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I thought I’d do a quick run through of my daily – and now entirely legal – drug intake.

So, here we go.

I now take:

One 20mg Citalopram, which is supposed to stop me being so anxious.

Three, vitamin B compound strong tablets. These are standard issue in alcohol treatment and it’s supposed to help you recover. I may start to take more – my similarly recovering friend, Desmond, is taking six.

One 100mg Thiamine (B1) tablet. This is similar in aim and effect to the vitamin B.

One 50mg Nalorex tablet which is supposed to help with cravings.

Six 333mg Campral tablets which ought to do the same thing as Nalorex.

One 200mg Antabuse tablet. I actually take these under supervision at the Addiction Unit, two on Monday and Wednesday and three on Friday. I’m breathalysed before I take it. This is the big one I suppose. The deterrent drug that reacts very, very badly with alcohol and makes you very, very ill if you drink whilest on the drug.

Finally, each evening I take one 30mg Mirtazapine tablet.

I won’t list all the side effects here. They’re all in those Wikipedia articles should you be interested and they’ll scare me.

Do they work?

I don’t know. Well, I do know that Antabuse works. It’s stopping me drinking and I’m not sure how far I trust myself if I stop taking it. (This is partly because of the intensity of the cravings I’m experiencing this time round and the fact that I’m yet to experience the huge positive surge of energy and vitality I associate with going sober.)

Now, Desmond has stopped drinking and also stopped taking Antabuse, Campral and Nalorex. There’s a difference in our experience though. Desmond really did reach rock bottom with drinking, he was hugely underweight and very ill indeed. I stubbornly believe that I never have. I must admit that it’s partly wishful thinking – I’ve got three suicide attempts under my belt which were all drink-related.

So, as I say I’m not sure how effective they are. How much worse might my cravings be without the Nalorex and Campral? The vitamins must be doing some good surely. If there’s one pill I rely on though it’s Mirtazapine and I rely on it too much. Whether it improves my mood is moot at the moment (I’m aware that it has in the past), that it is literally narcotic is not at issue. The side effects (which I said I wouldn’t mention) leaflet warns “May cause drowsiness” this, in my case, is a huge understatement. Mirtazapine knocks me out with a delicious drowsiness that I find incredibly attractive – the drugs to which I’ve been most attracted and of which I’m consequently most afraid are hynotic drugs.

And, that, for the moment is that.

Thanks for dropping in, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.


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So, now the hard part.

Today is my 16th day without a drink (I must look out a sober clock I can post on the side there – if any one knows of a simple one that can be found online then do let me know).

It’s been quite tough. Tougher than I expected to be honest. I think part of that difficulty is down to doing the detox at home.

I – like may others I learn (I remember in the Thin City Mental Hospital one story of a veteran of 23 detoxes) – have been down this road before.

So, now I can offer my view of which is better – in or out-patient. As usual, and anyone who comes to read this blog will learn that I am not often a man of strong, unshakeable conviction, I can see the good in both.

So what’s good about in patient?

First of all you’re surrounded by people in the same boat as you and going through the same process. You might think that working with addicted alcoholics (and in Thin City the vast majority of detoxes are for alcohol, in my meanders through the addiction system I met one amphetamine addict and two cocaine) would be pretty thankless, but the staff of the detox word told me they loved it. One reason is the speedy change for the better they see. Most of us come in a pretty poor state – shaking, puking, dejected – and with a couple of days of treatment are relatively transformed. There’s an instant support group around you. Thin City’s treatment puts a heavy weight on completing a therapy programme alongside the detox, in fact, if you didn’t sign up for that you were pretty soon moved out of the ward.

Secondly, you are cared for. They threw food at us in the Thin City Mental Hospital. Four good – if sometimes rather stodgy meals – a day. I went in addicted to booze and came out in thrall to corn beef hash. I’m lucky to have a supportive partner at home, but if looking after yourself, making food and so on is a challenge, having someone do it for you is a great boon. I got good treatment and great support from doctors who sorted out my eczema and even started to suggest self-help books to read.

And, you are out of your drinking environment. When I detoxed at home, I was still 200 yards from the Spread, still the same distance from the corner shop with its rows of cheap cans. In the hospital we were on a locked ward and were breathalysed on re-entry if we did go out.

And, what’s good about doing it at home.

You’re not surrounded by alcoholics. On leaving in patient detox you’re advised not to keep in touch with anyone on the ward. Not even to give them your telephone number. The reason is obvious: if they fall, they could drag you down with them. An NHS detox ward is also not always a place for the shy or anxious. While most patients are delighted to be helped and improve wonderfully visibly, not all do, and many will have other ‘challenging’ behaviours too. I survived, but struggled. The day a fellow patient left the ward only to return in the evening drunk off his head to thump windows and cause trouble before he was chucked out again was frightening. I missed the fist fight that lead to another patient being thrown out. Everyone was committed to quitting the drink but not necessarily everything else – there was soon a cannabis conduit into the ward and plenty of illicit (bought online) diazepam doing the rounds too.
You’re in your own home. Again, this depends how safe, secure and comfortable your own home is. But if you can’t face anything more than an evening staring at a TV screen you’re free to do so.

So, on that brief scoring, it looks like I prefered in patient to home detox.

