Alcoholism is self-diagnosed. We know deep down inside if we are addicted.

Unfortunately due to guilt, shame and self loathing I would find myself in denial always on the run from me and terrified to admit that I had a problem with alcohol.

Alcohol had become my medicine, I couldn’t face life on life’s terms and would retreat into myself filled with fear and self doubt, I was living a lie.

I remember as a young boy, on my way to secondary school, I had to walk past a bookshop in Smithfield. In the window of the shop, a book cover caught my eye. On the cover was the outline of a person's face all you could see was the outline of two eyes, a nose and mouth.

My denial was so cunning that I blamed people, places and things. It was always somebody else’s fault, or it was this place or this thing.

The title of the book was 'Why Am I Afraid To Tell You Who I Am' by John Powell. I can honestly tell you that book mirrored my internal world. It was so true that every time I passed that shop, I would avoid looking into that window in case the book was still there.


Alcoholism is the disease that tells us we don’t have the disease and therefore we avoid, like the book, looking at ourselves.

The story in my head was that if I told you who I was, you wouldn’t like me. Why should you as I didn’t like myself? I hated myself and all the things that I had done believing that I would never do such things.

I know now looking back that I hurt a lot of people as I drank myself into oblivion.

In Africa they say it takes a lot of wisdom to untie a simple knot and I was tied up in a knot that held me hostage to king alcohol.

My denial was so cunning that I blamed people, places and things. It was always somebody else’s fault, or it was this place or this thing.

My fear was intimacy. Once you got to close to me, I had to do a runner. I found myself changing jobs, changing friends and eventually changing countries.

My head would tell me it’s this place, Belfast, that’s the problem. So I left Belfast and went to live in England then Rome, Bologna, and an idyllic place in Italy called Cervia.

No matter where I went, however, I was still an alcoholic and as always alcohol would enable me to sabotage myself. After two years of hiding out in Italy, I decided to return home. On my way to Ireland, I found myself homeless in England, in the city of Exeter, begging on the street.

One day a kind hippy type guy asked me if I was hungry and brought me to a bin in an entry behind a Chinese takeaway. He reached into the bin and took out a piece of chicken and he began to eat it and offered me another piece of chicken that he found in the bin. I declined, telling him, "I’m not that hungry."

I don’t know where those words came from. it was a moment of clarity: is this what I’ve become?

I knew then that I was alcoholic and that I needed help. I knew then that’s why I was afraid to tell who I was.

The paradox is that freedom from alcohol comes when we are able to admit our weakness and therein find our strength, so we have the courage to say: “My name's Frank and I’m a grateful, recovering alcoholic”