A Journey Through Addiction

Generously shared by @soberbadger - follow a journey of sobriety on Instagram.

When I look back over my drinking career, it really is quite shocking how I "got away with it" for so long. At the age of thirteen I had my first Saturday job -

earning ten quid a day (child labour!) - sweeping up hair & making cups of tea for clients at a local hairdressers. In my late teens I got a full-time job in another salon, where I saved up for my Gap Year in Spain. One day, the owners of this place had a great idea idea - "why don't we start offering our customers a glass of wine as well as the standard tea & coffee?" Needless to say, this was a hit with the people having their hair done, but also with us juniors (a handful of us, anyway). With two great big dispensers of wine - one red and one white in the staff room, when we were taking out orders it was sneakily a case of "one for you, one for me". I loved how it got rid of my anxiety butterflies and made me feel instantly more confident & sociable. It lifted my mood when I was feeling down, perked me up if I was tired and took my mind off s*** that was going on at home. I got really squiffy a couple of times but I was quick to learn what I could handle drinking without showing signs of being pissed.

Also, around this time I had already got really into the London jungle scene and I was regularly pulling all-nighters with the use of speed plus other "party" drugs. I absolutely f***ing loved amphetamine and I suppose this was the start of another dangerous addiction. On the nights (mornings) when I was still off my face & wanted to come down, I learned that alcohol could dilute the high; by the same token I learned how a dab of speed could "sober me up" when I'd overdone the wine. When I'd saved enough money, I bought a plane ticket to Spain and worked as an au-pair for a lovely family. Sadly, I didn't stay with them for as long as I'd intended because I started seeing a guy who owned one of Madrid's hottest nightclubs (how cool, right?) and I ended up moving in with him. Turns out he was heavily involved in drugs and gangs too; in the end I was really scared and had the sense to get out & come back to the UK, but not before I'd done my fair share of coke and boozing-it up every night.

Things followed a similar pattern in my Uni days. I didn't get part-time jobs in supermarkets and factories to help pay the bills - like some of my peers - I got bar jobs where I could serve myself unlimited shots, and later a table-dancing stint where it was actively encouraged to quaff champagne and snort lines with the clientele.

In my 3rd year - which is spent abroad when you study Languages - I lived in Quito, Ecuador where again booze is cheap and coke is cheaper (and so much stronger). After I obtained my degree, I went through various jobs, not really settling. They've mostly been working in Retail and Media - always where being social and needing to have a good rapport with people have been my excuses to drink.

In one job where I was PA to three directors at a funky music company in Shoreditch, it was the norm to have boozy brunches ("hair of the dog") and lunches with bosses & clients, followed by even more after-work drinkies.

I carried on like this for years.

It makes me question whether I went for those types of jobs so that I could indulge my drinking or whether I became an alcoholic because of them.

What I know for sure is that the day when I was first unemployed - the day when I could have had a lie-in past 6am but was abruptly woken by my body violently shaking - I didn't know what the f*** was happening to me - the first day when I realised I had an addiction problem - was one of the scariest of my life. That was in my late-twenties/early-thirties and was the beginning of a hellish decade of drinking, detoxing (yes, I discovered Valium - got myself clean numerous times, vowed never to touch a drop again), and relapsing.

I am now happily working a fairly low-paid "normal" office job, where one does not get off one's tits; in fact, when we have little outside-of-work gatherings, it is normally to eat a nice meal together at a local restaurant or to go round to each other's houses for tea. Now that is the kind of Work and Worklife I love & enjoy and I intend sticking with until I retire!

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