This post is a brief overview of the steps involved in admitting you are an alcoholic, seeking help and treatment for alcohol addiction, and the path to recovery.
It was very difficult to write this as I started writing, and was going off on so many tangents it was basically turning into a dissertation.
I have covered all the points I think I need to cover and I will go further into detail in future posts. I recommend clicking the link during the post to read my experience with Naltrexone as well as the 2 posts go hand in hand.
First Step – GO TO THE DOCTOR
When I went to my Doctor to ask for help with my addiction to alcohol, she referred me straight away to an addiction specialist.
My Doctor knew that I had a problem as I had been in so many times with issues starting with, “food poisoning”, AKA savage hangover several times, and then as the problem worsened I had cholecystitis for the second time in my life, (inflammation of the Gall Bladder – extremely painful), and then towards the end of my drinking, “career”, 2 cases of Gastroenteritis, where after a huge drinking bender, sometimes lasting 10-15 days of non-stop drinking, my stomach would swell up like a pregnant lady and would be so painful I couldn’t even lie down or touch it.
I tried to justify this to myself as the result of anything I could think of other than the excessive consumption of alcohol. My Doctor knew straight away that I was an alcoholic as I would always be there stinking of alcohol, looking like death and asking for a doctor’s note to give to work.
Talking With an Alcohol Addiction Specialist
When I sat down with the Alcohol Addiction specialist, she asked me to explain as much as I could starting from day 1 of my “career” to the present day. She asked me about all the different aspects of my life and let me just ramble on for what felt like hours about everything that I wanted to say.
It felt incredibly refreshing, and like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It was fantastic to sit and talk with a stranger, who I could tell genuinely cared, and for her to just listen and pay 100% attention.
She gave me a series of questions to answer on a scale of 1-5 but didn’t tell me what this was for – this was an ADHD test and she said that we would start treatment for this as well, Click here to read about the treatment for ADHD.
Alcoholic Treatment Options
She explained to me the treatment options for alcoholics that were available, in order to conquer the alcoholism :
- Go cold turkey, (stop drinking straight away).
- Reduce my intake with the help of medication, (Naltrexone)
- Start going to meetings with other people in similar situations – basically the Spanish version of Alchoholics Anonymous, (this option I knew wasn´t right for me personally).
- She said that if all this failed and I was unable to stop, or reduce to a normal level then I would be put in a Rehab center, (I believe with or without my consent).
I felt instantly motivated – she had spoken to me pragmatically – exactly as I like – and laid out the various options available.
I decided I would go cold turkey and accepted the medication prescribed to me: Diazepam and Naltrexone. Naltrexone is used to help cut the cravings for alcohol and cocaine by blocking the pleasure signals back to your brain. To read more about my future experience with Naltrexone medication click here
Diazepam / Valium
Diazepam (Valium) for those who don´t know is Benzodiazepine drug which is used mainly for treatment of anxiety, panic attacks and also withdrawal from alcohol.
It is an incredibly powerful and fantastic drug, and for what it is prescribed it performs perfectly. For anyone that has taken Valium for a hangover, comedown or for sleeping problems they will know that it completely removes all negative feelings and gives you a fantastic sleep.
Unfortunately, because of this, it is incredibly addictive and is widely abused, especially in the UK.
Having had taken Valium before and knowing of the dangers of Valium addiction, I chose not to use the Valium to help with the withdrawal, or at all for the following few months – I wanted to do this all 100% sober and by myself.
Nowadays, I take Valium as infrequently as possible, when I am physically and mentally exhausted, but my brain is still too active to sleep.
Alcohol withdrawal is something that I had experienced many times before and so I wasnt particularly concerned. It involves 4-5 days of sickness, sweating, “the shakes”, loss of appetite, extreme anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, the feeling of impending doom, panic attacks, insomnia – coupled with nightmares which are incredibly realistic – the feeling of your skin crawling which lasts for days as well as hearing voices and sounds that aren’t there. Some people get visual hallucinations – but this never happened to me.
Interestingly alcohol withdrawal is actually one of the most dangerous withdrawals out of any recreational drug and can cause seizures and death in those who have been consistently drinking for a long period of time. For more information about Alcohol Withdrawal you can click here
Recovering From Alcoholism
During the following weeks as I was recovering from Alcoholism and the withdrawal, I had moved out of my flat and quit my job, and was crashing with my good friend M, (who conveniently didnt drink either – just because she didnt like it). I started spending time by myself, keeping occupied, doing a lot of exercise, reading a lot and also exploring the city by myself.
