“I thought my life was over when I stopped drinking – but it was just beginning…”

Alma is a 39-year-old single woman, a writer who is presently single with no children, she tells us her amazing story of how drinking led to a life that became so unbearable she attempted suicide – but she found Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and it has totally transformed her life.

“There was little alcohol consumption in my family growing up, and no drug use. But there was rage and constant criticism from my mother. She suffered from untreated depression and anxiety.

So aged 12, I started drinking as a means to cover up my fears and insecurities. From the start to the end, it was the same pattern of blackouts, severe hangovers, and remorse for my behaviour while drunk. For the same reasons, started at the same time, I also used prescribed and illegal drugs.

Now I’m aware that I also used other things to change the way I felt – relationships, sex, shopping, work, and I was addicted to chaos. If I wasn’t creating my own, I got involved in other people’s. Everything was to distract me from the emotional anguish I felt.

I got drunk and high every day, even during school time. I couldn’t even enjoy simple but valuable things such as time with family or friends because my mind was always on when my next drink or drug was going to be.

That spiral downwards continued until I was about 24 – when I was facing three years in prison for alcohol and drug-related crimes. I’d also had failed suicide attempts.

Everything I said I’d never do I did to feed my obsession for drink and drugs. I lied, cheated, betrayed friends, stole from family and society, put myself in dangerous situations and became a person I despised. All my morals were placed behind the cart as my addiction drove me.

My world was bleak, and life felt without purpose. I was contemplating suicide again.

Luckily, I went to an addiction support centre in Ireland. There I was told about Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. I went and was welcomed with open arms. The help was amazing.

For two years I stayed sober and clean by going to AA & Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and working the 12 Steps, a way to live a fantastic life free of drink and drugs. I wanted nothing to do with anything religious, and it’s not connected with any religion, but it is spiritual.

You’re free to choose the god of your understanding or be an atheist or agnostic. What resonated for me was the saying I heard in AA that: “Religion is for people who fear hell and spirituality is for people who have been to hell.” I’d certainly been to hell in my addiction – and it was the spirituality in the AA programme that saved my life.

It’s also free, although you can donate if you want. There are meetings everywhere. But after two years I thought if I stayed away from drugs, I’d be okay to drink. It was horrific, worse than ever. So, I went back to AA and was welcomed again with open arms. No one judged me.

By going to AA & NA meetings, I’ve now lived without any drink or drugs for 10 years by doing the 12 Steps, and through the 12 Steps helping lots of people who come to the meetings looking for help.

At first, I must admit I thought my life was over, that it was going to be boring from then on. It turned out to be the opposite. Every year since I stopped drinking, I’ve spent five months travelling. I’ve visited 42 countries! I’ve also taken up hobbies such as scuba diving and paragliding.

I have recently left my rewarding career in social care with the courage to follow my dream of living in Spain and writing a book. Most importantly, I can now enjoy time with family and friends.

If anyone thinks they might have a problem or know someone like this, get in touch with AA. Don’t let fears and negative thinking keep you locked in a destructive pattern.

Thanks to AA I have found real freedom and happiness, as well as the ability to face life’s difficulties without having to run to drink to cope. My life today is absolutely amazing.”