What it feels like…to sober up.

By Raymond Meade, Glasgow.

I would never have considered my relationship with alcohol to be destructive.

I understood the term “drink problem” to mean something entirely different to my own situation. I always associated that term with older men parked on stools in pubs for days on end.

The reality was different. I got up one morning around 4am and a half years ago now, sometime late in 2009, and I looked myself in the mirror. I didn’t recognise myself. It was something I’d been putting off because I was starting to look like a different person.

I knew deep down that something was going to have to change.

I’d gained 6 stone on top of my normal weight. I’d ballooned and that morning in front of the mirror, the full extent of what had been going on finally sunk in. I was drinking nearly every day. I’d be seeking out Glasgow pubs with any sort of specials on and spend my days in there talking to strangers.

If I couldn’t be bothered with the town, I’d buy a carry out and drink it alone at home. I’d sleep it off before my wife came home and act as though everything was as it should’ve been.

The truth was, I was becoming dependant on alcohol. I’m a nervous sort by nature. I’m shy and I don’t socialise well. Drinking was the easiest way to become somebody else. It was pure escapism and I could be a different person, at least for a few hours.

I’ve played in bands for most of my days and I found it impossible to play without the help of a few drinks. I know now that this approach probably cost me any chance I ever had of doing it professionally.

I was loud, obnoxious, arrogant and self assured whereas the reality is polar opposite. That morning after I’d taken stock of a few things, I decided to stop drinking and smoking and try and get myself into better shape, mentally and physically.

I pulled on a pair of trainers and a hoody and I went out for a run. I must’ve lasted 10 minutes, if that, and I was dead on my feet. I was in awful shape but there was something in my head in the midst of the exhaustion that said, it’ll never be this hard again.

A day passed, then a week, then a month, then a year and I’ve continued this sobriety to the point of I feel human again. I’ve lost 6.5 stone, I’m fit and much healthier.

My social circles have changed pretty dramatically. I knew they would have to for what I was trying to do but I won’t lie, I do struggle with this side of things. People can be almost apologetic if they have a beer in front of you. Some people try and entice you to join them.

The people that matter to me understand my decision. The people I don’t see anymore are a bit more dismissive. That’s ok too. I’d love to be able to go for a social pint but I’ve not got that in me.

One leads to two and before you know it, the chaos has returned and you’re at square one again. Some people send me emails at funny times of the night asking what the secret is to stopping drinking. I always have the same reply. You’ll know when it’s time.

You’ll know yourself that you’re at your lowest. Theres a handful of people who really helped me sort myself out. They know who they are and I’m eternally grateful to them because I think I stopped right in time.

I was close to the point of accepting my life the way it was and I can’t imagine what’d have happened.