I was asked to write this an embarrassingly long time ago but actually I think its probably about the right time to do it. It’s been nearly 8 months now since I cleaned up my act. At first I was very keen to join online groups and talk about it, then I went through a period of self doubt, now I have come out the other side, 8 months sober & clean, my mind is finally beginning to sharpen back up, my body is slowly changing for the better, I walk everyday, I sleep better, my aches and pains are better, I have developed a bit of a sweet tooth, I’m working on that, and I need to stop comfort eating at night. But yeah, I’m sober and I’m fucking glad for it.
It all started with a post on Facebook, I can’t remember exactly what I said or how I said it now and I don’t want to start searching for it, but I remember what I meant to say. I wanted to put across something like “I’m sick of being under the control of alcohol and I want to get away from it and clean my self up”. The reason I decided to post it on Facebook was not just ego, actually I had read something by another alcoholic who said that he found announcing things on social media can actually help, because the act of admitting it publicly brings you closer to admitting it to yourself, also the support from friends can actually really help, and one thing that social media can do, if you are careful with it, is give you places where you can find support in groups, with like minded people.
So I did it. I posted up my status saying I was sick of drinking and here I am announcing to everyone that I’d had enough and I was going to take a break so for now on can everyone please not offer me any drinks at gigs? Please instead try to help me stick to non alcoholic drinks and refrain from dragging me into “party” type situations. Pretty please.
The response was really unexpected. Lot’s of close friends got in touch privately to say that it was amazing I was making such a big admission ( what admission? I was thinking WTF? ) and that they too had been having issues and had also joined some groups, read some books etc etc and that they were there for me. Also in public the post got a lot of comments, mostly from friends, as in people I actually DO know, most of whom were offering their support and advice.
So what I actually did there was completely unwittingly admitted the one thing that had been holding me back for about 30 years! I AM or I have become an alcoholic. Call it what you will, I don’t care what the term you use is, but I have a problem with alcohol and drugs and I HAVE to stop drinking it or I will become increasingly unhappy and life will go south in a big way. The booze is the pathway to everything, I drink, I smoke, I do drugs. It’s that easy. Take the drink away, and there is hardly any impulse to do the others.
Years ago I had a partner who was in AA, she was quite hard work as a person, and it was a pretty damaging relationship, but she was free of drink and for the most part she had found some happiness in her life, we lived together for a couple of years. I met her AA sponsor a lovely lady called Julia, we went to her wedding, she remarried after her first relationship broke down because of alcohol. I went to a few AA meetings with my partner for her support, but mostly she went alone. I met some of the AA regulars, most of them had been sober for many years. I was drinking socially fairly regularly but not much and I didn’t find it hard to be sober then, so it was easy to hang out with these guys. I liked them, mostly they were good people who had rebuilt their lives in one way or another, I admired them for that.
At this time ( early 90s) I was getting into making techno, producing stuff with some infamous London techno DJs and learning loads about production, programming and electronic music in general. It was a very vibrant time for me, getting away from the music scene I had been in before had really opened pathways into new music and new ideas and I was lapping it up, but one thing had also walked through the door with me, the drink.
I’d always been drinking, since I was a kid, at school in the 80’s going out with my mates getting drunk at parties, throwing up etc etc, normal kid stuff for my generation. It kind of calmed down as I got older but it was always about, special brew and cheap booze when I was squatting and traveling, beers in the pub not much more than that, but to be honest nowhere near as bad as it got in the 90’s when I was raving.
The nightclubs and the squat parties of the 90’s took my using to another level and they provided a validation platform. Everyone was doing it, we glorified it, we revelled in how clever we were because of it, we even wrote songs about it. Tongue in cheek maybe yes, but still, we were raucously irresponsible.
The drugs came into the picture, first it was just a little here and there but over time they became a main stay of the whole picture, the amount of booze I could put away grew to monumental proportions, parties went for days, I was young and stupid and I had so much validation going on around me. Gigs abroad, records coming out, lot’s of people looking up to me everywhere I went, I allowed myself to be consumed by it and it consumed me.
