I am feeling better today. On Friday my friend Elle sent me a text:
“It’s a choice we’ve made because we want a better life. We are doing ourselves a BIG favour by choosing not to drink. We need to be really proud of ourselves.”
I met Elle at the course I did at my local drugs and alcohol service. Like me, she had been drinking too much for too long and alcohol had become the centre of her world. Like me, she had decided she needed help before it was too late and she picked up the phone and asked for help. That was a big step.
After that first call I had to go through a telephone assessment to gauge the level of my drinking and the support I would need. That was an overwhelming experience. Having to vocalise how much I had been drinking and the effects it was having on my life made it all seem more real – before that I had been able to convince myself that I was making a mountain out of a molehill and my problem was not that serious. The worker who carried out the assessment thought differently.
After the initial assessment, I had to visit the drugs and alcohol service for an appointment. Walking into the building where the service is situated was profound. The building is not in the most salubrious location and because the offices are shared,you have to say out loud to the receptionist who you have come to see. I almost didn’t make in through the doors let alone past reception. I couldn’t believe how I had ended up in that position. By then, I was scared.
I am so very glad I made that first call. I am glad I followed it through. I am glad Elle made it too.
When I met Elle she was still drinking but as the course went on it was clear she wanted to stop. I could see that she was going through a similar process to me. In another post I wrote about the stages of change. Elle was at contemplation, on the cusp of taking action. By the time the course ended she was so very nearly there.
Elle and I kept in touch by text and a couple of weeks after the course was over we met for a coffee. Elle said she planning to stop drinking after 19th June. Then she looked at me and said “that’s my Addictive Desire speaking isn’t it?”
Addictive Desire was central to the course we had completed. It is defined as “any thought or feeling that supports the use of drink now or in the future”. It is similar to the wine witch others talk about. That little voice in your head which says “You can just have one” or “you can stop next week”. Addictive Desire Recognition was at the heart of everything we had learned. Elle was right. By delaying stopping drinking until after 19th June she was giving herself permission to drink at least until then. And she didn’t want to drink.
As we talked Elle explained that she had drunk a bottle of wine the evening before and didn’t know what she was planning to do that evening. We talked about how, if she didn’t drink she would have completed Day 1 and if she carried on, by 19 June she would be over 2 weeks sober. When we parted, she hadn’t decided what to do and I wasn’t confident she would choose not to drink.
But she did. The following week we had a catch up with the other people on the course. Elle brought, tonic water, elderflower cordial, lemon and lime segments and even a bag of ice and made us all a delicious alcohol free drink. She looked and sounded so much better. It was a wonderful thing to see.
Today is 19th June. This would possibly have been Elle’s last day of drinking. Instead she is on Day 17 of choosing not to drink. Elle, you should be very proud of yourself. I am proud of you too.