So, Xmas Day and Boxing day went well. If all the stress of COVID-19 wasn’t enough along comes Tier 4 and takes what little Xmas joy was planned. But it don’t worry by old friend Jack & Charlie will see me through – and so they did all the way to the hotel room I am now writing this from.
Now this might seem overdramatic and all preachy but I just thought I would pen this so that others might want to reflect on where they are at and save them some of the pain, turmoil and anguish I have just gone through – let alone the pain, anguish and turmoil I have inflicted on the people that care about me.
Let’s start this off my saying that I am not an alcoholic and I’m not a drug addict. Ok, so I like a drink but there’s nothing wrong in that so does most of the population of the UK. I have a job. I work hard. I have a home – or did have. I’m paying my bills. I don’t inject, I don’t use heroin, I don’t use crack. I don’t drink every day and I only use coke occasionally. So how come I’m in a hotel room?
Well, I guess sitting here has led me to start to assess some of the above so let’s start with the booze.
I’m only 45 so not over the hill by any means when it comes to having a good time, by that I mean I can still hold by ground with those younger than me in the drinks department. When I was younger it was not uncommon for me to have a long 3-day bender over a Fri – Sun. As to how much did I drink, well it's difficult to quantity and I certainly couldn’t tell you how many units, but it was enough for me to pass out. Sometimes I’d make it home to bed, other times the sofa, sometimes I’d even got undressed.
Over time and as I got involved in relationships and then got married with kids the “lost weekends” diminished. That being said the lost weekends were replaced with working lunches and sometimes a few drinks before going home. Once home then I’d have a few glasses of whatever or a few bottles of beer to unwind, after all it was always a stressful day. Sometimes the few glasses would turn into a bottle sometimes more if it had been a difficult day or a hard week or I had an argument.
I’m not sure when the occasional few glasses at home turned into something more; it must be a while, but I am aware of a number of arguments about it and about my wife being so unfair and unreasonable and not realising the stress I have in my life.
The coke landed sometime in my working career. I never was a huge fan of drugs but had done a bit at Uni. However, it was commonplace at work that bags would come out at socials about as regular as someone asking if I wanted a fag. There were a lot of socials. At some point I never found myself without a little something in my wallet and having a cheeky one at work was becoming more than just a one off. I’m not sure how but empty little plastic bags are just everywhere. They appear in your coat and trouser pockets; the car & I even found a couple in the kids bedrooms.
Somewhere in all this I was apparently neglecting my family duties, late after-work nights, a few (well maybe more than a few) missed school things and my unreliability. Then there were the moods, which apparently were not attractive, and a few money problems as coke is not cheap, especially when I was using and sharing quite a bit and even booze at the supermarket is not that cheap even if you buy it by the case.
And then came the warnings as clearly my wife, and the kids, were not happy and the words “neglected” was used. As for me I could not, or wouldn’t see it, so I didn’t back down when things came to a head or occasionally in a moment of weakness, I’d say I’ll cut down or cut it out, but as my current predicament testifies that never happened, or if it did it wasn’t for long.
So this has been jogging on for a while then COVID hit and for the past 9 months I’ve had to work from home, with the kids and the wife around ALL the time! You wouldn’t believe the noise and stress and the lack of “me” time in all this. It’s enough to turn a person to drink and drugs, fortunately for me I was already there, I just did it a bit more now and at home.
Yes, there have been more arguments and there have been a few instances when I have had to go out and not made it back the same night, but I deserved those nights. So, I let my hair down over Xmas Day and Boxing Day. The box(es) of booze are no more and I “let it snow, let it snow”.
I’m not sure quite what happened over those past few days, but it wasn’t good and so came Monday 28th December and the row from all rows which ended up with me and a suitcase, my laptop and the car. Do you know how hard it is to find a hotel on a bank holiday and during COVID?
Do you know what it is like to wake up and let the reality of what has just happened sink in when the only comfort is the hotel free biscuits, with your straws of coffee and tea and the clean towels every other day – not as though I ever washed my own towels.
I have got no idea what is going to happen in the long term, and that is bloody scary. I miss my wife, I miss my noisy kids, I miss my bed, I miss home. But I've been told to stay away and sort myself out.
What I do know is that the booze and the coke have to go and I mean really go if I have any chance of getting back what I may have lost for ever. I know people say that you should never knock it on the head if you are not doing it for yourself, including some of the help lines I have phoned to try and help me, but the problem is I’m not sure of who I am. Somewhere in the mealy of life I’ve got lost.
Anyway, after some soul searching, google surfing, a last hurrah and a bucketful of self-pity I’m going for it. I found a place that says they are going to help me find me and stay stopped, and maybe in finding me I will find my way back to my family – I truly hope so.
So here’s what I have got to say, booze and coke is not your friend it will suck the life out of you like a psychic vampire and in doing so it will suck the life out of everything you hold dear. Do not be fooled by its seductive voice, it is an assassin.
If you know that you are drinking too much and/or too often or that your drug use is escalating do something about it now before it’s too late. Don’t wait for your suitcase moment or before you hit rock bottom don’t be like Bill
This is Bill
Bill drinks too much alcohol
Bill’s drug use is increasing
Bill doesn’t admit he has a problem
Bill's denial will keep him drinking and using drugs
Bill's life is going to go pear shaped
I'll keep you posted about how my treatment goes. I've never done anything like this before so not sure what to expect but I do know the booze and the drugs have to go.
Self-medicating your problems on drugs and alcohol is not the solution. But as we have said before when you’re drinking or using drugs (or both), it’s common to try to rationalize your substance use, deny how much or how often you use, or simply deny that you or you’re drinking or using is creating problems.
Admitting that you’re drinking or using is creating problems is the first step. The next step is doing something about it.
Help Me Stop has been constant in our practice to maintain our standards of care since the start of COVID-19 while ensuring the protection of our clients and staff. The procedures we put in place at the beginning of lockdown have prepared us for any policy changes caused by COVID-19, including the government implementing tighter lockdown rules which was announced on the 19th December 2020.
Under the new Tier rules, it is still legitimate for you to attend treatment or attend an assessment so please do not be put off seeking treatment. Our Dayhab centre, which is based in Acton, West London, will remain open as usual and of course we have our tried and tested 6 week online service for those that can’t make it into West London.
If you are concerned that things are getting to much and you are hitting the bottle or taking drugs to cope and you want to know how get your life back on track; or you are concerned about someone you know then call us now on 0208 191 8920 or jump onto Live Chat/email us directly at https://helpmestop.org.uk/contact-us
Chris Cordell is Help Me Stop's General Manager and is a senior associate member of the Royal Society of Medicine, Certified International Recovery Specialist, member of the International Society of Addiction Medicine and a member of the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals.
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