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Alcohol support

Struggling to beat addiction.

48 replies

bulbnation · 05/01/2022 00:53

Hello everyone, I've been doing a lot of reading on here over the last year or so and tonight I'm really having a hard time.

Three years ago my life went totally to shit basically and I used alcohol to cope. I just gave up.

I've now cut down my units but the number is still HUGE. Like shocking huge. I drank too much before all this but not on this level.

I obviously didn't think it would be easy but the emotional side is so hard. I either feel anxious, ill, miserable, flat or irritable and alcohol is like a constant dangling carrot that makes me feel calm and mildly alright.

I've tried talking to the GP and been to therapy but nothing seemed to really help.

I get that alcohol abuse exacerbates and creates mental health issues but I've had a lifetime of mental health problems and it's never been as bad as this despite all the improvements I have managed to make.

This morning I got up and had a healthy breakfast but then something minor pissed me off and I had a glass of wine. After some of the things that have happened to me in life I feel like I deserve it. I know that's ridiculous but that's how I think at the moment. It's like my thought process gets totally taken over.

Some things have happened in my life that have caused huge amounts of stress and upset. I know everyone has sad times and bad experiences but trust me some of these are fairly extreme. Three years ago the levels of stress were enormous and it seems to have tipped me over an edge somehow. I used to be a very capable person and now stress causes my mind to just shut itself off. I don't even get outwardly or visibly stressed/angry. If anything I'm like a robot. I just silently go get drink and think to myself that I need/deserve it.

I know people might say I'm just making excuses to drink and I'm not discounting that possibility but at the same time it doesn't feel that way. I really don't need an excuse to be honest.

I've not had much today/tonight (by my standards obviously) and I just feel awful, but I feel better for having typed this out.

Can anyone relate to feeling like this?

OP posts:
bulbnation · 17/02/2022 12:25

Oh I forgot to say, this month I managed to untangle my matted hair, for the first time in 18 months (or maybe longer). A lot of it got ripped out in the process so it's really thin but still, a little bit of an improvement.

@FusionChefGeoff @SavBbunny Will fruit and juice be alright for the sugar?

@PromisesMeanNothingSue I wouldn't mind knowing more about dopamine if you're still around. I know a bit about GABA and that has helped me to rationalise some of the anxiety because I know that alcohol has basically repressed the way my body feels inhibitions and fear, so you get this surge of fear as that system restarts and overcompensates as well (I think!).

OP posts:
FusionChefGeoff · 17/02/2022 12:36

I wouldn't piss about if I were you - have haribo or chocolate or biscuits on hand you need an instant sugar hit.

But ultimately don't deprive yourself of anything and replace drink cravings with some sugar as fast as possible.

I really would see if there's an AA group nearby as trying to do it on my own would have been impossible.

SavBbunny · 17/02/2022 14:45

Sugar is fine OP. I get mine from fruit.
Booze is water, rotten vegetables and sugar.
Try to eat a little and often and hit the tea.

Mybestyear · 17/02/2022 14:55

Hi @bulbnation. I am a binge drinker and the binges having been getting more frequent since the lockdown. I’ve drank for days on end at times, fallen asleep in bushes whilst trying to find my stash, been hospitalised, fallen over more times than I can remember, nearly got sacked for drinking at work, upset all of my friends and family…………the only thing I haven’t done is drove drunk – although there will be times I’ve drank the morning after and was probably still over the limit. At one point I drank 40 bottles (forty) of vodka in 2 months “in secret” plus wine and gins in the house. So I completely understand where you are coming from.

You said in your post from 6th Feb “Yesterday I drank very little (for me) and I stopped drinking at 9pm. I was in and out of bed all night with waves of anxiety. I felt really nasty this morning. Headache, shaky, heart racing, sweaty, confused and very irritable. I can't fathom how I used to drink 5-6 times what I do now, it's so scary that I did that to myself. This is scary enough right now.” These are classic withdrawal symptoms. Its actually a good thing that you are cutting down slowly (tapering) if you are a long time heavy drinker.

