Don’t hear that often, right? It took me a while to come to terms with it too. After many years of problematic drinking, 2 seizures, 4 day hospital stay, 2 months in residential rehab and 24 hours of therapy, today I am proud to say I am a recovering alcoholic.
My journey started far before I knew I had a problem and ended with the reality of hearing I was weeks away from death.
Problem is as an alcoholic you don’t realise it’s taking over until it’s too late. Before you know it you rely on alcohol to function and you’ve convinced yourself that without it you’re nothing.
It’s hard to explain the power of the illness and hard for those who haven’t experienced it to comprehend. But here’s a story that might help.
I left London (not by choice) in September 2018. I had trashed my job, relationship and living arrangements. I went to stay with my parents.
At this point no one knew the severity of my problem and I denied it all, but for context, at this point I was drinking heavily from morning ‘til night.
Shortly after arriving in Nottingham, in my naive judgement I made the decision to stop drinking immediately – almost as casually as someone decides to call it a day, after a heavy drinking session.
Less than a day later I was standing at a bus stop with my Mum in the city centre, when… boom, seizure struck. I came to, confused, but before I could comprehend what had happened another seizure hit. I was out.
The seizures were caused by acute withdrawal, essentially my body gave up when it didn’t have it’s Life Juice – AKA alcohol.
I was admitted into QMC Nottingham, where they hooked me up to many drips and gave me Librium (Chlordiazepoxide) – this is used to treat anxiety and acute alcohol withdrawal. It belongs to a class of drugs called Benzodiazepines which act on the brain and nerves (central nervous system) to produce a calming effect. It works by enhancing the effects of GABA, a natural chemical within the body.
“Okay, that was shit, I need to stop” I thought, but the overwhelming voice in my head was that I was on my way to hospital where there was no booze and no way of getting some.
I set out with the best intentions, saying “right, here we go Ben, drinking stops now, let’s do this.”
That didn’t last long… Visiting time was coming to an end and my parents weren’t the only ones leaving. They said goodbye and that they’d be back tomorrow, I waited until it was safe and my escape plan commenced.
I waited until the nurse took the IV’s out my arms and asked to go for a cigarette.
Armed with my phone, I pulled up the maps and ran for the nearest Spar shop – annoyingly this was the other side of a dual carriageway, so I ran across it.
I bought a bottle of Vodka and Gin.
I drank most of the Gin on the journey back and snuck the vodka back onto the ward with me – it smelt less of the two spirits, smart eh?
I’d crafted what I thought was a genius plan – fill my water jug with vodka and sit back in a hospital bed sipping vodka at my leisure, unbeknown to the nurses.
It worked, I sat there rationing and working out how many cups I could have per hour to last me until the next day. But, I decided there wasn’t enough, I needed more supplies.
This time it was easy, I knew where the shop was – there was no stopping me.
I knew they would monitor us more closely at night time, so I set out on my second escape, merely hours after the first.
But the bastards had stuck more IVs in my arms… not so easy. I’d had a load of vodka by then (rations out the window), so I deemed myself fit to remove them and off I went back across the dual carriageway. But this time I didn’t return in 20 minutes.
There was blood leaking from where I’d removed the needles, I was a mess.
At this stage, the mixture of pure alcohol and meds were taking their toll – I was in and out of psychosis, crossing a busy road.
I think I knew what I was doing was in some way wrong, more like insane, so I called my mum. I told her I was trying to get an Uber to Islington – impossible seeing as she left me a couple of hours before.
It was the worst call she’s ever had. She knew I had never visited Nottingham before. So not only did she not know what I was doing, but I didn’t either.
She tried to explain where I was and that I needed to go back, but I was convinced I was in London, so I just kept saying I’m going to get a cab, it’s okay.
I finally got a car and asked them to take me to Islington – he must have looked at me like I was mental, which is fair.
I was still on the phone at this point and my mum just said show the cab driver your screen, I’ve texted you the address.
Confused, but not knowing what else to do in this state, I did.
I have no idea how I got home or who picked me up, but I am eternally grateful to whoever did.
I pulled up to the house and my Mum & Andy were standing in the road, I got out the car bleeding, wasted, smiling and talking absolute shite.
I’d obviously been thinking about them, because I brought them a present of a lottery scratch card and a tube of wine gums each. Ironic.
They piled me in the car and we were on the way back to hospital.
Despite everything that had happened, I remember thinking “haha, jokes on them, I’ve still got the vodka in my bag and jug.” However, turns out the guy opposite me on the ward had ratted me out and it was all gone. Cunt.
Two minutes later I had forgotten all about that, as I was walked into hospital once again. I remember smiling and thinking this was like a game, I escape, they bring me back – fucking dillusional.
The game didn’t stop. At midnight the ward called my Mum again as I was trying to escape and being abusive.
I was moved to a private room and she was asked to stay the night with me to protect the staff from further outbursts.
I was then monitored rather closely. I spent the next two days in severe psychosis as I partially detoxed. I told my parents about emails we had to send to clients, team meetings where we could choose what drugs we wanted for the next one and briefs that weren’t being actioned properly… as well as stripping off multiple times.
The hospital informed us that it wasn’t their policy to do a full detox, so I was finally discharged two days later.
Due to my idiotic actions I was no where near detoxed after my stay, so I was advised to seek professional help and to not stop on my own terms or I would seize again.
All I heard from the Doctor’s rant was that I had a licence to continue drinking.
And that’s what I did.
I’ve been clean for just over a year now and have toyed with the idea of writing a blog for a while. In recent weeks I have opened up more about my experience with stories like the above and people seem intrigued.
Their curiosity takes over and questions flow one after the other. It seems people want to try and understand what addiction means, while hearing about my journey with all the gritty details. I guess theres a reason we all binge watch murder, prison and drugs documentaries on Netflix.
Daily life throws all sorts at you when you’ve got a head that doesn’t stop fantasising, reminiscing and pulling you towards booze.
For example, a guy just sat down next to me on the tube as I wrote this, swigging a pint can of Stella.
Not only have I got up and given up my seat, but now my tube ride is full of thoughts imagining the taste, fizz and buzz, all while monitoring how fast he drinks it and if he has another. My mind can’t help itself and the book I was reading is going in one ear and out the other.
I stand here after a hard day thinking “Why would he do that? Just open that here? What’s the point?” But truth be told, I did the same but with vodka in a Ribena bottle – I can’t judge.
Jealousy enters the room – “That fucker, he can sit there slurping away and I can’t.” But even with all the jealousy or desire in the world – I wouldn’t take a sip if he paid me.
He finishes the can and puts it away, I feel more relaxed, but not for long as he reaches for another, cracks it open, slurps and the head whirrs again.
Beyond the Bottle will be a free flow of thoughts and experiences from my addict’s brain, put together week-by-week.
I’ll share everything about living with the illness, struggling through the dark days, celebrating successes, working the recovery and how life is now.
Problems you think are tiny may clog my dreams and colossal head-fuck’s to you could seem like a raindrop to me. It’s all about perspective. Welcome to mine.
Beyond the Bottle, my life as a ‘Millennial Addict’.
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