Please tell us your story.
Like many young people in London, England, I was caught up in the drinking culture. Starting at school and going through to University and then the work environment, I was drinking every week when going out and would drink to excess. This would be celebrated with other people and there was a strong fear and dread of not drinking both from my side because I thought it was weird not to and also to relieve stress and pressure and not have people ask questions or put me under pressure to drink if I didn’t want to.
How long were you addicted & what? How did it change your life?
I would say at least 5 years. It got worse however when I was made redundant from my full-time job. Suddenly, I entered the world of freelance work and my schedule was less structured, meaning more opportunities to go out during the week. Instead of just drinking on the weekends, I started drinking two or three times per week. The problem was that I started needing and using alcohol to deal with the stress and uncertainty I was feeling in my life with a lack of regular income. And when I started drinking, I couldn’t stop. Or I wouldn’t stop. I would have hangovers meaning the next day would basically be wasted. And I started doing stupid things and being embarrassed about what I was doing.
What was the breaking point for you to get clean?
One night I went out with some friends. There was a pub with a funny German beer. It came in a unique long glass. The thing is this was a very strong German beer. My friends warned me not to have a second beer. I said I am fine. I felt fine. However, of course, from bitter experience, they knew what would happen – and it did. I ended up drinking too much. Later that night on the way home, on one of the famous red London night buses, one of the worst things happened. I started feeling sick. I was desperate to get off the bus but the bus was stuck at a red light and so I was sick all over the bus. People were looking at me in disgust and I still feel sick in my mouth thinking about this. I knew I had let myself down and was ashamed and embarrassed about becoming the person I most despised being.
How did you get clean and how long have you been sober for? What was the hardest part for you about recovery and how did you overcome it?
It was the pain of this and then stacking together the other pain which alcohol was causing me which helped me for the first time realize that alcohol was causing me a lot of problems, I didn’t even enjoy alcohol and I no longer wanted to drink. In my mind, I put the pain of this experience on the night bus and all the physical and mental pain to get me to the decision to stop drinking.
The hardest part was my friends with whom I went drinking. It was a topic of some amusement. Until the moment. A week or two later when the interest or novelty of not drinking had worn off, one of my friends asked me at the bar what would I like to drink. I knew this was the moment. I had a choice. I could choose an alcoholic drink and go back to that life or I could choose something non-alcoholic and live a new – unfamiliar but also exciting life. It was now or never. (Of course, I chose the non-alcoholic option).
What is your motivation to stay clean? And how did you do it?
The feeling of freedom, being clear in my mind and fresh the next morning. Plus realizing the dehydration I was experiencing because of alcohol (alcohol is a diuretic), as well as seeing other people who drink – their teeth stained with wine or their stupid behaviour also motivates me to not need to drink. Then realizing that most people don’t care if you don’t drink or not even being with those kinds of people in the first place. That kind of thing doesn’t interest me.
For someone in the same situation as you who wants to get clean, what would you want to tell them?
First to understand that it is possible. No matter how impossible it may seem and how you think you cannot live without alcohol, you can. And to focus on the pain that alcohol has been causing you in your life – in your past, today and the damage it will continue to cause you unless you change now. If you focus on the pain until you feel it in your body, mind, and soul, it will give you the power to make the change.
What is your life’s motto?
To become better every day and live the growth mindset. You can achieve whatever you believe you can.
Rahul Nag is the creator of the AlcoholFreeSocialLife.com website and blog which helps people from around the world give up or moderate their drinking. He has worked with experts from traditional and alternative approaches to overcoming drinking problems and now works one on one and through his ‘How To Give Up Alcohol Course’ Please visit https://alcoholfreesociallife.com for more information and follow him on Twitter: @giveupalcohol
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