I’ve tried CBT, counselling, acamprosate (to help with cravings but didn’t work – prescribed by addictions team), antabuse (did work but put my blood pressure too high so had to stop it), journalling, self-help groups, quit lit, colouring in, exercise, talking therapies, meditation…..but I still had a bender at three weeks AF – this was in improvement on a bender every 10 days. I say all this not to be depressing/sound hopeless, but just to highlight just how bloody difficult it is to get out of the grip of alcohol - the only drug we need to justify NOT taking!

I’m a health care professional and I’ve done tones of research in academic journals and spoken to neuroscientists at work who know about how alcohol affects the brain – well as much as anyone can given there is still so much unknown. What is known includes;
• Alcohol messes with our neurotransmitters – dopamine is one of the main ones but also others. Dopamine rewards us when we do something pleasurable (like when we get the first drink, eat cake, skydive or whatever our ‘addiction’ is) and programmes our brains to seek more of it. So even one drink will keep this going which is why we need to be abstinent for a long time/maybe for ever, to create new neural pathways. So we can crave alcohol even after a few weeks of sobriety ie after the initial withdrawal wears off – the alcohol-dopamine reward pathway will take a lot longer to go away (if it ever does).
• Alcohol also messes with our sleep – humans normally start producing sleep hormones/chemicals a few hours before bedtime to get us ready for sleep. But the sedating effect of alcohol does this so our bodies stop producing these. But although alcohol reduces sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep), it also reduces REM sleep which is necessary for health so although we think alcohol helps us sleep, it really doesn’t. It can take a few weeks for the normal sleep inducers to be produced by the body again, so people can give up and turn back to alcohol to help them sleep.
• Heavy drinking changes brain chemistry and structure – the brain itself physically changes and areas become atrophied/shrink, causing poor memory, balance and unstable emotions. There are other effects too but you get the picture.

Despite knowing all this, I still struggle to not drink – the pull is so strong at times. But this is alcohol doing its job well – the whole point of alcohol is that it is intended to get us addicted – that is how billions are made from it. So we are only doing what we are meant to do – and some of us are affected more than others due to genetic, biological and emotional differences. But that is cold comfort when we know the havoc it wreaks.

I recommend the audiobook ‘Alcohol Explained’ (we remember more of what we hear than we consciously see/read) as listening to that gave me my longest period of sobriety. I have started listening to it again and am determined to use every tool in my box to not give in when the cravings/compulsion to drink kick in, as I know they will. Good luck with your journey and keep posting!

SavBbunny · 17/02/2022 15:27

@Mybestyear

Thank you for the post. Very interesting.

UserWithNoUserName · 17/02/2022 15:31

Have you tried a group like AA? Some people do find it helpful, although some don't.
You've done the most important first steps, which is identifying the issue.
It really does get easier. Just take one day- or one hour, or one 15 minutes, whatever- at a time.

Candleabra · 17/02/2022 19:00

Agree with the sugar thing. Just eat whatever you want at the moment, whatever will keep you off the booze. You’ll find your eating will self regulate in time, once you’re not messing up your metabolism with alcohol. But now is not the time to be playing with this. Focus on stopping drinking. It’s enough. More than enough for now. Keep going x

bulbnation · 26/02/2022 13:57

@UserWithNoUserName Hi there, with AA (a few people have mentioned it up thread) I guess there are 2 reasons I haven't gone.

First is that previously I was around a size 28...and that in very forgiving clothes shall we say like baggy leggings and tops. So really I was probably bigger than I thought. I found some scales in our building and got on them, the needle just smashed over to the right hand side and maxed out so I was well over the max weight which was in excess of 20 stone. I'm around a size 20 now.

Just to be clear on what I posted above, when I say I've been making an effort with diet/exercise it's really from a very low starting point. For me it's a big improvement but I should be clear that I've not transformed into what most people would call fit or healthy.

