Stuart’s story: “I knew that if I didn't try to get some sort of help, I'd drink myself to death”

Stuart | November 2021 | 8 minutes

Previously I'd not really gone public about my alcohol issues and why I've decided to go sober, but I thought if someone can relate with what I've been through, my story might help them.

Maybe other people out there have hit the same lows as I did and fought their way back out the other side.

Since turning 18 (I'm now 32) I was always known for getting drunk. Every occasion, big or small, involved alcohol. Partying, being in a band and my job, it became a way of life for me. I worked in the hospitality industry for around twelve years, where drinking on a daily basis was normal – no one would ever think twice about it. Throughout that twelve-year span I think the longest I'd stayed off alcohol in one go would have been a month.

A lot of people picture an alcohol addiction as someone who has to be constantly intoxicated, but it has many different forms, some more visible than others. My problem was not knowing when to stop when I got started and drinking heavily at least once or twice a week. As soon as I'd forgotten how bad the hangover was, my body would crave more alcohol. As time went on, it just got a lot worse – I’d black out every time I drank, my hangovers would last two to three days and it really started to affect my mental and physical health. I've no idea how much money over the years I've spent on alcohol, but it's also cost me relationships, friendships and much more.

It was a low I'd never reached before, and I knew that if I didn't try get some sort of help, I'd continue and drink myself to death.

Lockdown of 2020 just fuelled my troubles to a new level, and eventually it got to the stage where my mind would be plagued with suicidal thoughts when I drank, to the point where I'd try to drink myself into the ground, hoping I'd never wake up. It was a low I'd never reached before, and I knew that if I didn't try get some sort of help, I'd continue and drink myself to death. I could feel death just watching over me. It was October last year when I reached out for some guidance as I knew something had to change.

I've now been sober for just over a year and things are so much clearer. It's an ongoing process but it's progress nonetheless. I still get tempted or feel like I want a drink from time to time but never act upon it. I just know deep down what would happen to me if I picked up the bottle again. One big tool for me was just staying stocked up with alcohol-free beer. It had become a habit to just open the fridge and grab a beer, which I still do every now and then, but now they’re alcohol-free!

Throughout the whole time I was struggling, I always put on a smile to cover up what was going on underneath. Friends would reach out to me occasionally and I'd shrug it off and just go on as normal. People would ask if I was okay, but it was always easier to just say "yeah, I'm fine" than dive into what was really going on. It's easy to brush off an issue when you've convinced yourself it’s not actually there, or just covered up well.

I feel like going sober through a lockdown has maybe helped me stay off the drink.

I spoke to a few sober friends about what had happened to me, and it helped a lot. I found it easier to speak to people like me who I knew had maybe been through something similar, but out of everyone I know, there were only two other people who openly speak about going sober.

I feel like going sober through a lockdown has maybe helped me stay off the drink. I did worry about things becoming more ‘normal’ again, with pubs and clubs reopening, but I've just not put myself into that situation. I've kept myself very busy with my business and training. I'd definitely say I've been avoiding some social interactions as I just don't think it would feel or be the same now that I don't drink, which sucks – not that I think I'd be tempted to drink, but more just that people will act and feel differently around me.

I find it quite hard to open up about what happened and is happening but thought sharing my story with other people will not only help me but hopefully others too. I think we all need to speak up about our issues, you never know who it might help.

Photo by Conor Gault.

Lots of us struggle with alcohol at some point in our lives and need support to turn things around. Find out more about getting support.

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