Dan’s story: After 25 years of drinking, I’d had enough and needed a change

March 2024 | 8 minutes

Before Dan went alcohol-free, he could only relax once he’d had something to drink. After changing his relationship with alcohol, he feels more confident in all areas of his life.

14th January 2023. A friend’s 40th birthday and a typical all day drinking session that would end very differently and completely change my relationship with alcohol.

Walking to get the train home, a challenge was formed with a mate of who can run down the escalator, that is going in the opposite direction. Great idea.

I went first. I remember everything. I remember the first few steps, momentum gathering, losing control and falling all the way to the bottom. I don’t remember hitting my head but do remember thinking this isn’t going to end well.

Bundled on the train and to the horror of everyone onboard, including my wife. Blood was pouring from the back of my head. The bleeding was hastily dressed by toilet paper which did enough to make everyone comfortable I didn’t need medical attention.

Once home, and as my wife dressed the cut with plasters, I let it all go. I wasn’t crying because it hurt. I was crying as I felt like my whole life was based around alcohol.

I was crying as after 25 years of drinking; I’d had enough and needed to change.

Alcohol was a big part of growing up, but I classed my upbringing as normal. Towards the end of my school years, I drank regularly with my mates. We’d get hold of a bottle of vodka or cider and drink the lot before going to a party. At family parties nobody cared if me and my cousins were drinking underage, in fact it was probably encouraged.

Through my late teens, bad habits were forming. Struggling through college and working a dead-end job, I was living for the weekend and had no care in the world. At 19, I stupidly drove home after drinking, crashed my car, and received a nine month driving ban. The crazy thing is though, at no point did I or anyone around me think I had a problem with alcohol. I even went to the pub the next day with all involved.

Through my 20s and 30s, I’d met my wife and got married, started to form my career, and progressed at work but looking back I can see how badly I was handling alcohol. I would fall asleep in club toilets, fall over, wake up with bruises and rarely remember getting home.

With the ability to only drink at weekends, I wrongly assumed I had no problems with alcohol. I can see now I was dependent on alcohol and relied on it to ‘have a good time’.

Since the incident, I have completely changed my relationship with alcohol. I debated whether to quit altogether and took a break. I listened to several podcasts and read books to learn more about a subject I’d been doing for 25 years but knew little about.

The break got me into non-alcoholic beer. There are some amazing ones that scratch the itch after a long week or if out in a pub.

I enjoy holidays even more now they don’t solely focus on alcohol. So often I would be thinking about my next drink, missing what’s in front of me because I felt the time would be better spent at a bar all afternoon.

I feel more confident in all areas of life. Before, I would feel anxious as I wanted to start drinking and could only relax once I'd had a few.

At work I am performing from the word go on Mondays. I articulate much better, my memory has improved, and I have more potential to be unlocked. No longer do I feel groggy, have a hoarse voice or foggy head in the early part of the week from the effects of the weekend.

Whenever I look at old photos, I see a different person. A person who was content with drinking the weekend away and didn’t want to challenge himself.

Now, I’m determined to challenge myself constantly. After completing my first Marathon in October 2023, I’m currently 3 months into a charity challenge for 2024 of 12 marathons in 12 months for the Railway Children to test my physical and mental resilience throughout the year.

I look at the scar on my head with mixed emotions. On one hand I think how stupid of me, but on the other I’m grateful. Grateful that I’ve come through the hold alcohol had on me and I’m finally able to gain control of it.

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