So anyway I didn't want to go to AA because I was worried about whether I could fit into/onto a chair and not break it. I felt like that about all aspects of my life not just AA. There was one time when I had a bag across me and I backed into a very small woman and couldn't feel what I was doing (due to the bag) and I basically had been shoving her across the room and not realised. I apologised profusely when I twigged what I had done but I felt so ashamed just to be alive.

Second reason is because saying to yourself or anonymously online that you're an alcoholic in crisis is one thing, telling a room full of strangers about it is another. I would feel very vulnerable doing that.

I'm too scared basically. Breaking the time down like you say really helps, sometimes just not drinking right this minute is all I can focus on.

@Mybestyear Thank you for all that information. I keep coming back and re-reading it. The part about dopamine in particular makes sense. I keep trying to remind myself that what feels real is chemical and it does help.

I really relate to a lot of what you're saying, the big amounts of units, having benders...please keep going and keep letting me know how you're doing. It's hard going and the bad days are bad (I had an absolute nightmare yesterday) but the willingness to cut down and not drink (even some of the time) to me feels really powerful. There was a time when I didn't think like that at all, I just wanted every drink it was in any way possible for me to get.

I hope you (and every one else who is on here cutting down or AF) stay strong today.

OP posts:
SavBbunny · 26/02/2022 14:08

@bulbnation

Glad things are improving. I was a size 24 last year. I am now a 22 and dropping after going AF. I am not going to lie and say I don't miss wine because I do.
I have been to AA in the past and found it useful and there are bigger people than you.
Have you spoken to your GP? Mine was very helpful.
Take it a day at a time x

TomatoCultivator · 26/02/2022 14:15

Second reason is because saying to yourself or anonymously online that you're an alcoholic in crisis is one thing, telling a room full of strangers about it is another. I would feel very vulnerable doing that

All the strangers at an AA meeting are alcoholics and they will identify with what you say - and you with them.
Please give it a go, op. Also, plenty of plus size people go to AA, that won’t be a problem.

Prettybubblesintheair · 26/02/2022 19:14

Hi op how are you this evening? Well done on your 24 hours sober and your weight loss! Weight loss is an enormous achievement and shows you have what it takes to exercise some will power so that is really hopeful. I’m an alcoholic in recovery, I’ll be two years sober on the 11th of April. Just before I got sober I was drinking a 75cl bottle of vodka plus wines, gins etc. I had awful withdrawals, I stopped cold turkey because I knew I couldn’t moderate to withdraw. It was April 2020 so right in the middle of lock down couldn’t see anyone to be medically withdrawn. It was absolutely horrific, I had seizures, hallucinations, sweats, chills fever, vomiting, accidents with toileting and it took me 10 days to eat solid food but I was just so done with drinking and the living hell my active drinking life had become that I persevered. I think right now you need to cut down as much as possible to ease the withdrawals when you do stop completely but if you are experiencing symptoms it might be worth going to a drug and alcohol help point (there are various names for these, in my area it’s turning point) where you can have your withdrawal medically managed. They will only do this two or three times so it isn’t an easy way out if you relapse frequently. I think in a way I was incredibly fortunate to have gone to AA in lockdown because all the meetings were online which was a much gentler introduction, in the early days I didn’t speak and mainly had my camera off while I sobbed and puked through them! But honestly without AA I wouldn’t be here, those meetings showed me what life could be like. I lost my children through drinking, I now have them 50/50 with their dad. Stopping drinking gave me a life beyond my wildest dreams and I cannot describe the joy of waking up sober and being a present, loving, worthwhile partner, mum and human being. The happiness I get from being sober is so so much than the fleeting spark of false happiness the booze gave me. I’m still fat, I’m a size 20 but I’m not getting bigger despite eating crap because I’m not sinking 1000’s of calories in booze and I’m working on my diet and exercise but I’d still rather be fat and sober than drunk and skinny through liver failure. Just one day at a time, one foot in front of the other. You can do this and your life will be so much richer for it!

