Hi, this is tough.I was first aware of my propensity to addiction at about the age of 18. I drank heavily every day and had done since about 16. I was able, I thought, to control it but spending £45 in an afternoon of drinking on a Bank Holiday Monday in 1989 was no mean feat and it alerted me to the extremes I was headed. Month after month when my salary ran out before my next pay day I would borrow from friends, get advances on my salary from work and not pay my board at my parents house. One day, shortly before pay-day, I ran out of options and had to concede that I was not able to go out drinking that evening. Believing I was in control of my situation, I merely stayed at home, suffering slight anxiety and shakes but nothing notable. The same cannot be said for the following morning. Waking earlier than my alarm, I started in a real panic, suffering sweaty palms and a shortness of breath, desperate for a pint of cold lager to take the edge off. This was a terrifying moment but was the alarm call I needed. I immediately stopped drinking alcohol for exactly one year, paid off my debts and began cycling to and from work, lost some weight and generally felt better about myself.
On resuming my relationship with drinking I began slowly and sensibly to measure what I was consuming and generally kept a lid on the excessive drunkenness until 2005 when I started university. Although there were periods of excess at Uni, I only really hit rock bottom in the autumn of 2016 when lectures and seminars became drunken heckling shows and I was thrown out of a couple and warned by my tutor to get help or face expulsion. Again, I was able to sort myself out and get back on track and eventually got a disappointing 2:2 grade.
Up to this point my family life had been difficult. My father was a violent thug, my blessed mother a meek and caring lady. My relationship with my father had always been fractious but interestingly - looking back now - my heavy drinking started after he had beaten me senseless after a frank discussion about a rather trivial matter. Equally, my parents split and eventual divorce happened during my years at university when my mother began drinking heavily, again mirroring my heavy drinking time. My younger brother had also descended into being a paranoid schizophrenic through his use of cannabis and crack cocaine and eventually heroin and had been in prison for two years for possession with intent to supply. My cousin had also died of a heroin overdose while staying with my brother in my mother’s house in 2000.
Fast-forward to 2012 and you will find me happily married and trying for a baby with my wife. Early in 2013 we find we are pregnant but we lose our first child during pregnancy. A few weeks later a check-up reveals my wife’s hormone levels are still rising, indicating she may still be pregnant but scans revealed nothing. An operation then revealed that not only was there an ectopic pregnancy but also a bleeding cyst to her right ovary. Both removed, the cyst turns out to be stage 1c cancerous and leaking into her abdomen. In order to save her life my wife has to undergo a full hysterectomy at age just 38 ending our plans to have a family. Furthermore, she undergoes a course of chemotherapy to fight anything that remains of the disease in her body. Thankfully, she came thought it. Throughout this time I remained tee-total as caring for her and working took up all my time.
For a few years since my drinking maintained a steady pace. My wife never drinks and as such it always seemed odd to drink at home, limiting myself to a bottle of wine or a six-pack when the football’s on or a night out with old friends. Then last September my mother fell ill. In October she was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and in November she passed away in hospital.
Now, for a 46 year old guy with a decent job, loving wife, mortgage, car and a relaxed and dead-pan-jolly-ish-self-effacing personality I felt I’d had enough terrible things happen in my life and found it difficult to cope. My mother-in-law had left a large quantity of her heavy painkillers at our house and I began taking them as they induced a numbing high that blotted out my pain. I took about 8 a day and began secretly washing it down with vodka and gin miniatures. This started in October 2016 with my mum’s diagnosis and got steadily heavier until the pills ran out and I had a meltdown one morning on my way to work at the beginning of March 2017. Feeling the guilt of my secret I confided in a friend who had been through similar excesses who recommended talkingsober and getting an addiction app on my phone to track my progress. So here I am, day 25 - after a brief weekend relapse - of my sobriety. I hope with your help I can keep it up.