“The Recovery Lodge saved my life. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here”, the words of recovering alcoholic Julian.
With the help of friends and family, Julian (59) from Wimbledon, Southwest London was checked in to the Recovery Lodge her in Kent, in mid 2021 in a desperate, final attempt to save his life.
From a loving marriage and successful career Julian’s reliance on alcohol, which also escalated to include recreational drugs left him unemployed, single, living in rented accommodation and estranged from his family.
“I was waking up at six-thirty in the morning with terrible shakes, wondering how I was physically going to drink a glass of vodka, but I was still in denial about my addiction”, he admits.
“I was a narcissist, and a hedonist. I was always looking for that special moment, which never came, so I kept on drinking. My sofa became my park bench, I was alone with my problems but blaming everybody else for them.”
As the latest statistics show deaths from drink and drug related poisoning are at an all time high, Julian’s journey into addiction started, like so many, as a social drink with colleagues at lunchtime and after work, but in the ego-driven world of media sales, this daily drinking became heavier, more regular and more extreme as Julian sought to fuel his ego and maintain a substance-enhanced image of himself.
He explains, “Whichever industry you’re in, it probably had a drinking culture, that was certainly the case when I worked in Fleet Street.
“I enjoyed a drink, but I also had a big ego. I was my own superhero and the more I drank, in my own eyes at least, the bigger the hero I became,”
At his lowest, Julian was drinking more than two litres of vodka a day, often until he blacked out, yet his first thought when he awoke the next morning was to reach for the bottle again.
“Because of the violent shakes I had a glass of vodka, pre-poured, in the sink each morning so I could use two hands to pick it up. It was awful.”
Julian’s saviour, was a friend who persuaded him to meet an acquaintance, who was also a recovering alcoholic and having been a patient at The Recovery Lodge, helped persuade Julian to give it a go.
After some months, with funds provided by friends and family, Julian checked in to The Recovery Lodge for a 28-day stay.
“I thought rehab was something that Hollywood actors did, so I still thought it was cool. Even when I checked in I demanded the top floor room because it had its own bathroom and I was too good to share. When I look back I have to laugh at how I behaved, but I still really had no idea how ill I was”, Julian admits.
Following an initial assessment, and a long-overdue medical examination, Julian received counselling, and further psychological support from the staff at The Recovery Lodge, who also started him on a 12-step plan to recovery. The plan is very similar to that advocated by Alcoholics Anonymous and is the foundation on which Julian has built his ongoing recovery.
“When I finally checked in, It was such a sense of relief and I quickly began to appreciate the routine and structure. The sessions were about unpicking a lock to open yourself up and the key to it for me was being able to follow step 2- ‘believing that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity’. I had to get myself out of the way if I was ever going to get better.”
“The Recovery Lodge made me take a look in the mirror and accept my behaviour and my responsibilities. Addicts are selfish, but The Recovery Lodge taught me how to be kind to myself – and now to others.”
15 months after his stay at The Recovery Lodge, where before Julian started his day with a drink, now he uses the time to write a gratitude list and has more and more items to add to it each week. In the time since his discharge, Julian has reconnected with his family and has found time to start a Psychology degree with the Open University. He continues to manage his recovery each day by sticking religiously to the prescribed 12-step programme, which includes attending daily AA meetings – a community in which he is heavily invested.
“I like to offer help to other alcoholics on their recovery journey. I want them to know that rather than pick up a drink, they can pick up the phone”, he says.
The Recovery Lodge is a private rehabilitation unit dedicated to getting both male and female addicts over the age of 18 back on the path to health. It is run by fully qualified staff who have first-hand experience in dealing with addictions either personally or with a family or friend. It offers a unique environment to ensure patients receive the most attentive care and provides personalised treatment plans, which leads to a high sobriety rate.