I started drinking cider at the age of 15. Almost instantly, I loved how alcohol made me feel. My shyness would disappear and I would feel like the life and soul of the party.
As I grew up, everyone drank alcohol but I felt like my drinking was different to that of my friends. For example, after a heavy weekend, my mates would be so hungover that they couldn't bear to touch another drink, however I would crave more alcohol and easily reach for another.
After a few years, I started to notice that I would get 'the shakes' and 'the DT's' (Delirium Tremens) if I didn't drink alcohol. I would therefore drink more to calm me down and alleviate the symptoms.
Before too long, I was on massive benders, drinking morning, noon and night to avoid any unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Food and work went out of the window and I knew I was in serious trouble.
My final bender was in July 2003. It resulted in severe paranoia, crippling anxiety and a depression like I'd never experienced before. It scared the life out of me.
Feeling at an all time low and unsure where to turn, I called the Samaritans and they kindly gave me the number for Alcoholics Anonymous.
In utter desperation to get well, I threw myself into meetings and using the invaluable advice to take one day at a time, the cravings eventually disappeared.
Since becoming sober, I have cleared all my debts accrued whilst drinking. I also met my long term partner and two fantastic sons aged 6 and 8! I am a season ticket holder at Bristol City Football Club and enjoy running, competing in triathlons and going to gigs.
People say that a sober life is boring but I think my life was far more dull when I was drinking. I love my life now.
Last week, my long term partner and I got married. We had a fantastic honeymoon in Dorset, followed by a family holiday in Devon and I enjoyed being present for every single second of it.
I have now been sober for 15 years and I rarely think about alcohol. I no longer attend AA meetings as feel happy and secure in my sobriety but am mindful not to become complacent and take each day slowly, one at a time.
Written by Rich 2018
Edited by Sober Fish