It’s time to ‘get busy living’, says Tom.
I had a good childhood and my parents provided all that I needed. My first years at school were great and I made a lot of friends. However, things became difficult and I was diagnosed with colour blindness and dyslexia at six. Specialist help was not readily available and eventually I was sent to a special school. I left after three years and was sent to boarding school where it was thought I would be better helped.
Boarding school was like a prison to me and I was massively homesick. I did make one friend, though. She helped to make things better, but sadly passed away. This led to a suicide attempt when I was 14. The school did their best but didn’t really know how to help a troubled teenaged boy through puberty. I started drinking with my friends at 15 as we could get into pubs.
I left boarding school and went to college for about a year. There, I started smoking cannabis. This led to cocaine use, but I never felt I was addicted. I started taking pills in my late teens too, but my drinking was not an issue at that point as I was involved in the clubbing and party scene. At 20, I met a girl and fell in love. I went to work in a pub, which is when my problems with alcohol started as pub life naturally revolved around drinking.
I took a job in sales but the pressure told on me, and was reflected in my drinking. I was drinking more than two litres of vodka per day by this stage. My girlfriend broke up with me after seven years together and shortly afterwards I was made redundant. I started drinking even more heavily along with taking pills, using cocaine and anything else I could get my hands on.
I got another job and met another girl, who would later become my wife. I started to work from home and my drinking was easy to hide. I lost my job two weeks after the wedding as my drinking affected my job performance. My drinking was out of control and my wife threw me out. I became homeless and spent three weeks on the street in sub- zero temperatures.
I tried different dry houses, but they couldn’t allow me to stay as I continued to drink. I spent weeks on the streets and eventually called my parents who allowed me to move back to stay with them with the understanding that I would get help. I got involved with RISE which was helping, when my parents sold up and moved to Bournemouth. This led to me starting to drink heavily once more.
I stayed with a friend for three months but stayed drunk enough to feel stable. My wake-up call was when I had a seizure. That’s when RISE referred me to Churchfield. Here, I have one-to-one sessions and take part in activities. This has been my first period of stability in a long time. Though I still drink to maintain myself. I have been offered a detox and rehab placement in Bournemouth, which will become a reality once the funding is agreed.
I’ve spent too long destroying myself. I want to live on my own by the time I am 40 and go back to college. I want to help others who are going through some of the things that I have. My favourite quote is from The Shawshank Redemption – ‘get busy dying, or get busy living.’ I want my life back! I have hope after chaos.
Churchfield & Cherington is one of four services run by the Social Interest Group, specifically geared towards treating drug and alcohol misuse. The other services are Aspinden Wood, Brook Drive and Brighton Women’s Service.