Paranoia and chronic anxiety – my constant companions

My Name is Sam

My name's Sam, I’m an alcoholic. I was raised in London and as a child I never felt right. I didn’t feel like I fitted in, I used to lay awake at night thinking and worrying constantly about crazy things. I’d never have been able to work out who made god, what's at the end of the universe etc etc etc. I was always in trouble as a youngster and felt the only way to be a part of, or to have an identity, was to fight and cause trouble.

My family gave me love and raised me right, but I believe that from an early age I decided that I would do things my way. Our family moved around a lot and as a young teen we ended up in Kent and once again I was the new kid. But soon after I found alcohol. Skiving off with a bottle of cider, me and my mate got properly drunk for the first time. For the first time I felt like the world and myself were how they should be, My insecurities vanished and I felt like a man, like I could do anything.

I started drinking to drunkenness three or four times a week and although consequences began I didn’t think much of them. Falling out with family, being thrown out of school, arrests and the rest. However by the time I was eighteen these consequences that I thought were fun were becoming painful and a regular part of life. I was homeless at this time but could rarely spend more than a couple of months in a hostel before being thrown out as a result of my behavior.

Paranoia and chronic anxiety became my constant companions and I became a daily drinker to keep them at bay. My family moved abroad and my old friends had gone. I drank with other alcoholics and in a way I looked up to some of these men. In the end I had enough of Kent and began a string of geographicals from one place to the next. It was fresh start after fresh start. Sometimes I’d manage to get a room and a girlfriend and a job, but time after time I would smash it all again and just move on.

My alcoholism progressed and I behaved more erratically, the things I was doing were getting worse and I knew that when drinking I could not trust myself. I know I would be capable of things that would lead to my death or a long prison sentence. This terrified me but not enough to stop. Towards the end of my drinking I had tried to stop or moderate my drinking but it hadn’t worked, I'd tried to control my actions but I failed utterly. My mental state was getting worse by the day. I could not see life with or without alcohol.

For the second time in my life I walked through the doors of AA a broken man, feeling hopeless and lost. What I saw shocked me, a room full of happy sober normal looking people. At every meeting they would talk about the same things: Big Book, sponsor, Steps. My head was still a mess but I got a sponsor and he gave me simple actions to do on a daily basis. The people in the group told me that if I did what they did I would not want to drink and that my life would get better and fast. They said it was a guarantee.I didn’t believe them but I had failed in everything in life. I had missed every opportunity and accomplished nothing. I began to work the 12 Steps. I started to feel hope for the first time in a long time.

The big change for me was after Step 5. The alcohol problem had been removed but I began to feel peace of mind for the first time in my life. It was a total surprise and shocked me as I had never experienced it before. But today I can gain access to it whenever I want.I worked through the rest of the Steps and had the change in thought and attitude people had spoken about, I have God in my life today and try to practice these principles in all my affairs.

Nearly three years on all I can say is that my life has got consistently better day by day. From the desperate place of which I saw no way out when I came in, my life has blossomed. Today I work full time in a job I love, I go it college once a week, I have a stable home, my family and friends are back in my life, I’m a father to my children and I can help others who are where I was when I came in.

I am surrounded my people who I can relate to and I’m part of a great home group. I know that this can work for anyone who is willing to put the actions in and embark on the 12 Steps. I owe my life to God and this Fellowship, and God willing I will never forget that.

                                       Sam, Road to Recovery Group, Plymouth