|We’ve been asking you about your personal journeys whilst in lockdown. Here is what a student from Lincolnshire had to say…
I had not heard of Double Impact prior to being hospitalised due to excessive drinking. Addiction has always been with me, excitement, fear and alcohol had always been part of my life. However, I began to drink more after operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, in an attempt to block out memories and as an aid to sleep. I was informed of the organisation’s existence by a nurse in the hospital. I was sceptical about the value of attending meetings, due to preconceived notions of Alcoholics’ Anonymous. I have no dislike of AA, but the thought of sitting in a touchy-feely group and outpouring my emotions to strangers filled me with dread. It was the encouragement of my spouse who cajoled me to attend.
The very last thing I needed was tea and sympathy and the first step of contacting the organisation was the hardest. There was tea, but little “sympathy” I’m glad to say. There was encouragement, but more importantly, practical support and the realisation that everybody’s path to recovery is different and the pace of the journey differs.
Perhaps one of the useful tools for me was articulating where I was and where I wanted to be. It is only when encouraged that you realise just what you’ve been missing, or at least what you have chosen to miss. I am currently working through SMART Recovery website and have discovered useful tools that can be used in other aspects of your life, aside from your self-consuming addiction.
My spouse has attended the Friends and Relatives’ meetings and while she does not discuss their content due to confidentiality, I know that she gets a great deal from meeting people in a similar position. I have realised that far from being a drain on society, recovering addicts have much to offer in terms of life experiences.
The meetings are carried out in an organised and constructive manner and full participation is encouraged but not insisted upon. When I attended my first meeting I was happy to just listen and “scope the terrain.” I have come to enjoy the meetings and look forward to them, enjoying their relaxed, informal and sometimes appropriately humorous manner.
This is due to the facilitators’ skills and empathy, which is so important to people, who may be feeling isolated and hopeless in these strange times we are living in. Because addiction has a selfish aspect, I often forget that the facilitators may themselves be feeling below par sometimes and it’s a credit to them that they carry on with the work, which must in some cases be emotionally draining.
I was impressed that a contingency plan was in place to carry on reaching out to people, via other means apart from face-to-face contact. Despite its limitations, zoom and other media has enabled us to remain in contact in a forum that is challenging, constructive and well run. I have been so impressed with Double Impact that I would willingly volunteer as a helper, to give something back for the organisation and people that have given much to me. It has helped me realise that addiction need not necessarily take over my life and it can be confronted and managed, to enable me to lead a normal life.