Jo grew up in small Suffolk village but she was kicked out of home by her stepfather when she was 15. By the time she was 20 she found herself in London. Jo had been using drugs and alcohol since she was 11.
“I was a daily drinker and user of drugs from the age of 15. I was to some extent a functioning alcoholic and drug user for 18 years as I managed to work and keep a roof over my head. This is not to say that there weren’t consequences along the way, I guess I was just able to hide them, or muddle through them.”
Jo knew her alcohol use was becoming an issue around about the year 2000. “I was blacking out, I was hiding the empty bottles. Other people, friends and colleagues were starting to comment on my behaviour when I was drinking and questioning my alcohol consumption. I knew for a long time I was struggling with alcohol but part of me still enjoyed drinking and it was easy just to shrug off the consequences because I didn’t want to stop. I thought I could learn to drink safely.”
In 2008 Jo initially looked for help from Alcoholics Anonymous. “I sought help only because my employers started smelling alcohol on me in the mornings and I started getting sent home from work and being suspended. Again, I just wanted to control my drinking and not stop completely. I would stay sober for a few weeks but I would always relapse. I did not know how to stop and get out.”
Eventually after disciplinary action, Jo took voluntary resignation. However, she continued to drink to the extent that she became very ill and ended up in hospital numerous times. She endured a mental health break down which lasted three months, and was diagnosed with an incurable brain condition as a result of her drinking.
“I continued to drink, forever vowing that I could stop on my own and cut down and learn to drink safely. I continued in an alcoholic struggle both physically broken and mentally broken. This continued until May 17th 2016, which is the day I had my last drink.”
On May 17th, with the help of Barking Horizon, Jo finally stopped drinking completely.
“Having Horizon as a base and platform for me to start and continue my recovery journey has been fundamental in getting sober, but more importantly, staying sober. If I did not have Horizon with all their support as a base and go to service I would not be sober today.
“The help I have received from Horizon in some ways is indescribable. I have been supported with every single aspect and area of my life. Because of my drinking and the way I lived my life I had no friends or family at all to help support me in my journey to recovery. Horizon have been family, friends and teachers to this point – and continue to be so.”
Jo continues to take part in activities and events at Barking Horizon, and has become a valuable member of the Horizon community.
“Whatever situation you are in either still drinking and using, trying to stop or just cut down, if you feel alone, don’t know who to talk to or where to turn t, if you feel lost, isolated, scared, vulnerable and broke. If you are worried about yourself, other or just unsure but your thoughts are around drugs or alcohol every single day, seven days a week. Don’t think. Just press the buzzer on the front door of Horizon and ask to speak to someone, morning or afternoon.”