13 August 2018

Life after Alcohol rehab – Stepping out into Recovery from Alcohol Addiction

Dave’s experience after alcohol rehab

The first days and weeks after alcohol rehab can be a daunting prospect – but with a strong recovery plan in place, it can be a positive and life-changing time. In our second blog with 46-year-old Dave, he describes the first three months after alcohol rehab at Primrose Lodge. How did he feel when he first came out of our residential addiction treatment centre in Guildford? What did he do in the early days to stay sober? How useful does he find UKAT’s free aftercare programme? And what else does he do to maintain his recovery from alcohol addiction?

Describe day one after alcohol rehab at Primrose Lodge – how were you feeling and what did you do?

Well, I knew exactly what I had to do because I had my recovery plan. I worked that out with my counsellor while I was in residential treatment at Primrose Lodge. I found all the addiction recovery meetings within a 10 to 15-mile radius of where I live. I picked out meetings to go to every day. Initially, I put everything else on the back burner, to get myself into a good pattern of getting support.

On the first day after alcohol rehab, I met up with my son too. We went to watch a steam train, which is a hobby of mine I really love. I went on to an alcohol recovery meeting and then I came back to Primrose Lodge for the aftercare session in the evening. Next day, I went to another meeting. I made sure I stuck closely to my recovery plan of action.

What skills or ideas did you pick up during your alcohol rehab programme at Primrose Lodge, which helped you when you first left?

The steely determination I got from being in treatment – I took that out with me. I had a taste of what it feels like being sober. Feeling clear-headed for the first time in a long time, I knew I wanted more of that. I wanted to learn and carry on with my recovery from alcohol addiction, day by day. I really didn’t want to let people down – especially my family or myself. I didn’t want to relapse because I became so aware during my alcohol treatment of the damage I’d done. I wanted to change that.

What was the scariest thing you faced just after alcohol rehab?

I came out just before Christmas, which can be such a tricky time of year for people with an addiction to alcohol. I was a bit worried that people would treat me differently. I told my family I didn’t want to ruin their Christmas. I said I had some new tools to deal with the drinking going on around me. It was a big family Christmas – and it was the first sober one for me as an adult.

As it turned out, Christmas dinner was fantastic. I could taste the food and it was absolutely lovely. It was also good to have a little break before getting back to work. I had a really great time with my son. It was difficult with my daughter – I’m still hoping to repair things with her even now – I accept that will take more time.

Do you attend the aftercare sessions at Primrose Lodge?

I go every Wednesday night – 7 pm until 9 pm. It’s different to everything else I’m doing. I meet up with people I knew in treatment, as well as people who went into rehab at Primrose Lodge before me and since I left. I’ve met a lot of friends there.

We check in at the start of each aftercare session. People talk about their issues. I find myself helping people who are just coming out of addiction treatment now. I have some good experience to share with them, to help them on their way.

Do you do anything else to support yourself in recovery from alcohol addiction?

I found a sponsor while I was still in alcohol rehab, which really helped. I phoned him up when I was in trouble. I asked loads of questions. I got on with the recovery programme. My sponsor passed on to me what was shown to him in his recovery.

I did 85 recovery meetings in the first 90 days after rehab – I absolutely got on it. You hear people say you need to put your recovery first and it’s true. I got a service position at my home group meeting. I am the tea boy there. It’s such a great thing to do. You meet everybody because everyone wants a cuppa and a biscuit – I bring a nice selection along with me for people to eat. I thoroughly enjoy my alcohol recovery meetings. It’s a fantastic replacement for a social life and I enjoy meeting new faces. I’m now trusted as a key holder for the meeting too, which is great.

What about work – how’s that going?

I’m self-employed and a colleague that I worked for a long time ago had a job on for me. I was very lucky actually. It was great to go back to work. I didn’t want to sit around and do nothing. I wanted to work, as it’s a relief to have some structure to the day. I wasn’t earning loads but going to work was definitely a very positive part of my early recovery from alcohol addiction. I would have had too much time on my hands without it.

And your friends and family – what did they say to you when you came home from alcohol rehab?

One thing my Dad said to me afterwards really hit me actually. I said sorry to him and then he said, “when I go to bed now, I don’t worry about you anymore.” That was a massive thing to hear from my Dad. I know I caused my parents a lot of sleepless nights when I was drinking. They were just so worried that they’d get a phone call from the police saying I was in trouble – or worse.

How is your home situation after alcohol rehab?

I stayed with my parents initially. My marriage was pretty much finished. I do accept now that I don’t think we can get back together. It’s a bit of a shame but I think we were just the wrong people for each other.

I’ve got a whole new life and I’m finding myself again. I know now that I need this time for myself. I’ve recently moved into my own flat. It took me a while to get over the fear of doing that – but now I’m in, it feels amazing.

What are you most looking forward to in your recovery from alcohol addiction?

I’ve thrown myself into everything I can and I’m really enjoying it. The thing I’m most looking forward to is the day when I can sponsor people in their recovery from addiction. If I can help anybody else, I’d love to do that. It’s a privilege to be there for other people and it helps me stay sober too.

You can read more here about Dave’s experience in alcohol treatment at Primrose Lodge. “In the end, I knew it was about saving my life,” Dave said.

Find out more about all the UK Addiction Treatment Centres here, including Primrose Lodge in Guildford.

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