My drinking had been gradually getting worse, and over a 15- year period, I’d gone from drinking a bottle of wine every few nights, to drinking every evening. And always more than one bottle. In the end I was a daily drinker, and I drank all day when I wasn’t working. I always drank alone, and I was becoming more and more unwell, physically and mentally.

I did things I thought I’d never do –  things I’m deeply ashamed of now. Getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking, stealing from shops, and damaging my relationships with my family.

One of the worst moments that my drinking caused was my ex-fiancé cancelling our wedding – we were two weeks away from saying our vows. But it still wasn’t enough to want me to change. If anything, my drinking got worse, as I didn’t think there was any other way to deal with things.

I’d tried a few at-home detoxes, but I always picked up again, whether it was days, weeks or months later. I’d never worked at my recovery though.

In the end I needed to do a residential detox to safely stop drinking and Forward Leeds helped to arrange this. It was a scary prospect, but it may well have saved my life.

Afterwards I saw my key worker at Armley Park Court (one of the Forward Leeds hubs) for about three months, before coming to 5 Ways to continue my recovery.

It was a significant, and slightly nerve-wracking milestone moving into sustained recovery, but everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and the groups here are really helpful. SMART helps me to manage my thoughts, feelings and behaviours more effectively, and the regular MIND workshops look at mental health and wellbeing, and how they’re linked to substance misuse.

I’m also finding that learning is a really important part of my recovery. I’ve completed a Peer Mentoring course at 5 Ways and I’m currently working through a Health and Social Care Level 2 Diploma here too.

I’ve recently started a part time job, my first office role in recovery, and undoubtedly, the time I’ve spent at 5 Ways has helped me to re-build my confidence and get back into work, at my own pace.

I’ve also got a pet in recovery – Rodney, the Recovery Guinea Pig (to quote his full name!) is great for keeping my stress and anxiety at bay, and it’s helping me knowing that I’m responsible enough to care for him every day.

For me, whether it’s groups or learning, one of the most important things about coming to 5 Ways is being around people that I can identify and connect with.

People who understand what addiction can be like and what it means to be in recovery.

Coming to 5 Ways regularly is giving me hope for my future. I don’t just want to survive without alcohol – I want to thrive in my recovery. It’s about learning to live again, and 5 Ways is helping me to do that, one day at a time.