I just read the brilliant article Russell Brand: my life without drugs and, in memory of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, I feel inspired to share my story.

“Drugs and alcohol are not my problem, reality is my problem, drugs and alcohol are my solution,” Brand writes. This is also my truth. I have not picked up a drink, one day at a time, since 3 June 2007.

I am aware of the risks in telling my story. I may be judged, criticised or pitied. I am not a celebrity with a host of fans who adore me regardless. I have chosen to share my story in the hope that it helps another person.

Alcohol became my solution after my marriage ended in 1997. I was 25 and my son was one. I was shattered, heart and soul, to my core. I discovered that alcohol sedated the pain, allowed me to forget and helped me to sleep. I used it to take a holiday from reality. I’d get drunk in nightclubs with friends and find comfort in the arms of strangers. But the drinks slowly got closer together until I was drinking at home, alone, every night.

I had been a daily drinker for five years, from 5.30pm to pass out, before I realised I had lost control. From the outside, my life looked pretty good. I had a delightful son, worked as a journalist for the local newspaper, and lived in my own home. While some close friends may have suspected I had a problem, the rest of the world – including me – was slower to catch on.

But my internal world was hell. I hated myself, and couldn’t stand my own company. I felt angry, resentful, overwhelmed, lonely and ashamed. I fluctuated between anxiety and depression. I had suicidal thoughts most days. But a few drinks would change me. Alcohol was my great enabler and best friend. It made me feel powerful and hopeful and fearless.

I decided to stop drinking after I purchased my first home. It made good sense. I couldn’t easily afford the mortgage and my daily consumption. But when I tried to stop, I was surprised to find I couldn’t. I would drive past the corner store on my way home and tell myself to keep driving. And every day I would find myself at the checkout with bottles of alcohol. Again.

Alcohol had me. I could no longer live with or without it. Alcohol had ceased being my solution – it had become my problem.

Eventually I was desperate to stop drinking and became willing to seek help. I contacted a number in the phone book and went to a support group. I have been in recovery ever since – almost seven years now. My disease was diagnosed. Alcoholism is the combination of a physical allergy and a mental obsession. For an alcoholic, one drink is too many and a thousand is not enough.

Addiction is not simply a lack of willpower. It is a mental, physical and spiritual disease that is progressive and fatal. Addicts have lost the power of choice. I will never be able to drink moderately, no matter how long I’ve been sober. The only solution for me is complete abstinence.

Recovery has been a challenging and rewarding spiritual journey. Sobriety hasn’t always been easy – but neither is life. I’ve had to learn how to deal with life’s changes, uncertainties and disappointments. But I love and respect myself today. I enjoy my own company. I know serenity, joy and peace. I have freedom and choices. All I have to do is live a simple program and not pick up the first drink. One day at a time.

12 thoughts on “One day at a time

  1. So brave and beautifully expressed. It fills my heart to the brim to know you still and see how far you have travelled in that inner journey. Life is infinitely better since our 90’s coping strategies lost their sheen. It’s an honour to have shared parts of this with you, and to be reading your exquisite writing today. love, Chandrika

    • Hi Chandrika, thank you for your kind and heartfelt words. We’ve certainly come a long way! It’s wonderful to be sharing this time in our lives too. I wouldn’t go back to the 90′s for anything! Life is so much richer today. Much love, Summer xxx

  2. Wow. You are full of amazing surprises. Thx for sharing this story.

    • Hi Jac, thanks for your comment. I know it is risky to share my story publicly, but hopefully it may inspire others to seek help. After all, many of us struggle with addiction in its various manifestations. Much love, Summer xx

  3. Michelle Hanton

    Beautifully expressed Summer. It takes great courage to seek help and even more to be public – thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Wow Summer – that was eye-opening. The saying goes that you don’t know a person till you’ve walked a mile in their shoes – this helped me get a little closer to that. Good on you for being brave enough to share and courageous enough to take the decision to fight the addiction and to take it a day at a time xo

    • Hi Susan, thank you for your comment. I agree – we really don’t know the internal battles other people face unless they tell us. All we see is what they show to the world. Thank you for your kind words and empathy, I really appreciate it xx

  5. Summer, this just makes me love you so much more. I’ve always thought of you as an amazing woman – your story confirms it 🙂 x

  6. Maggie Plumb

    The truth is the best and makes us brave and awesome.

  7. I have just read your story and have fought back tears . You are truly brave and will be praying for your continued strength . It is so important to allow our failings(which we ALL have) to encourage and inspire others to know that there is hope .

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