Karen’s Story: Celebrating 30 years of recovery.

I will be celebrating 30 years of recovery from alcohol dependency on Saturday 24th October 2020 and would like to take this opportunity to express how grateful I am to the people who have supported me along the way. From my first AA meeting and making lasting friends to the wonderful colleagues and friends I work with, some of whom are no longer with us. My life would not be what it is today without them all. ‘One day at a time!’

I am the eldest of four children, with a sister and two brothers and family life was good. My childhood was on the whole a happy, but rebellious one and this attitude continued into my adolescence when I first discovered alcohol at the age of 13. Looking back, I never had real control over my alcohol use, but it began to deteriorate around the age of 23 and following a redundancy from a job I loved in 1986 when I was 31, it deteriorated even further following the birth of my first child. I quickly sank into dependency, suffering all the physical and mental consequences that accompanied this onslaught on my body and mind.

I first sought help in 1989, compelled to do so by my mother, who by this time was distraught. I attended my first assessment in WCADA, then called ‘The Centre’ and was soon admitted to an inpatient rehabilitation unit. Completing this treatment, followed by a significant relapse saw me once again back at ‘The Centre’ as this was the only place and people that understood. That last year of my alcohol use was pretty devastating and despite all the help I was offered, I continued to drink and following my third detox at Cefn Coed Hospital and involvement with the Police on several occasions, I agreed to go into rehabilitation again, this time at Rhoserchan in Aberystwyth, a place that saved my life. Since leaving this treatment I haven’t looked back.

I feel as if I have had two lives, the one up to the time I stopped using alcohol and a very different journey since I stopped. I was fortunate enough to return to education and achieve the outcomes I had always dreamed of and the icing on the cake was to be told on my 5th AA birthday that I was expecting another child. I am blessed with two children, a son and daughter, that are so precious to me and we now have two lovely granddaughters that I am besotted with. None of this would have been possible without all those people who helped me along the way. Without them, I doubt I would have made it to my 36th birthday!

I also celebrated 25 years working for WCADA on 1st October, 2020 in a range of positions, ending up as the Chief Executive and still find this difficult to believe. I will continue to do my best for the organisation that was there for me when I needed help and know our team of incredible people will do the same for others in the same situation as I was.
I count my blessings every day with gratitude to still be here, but am glad the rebel is still with me, not quite so disruptive these days though!

Best wishes to all those on their journey of recovery. Anything is possible!