When I was drinking I loathed myself. Now, I am very proud of the person I´ve become.

“Then I cried and cried and contemplated ending my life – but realised I didn’t have the courage or the means to do it. If I’d had a gun in the car, I would have probably used it on myself.

“That was one rock bottom I had that was caused by my drinking and the way I lived then, but there were several others – including watching my girlfriend and mother cry because they didn’t know what to do and their love for me didn’t seem to be enough to stop me doing what I was doing to myself.”

It’s frequently unfathomable like this
to people who care about someone drinking too much. But likewise as Andrew explains, the person drinking often doesn’t know why they do it, or continue despite vowing never to touch another drop.

“I always made excuses before about stopping and I blamed everyone else, especially those closest to me. I thought I was going crazy as I really didn’t want to go out on another bender, but found myself doing it over and over again anyway.

“I would often come in to the of ce
with virtually no sleep, and sit at my
desk physically ill from the binge, hands shaking, avoiding eye contact with my colleagues, hoping that if I kept to myself long enough no one would notice...”

Growing up, Andrew had seen his parents drink especially at parties they had hosted. He’d also experienced rage and

constant criticism, particularly from his father. Andrew started drinking aged 11 – “to escape my life and change the way
I felt”. Aged 18, he also used illegal drugsfor the rst time, starting with marijuana,then ecstasy, ketamine, psychedelicmushrooms, opiates, and nally lots ofcocaine. He realises now that as he got older he also used relationships, sex, eating and work in the same manner.

“My aunt was the rst person who showedconcern about my drinking when I was just 18,” says Andrew, now settled on the Costa del Sol near Marbella. “I brushed that off as nonsense. But looking back on my drinking and drugging career, it was always a problem almost as far back as

I can remember: the only real thing that I consistently looked forward to was the next bender.

“However, I only realised it was a problem much later in life, aged 34: I’d met someone and didn’t want ‘that life’
any longer, but found myself – despite my own will – going back to it over and over again with increasingly worsening consequences to myself and people around me.

“After probably hundreds of successive unsuccessful attempts to control my drinking, a few violent incidents, a relationship that was falling apart, at riskof being red professionally for regulartardiness and poor results, deeply in debt, the tears of my mother and concern ofall my family, I nally agreed to speak tosomeone about it.”

He saw three therapists, without any result. Then someone introduced him to a member
of Alcoholics

Anonymous (AA).

“At my rst AA meeting I was surprised athow many people there were, and how ‘normal’ they were. I had no idea what
it was going to be like, but I went only because one of the people I met prior togoing to my rst meeting suggested it was ‘just information’ that I would nd there. Iliked that idea.

“I was also surprised at how welcoming and non-judgemental people were. It gave me a place where I could breathe, a place where I felt safe and loved.

“Now I’ve been free from alcohol and
all mind-altering substances since June 2012. I also realised I had to stop any other behaviours that I’d used to change the way I felt – if not, it wouldn’t be long before I drank or used drugs again.

“The 12 Steps we do in AA are an amazing path for coping with life and learning to have a happy life, sober. In fact, I would rather be a sober alcoholic with the 12 Steps, than be a non- alcoholic drinker without them as they have profoundly changed my life and the way I look at the world.

“When I was drinking I loathed myself.Life’s in nitely better now, and I am veryproud of the person I’ve become.”

Andrew’s message to someone who might be struggling with alcohol is a clear: “Ask for help by calling the AA Helpline, or reach out to someone who you’ve heard goes to AA and is sober, go to a meeting, and keep going to meetings.Things will de nitely get better if you dothose things.”


Jane is a 53-year-old full-time mother of children aged 16 and 11, who has an “unbelievable” life living close to Marbella. But it wasn’t always that way - far from it... Here she tells her amazing

,, story.
There was always drinking in my family,

my dad was a mentally abusive alcoholic. There was constant rage and criticism towards both me and my sister. It was horrific.

Then I discovered at the age of 11
that booze blotted out my fears and the loathing I developed due to the continual criticism. So I thought it was fun to sneak into pubs and drink a bit... A year later I started to use cannabis too. As well, I always tried to change the way I felt with relationships,

which were almost always extremely abusive ones. Looking back, the only relationship I’d known was like this, because I learned about relationships from what I saw behind the closed doors of my family home.

My drinking had already become a problem by the end of my teenage years. I think everyone must have known. But I just couldn’t stop and stay stopped. Another decade later and it was extremely noticeable. Even so, I carried on drinking too much too often for another five years.

Then aged 35, I realised I really needed help – I simply couldn’t control my
behaviour after the first

drink. But even though I knew this I couldn’t

How I went from DRINKING EVERY DAY and being too TERRIFIED to leave MY HOUSE to having a LIFE beyond my Wildest Dreams

stop myself from taking that first drink. I suppose I’d convince myself that each time it would be different. It was always the same though.

So I’d wake up ashamed at what I’d done or said while drinking – and full of such huge remorse that yet again I’d been powerless over my drinking.

My rock bottom was when I was living in Holland. All I did was stay in the house. I lived there for a year and
was too terrified to go further than the corner shop – and that was

only to buy drink. I had no life.
I was in an extremely horrible relationship then. The man
I was with had other women. So I just drank and took drugs alone. I could see no hope and no way out. Then a friend of mine mentioned Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). I had what I now know is called the “gift of desperation” and so I went to my first meeting. Although I didn’t get it immediately

to stay sober, many things that were shared there at the meetings by other people who’d once drank like me but who now had their lives back on track

– and, in fact, even better lives than they’d ever known –

sunk in.

I kept hearing

people at the

meetings say they had
a “life

beyond their wildest dreams”. I wanted what they had, I so wanted that.

Very quickly I found that the more
I went to the AA meetings and the more people there that I got to know, the more I loved AA. I loved how the people at the meetings made me feel like I was the most important person in the room. The meetings were so much better than I expected.

Now I’ve been clean and sober since January 2002. To stay sober I still go to meetings, and a large part of this is that I can now be one of the people who helps some of the people who come to their first meetings, in the same desperate state that I was

in. Doing this helps me stay sober because it feels fantastic to help. As I did when I first went, people can really relate to someone who’s actually been where they are.

I came from an extremely abusive and unhappy childhood, but thanks to AA my life is unbelievably happy now, one that’s filled with love and laughter. I have two beautiful confident loving daughters, who thank God have never seen me drink.

I am also so lucky that I have a considerate loving husband and we hear each other.

My advice to someone struggling with alcohol is please just speak to another alcoholic who’s in AA. Call the helpline number and try some meetings, and see what happens.”