Alcoholism is a thing that many people suffer from and alcoholism exists in many degrees and affects people in so many ways. Today, we asked five Nigerian men how their alcoholism affected them and how they go on the track of sobriety.
I started drinking when I was in my second year at the university. However, it was when I was in my final year that I started drinking for pleasure and not just at events and stuff. I would buy two bottles of beer at night with a pack of suya and eat and drink till I slept off. I had started making small money then so I thought that this was me enjoying. The habit grew from two bottles to three and then at events or when I was with my friends, I would drink four to six bottles of beer. A few years ago, roughly four years ago, I realized that I had a problem. I needed to drink at least two bottles of beer every day, otherwise I felt some type of way. So I started with first, only drinking one bottle a day and two bottles of beer in a social gathering. Then slowly, I stopped drinking at home. Now I only drink at events and never more than one. It’s been a journey and I’m proud of myself.
My dad gave me my first sip of alcohol when I turned seventeen but it was when I left Nigeria for my higher education that I finally got into alcohol. My friends and I would do shots all night every weekday we hung out and on weekends, we would go to parties where people just sat around and drank beer. Soon, I realized that I drank every day. I think the worst part about alcoholism is that you never know that you have a problem until it gets bad. That’s what happened to me. Before I knew it, I was coming home drunk and wasted at least three times a week. The good thing is that I was far from home and my parents. The bad thing is it was a problem. I didn’t start working on it until the day I got into a fight with someone while drunk for no reason and then I got arrested. There’s nothing worse than being arrested when drunk as an African living in a foreign land. Luckily, I was eventually let go. There and then I told God that this must stop. It’s been a few years and it has been a rocky road, I’ve had several relapses but I’m happy that I’ve kicked the habit. For me, I needed my friend’s support to really battle it. My friends played a huge role because we all decided to stop drinking as much around the same time. When we went out, we all looked out for each other, and when I relapsed they didn’t judge me but reminded me why I wanted to stop in the first place and I did the same for them.
During the pandemic, I started getting into wines and making cocktails at home. I would wake up, do some work, read and just drink till I pass out. I didn’t know I had a problem till I realized that there was a week I had been drunk five times just that week alone. Then I realized that I had started gaining a weird type of fat that I had never put on before. I wish I stopped drinking then but the truth is, it took me another six months after the realization before I was able to stop drinking. I think the key to it for me at least is holding myself accountable. No one can make decisions like that for you other than you.
I lost my job two years ago and I started drinking as a way to pass time while waiting for a new job. Slowly, I started needing more bottles to get as drunk as I wanted and before I knew it, I was a very different person who drank like a fish. I eventually got a job but the drinking didn’t stop then like I thought it would. Three months after I got the job I was fired for being careless, lazy, messy etc. I knew it was the alcohol because those have never been traits of mine so I started working on it. I moved in with a friend because I couldn’t afford my apartment without a job and slowly, I got the alcoholism out of my system. What people don’t tell you is how hard it is to get un-addicted and how long it takes. I’m still trying to get it out of my system right now but I’m in a much better place and now I can keep a job.
After law school, I started making good money from photography. I was popping, eating well, going to parties etc. That’s where it started, before I knew it, I was getting drunk daily. As a creative, you work on your own time and that was the only reason I wasn’t fired. I would go to bed drunk, wake up by 2 PM, rush out for a gig, by 10 PM I was back drinking again. There wasn’t a big moment where I had an epiphany, to be honest, I just looked at myself and said, this is not it. Stopping wasn’t easy but for me, I had to go cold turkey. For six months, I didn’t drink alcohol at all. Now, I only allow myself to get drunk on very rare occasions.