Monday 13 November 2017
Alcohol Awareness week is from 13th – 19th November 2017. To help shine a light on the issue, one of our former clients shared their story of how alcohol impacted them, and how they changed their life for the better.
“My first experience of alcohol was on my 18th birthday – the traditional first legal drink. I didn’t enjoy it. For the next couple of years, I wasn’t really that bothered by alcohol – I’d have a couple of beers every now and then but to be honest, I preferred other drugs.
But by the time I hit my early twenties I found it increasingly hard to get hold of other drugs, so I turned to alcohol: it was legal, socially acceptable and you could buy it pretty much anywhere.
Over the next two decades, I started drinking more and more heavily, to the point where I drank every day. Although deep down I knew something wasn’t right, I couldn’t admit to myself that I might have a problem. My doctor was the first person to tell me I had an issue – my liver wasn’t in a good state, and they told me as much.
Even after my doctor spoke to me, it still took a while for me to admit to myself that I had a problem. I was 47 when I first tried to get help, and it was hard – drinking had been part of my life for over 20 years.
I was lucky enough to get private counselling and also started going to Alcoholics Anonymous. But although I knew I needed help, I wasn’t ready to give up right away. It took a while, but I realised that I wasn’t able to address my drinking until I came to terms with my father’s death. I was referred to a bereavement counsellor, who supported me to work through the issues surrounding my father’s passing.
It was only then that I knew I was ready to start dealing with my alcohol addiction, which I did with the support of the team at the East Kent Community Drug and Alcohol Service in Sittingbourne. The staff were great and I felt I could talk to them - the first person I admitted I had a problem to was my key worker Tina. Telling other people is one of the hardest things about early recovery, but Tina was great - really supportive.
I stopped drinking three years ago this Christmas, although I had a bad patch and relapsed briefly after a close friend passed away in February of this year. But I’ve been sober ever since and my life is so different now to before. I used to be homeless and now I have a home, I pay bills and I have a wonderful dog, who I absolutely adore. I also give back by supporting the Sittingbourne service.
For anyone reading this that thinks they might have a problem, my advice is to reach out. It’s not easy, and no one will do it for you, but with the right support, change is possible – no matter how long you’ve been drinking for or what age you are.”
Monica* (name has been changed to protect client’s anonymity), former client of the East Kent Community Drug and Alcohol Service, run by The Forward Trust.
If you would like further information or support about the effects of alcohol please visit our website: www.forwardtrust.org.uk.