Steve’s story

I had an early introduction to alcohol, getting a taste for it with friends in my teens.

By the time I started work in the 70s it was completely normal to go to the pub at lunch-time and most evenings after work too and I didn’t need much persuading.

Drinking became like breathing and I was well and truly hooked by the 80s, downing vodka and pints like there was no tomorrow.

I’d always been very fit and that’s maybe what helped me get away with it for so long. But by the 80s my drinking was out of control and had begun to affect my job and relationships.

By my mid-late 30s I was getting caught out at work, either actually drinking on the job or through making mistakes.

And my daughters from my marriage – which broke up in my 30s – had begun to resent me.

I tried to stop by joining Alcoholics Anonymous, but I would turn up at meetings drunk and clearly wasn’t ready to commit to the abstinence that AA demanded.

The next few years were bedlam as I struggled to hold down a job and any form of long-term relationship.

I first came across Addaction in 2012 when Kate Lovett who facilitated group meetings that I attended started to get through to me.

But despite this initial help I still couldn’t stop.

I then had three heart attacks in quick succession in 2014 that gave me the fright of my life. But the hold alcohol had over me was so strong that the first thing I did after life-saving surgery was go out and buy a bottle of wine to celebrate.

During a hospital stay in 2015 I was approached by a nurse called Julie who could see I was in dire straits. Julie recommended a new programme called Drink Wise, Age Well, but I was being as stubborn as ever and refused help.

As she walked away, though, I realised this was my last chance and I called her back.

As luck would have it, Kate Lovett had begun working for Drink Wise, Age Well in Devon, and we quickly picked up where we left off. Only this time, we had one-to-one sessions that ran to over an hour and for a period of months.

Like a lot of alcoholics I had promised a million times before not to have another drop, but Kate got me to a point where the words weren’t just words.

One day I said to my partner, “Today I’m not going to have a drink” and from there it was one day at a time.

Ultimately I said, “I’m never going to have another drink and nothing is going to change my mind” and I didn’t.

Two years later life is great! I’ve got a job, a nice car and my daughters are a big part of my life.

I don’t think it’s overstating it to say that Drink Wise, Age Well saved my life.