Preferred Name: Bill
Bill works part-time in retail and lives with his wife and two children. He was born in Australia, and his parents were born in England and Germany.
Bill first tried alcohol at a young age when a family member offered him a drink. He started drinking fairly regularly in his teens. When he finished high school he began drinking every day after work. He also started going to bars and nightclubs a few nights a week, taking other drugs including LSD (or ‘acid’), speed, ecstasy and heroin. After a number of years he began thinking he might have a ‘problem’ with alcohol and decided to limit his drinking to special occasions. After a night of heavy alcohol and other drug consumption in his early forties, Bill had a seizure and was hospitalised. He has since stopped drinking and taking other drugs, and has no plans to do so again.
Bill works part time in retail and enjoys spending time doing outdoor activities with his wife and two children. He goes camping and bush walking, and also enjoys cycling, skateboarding and swimming at the beach. He’s a creative person who paints, draws and takes photographs.
Bill recalls drinking alcohol at family functions from a young age and says that drinking was ‘normalised’ in his family. As a teenager he worked casually and drank and smoked cannabis after work with a friend. He says that when he completed high school his drinking ‘escalated’ and he started drinking more heavily in the evenings after work. He also started taking other drugs a few nights a week while out at bars or nightclubs. Over the next few years he took LSD, speed, ecstasy and sometimes heroin.
Around this time Bill began ‘blacking out’ while partying and on a number of occasions he went to hospital to be treated for injuries that happened on nights out after he’d been drinking and taking other drugs. After a particularly serious skateboarding accident in his late twenties, he began to think that his drinking was getting him into ‘bad situations’. He went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where he says ‘the penny dropped’ and he began to think he ‘did have a problem’ with drinking. Around this time Bill also met his partner whom he later married. He says he then ‘calmed down’ and reduced his alcohol and other drug use. In particular, he limited his drinking to parties and special occasions, but says he still tended to ‘drink too much’ at these events.
In his early thirties Bill and his wife moved to a new town and had two children. Over the next decade he continued to drink only on special occasions. Then one night when Bill was on holiday with his family, he went a party where he consumed alcohol, cocaine and cannabis. The next day he ‘didn’t feel right’ and decided to have a nap. After lying down he had a seizure and hit his head, and had to be hospitalised for several days afterwards. Bill says that the doctors at the hospital told him his seizure was ‘drug and alcohol related’. After hearing this he decided to stop drinking and taking other drugs altogether.
Since returning from their family holiday he finds keeping busy, spending time with his kids and talking to his wife helps him to avoid drinking. He plans to remain abstinent and is now thinking of getting extra support through Alcoholics Anonymous or counselling. In the future he plans to secure better employment so that he can ‘continue to better [him]self as a person’, and is saving for an overseas holiday with his family.
A few times when Bill (M, 43, works in retail, alcohol) drank heavily, he experienced memory loss and accidental injuries.
If I had too much to drink […] there was a point where I just would get really loud. And yeah, the next point is you just don’t remember what you’re doing. You might have a whole night out and you only remember like a small portion at the start and it’s like, ‘What happened last night? Where did I go? What did I do?’ And it’s a pretty scary sort of feeling in the morning when, you know, you’ve lost hours and hours of your life, and you could’ve done anything, you know. And really you wouldn’t have been in control. And, you know, a lot of those times, I guess I just got home and it was okay. But as I said before, a lot of those times I would end up in hospital just through, you know, falling on my head or […] whatever it was. Car accidents and things like that as well, not me driving, but with other people who were affected by alcohol, and then they crashed […] So I was very lucky that [although] the injuries I sustained were bad, I never was really badly physically affected. You know, some people […] may never be able to walk [again], or lose brain function […] So I sort of feel like I’m really lucky that I had all those years where I went through and I’m still relatively okay now.
Bill was concerned that his drinking was affecting his children but found it hard to stop altogether.
At this stage too, I’ve got two children so, you know, they really need a father that […] can give his all for them and not even have any of these times where you’re blacked out [from heavy drinking]. And not only that. As well, it’s sort of like, what sort of role model do you want to be to your children? You know, do you want them to see you […] smashed and drinking all the time to dangerous limits, when you’re thinking, ‘I don’t want to see them do this when I get older’. You’re thinking that even while you’re drinking […] So I have all these thoughts, but I still couldn’t take that final step to just go, ‘No, I’m not doing it, I’m not doing it’.
