The Tipping Point

In dealing with an addiction there comes a tipping point. A moment in time when something that was once a pleasure becomes a suffocating burden. It is at this crucial juncture that brave decisions have to be made. The first step towards recovery is the hardest, admitting you have a serious problem is never easy. Alcoholics are often living in a world of denial or blame binges on extraneous factors; there is often an abdication of responsibility. Looking in the mirror and not liking what you see is incredibly painful but it is essential if you want to face up to reality and get your life back on track. A harsh truth is that we sometimes have to hit rock-bottom before we can spring upwards, break the surface, and learn to embrace a calmer life.

Everyone's tipping point is deeply personal and individual. My own cathartic experience took place in the unlikely setting of a Morrison's supermarket car park. I'd finished shopping and returned to my car which I'd deliberately parked miles from anyone else in a secluded corner. I sat in the drivers seat with three miniature bottles of red wine in my hand and drank them in rapid succession, gazing furtively around, one arm held up to stop anyone potentially seeing me. I recall looking in the rear view mirror and seeing a red line at the corner of my mouth as if I'd punctured my lung. At that point I felt a complete absence of self, I was like a burnt out hollow tree. I realized I'd given up caring about myself and also, crucially, given up caring about what others may have thought about me. In that fleeting moment I glimpsed the harsh reality of my future if I continued on the path to self-destruction: loss of job, failed relationships, family disintegration, ill-health or worse. What had been fun; the drink to take the edge off my shyness, the wild partying, was now slowly killing me.

A few weeks later I made the choice to give up alcohol. It wasn't easy as I misleadingly felt that it was drink that defined me, made me wild, windswept and interesting. I had to find new ways to occupy my time to replace endless hours propping up bars in East End pubs. I had to rebuild relationships and learn to like myself again. I had to confront the issues that the alcohol had been masking. With time, I gradually picked up the jigsaw pieces of my life and reconnected them. Nine years down the line, they are still intact.

So, life is about choices and recognizing when you have to make them. Remember, you are not alone. If you have similar problems to the ones I have described, please talk to someone you trust or get in touch with me. I'd be glad to help.