It’s been 18 years since I had my last drink and sometimes it’s easy to forget how difficult this journey has been for my loved ones and me.

Most of my drinking career involved a conscious effort at ‘mindful drinking’, if that’s what you want to call it. I started drinking from a very young age, let’s say 14, and I drank to get drunk. It was always premeditated, which was a recipe for disaster, and came with lots of consequences.

My life has been a colourful one and although it was lots of fun in the early days, I often put myself and others in unnecessary and sometimes dangerous situations like when I lost my driving license. Let’s just say I was a bit of a nuisance when under the influence.

When I was 20, I was very fortunate to have met Dee Dee, the love of my life. I probably owe my life to her. Despite putting her through hell back, she persevered with me and helped me to become the man I am today. Sober!!!

My first attempts at ‘mindful drinking’ began the day my beautiful son, Joseph, was born. As soon as I held this little bundle of joy in my arms, I knew things would have to change. My wife transformed from my bestie and playmate, to a responsible and loving mother however, when I should’ve become more supportive, I did the complete opposite and went off the rails.

I suppose you could say my mindful era was just me trying to grow up, and without the support of my wife and kids I am pretty certain I would never have achieved sobriety and probably would no longer be on this Earth.

I tried many things to reduce my drinking. For example, I would buy a nice bottle of red wine, which we could enjoy with our food, but a couple of glasses each wouldn’t satisfy me so I started to buy a larger bottles.

Or I would stop drinking dark spirits and stick to a clear spirit like vodka because I was told didn’t have an alcoholic smell. Hmmmm.

We then agreed that I would only drink on holiday, which as you can imagine didn’t end up the best of memories for them or me.

I often found that if I had two drinks (which was never enough), things would be ok. The third drink was always my turning point. The point of no return, when all the bets were off.

I was at my worst and unhappiest from the age of 28 when my gorgeous daughter Imogen was born and age 30, when I finally decided I had had enough. I had pushed my wife and I to the brink and she was on the verge of leaving me. I couldn’t blame her.

So, after many attempts at mindful drinking, abstaining, and falling off the wagon, I finally surrendered. I realised that drinking wasn’t a possibility for me. It was no one else’s suggestion; this was my decision. I checked myself into rehab and have been alcohol free ever since.

What I have learnt on my journey is that mindful drinking is not an option for me. Drinking almost destroyed my whole life.

Alcohol brought me no benefits and since giving up, I face life on life’s terms. I have dealt with a lot of my demons, which I suppose were my triggers, and most importantly am still happily married to my wife.

Recently, I set up my own soft drinks company called Chillio Ltd, which produces Chilli and fruit blended drinks designed to awaken your senses through a natural endorphin release that replaces the need for alcohol. These premium all natural blends have been designed for the non-drinker who still enjoys a quality. I would never have achieved this if I were still drinking.

My one bit of advice I would like to give is this.

If mindful drinking isn’t working for you, get help and stop drinking completely. Get sober and start living your life ❤️

Written by Stephen, edited by Sober Fish

Twitter @StephenLaurie12

Instagram/Facebook @StephenLaurie1970

@ChillioLtd

@Chilliodrinks

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