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Hi everyone. And welcome to gay. A podcast about sobriety for the LGBTQ plus community and our allies. I'm your host, Steve Bennet-Martin. I am an alcoholic and I am grateful for approaching one year of sobriety. As of this recording, I am 333 days sober. And today we're welcoming a guest to share their experience, wisdom and hope with you. Welcome to the show, Andrew,Andrew:
thank you so much for having me, Steve. It's great to be here. Joining you from. Well, usually sunny Australia, but it's frightening at the moment.Steve:
Okay. Well the, yes, thank you. I'm glad we were able to find the times in our schedules where it all lined up and why don't you start by? Yeah. And why don't you start by introducing yourself to the listeners?Andrew:
So my name is Andrew Addie. I'm coming up to a a thousand days so that today I am 987 days. Off the source. I use he him pronouns. And yeah, like I said, Jordan, you from Australia and I'm based in Sydney, sunnySteve:
Sydney. Very nice. Thank you. And then, so let's jump in right into the thick of it with what your journey with alcohol and addiction.Andrew:
Absolutely. So I grew up in a, plectrum starting broad as a stock when I was I grew up in a place called cans, which your listeners will probably know for the great barrier reef. It's quite a regional town very different experience to, you know, people that grow up in the cities. I grew up in the, you know, I was born in 86 and 35. And there was still a lot of you know, homophobia, blatant homophobia on, on the streets. It definitely through, you know, school and that sort of thing. I have sort of always experienced you know, anxiety and depression from quite a young age, unfortunately. And of course that's not something that I really tweaked onto until I was much older timeout. It's 17, 18. And you know, in Australia, when you turn 18, that's the legalized, the drinking. But I started drinking when I was probably 12, you know, stealing alcohol and, you know, you get asked in adults to, you know, buy it for us you know, naughty little kids. And yeah, it sorta started a long growth history, Korea with drinking. You know, by the time I was, you know, in my mid twenties, I was drinking, you know, if not every night, you know, definitely very, very heavy at the weekends. And you know, my mental health just was spiraling out of control pretty much, you know, that's when the depression and anxiety was probably at its all time high you know, towards my late twenties had some, you know, pretty. Poor bad experiences developed, unfortunately, you know, some post-traumatic stress which just, you know, spiraled and spiraled and followed. I felt like I was sort of climbing this hill of anxiety and depression. And alcohol was just what I was using as a tool to, you know, sort of. What I thought, you know, was, you know, helping to escape that. And, you know, as, as we all know, it's not the best way to go. And I eventually you know, Really, I wouldn't, I wouldn't say that it was hit rock bottom, but you know, I had a nervous breakdown, which is pretty catastrophic in my life. And so that was not enough for me to consider stopping drinking. You know, I'd been seeing a psychologist for pretty much all of my twenties and into my thirties. And, you know, I regularly had, you know, people that various medical professionals telling me to stop drinking, you know, I needed to stop drinking. You know, my liver was out of control functioning. But you know, it was just the thing that I felt that I couldn't escape and that I couldn't live without. And then obviously, you know, big, you know, big flashing lights of you know, definitely knee-deep in addiction. And I was fortunate enough one day to somewhat stumble across general practitioner GP here. Sydney in Australia and they we're starting a program which was basically for alcohol cessation to help people, you know, kick booths. So I very sort of somewhat reluctantly into into the program and a basketball. It was a home detox program. Yeah. I didn't the thought of going into a hospital detox, really just to get the shit out of me basically. And I feel like that scares a lot of people. But I did a home detox program. I was already taking antidepressants at the time and antianxiety medication, which was obviously not interacting that well with alcohol. But you know, I already had that sort of tool in place. Then, you know, some medication that was prescribed by the doctor, you know, so some specific medication that would help you know reduce Of alcohol and, you know, effectively render it you know, useless. And so ed, since this program got through a week and felt okay, got through two weeks felt okay, Got through it three weeks and eventually I started to feel good. I start to feel really good and I will never forget looking into the mirror probably about, probably about three minutes in and saying. My eyes, my clear eyes in the mirror, in the reflection. And I just felt so useful. I felt young and I didn't feel Haggard. I didn't feel tired. And it was this really somewhat beautiful moment that I reflect on where. I am kind of really fondly reflect on that and I thought, okay, I'm doing all right. I'm doing all right. I can do this. I can do this then, you know? Yeah. You you know, in those early stages of sobriety, sort of, you know, obvious, somewhat white, white, not going, you know experiences in the wild. Quite vulnerable and exposed and you know, you, you're entering social one of the situations and you're kind of always on your mind and then eventually, slowly but surely that starts to go away. You know, I put in five, much effort to stay on the path, you know, eventually I was released. Motivated by, by keeping sober. And it's something that I really cherished and sort of held on to now is like a, you know, a big, important part of my life. I really sort of treasure it. And you know you know, you do that reflect your constant. I feel like I'm constantly reflecting, you know, about what, what I was like and what I'm like now. And. I would have in