Published: 13:13, 15 November 2019
| Updated: 14:37, 15 November 2019
The first part of recovery is seeking help.
That's the message of a man from Strood whose life changed when he began attending Alcoholics Anonymous.
As part of Alcohol Awareness Week, kmfm spoke to Mark about his experiences.
We have changed his name to protect his identity.
He said: "It's a difficult subject to broach sometimes because for a lot of us, me included, when I first started drinking, it was fun, it was exciting, it allowed me to do things that I wouldn't normally be able to do or have the courage to do.
"I grew up in a well-run household, there was no alcoholism in my family as far as I know but at some point in my drinking career, for want of a better word, I struggled to be able to stop on my own.
"I was using it more than for social circumstances, I was using it to change the way I felt for the better and I didn't really notice or really realise I had a problem with drink until I tried to stop and then when it became apparent that I couldn't stop on my own, I tried lots of different counselling, and I tried controlling it for myself.
LISTEN: Mark speaks about using Alcoholics Anonymous
"I think I felt drinking was a moral issue; if I applied my will power enough I would be able to control it and stop myself but it was just too difficult to stop on my own.
"I felt so much better being drunk than being sober, why wouldn't I want to stay drunk all the time?
"It doesn't stay like that forever. My friends and family would tell me that I've got an issue but it was only when I decided that I wanted to do something about my drinking that I did."
Mark turned to Alcoholics Anonymous for help.
He said: "I think what was keeping out of the rooms of AA was I always pictured the street drinker or the person who slept on a park bench, and I think I felt the whole time I wasn't that person, I wasn't alcoholic.
"We continue to stay sober by helping newcomers and it's not as daunting as you might think." Mark from Strood, speaking to kmfm
"But it can affect anyone from any walk of life.
"Alcoholism doesn't discriminate from one person to the next and what I found was I was welcomed into AA.
"It wasn't as bad as what I thought, I had a pre-conceived idea of what meetings were like and what the AA program was just through what I had seen on TV but there was no evidence to suggest it was going to be a room full of people talking.
"But it was much more than that, it changed my life for the better.
"I was addicted to alcohol, I still continue to go to meetings and help newcomers and that is the bright spot of our lives; we continue to stay sober by helping newcomers and it's not as daunting as you might think."
In Medway, there were 1,067 admissions directly linked to excessive drinking in the 12 months to March 2018, which was 9% more than five years earlier.
The Alcoholics Anonymous website has details of where you can get help.
There are meetings across Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham.
Help can also be found at Turning Point's Medway Active Recovery Service (MARS) throughout Medway.
For more information, call Turning Point on 0300 123 1560 or email email@example.com.