Turning the Page, With You: Phil’s Story

After a turbulent upbringing filled with grief, Phil Hetherington from Darlington shares his story of recovery with With You.

For too long, alcohol had taken control of all aspects of Phil’s life: consuming jobs, relationships, and his sense of self.

“Substance only takes, it never gives. One by one it will take jobs, relationships, your licence. It might make you happy when you’re under the influence, but ultimately, you’ve got to wake up.”

Like many, he believed that it was just a normal part of life, one that he could handle. But he soon realised that whilst drinking offered him fleeting moments of happiness, the cost to himself and his loved ones was too high. Leaving school without qualifications, Phil found himself stuck in unsatisfying jobs just to fund his nights out.

“I just thought I was one of the lads thinking; it’s ok, it’s acceptable, it’s what we all do. But I would always go that one step further. I just thought I could handle more – but clearly not.”

Phil’s partner, Anne-Marie

Through all this, his partner Anne-Marie stood by his side through both the highs and lows of their relationship. She shared how she often felt stuck in the middle, without knowing which way to go:

“Our relationship has been up and down. The sober part is a kind heart. But as soon as he has a can in his hand, that’s it. You don’t exist anymore. It’s him and the can. I’ve managed to get through it. I don’t know how, but I have.”

Phil’s path to recovery began when he was introduced to the With You service at STRIDE in Darlington and joined a 12 Steps to Recovery programme. During the programme, every week marked one step. The final week asked each person to give a presentation to reflect on and share their story. Step by step and week by week, Phil and his fellow participants formed a close bond, supporting each other through the ups and downs of recovery.

“Steps 1, 2, and 3 of the programme encourage you to find your higher power – something bigger than yourself. I chose Jesus. Then we got to step 4 and that’s when you have to delve into your life – secrets etc. This loneliness from my childhood that had continued to adulthood; it had all been lifted.”

Phil (left) and Gary Besterfield, Contracts Manager, STRIDE

Today, having graduated from the programme, Phil stands proud – he hasn’t had a drink for over 200 days. His journey has instilled in him a desire to give back, to share the message of hope with others struggling with alcohol dependence.

“Now I’m looking to start volunteering to give the message of hope, that alcohol dependence and drinking isn’t the be-all and end-all. If you can do it socially, then great. But no need to go over the top. It’s not going to achieve anything.”

With You’s Service Manager at STRIDE, Kayleigh Gamblin, celebrates Phil’s inspiring story and reminds us that every milestone in the recovery journey is worth celebrating. She said:

“The team is delighted with Phil’s progress. Through willingness to engage, and commitment to attendance, it shows what can be achieved with the support of an experienced team. Our staff continue to work hard to deliver a service we are proud of and to help improve the lives of more people like Phil.”

Phil and his partner, Anne-Marie

If you or someone you know is seeking support on the path to recovery, With You is here to help. Wherever you are in your recovery journey, we’re here to work alongside you.

Visit the With You website for information and advice, chat with a trained advisor, find your local service or find out how you can support other people on their recovery journeys.

This blog was originally published by With You. You can read the original post here.

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We are proud to work in partnership with many of the leading charities and treatment providers in the sector.

This content was created by With You

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