After a night of heavy alcohol and other drug consumption, Bill had a seizure and was hospitalised. Afterwards, he decided to stop drinking and taking other drugs.
There was a big party for a birthday and I was just doing my normal thing, drinking all day and it was going to be turning into one of those times where I went overboard, smoking [cannabis] all day. And then somebody at the party had some cocaine and I said, ‘Oh yeah sure, I’ll have some of that’.
Then the next day I sort of got up in the morning and helped clean up and whatnot. But I just didn’t feel right, just felt really poorly. Got to about midday and I was just like, I’ve just got to lie down. I couldn’t sleep, I was just lying there going, ‘Oh my God, this is terrible’. Then anyway, I must have fallen asleep. I just didn’t know what happened after that […] I sort of lost consciousness. I just thought I was asleep, but I had a seizure.
It was purely drug and alcohol related. And so they called the ambulance and I was taken to hospital. And they said […] that I could have another seizure at any time and it was really serious. My saline levels were at a critical level, you know. I was close to death almost.
It was at that point that I sort of thought, ‘Well there are two ways to go: I can continue with my drug and alcohol use and probably die early or […] have another accident or hurt myself in some sort of way, or I can just stop’ […] And stopping is probably a lot harder, but the benefits are a lot bigger […] So I was in hospital and I said to myself that, number one for myself, but for my wife and my kids […] I was just never going to drink or do any sort of drugs ever again.
Concerned about his drinking, Bill went to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). He says that hearing other people’s experiences in AA made him realise he ‘did have a problem’.
I thought I’d ring Alcoholics Anonymous just to see if I could get some sort of help and I rung a bloke and he said, ‘I’ll pick you up after work and take you to this meeting’ […] And I went along and met up with a group of people, probably about 15 or 20 people, I guess […] I actually got up and said, ‘I’m an alcoholic’. But yeah, everyone else sort of shared their experiences. And that’s when sort of the penny dropped, and I realised that I did have a problem. But I got a lot of useful information out of that. And yeah, I just sort of realised that I had a problem at that point. And up until then, I probably was in denial about that. You know, I kind of realised, but you just don’t want to actually […] say, ‘Yeah, I have a problem’ because it’s a hard thing to sort of swallow, I guess. When you see everyone else doing this and they seem to be functioning normally it’s like, ‘Well why am I the one that’s blacking out all the time and why am I the one who’s hurting myself and not getting the most out of myself?’
I only actually ever went to one [AA meeting], but as I said, I sort of got the information. I realised that I was an alcoholic at that point and yeah, that I did have a problem.
After attending one AA meeting, Bill says he realised he ‘did have a problem’ and needed to cut down and eventually stop drinking.
I only actually ever went to one [AA meeting] but as I said, I sort of got the information. I realised that I was an alcoholic at that point and yeah, that I did have a problem.
Then I […] did calm down a little bit.
Sometimes I think I should go back to AA, just to talk to people about it […] I think talking about these situations and addictions […] is important so I’m sort of still in the process of trying to get there. But the main goal initially for me is just to not do it and I’m doing well at the moment with that, so I’m really proud of myself. And I still do think about going to AA or some other sort of Drugs Anonymous or something as well, just to share my story and to talk to other people and to gain strength from, you know, a group situation.
Bill is now focused on personal development, finding new work opportunities and going travelling with his family.
I’m trying to just continue to better myself as a person. Also as far as work goes, to try and push myself to find better employment and better opportunities […] I’ve always liked travelling and my family and I are saving to go [overseas] in five years […] We’ve given ourselves five years to get the money together to do kind of like a world trip, and that’s a big thing for us, to take the kids to see a lot of different cultures […]
Yeah, so just basically in myself [I want] to continue to grow as a person, to break down those barriers that I had before that I put up for myself personally. To try to meet new people and try to be more […] social, and yeah, open up to people. And yeah […] make sure that the kids have everything they need for their education […] and to be a good role model for my kids as well, that’s really important to me.