The impacts of alcohol – “I now find myself completely neutral to alcohol”
I chose a career in the media industry based upon the simple fact that my girlfriend at the time, who worked in a media agency while I was finishing my final year at university, frequently spoke about these boozy lunches and jollies that she was often invited to. In hindsight, I can now see this wasn’t an entirely sound reason for making such an important life decision.
The industry was perfect for me. I’d been a big drinker from the age of 15, blacking out from the start. As far as I was concerned, I drank because I liked to have fun and thought of myself as a crazy party guy. It’s only since coming into AA I realise that I drank because I couldn’t really face life or being me.
Now, in reality, being me wasn’t bad in any way. I had an incredible upbringing with a loving family and all I would ever need. Even as a kid though, I had this malady. I always felt like I didn’t fit in and was generally uncomfortable in my own skin. Alcohol took all of that away for a while. I had some amazing times while drinking and made some great friends. But it didn’t last. Eventually, the good times dried up and all those feelings of discomfort that I had without a drink took over, even when I was drunk.
Those last few months of drinking were dark. I was desperately miserable, going insane and couldn’t see a way out. My behaviour became more chaotic and immoral. I never considered myself an alcoholic, as I only drank at weekends, still had a job, roof over my head, some friends, family etc. It was only at 29 years old, after a slightly tragic and comical sequence of events, including a blackout while entertaining clients resulting in me nearly losing my job, that I had a moment of clarity. This led me to my first AA meeting and that’s when everything changed.
I’ve now been a member of AA for over nine years and have stayed sober from the start. It was tricky initially as I had to change my lifestyle quite a bit. For a while I stopped going to places where drinking was the main event such as pubs, clubs, bars, parties and of course media lunches. I was worried that this would have a detrimental impact on my job and social life. After all, how was I supposed to sell any ad space without getting my clients (and myself) drunk?! I soon found out there were other slightly more professional ways.
After the first year, I’ve since been to numerous client lunches, music festivals, parties, stag-dos, weddings (including my own) and other boozy affairs, without a single desire to partake. Having stuck close to the meetings and working a program of recovery as laid down by AA, I now find myself completely neutral to alcohol. The main benefit however is that it has allowed me to deal with life in a way that I just simply couldn’t before. I’m now happy with being me which means I can go out and play a part instead of blocking everything out. I still attend meetings twice a week as a way to stay reminded of my alcoholism and to help the next new person that walks through the door bewildered, lost and in pain.
If this has resonated because you know of an employee, colleague, family member or friend who might be suffering, please understand that there is a way out. AA might not be the only solution, but it’s worked for me and millions around the world like me for over 80 years. I’m eternally grateful to my manager at the time who let me get help instead of letting me go. I hope I repaid him in some way in my remaining years at that company. I encourage anyone to show the same level of compassion if an individual genuinely wants to sort things out. Today I still work in the same industry, doing the same kind of job, just without the all-day lunches. But then again, who has the time for those anymore anyway!
This week is Alcohol Awareness Week. We want to help raise awareness of the support available to those suffering the negative effects of alcohol. As this blog illustrates, that support might come from a manager, or by contacting an organisation like Alcoholics Anonymous.
If you’re concerned about the impact alcohol is having on your life, or someone you know, we’d encourage you to seek further help. You may wish to access the help of AA, or start with an impartial conversation with one of the NABS advisors who can signpost you to other relevant support, plus offer guidance on how to best handle your situation.
You can call the NABS Advice Line on 0800 707 6607