10 Jul Paul’s Road To Recovery
I can’t really remember when I first started drinking, I’d say I was 12 or 13? I do remember however living with an alcoholic mother that I never wanted to be like…how wrong was I. My teens were that of a pretty normal teenager, the usual drinking, getting into trouble, etc. In my 20’s I was drinking heavily nearly every day, getting into bigger trouble, in and out of jail cells, disappearing for days, two drink driving offenses, the second one nearly resulted in me going to prison, but my lawyer worked a miracle! Because of this particular driving offense, I had to be part of a drink awareness course, which felt like a lifetime.
The clubbing scene was very much on the go and every drug known to man… I was taking! Interestingly I managed to somehow get the drug use under control. But it was the alcohol I always craved; you know that Legal stuff!!
In my 30’s is where it started to get interesting, up to 35 (ish) I was dependant on alcohol daily although at the time I chose not to realize this. My occupation, which I did since 17 years old was in the steel industry and I worked my way to the top. This however came at a price, as back in the 90’s it was a massive drinking culture occupation and a very stressful environment. Back in those days, going out at lunch for 5 or 6 pints then going back to the office was just the norm. Corporate do’s after do’s all over the country sometimes abroad…drink drink drink….it always sealed the deal!
35 to 40 was the height of my alcoholism, needing alcohol every day to function, vodka in a water bottle next to the bed to bring me round to stop the vicious shakes and to take away the sickness, drinking to get an appetite, drinking during work, drinking after work, drinking way into the early hours, cans on my own only to repeat day after day. I was literally under the influence every day for years. I tried a couple of times to stop and detox, but this just resulted in me going to the hospital to be treated for alcohol withdrawal shock. There were years of me being told I had a drinking problem and needed help, years of denial, I ended up losing my job by turning up to work totally drunk driving the company car! Something had to give right?! One day, my doctor told me after a series of tests that I would die soon if I carried on. But of course, being drunk at the time, I didn’t take much notice. But his words always lingered in the back of my head. Then one day, with the support of my wife, I somehow found the strength to go back to the docs and say the dreaded words at the time…..”I’m an alcoholic”…and I was diagnosed with Ethanol dependency (same thing.) Inevitably, rehab and therapy came knocking.
I’m 45 now (46 in September) I was 39 when it came to an end, official sobriety date 18th May 2014 this was the date of the last can of fosters I had before rehab, I even signed the can and still have it to this day on my mantelpiece as a souvenir and a bit of motivation, and I am proud to say no relapses…but it was tough at first, there’s no denying that. You see you are given medication to stop the withdrawal symptoms which zombify you, then medication to stop cravings, then after, I think by memory it’s 3 months…you are on your own medication wise but I was still taking anti-depressants and still am to this day.
After medication, I think they say the first 90 days are most vital to recovery, if you maintain sobriety in this time your chances of relapse reduce dramatically. Thankfully, I was one of the lucky ones who managed not to relapse.
How did I manage this? That’s a good question and I think mainly what stuck with me was how ill I was with my anxiety levels and my mental health deteriorating, panic attacks, not sleeping, heart beating so fast at times lying in bed on occasions, and just waiting for it to pack in. Not to mention the knock-on effect to family, friends, and work, basically everything. It makes you toxic. I’ll always remember thinking that I never ever want to feel like that again. It’s just not worth it! A 20 min buzz for it all to get out of control. I’m not wired up in the head properly to just have one, like many people out there, one turns into a full session or let’s say constant drinking until further notice.
Talking openly is a massive comfort and great therapy. I had counseling for many years, one on one…I never opted for AA as it didn’t feel right for me….but talking and talking and more talking is so good for your recovery and still is today even after 6 years and always will be moving forward as addiction needs to be managed daily.
I have been running my own business now for the last 5 years which is one of many things that spur me on, I don’t have kids but there are many other reasons for me to carry on with my recovery, and recovery I will be in for, for all my life!
Life has just got better and better and so much easier, but of course, not without its challenges. Specific challengeds that I have faced recently are the loss of my mother and brother, both due to alcohol-related. These were sure a test and the drink devil reared his ugly head trying to tempt me back, but I told him to do one and just thought of how much worse I would feel with the added extra of alcohol anxiety….so I didn’t touch a drop…it’s something I’ve brainwashed myself into thinking to stop me going back. It’s easier for some than others to do this I know, but there is a way out, but you must speak up! There is no shame or embarrassment in addiction it’s an illness/disease, I’m living proof. I’ve waited a long time, but I am now the man I’ve always wanted to be. Sobriety works for me and it can for you too…
It gives me great pleasure to try and help others, if you follow me on Instagram @paul_sober_harris here I share my stories and offer my best advice.
Keep well, and remember..speak up,
There is strength in everybody to overcome addiction…you just have to find it, you have to speak up, there is no shame or embarrassment in this. Once you start recovery don’t think of the past don’t think of the future be here now 1 day at a time or even 1 hour at a time…it can be done I’m proof….but remember to speak up…especially us men, not enough of us are coming forward……you’ve got this…and you’re not alone!
Go to therapy, if AA is not for you just 1 on 1 it really does help, become a member of a sober community like on Instagram it is so helpful, read inspirational stories wherever you can, There’s a guy on Instagram Darren at variety_n_sobriety who’s releasing a book 27th August Finding your Sober Bubble, I’ve had an exclusive read such a great book for all types of recovery stages. Basically just read up on all aspects of recovery.
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