I was in the military and when I left service I moved into a job and a home with my partner and daughter. After a year or so, I lost my job. My wife and I began fighting and I started drinking. They tell me it’s PTSD from being in service, but that doesn’t change things much. My life became unmanageable. I ended up losing contact with my partner and my daughter. I was getting more and more isolated, withdrawing into myself and I suppose I saw drinking as a way out from my problems, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Realising the need for addiction treatment

Within a 6 month period, I was hospitalised 5 or 6 times for excessive alcohol consumption. I knew the time before the last time I was hospitalised that I needed to do something about my drinking, and I was offered a place in rehab, but I turned it down. I guess I wasn’t ready to face myself. A week later though, I was back in hospital for the same reason and I begged to come here so I could do something about my addiction.

My journey through rehab

Rehab, living at the Therapeutic Community was hard. A lot of people go into treatment with the illusion that it will be easy, but it’s not. You have to be prepared to laugh, and to cry and to go places that you don’t really want to go inside yourself. It’s not easy, but it is very worthwhile. You understand yourself a lot more after treatment and how you can build your resilience so you don’t return to that negative, addictive behaviour. The programme helps you make yourself more clear with your thinking, and aware of your pitfalls and the danger signs that could lead you back to addiction, so you don’t end up back down the same path.

The most difficult part of treatment for me was receiving a letter from my daughter, which I had to read to the group here. She told me in it how I had affected her life, that was probably the hardest thing I had ever done. That and learning to live as a group again, after being in the forces and then falling into drink and becoming isolated, has been one of the hardest yet most valuable lessons I have taken from my treatment. Having to live with other people again, be part of a community, part of a group, has been quite difficult and challenging, but so worthwhile.

Over the course of my treatment, I came to a realisation that I couldn’t have another drink – ever. And I was, and still am, OK with that. I know I will need support for a while longer, and I’ll be able to contact the treatment centre for advice and support. I’m living in one of the move-on houses that Freedom provides, so I have support from the other residents there too. The main thing we learn in treatment is the ability to ask for help. Once that is given back, you can utilise it and are more able to ask for help, not only that, you’re more able to give help to others too.

Looking towards a positive future

I’ve begun looking to the future positively now. I’m volunteering to gain work experience and get back into that kind of work routine and I am looking into study to become an adult social worker, or a peer support worker for other veterans who’ve trodden the same path that I did.

I still go to AA meetings to maintain my recovery and I know there is plenty of support out there; it is just a matter of me seeking it out and taking it. The groups, the support, it’s maintenance, it’s the same as a cardiac patient or an asthmatic, you have to keep up the maintenance or the steps of the programme you have put in place to keep healthy. Instead of the drink or the drugs, the steps you have put in place become your medicine and you have to maintain that.

If I hadn’t have come here I’d definitely be dead by now. Addiction does that to you, whatever it is that you are addicted to becomes more important than your own life. I have learnt so much at the Therapeutic Community, about myself and my illness, about supporting myself and others. It shows you can teach an old dog new tricks!

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