Kevin’s life took a dramatic turn when he left the forces and found himself being a full time carer for his wife. Unable to cope with the change, he gradually started drinking more heavily and ended up divorced and separated from his family. Although Kevin detoxed several times, he struggled to remain abstinent and repeatedly relapsed. Being caught driving while three and a half times over the limit landed him in court, where he finally met someone from Addaction, who helped him get a place at residential rehabilitation centre Chy.
Kevin, aged 52, explains: “I worked with the Navy all over the world for eight years, but was sent home on a medical discharge. I’d been quite a drinker in the forces, as most people are, and when I came back to I couldn’t settle down to anything. I had several little jobs but didn’t stick at them and then my wife had an accident and I became her full time carer. It was like one extreme to the other.
“Drinking more and more was never a conscious decision, but it’s something that just happens. I had to leave before I got thrown out. It got really bad for a couple of years and I was just waddling from one place to another. I enjoyed my work, but I had left the only person who I had ever loved and it hurt.
“When I was caught drink driving, the custody sergeant asked if I’d had enough and wanted to get referred to Addaction. By the time my case was coming to court, I had absolutely crumbled and hit rock bottom. I was so nervous and because I hadn’t had a drink I was shaking so much I had to ask someone in the office for some help filling in a form. Someone from Addaction was there that day and they were like my angels. They gave me chance to be fast tracked into Chy, after detoxing in the hospital at St Ives. It was the turning point for my life.
“I knew when I walked into the hospital that I was going to be alright. I got my military head back on and looked at it like a training scenario, which really helped me. The structure and routine at Chy gave me order, just like with military life. It does make it easier.
“I spent 12 weeks at Chy. I imagined it would be like a hospital or something, but it is a beautiful setting with lovely, pleasant gardens. The manager, Ross, educated me on how to stay stopped. I learned as much as I could and that knowledge and the peers I met were amazing. It isn’t all cups of tea and chatting, you’ve got to man up. As I was coming towards the end I was ready to move on and this time I was properly ready.
“Within a year I was back home caring for my wife. The love had never left. I was the only thing that had been broken in the relationship.
“It’s not an amazing thing I’ve done, it’s something quite achievable. It’s a case of changing the way you look at things. I made this decision not to drink and now I don’t want to. My pride is in the knock on effect of getting better. People struggle to see life without alcohol, but I only have to look at the effects since I came home.
“I have a relationship with step grandchildren I never had before. Nobody is worrying about me anymore. I’ve never really had an abstinent life, but it’s brill. It can be done and you can go back to your old life, just with a new outlook. Elaine and I were apart for seven years and now I’m delighted to say we’re planning to get remarried.”