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Audio Version

This coming Friday, I will be 11 months’ sober. This means more to me than 12 months of sobriety as I have not been 11 months without a drink, even whilst in prison, since I was 15. I always fell just before I got to 11 months.

I am 35 now. I drank to feel wild and excited, for the euphoria. That soon turned into misery and despair. I drank alcoholically from the age of 13 and only ever drank to get drunk.  When I consumed a lot, I would often become violent to family members and friends. This is something I have learned to forgive myself for through not picking up the first drink, talking to my sponsor and practising the Programme.

Recovery hasn't been easy. The first time I went to AA was in Holloway and I only did it to get out of my cell. I was only 19 at this point and couldn't wait to drink when I got out of prison. I had to have another 13 years of drinking before I could make it to another AA meeting.

I remember when it dawned on me that I had gone too far with the drinking, past the point of no return. I thought I am in real trouble here and I can't undo or fix this. It was a horrible scary feeling. I tried other institutions to quit drinking, voluntarily and court-ordered and it made me worse. They tried to teach me to control my drinking. I'll only have a couple of drinks and not feel guilty was what they tried to teach me. So the first day I managed one pint. Then the second day it was 2 pints and the third day was a bender.

Then I'd manage up to 6 weeks dry drunk, until I would spectacularly go out and drink and in my alcoholic all or nothing mind I would see that as my only chance to drink so I would try and get as much in me as possible. And I would be scared, taking that first drink, knowing full well I would do it, and have no clue where I would end up. Knowingly taking that first drink, being unable to say no, knowing that there would be consequences. Not knowing what those consequences would be, the compulsion being too great, and drinking it anyway.

 It got to the point where I couldn't leave the house without a drink. I used to think that when I was outside in public, without a drink, that people could see the blackness inside of me, and all the horrible things I had done.

It's not like that today.

I was promiscuous when drunk, uninhibited and out of control. I ask for these defects to be removed via Steps Six and Seven, and I ask for forgiveness in Step Nine. I am now at Step Ten.

My world has exploded into a daily reprieve from the compulsion to drink. I stopped drinking as I could no longer handle the overwhelming cravings to drink and the inability to say “no” to the first drink, the panel committee in my head.

The Programme, people, service, the whole caboodle, has made most days, not only bearable but serene and content. I have learned that I used booze to fill a hole in myself. I don't do that now, but my head is still here and it is hard to deal with the thoughts, insecurities and negativity that my alcoholic mind tries to convince Me I am no good because it wants me to drink. I don't mask my feelings with booze. I go through pain, and feel it, and I grow. If my head space is not good, I am vigilant, as it could take me back to a drink. I use the phone at these times.  The experience of old-timers, and people a long time sober is brilliant and I help keep them sober by them sharing their pain.

I owe my life to AA and the people in it.