Former alcoholic Dean Smith is is encouraging people to sign up to Dry January (January 1-31) to avoid letting drink get the better of them.
Dean, from Leeds, said although his story is extreme people should learn from it and he wants to raise awareness about the effects alcohol has on a person’s physical health as well as social and mental wellbeing.
“I blame no one for my drinking or my addiction,” said Dean who first began drinking as a youngster to overcome social anxiety but over the following decade his dependance on alcohol led to three attempts to take his own life. “I drank to hide from pain, decision making, guilt, shame and remorse. The fault lies with me and me alone,” he said.
Dean explained that drinking took control of his life and he turned into a “lying and deceitful person”.
“It got to the point where I was even drinking vodka out of an Oasis bottle on the journey to work. The addiction was in my bones, mind and body.”
In 2006 he was caught drink driving. “I was five times over the legal limit and given an 18 month ban. I received a large fine but managed to escape jail by being placed in my dad’s custody. I still didn’t realise I was addicted to alcohol, that’s how clouded my judgment was. I needed support.”
After hitting rock bottom, Dean ended up in hospital and on medication which would make him vomit if he had alcohol.
“As soon as I was home I went to get a drink and then went straight for the sink knowing I would vomit. It was November 13, 2006 and I had hit rock bottom.”
“But the third time at the sink I just had an overwhelming feeling, I couldn’t do it any more and poured the rest of the alcohol away.”
Knowing he needed help Dean enrolled on a 12 step programme. “I wasn’t one of those people who would ask for help and most of the time I didn’t think I needed it. Alcoholism makes people think what they are doing is normal.”
By getting the help he needed Dean has turned his life around. “My life isn’t perfect but I have a peace of mind and I’m able to sleep knowing that I’ve not hurt anyone.
“I have re-married and have people in my life for which I feel really lucky. Having a drink has not entered my mind since that night at the sink and I know that if I do have a drink, it’ll be the death of me.”
But every alcoholic’s experience is different and Dean said it was important for people to look for similarities to his story and not differences. “Support is available but the person with a drink addiction is the only one who can realise they need it.”
KNOW YOUR LIMITS