Steve: Don’t be ashamed, get help for alcohol misuse

At 21, I became a qualified ambulance man. It was at that stage really when I developed a routine to self-medicate my anxiety because I had no confidence.

I had no social network, no friendships I’d developed, so that way of me coping with my lack of confidence and anxiety was to start drinking alcohol because I found it a mechanism for me to socialise.

This developed into habitual routine drinking on an evening and sometimes during the day – not when I was at work but when I came in from work regardless of the time of day. It allowed me to sleep because things I saw were quite traumatic. It became more of a dependency in my early 30s when people began to notice I’d been drinking quite often. I never knew when the party was to finish when we went out socialising and that’s when my wife became, became aware of the dependency.

She found bottles of alcohol hidden around the house because it was secretive drinking because I was ashamed but it was no longer controllable and then she confronted me with this and we basically had periods of hypnotherapy and that types of things, behaviour therapy but all the time I was still drinking and in denial really that I had a major problem with alcohol. This led ultimately to a divorce.

My message to people who have alcohol dependencies and have not yet addressed it is not to be ashamed. Come forward and tackle it – because there is a support network out there. There are people who are not judgemental at all. People are there to offer their help and assistance and there is help out there.

My journey is very common, a professional that drinks. There’s a lot of people who do it out of hours and it becomes habitual, routine and develops into a dependency. It’s such a socially accepted drug that people think it’s normal. It’s desperately sad that people don’t see alcohol as problematic because it is a very powerful drug.

Published 16th November 2011

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