Steph’s story: I have gained my life back, a life that I had forgotten could even exist

March 2023 | 9 minutes

Steph has been alcohol-free for nine months, and she’s now living the life she’s always wanted.

I am Steph, 28 from Manchester and just hit my nine-month sobriety milestone

Ever since I can remember alcohol has always been present within my life.

I started like most of my friends, underage drinking at the park whilst telling my mum I was at a friend’s house. I cannot pinpoint at what exact stage within my life that my drinking became destructive. But it did, and it was destructive for many years, it was as if I was on this never-ending carousel of binge drinking leading to dangerous behaviours, erratic decisions, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, to only queue up and throw myself straight back on the ride, year after year after year.

I want to say that having my children made me wake up and smell the coffee, as if becoming a mother would instantly right my wrongs and enable me to grow up and stop living this non-fulfilling life, but it didn’t. If anything, it made things worse, the pressure of becoming a single mum with a failed relationship added to my low self-esteem and low mood and spiralled my drinking to whole new level.

In 2017, after several years of my family, and friends voicing their concerns on my drinking habits and dangerous behaviour I was arrested and prosecuted for drink driving. The shame I felt for being handcuffed for the first time in my life, the overwhelming, heart-breaking guilt I felt for thinking “What if I’d have hurt someone or worse killed someone”, was just too much to bear.

The next four years that followed this event mainly consisted of empty promises, of me asking my mum to babysit the children whilst I went out to ‘not drink’ only to be rolling home in the early hours of the next morning, going from one toxic relationship to the next, as my self-esteem and confidence was at an all-time low. My mental health plummeted drastically, I developed severe health anxiety, and was convinced I had a life-threatening disease, which was quite ironic, really, as each time I drank I was literally putting my own life at risk!! What would begin as a fun night out would result in me leaving my friends, wandering off and being picked up or brough home by complete strangers, or what became even more apparent, the police. Visits to A&E were becoming frequent as my drinking was resulting in heart palpitations and horrendous panic attacks, and again I was convinced I was having a heart attack each time.

Alcohol made me aggressive

It made me hate the world and made me want to fight everyone in it, it made me a liar, andit made me break the law. It made me act the complete opposite to the sober me. The guilt, the remorse, the shame and the embarrassment of hearing what I'd done drunk, was too much to handle.

I couldn’t believe the situations I’d put myself in, my children in, the people I love, what I was putting everyone close to me through. I slowly started seeing my friends backing away, and I’d nearly lost my job.. My depression began to intensify, and very quickly believing that I was better off not here seemed to be the only option.

One particular day I typed in google, ‘Sober women’ and came across the Sober Girl Society, and the founder Millie Gooch. This was the turning point in my relationship with alcohol. I was suddenly accessing this support network of like-minded people. Becoming a part of a support group and furthermore knowing that I wasn’t alone, and that so many people had the same shared experiences as I had, suddenly made me feel like I could accept my unhealthy relationship with alcohol and begin to put the steps in place to try and manage it.

In the next following months I became a community champion for Alcohol Change UK which has opened so many fantastic opportunities for me to meet inspirational individuals, attend alcohol free events and also helped me to begin addressing the harm that is caused by alcohol in my community. I decided to go back to college and train within counselling, in the hope to use all my experiences to help others.

As I am approaching the milestone of one year in sobriety, I wanted to celebrate my achievement with all the people who have supported me on my journey. I have decided to host a charity event in aid of Alcohol Change UK, on Saturday 13 May in Glossop. The event will include live music, raffle, AF bar, stalls, motivational talks & more. I wanted to show people that you do not need alcohol to have a good time, and , you could potentially have a lot to gain from trying out the alcohol-free lifestyle! I want to share my experiences with others, to try and combat isolation, and enable people to realise that they are not alone with their unhelpful relationship with alcohol.

I have gained my life back, a life that I had forgotten could even exist.

By just cutting alcohol out of my life I gave myself the opportunity to be the best version of myself, I gave my children their mum back, and my family their daughter and granddaughter back. I'm starting to help others and have found a career that I am so passionate about. I gave myself the life I have always wanted.

Check out Steph’s fundraiser for Alcohol Change UK here

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