“My name is Matt, I am 40 years old and my life was pretty normal up until a few years ago; I had a wife and a child, worked as a chef and really enjoyed my lifestyle. Eventually my wife and I went through some problems and we split up. I found solace in bottles of whiskey and around twenty cans of beer a day. I found my way into a temporary housing project, but with no rules in place and a lack of motivation and confidence I just found myself drifting into a cycle of habitual drinking, which I was not honest with myself about. The truth was I was addicted, but I did not think I had a problem and continued to drink excessively for quite some time.

Eventually I got a stomach ulcer and one evening the ulceration popped and I lost four and half pints of blood. If it was not for the quick reactions of a housemate I would not be alive. The whole incident left me worrying about the mark I was making on this world, how I wanted to see my son grow up, and didn’t want to be the drunk dad who wasn’t allowed access to his child.

It was soon after this that I first came to Western Lodge. My key worker got me an interview and the fact that there were more rules in place meant I was able to make some progress with my drinking and begin to see how my actions where affecting those around me. However, I was not at Western Lodge long before I met someone and moved in with her. Looking back I probably still needed the support of somewhere like Western Lodge, but initially moving on quickly made me feel good and I was able to forget about the bad times. Things did eventually get strained and I found it increasingly hard to support myself, my partner, and her son financially. Due to this stress I began to drink again, I should have been able to make good of this situation, but instead I found the answers at the bottom of a bottle once again.

Fortunately Western Lodge takes self referrals, and I feel this was key in my decision to approach them again. I find it really hard to talk about my problems at the best of times, and going to a third party would have been difficult. Western Lodge knew me and my problems and I was able to get back on track fairly quickly. The rules gave me stability, and the community of people in similar situations allows you to talk with people in general terms and it still make sense. When I speak with someone who hasn’t been through some form of addiction I feel that I am burdening them with my problems, but at Western Lodge I know that the staff and the other residents will listen to me and understand.

When I was drinking it was easy to ignore life and the consequences of my actions, close friends and family didn’t want to know me and when I made mistakes I would excuse myself by saying “Sorry, I was drunk!” No matter what happens, I feel that I will always be an alcoholic, but Western Lodge has taught me to channel my thoughts and feelings in more positive ways and I feel much better as a result. Over the past year I have also suffered from a severely bad back and had to have a major operation, but in the great scheme of things this has not been as harmful or disruptive as drinking and I think that speaks volumes. I am hopeful of securing new accommodation in the not too distant future, and I want to get back to working with food and building a stable life for the future.”

Date: June 2012

Edit: Since leaving in March 2014 Matt has been rehoused with a housing association and has maintained his accommodation.