'I used to drink all day'

George Budge

George Budge knew he had to get help when he realised he was drinking all day, every day.

For information on getting help with drinking, read Alcohol support

Over the years George had gone from drinking socially in pubs to drinking 1.5 litres of vodka a day at home.

"I don’t know what the turning point was," he says, "but I was on my own so no-one around me was telling me to stop. I wasn’t eating much and I was drinking 24 hours a day.

"Some deep voice of self-preservation inside me said, 'You can’t go on like this'. I think you have to seize those moments as they might not come again for years."

But George had no clear idea of where to go for help. "I rang an ex-probation officer I had met two years before," he says. "She'd told me she thought I had a drink problem but I was in denial at the time."

The ex-probation officer put him in touch with an addiction support group in Richmond, south-west London.

George received an assessment within 24 hours and went on a day programme involving group therapy and counselling.

"I stopped drinking overnight," he says. "but that's not something you should really do without advice, as you can go into fits and do yourself damage.

"I was shaking, sweating, scared to get on buses, and frightened of everything. Your whole body and mind is changing. It’s like having your brain shaken."

'I'm alive'

How to cut down

  • drink small glasses of wine
  • buy shandies and spritzers
  • go for low-alcohol drinks
  • don’t drink every day
  • alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks
  • eat before drinking
  • drink water between pints
  • avoid "happy hour" offers
  • add mixers to spirits
  • avoid binge drinking
  • opt out of rounds
  • keep a drinks count
  • refuse drink top-ups

George was advised to consult his GP, who put him on a course of chlordiazepoxide, a sedative, for a few days to help him with the detox.

"I was really lucky that my GP was so supportive," says George. "I went to see him every two weeks after that and he looked genuinely pleased the longer I stayed sober. And that really helped me."

George says the support group programme was critical in helping him to stay dry. “It gave me a reason to get up, a safe place and a dry, no-alcohol environment," he says.

"And we talked about personal stuff that some of us had never talked about in our whole lives.

"There were days when I thought, 'I can’t imagine never having a drink again', but there were marvellous counsellors to get me through that."

He says the urge to drink was strongest when he passed a pub on a sunny day, as it would remind him of happy times.

But he says: "I want to stick with this because I’m alive, and there’s no way I would be if I’d carried on drinking."

Page last reviewed: 24/10/2014

Next review due: 24/10/2016


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Tips on cutting down on alcohol

Practical tips on how you can reduce your alcohol intake, and the associated health benefits

Drinking and alcohol

Practical tips to help you cut down, plus information on low-risk drinking, how alcohol affects your health, and understanding units

Media last reviewed: 07/08/2014

Next review due: 07/08/2017