My Experience of Alcoholism and Other Addictions

My Experience of Alcoholism and Other Addictions

Alcohol and Other Addictions


I have been in touch with mental health problems, alcoholism and addiction with its consequences for most of my life.

My father struggled with anxiety and depression throughout his life. My Uncle died of alcoholism and I have a suspicion that their Mother was alcoholic- she always seemed to have a glass of whisky in her hand when I saw her. One of my brothers is an alcoholic and an addict and lastly I am an alcoholic and an addict (drugs, gambling, eating and more) who found recovery 5 ½ years ago.

There are many theories as to what causes people to become addicts or alcoholics. Some say that we have a genetic predisposition, some say that it is a learnt behaviour that is handed down through generations and others say that it is a choice that people make. All I know for certain is what I have experienced and what I have seen through my life.

I believe that the addicts and alcoholics who have been in my life have all been high achievers who – on the outside – were seemingly brimming with confidence and blessed with ability and intelligence. On the inside though it was a different story altogether. My brother, my dad, his brother and I were all suffering from a lack of self-belief and a constant fear that we were ‘not good enough’. This manifested itself in us all as anxiety, sometimes anger and depression once the anger turned inward on ourselves. The addict seeks a feeling of comfort that they can never quite get. Perhaps it is that feeling that they imagine they had when they first took a drug, gambled or drank.

My Father was the son of a school master and younger brother of a top sportsman whose career was cut short by the 2nd world war. He was never as clever or talented as his older brother and this affected his self-esteem. He became addicted to work. Although he helped set up Sussex University in the 60’s and became a respected historian around the world, throughout this time, he struggled with anxiety and depression and spent time in St Francis Asylum. As a Lecturer He was known for his temper and his mood swings too. He became addicted to Ativan (lorazepam) in the 1970’s and was unable to stop taking it. He was addicted to both ‘benzos’ and work.

His brother was an intelligent, highly talented cricketer and rugby player who was due to play for the Barbarians when the war broke out. His career was – as he put it – cut short by Hitler. He became a pilot who flew reconnaissance missions behind enemy line at low level in a solo aircraft. It seemed that Uncle Bob liked a thrill. He died prematurely as an alcoholic, having never got over the loss of his fast moving career. He could never find the affirmations from outside that he craved so much and inside he was unable to value himself. The oldest son had been overtaken academically by his little brother and that was also difficult to take.

My brother, 2nd of 5 children always struggled to be recognised because his older brother was bright and hard working. His Dad was in and out of Depression and was extremely critical. He discovered drink and drugs early on and having gone to University set about building a high flying career. He drank more and more until he had a nervous breakdown in the late 1990’s. Once his career was over, he had to piece his life together somehow. Alcohol took hold more and more and as his wife left, his self-belief dropped lower and lower. His denial was so deep that it took another 20 years until he admitted he could not stop drinking and taking drugs. I am proud to say that he was one of the people that I have helped to find recovery about 4 years ago.

For me, it felt like there was a constant sense of impending doom and that somehow, one day I was going to be ‘found out’. For what I do not know, but I always had a feeling that I was living a lie and alcohol and drugs relieved me of the anxiety that it created. I am the youngest of the 5 children. I was “a mistake” I was told. So I never really felt like I belonged. It was as if I was always playing catch up with my siblings. I felt ‘less than’ all of them, I felt lost. This continued on through boarding school. Alcohol and cannabis became part of my life from my early teens. I loved to disappear from my emotional state. I was scared of responsibility and the drink and drugs gave me a feeling of comfort. With a good education I dropped out before College and went from job to job for 35 years, always moving on when things became too difficult or I was given too much responsibility. It got worse and worse until I tried to kill myself in 1994. That stopped me for a year, but alcohol was in charge of me and I would not accept that I needed help. It took another 20 years before I was able to stop. By that time Alcohol and drugs had taken everything and I was broken.

Recovery is an inside job. But the process needs to be started by recognising the need to ask for help. How? With Honesty, Openness and Willingness. Becoming honest with people who are close to you and therefore have been affected by your addiction and honest to yourself about your addiction and the harm it has done to you and those around you. Being open to new ideas and suggestions on how to live in a different way – being open minded – and being willing to put in the work and action to enable you to change. Recovery is about learning to forgive yourself and to try to see a way forward. My recovery started with 12 step work and I know that for me that works. SMART recovery, Refuge recovery and counselling including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) some other alternatives.

ACT is also an acronym for:

Accept your reactions and be present

Choose a valued direction

Take action.

Most recovery journeys incorporate these concepts. I believe that if I try to do the next right thing in any given moment, then I am able to value the path that I am on and thus value myself. Sometimes I need to ask others for help if I do not know what the right direction is, but I now know that not knowing is not a weakness. That the ability to ask for and accept help is a strength that helps me to build up my own self-esteem and enables me to value myself from the inside. I do not feel the constant need to get affirmations from others like I used to. I do not pretend to be someone I am not and I am free from the shackles of addiction that held me for so long and have the freedom to enjoy being the person that I was always meant to be. Anxiety is brought on by worrying about the future and depression can be caused by dwelling too much on the past. For addicts these can cause relapse because of the desire to escape from the uncomfortable feelings. If I stay in the present moment as much as I can then I am less at risk of trying to find something outside of me that will make me feel better and inevitably then worse again.


Peter Hutt

Nick Conn / 16th March 2018/ Posted in: Latest News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


We are here 24/7 to help get you and your recovery on the right path.

    Our promise to you

    thumbOur advice will always be led by your needs and is free, confidential and impartial.
    thumbOur experienced professionals will treat you with compassion and understanding.
    thumbOur purpose is to provide you with all the information needed to make informed decisions.

    Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

    The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

    Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

    • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
    • Lorazepam (Ativan)
    • Diazapam (vailium)

    Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

    There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

    • Naltrexone
    • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
    • Nalmefene
    • Acamprosate (campral)

    Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

    There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

    Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

    A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

    Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

    The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

    Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

    Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

    Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

    *based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

    There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

    If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

    If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

    Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

    How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

    There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

    Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

    There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

    Local treatment

    Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

    Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

    Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

    Treatment Away

    Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

    As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

    When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

    There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

    Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

    There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

    Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

    Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

    Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

    Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

    Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

    Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

    How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

    The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

    Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

    Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

    Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

    You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

    The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

    There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.