JON is a recovering alcoholic from the UK. In this latest episode of our How To Build Community podcast, he shares a raw and powerful story of his struggle with addiction and his journey to recovery. Along the way, he reflects on how best you can support people you know who are facing similar challenges. Listen to his story here or read the highlights below.
Jon was a teenager when his relationship with alcohol began, and it was a long time before he realised that he had a problem.
He says, 'It certainly wasn't the taste of alcohol I fell in love with, it was what it did to me as a person - it managed to reach inside me and remove all the fear I was experiencing and all those insecurities and all the shyness - I turned into someone who I was not and I loved it for that reason.'
The turning point
By the time his son was born a few years later, Jon knew that his addiction was controlling his life. He decided that it was time to do something about it, but despite his best efforts he soon went back to drinking. His addiction badly affected his behaviour making life very difficult for the people closest to him.
‘I just wanted to be in blackout so I didn't have to face the reality of everything I had created,’ he says.
Eventually Jon reached such a low point that he was finally able to admit that he needed help: ‘Ironically, it needed to get to that level of darkness and pain for it to crack me enough… It had to get painful enough for me to realise that the problem was in me, it was not anywhere else.’
‘I said to myself, ‘I cannot do this anymore. I do not want to do this anymore.’
With the help of a support group called Alcoholics Anonymous, Jon was able to talk about his alcohol problem with other people struggling with addiction. This was a turning point in his recovery. Over time he was able to stop drinking, learn to love himself again and rebuild relationships with his family and friends.
How to help others
It is often very difficult to know how to help friends or family members who are struggling with addiction. Often the person with the addiction will defend their actions and become even more difficult if challenged. Jon says, ‘Unless the person is ready, they will not want to hear you’.
Jon talks about the importance of ‘letting go with love’. Jon always knew he was loved - even when his relationships were being damaged by his addiction - and in the end this made it possible for him to recover. His advice: ‘Let them know that you love them and you are there for them - but you are not there to enable their behaviour. It is a fine line to walk.’
Alcoholics Anonymous is a global network committed to helping people overcome their drinking problems. The support they provide is based on the simple foundation of one alcoholic helping another.
Click HERE to get a resource on 'How to support people with addictions and raise awareness of drug abuse' from our friends at TearFund.