Ryan Hamilton

Jesus gives me a better fix then the booze!

I was born in Ayrshire Scotland in a town called Irvine.

My childhood was a normal one, whatever normal is, then at the age of 14 my world was turned upside down when my parents got divorced. I got it into my head that it was my fault they split up. I stayed with my Mum. The relationship between my Mum and Dad was strained. Add to that the pressures of being a teenager who thought he could do what he wanted now Dad wasn’t about, it made the relationship with my Mum difficult at times. I felt I couldn’t talk to either of my parents about anything and certainly not the relationship breakup. I truly believed I was to blame for them splitting up and that they didn’t want me. The guilt inside just kept eating away at me; I wanted the guilt and pain in my head to stop. So I started drinking as I thought this was a good way of dealing with things. This quickly became a downward spiral and it didn’t matter what was going on in my life it wouldn’t be long until I needed another drink. The drink helped numb the pain.

I was always getting into trouble at school. It felt like none of the teachers understood me. My drinking and behaviour were out of control and before I finished secondary school I was thrown out.

At 16 I decided I would clean myself up, have a fresh start and go to college. It wasn’t long before I was hitting the bottle again and drinking anything I could get my hands on. You name it, if it could make you drunk I would drink it. Just like secondary school it wasn’t long before the college asked me to leave as I was always drunk.

The pain of my parents splitting up and me feeling that I wasn’t wanted consumed me. If this wasn’t bad enough I also felt a failure for being kicked out of school and college. The only way I could fix all this confusion and pain was by me getting legless and passing out. It did what I wanted it to do, it stopped the pain. Even if it was only for a couple of hours!

My drinking got worse and it wasn’t about the past now it was about needing my next drink. I had become addicted to drink. Booze consumed me and the more I could get the better.

I started hanging around on the streets drinking. I can’t remember how many times someone or the police brought me back to where I was staying because I had no idea where I was or what I was doing. I was so drunk most of the time I could not stand. I often blacked out and collapsed in the street and being found unconscious was a normal daily thing.

My drinking was so out of control, months passed by without me knowing what was happening.

The local police were starting to get to know me more and more. Most days they would pick me up unconscious. We would go through the same routine they would put me in a cell for a few hours to sober up or drop me off home. They would try to talk to me but I wasn’t having it and as soon as they had dropped me off home I would get another drink. For the next number of years I continued in this cycle, not doing any harm to anyone but myself.

This changed when I hit 21. I started getting in trouble with the police; I did whatever I needed to do, to get money for my next drink. The drink was all I could think of and I didn’t care whose things I took or who I hurt to get this money. Well this was another vicious cycle and from the age of 21 and for the next 7 years I was in and out of prison so much I didn’t know if I was coming or going. When I wasn’t in prison I was on the streets or in and out of hostels. Nobody wanted me and I had nowhere to go.

I remember feeling I didn’t want to live like this anymore, I didn’t know how to break the cycle or who to go to for help. One night I went outside the current hostel I was staying in, I guess I was looking for the nearest place to get a drink as this is what I always did. There was this blue bus outside, on the side of it in clear white letters it said “offering freedom from addiction.” I knew I was addicted to drink and I also knew I couldn’t get free from it. So I entered the bus and the staff started to help me. It turns out the bus was run by a purpose made charity called Teen Challenge to help people with addiction.

One staff member Lorna really helped me, she told me about Jesus and I acknowledged Jesus. After a while the bus stopped coming to the area for one reason or another and this is when I decided to join a church. The church was good to me and really helped me. The church was filling some of the void that the drink used to fill. It all seemed good, but something was missing, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. It wasn’t long before church wasn’t filling the desire I had to drink. I tried to fight it but I was soon back drinking again.

I was desperate to break the cycle of drink in my life and one of the church leaders suggested I needed to get away from the area and Scotland and maybe I needed to go into a rehab programme.

They got me connected to a rehab centre in Loughborough, Leicestershire called the Carpenters Arms. The Carpenters Arms is a Christian rehab centre and it doesn’t matter if you have religious beliefs or not, everyone who signs up for the programme must go to a local church once on a Sunday. There were 20 of us in the programme and we could pick from two churches in town. I decided I wanted to go to the New Springs City Church as a number of the lads who were in the programme were going there.

I had been in the programme a good three weeks and had attended New Springs three times. Through some of the staff at the Carpenters and through the messages at New Springs I realised what was missing from before! I needed to do more than acknowledge Jesus I needed to let Him into my life. I needed to let Him take complete control over me. Not only that, let Him live in me and through me. So one Sunday morning at New Springs Church before the Pastor had finished his sermon I walked down the front of the church and stated I wanted to accept Jesus into my life. At the end of the service Pastor Nathan Weaver spoke to me about my decision to accept Christ.

From that morning I have felt different, and that difference is having Jesus in my life. Life hasn’t been easy but He has given me the strength to believe I can break the addiction of drink over my life. I have not touched a drink for a good 8 months. This has not been the case since I was that young boy of 14.

Jesus has given me a hope for the future that I never had. I have been baptised and have currently completed the rehab programme. I have moved in to a ‘move on’ house where I am managing myself. Support is close by if needed. I really believe I have a different future, a future of hope, a future free from the addiction of drink. This is because of Jesus.

Thanks for reading my story.
God Bless,
Ryan

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