Amanda, 34, from the North West of England, was a hard working store manager who dealt with the stresses of her high pressure job by ‘letting off steam’ in the bar with colleagues. What she couldn’t have expected though was that these binge drinking sessions would soon progress into a pattern of alcoholism that threatened her career. However, counselling sessions – at a private alcohol rehab centre, organised by Port of Call – proved to be her salvation.
After graduating from university I, like many of my friends, had no idea what I wanted to do for a career. I found myself applying for a role at a large multinational retail store as a junior. Gradually, I worked my way up to become a section manager and eventually a store manager. Although it had nothing to do with my Chemistry degree, I found that I really enjoyed the fast paced world of retail.
Of course, by the time I became store manager it didn’t escape me that I was one of the only women in my region to hold this position. It was very much a ‘boys club’, which didn’t bother me in the slightest seeing as I grew up with three older brothers. I knew how to handle myself and dole out the banter when necessary.
A big part of our team building was always letting off steam in a bar after work. All the managers would arrange to meet up at least several times a week and quite often on weekends too. I’d spent my life trying to emulate my brothers and join in with whatever they got up to with their friends. I think that mentality carried over to my drinking sessions with the managers. I didn’t just want to keep up, I wanted to be known as the female manager who could drink the men under the table.
It was fine for 12 months or so. But inevitably the effects of alcohol and our ‘work hard, play hard’ regime began to take their toll on me. My tolerance had reached the stage that I would easily drink way more than others every time we went out. I would have memory blackouts the next day and would regularly forget what we’d done the previous evening. Sometimes that was for the best, considering some of the stories my colleagues would recount.
Things came to a head when my regional manager pulled me aside one day and told me that some of my staff had complained about my conduct. It was basically an intervention and he told me, in no uncertain terms, that if I didn’t buck up my ideas that I would be facing disciplinary proceedings. I love my job. The thought of losing it snapped me back to reality and I resolved to get myself sober and sort my life out.
I already knew my family and friends were very concerned about me, and with the threat of losing my job, I contacted Port of Call and spoke to their adviser about my situation. They were really discreet and helpful, and organised treatment at a local private rehab centre for me beginning that week. I didn’t need to detox for particularly long, like a lot of other people do. But what was really useful was the counselling sessions, which were either one-to-one with a counsellor or as a group with other alcoholics like me.
Admitting that my lifestyle showed all the signs of alcoholism came as a surprise to me but also a relief. I knew my drinking habits were extreme but I don’t think I was aware of just how damaging they’d been to me, my family and my career until I talked them through out loud with the clinic’s brilliant staff. I’d been brought up in, and was working in, an environment where talking about your problems wasn’t the done thing. You just got on with it. That was a major part of the problem.
Thanks to Port of Call, and the amazing care that they were able to secure for me, I learned how to handle my urges and find better ways to cope with stress than drinking.
I’ve been sober for three months now. It’s still early days, and the temptation to drink is still there, but so far I have managed this well. I’ll go to the gym and I’m training for the Great North Run. It feels great to be healthier, fitter and happier. My career has never been better and it’s all thanks to Port of Call.
Disclaimer: Names and certain details have been changed to protect the identity of case study participants.
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