Gav’s Story

My name is Gav and I’m an addict. The first time I said that out loud in a Cocaine Anonymous meeting in 2017 was a huge relief. I had known I had a drug and alcohol problem for many years, but admitting it out loud in a room full of other addicts felt like coming home.

I grew up in Brighton, played football, came from a good family, but always felt a bit on the outside of life, like I didn’t quite know where I fitted in. I started smoking weed and drinking at 13 and this made me feel more part of life, connected to friends more, relaxed and less anxious.

Through my teens there had been too many times when I could not stop when other people did. I started taking a lot of acid and mushrooms, speed, ecstasy and valium. While it was still fun a lot of the time, consequences were starting to appear and I couldn’t go out and socialise without drugs.

I got married young and had 2 kids in my 20’s. My drug use was back under control for periods, but as I reached my 30’s the long weekends of partying were starting to have serious effects on my health. I was taking drugs to escape the feelings of being trapped in a job I hated. Every promise I made myself was broken. I had always said I wouldn’t use around my kids, or when driving, or at work. But fast forward to my forties and my cocaine use had progressed to daily, starting in the morning before work, and ending at 2 or 3 the next morning.

I used in the toilets at work, hiding it from my colleagues, using Xanax to come down, and was always scheming of ways to get more. 

I tried so many times to stop using my own will-power. I would get to Sunday night and say to myself “that’s it, I’m done. Never again”. By Monday evening I was calling the dealers. I ran up tens of thousands of pounds of credit card debt through my cocaine use and gambling and was at the point where I seriously didn’t know whether I wanted to live any more. My life was in chaos, and I had no power to stop.

One Monday in March 2017 I had had enough of being sick and tired. I decided I didn’t want to die in my 40’s, and l knew I needed help. 

A friend of mine was in another 12 step fellowship, I knew she had been clean and sober for 3 years. She directed me to Cocaine Anonymous, telling me it might just save my life.

A fellow took me to my first meeting in Kemp Town on that Monday morning and I picked up a white keyring for newcomers. I cried tears of relief, like I knew the game was up. On the chip it said “we are here and we are free”. I left that meeting with hope. It was suggested I come to more meetings, every day if possible. I found someone to sponsor me, someone who had good recovery and had been clean for 3 years. He took me through the 12 step programme and a sense of freedom and purpose started to enter my life. 

I still attend regular meetings and have been sponsoring new men that ask me for several years now. No matter what life has thrown at me, I have managed to not just stay clean and sober but learn more about who I am and keep growing. I’ll be forever grateful to those people that showed me love and kindness in that first meeting and demonstrated that it is possible to live a different life, one without drugs and alcohol.