my, my old me's face, if you know, if I said, Hey, if you, if you try hard here, you're going to start to feel really good. And you know, you're going to feel less depressed and you're going to be less anxious. And you've got to start living in. Productive joyful life out there in the world, and you're going to achieve things. Then you're going to, you know, set goals when you're going to achieve them for the best time in your life. And, you know, I have to say that stopping alcohol is the best thing that I've ever done, you know? And I feel like there's, you know, a pot of everybody's, you know, everyone that has served up and, you know, have gone through the process and everything. You feel like you've got this secret, you feel, or you feel like you've got this answer and you know, you want to get out there and, you know, and I'm sure that you could relate to this state where you want to go and share it with these people. And you want to, you want to help people and you want to say a story and say, look, I was bad. And you know now I'm good. I'm really. And you can you want to say, right, you want to get the word out and sometimes you feel like you're a bit of a preacher. But at the end of the day, it's all you know, really part of it. And I, you know, I have to say getting involved in the, you know, the soda and alcohol free spaces and the work that people do has been a really great. Part of sobriety too, you know, through that you're meeting other people, you know, and I have to say, you know, I'm a very social person as an extrovert. I was at the pub pretty much every night before, and I knew that I had to, you know, keep up that stuff. Interaction, but by doing, you know yeah. Outreach activities and that sort of thing, you're meeting great people and you made it people that you formed friendships with. And that's definitely something that I've loved. I've loved meeting other friends of PayPal and hearing their stories. And it just gives you some hope and inspiration and enjoy and friends. Of course.Steve:
Oh, well, thank you for sharing it. And speaking of sharing and getting social and meeting other people. Can you tell us a little bit more about your work withAndrew:
Yeah, sure. So I, you know, going back to, you know, That's kind of a point in you, you know, when you're sober enough where you realize that you don't have many further friends and it's something that, you know, I think it is, you know, you don't necessarily have to have a whole bunch of sides of friends, but I think it's kind of important that you do make some connection there. So I got involved with an organization here in Australia called uncomplicated, which is a social group, basically. It's, it's not you know, it's not it's not. A rehab group, a detox or anything like that. It's just a an organization that brings together people that want to socialize, but not you know, drink. There are some people that come to our events. Students still do drink. Describe those probably mindful drinkers. But of course, and then there's also people that, you know, have never had problems with alcohol there's people that just don't like it there's people that are allergic to it. The religious reasons, of course. And so it's just this big sort of. Basically we get together, you know, every week, you know, there's events on pretty much weekly. And we get together and, you know, the focus is never on booze and we get out and do cool, fun things. You know, Bush walks in, you know, Australia. I keep convincing people to come swimming cause that's been my, you know, huge part of sobriety is swimming in the ocean. Pretty much every diet that, you know, pumping off you know, I brought climbing, you know, anything, trivia, coffee, you know, you know we, we get together and there's something really special and, and rewarding. You know, we're a volunteer organization where, you know, there'll be w we have our regulars, of course, you know, I host events when we've got a cost of brilliant hosts across the east coast of Australia. And. When someone comes to the group for the first time, you know, really, you know, socializing without booze, if you've never done it or you haven't done it recently can be a really big sort of steps people. So we get people that come to these events and you can instantly, you know, I tell myself that I'm a really good judge of character and, you know, you can see these people that are very nervous that very scared. You know, they really, you know, putting themselves out there. But of course, you know, within minutes you see that just all melt away and you know, the real lady to start clicking stops vibing with the group and, you know it's really, it's a really beautiful thing to say when you see someone. Obviously it may have been thinking about this for a long time. They've come in. That achieves the goal of going out sober and also meeting new people, meeting strangers was a bit weird. Sometimes, you know it all just melts away so quickly because you've got that common, that instant, common thing where people you're just socializing with that both. And it's really cute.Steve:
Yeah. And in addition to that social aspect of sobriety, what are some other positive changes in your life been since finding.Andrew:
