Alcohol destroyed my life
THROUGHOUT her teenage years Jane relied on alcohol to block out her demons.An uncontrollable tearaway, she plunged deeper into drink and then drugs.
THROUGHOUT her teenage years Jane relied on alcohol to block out her demons.
An uncontrollable tearaway, she plunged deeper into drink and then drugs. After trying to kill herself numerous times, today Jane is a 29-year-old recovering alcoholic.
She shared her life story with COLIN ADWENT in the hope of helping others, in the second of our series highlighting the damage booze wreaks on society.
DEVOID of hope, Jane spent ten years attempting to take her life and self-harming while getting increasingly hooked on alcohol and drugs.
Unable to see a way forward through a haze of substance abuse, her pain was rooted in the bullying she received at school and the break-up of her parent's marriage. Although brought up in a loving middle-class family in east Suffolk, by the age of 13 this combination of factors had stripped her completely of her self-worth.
Jane believed life held nothing for her and alcohol was her only friend. Cider, Special Brew and vodka were all welcomed into her life, followed throughout her teenage years by LSD, cannabis and other assorted substances.
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Jane, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said: “I started (drinking) when I was 13 or 14. Between 13 and 14 I was bullied verbally and started getting beaten up a lot.
“When I started drinking it was because I wanted to get drunk. The alcohol took away the pain.
“It made me feel safe, confident, able to cope with life. Pretty much from that day on alcohol was number one.
“When I was a lot younger I went to boarding school and I was put down a year, which made me feel a lesser person. My parents also divorced and I blamed myself for that.”
Jane said by the time she was 16 she was falling asleep drinking and waking up craving alcohol: “I didn't care. It was just round-the-clock drinking unless I was asleep or had passed out. There was a lot of drinking on benches, passing out on them and then coming round.
“It didn't even occur to me that there was a problem. Alcohol was saving me.”
Jane said her school work suffered as it slipped down the priority scale.
“I didn't really have anything else other than alcohol on my mind. I also got into trouble with police pretty much from the start. There were times when I stood outside off licences for two hours waiting for someone to get it for me.”
Jane said her behaviour also became more aggressive when she was drinking and she was arrested by police for being drunk and disorderly.
Drugs followed on from the drink as the desperation for alcohol took hold.
She said: “At 15 I started using quite heavily, amphetamines and other drugs such as LSD, marijuana and magic mushrooms.”
Jane knew she could not carry on the way she was, but the treatments she tried never proved successful on her return to normal life. She said: “I decided I needed help and went into a psychiatric unit in Cambridgeshire. I was there for about a week.
“I was out of control. I didn't want to know about school.
“My mum would sleep at the bottom of the stairs on a mattress to try and ground me, but I would jump off the balcony to go out. I was very streetwise.
“At 16 I moved out. I went into a flat and it got quite bad with the police. From that point I couldn't see life without alcohol. It kept me feeling good and that's all I thought about.
“I was hanging around with people a lot older than me and left school when I was 14 or 15.”
With Jane out of control, her parents were beside themselves. She said: “They were scared. They didn't know where I was. They would sit at the house waiting for me to come home.
“My drug and alcohol use just escalated. While I was drinking at an early age I was beaten up quite a lot.
“At times I knew what I was doing. The drugs blocked out the effects of the alcohol.”
At the age of 17 Jane saw a doctor to get help, and was put on medication for her addiction.
She said: “At 17 I didn't want to drink anymore. It was a craving and I knew I couldn't stop.
“I went to prison on remand for burglary, possession of drugs and breach of bail.”
While there, Jane feigned mental illness to get her fix.
“I provoked that so I got a lot of medication off the doctors while I was there.
“I came out of prison and ended up in intensive care. I knew if I took lots of things I would get out of my head, but didn't realise I could kill myself.
“From that point on I just kept trying to take my life. I was trying to kill myself for ten years on and off, because there was no hope.”
Throughout her teenage years Jane continued to rely on substance abuse to escape from reality. She said: “It changed me so much. It was just amazing. I stole and burgled and it was pretty much every day. A lot of it was just doing it to see what I could get away with.
“At 18 I rarely went out unless I had alcohol in my system. My parents were caring for me 24 hours a day. They had to stand up in court for me. They did more than a parent would normally do. At times they were angry and hurt.
“I was also going to residential care and nursing homes. When I was going into hospital there didn't seem to be any way forward for me.”
At 27 Jane found herself drinking around the clock, and she said: “I decided I wanted to stop drinking again and I couldn't. I went to the doctors and they advised me to detox off the alcohol so I did that. I came out of it a lot worse, gagging for a drink. For a week I was going round feeling like a maniac in my head.”
Jane was put on anti-depressants, sleeping pills, mood stabilisers and valium.
She said: “I was self harming a lot. I tried to kill myself again. When I came round in the morning I decided that was it. I decided I had to do something to change somehow. I went on to the internet and found a treatment centre in Luton. 24 hours later I was up there. It was very hard. The alcohol was not so bad, but by this point I believed I needed the medication.”
Two years on, Jane helps out at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and is intending to become a counsellor herself. She relies on a 12-step programme at AA, to keep her demons at bay.
She said: “I don't think about it at all because I have found the 12 Steps and practice them. I have no desire to drink or use. Life is getting better.
“I have been through every kind of counselling there is. Surrendering and knowing you have got a problem, that's the first step in getting the right help.”
Although Jane said she had a loving upbringing by her stepfather and mother, she could not cope with her lack of self-worth and the bullying that compounded her feelings.
“It was heartbreaking for them. I just couldn't cope with life. It was a cop-out for me, I was trying to be someone I knew I wasn't. It's like a Jekyll and Hyde thing.
“I could be a victim, I could be a criminal. I put all these different faces on, for wherever I was, but today I just choose to be me.”
If you are affected by alcoholism telephone Alcoholics Anonymous' helpline 0845 769 7555 or www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk
N Have you overcome an addiction? Telephone The Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324788.>
N See tomorrow's Evening Star for the booze time bomb being predicted by health services.