AI Helped Me Through

A first person account of a journey from alcohol dependency to education and recovery.

A first person account of a journey from alcohol dependency to education and recovery.

After leaving school with no qualifications I found work as an apprentice painter and decorator. It was in this job that I was introduced to the pub scene and it was here were I found what I thought was the solution to all my problems.

As a boy I was very happy and had a great upbringing, but my life took a turn for the worse when I left primary school and started secondary. Anxiety started to play havoc in my life and being of a nervous disposition I started to experiment with alcohol and other recreational drugs. It was here that I found a new confidence and turned from the withdrawn teenager into a sociable adult.

Once working, I was able to start socialising in pubs. This made a change from drinking in friend’s houses or on the streets. I had experimented with substances such as LSD, glue, hash and speed; I had no idea at this time I was an alcoholic/addict. Booze had become my main drug of choice now, and as I sauntered through life I started getting in trouble with the police along the way.

By the time I hit my thirties I had a criminal record and a habit, which I had accepted to myself, but hid from others. I started shoplifting to feed my drink and drug habit because I couldn’t hold down jobs for any period of time. I had many failed attempts to stop my using but did manage to give up my life of crime and start working as a decorator again. It was during this time that I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. This is when my life started to go into free-fall. I believed life had dealt me a severe blow, I was in so much pain physically and tortured mentally, and it was here that the downward spiral pushed me into depths of despair of which I would never have comprehended. I was now living a life run on self-pity and hatred of self and others.

I was in my mid-thirties now and my drinking became more and more problematic. I was having severe withdrawals and started to use valium. I started to get more dependent on prescribed pain killers. My health was deteriorating at an alarming rate and by the time I was nearing the end of my active drug using I had turned to heroin and crack cocaine. I was told by my GP and consultants that I had months to live and my physical and mental health was in such a bad way, that on hearing this news I was happy to die. That’s where my drinking and using had taken me and my thinking.

My GP arranged for me to see a social worker and through this he made me see sense and changed my attitude towards myself. I started to gain self-worth and it was during this process that I got the opportunity to go into rehab. It was in this rehab that I was introduced to an organisation called Transition/Access to Industry. I spent 12 weeks in rehab and graduated with a two-year aftercare plan. Transition was part of this aftercare plan and it was here where I was to gain a newfound confidence and belief in myself. I attended five classes a week learning new skills such as IT, Communication Skills and Creative writing. Transition helped me in my recovery and gave me a new purpose in life, my self-confidence was growing by the week. I was soon gaining qualifications and was encouraged by my case worker to broaden my learning opportunities and apply for college courses.

With a new zest for life and a new confidence in myself I applied for a course called An Introduction to Counselling. My case worker also advised me to apply for a COSCA course in advance of the introduction on the assumption I wouldn’t get a place on it that year but would stand a better chance the next. As things turned out I didn’t get the place on the Introduction course and was catapulted straight into the COSCA course where I went on to complete the four Modules and gain my certificate in Counselling & Psychotherapy. Also in that amazing year I gained qualifications with Transition at SCQF levels 4-6 in Creative Writing, Information and Communication Technology, Personal Effectiveness, Communications and also gained a certificate in First Aid. Also in this year I passed my driving theory test and my driving test. I’ve gained an NHS certificate on “Board Meetings” being effective at meetings training.

I now volunteer for the NHS in the treatment centre that I attended doing Peer Support. I’m gaining valuable experience sitting in on group therapies and also awaiting to start my Recovery Coaching Programme. I’m in the process of doing a SMART Recovery training where on completion will be facilitating SMART meetings for addicts. Once these are completed I aim to apply to University where I’m hoping to sit my Master’s Degree in Sociology & Psychology.

I can honestly say that without the commitment from LEAP (Lothian’s & Edinburgh Abstinence Programme) and Transition/Access to Industry, none of these achievements would have been possible. I am truly grateful to have been encouraged by both. Not only did they encourage me, they believed in me, even when I did not believe in myself.

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