It was actually amazing to walk around places I had been millions of times and actually see them through sober eyes. I felt like I was in a new city and felt like a child in a candy shop.
I started thinking how ridiculous it was that I had done almost NOTHING sober. Either I had been drunk, at work, or at home – miserable and recovering.
The False Confidence that Alcohol Gives you
At first, I had distanced myself from my friends – not for fear of being tempted but simply because I wanted time to think and be by myself, but after a while I started to hang out with people again and started challenging myself to do all the things I used to do drunk – sober.
This included: going on a few dates sober, and getting up at an open mic night and doing a song with M – which went TERRIBLE and was very embarrassing, but afterwards I felt great.
I experienced the confidence within myself, which weirdly I realised I thought that alcohol gave me.
This was such a crazy realisation as confidence is not something that I lack or have ever lacked – yet I thought I COULD NOT do things without alcohol. I am not dull, I do not lack confidence and I do not lack a personality. Why does alcohol give us a false confidence?
I Need To Drink Alcohol To Enjoy Myself
Society tells us that we NEED alcohol to enjoy ourselves. It is always, “hey we should grab a beer some time”, and the majority of people wouldn’t enter a bar without drinking some alcohol.
We are told we HAVE to drink wine with dinner, drink beer with a barbeque, do Jager bombs at the weekend but it’s all bullshit. If you like the taste, then great – go for it – but stop and think to yourself “would I be doing this if it didnt have alcohol in it, and it didn’t have some sort of grip over me?
Would I spend more money on a bottle of wine in a restaurant than the whole meal costs if it was alcohol free? Would I spend 100 GBP/EUR on a night out on ANYTHING that wasn´t alcohol or cocaine?
Getting Wasted Is Weird
I soon started to realise that people don’t think you are weird for not drinking, people think you are weird for being wasted all the time. I was always concerned that being the “drinker” and the “party guy” was my persona and that this was my role.
I soon realised how many of my friends had never even met me when I was sober, and I started feeling embarrassed that people thought that drunk me was my only personality.
Leaving Behind Drunk Conor
After re-connecting with my friends and spending time with people sober, I realised that people didn’t want me to be the drunk, and the party guy, and that when I was wasted I was just a useless, retarded, zombie.
I realised how many people cared about me and had tried to help, and how I was completely oblivious to it all – so to all those people I thank you for your support which I was blind to.
From then until now I have drunk alcohol on I think 5 occasions with the use of Naltrexone and only when on holiday. But these experiences just solidified my decision to not drink anymore.
It has now been about 9 months since I have drunk anything, and I have absolutely no desire to drink again.
I go out more than I used to, have more true friendships than before, manage to make it to pay day with money in the bank and am infinitely more happy than I was before.
Be Honest With Yourself
I urge you to be honest with yourself and think about your pattern of drinking:
- Do the positives outweigh the negatives?
- What even are the positives?
- When was the last time you went out somewhere without drinking?
- Do you wake up in the morning with “The Fear” and regrets?
- Does it ruin the first couple of days of your week EVERY week?
- Do you think to yourself “I could never do that sober”?
Spend Some Time Sober
Why not try and spend some time sober? Could you last a month sober? Don’t do Dry January as this is a cop out. This “social media fad” makes me angry – as do most stupid fads.
It doesn’t help or teach people anything. During January my social life went out the window, as people who were trying to do Dry January just stayed in and hibernated. Bars were all at a fraction of the capacity and everyone was bored and miserable.
This is a pointless exercise. All it does it make people hate being sober and count down the minutes until February arrives so they can go back to getting smashed again.
Challenge Yourself Spend Some Time Sober.
Spend some time sober but don´t change any other aspect of your life. Go to the places you usually go, do the things you usually do. Use the extra hours that you gain from not laying in bed hungover to learn something, or explore and watch how your happiness levels skyrocket.
We All Know Someone With An Alcohol Addiction
I wrote a Facebook status about 6 months ago when I went back to England for a visit, explaining that I had an alcohol addiction and that I had quit drinking, and was actually really embarrassed writing it.
For some unknown reason I expected people to make fun of me? The response I received was so overwhelming and was a key motivator to start using my experience to try and help as many people as possible. Since then a lot of people have contacted me or spoken to me asking for advice about alcohol addiction – or just out of curiosity – and I know a lot of people who are really struggling with alcoholism.
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Please share this post as much as possible on all your social media sites as we all know plenty of people that are struggling with alcohol addiction, but who probably feel hopeless. I want this to reach as many people as possible and for people to realise it is doable.
Comments, criticisms, questions and suggestions are requested as always!!
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