Drink and Drugs News DDN November 2019 (1) - Page 9

FINALLY FREE – RUTH’S STORY I n July last year, I walked out of my London flat with just a cushion, some cards and a cardholder – nothing else. I was in a bad way and wasn’t really sure where I was going. I ended up in Margate with nowhere to stay except a relative’s holiday cottage. I was at rock bottom and knew I needed help for my drinking, which was out of control. It hadn’t always been like this. I’d had a great career in media for over 20 years, but alcohol had become part of it – taking a client out for drinks or letting off steam with friends after a hard day. Without realising I ended up reliant on alcohol – at first in social situations, then a physical dependency. Things finally came to a head this year – I was going through a particularly tough time in my personal life and my drinking escalated. At my worst, I was drinking about a litre of vodka a day. I tried to stop on my own which resulted in me being admitted to A&E with hallucinations. The doctor told me WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM I needed to drink, which shocked me – I didn’t understand how dangerous it is to suddenly stop when you’re physically dependent. So I went back to drinking (as instructed!) but without proper guidance and support I ended up drinking the same amount as before. Fast forward to my journey to Margate. I’m still not quite sure how I managed to find the Hub – I didn’t know the area that well and I was quite out of it. But I’m so glad I did. I was assessed that day and assigned a key worker, who has been absolutely brilliant. They enrolled me in their new alcohol pathway initiative, which involved several stages. The first was an intensive, group-based ‘pre-detox’ week, where we met on a daily basis to prepare ourselves for the realities – both physical and emotional – of stopping drinking. The group was great – there’s something about that kind of environment that really encourages you to open up and be vulnerable. You get the feeling that whatever surface-level differences you might have – age, gender, social status or whatever – deep down you’re all in the same boat and understand what challenges the others are going through. The next week I did a medically assisted detox lasting five days. I had to come to the Hub every morning, be breathalysed to make sure I wasn’t drinking and collect my daily medication. I also had some medical tests to check things like liver function. I had to move back to London not long after I completed the detox, but I know that the Hub is running an abstinence group to support the people who still live locally. Importantly, they’ve given me the tools to stay strong in my recovery, particularly making sure I link into the fellowship (Alcoholics Anonymous) in London, whose meetings I attend on a regular basis. They also taught me about the importance of a strong support network, being honest – even if it means admitting a slip- up – and being compassionate to others and yourself. I’ve been sober ever since. It’s not always plain sailing but I’m in such a better place. I have a new ‘Before I stopped drinking, I was worried that being abstinent would take away my freedom. It’s actually been the other way around.’ full-time job in retail and I’ve never taken a day off sick. My friends have been amazing, as has my new boss, who knows all about my recovery and is really supportive. I recently got promoted and to top it off I’ve started running a vintage pop-up in my spare time. Oh and I’ve lost two stone! Before I stopped drinking, I was worried that being abstinent would take away my freedom. It’s actually been the other way around. My life revolved around alcohol and everything needed to fit in around my drinking. Now I don’t need to find ways to squeeze alcohol in – I’m free from it, and it feels great. NOVEMBER 2019 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • 9 PATH