It – like everything else – is more complex than that. The waiting list for out-patient detx, for example, is much shorter. Who you spend your in-patient detox with is a complete lottery – could be saints, could be loons.

I’ve struggled more this time I think. The cravings have been worse. Much worse (although this could be down to kindling). Those two weeks locked away in the safe arms of the detox ward were a good start to sobriety.

So now I’ve stepped into my new routine. Of which, more later.



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Well, this blog was going to be many things most of which it turns out it hasn’t been or isn’t.

I’m not sure what went wrong. Well, I am. I was drunk and it all seemed like too much trouble. I also had rather a change of heart about writing anonymously about the people I know, which seemed wrong. I know it’s the lifeblood of blogging, but these aren’t clients (as in the famous Diary of a London Call Girl) these are friends – of varying degrees of intimacy and closeness of course – but I wondered what I would think about someone writing about me behind my back. The story of the Spread Heads will be told, although it’s likely to be fictionalised now. 

Gone now are the times when this could have been a Bukowskian tale of drinking dens and their denizens. Gone now are the times when this could have been a tale of living next door to semi-criminal and extremely noisy neighbours.

Those times are gone because these are now the days of sober. (I wonder if I should change my title – I’ll certainly change my tagline, because I am no longer ‘pissed and pissed off in inner city Britain’.)

I still live in inner city Britain in Thin City’s Edens. The neighbours are gone though.

Most of all though I am – as of Sunday – sober. Being nothing if not predictable I went out with something of a bang. Sundays have long been a big drinking day for me and my Spread Head friends. I hit the whisky. The whisky stayed hit.

And, that my friends, was my last day as a drinker.

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After a decently successful trip to Thin City Addiction Services yesterday I made it home safely. Mag was out, and when Mag is out I feel the tractor beam of The Spread most strongly.

I decided to cook instead and that worked but then Mag went out for the evening and so did I. It’s unusual for me to be out so late, I’ve generally been on the afternoon shift with the OGs or join the after work crowd. I had arranged to meet Exact there to watch the football, he cancelled but I didn’t.

I drank too much; more than I intended. Four pints, a double whisky and a shot of some holiday liqueur the landlord’s parents had brought back from holiday. Earlier, at my meeting, E had asked me if I’d got drunk when I’d binged at the weekend and I’d said I had. I’m not sure I did last night. There was very little pleasure involved, it was just habitual and there were none of my usual crowd there.

I’ve noticed how I – and other Spreadheads who probably have drink problems (I’m not in a position to judge) – make these plans that drag us back there. Offering to loan books and films, “Are you in tomorrow?”; finding sporting fixtures, “Are you going to watch the game?” and so on.

I got home – not late – to find Mag still out so I sneaked a sneaky spliff out the back door too.

I had a hangover this morning. In a way that’s good. Until recently, the only ill effects I’d have felt from drinking that amount would have been a continued craving from not getting enough alcohol down me. But, it has made me more likely to drink – and to drink more – today. I’m waiting for my phone to beep with a text inviting me down to The Spread – I’ve arranged to give a spare copy of a CD I’ve managed to end up with to GBDUSD.

It’s Friday, and I’d love to go for a beer when everyone else finishes work.

But, with the hangover vanishes all the positives I’ve found from cutting down – I start to brood, I become more acutely aware of what a mess my life is, how little I’ve achieved and how little time I have left.

There’s a crossroads feeling to this attempt at sobriety. I’m in my 40s and still, to all intents and purposes, dependent on my parents. I work, but not enough, and when I give any thought to my employment prospects it’s not encouraging.

If I can’t get myself straight this time I’m starting to think it really will be too late for me, that I might as well just give up and see what happens… essentially, the thought is, rather sadly that I might as well go and drink myself to death.

Thin City Citizen

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Oh yes, I am doing sooooo well.

Last night’s alcohol intake was around about six units. I’m keeping up my drink diary for Thin City Addiction Services and I managed to push my first drink back to around 8pm. I even left two bottles of beer undrunk in the fridge – previously it would have taken getting too stoned to be able to stand up and get them to achieve that. I’ve added vitamin C and cod liver oil to my bulging pill tray.

I feel so much better. Already my fear of the neighbours is starting to become much more reasonable and balanced a little by anger. (I know anger isn’t necessarily a great thing, but my own inability to feel, let alone, express anger (other than inward anger) is a big problem.)

And, this is Saturday. Last Saturday I was in the pub, Guinness in hand, by 11am and didn’t leave until about seven hours later. I did enjoy those Saturdays. I’d buy the Independent for their big general knowledge crossword and a few of us would drag our way somewhere towards completing it.

Is this headache craving? Is this strange taste in my mouth craving? Is this tiredness craving? It feels like it. At least in the sense that I know if I head off to the pub these things will soon vanish. I’ve noticed already that I’m missing those calories that used to flow in from under that creamy head. I’ve actually lost a little weight I think – not that I need to.

If it stops raining for long enough I’m going to go for a walk – one which will take me past the Spread twice.

I suppose I should to some extent address myself to the title of this post. It doesn’t feel so relevant now. When I started writing this I was feeling so positive and wanted to write about the danger that I would become complacent, think I could manage just a couple here, a couple there, drink like an ordinary human being.

I’m pretty sure this isn’t actually withdrawal, but it is craving, as bad as I’ve had so far.


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