I somehow managed to keep small parts of my life together, I just about made more records, built studios, moved into different places, paid my bills, but life was actually falling apart around me, I was just about scrabbling to keep it all together, I fell out with mates, had flings with people I most definitely shouldn’t have and just got myself into all sorts of trouble. My past was really catching up with me, I left home at 16 during bitter rows with my step father and had been squatting and living on the road since then, life was just getting messier and messier, I was unable to moderate things because I had no experience of the adult world before I was suddenly flung into it. My son is 17 now, I could not imagine him doing what I did at his age!
The big change was meeting my wife. We fell in love, I was in a relationship with another woman at the time but this just eclipsed that, I couldn’t help it. It got ugly first, I smashed everything in my life once again in order to put the fragments back together in a different order, my drinking was at an all time high, drugs were everywhere every weekend and often weekdays, my wife was with me in this, we partied together, we lived together in a place in Hackney but then things finally boiled over.
My wife was pregnant, we moved out of our place, had huge arguments with some of my closest friends about this because it was a shared place and we were leaving our flatmate in the lurch, but I had to get out. I was not bringing up a child in that environment, no fucking way.
We moved out of London, went down south, which is where I am now, and 16 years later after more gigging yet more drinking at weekends and a fair old bit of partying like it was going out of fashion, I finally started to clean up.
Eventually every time I partied it it all felt a little more old and worn out. I was coming home from gigs in the car after playing in whatever country. I’d be shattered and normally still half cut from the night before. I’d get to bed, sleep for 18 hours, wake up feeling really fucking fragile, really unhappy, sick of myself. I’d pay bills, go shopping, do some work during the week, pretend I was OK but watch my money disappear after buying copious amounts of wine and beer to drink at night, and then get back on a plane at the weekend and go and do it all again. Always alone, always on a tight budget, no luxury, always the most basic of basic travelling. Always drinking.
Finally we get to the point where I made my post on Facebook. I had given up booze before for a couple of months a few years before, but that was nothing like this, this is different, this is REAL. This is actually stopping the train, getting off and sticking two fingers up at it as it disappears into the distance, not just changing carriages for a few stops.
I cannot and will not say that I will NEVER get back on, I really fucking hope not, but that would be a reckless thing to try to force myself to do, this is the danger, it is always there, the temptation will never go away. Alcohol is a socially acceptable thing to do and NOTHING I say here will change that. People will fight you physically for their right to poison themselves with alcohol. Wars have been fought over it. This shit is serious, I cannot change people minds, I can only have responsibility for my own.
I do think about going back, of course I do, I spend 30 years getting trashed, I know how to do it, really well, I’ve had a lot of practise. Sometimes I have dreams about drinking and I wake up feeling guilty, sometimes I have moments where I say “ WHAT??? NEVER ??? EVER ???” And then I really miss drinking and partying with my friends for a few seconds, but then the logic
comes back in and I think “Don’t be stupid it really wasn’t that great was it?”
Getting drunk was it really fun? REALLY? Come on be honest, wouldn’t all those memories be just as good without the drink? Better in fact? In fact when you try to remember yourself drunk, can you actually do it? No? I guess it’s because we don’t like to think of ourselves as out of control. It’s the wall of denial that we hide behind. I am ashamed of how long I spent doing this to myself. But it is NEVER too late to straighten things out.
I think and I hope I’ve managed to convince myself now that it was all just actually bullshit. The booze and the drugs will always be near in my industry, I know that and I’m ready for it. People will always feel the need to be naughty and rebellious, but I’m trying to re-teach myself that I can still feed my rebellious streak by NOT by doing what everyone else is doing, by doing the OPPOSITE, by staying sober, being able to drive home, by eating well, by playing better as a DJ, by feeling clean and happy, by having conversations with people that actually make sense and that I can remember the next day. I am finding new ways to exist in the music scene. It is possible.
Then of course along comes COVID-19. Well I’m ready for you too, you fucker. I’m so glad I am not drinking right now. God knows there’s a bloody good reason to get shit faced right there, but I’m not doing it, no, fuck that, I’ve been down that road, I know where it goes, nothing gets solved, no one wins every ones a loser. Fuck that.
This is the next chapter of my life, I am for the present time in control and I intend to remain so.
I hope this helps someone.
– D.A.V.E. The Drummer