Skip to content

Cocaine and Alcohol in the Construction Industry: Richard’s story

Construction workers in silhouette, on a construction site at sunset with an orange sky
  • Construction industry workers are calling us in greater numbers for help to stop cocaine and alcohol.
  • Working high up in a construction business, Richard found his work, health and relationships were all suffering because of addiction.
  • Richard chose our Online Rehab, to fit with his work and family commitments.
  • Working in a male-dominated profession with a big drinking culture, Richard tells his story of addiction, treatment and recovery here.

Contact us for confidential advice about alcohol and cocaine treatment. Please call 0208 191 9191 or message us via Live Chat.

The male-dominated construction industry where cocaine and alcohol are rife

Richard says, ‘Addiction is a huge problem in the construction industry. I see it all the time in others, and it got to me too. It’s alcohol and cocaine particularly in our trade, but many of the guys are gambling too. On site, it’s probably 95% men. There are also many Eastern Europeans who work in our industry, and they have a big drinking culture. The thing is that guys in construction are often well-paid tradesmen. Many get 60 to 70 grand a year, and that can easily fund an addiction to alcohol and cocaine.

‘As men, we just don’t really talk as openly and freely, and our mental health suffers because of that. In our industry, we’re surrounded by other men, so there are fewer opportunities to say what’s really on our mind.

‘It’s all bravado on the outside, but inside we’re dying.’

Absolutely sick of alcohol and cocaine

Richard says, ‘Three months ago, I was drinking most days. I was drinking in isolation, drinking on every emotion I felt. My health had deteriorated so much. My blood pressure was through the roof. My liver was tender, constantly throbbing – the blood count levels were four times what they should be. I was overweight too, but I really wasn’t a big eater. I was just so bloated from alcohol.

‘I wasn’t doing well at work either. I’m high up in the business, but I wasn’t contributing much at all. I was low, so depressed. I really didn’t like myself.

‘I was absolutely sick of drinking, but I was very anxious all the time, so I thought I needed alcohol. I did cocaine over the weekends too, so Mondays were always awful. I would have to get away from the office, sit in the car by myself, so I didn’t have to be around people.

‘In my personal life, the days of me being a sociable guy, talking to everyone and having fun, they were gone. I’m from a working-class background, most of my childhood friends were also addicted to cocaine and alcohol or gambling, but the majority were in denial. They were tight friends, but I couldn’t go out in the end.

‘Three years ago, I went into a rehab for addiction, stayed in for a month. I did well for a while. I was going to the gym a lot when I came out. I picked up a bad injury a few months later and I couldn’t exercise for four months. That set me off with alcohol again. I realise now that I was using exercise back then to control the urge to drink and use. I was drinking more because I couldn’t go to the gym.

‘Within a year my drinking was back to levels even worse than before I went to rehab. My relationship was suffering and became toxic and full of resentments. There was too much alcohol involved from us both but in particular me. I wanted to stop for ever and could see the impacts it was having in all of my life, so I needed change and was ready to embrace it.

Alcohol and cocaine treatment at Help Me Stop: Richard’s experience

‘I picked the Online Rehab because it fit so well with my life. I was getting encouragement from my family and friends to do it. I had done ten days off drinking, but then I started again, so I knew I needed some proper help. I didn’t want to go back to a residential rehab facility. So, I found Help Me Stop online. I gave it a go, and it was great. This time I was doing rehab for myself.

‘And the other thing is this: when you are doing this treatment programme, you’re doing it in the real world. When I went into a residential rehab, it was easy to not drink because I was away from home, staying in the middle of nowhere. There was no access to alcohol at all. With Help Me Stop’s Online Rehab, it was two and a quarter hours per day. I was working before group sessions, then working afterwards. I was in my life, dealing with everyday stuff, which I could talk about in treatment. At the time, things were quite hostile at home, going through a separation which is always difficult especially when we have kids together, but I didn’t get so tripped up by it. We were still living under the same roof, so I could deal with stuff as it was happening.

‘Within a few weeks, I was right back in the business. I was performing much better at work, much more present. I was just so tired when I was drinking all the time – even when I was sleeping, it wasn’t real sleep. My energy levels began to rise, and now they are through the roof. I am up in the morning between 5.30am and 6.30am. I am here and available and switched on.’

‘Whilst in treatment, there were also some work events, a couple of corporate black-tie dos, so I made the decision in group not to go to those. I didn’t want to put myself in that situation early on. I was very happy I didn’t go.

‘After a month of not drinking alcohol, my liver function was almost back to normal, and my blood pressure was sound too. I have lost a lot of weight too, about a stone and a half, and gained muscle. I’ve had to buy a load of new T-shirts. I’m two and a half months sober now.

‘One thing I did in treatment was to take a photo of myself every week. I started Help Me Stop on the Monday, then every Monday I would take a picture to reflect later. There was such a difference, it was brilliant to see that, and to show my myself how well I was doing. For anyone going through rehab, I’d really recommend that to track the change in yourself as it is great motivation.

‘I extended for another couple of weeks at the end, to spend a bit more time on acceptance. I had a real lightbulb moment with one of the therapists, Julie. We were talking about acceptance, and I said it was a life sentence. Julie said, ‘But you have got acceptance today,’ and that hit me. I really got the ‘one day at the time’ message of recovery from addiction.

Read More: Online Rehab Recovery Stories

Think of therapy as a gym for the mind

Man in black clothes holds steel dumbbells in his hands, with caption 'consider a therapist in the same way as a personal trainer'

‘Our group in the Online Rehab built to be great. There was lots of identification. I extended because there was a lot of stuff going on at home, it was just good to talk to people about what’s happening.

‘When it comes to my relationship, it is finishing but I am good with that. It is the right thing to do. My relationship with the kids is good and will only get better without alcohol in my life.

‘I think in some ways doing this programme is like going to the gym. Sometimes you don’t want to go. It can sometimes feel like it will be draining to talk about your emotions. But then you always feel better when you go.’

To book a confidential assessment for alcohol or drug treatment, please call 0208 191 9191 or send us a message via Live Chat.

Take our free drug use severity questionnaire or our free alcohol use severity questionnaire, to get a clear picture of your current risk level, and your tailored recommendations for treatment and support.

Recent Articles

Building a Recovery Community

Having recently returned to Help Me Stop as Director of Treatment Services I want to share some thoughts on the importance of developing our recovery community further. I am honoured
Read More
university building

Drugs and University

University is an exciting time for young people but it also comes with a lot of risks. Peer pressure, new surroundings and often a new-found sense of freedom, can result
Read More
sober living word on green road sign with sunset in background

Sober Summer Nights

The beer gardens are open and summer is here, so how are you going to go about those sober summer nights spent socialising? Here is everything you need to know
Read More