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Darren’s living his best life … sober

Darren Taylor drank pints at lunchtime and three bottles of wine a night whilst hiding his secret stash in his wellingtons.

That wasn’t his only hiding place. His office drawer, the back of wardrobes, in fact, any place his wife or colleagues were unlikely to find them.

He doesn’t like the title ‘alcoholic’ preferring ‘problem drinker’ because once he started he sometimes couldn’t stop. Once or twice he’d wake up in the morning still drunk and start all over again. And that caused a lot of problems.

His ultimate shame was being ejected from a work’s conference by his younger boss, poured into a taxi and ordered to go home after promising his wife he was on the wagon.

Even now, he considers himself extremely fortunate that he never lost any of his high-powered sales jobs because of his drinking.

But he did almost lose his wife and kids and that is, ultimately, what brought him to his senses, along with a diagnosis of depression and anxiety.

He’s now written a book, Finding Your Sober Bubble, which charts his demise and healing process. For anyone who feels their drinking is getting out of control, it’s a refreshing look at what can be achieved when there’s a will.

“My battle against the booze included therapy, writing poetry, playing guitar, AA, NLP, social media and scouring the web typing in ‘am I an alcoholic’?” says Darren, 43, who lives in north Lincolnshire.

“This guy once asked me, ‘So Dazza, would you classify yourself as an alcoholic’? I said, ‘Would you classify me as one’ and he said ‘No, you don’t look like one’ to which I replied (laughingly) ‘Well to answer your question, no actually, but I used to binge drink. I used to do that, because I had an on/off switch that didn’t work probably because it got rusted up from all the fluid I got down my neck’. I don’t want to be known as an alcoholic because the perception of this term in society is so misconstrued.”

Darren started drinking early, along with his dad and brothers. But it was the early death of his mother with cancer, shortly followed by his wedding to Emma and birth of their first child, along with the demands of a high pressure all-expenses paid job that sent his drinking spiralling out of control.

His recovery was very much a stop and start affair over years and had the odd bizarre twist – like the trip to Denmark with his sober mentor who took him on a quasi religious retreat during which he was banned from calling home and had to call upon God’s help to get sober.

For a science graduate, that was a step too far, so in his mind, he replaced God for another ‘higher being’ – Emma and the kids, who proved to be his ultimate redemption.

The book charts his successful return to sobriety. Today he says he’s lost a few friends along the way, but he’s a better father, husband and employee.

“I’m a calmer father and that has reaped its own rewards,” says Darren. “I’m just grateful that Emma stuck by me. She could see the real me underneath it all and that the drink was a mask for all the torment. She just wishes I’d vocalised it. “

What kind of drinker are you – asks Darren?

Teetotaller

Whilst it would be nice to be a Now and Againer (see below), the Teetotaller is the ultimate realistic aim of any problem drinker who has lost control. They don’t drink, simple.

Toaster

Whilst the hardcore Teetotaller declines a sip of sherry at a wedding, The Toaster will give in for the cause.

Mealer

Complements their food with a glass of wine or a beer to suit the occasion and it is all about the balance. A connoisseur at heart, the Mealer understands their limitations and generally will not venture beyond.

Now and Againer

Up for the special occasions, but is on the fence when it comes to alcohol. Sometimes the one at the works party who gets smashed because they don’t normally drink, but also knows when it’s time to stop. There is a but! There is a risk of creeping up a category when the now and again is a binge.

Weekender

Usually the younger starters, and these days the weekend starts on a Thursday, which if continued all weekend is into binge territory.

Wind Down and Weekender

Still have the weekend party or outing, but during the week after a bad day at work and the kids are in bed, you have a wind down alcoholic drink. Proceed with caution because it can creep up on you.

Binge Drinker Level 1, 2 and 3

By far the biggest and most complex category.

Level 1: When the ‘now and again’ is usually a binge session, and the hangover lingers.

Level 2: Every time they drink, it’s a binge. The ‘what’s the point in going out for a drink if we’re not going to get rat-arsed’ kind of people. This middle binger will always take alcohol to an event unless they cannot drink (driving or on medication), in which case they will sit there with a face like a slapped arse. There are likely relationship problems and the odd occasion missed due to hangover, and blackouts are a regular occurrence.

Level 3: This is hardcore and will continue to the end if not reined in. The high-end binger, once started, will struggle to stop. The faulty on/off switch has been the demise of many a person on the drink problem scale, and whilst the mid-level binger will have a break in between, the high-end binger can carry on for days. They wake up in a hotel room still wasted from the night before and have a big slug of left-over wine and off they go again. These types of bingers are risking health, job and relationships.

Day Tripper

Drinks every day, and it matters not what time of day. Whilst the Day Tripper has had their share of big binges, life now is basically one huge binge. Tolerance levels are high, and dependence has its grip, hence the morning take of alcohol. Bizarrely, they can often hold down a job and other small responsibilities. The Day Tripper, however, probably has a list of relationship problems and likely lives alone. The phrase ‘functioning alcoholic’ falls into this category.

Out of Controller

Unfortunately, this person could have lost their job, their marriage and their self-respect. Probably struggling to keep a roof over their heads and the alcohol has gripped them so bad that so long as they can get a drink, they really don’t give a toss!

Reapers Depender

Sadly, this could be game over! Perhaps in and out of hospital. Your body has packed up and it does not motivate you to go on. There have been times when they could have turned a corner to recovery but now await their fate, or a miracle.

  • The ebook is £4.98 and the paperback £9.98 RRP (Currently £9.65 on Amazon.) The audiobook costs 14.98.
  • Read Darren’s blog.

       

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Diane Cooke
Diane Cooke is a three times award-winning journalist who has worked for UK national/regional newspapers, magazines and websites.

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