Since my first drink at the age of 13, I’ve had an obsession with alcohol. For the first time in my life I felt like I had an identity, confidence and a social presence. That was also the first time my using would lead me to have an altercation with the police, the first time I frightened my family but it was the start of 16 years of misery. 

By the time I was 15 I would take any opportunity to be under the influence of alcohol which took me to very desperate places and compromised my safety. Even at that age, I lived for a drink and sacrificed my self-worth, my dignity – anything to feel drunk because that was the only time I felt truly free.  

It very quickly became my way of life and I would live in my alcoholic bubble more often than in the real world but because it was easier to live without pain, it consumed me.  

I’ve broken the law, I’ve been raped, drugged, abused, sectioned, I lost my job, I endangered young family members and almost lost my sight. I didn’t care about any of it as long as I knew there was a drink at the end of it. 

My family were totally broken watching someone they love, uncontrollably killing themselves and implored me to try The Living Room which I agreed to if it got them off my back. 

Within an hour of being here, something changed in me. I walked into a room full of people from all walks of life who were so open about the things I’d kept secret for so many years. The fear, shame and loneliness I was wrapped up in fell away for I finally felt I belonged. 

Over the coming weeks the physical symptoms of withdrawal lessened and the further away I got from my last drink, the more I opened up. I was making friends for the first time in years, my family were proud of my dedication to change and I started to see that I could have a future without alcohol. 

Once I started to learn that behind my drinking were traumatic events, a lack of love for myself and an allergy to alcohol that wanted me dead I was able to learn tools I could carry around with me to keep me safe. 

The counsellors are inspiring, my peers are some of the realest people I’ve ever met and I now have the building blocks for a life where I’m truly free to be myself. I now look at my troubles from a spiritual perspective instead of picking up a drink. I have friends who truly care for me and guide me away from danger instead of to it. 

For the first time in my life, I get to laugh genuinely, with those who understand me. I finally feel like I deserve to be happy and to be myself, which, so far, has given me seven months of sobriety. The further away I get from my last drink, the more I feel like I have something to live for.