When I phoned Addictions UK I was really clutching at straws.
My son lived in an apartment with nothing but a mattress, duvet and a few worthless possessions. He managed a phone call to us once a week to let us know that he was still alive and his life was taking drugs, sleeping and very little food – that was it! As parents we had to endure all the worries and anxieties it brought – like the added worry of an addict partner that he had split from and a small daughter that somehow survived.
By now we had tried everything in the book to turn him around before he reached a point of no return – remembering also the child and his responsibilities to her.
My son’s addiction problem took priority with payment being worked out at affordable amounts. Today five months later my son is winning the battle against addiction. His daughter is now allowed to live with him with my husband and me as her carers. He has been taught to understand his own addiction problems and to deal with them. So far, it is a Happy Ending but of course addicts live one day at a time and none of us expect. We are just thankful we have come so far.
I began a twelve step programme with Addictions UK. I have daily sessions with my worker and have a 24 hour helpline I can use when I need. I have spent many years using drugs and alcohol and had come to the point of losing everything. My life was in a mess and all the promises I had made were wearing thin. I knew I had to make a change. The programme has not been easy but with the help of my family and Addictions UK I made good progress. I now have regular contact with my young daughter and have got myself a full time job. In the five months I have been drug and alcohol free life has become worth living. Addictions UK have given me a new chance of living a normal fulfilling life.
My life coach was always there or would ring me back. I have lived a violent life and the coach understood this. My coach understood where I was coming from and helped me to make sense of it all. I am clean now. For ten months I had been clean nearly all the time but relapsed. It made me aware of how much I needed the programme. I am working now and I have faced up to my responsibilities. It is a lifeline for me and many others. I have never worked much before recovery or being able to hold down a job for long.
I have been in Borstal or Prison for most of my adult life till I got recovery. My mam and dad were addicts and alcoholics. I was subject to their illness from a young age and this lead me to foster homes and kids homes borstal and then to prison. I knew no better for a long time and repeated the mistakes that they had made. I had endless excuses why I used drugs and could see little possibility of a life outside what I knew. The 12 Steps have taught me that I don’t have to repeat the mistakes of my parents and though I loved them I did not want my kids to follow in my footsteps. They have helped me to cope with my past and deal with the present and look forward to a future!
I am someone who, after years of active alcoholism, can now see myself recovering, and, after a struggle, enjoying the process. Having first found that I can survive without alcohol, I am now starting to engage with life – work, social, and the world in general – without suffering the debilitating stresses for which I always felt drink to be the only cure.
My problem, my illness, goes back a long way. It was there when I was at school and university, but became increasingly obvious to me and those around me after I began work (as a solicitor in commercial private practice). I knew that I wasn’t behaving conventionally: at first drinking – often alone – every lunchtime, then first thing in the morning, eventually hiding bottles at home and sneaking them into work in my briefcase. I would wake up, not every day but often enough, with little or no memory of the night before and see looks of at best amusement, but more often hurt or anger, contempt or pity, at home and in the office.
Although one, then a second, good and loving partner stuck with me for several years, each eventually found the strain of coming second to drink and the petty deceits that went with it too much to handle. I resigned – usually negotiated ‘resignations’ – from several jobs, each time moving to another part of the country. My personal finances where usually at best precarious. Friends, other than the heaviest drinkers, gradually gave up on me after yet another embarrassing incident at a wedding or dinner. I felt embattled, often victimised, and, although I knew that my drinking was at the root of my problems, still felt – irrationally but desperately – that my drug of choice was the only thing that could ease my fear, anxiety, guilt and pain. In effect I hid, while all those things kept getting worse.
Over the last 10 years I have spent periods in a private residential treatment centre, and in general and psychiatric hospitals, have tried hypnotherapy, various prescribed medication and other forms of treatment. Different approaches may help different people; I can only speak about what has worked, and is still working, for me. First, I find it of great value to work with someone who has personal experience of addiction – it is easier for me to establish trust with another addict and I don’t feel the need to put up the justifications, defences and explanations I have otherwise found myself using (for instance with my GP). Talking to the people at Addictions UK, it is immediately clear that they understand addiction and feel strongly on a personal level about helping others to recovery. They are cheerful and never pious!
Very important is the ability to integrate my sessions into daily life – with all its challenges, hassles or pleasures – and the chance to talk about my concerns or reactions with real immediacy. As someone who has spent most of his adult life relying on alcohol to ease him through, or shield him from, much of what life throws up, I have had a lot of learning to do recently, and the knowledge that I can share my feelings and thoughts with an empathetic helper has been invaluable. Telephone counselling has a real advantage over the enclosed, comfortable but sometimes artificial world of residential rehab. From the start, I felt that my recovery was an integral part of my life, not a ‘treatment’ received in isolation from it, while the 24-hour helpline meant that I never felt isolated, especially in the vulnerable early days of recovery.
I am now working again (and am training to be a counsellor). My family relationships are on the mend. For the first time in a long time I usually get up in the morning calm, free of fear or regret and looking forward to the day.
I am sure that everyone thinks their problem or situation is unique. My problem and situation probably is however a little ‘different’ – I have a huge issue with ego and self-esteem and this had led me to become a compulsive liar and to also engage in terrible behaviours that put my loved ones at risk. I do not abuse alcohol or drugs. The behaviours and actions I engaged in were related to being a poor husband generally and engaging in an extra-marital affair.
So, I came to the program in a desperate state – totally out of control in terms of my behaviours and actions. I was in a very difficult place and spiralling toward complete self-destruction, and I had also put my wife at risk and utterly destroyed our relationship.
Through a combination of the 12 steps (very nicely adapted for my particular situation), CBT techniques and daily support I have been able to begin down a path of recovery and face all the issues from my past, but more importantly identify who it is I want to be and begin living my life as that person. The steps have provided structure and a very practical approach towards turning things around – and the interactions with my counsellor have been excellent in terms of keeping me grounded. The beauty of this approach has been that it is simple. The supplementary material (books / DVDs) have been very good as well and have allowed me to continue to do work in private at my own pace.
The service has really helped me – and it has been the holistic approach that has worked well. The daily contact at a time that fits with my work schedule has allowed me to continue to engage with my life, whilst working on making myself better.
I’ve got a way to go and understand that there can never be enough growth and development for me – I am on the right path now however and will continue to grow, improve and develop.