Mind Sober Matter tells the stories of sobriety and substance abuse issues within the our sports community, and the impact it can have on your mental wellbeing.
Today, (16th December 2022) I hit 11 months sober, and wanted to share a little bit of my story with the hope that it helps and inspires other people.
More individuals within the community have come forward already to share their story, look out for those in the next few weeks.
Callun Lavington - Contendunt
When Did You Become An Alcohol User?
The UK has a very heavy drinking scene. I started drinking beers at shitty house parties when I was 14/15 (Ten years agoish). There was an immense amount of pressure to drink. You were weird if you didn't, and getting drunk was seen as the "cool" thing to do. The more I drank, the more I felt the social circle accepted me.
Did You Have A Problem?
I didn't see it at the time, but most definitely. When you're a kid, having a few too many at a house party and waking up feeling a bit ropey the day after was part of growing up I think. It was also a bit of a laugh with your friends, you all compared hangovers and took the piss out of one another. Harmless teen behaviour really.
The problem didn't really occur until adulthood. In the UK, drinking is legal at 18, so as long as you've got your ID, any shop or pub (bar) will pretty much serve you. Every occasion, birthdays, weddings, gatherings, parties, I would drink in excess. This only worsened as time went on.
You were weird if you didn't (drink), and getting drunk was seen as the "cool" thing to do. The more I drank, the more I felt the social circle accepted me.
How Bad Did It Get? At What Point Did You Decide To Get Help?
Incredibly bad, especially in 2021. During the COVID pandemic, my pals and I all did that Houseparty thing. We'd make quizzes, but would all be too drunk to finish them. Those three months of lockdowns were just logging online at 4/5pm, drinking until like 1/2am, and then ordering a delivery of more booze the next day, and the cycle continued.
Looking back, the kind of worry of "shit, i've run out of alcohol" was bad... considering I was ordering a crate of beer ever day or so.
2021 was hard, coming from a time where we had minimal contact with people, trying to throw myself back into socialising (My anxiety became further crippled by seeing people I hadn't seen for ages because of the pandemic, but also because of the booze), combined with hating my day-to-day life, I started boozing more or less 7 days a week. A quick trip to the shops when I finished work, booze until 3am, wake up and 9am, cycle continues. Weekends became party time too... trips away fuelled by alcohol... that was the motive...
A lot of things happened towards the end of 2021 and the start of 2022 when enough was enough. Most of my training sessions had, by about two hours in, become drinking time, sitting at the side with a beer or a few when everyone was still hitting gaps.
A training session had turned into a drinking session visiting the local pubs and bars around Brighton. I got totally fucked. My friend picked me up (My bag with all my belongings, camera equipment, chargers, Go Pro, etc left behind) and the next day I woke up not knowing where the fuck I was. That scared the shit outta me. And my friends were all saying "You need to stop, and you need to stop now." - That was fucking embarrassing, especially as some of the people I was with I didn't know too well and I had a lot of admiration and respect for them.
It had gone past the point of being enjoyable, for myself and for them. It was becoming worrying.
The kind of worry of "shit, i've run out of alcohol" was bad... considering I was ordering a crate of beer every day or so.
How Did You Get Sober?
I asked for help (and a fuck tonne of willpower) - My Mum referred me to an alcohol well-being unit. Not quite AA, but something similar. One on One therapy with a counsellor, they sit you down and measure your alcohol consumption and more or less tell you if you're dependent or not (Shock Statement - I was.)
I removed alcohol from my environment and for a long time, distanced myself away from people who I would just meet to drink. I think just being open and honest about it too helped. My friends were incredibly supportive, I told them I was trying to stay off alcohol, and they were very helpful, finding alternative things we could do together, etc.
What Challenges Do You Face Being Sober?
There's a load, but also very little... I think the biggest challenge I face on a semi-regular basis is that little voice in my head that says "You know what it does, you can moderate now". I have to block that shit out. Apart from that, the knowledge of waking up everyday fresh as fuck, being in the best shape of my life and not drinking away money is rewarding as hell.
What Rewards Does Sobriety Bring To You?
The 3 H's. Happiness, health, honesty. I am no longer lying to myself or anyone around me. My relationships have improved tenfold.
Advice For People Who Want To Quit?
Get in touch.