Tom's story

I had a good childhood and my parents provided all that I needed.
My first years at school were great and I made a lot of friends. However, things became difficult and I was diagnosed with colour blindness and dyslexia when I was six years old. My parents had to fight to get me statemented so that I could get help. But specialist help was not readily available. Eventually, I was sent to a special school when I was 9. I left that school after 3 years and was sent to boarding school where it was thought I would be better helped.

Boarding school was like a prison to me and really messed me up. Life there was not good, and I was massively homesick. I did make one friend, though. She helped to make things better, but sadly passed away. This led to a suicide attempt when I was 14. The school did their best but didn’t really know how to help a troubled teenaged boy through puberty. I started drinking with my friends at 15 as we could get into pubs.

I left boarding school at 19 with 3 GCSEs and went to college for about a year. There, I started smoking cannabis. This led to cocaine use, but I never felt I was addicted. I started taking pills in my late teens too, but my drinking was not an issue at that point. I was involved in the clubbing and party scene at this point.

At 20, I met a girl and fell in love. I left retail and went to work in a pub. That’s when my problems with alcohol started. Pub life naturally revolved around drinking. The pub sometimes had violent fights, a few of which I was involved in.

I took a job in sales soon began to hit my targets. The targets were quite high, and the pressure told on me. This was reflected in my drinking. I was drinking 2 ½ litres of vodka per day by this stage. My girlfriend broke up with me after 7 years together and shortly afterwards I was made redundant. I started drinking even more heavily along with taking pills, using cocaine and anything else I could get my hands on.

I got another job and met another girl, who would later become my wife. She was very successful, and we lived a good life. I started to work from home and my drinking was easy to hide. I guess you can say I was a functional alcoholic. We got married, but I lost my job 2 weeks after the wedding as my drinking affected my job performance. We had moved to Bristol, but my drinking was out of control and my wife threw me out. I became homeless and spent three weeks on the street in sub-zero temperatures.

I stayed in different dry houses, but they couldn’t allow me to stay as I continued to drink. I spent weeks on the streets and eventually called my parents. They allowed me to move back to stay with them with the understanding that I would get help. I got involved with RISE which was helping when my parents sold up and moved to Bournemouth. This led to me starting to drink heavily once more.

I stayed with a friend for 3 months but stayed drunk enough to feel stable. My wake-up call was when I had a seizure. That’s when RISE referred me to Churchfield. Here, I have one-to-one sessions and take part in activities. This has been my first period of stability in a long time. though I still drink to maintain myself. I have been offered a detox and rehab placement in Bournemouth, which will become a reality once the funding is agreed.
I’ve spent too long destroying myself. I want to live on my own by the time I am 40 and go back to college. I want to help others who are going through some of the things that I have. My favourite quote from the film, Shawshank Redemption is, “get busy dying, or get busy living.” I want my life back! I have hope after chaos.

Churchfield & Cherington is one of four services run by the Social Interest Group, specifically geared towards treating drug and alcohol misuse.

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