“It started with alcohol when I was 14. I guess I had a lot of 14-year-old issues and I was so shy. I was just lost. I met some older guys in town and one day they took me to the pub and I just thought, ‘oh, my God, I’ve come home’, something in me just lit up. I pretty much spent the rest of the next 12 years trying to get alcohol as much as I could and then found drugs a couple of years later.
When I got sober, it was a shock that most people didn’t live like that. I actually thought there was… people like me; there were a few straight people who were usually Christians; and there was a very small handful of people who didn’t drink very much who were boring. And it was a real eye opener to go, oh, my God, I was in the minority. Because I just surrounded myself with people who behaved the same way I did, we’d all look at each other and go, Man, they’ve got a problem. But not me! I’m all right! But to be honest, by the time I hit the end of the road I didn’t have much of a support network left.
I just woke up one morning and I had this kind of a moment of clarity. I think it was a spiritual thing. I just had this awareness that I needed help, and I needed it then. It turned my world around really.
It seems weird to go 30 years without a drink. But it’s definitely been the best 30 years of my life. The world was bottle-necking me and then it just started to open up. I met other people who’ve stopped drinking and changed their lives and I joined them.
I work for the Salvation Army as a public health worker, so I do education and public awareness around gambling harm. I quite enjoy the work that I do, work that feels meaningful to me like it’s trying to try and make the world a better place, I suppose, without sounding too wanky about it. I felt like in my drinking I was taking and taking so it’s nice to feel that I can give back a bit, do something that makes me feel good, and hopefully might help somebody else along the way.
I’ve had to do a lot of work on myself and looking at my boundaries because I get very drawn in emotionally very easily. You sort of see yourself in somebody and just want to save them, but you can’t.
Someone once said to me, you can’t save someone, you just walk beside them and hold their hand as they save themselves.”