These are the personal stories of various members of LifeRing in the U.K.
(This is a true story of one member’s addiction to alcohol and his recovery using online secular sources of support)
I had a normal teenage life as far as I know and drank less than most others I mixed with.
I can still remember the first night I did go into a pub for a few drinks with friends, and how bad I felt the next day.
We were into motorbikes and preferred coffee bars anyhow.
I married at 20 in 1964, and still drank only occasionally, at that time I worked very long hours we were buying our first home and needed the money.
I first went to a pub near our home because I had finished work earlier than I expected to and my wife had arranged our first baby sitter so that she could attend a meeting, I did enjoy the drink and the company of the older men in the “spit and sawdust” type pub, but was pleased when it was time I could arrive home to take over from the baby sitter, only to find the baby sitter had not turned up, and my wife was miffed she had been unable to go to her meeting, then she smelt the drink on my breath!
I did though start calling into the pub some nights on my way home, and it became our “local”.
I then got involved with home wine and beer making, and the wife liked the wine also so we spent happy times going out picking fruit, I joined a wine and beer making club, became a committee member then in time trained as a wine and beer judge.
Our social life took off and we were soon enjoying family camping holidays with the club in France and Germany.
I them became a club chairman and enjoyed everything about it.
Over the years my wine stock grew to around 200 gallons, and I was going to a different club meeting most weeks judging their competitions.
When we had been married for 26 years, my wife and I split up, and I was on my own with this 200 gallons of wine and loads of beer! I was depressed at the break-up and gradually drank more and more!
After around five years of being on my own I met someone else and decided I needed to cut back on my drinking, I was working normally, or thought I was at that time!
When I and the new woman married she soon confronted me with what she called “my drinking problem” and I had thought I had cut back!
She was not at all sympathetic but said I should not drink again, but she still had a glass of wine with meals and took a glass of brandy to bed!
I then started hiding drink everywhere!
Even burying them in the garden so I could have a drop while gardening!
When things really came to a head, at her instance I went into hospital to be “dried out” she thought my problems were then over and she could still have her wine and brandy without my wanting any!!!
We now know that being “dried out” is the easy bit, it is changing our behaviour afterwards that is the important and difficult part, we continued to have problems with “my drinking” and the marriage finished in 2,000, I then had a massive binge that should have killed me!
This was the point at which I knew I needed to be sober for “ME”
After internet searching I found the Secular Organization for Sobriety (SOS) and joined the mailing list and met people in the same boat as myself, this list went on to become Lifering Secular Recovery (LSR)
I joined this UK Group in 2001
I had been to one AA face to face meeting, and knew for me God was not going to save me, I needed to do that for myself so the Secular angle was a welcomed bonus.
At this time, I gave up my entire social life that involved being around alcohol
I cannot say the sobriety path has been easy for me from then but my sober times became longer that the drinking ones.
I am sober and enjoy life far more that way, and hope I never drink alcohol again.
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I think for a good long while I saw it as a personal ‘failing’ that I had to stop drinking.
I had been unable to control it, couldn’t get drunk and have a laugh with the rest of my mates.
There is a very pervasive attitude here (around the people I know) that getting routinely drunk and drugged up is normal and not drinking and snorting etc. is abnormal and boring.
There are many people who no longer visit as they won’t be able to get a drink in my house.
As far as the people I hadn’t met before, who didn’t know my drinking behaviour, in my mind I was acknowledging all the terrible goings on whilst drunk and I was sure that people would be imagining these things if I told them I didn’t drink. They would see the embarrassment in my face and they would know.
Of course in reality very few people asked and very few people actually cared.
I had to curtail my whole social life up to that point however. Everything revolved around drinking. Celebrations and Christmas were hard because people try to force a drink on you. I’ve had to tell plenty of people, ‘no thanks’, fewer people ‘because I don’t drink’ and fewer still the reason why.
Thank god I no longer care and paradoxically I’m much more likely to say I’m a recovered alcoholic now than I ever was.
I am immensely proud of it now. The past defines who I am, but alcohol has no control over my life. After I stopped drinking, I left my job, I left behind that ‘Social life’, and then I left the country for a year to travel.
Everything I have now I owe to that decision and to the people on LSRUK who helped me make it.
My drinking began to be ‘problem’ drinking in my mid 20s after leaving the companionable environment of my University exactly 40 years ago this September.
I moved to London, had a lot of fun in the early 70s, but damped down any anxieties over relationships, loneliness, or lack of direction with increasing use of alcohol as a crutch.
By the early 80s I was dependent, although I perceived myself as ‘high functioning ‘. My career was going well, I had a stable relationship, friends and family and financial security. I knew there was something wrong, got help and was sober for 2 years., but some years after that the drinking gradually escalated again .
The 80s were a time of achievements. However 1988 saw the death of my father, 1991, the death of my mother, and the taking on of my own dental practice.
By 1998 things were getting out of hand in all directions, culminating in a conviction for drink driving .It was fortunate that I didn’t harm anyone and awful as it was it was the wake up call that began my recovery.
I’d tried AA, had counselling, but in my heart the thought of never drinking again was unthinkable, how could I deal with sorting out all the problems that were looming because of my dependence without a get-out?
Through the support and interventions of professional colleagues, friends and family, I was given no choice but to rehabilitate myself, or lose everything.
I was fortunate to be put in the care of Dr Colin Brewer, who believed in Antabuse , didn’t believe in AA , and supported me in finding alternatives to AA .
The Antabuse gave me 7 months of sober time to be able to see that I could live without alcohol, and begin to sort out things, which had been deferred by alcohol dependence for years.
I found Life Ring Online, and the philosophy of not drinking no matter what, and empowering your sober self seemed to fit perfectly with my own beliefs about how to stay free of addiction. No Steps, no Big Book, no Sponsors, no Slogans, just sound common sense and the support of people who felt the same as I did.
I’ve now been sober for 12 years, my life hasn’t been all sweetness and light, I had breast cancer 2 years into sobriety, I had to deal with some of the consequences of the drinking years, but seemed to cope better for what I had learned in getting and staying sober.
I remain vigilant about alcohol, although cravings and yearnings for the old days are long gone. I’m too afraid of going back to the dark place that lurks in the background to try ‘just one drink ‘ I wouldn’t wish alcohol dependence on my worst enemy .