In 1995 I was aware I had a problem with alcohol and started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings which continued for nine months. However, as is common with many people who drink, I thought I could do it on my own and stopped going to the meetings. The result? Unfortunately, I carried on drinking and remained in denial for a further 20 years.
During this time my life became totally unmanageable, I would drink then spend the whole day in bed. When I woke up each morning my whole body would shake, so I kept a bottle by my bed and learnt to steady my hands in such a way that I could pour a drink without knocking over the glass. Then I would be on a mission to buy more vodka and I might watch some morning TV before retiring to my bedroom for the rest of the day; usually managing to surface in time for my husband’s return from work at about 6pm.
From my husband’s point of view, he was at a loss as what else to do and simply tolerated my behaviour. We would eat a pre-prepared meal; watch some television and I’d probably be back to bed by 8.30pm.
Throughout these years I lied and became deceitful, was totally unreliable and forever breaking promises. I didn’t care what I looked like and couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I injured myself falling over on numerous occasions and regularly telephoned people, repeating conversations twice in one day without realising. Being from the south originally, I hadn’t made many friends locally, but the people who knew me in the village where we live, seemed to just accept me the way I was.
Then one day, I can vividly remember waking up and thinking to myself, don’t do this again today, this must stop. This was the point where my recovery journey started. Even then, it wasn’t a straightforward journey back to sobriety.
I visited my GP who told me not to stop drinking as I was consuming alcohol at a level where quitting without close medical supervision could be dangerous.
I underwent a detoxification programme, started regular sessions with a support worker and returned to AA. However, buying a leaving gift for some colleagues at a new part-time job I had landed nearly proved fatal. The gift was some bottles of wine and, because they had been on offer, I kept one bottle back for myself. I honestly thought at the time that one drink wouldn’t hurt, but I was immediately back on the vodka and back to square one.
After a few weeks I got myself checked in for another detox and managed to stay sober for a few months. Then during a visit to see family, I again thought it would be OK to have one glass of cider, it was a hot day and I told myself it would be fine. Guess what? I was back on the vodka for six weeks before my last detox which is where my recovery journey started again.
My last alcoholic drink was nearly three years ago, and I believe my experience shows recovery is not an easy thing to achieve, but it can be done.
Now I volunteer for the Alcohol & Drug Service and my recovery is wonderful and sharing my experience I know I can help other people.