Addiction, Health, Behaviour Change | CGL

Sarah's story - Alcohol Awareness Week 2018

sarah - photo of a lady collecting an awardThe theme of this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week is ‘change’. In this story, Sarah talks about her problems with alcohol and her experience of change.

Drinking alcohol stopped being fun for me a long time ago. Having been diagnosed with clinical depression, I misused illicit substances to self-medicate for years. With alcohol being a depressant, it made my condition worse.

I didn’t need a reason to drink, I would drink if I was sad or happy, angry or ecstatic. As alcohol is a legal substance, it is so easy to get hold of and is a socially acceptable drug. Friends and family couldn't understand how they could just have one drink and I couldn't.

In my own life drinking was more taboo as being an Asian woman and Muslim it is against my religion and you are shunned by the community, which can prevent you from getting the right help.

After a relapse and a week-long alcohol binge, I began to have seizures. The psychosis and seizures became unbearable and I ended up living on the streets and not caring if I lived or died. At this stage I was turning yellow - my health was so bad, I was told I had done a lot of damage to my liver.

Then one day my ex came and found me and dragged me to detox. It saved my life and was delivered with care and compassion.

After 6 months it was suggested I go to Inspire Blackburn for my aftercare. Inspire were the crutch that helped me get my life together. I learnt coping strategies and ways to stop triggers.

Three years later I have been promoted from peer mentor to volunteer, I facilitate groups at Inspire and support outreach and engagement in the recovery community. I am also on my second year of a degree course in substance misuse.

I was voted woman of the year by the Asian cohesion group this year. I also have founded The Blackburn Women’s forum, a wellbeing and support group for all women in the town.  

I was one of the lucky ones, I recently had a health check and the nurse commented on my liver readings, saying they were the equivalent to a person who had never drunk alcohol. Everyone has different goals, but for me, change means total abstinence, and my life is so much better for it.

Click here to find out more about Alcohol Awareness Week 2018.