Oh, sometimes I done even know where to start. With the positives, you know, I, I start, you know, you talk, I talk about you know, setting goals and that sort of thing, and somewhat, you know, you know, I had a huge privilege you know, as a white man, you know, in society and I've been very lucky that. It despite being like a raging drunk I could still achieve things, you know, I was still, you know, still held down a job, you know, I still had, you know, things are going okay. You know, we're going to Paul, like you know, on paper. But since I stopped drinking, it feels like things have just gone from, you know, a linear sort of, you know, a sort of average trajectory to exponential, you know? Where do I stop? I, you know, my career has just taken off You know, money's important, but you know, I got two promotions within a year. You know, change, change careers as well took on running in a not-for-profit charity on toxic hated. My fitness is out of control, you know, I've always loved swimming in the ocean. Now I do it every day. I'm a, since become a lifesaver on a beach here in Sydney. I've also started kids doing competitive ocean swimming. And I won my first race at the weekend. And. Going back to, you know, telling your old self and what is that? These are the things that were possible. You know, with that, once again, I would have lost it in my future self faith that we here we are like, it just feels like sometimes on can't even keep up with my goals because I'm achieving them. I take them. It's like, oh my God, I'm going to do now. And then I have a little bit of a. You had an existential crisis. So I'm just like, oh gosh, I've got to come up with something good. Because you know, you just keep ticking all these boxes and, you know, You know, it's really you feel crazy cause he's just like, oh, I keep achieving my goals and you feel awful, but you know, that's the truth, you know? And it's something that, you know, and I, and I appreciate it can take people a little bit more time to achieve that golf that, you know, the people I say, you know, keep on with it, you know, that benefits, you know, sometimes you don't immediately see. Impact or results of goals and that sort of thing. But if you stick with it, you know, I promise the Evo.Steve:
Yeah. And looking back on your drinking career, as he said, how do you feel your sexuality played a role in your addiction?Andrew:
Yeah. It's, it's, it's something that, you know, I reflect. All the time, actually, you know, being a part of the LGBTQ plus community you're an outsider. You know, generally, you know, in a lot of ways and aspects of life, know of the lives that we live and, you know, alcohol. So firstly, you know, you kind of got this, you know, thing where you just feel like I would've felt that on it's sort of looking a little. You know, in society couldn't really fall on my place and that sort of thing. And you know, that it presented itself in, you know, the depression and anxiety, you know, that, that I had unfortunately, you know, growing up in homophobic areas and you know, that sort of thing. So, you know, that sort of, that set me up in a point pointed me in the direction. Alcohol and other drugs. Luckily, you know, drugs never was a problem for me. But those, you know, it's just so readily available and it's there it's indoctrinated into Australian society. We are heavy, heavy, heavy drinkers. It's everywhere, you know, advertising. You think about advertising in the LGBTQ plus community. Yeah, we just had to ask Sydney Mardi Gras, which I'm sure a lot of your listeners will know about. And you know, it's sponsored by alcohol companies, all about bottle shops. They changed their branding to rainbow. You know, they're saying, get drunk, get wasted. You know, you, you have to, to be a part of this. You need to be drunk, you need to get wasted and you need to, you know, experience that drunk. And, you know, with that, I think for me, it becomes really frustrating. You know, I am incredibly frustrated by it and you know, when People are so, you know, organizations, governments people are happy to come out. We'll happy. We'll always come out and talk about you know, things like if we talk about cancer, we talk about brother death. We talk about you know, about domestic and family violence have been huge problems here in Australia. Never really told about. Putting any effort or money or resources into the problem that is into the thing that is causing 6,000 deaths per year in Australia, which is alcohol. And you know, I find a real frustration with that. Everyone will talk about the effects of it and how it's a huge problem, but I won't talk about the problem that is causing a lot of these issues and you can probably. Just a little bit of fire in me about that. And I do a lot of advocacy work around that as well because the funding is just ridiculous, you know you know, it's, well, you know, the wonderful organizations that have set up on the. That are run by volunteers. You know, I, of course, and a lot of, you know, other organizations, they will run them by volunteers and it's like, well, Hey, where's the money to support all these wonderful volunteers that have usually got to live the experiences, you know, stopping drinking, you know, how much, you know, we've got to carry, you know, and it is a place or an, a giant don't get me wrong to, you know, help out the people of course. But, you know, with. How are we going to, you know, fix six, these 6,000 deaths a year without, you know, support and resources and that sort of thing, a little bit ranty that, but you know, especially in the LGBT occupant community, you know, 40, I think in Australia, 40% of people in the community engage in binge drinking activities. And, you know, that's a really recent statistic that. And it's much higher than our hetro counterparts. So, you know, we know that we've got the compounding things are way more likely to have, you know, anxiety, depression, other mental health conditions and, and other health conditions in general. And we're more likely to have a disability. Both more broadly speaking and we're also more likely to be heavy drinkers. And you know, when you talk about other things like smoking and other drug use too, sometimes it feels like it's all against us. We prevailed. Yeah. And ISteve:
mean, especially being in a community that like revolves around alcohol so frequently, how do you feel your sexuality has played a role in your recovery and where's your place kind of in the community now?Andrew:
Yeah, that's a really great question. I feel sometimes I feel so. You've already said I already felt, I always felt. You know, when, when you're a part of the queer community, you feel like you're about to go, you know, you're, like I said before, you're an outsider and now I'm in society in somewhat new shoes of being a Southern person. And. I feel radical again. So the mines, the mine shit wasn't too different. Cause I was like, oh, oh, I'm on the outside again. Cool. This again. And you know, not that I would say that I experienced, you know, it's not comparable, but discrimination of course, between, you know, homophobia and not being a drinker. But sometimes it is, it is a really bizarre experience where you have to. Yeah, we know that LGBTQ plus people have to come out all the time. I think once a week or something you have known average, you know, in, in, you know, Alliance. But coming out of the. You know, non three car you feel quiet on the outside again from the file, just so you know, being gay, being a non drinker you're just like, oh, I can't believe that stuff. I mean, again, and, and, but, you know, homophobia has started to subside, which is fantastic, but people will say the weirdest things to you when you do not drink you know, which, you know, I'm so I can see you laughing safe. You've experienced too. But you know, finding a queer Starbuck community has been quite a challenge. But they're out there, you know, clearly you know, here we are. They're at the tights a little bit of time to, to figure it out because you know, like I said, you know, we've got these groups, the groups that are in place, you know, we've got AA, there's other ones like, you know, smart recovery you know, organizations that are run like on toxic at it. They know specifically some of them on specifically for queer people. So, you know, you're a minority within a month. Again and you know, finding that it was well, it's difficult, you know, and it took a lot of time, but now I've got these wonderful friendships and, you know, w you know, the no contact, text messages that we send each other, you know, just very funny. And yeah, it is really quite beautiful to have those connections where you can talk about, oh, God, I'm at this party and everybody's wife said, you know, what, what are you talking like, yeah, let's get out. Let's get away from all this shit. You know? So I, it was difficult to find, but you know, it is, it is getting better. And I'm so grateful for the queer side of friends that I've got 100%.Steve:
Yeah, I agree. And if you can give one piece of advice to someone who is sober, curious, or newly sober, what would it.Andrew:
I've thought about that. Keep going, keep going. Just keep going. It feels hard. It is. You know, you are probably going through the biggest challenge you're going to go through. Well, you know, it's going to be up there in your life. You know, especially if you've got an addiction problem, finding an addiction, it's really difficult and hot and, you know, if you can. Just keep it, you know, day by day, break it down to the basics. Look after yourself, prioritize yourself and your wellbeing. You know, you are going to start to say these, these really beautiful benefits and, you know, I just will shout that from the rooftops and to anyone that will listen. Oh. You know, even people that don't want to listen to.Steve:
Yeah. And in recovery I've seen no matter what route we take, whether it be a program where a group, you know, we typically love our steps, traditions, or say sayings. Do you have a favorite mantra or quote that you like to try and live by?Andrew:
Yes. I've thought about this one. Say I'm going to go recall or, you know, one of the Queens from RuPaul. If you stay ready, you don't have to get ready. Yeah. I say that because you, someone have to be, you know, especially in early sobriety I felt that I always had to be constantly ready for the curve ball. You know, you, I kind of had to go into social situations, go, you know, go whether it was alcohol around and you know, that sort of thing. Be prepared that I'll I'll want to, you know, there might be times when you're going to have to talk about it. You're going to have to say while you're not drinking, people are gonna ask you probing questions. So, you know, try and have those things, you know, prepared in your head as possible about what you're going to say, what you're going to do. You know, having an escape plan, who are you going to talk to, to get out of a situation? Tell your friends that, you know, if you, when you say you want to lave yoga on the lake that. The thing that is really, of course hard to prepare for is the situations you're not prepared for. So try and just have a very gentle understanding with this self, that things are going to come up where you're not prepared. You're going to feel uncomfortable. You might feel like drinking you know, try your absolute best to remember that, you know, That's okay. Try not to panic, freak out, have a meltdown, you know, like a, like I would, and certainly did in some situations. And you know, just, just try this, you know, depend on your basics. And yeah. Going home, get some ice cream, you know,Steve:
I just had some ice cream for dessert right before recording.Andrew:
Yes. Well, thank you so much for sharing all of your wisdom and your passion, which you can just feel when listening to you talk tell our listeners about how they can find you if they want more.Andrew:
Yeah, of course. So you can follow me on Instagram. My private account is Addie dog, a D D I E B a WG. It's a long, silly, ongoing cause my family. But also I run the organization on toxicology. Which is on Instagram too. So with you at the start underscore eight U S and you know, we share cool resources and that sort of thing. And if you're ever in Australia, you can come along to one of our events, if you like,Steve:
I'll be sure to go follow that right now. And thank you so much, listeners for tuning into another episode of Gaye and please rate and review. If you found this information. Especially on apple podcast, five star reviews, help other people find this podcast who need it. If you're interested in sharing your story like Andrew here, or getting involved with the show, you can email email@example.com or reach out to me on Instagram at gay podcast, and be sure you're following us wherever you're listening. So you get new episodes when they come out every Monday and Thursday until next time stay sober friends.