which confirmed just how bad my drinking had affected them. I was still in denial at that point and able to justify most of my behaviour by blaming others for causing me to act the way I did.

Eventually, after one-to-one sessions with my counsellor and routine discussions with the doctor, I came to accept that I had a major problem and unless I quit drinking, I would probably be dead within a fairly short period of time.

When I came into rehab I had a pre-conceived idea about the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and let everyone know, in no uncertain terms, what I thought of the ‘fellowship’. I had already decided that I would never get involved in such organisations. It’s amazing how much that view has changed. I now view AA as part of my life, without which I probably wouldn’t be alive to write this short story. I currently attend three meetings a week and consider the Life Works meeting to be my ‘home’ meeting. I have specific roles (greeter, treasurer and literature) at two of the meetings and try and help others who come to me with their problems.

Taking steps towards recovery

My time at Life Works was a revelation and the addiction treatment programme helped me to take a detailed inventory of my life, especially through the fellowship work and group therapy programme. I can’t praise all the staff at Life Works enough for their patience, support and professionalism, especially the healthcare assistants who were always there for us when we needed them most.

My advice to anyone who thinks or indeed knows they have a problem, is to get help. Go to rehab and attend routine AA meetings; you will find that there is a life after alcohol and it’s a good one. After nearly 10 months of sobriety I can honestly say that I don’t miss alcohol.

Today, my life isn’t perfect and there’s still work to do, but I feel better, fitter and have a much better relationship with my family than I could ever have hoped for. Also, it’s great not to wake up with a hangover every morning!

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