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Member Case Study Three

I would like to introduce myself I am a person in recovery from alcohol addiction for 12 months I drank my way through life, to which point my addiction had become so bad I knew I had to get out of the spiral of addiction that had become my life.

I remember the day that I decided to try and put an end to the spiral so well, as I walked from the caravan that I called home a far cry from the family home I had left only 12 months ago. Walking down the road I had two choices to make turn right to where the store lies and of course the alcohol that I now could not do without, I could pick up a bottle and retreat to the caravan and drink just to numb out for a while short term relief as I would have to do this all again in 4 hours' time. Why you may ask well two reasons the first being my body and feelings would need more alcohol the uneasy feelings would have returned the shakes, the sweats and the panic of not having any more alcohol. Now the worst of the two reasons the shift change at the store, I had conned myself into believing that no one knew I had already brought alcohol that day that's how bad my addiction had become.

The second choice was to turn left to where the blue gate lies this gate leads to the outside world of the holiday park I was calling home. A barrier both physically and emotionally was a relationship I had with this gate, beyond the gate lies the outside world a bus stop, a footpath all I had to do was walk through the gate.

Well I am glad to say that is exactly what I did that day, I took a deep breath and pulled the gate open and took a step into the outside world something I had not done for over 4 weeks. I had a vague plan in mind as I took my first step I had planned this all night, I had very little money so the bus was not an option so it was a long walk. But I had my plan in mind as I walked along the footpath I kept working it through in my mind if I couldn't do it I could always turn back to world of addiction I was trying to escape. You see for me this was not something new to me I had tried to fight this addiction just 12 months before, but just like so many people who have had formal treatment for addiction I had failed. I had done it for the wrong reasons I did it for someone else trying to please others not because I wanted to, the only lesson I had learnt was this time the relapse was so much worse than the first time but I knew where to go. In the back of my mind was the thoughts would they let me in would they help I didn't know so I just walked on.

The place I went to was Bridge a place I had been before and ok from my first experience it was more like an adult youth group where people just looked at you but it was worth a go. After all I had walked all this way and if I couldn't do it I knew a place where I could seek liquid relief but I wanted out of this spiral.

Well I made it through the door that day and those thoughts I had going through my mind on that walk where untrue I was not judged and I was helped, I made it into recovery where I am today. I would like to share just what Bridge means to people in recovery or those seeking help with an addiction.

From my early days at Bridge I remember that as an addict at the time we are used to being constantly being judged or labelled by society, the usual drunkard, alky, boozer along with the question a lot people ask why don't you just stop drinking that one always made me laugh to myself if only I could as I wanted to.

I admit I was not in a good place and certainly didn't look good back then, having lost so much weight clothes just hung from me but I tried with what little bit of self-respect I had left to look my best. But from that first day no one looked down at me or seemed to judge me in anyway. In fact, I felt safe here the first time in a long time. I was given a cup of tea and spoke to someone who listened to me while I waited to see Becki who it turned out would be my keyworker, I was that comfortable here I even made an appointment the following day for a gym induction just what was I thinking I thought to myself as I walked out the door.

I made it the following day happy even got there early for my induction so with time to kill, I took a seat with a cup of tea and a guy came over and introduced himself as Chris he was a recovery champion he told me and we had a good chat over the cup of tea.

After taking a deep breath I entered the gym I don't know if Wade the instructor had sensed my unease of being in the gym being surrounded by all these people working out while I was trying to take in all that I was being told. But Wade shared his story with me he too was in long term recovery, and I can always remember that time we spent together talking me thinking never could this fit person have had the same struggles with addiction as I had. I was so inspired that I booked a 1 to 1 session for the following day and so my Bridge journey had started.

From gym sessions to my 1 to 1 times with Becki my confidence started to grow and I tried everything I could I was even invited to attend the opening launch of the canoes that had been gifted to Bridge. Remembering back whilst I was writing this my eyes where opening up and I was even not drinking so much this was so I get to Bridge, taking part being involved was a real drive for me I was even eating something new to me as alcoholic. I was so inspired I even had to get a diary so I could keep track of now busy life a source of amusement now to both my keyworkers such a busy life I have to fit them in nowadays.

But Christmas was coming and I was struggling it was a bad time for me as I was alone no family to share it my addiction had taken care of that, and everywhere I went in that last week before Christmas it all seemed to be about family. So I disappeared went into survival mode at the time as an addict does I guess looking back it was the worst thing I could have done. Christmas passed along with my birthday on the 27th which I spent alone but I had my detox booked for the 3rd of January, but where else would anyone care but Bridge Becki who went the extra mile as she knew I had a detox date and took the time to ring around to see if I made it to detox and if I was safe.

Once out of detox my Bridge life continued in fact the very day I came out I was in bridge having a cup of tea and a catch up with Becki, Wade and Chris, I had such a new zest for life and had my aftercare plan to now start working on. So, I went along to the housing support drop in where I met Julia how helped me with my housing advice and completing my application, something else that Bridge is really good at.

My bridge journey continued, you see the more you get involved the more you get back as I have learnt, but it was back in the gym that my Bridge family grew. Julia was running a circuit group that had just started and with Wade a few of us were persuaded no pressganged to join in. I knew a few of the guys that joined in not that well but would say hi to each other. Well that was months ago now the circuit group continued running well past its planned duration, as for us 3 originals we attended every session without being pressganged we strangely looked forward to each Wednesday afternoon and we are best friends now.

After a circuit session, the three of us were sitting there having a cuppa and having a catch-up when I seem to remember saying to them why don't we do something together test ourselves when I had the idea of a mud run. You see I am good at coming up with bright ideas but that was the day that team "Julia's Victim's" was born our little way of giving back something to Bridge as they have helped us and a 5k mud run can't be that hard can it. Well the team has grown from the three of us to five now and true to form not a 5k anymore but 10k as it can't be that hard can it. Julia even told us of a local 5k park run on a Saturday so yes, we even run that together now, we were never gym or fitness knuckleheads it's just something we do now normally egging each other on. But we all for the first time have real friendships we have a bond not just that we are in recovery but we never judge each other and we support each other.

If I ask you to take a moment to think of what makes a nurturing environment where you would like to be, here is what I would come up. Somewhere that is loving that is both physically and emotional safe, where you are accepted where you are believed in, a place you can grow learn and make mistakes, that is also supportive of you and finally also full of joy. That would sum up all the things that I get from Bridge and it means to me.

Bridge Substance Misuse Programme Ltd is a Social Enterprise, company registered number 06221493. Registered office 63c Gold Street, Northampton, NN1 1RA.