Our Story Of Addiction – Part 2 | Teenage Years
I had always consciously thought about the fact that I didn? want to end up like my step father and because at the time I believed he was actually my real Dad (a long story that has no bearing here really) I was worried that I had his genes and that I would actively have to protect myself from inheriting his problem so I was wary about my drinking habits.
I didn? abstain completely but certainly, my binges were few and far between. In fact with minimal effort I could probably recall the number of times in the years from 15-20 when I was properly drunk. Alcohol was around in my circle of friends and I drank with my them but I hardly ever went too far and would normally stop drinking once I started to feel a sense of losing control. I hated that feeling and would avoid it where possible. I was more likely to be the one getting everyone else who was drunk home. I guess some of my friends thought I was a bit boring.
When I was 16 my step father left us. He had been having an affair and left my Mother for another woman. It was just before my birthday and I remember not getting any presents that year. He had frozen all of the bank accounts. Or so my Mum said. Not long afterwards, on a Saturday night, my sister went to youth group and didn? come home. We went to look for her and found her paralytic on the school sports field. She was so drunk she couldn? speak, walk, or keep her eyes open. My Mother and I sat with her in shifts all night, worried that she would swallow her vomit or tongue and die. She was in a terrible state. How she didn? succumb to alcohol poisoning I don? know.
In the morning she got up and acted as if nothing happened, as did the rest of the family. Not a word was spoken about it other than to say she still had to do her chores. We had become good at ignoring how alcohol was affecting our lives and my 13 year old sister nearly killing herself on a bottle of vodka was no exception.
13 years prior Dave had also began his drinking career early. At 11 years old he was drinking Cinzano stolen by the glass from his parent? liquor cabinet. His family always engaged in ?ocial drinking?and alcohol was an accepted part of family events. Being a particularly close and social family the occasions to drink were regular and alcohol flowed freely. It was of no concern that the older kids were offered a lager and lime, or two. And Dave could always find top ups in the glasses put down and left behind when everyone was busy having fun. It felt good when he drank, he liked the feeling it gave him. And he wanted to feel it more and more often.
By age 13, school was an inconvenient distraction from football and drinking for Dave and he and his group of friends figured out that they could enlist the help of the biggest boy in their class to make their days more enjoyable. They would get him to buy a bottle or two of cheap alcohol from the off license and Dave and his mates would drink until it was gone and then spend the day skipping classes, fooling around and smoking. After the time that school would have been finished Dave would go home and straight up to his room to sleep it off, with everyone non the wiser. Whether his parents suspected anything or not, it is unknown. Dave? family is extremely relaxed and carefree and would probably not have questioned why he wanted to sleep after school. Whatever he wanted to do, he could do.
Being heavily involved in football, where the camaraderie of the team spilled in to the celebrations off the pitch, soon immersed Dave into a world where drinking too many pints after the game was considered part of the ritual. You trained, you played, you drank, as much as you could hold, and then some. While he was technically still too young as this point to partake, there was never any shortage of ways and wiles to access alcohol and join the ranks of the big boys for a few hours. And again, the adults were happy enough to let Dave have his few lager and limes, not knowing that he was already well on his way to developing a drinking problem.
Alcohol wasn’t the only addiction creeping up on Dave. His gambling addiction was in full flight by the time he was in his mid teens. Saturday mornings, before football began, Dave would be found hanging about outside the local bookies where he could enlist either an older friend, a family friend, or even his father to put a bet on for him with his pocket money.
There came a point, at age 16, when Dave? fledging football career temporarily became more important to him than the bottle. With a chance to enter an apprenticeship at Reading he was desperate to prove himself and for 2 years he trained, he ate, he ran, he slept, he worked and he was serious about gaining a place in a club that could see him play for his country. He lived with the sobriety that he wouldn? see again for nearly 25 years.
His player fees allowed him to stick with his other love though and he gambled away every last penny, and some. Gambling would always have a hold, no matter how good life seemed at the time.
Unfortunately missing out on the apprenticeship was a hard knock to a boy with dreams. A boy who had worked hard and not been rewarded for his efforts. The blow was even tougher knowing he was a better player than those who had been selected. But it wasn? about what he knew, but instead who he knew and those who were successful had family and community links that he didn? have.
Life 1 ?Dave 0
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