No-one chooses to be an addict – not one of those losers. To turn their backs on a normal life, rather choosing a parody of a life which ultimately ends in a lonely death, devoid of family, friends and dignity. Yet this is what almost happened to me.

My name is Deon. I am 40 years old, a medical professional, and a partner in a successful nationwide group. I am happily married, with two darling children, a home filled with laughter, and a future to die for. Yet I almost lost all this due to alcoholism.

I had become exactly what I swore never to become.

I am no stranger to alcoholism. Both my parents are alcoholics, and I have been exposed to all the ramifications of being an alcoholic from an early age. Seeing people’s lives destroyed by alcohol hardened my resolve not to be such a misfit, an outcast. This would somehow never happen to me, since I am intelligent and responsible, and definitely in control of my life.

Well, it happened anyway, against all logic and all good intentions. I ended up being a devoted drunk. Never mind all the degrees and qualifications I have attained in my life – I had become a drunk cum laude. Very soon it permeated every aspect of my life: I would secretly drink at work and at home, basically anywhere where I would be able to slip a quick one, just to get my steady my hand, to calm my nerves – whatever reason seemed good enough: I was going steadily insane.

Ironically, I knew exactly what was happening to me. I knew that I was not in control at all, and that I was going to lose everything precious in my life. Yet, in spite of my resolve and self-discipline and a multitude of honest attempts to straighten my life out, I simply could not stop drinking. I always just would have that last drink, and then I would stop. Or so I honestly wanted to believe.

My life began to fall apart, and I could not stop my death-spiral of shame. I was lost to myself, lost to my loved ones and lost to God. The loneliest, most depressed and suicidal little boy in the world, I became physically and emotionally detached from everything I used to love and care for. Everyone and everything took the back seat for Alcohol, my almighty god.

Who stayed straight down the neck of a bottle.

Fortunately, I got busted.

I’ve had some significant turning points in my life – getting married, qualifying in my profession, getting my own home, the births of my kids – but this was perhaps the most significant incident in my life.

To be rehabilitated is not a gentle process, as I discovered at Bethesda. It is not simply a question of stopping the abuse and drying out. This in itself took merely a week, and was easy in comparison to staying sober. The difficult part of the whole course of treatment was facing the truth about me. With the years of conditioning and self-delusion, this could not be accomplished without trauma. However, at Bethesda, I was offered the luxury of deep soul-searching in a safe and caring environment. Through their twelve-step program and counselling I could dissect many occluded areas in my life, my past, my personality and my beliefs. I learnt that I was not the victim that I thought I was, and that I could be freed from my past. In total it took me three and a half months to get to a stage where I could venture outside to face the real world and my life squarely.

For the time spent in rehab I have more to show than just sobriety. I have discovered a life of freedom. No longer do I have to look over my shoulder, nor do I have to cover my tracks. I have been set free from a life of fear and lies. This was due only to a small part to my efforts. Most of this was simply Divine grace, and through this enormous power I could reverse the inwards originated destruction to healing. Starting small, working progressively outwards. I began to take responsibility for my life and actions, not being the quintessential victim. Where once I was alienating myself from the world, I was slowly accomplishing the opposite through faith and sacrifice, and with gratitude for every little victory I would encounter.

There were many victories then, and there still are. Now, eight months out of rehab, still sober, I have embarked on my new life. This is my only chance, and I have embraced it fully. It hasn’t been easy, and it is truly a daily process of growth and vigilance. There have been setbacks, doubts and depression, but this is all about growth: a struggle to keep on doing the right thing for very much the right reasons.

I’ve been lucky. Materially, I have not lost much. I still have my home, job, car – as a matter of fact there is very little loss to be seen in this regard, if at all. My wife hasn’t left me, and thankfully we have grown closer. My children think I am the best dad in the world, and we are carrying on with our lives.

Soberly.

Do not knock the power of God. Some people just need a gentle reminder, but I required an earthquake to wake up to the fact that God was in control, and not I.