When I first went to Alcoholics Anonymous, which you can read about here, I thought that everyone was there because they had a problem with alcohol and that, having stopped drinking, they were now okay. I knew my problems were deeper than that so I soon dropped out.
Eventually the penny dropped, they weren’t there because they had a problem with alcohol, but because their lives were unbearable with or without alcohol. The same for Narcotics Anonymous and drugs (I went to lots of NA meetings as well).
What I realised over time was that alcohol and other drugs (and by the way I don’t think of alcohol separately from other drugs but, if I just write ‘drugs’, some people will think I’m not also writing about alcohol; they’re all ‘drugs’), anyway, what I realised that alcohol and drugs were what I used to try and fix what was wrong with me and, being the person I am (see here, here and here), they eventually became problems in themselves. So, in order to do anything about the underlying fears and phobias and insecurities, I needed to stop drinking and using. Continue reading
“But what about books?” I hear you ask. After all it does say at the top of this blog “A lifetime of music, books, addiction and recovery”. So where are the books?
Well they’re here, on my desk and on my bookshelves and, most of all, on my Kobo, my e-reader. I read addictively, which is to say I start another book as soon as I have finished the one I am reading and I always want more books, even though I have far more than I could read if I live to be a hundred.
At the moment I’m reading The Restless Generation by Pete Frame, about the birth of rock music in Britain in the 1950s. It’s fascinating, and Frame goes into great detail about the trad jazz movement, the birth of skiffle and its eventual mutation into rock-and-roll. Being quite old I remember a lot of the performers and songs – Mary Wilde, Billy Fury, Skeeter Davis and many others. Pete Frame, if you don’t already know his work, is the originator of the Rock Family Tree Continue reading
I started writing about this in my previous post which you can read here.
So I ended up sitting on Sandylands Promenade, between Heysham and Morecambe, on the morning of April 22nd 1984 (I always thought it was the 21st until I checked on Google Calendar).
Called Sunshine Slopes on the photo but known to me as Sunny Slopes
Anyway, there I was, no money, nothing to drink, not sure if I had any baccy or papers but I certainly felt as though I was at the end of something.
And it was then that things changed. Continue reading
I thought I would cover this in one post but I realise that I’ve quite a bit to say about ‘Why Me’. So I’ll be writing more over the next few days.
I sometimes think about the question “Why me?” Why did I recover from my addictions and others didn’t? I’ve seen enough people die along the way, people who seemed to struggle with addiction as much as I had, and had gone through worse experiences than me; who had gone to 12 step meetings, dropped out, come back, gone into treatment (something I never did), taken overdoses, walked into Morecambe Bay and drowned, or were just found dead in bed.
So what was it about me? What did I do that made me different? The answer? I don’t really know. Honestly. That’s not some sort of false modesty or attempt to be enigmatic. I genuinely don’t know.
I can look at how it happened and make a stab to some answers, at what I believe led to my recovery. Continue reading
One thing I remember from my time in AA is the phrase “A bridge to normal living”. As to how far my life is ‘normal’ is not for me to judge. I certainly do lots of normal things like washing up, cooking, cleaning, shopping and providing a taxi service for my 16-year-old daughter (she’ll be 17 on Monday and at the moment has some school friends round for pizzas and drinks and Denise’s brother sent a bottle of champagne for them to drink to their successes at GCSE and the start of sixth form – for me it will be coke).
For pleasure I read (voraciously), play my guitar (not as much as I should), write this blog and spend time with my family.
That’s me with the bald head. We were at Superspirit Camp which I’ll write about at some point
Addiction doesn’t take up a huge amount of my time today, except when I’m thinking and writing about it for this blog.
So these other things are, in a sense, my recovery. I didn’t recover to spend my time thinking about alcohol and other drugs; I spent enough time doing that when I was using.
No, today I’m on that ‘bridge to normal living’, not that I believe I’ll ever get to the other side. But I’ll tell you something, the view from here is pretty good.
I need to make clear at the start that I am not a member of any 12 step fellowship. I did get my recovery through AA and NA and went to meetings, on and off for about 5 years before I got into recovery, and then two or three times a week after that. I haven’t been to a meeting for, it must be, 15 years, so that will be around the time this story starts.
I wanted to clear that up because I don’t want anyone to think I am breaking my anonymity (a very important 12 step principle).
So, on with the story.
My job as a drug and alcohol trainer
In the late 90s I started work as a drug and alcohol trainer with a local NHS Trust. One of the reasons I got the job was because of my experience of addiction and recovery. On my first day I met with my manager. She said that, as this was a new post, I needed to visit local drug and alcohol agencies to get some idea of what training was needed and how I could be of use.
So I did, and it was an interesting experience!
I’ve always been pretty open about my addiction and recovery so I had no hesitation about telling various drug and alcohol workers and managers that my recovery was due to 12 step fellowships.
The response was striking. As soon as I mentioned 12 step I could almost see them looking around in panic for cloves of garlic and wooden stakes! Here was this brainwashed religious fanatic coming in to poison their minds, and those of their clients. Continue reading
Since writing my previous posts about how I believe my addictions are linked to my personal traits and foibles (great word foibles, worthy of Miranda Hart), I’ve been thinking more about how I am and how I was and how this influenced my drinking and drug use.
The character trait I’ve been thinking about most is greed, what Merriam-Webster defines as ‘a selfish desire to have more of something (especially money)’. Money was never a big one with me, except in so far as I needed money to get what I wanted (needed?) But I was always greedy, at least from as far back as I can remember – greedy for toys, for sweets, for anything that gave me pleasure. And I’m still that way. I have an e-reader and I’m forever looking for new books to read, even though I’ve got more than I can read in a lifetime. The same with music, or podcasts. What I want is all of it, all the music, the books, the podcasts the ……. Well, you get the drift.
So I was thinking about how greed and my addictions fitted together and I see that, in my addictions, I was always greedy. I can remember spending evenings at a friend’s house where we would sit around sharing a joint. Where other people would be satisfied with a few smokes I wanted more. The same with alcohol; I was a greedy drinker, trying to suck as much Carlsberg Special or vodka or whatever I could get hold of down my throat, at least until the shakes and the terrors eased off. But I suspect that addicts generally are greedy, although I can only speak for myself.
It was as though I could never get enough, even though I would usually fall into a drunken stupor. Then when I came round I’d be off again, looking for more, more, more. Continue reading
At the beginning of my first post on addiction which you can read here, I posed some questions about addiction that I want to start to answer, tentatively. Why tentatively? Because addiction, it seems to me, is a complex and subtle beast about which there are many conflicting theories and opinions.
I am also aware that, when one writes about something based on one’s own experience, it is incredibly easy to be too categorical, to say “that’s the way things are”, rather than, “that’s how it seemed to me”. I’ll try to avoid that, first by clearly indicating when I’m writing about my own experiences and what they mean to me and also, without I hope making the whole thing too ‘heavy’ (there’s an early 70s word), mention some of the various theories about addiction which either support or contradict my views. I’ll put links to these as I go on so you can, if you wish, read them in more detail. Continue reading
I want to make it clear that all the views expressed here are the way I see my addiction and that I am not trying to put down any categorical opinions on addiction in general.
I didn’t want anybody to think I was saying this is the way it is with addictions generally. These posts are just about my addiction and my recovery and what it means to me today.
Addiction – What it means to me (part 1)