This week's Sober Story comes from Richard, a 55-year-old living in Gloucester, England.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Richard: I've been sober since July 23rd, 2003. So almost 18 years.
Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Richard: My last weeks of drinking were pretty brutal. I was drinking to try and stop the withdrawals. I went on a 2-week bender whereby I didn't eat and didn't go to work.
Mrs D: Sounds pretty brutal indeed. What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Richard: I got sober when the alcohol stopped working and left me even more scared than ever. It wasn't stopping the withdrawals.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Richard: The most difficult thing in early sobriety was learning to live with anxiety and paranoia without the crutch of alcohol.
Mrs D: I think a lot of people find this is the case. What about your friends and family... what reaction did you get from them when you quit?
Richard: Some good support from family but basically I was on my own.
Mrs D: Have you ever relapsed?
Richard: No I have never had a relapse.
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically? How did you find socialising sober?
Richard: It took me 2 years to feel at ease with myself. I find socialising sober surprisingly easy especially with a couple of alcohol-free friends.
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Richard: I was surprised to grieve at my parents divorce which was over 20 years before I got sober.
Mrs D: That's exactly what happened to me!! How did your life change without the drink in it?
Richard: I lived in a bedsit all alone when I drank. Today I live with my wife and two children and a nice house. I am dependable at work and so much happier.
Mrs D: That's so fantastic to hear, I'm really happy for you. Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Richard: I would have got sober earlier.
Mrs D: Any advice or tips for those who are just starting on this journey?
Richard: Make sobriety your number 1 priority. Do not drink whatever excuses crop up. Get outside help (I went to AA for 8 yrs). Be true to yourself and don't give in to peer pressure in this booze soaked culture.
I found the sense of bereavement over my Mum’s death three years ago is right back with me (it’s early days for me) More clearly than when I was at her bedside. No more obliterating it with booze and If , God forbid, I lose anyone else I am determined I would not use it as an excuse to backslide. Thanks Richard and ongoing good luck to you and your family.
Great story, Richard, thanks. What stands out to me is the 18 years with no relapse, coming out of rather deep alcoholism. And more than that, the advice. I think the advice is about perfect.
Congratulations Richard! Thanks for your story.
Thanks for sharing Richard – I love your advice to make sobriety your number one priority and not drink regardless of what excuses come up. I love this – no matter how bad my day is, so long as I haven’t drunk alcohol that’s a win! Congratulations on 18 years sober – what an amazing achievement.
Wow that is great inspiration hearing about where you are know, so well done saying goodbye to booze and living a great life, thx for sharing