Prettybubblesintheair · 26/02/2022 19:21

Sorry I meant to say try and find an online AA meeting, they really helped me. If I hadn’t gone to online meetings I dont know how I’d have had the courage to go to “real life ones”. You can have your camera off at first but I would give yourself a timeline for that, I told myself that after 2 weeks of daily meetings I had to have my camera on and 5 days after that I was going to share (that’s what they call it when you talk). Maybe it’s just me but I felt I needed to be contributing to the meeting after a certain point or it would be too easy to sit in the background.

SavBbunny · 27/02/2022 08:16

@Prettybubblesintheair

Well done.

Prettybubblesintheair · 01/03/2022 13:21

Thank you!

How are you today @bulbnation?

bulbnation · 05/03/2022 12:09

Just a quick note to say I apologise if some of my replies are hard to follow. I find withdrawals make it so difficult to think clearly.

Well done on your weight loss @SavBbunny Smile I actually didn't twig that there would be other/bigger people at meetings but I guess that makes sense. I suppose that's just how self consciousness kicks in and stops you from doing things.

I have a cute dress that I'd like to wear on my birthday soon, it's very stretchy material so it goes on (size 20) but really pulls around the middle and bum areas. It's a long time since I really cared about my appearance/self care in any way at all so wearing that would be a little milestone.

@TomatoCultivator I'll look into my local options, as I said to SavB I just never considered that there would be other larger people there but obviously with alcohol being what it is that would make sense.

OP posts:
SavBbunny · 05/03/2022 12:37

@bulbnation

Well done on thinking about your options.
Booze can make some people eat more. I bindged on both drink and savoury snacks. The image of a skinny alcohol dependent person is perhaps out of date. I saw a few at AA but most are normal or bigger due co conditions.
The last two months AF for me have been hard but i am now functioning better.
Good lucj tbis weekend.

bulbnation · 09/06/2022 12:52

Hey everyone, hope you are all doing well.

I just came back to add some information here that I found really helpful.

I was doing some research into addiction and looked at a few resources about drugs as well. I don't take narcotics and never have but I still identified with a lot of what was being discussed.

One show had an interview between a recovered alcoholic and drug addict and the doctor mentioned that you can get anxiety and bad thoughts recurring at a specific time of day.

From what I could understand this happens when you experience a trauma over and over again every day, eventually your brain and body actually react at that time. That sense of dread can feel like depressed or even suicidal thoughts.

Although I was drinking all day, every day there were times that fit this pattern. For example I wake up at 3am almost every morning and used to feel so bad I drank to get back to sleep. Then I'd get up at 8/9 feeling bad again and have a drink to sort myself out, which usually led to drinking more.

So I realized that I felt that way at 3am and 8/9 for a reason.

I decided to divide the day up into three "sessions" and try to get rid of one at a time. So early morning, normal morning and then the evening.

I took the 3am one first. Every time I woke up I would pace, drink water or if feeling really bad I'd just sit on the sofa and try to cope. It was really awful but eventually I eliminated that session. I still wake up at 3am quite often but don't drink and sometimes I don't even feel the need to get out of bed.

Oddly the evening drinking has come down massively by itself. I've still messed up here and there but most evenings I'm just sipping one glass of wine to deal with shaking and feeling sick. I often don't finish it. Even when I mess up I'm having vastly less than I used to. I didn't have any yesterday evening. Drink free evenings are pretty nice and calming. Never thought I would say that!

That leaves the 8am ish session. I identified the trauma that I was reliving and I've tried to sort through that. The problem is in the morning I feel so shit. Shaky, sweaty, sick and weak. It is getting a bit better but very slowly and inconsistently.

The mornings are especially bad when I've been good the day before. So today I feel extremely rough.

Other than that I've been trying to sort some of the problems that caused all this to really accelerate 3 years ago. Ignoring those problems didn't make them go away and being drunk for all that time has created new ones. One issue in particular is very complicated and even having sought lots of help with it the way to getting it sorted is not clear. All that gives me terrible nightmares. I have no appetite most of the time so feel a bit sick from that too, I try and force myself to eat and when I actually feel like it, I try to eat a lot. I've lost a fair bit of weight quite quickly so maybe it was a good thing I had some extra on or I'd probably feel even worse.

