By Scott Pearson

In a generation where having some kind of public mental breakdown was glamourised by the world’s media and in turn our very own LGBTQ+ community, it’s no wonder it took me until the age of 28 to realise I had a problem.

In 2010, my parents sat me down to tell me they thought I had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. They had noticed that when I drank, I drank myself into oblivion - I had no ‘off’ switch. Once I’d had one, there was no telling how many more I’d have, often consuming bottles of wine at family parties like some kind of alcohol possessed Pac man. My drinking had started to affect them, because when I’d go out there was no telling what state I would reappear in, or what time (if at all) I’d be home. My reaction? “I’m no different to any other guy in his early twenties, so get off my back.”

The thing is, because I was never dependent on alcohol in the sense that I had to drink every day, I felt like my drinking wasn’t an issue. You see, I was just like you, I’d go out after work for a ‘liquid dinner’ because “eating is cheating” and before I knew it I’d be 146 Jägerbombs deep in G-A-Y Late until 2am when I had work at 8am. What people didn’t see though, was that I’d do this maybe twice or three times a week at one point, subconsciously going out with different people on different nights so those closest to me didn’t spot the pattern.

It wasn’t just the alcohol that was the problem, it was the decisions I made while under the influence. I woke up in countless random men’s flats, lost an incalculable number of mobile phones in Shadow Lounge (rest it’s soul) and alongside all of that, I was racking up a credit card bill that would give Katie Price a run for her money. Wrap all of this up into one rather large, messed up life and it makes for an extremely unhappy, anxious, depressed gay man who wasn’t even in his thirties yet.

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In 2015, aged 25, I got into a long-term relationship and to begin with my life seemed to level out. We had a nice house, good jobs, moved out of London and I thought I had a handle on everything. Sadly, for various reasons the cracks began to show in our relationship and like any self-respecting British men we didn’t acknowledge what was going on and talk about things and instead turned to our good friends Bordeaux, Margaux, Rioja, Malbec and Shiraz to heal all of our problems. At one point I was responsible for drinking two to three bottles of red wine a night.

In late summer of 2017, we split up and I had to make up for lost time. I gave myself permission to go wild because I’d been away for such a long time, and so, the self-destructive pattern started again. A constant cycle of alcohol binges, random sex and ‘just one more party’ took its toll. By the summer of 2018, aged 28, I knew I had to stop drinking for good, but had absolutely no clue how I was going to do it. Can you even be gay if you can’t drink fabulous cocktails in fabulous bars with fabulous people?

At the beginning of October 2018, I decided I was going to give up the following January, but until then, I would try and go sober for as long as I could. At the same time, I went onto Instagram and noticed there was a huge sober community. I signed myself up under the alias ‘The Boy Who Drank Too Much’ (@theboywhodranktoo) with no picture of me and began posting my thoughts and feelings. The sober community on Instagram are something really special. The messages of support and encouragement I received when I posted on  October 11 announcing I’d relapsed were nothing short of tiny miracles. They made me feel like I wasn’t alone, and that change was possible; when I woke up the next day I knew that something had changed, and I wasn’t going to drink anymore.

Since that day I’ve been sober. As I write this, I’m ten months sober about to board a flight back to London after being on a sober holiday in Spain. While on this trip I accepted the role of being a writer for this incredible platform, in that hope that by sharing my advice on how to get sober, along with my tips for living and loving a sober life, it will help some of you. I look forward to what I know is going to be an exciting journey with OutLife, giving me the opportunity to connect with as many of you as possible.

If you have any questions, or want some advice, feel free to drop me a message on Instagram and I will reply to you as soon as I can.


What Next?

Support

LGBT Foundation in Manchester and London Friend both offer LGBTQ+ drugs and alcohol support. Contact them to find out whether one of their programmes could help you.

Switchboard is an LGBTQ+ helpline and its volunteers are also there to listen. 

The OutLife Forums are a non-judgemental LGBTQ+ space where you can talk to other people like you. 

Drinkaware has a great list of alcohol support services in the UK. These include helplines, support groups, and online chat services.