By Jamie, from London 
Photo © www.flickr.com/ericconstantineau


Back in August 2014, I wrote about my life and how I turned to drugs and alcohol when I couldn’t cope [FS#143].

I remember a couple of years ago, my friends and I would always joke about going to an AA meeting drunk and pretending we have a problem. Little did I know that I would end up attending different forms of AA such as Narcotics Anonymous and other fellowships.

Eight months later I am here writing about how I have changed my life around. I am not going to say it was easy or that it all fell into place overnight, because it didn’t. In fact I am still trying to piece it all together. Some days I struggle worse than others, but it’s all a work in progress.

As I wrote the article last year, I was preparing for the London to Brighton bike ride for charity, which I successfully completed (120km in 11 hours). Two weeks prior to the event I had relapsed and consumed large amounts of narcotics. To my belief now, I understand that I needed that relapse to prove to myself that I can complete such a huge event. I hadn’t been on a bike in over a decade.

The fear of starting an event such as this was starting to scare me. “Why had I signed up for this?”, “There is no way in hell I can finish” and “What will people think if I don’t finish?”, were running through my head and I felt that the only way I could escape was through my old friends, the narcotics. Deciding to do something for myself, turned into how will everyone else see me after I fail – not IF I fail, but after I fail. I kept on piling on more guilt and shame on to myself until, BANG, I relapsed. After my relapse I stated to push myself harder, cycling more at the gym and training all the time until judgement day.

Looking back now I wouldn’t change anything. That extra push I needed I got – it may have been from the wrong things but I got it, and now learning through my recovery, there are other ways I have to achieve such goals without relapsing. Not all the time, but I keep trying and keep asking for help when needed.

These last eight months I have had my fair share of relapses. At the time I used to beat myself up about them, thinking I couldn’t do this, life is too tough and how can I give up substances that I have abused for the best part of a decade? The truth is, I learned something from every relapse. I can’t say that I will never do it again, but I can hope and pray that I don’t. There is no right or wrong way to securing your road to sobriety – everyone has their own way. It’s a matter of finding what is best for you and what works – no “you shouldn’t do this” or “shouldn’t do that” –  but trial and error.

I didn’t become an addict overnight and I can’t give it all up overnight either. But I can tell you that once I started on the path of finding my way, it started to become clearer and easier. 

There are many ways out there that can help and some that won’t, but you have to take the chance to try and see what works best. I’ve been attending Narcotics Anonymous for over a year now, and that alone isn’t enough for me. For my other friends it is, but I also attend a day programme, SMART recovery, and have a key worker. Tying all these together I am able to take bits from every aspect and put them together to find what works for me.

My life over the past eight months has taught me many things, which I didn’t understand before, due to the shame, hiding and trying to become someone else by abusing substances. Only now have I been able to understand these and take them further, and learn more about myself, including discovering things I didn’t know.

This is an ongoing mission of mine. It isn’t as hard as it seems any more and most of it comes naturally to me now. I have started to study again and with a clear mind, I have found what I truly want to do with my life. Only with the power of recovery have I been able to do that. 

Life has its ups and down, and it’s how we handle them that matters. Building up a new social network of people in recovery, who feel and understand where I am coming from always helps me to ground myself and see life in a positive way.

I’m no expert at this recovery, but I am a participant and that is the main thing. I try and keep my nose clean (literally) and sometimes I have a slip, but that’s OK. I don’t give up, I get up and carry on, trying to learn from that mistake. We are only human and are not expected to be perfect. As long as you learn and keep on moving forward, you will always be a step ahead of the game.

You don’t have to be alone. For years I thought I was and now I know I am not, unless I choose to be!


SUPPORT 

If you are affected by Jamie’s story and would like support ‘Antidote @ London Friend’ offers support and counselling for gay men dealing with alcohol and drug problems. 

For more information, visit www.londonfriend.org.uk or call 020 7833 1674. Lines are open 10am – 6pm, Monday to Friday.


 This article was taken from FS #147: CHEMSEX EXPOSED


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