The power of rehab treatment – “look at me now!”
“Before I sought help for alcohol abuse, getting my own needs met all the time was all I thought about,” explains Kate*. “My closest family members or friends could have lost their job, had their home repossessed, or be struggling to cope with something horrific – such as a life-threatening illness – but I would have been oblivious to their problems.
“I am thoroughly ashamed to say that before going into rehab, my every waking thought was about me, and only me.”
Paying the price
Kate’s behaviour is typical of the hundreds of thousands of people across the UK who regularly abuse alcohol, regardless of the cost. By ‘cost’ we don’t only mean financial - what about the cost to their health, and the price being paid by the people around them?
“Since leaving rehab and becoming a community worker I have described alcoholics as being ‘prisoners’: they feel imprisoned by their addiction and can’t see a way out. As a reformed alcoholic, I explain to others that although the person with the drinking problem may feel like a prisoner, the people around them are also ‘part-serving the sentence’, so to speak” says Kate.
Alcoholics rarely appreciate, or are even aware of, the impact that their addiction is having on those around them. Their loved ones may suffer in silence, wary of inflaming the drinker’s temper (when they are intoxicated, or in a foul mood the day after a heavy drinking session). Also, some partners of alcohol abusers may be financially reliant on their spouse, and so feel economically trapped.
“Kate was what is known, I believe, as a functioning alcoholic: although she was addicted to alcohol and drank morning, noon and night, she was still able to somehow hold down a job,” explains Kate’s partner, Jonathan*. “With two kids to look after, I didn’t work and so had no money of my own to speak of, meaning there was no way I could leave. It was incredibly frustrating. Kate’s selfishness was extremely hard to deal with.”
For partners of alcoholics, life can be a living hell. Heavy drinkers can display the following alcoholism symptoms:
- Verbally and physically abusive
- Emotionally controlling
Drinkers can also be forgetful, and this is something that can be highly dangerous, for them and the people they live with. Jonathan explains: “I put up with Kate’s heavy drinking (and related behaviour) for years, but the last straw for me was when she got home from a bar late one night and tried cook some food. While the oil was heating up in the frying pan she grabbed what was supposed to be a quick shower, but which actually lasted for over an hour. She nearly burned the house down. I took the kids and temporarily moved in with my parents the following day.”
From abuser to listener – all because of rehab
Soon after Jonathan moved out, Kate checked into Manor Clinic. Her treatment was life-changing.
She said: “Seeking help for alcoholism was the best decision I ever made. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had carried on drinking. As well as changing my relationship with alcohol (leading me to giving up alcohol for good), rehab provided by highly trained and vastly experienced counsellors, therapists and clinicians helped change my outlook altogether. Now, I am much more interested in other people. I have become a listener.
“Having my own needs met all the time (as I did when I was drinking) is no longer important to me. My family, friends and colleagues love the change in me. I owe them a lot. When I was a self-absorbed alcohol addict they could have all easily washed their hands of me, but they didn’t. And look at me now!”
*All names have been changed.