*Tom’s real name has been changed to protect his identity.

Hope After Chaos – 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 nine. 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 fourteen. 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 fifteen as we could get into pubs.

I left boarding school at nineteen with three 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 my retail job 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 and 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 seven 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 two 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 three 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.“

Tom made a successful move to Bournemouth. Churchfield & Cherington, another service run by the Social Interest Group specifically geared towards treating drug and alcohol misuse.

Alcohol Use Service in London

Substance Use Service in Ealing

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