Alcohol Awareness Week 2018 is all about change – why change is necessary with alcohol, how change is possible and how it is happening. Between 19th and 25th November, people across the country will join the national conversation about alcohol. To mark the occasion, we spoke to Dave, a former client of Primrose Lodge residential rehab. On 22nd November, Dave is one year sober. We asked how his life has changed in alcohol recovery.
“It’s an accomplishment. I’m so proud of myself. Getting sober is an achievement that I never thought possible for me. To be quite honest, I still wonder how it’s all happened!
“I’ve been very reflective lately, thinking about this time last year. A year ago, I was in such a dark place. Terrible, it was. I remember Halloween 2017. I was in my house behind closed doors. I was drunk and totally alone. Thinking back on that, it makes me realise how far I’ve come.
“I’m not really one for celebrations – but to mark the occasion, I will pick up my one-year key ring at my home recovery group. I’ve been going there ever since I went into rehab at Primrose Lodge. I love my recovery meetings, I really do – they’re such a big part of how I stay well.”
“My life was pretty much over. In alcohol addiction, there was no light. I was absolutely lost. I was isolated from everyone and cut off from everything good in life.”
“I learned to drop my ego and take advice for the first time in life. I’ve learned to listen. That started in rehab and has continued in aftercare and my alcohol recovery programme beyond treatment.”
“The main thing is I’m living on my own and I’m happy. I never thought that would be possible for me. That shows me that change is happening in my life, absolutely it does.
“I used to dread being alone. It was not a good place to be. Now, I like my own company. I can relax in my flat, read a book or watch a film. I can take life on life’s terms.”
“Well, I can look in the mirror for starters. I can look at myself and I like who I am. I have self-respect. All that self-loathing I had in alcohol addiction – that seems to have gone. I’m here and present in my life. It’s a great feeling.
“I don’t let it go to my head though. I’m determined to carry on with my alcohol recovery programme. Staying sober is about keeping up all the things that work for me.”
“My marriage ended before I went into rehab but I’ve got a great relationship with my ex today. All the arguments we used to have – they’ve stopped. We keep things amicable now.
“My son comes to stay with me – one week on, one week off. Things are really good with him. We’ve had some of the best times together this year – really quality time, doing the things we enjoy.
“The trust that’s back in my life is amazing. My family, for example – they really do trust me now. If I say I’ll do things for them, they know I’ll show up. I try to help my family out, whenever I can.
“I feel more coherent and open to people too. When I was drinking, I was completely blank and off with people. It was like tunnel vision. I couldn’t take anything in around me. It’s a good feeling in recovery from alcohol addiction – to be present and responsive to people around me.
“In day-to-day life, if someone bothers me then I don’t let it get to me. It’s easier to let go of things now. I don’t have to be right all the time!”
“I’m not prejudiced about people who drink. I will never go out and preach to people about alcohol or how they drink. I just know for me that alcohol is a complete no-no.
“I don’t get urges anymore to drink – it’s incredible really that the cravings have gone. If I have to go in a pub for any reason, it doesn’t bother me.
“My recovery programme keeps me clear about what alcohol is for me. I have the memories of where drink took me. I don’t need or want the chaos that alcohol caused in my life, full stop.”
“I still ache! Seriously though, I wake up in the morning and I don’t have a hangover. I’m not bleary-eyed and full of fear. I’m ready for the day ahead. I get up out of bed and start my day the right way. I go to work, fresh. I have the energy to be there for my family.
“I’m so much calmer as well. The washing machine head has gone. I sleep so much better too. When people ask me how my day is, it’s just really nice to say that it’s ‘ordinary’. I’ll take 365 days a year of ordinary these days, I really will.”
“I went to rehab. That got me in the boat. At rehab, I learned why I drink and what I needed to do about it. After rehab, I stayed in the middle of the boat – aftercare, recovery meetings, sponsor, recovery programme, reading, helping others where I can.
“I’m sober today because I put my alcohol recovery before anything else. It’s too precious not to put it first. Alcoholism is a horrible disease but there is a way out. If you can listen to people who’ve been there and keep showing up, then recovery is there for you.”
Read more about addiction treatment at UKAT facilities.
If you want help to change the way you drink alcohol, contact UKAT for advice about alcohol treatment.