It’s tempting to think that the recovering process finishes when you finish rehabilitation, but the truth is that addiction is a lifelong disease that requires careful management even when you’ve been sober. The good news is that the same support structures that helped you kick the habit remain in place. Jake’s story of overcoming his alcohol addiction is one of many that can serve as inspiration for those in rehab and those who’ve finished.
In my teens, I was always quite fond of more than a few cans with my mates. I’m a big lad and always looked older than my age so buying beer or cider wasn’t a problem for me. We would even bring them back to our flat because my mum would often join us while we drank. I was very close with my mum and all my mates thought she was the coolest because she let us drink with her.
When my mum died in a fatal car crash, I lost my motivation for most things. University became meaningless and I couldn’t be bothered going to work. The only thing that helped me cope was going out with my mates. Didn’t matter where or when, if someone was up for a night out or a house party I’d be straight there.
It wasn’t that bad at first. We’d go out on the weekends and I would be the last one standing because I didn’t want to go home to an empty flat. It started to get worse pretty quickly from there. The partying would start on Thursdays and since we had most of Friday off from uni, we figured we could get smashed the night before with no bother. Then the nights out would start on Wednesday. Next thing, it was almost every night of the week.
All the clubbing was making me skint, so one day, I thought I’d cut out the middleman.
The off-licence became my local. I would get the big bottles of cider because I wasn’t working and it was the cheapest way to get drunk. There was no-one in the house to tell me to stop or get up off the sofa, so I didn’t. I’d just sit there, drinking the days away. My studies suffered and my relationship with my girlfriend got so bad that we split up.
After I’d missed a few weeks’ worth of university, my friends staged an intervention. One day I got a text to meet at a mate’s house. When I arrived, everyone was there including someone I didn’t know, who I later found out was a counsellor for Port of Call.
At first, I was furious and felt betrayed and embarrassed by the set up. But I listened as everyone described how my drinking was impacting our friendship and my life was in a downward spiral. I knew everything they said was true, and after a few hours, I agreed that I needed help.
Everything happened quickly after that. Port of Call oversaw the entire process, they found a local rehab centre near me and handled all the nitty-gritty. I spent just under two months in treatment and every day was structured with sessions and therapy but never to the point where I was uncomfortable. They took really good care of me and I left ready to start my sober life.
At the time, I didn’t know about the aftercare programme. I had always thought that people who finished rehab were done with it for life. You go in, get sorted and come out a new man. The professionals there told me differently though. They said that addiction was something that had to be managed to reduce the chances of a relapse.
To be honest I didn’t expect the return to ‘normal life’ to be as difficult as it was. At first, I was afraid that I’d slip back into old habits. I was still on my own and I knew that all it would take was one moment of weakness.
But I wasn’t as alone as I thought. Port of Call stayed in contact with me after I completed rehab and guided us through the aftercare options available to me. After a lengthy discussion, we decided that the best course of action was for me to go to regular counselling sessions.
They gave me a lot of advice on how to cope with any stress or risky situations I could find myself in. They told me to find new hobbies and activities that were completely drug-free to help keep myself busy in the first few months. I joined a local fitness group made up of recovering alcoholics. That way I would be staying away from any booze, meet people who had gone through similar experiences to me and kept myself in shape as an added bonus.
The most difficult thing was cutting out people who could be bad influences on me or potentially lead me to a relapse. There weren’t many, but when I had a proper look at my friends and social circle, I found that a few didn’t take the issue as seriously as they should’ve. Some made jokes about how I was boring now or other little comments that they thought wouldn’t matter. However, I knew that these people, while not intentionally, were trivialising my condition. If I continued to see them and encourage that behaviour, it’d only get worse and I wasn’t going to take any chances with something so important.
While the rehab only took a couple of months, I was in aftercare counselling for nearly two years. It was obviously nowhere near as intense as the rehabilitation process but having that commitment to seeing someone about my problem regularly kept me focused on my goal. Without aftercare, I’m not sure I would have managed to stay sober.
The experience though gave me a newfound motivation in life. I’m now currently in full-time employment, have friends both old and new who really care about me. I also made things up with my girlfriend and we’ve now been together for nearly four years.
Port of Call has helped me massively right from the intervention to rehab and then aftercare. Without their continued support, I wouldn’t have been able to kick my habit and I will always be grateful to them for helping me get my life back on track.
Disclaimer: Names and certain details have been changed to protect the identity of case study participants.
If you are concerned about your own or a loved one’s relationship with drugs and alcohol, get in touch with Port of Call on 08000029010. In addition, we recommend taking a look around our website to find an alcohol rehab near you.
Martin is our Founder and Chief Executive. Martin is himself in long term recovery and started Port of Call to help families navigate treatment options. In 2020 Martin will open Delamere Health Ltd, the UK’s first purpose built addiction treatment clinic.
We’re specialists in UK rehab options and can advise you on alcohol rehab in the North West, drug rehab in the North West and other addiction support services in the area.