Sun | Feb 18, 2018

'I just made up my mind to stop' - Recovering alcoholic shares tale of addiction

Published:Wednesday | February 22, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

On September 6, 2016, Gayle Brown* turned a new chapter in his life. He decided that his more-than-30-year struggle with drinking and smoking addictions would not control his life anymore.

Brown revealed in an interview with The Gleaner that the lifestyle led him to years of sadness which caused his family to be worried about him.

"I got in trouble two times in America (United States) for drinking and driving. I went to jail and I had to go to counselling, but I wasn't listening at the time. If I didn't have it (alcohol), it seem I couldn't function," he declared.

Brown was sharing his story following a series of articles published in The Gleaner earlier this year which highlighted findings coming out of a study conducted by the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA).

Some of the findings included one in six males reported that they drove under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs in the past year, while one in 17 females reported doing this.

Also, alcohol continues to be the drug most widely used in Jamaica.

Approximately 40 per cent of the population report that they currently use alcohol. Seventy-five per cent of the population report using alcohol at some point in their lifetime.

The 49-year-old said he could not pinpoint a particular trigger that pushed him to use drugs but indicated that it was a habit that started during his teenage years, which became hard to break.

"I would get drunk every day and night. I would drink whisky and vodka without water. I don't think it's stress, and I can't say what in particular started it, but it's just one drink after the next, until it got out of control. I also smoked, most times one pack of cigarettes, sometimes one and a half," he said.




Despite the temporary relief that the substances provided, he knew something was wrong.

"I could see where my life was going down the drain. I was not saving anything. As I wake up, all my money goes to booze," he lamented.

"I talk to God every night, even in my drunken state, asking Him what am I doing. Sometimes, I couldn't even stay on the bed because when I'm in it, it's spinning like a gig, I have to go on the ground," he recalled.

He gave credit to Susan Brown, a treatment officer at the NCDA, who he said recommended that he receive treatment.

"No one forced me; I just made up my mind to stop. I thought to myself that I was living a good life, but after a while, I realised it was not good. I made several attempts to stop, but there is no turning back this time. Praise the Lord!" he declared.

He used the platform to encourage youth to avoid all forms of substances and to be mindful of their future.