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‘I Got Married, We’re Expecting a Baby, But My Addiction Took Over’: Tom’s Story

Tom in trees on addiction

‘I was on a path of destruction, a real downward spiral. My drinking habits became even worse during lockdown. Poking my head out of lockdown and back into reality, I knew my drinking and drug habits were in no way manageable anymore. I got married this year and we’re expecting a baby, so big life-changing events were happening, but my addiction completely took over – it had really got on top of me.

‘Before Help Me Stop, I tried a few therapists who just weren’t very helpful for me. I didn’t connect with them at all. But I couldn’t stop by myself either. So really, I had no option other than to try the Help Me Stop programme. To be completely honest, I didn’t think this would work either. But I did know that without doing this, I was facing complete destruction. I had a short window of time between doing this programme and my wife giving birth.

‘Arriving in treatment, I think I share the same experience that most people have. I thought that nobody here would understand my problems, but very quickly, I came to understand that the problems I have were shared with everyone here. They’re just not spoken about in day-to-day life, which is why it can feel so daunting before coming in. It’s a rolling programme at Help Me Stop, so there were peers who were further ahead in the programme than me and that helped me so much to settle in. I was lucky on my first day to hear an in-depth and heartfelt life story from one of my peers. This was a really great thing to come into. I’d never heard someone speak so honestly before about addiction. It really encouraged me that I wasn’t alone.

‘The mixture of structure and variety was great. Having a Process Group every day, to talk about what’s going on collectively and experience the camaraderie between us all was great. I could always identify with what other people are saying. The personal assignments were great too because it required me to do some work and be really honest with myself. The therapy and the wider themes we explored in workshops were helpful too – there was always something I could identify with and that made me feel human.

‘The other thing that is really helpful with the therapists here is that they’ve experienced and come through addiction. One of the main reasons I didn’t really trust the therapists I’ve had before is that they hadn’t had addiction issues themselves. I was able to open up to the treatment team here because of their openness and experience in recovery.

‘I’ve just completed the programme and I’m six weeks into my recovery now. I’m feeling optimistic about the future. My wife and I are in week 38 of the pregnancy now. I’m excited and nervous about becoming a dad. I just want to do the best that I can. My wife is doing a lot better now too. I think partners of addicts are actually the most forgotten person, above and beyond the addict themselves. Help Me Stop has been really helpful for my wife too, helping her understand the nature of addiction. We’re more in tune with each other than we ever have been.

‘I do know the hard work has only just begun but I have the right tools to help me going forward. Trusting my sober judgment is really important to me. I also intend to stay close to my peers and the fellowships, to help me through dark patches that I know I will have. I’m going to be attending aftercare every week too, to continue seeing familiar faces. It helps me and I know it helps others too, to stay connected.’

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*Stock photo to protect client confidentiality.