Stephen, 38, works in publishing and, for much of his adult life, like everyone else he knows, he drank. “I wasn’t an alcoholic but every now and then then my social drinking would spiral out of control. At times, I could drink three bottles of wine a day.”
He realised his drinking had got out of control when it hurt the people closest to him. “A relationship broke up,” he says. “Alcohol played a part but I wouldn’t accept that at the time. You lie to yourself. You think you’re OK, you can handle it, but you’re not and you can’t.
“I knew I’d crossed the line when I called my mum when I was drunk. I’d promised myself that I’d never do that. I went into detox, but since then I’ve lapsed a few times.”
Drink was ruining Stephen’s mental health. “By nature, I’m a happy person but after a heavy session, I’d be depressed and feel guilty and angry and disappointed with myself. My father was a heavy drinker. I didn’t want to turn into him. It was like living with a dark cloud.
“Three months ago, I was working in Dublin and drinking. I could see a pattern repeating itself.
Back in London, I went to see my GP and told him I needed help.”
Stephen found himself with a new and perhaps surprising ally in his fight against the bottle – Buddha. Or, more accurately, a combination of cognitive behaviour therapy and Buddhist meditation, known as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). The six-week course was offered on the NHS by the Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust’s alcohol advisory service in London.
“I’d regarded meditation as a bit arty-farty but, in the context of the NHS, I found it very easy to get into because we were a small group, we gave each other support and we were very focused,” Stephen says. “It taught me to control the negative thoughts that once would have me reaching for a drink.”
Source - Times