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My endless battle with the bottle

Mike (not his real name) started drinking as a teen and found himself drawn into alcoholism.

“I started drinking when I was about 15 or 16, but it wasn’t a regular occurrence,” he said.

“At university it became more regular, but I didn’t think I had an alcohol problem, and at that point I was able to regulate my drinking. Being a student I didn’t have the funds to drink all the time.”

The 38-year-old, who is from the Cardiff area added that he was a binge drinker, regularly drinking up to nine pints three or four times a week, sometimes having 10 or 12 pints a day.

But what fuelled his alcoholism, was the addiction to the way drink made him feel.

“I became more confident and relaxed, I liked the effect it had on me,” he said. “But it caused problematic behaviour – I often got involved in inappropriate sexual situations.

“When I did go to look for help, it was difficult because I didn’t meet the expected pattern of an alcoholic.

“People imagine alcoholics to be someone who hides bottles of vodka or a down-and-out drinking in the park. I was successful in university, I had a good job.

“But the weekends just got longer and longer, they started on a Thursday night and ended on Sundays. But it seemed the world around me was doing the same thing, so I couldn’t have a problem.”

Mike found he was not able to control his drinking once he had started.

“Once I started drinking it was out of my hands,” he said.

“I would never go anywhere if I had to drive, because I couldn’t have a drink. The thought of going to a wedding or a party without drinking, I couldn’t comprehend.”

The recovery for Mike began five years ago when he decided to go to Alcoholics Anonymous after other attempts to solve his addiction failed.

“I thought I was using alcohol to have a good time, like everyone around me.

“But during this time, I had relationships break down, I had an inability to settle in one place. All these problems were down to alcohol.”

Mike is now well on the road to recovery, with a new relationship blossoming and success in his work, but he said that his alcohol problem will always be part of his life.

“I will never, ever be able to drink alcohol again. It’s an illness that I have to manage, and I do that by following the AA’s advice,” he said.

“As a non-drinker it can be very difficult to fit into society – if you don’t drink people think you are a bit of a weirdo.

“But people think that they are drinking to have a good time, but it’s a false good time.

“As alcohol is so commonplace in society, people don’t see it as a drug.

“And it’s the most dangerous drug in our society.”

source: Wales On Sunday

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