Dealing With Self-destructive Drinking

My advice

Seek mental health support for addiction

My recommendations

CBT / Mental health support Alcoholics Anonymous

I had experienced problems with alcohol since a teenager, when I frequently drank until I passed out. Some years later, in my mid 20s, I thought I’d managed to get a better control of myself and the situation. But a series of family bereavements, followed by my partner becoming clinically depressed, pushed me back into self-destructive drinking. It got progressively worse, until one morning I woke up on my friend’s floor, and my hands were badly bruised and cut. She told me I had been chucked out the pub the night before, and had been so drunk she had taken me home, where I was sick on the living room floor.

I was both horribly embarrassed and deeply worried by my behaviour. This was my lightbulb moment – I realised I was hurting both myself physically and mentally, and my friends and family. Because my behaviour seemed compulsive, and because alcoholism was in the family, I realised I probably needed some sort of therapy to help me understand why I was doing what I was doing. I also just needed to talk to somebody; while I had many friends, and was close to my immediate family, I didn’t feel like I could talk about my problems – and in particular my mental health – with them.

So I went to my GP and explained the situation, and instead of putting me on anti-depressants, they referred me for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). To begin with I was very sceptical about CBT – it seemed like a load of mumbo jumbo – but I knew I needed to try something. Then with each session I began to realise that it was a very practical approach to mental health support. It helped me to see patterns of behaviour, and to identify triggers for my self destructive drinking. It also gave me the language to be able to communicate how I was feeling to other people.

When the sessions allotted to me were complete, I didn’t feel fixed, but I did feel much better. I still use what I learned about myself during those sessions today, and am making progress day by day on dealing with what I have realised is an addiction. I might not be completely fixed, but I know how to help myself, and where to ask for help if I need it again in the future.