When asked to share about Celebrate Recovery and how it has helped me I thought that this would be rather like trying to commit the entire works of William Shakespeare on to the back of a postage stamp. The fact that I am able to share this without the aid of a safety net should be proof enough that Celebrate Recovery can help anybody.

My safety net was prescription drugs and alcohol.

I was suffering from low self esteem, depression, lacked confidence and had addiction. I constantly worried about my future and that of my family. I was not coping well with the stresses and strains of everyday life and was continually in a state of anxiety. Alcohol had been my friend for some years; to quote Al Pacino, “When you have known Jack Daniels as long as I have you can call him John”

The benefits however were short lived and I had begun to suffer from disturbed sleeping patterns and would wake in the early hours of the morning in a state of panic.

Sleeping tablets helped initially but as with most drugs they became less effective and I always dreaded reaching the last pill in the bottle, wondering if my GP would agree to prescribe more.

Hypnosis was of little help and counselling, though of some benefit, was limited and after these sessions I was left to struggle on alone. My wife and children were wonderfully supportive during this difficult period but were at a loss and felt helpless during my episodes of depression, withdrawal and alcohol abuse.

Anti depressants helped but only sufficed to relieve the symptoms but did not address the causes.

It was incredibly difficult to find continuing support and I had spent hours exploring all avenues.

I was enlightened to the existence of Celebrate Recovery by a counsellor who had had personal experience of the group and knew Tony. I arranged to meet him and attended the Riverside Centre not knowing what to expect and doubting very much if it could be of any benefit, all else having failed so many times before. I was pleasantly surprised by Tony’s affable and avuncular manner and talked way beyond my allotted span. I cannot continue any further at this point without mentioning how very grateful I and my family have been for the time, encouragement and support given by both Tony and Val.

The first meeting at Celebrate Recovery was relaxed, friendly, and followed the now familiar pattern of prayer, reading of the 12 steps by a volunteer, worship and teaching.

We were then split into smaller units for discussions with the help of a group leader with personal experience of the Recovery programme. They were there to facilitate these meetings, not to fix anyone. Under strictly confidential circumstances, adhering to certain guidelines which are always read prior to each meeting, over the ensuing months I was able to step out of denial and with God’s good grace face my nemeses. I gradually became able to manage without my former false friends.

I no longer needed to drink alcohol, take anti depressants or require sleeping tablets.

I was encouraged to become involved at Recovery meetings, eventually dusting off my Fender Precision bass guitar and taking part in worship. For once I felt quite at ease knowing that I was playing in praise of the Lord and that this was all that mattered. I have now become involved in bringing worship to a number of small churches in my parish.

There have been moments during the past eighteen months when I have slipped back into my old ways but, through the patience of my family and the continuing support of my sponsor and accountability partner I have been able, with God’s help, to defeat my demons.

Like Tony, I believe Recovery not to be a programme but a continuing process. It is a seed that, once planted, evolves, blossoms and flourishes. It is eternal. I will always be in Recovery, learning, and I hope, giving something back to God and to the people who have helped me so very much. I thank God, my family for their belief in me, the Church and the wonderful people at Celebrate Recovery for helping to restore my sanity.

I would urge anybody who might find themselves in my situation to come to Celebrate Recovery, if only for one meeting, just to see what it is all about.

It has helped me beyond belief.