06 March 2024

Volunteering: Enhancing and sustaining recovery

From every session I have with a client, whether that’s group sessions, face-to-face or over the phone — every bit I learn makes me stronger.

Dave, Volunteer, Grimsby

Dave's story

Where did it all start?

“I started drinking in pubs around age 14. It started with just going out at weekends, but by age 16 I was visiting the pub during the week and before long I was playing darts, football for the pub team. I had become accepted as a regular! From there things just continued through to being a dependent drinker.

“I didn’t consider myself alcohol dependent. I was holding down a good job, a nice house, a wife, and a family. But alcohol took all of that away from me. It’s not just health issues - it’s the wider picture and the ripple effect. Alcohol affects every single part of your life and body.” 

What happened next?

After trying to give up alcohol without support, Dave was rushed to hospital with organ failure. He spent three and a half days in an induced coma, facing a stark reality when he woke up.

“I was told if I didn’t safely reduce my alcohol intake, I would die. It should have been enough, but it wasn’t. Six months later I was back in hospital again. To me, that was more frightening than actually being told I was going to die — because the relapse made me realise how fragile I was. After that, I went to my GP and he said I needed some support.

“You have to learn a totally new way of life. I thought I could handle a couple of drinks. Now I know I can’t. It’s taken a long time for me to develop the mindset to allow me to do that."

Why did you become a volunteer?

"I wanted to keep involved with WithYou to enhance my own recovery, so I started volunteering. I love it, it keeps me on track and I can use my experience to hopefully help others. I’m still learning. From every session I have with a client, whether that’s group sessions, face-to-face or over the phone — every bit I learn makes me stronger. It allows me to continue my recovery — because it’s a life-long thing, and keeps me grounded, focused.

“I also volunteer for a couple of other organisations in the recovery community, Great Escape and The Comeback. I even started my own not-for-profit company last year. It’s called ‘Angle for the Community’ and aims to help young people find new paths through therapeutic activities like fishing. I’m trying to get kids off the street and doing something different.”

Dave, what’s your message to others who may be experiencing challenges?

“I can offer hope. I’ve been a volunteer since WithYou you took over services in Grimsby back in 2018. I’ve gone from being in a coma in hospital to where I am now. I haven’t had a drink for nearly 9 years." 

If you're alcohol dependent...

or think you might be, it’s important that you don’t stop drinking suddenly, as this could lead to very dangerous alcohol withdrawal complications. For support with cutting down your alcohol intake safely, contact us online, find a service near you or read our advice on safely detoxing at home.

Hear from others like Dave