Alan, originally from Leeds, shares his story with us.

'I was brought up around people who drank alcohol regularly,’ Alan told us. 'They enjoyed a drink and would drink every week, sometimes every night. It was the norm.'

At age fourteen, Alan began drinking himself, 'a natural progression.' At eighteen, he started going to the pub to feel part of something, and to fit in with his friends. 

'I got into playing pool and snooker which meant going to the pub, and I got hooked on both,' he says.

Becoming an alcoholic

Alan continued to drink steadily, until, at the age of 37, he realised the alcohol had taken control. He admitted to himself that he was an alcoholic. 

'I separated from my wife in 2000,’ he explains.  ‘The separation wasn’t due to my drinking, but it quickly took over. I moved in with my sister who was smoking weed and drinking with friends, so I joined in. I thought it would help take my troubles away and help me sleep.'

Unfortunately, there was no going back to his wife, so in 2001 Alan moved back to Leeds to live with his mum. He got a job in a pub – something he now realises was not a good idea. The drinking increased.

Two years later, Alan’s mum was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour.

'I asked for help, but none came.'

'I supported her, but I struggled doing it alone with no help.  I asked for help, but none came and things got worse.'

'Everything got too much and I attempted suicide.'

Alan’s drinking continued to escalate; he was soon drinking 24/7. Then, in, 2014 he became homeless.  

'I felt safer on the street than being alone, but things then got worse as I was diagnosed with cancer. My drinking increased to cope.'

'I realised I needed to stop drinking for my health. I gave up my flat so I could go into treatment. It took a while to get into it, but I haven’t drunk alcohol since July 2015.'

Rebuilding confidence: joining MILE and NewSteps

Following his recovery, Alan joined our NewSteps programme.

NewSteps connects people with similar experiences, and helps to fill the void often felt by those who leave substances behind.  The programme helps develop skills and confidence through volunteering in projects away from drugs and alcohol.

These projects provide a genuine benefit to communities in Wales – a benefit which helps give our participants a renewed sense of self-worth and purpose.

Alan also completed our MILE programme, which takes people who are comfortable and confident in their recovery and trains them to use their valuable experiences to become volunteers in the substance misuse sector, helping those who are starting out on their own paths to recovery.

'These programmes, MILE in particular, really gave me confidence and helped with my recovery,’ Alan told us.  ‘So much so that I have just gotten through Christmas, despite daily cravings and constantly thinking about drinking.’

'It was really hard to deal with, especially being alone, but I kept reminding myself of what I used to be like and what my life was like on the street.  I thought about my health, what I looked like and what I lost. I reminded myself of everything I’ve learned and achieved.'

'I have a nice flat, my health is reasonable and my social life without drinking is better. I understand myself better now and put myself first.  I’ve been setting myself goals and I have a chance to gain a qualification in counselling with the Cardiff and Vale College!’

It’s not been easy, but it gets easier every day.