A Version of Death

Before she became an addiction recovery worker, Jane Muir was an alcoholic. Here she shares some of her darkest experiences… and that moment of clarity that made her sober up. 

When I was drinking I didn’t really wake up, I came to. I don’t think I experienced real sleep when I was drinking – I drank to oblivion and somehow managed to get to bed before I passed out.

Sometimes I didn’t actually get to bed and would wake up lying on the floor or slumped in a chair with cigarette burns on the carpet or upholstery. There was one memorable occasion when I woke up wondering why the bed was so hard and what had happened to my pillow. I gradually came to realise that I was lying at the bottom of the stairs and my face was covered in blood. I should have died that night – I still don’t know how I didn’t break my neck.

I used to think that because I didn’t drink during the day that I couldn’t really be an alcoholic. I chose to overlook the fact that the bottle and a half of vodka I had consumed the previous day, or in the evening before I went to sleep, was still in my system. I owe my liver a profound apology – it didn’t have a minute off for years.

I’m writing this through the prism of sobriety and recovery. Even now it horrifies me just how bleak and meaningless my life became when I drank. I didn’t live through this period of my life, I existed.

My life during those years was mind-numbingly boring and banal. I drank, smoked, went out for supplies of booze and fags and scuttled back to my meaningless life to drink myself into oblivion. It wasn’t even a life, it was a version of death.