So all in all the mental health side of this has been the key for me. I thought I would describe that process in case it's useful to anyone else.

I'm set up for a good day today, units wise at least. I have no desire to drink anything really so just a few sips of wine so that I can actually get something done. Not ideal of course.

At my worst point I would drink all day from 3am as described. Go out to the pub in the afternoon and drink glass after glass of wine (large). Then I'd go to the shop, get 3 bottles of wine. Drink all that and then do it all over again the next day. I just wanted to die basically.

So if I can come back from that, even if I'm not AF yet, then absolutely anyone can.

OP posts:
bulbnation · 09/06/2022 13:02

@Prettybubblesintheair Congratulations on getting sober Smile Those withdrawals sound terrifying, I'm sorry you had to experience that. I think I experienced seizures but I'm not sure. I've obviously been such a mess anyway.

@SavBbunny How are you doing? I've thought of your posts over the last few weeks. I was thinking about what your friend said about drinking being a selfish thing to do and I realized that what I've done has been very selfish and unfair on the people close to me. Especially since it's hurt them watching me do this to myself.

I grew up in a household where people had no problem putting their own wants before other's needs and I've certainly got a very irresponsible streak in me due to that which I'm trying to work on. Old habits die hard but for a long time I decided that me having a drink was more important than anything else. That's not the person I want to be.

OP posts:
SavBbunny · 09/06/2022 14:17

Hello @bulbnation
I am ok thank you. AF for 5 months. I have had a few blips but they are less now.
Not drinking was hard for me in the beginning. I now don't really think about it that much. I love Gordon's 0%
Have you made it to AA? .

Quitelikeit · 21/06/2022 20:41

Hey I’m just reading your thread well done that’s quite some progress you’ve made

how are you getting on?

bulbnation · 30/06/2022 11:51

Thanks@Quitelikeit As of now I have stopped drinking totally. It's only been a few days. I feel and look like shit. So it would be nice for that to improve because I do have to do things day to day and right now I'm not functioning very well.

I was really surprised how bad the last set of withdrawal symptoms were actually. I thought having cut down so much and withdrawn on the way meant it would be a bit uncomfy and not much more.

@SavBbunny Not gone to AA yet no, but it's certainly on my mind.

I did go to the GP ages ago, like years. He didn't really react to what I told him and I didn't know enough about all this to push.I saw a private therapist and I didn't make much progress there either really. However, I was in a much better place then.

I'll be finding a new GP. Haven't been to one since before all this started so that's going to be nerve wracking because I very much doubt I haven't done some serious damage to myself.

OP posts:
BananaSpanner · 03/07/2022 00:42

Just wanted to say well done. I’ve read your thread and you’ve done remarkably well to go through this without any support. I hope your next GP is more supportive and refers you to support services.

bulbnation · 26/07/2022 13:11

Thank you @BananaSpanner I didn't really ever think I could do it until right at the end. Something finally clicked.


So, essentially I'm very run down from living this way for so long and seem to just be struggling with the basics. I'm still pretty worried about going to the GP and I'm not sure about pushing myself too hard all at once if that makes sense. I have some very stressful/complex problems to resolve in my life and I don't really know what to do about them.

Anxiety levels are sky high. I know drinking makes that worse but I certainly started drinking to manage the levels I had beforehand. I've lost more weight but not in a very healthy way, just can't work up an appetite most of the time.

All in all things aren't great really but I have no desire to drink at all.

On the plus side the expense of drinking is gone. I've built up some big debts over the years so it will be nice to get those sorted out.

It's nice to not have to constantly think about buying in booze and then getting rid of all the bottles. There's a shared bin room where myself and DP live and basically I would open one of the glass bins and everything I could see was mine.

Hopefully when I next update this little diary I'll be a bit healthier and a bit more sorted out.

OP posts:
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