Reformed addict tells of his life as an alcoholic
It’s Been two years since a drop of alcohol last passed Neil Kimberlin’s lips.
But despite his teetotal lifestyle the 58-year-old openly admits he is still is, and always will be, an alcoholic.
At the height of his addiction Neil downed a whole litre of whisky every single day as well as drinking 14 pints of beer.
That adds up to an astonishing 68 units of alcohol each day – 17 times the recommended limit.
Amazingly Neil is able to speak quite candidly about the depths to which his drinking disorder plunged him.
“I knew at the time I was an alcoholic because having had one drink, I couldn’t do without another,” he recalls.
“It wasn’t just that I wanted another drink, I couldn’t function without a second.
“And after that one I needed another. I had to keep it going.”
To look at Neil now you would never guess he was an alcoholic.
He turns up for our interview in a freshly ironed shirt and tie, a chic leather jacket and a jet black trilby hat.
If he chose to shy away from his past and keep it a closely guarded secret he would have no trouble in doing so.
But instead he has chosen to share his story as a message of hope for other alcoholics and a warning about the dangers of drink.
Alcohol has been ever present in Neil’s life.
He had his first drink when he was just 18 months – a tot of rum given to him by his London grandparents.
At the age of 17 he began drinking regularly, frequently notching up six pints during a leisurely evening at the pub.
Even his job revolved around alcohol as he ran his own business cleaning pubs.
But it wasn’t until 1998 that Neil “crossed the line” and became an alcoholic.
“I had always liked beers and ales but the amount I drank increased fairly gradually until I reached the tipping point,” he admits.
“I would get up in the morning and have a whisky before I even went to the bathroom. Then I would have another before I went to work.
“Because I started at about 3.30am I would walk into the pub and find the landlord out of his head so I would sit there for the first hour drinking with him.”
Neil’s body became so used to the enormous amounts of alcohol he was ingesting that he stopped suffering from hangovers.
Instead he was plagued by withdrawal symptoms when he stopped drinking.
Neil pauses as he tries to recall them – memory loss is a lasting legacy of his drinking days.
“I definitely had cravings for alcohol and I got the usual withdrawal symptoms,” he says.
“I’d have the shakes, I would get a bit fuzzy and I would get nausea, especially when I cleaned my teeth. It was just generally uncomfortable.”
But gradually it became apparent that Neil’s dangerous drinking was taking a far heavier toll on his health.
He began suffering from jaundice, short term memory loss and his aching liver caused his side to throb with pain.
He also believes his drinking habits are at least partly responsible for him developing type-2 diabetes and his inability to walk the same long distances that he used to.
At that point Neil released it was time he tackled his addiction. But he had no idea what would happen to him when he tried to stop drinking.
Within six hours of his last drink he was rushed to hospital after suffering a “terrifying” withdrawal fit.
While waiting for medical attention he suffered another spasm.
“It was incredibly frightening,” Neil recalls.
“I didn’t know where I was or who all the strangers around me were. Apparently I was ready to knock seven bells out of them.”
After that haunting experience Neil tried to kick his habit several times with proper medical support.
He attended sessions with his GP, the CAS alcohol support service and even checked into rehab in nearby Warwick.
But he kept up falling off the wagon and landed back at the bottom of a bottle of scotch.
“I would wake up in hospital and I wouldn’t know who I was, how old I was, where I was from or why I was there,” he admits.
“One time they told I would only last a few more days if I carried on the way I was going.
“It put my relationship with my partner under tremendous strain. She kept telling me I needed to cut down but I thought she was just nagging me and we would have dreadful arguments.
“But thankfully she stuck by me – I wouldn’t be alive today if it wasn’t for her.”
Giving up alcohol cost Neil many friends and forced him to alter his lifestyle – he can no longer bear going into pubs.
But it has saved his life. It has also saved his liver and Neil may no longer need the transplant which seemed inevitable when he first kicked the habit, although his years of drinking have taken a lasting toll on his health.
source: Coventry Telegraph