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Quaker faith helps alcoholic to quit drinking

A recovered alcoholic from Maldon said he has his Quaker faith to thank for helping him stay alive.

Anthony told BBC Essex’s Ian Wyatt he started to drink when he was 20, shortly after joining the Air Force.

Having had a religious upbringing as a Pentecostalist, he had never previously drank or smoked.

After 25 years of addiction Anthony attempted to take his own life at which time he sought help from Alcoholics Anonymous and the Quaker church.

Drink, claimed Anthony – not his real name – had an awful impact on most aspects of his life, including his work.

“I drank uncontrollably from the start, and it got out of control very early on. I used to lose count, after about the first four or five,” he said.

“I was a passenger at work… for a long time,” he added.

He worked as a journalist in Fleet Street, where there was a very heavy drinking culture at the time.

But after a terrible binge, when he “disgraced’ himself” after going “completely haywire,” his editor told him it “couldn’t go on, it was an embarrassment,” and asked what he should tell his work colleagues.

Anthony replied: “Tell them I’m an alcoholic.”

Despair

Drink also caused absolute devastation to his family.

Anthony described how he was so wrapped up in himself he did not realise the damage it was doing to his wife and children.

He said: “People call us selfish, but the compulsion is so powerful I felt I had no choice over it and couldn’t stop.”

Anthony explained that, towards the end, alcohol was a “dreadful, dreadful curse” and tried all he knew not to be a drunk, but could not manage it.

In the end Anthony reached a state of absolute despair and tried to kill himself with a massive overdose.

He was taken to hospital and it was whilst he was there a psychiatrist suggested he join AA.

Anthony said: “I knew that if I drank again I would most certainly die and I was frightened of dying.”

When he was at rock bottom Anthony had given up on religion and by the time he joined Alcoholics Anonymous he was a “very surly, suspicious agnostic – whether there was a God seemed completely irrelevant to me.”

Through AA however he found another path.

“AA meetings are held in all sorts of places,” he said.

“Clinics, prisons, and lots of churches. The particular group that I joined in 1984 in Hertfordshire was in a Quaker Meeting House.

“In there was a poster on the notice board which said ‘a silent meeting for worship can be a quiet process of healing and a journey of discovery.’

“It intrigued me and so I began attending. I liked the fact I was accepted for who I was.”

Anthony has not touched alcohol since August 1984.

“I still have to do things today to maintain the sobriety – and part of that is leading a spiritual way of life. Prayer and meditation, and attending Quaker meetings.”

source: BBC News

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