Do you ever think about why you drink alcohol, and how much control you have over the habit? These are two questions that our colleague Joshua argues everyone who drinks should ask themselves.
In the following video and podcast, Joshua shares his experiences of recovering from alcohol addiction. You can also read a written transcript of the video further down the page.
Listen to the podcast
This podcast includes more detail from Joshua, and features a discussion with two Bupa experts. You'll hear Dr Luke Powles, Associate Clinical Director for Bupa health clinics, and Sarah Deedat, Head of Behavioural Insights at Bupa UK, talk about how any of us who want to cut down on our drinking might motivate ourselves to make that change.
‘When I first started drinking, I felt alcohol made me better than I was, that it gave me stuff I couldn't have. But in the end, I realised it stripped me of absolutely everything.
‘I'd say I was probably 17 or 18 when I started drinking on a regular basis, going to local bars and pubs. I enjoyed the impact alcohol had on me; I found something I was missing.
‘My drinking went from being something that was controllable and something that was enjoyable, to something that was out of control, and destructive.’
How alcohol affected me
‘The way I constantly felt was a numb, dull pain in my head from, you know, excessive alcohol.
‘The only relationship that probably grew throughout addiction was my relationship with my brother, because he was in the same boat as me. We both went to our first meeting together. So we've both been through recovery together and now we both have a much better relationship as a result.’
My journey to recovery
‘I was visiting family in New York and I'd had a nice day out seeing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and all those types of things we do. I actually had managed to buy a copy of a book by Russell Brand called Freedom from Our Addictions, and there was a few hours between when I'd finished my tour of the Statue of Liberty and the book signing was about to start and he was going to do a Q&A. And I went to a bar and just drank.
‘And then throughout the Q&A with Russell Brand, people were sharing their experiences or asking him questions specifically focused around recovery, addiction, how you can be free from this stuff. And I sort of saw there was a solution at that point. So literally within about three or four hours I'd gone from this desperate situation drinking on my own to then seeing there is a solution, there is hope out there, there is a way to live a life without needing to do this.’
How I feel now
‘I mean, I don't remember what a hangover feels like. Which is quite a strange feeling, you know.
‘I feel fresh and I go to the gym most days. It's motivated me to care less about external things. I constantly thought I was defined by the car I drove or the shoes I wore or how many likes I got on Facebook. But by going through recovery, it's actually allowed me to take a step back and say “just enjoy life for what it is. Just accept that you're just fine how you are”.
‘I couldn't explain how much happier I am now than when I was in active addiction. I do more on a Sunday morning than I used to do in a whole week. In terms of productivity and being of benefit to other people, my life has completely transformed within a year.’
My advice to others
‘My advice would be to explore your relationship with alcohol. If you go out, do you know when you're going to come home, how much you might drink, where the night will end up, who you'll end up with, how much you might end up spending.
‘And if you cannot control or choose those things, then at that point you become powerless. And that, to me, suggests that you've probably got an addiction or at least a heavy drinking problem. If you have either of those things, I'd suggest going to a meeting, and discussing with some like-minded people how you're feeling, and where you're at in life, and I think you'll soon have a fairly good indication of if you have a problem or not.’
‘Everyone should do what's right for them, but I think everybody at least owes it to themselves to understand what triggers their drinking, and if they can control it.’
If you’re worried about your alcohol intake or would like help to recover from addiction, your GP can refer you to alcohol service in your area. Or you can contact an alcohol support organisation – you can find a comprehensive list of services on the Drink Aware website.
Even healthy people become unwell sometimes. Health insurance can help you get prompt access to the treatment and support you need to help you get back on the road to recovery. Learn more with our useful guide to understanding health insurance.
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