I contacted Dave in February 2014 after finding his “A2R” program online. I was 32 and I had been for a consultation at The Priory in Autumn 2013 to talk about my issues with alcohol, cocaine and diazepam. Although I knew my drinking and drugging was out of control and had been for years I was surprised to be informed that I needed immediate inpatient treatment to treat my addiction to these substances. As I was in full time paid employment as a Manager within a sales organistation this simply was not an option, both in terms of putting my career on hold or from a financial perspective.
The main factor in looking for help was my increasing health issues. For the 4-5 years leading up to this point I was hospitalised on average twice a year with acute pancreatitis – something I was told would eventually be fatal. I would generally be kept in hospital for 4-5 days on a drip with heavy painkillers such as morphine for the intense pain. I was also showing signs of abnormal liver function. As well as the health problems, I had suffered from what I now know is social anxiety ever seen I was a child. I had a couple of very expensive CBT sessions in 2011 or 2012 in an attempt to cure this with a counsellor who had a lot of credentials and had been on national TV but this was completely ineffective. I had self-medicated against this anxiety with alcohol for all of my adult life. I completely avoided any social situation where it would not be possible or acceptable for me to drink alcohol. At 32 my life had become extremely small – I had no real personal relationships in my life because I hadn’t cultivated any sober relationships with friends since college. It was also impossible for me to be in a romantic relationship because doing so made it impossible for me to avoid the social situations I simply could not face – I had tried and it did not work. I was also very unhappy in work – I worked extremely long hours for a company with a very toxic culture of bullying. Although I earned a good wage I was stuck in a cycle of earning regular commissions, all of which and more I was spending on drugs and alcohol, whilst steadily getting into more debt. The inability to be around people when sober was getting worse and I felt completely hopeless about my future. Here are some of the things I could not do without drink and drugs when I started therapy:
– Get my hair cut
– Go shopping for clothes
– Attend lectures when at uni
– Go into my local town centre (in case I bumped into someone I knew)
– Go to the gym
– Attend client meetings at work
– Attend football matches
– Answer the door at home
– Answer the phone to anyone except close family
– Visit my extended family or attend a family gathering
Aside from going to work I was basically a prisoner in my own home unless I had drugs or alcohol. I only mixed with heavy drinkers and drug takers and spent virtually every weekend from Fri-Sun for 14 years drunk and on drugs. I did this in a mixture of bars, pubs, clubs and at peoples houses who drank like me. I would quite often get into verbal fights with people and getting arrested for being drunk and disorderly and on a couple of occasions assault was a fairly frequent occurrence. I had also been banned for drink driving.
By 32 I was desperate. I now know that I was drinking and taking drugs because I could not stand to be sober for any sustained period of time because living inside my own head was too unpleasant and drinking gave me instant relief.
I grew up in quite a “laddish” environment and men were not supposed to talk about their feelings. The thought of going to a counsellor and talking about this absolutely terrified and bewildered me. However I knew I had to do it – I knew that if I carried on doing what I was doing I was going to become more and more unhappy and my future couldn’t seem any more bleak.
Through the A2R program I have now been completely drink and drug free for over 18 months and the thought of “needing” a drink hasn’t crossed my mind for nearly 15 months. I have changed jobs and now work for a very healthy company, earn more money and from being unable to attend one client meeting without diazepam I have been on 2 x two week sales trips to 3 different countries attending 5 meetings a day and performing well sober. I will be debt free within the next 3 months. I regularly attend the gym – both with a personal trainer and in group classes. My health is great and I haven’t been into hospital since I first met Dave. I regularly attend football matches sober and I attend local 12 step recovery meetings which I have found very helpful in confronting my social anxiety.
I have only been able to achieve this by putting into practice what Dave has taught me and utilising his close support throughout this period. The level of support has ranged from 7.5 hours per week (a mixture of phone and face-to-face sessions) which I have gradually reduced over time as my issues and life has improved. I now speak with him once a week on the phone. Dave’s approach to counselling is very patient, calm, tactile and empathic. One of the key reasons I chose him was that as well as the huge amount of professional experience he has in this field he has also been through a similar process personally. This was very important for me as I had tried the services of another counsellor and some local authority help and I found them both to be clueless. The general process Dave has taken me through is to help me understand myself much better. Through his careful questioning and teaching I have become more aware of my thoughts (both conscious and unconscious), feelings and emotional states and in turn started to questions a lot of my automatic behaviours and beliefs I have held about myself and others. Through working through these I no longer feel the need to ‘exit’ my life temporarily for some relief and respite by drinking and drugging.
I am still working through a lot of my issues and there is plenty of work to do in confronting and working through some of my core issues around social anxiety which is fuelled by shame but the only reason I can do this is because of the successful recovery from addiction via the A2R program. I cannot recommend this service or Dave highly enough if you want to overcome your addiction issues.