8 Things We Can All Learn From Recovering Alcoholics

The hardest and best lessons are often learnt from a dark time and place. Here are 8 lessons you could learn from those struggling with alcoholism.

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Encouraging words for those on the road to recovery

Few people can stare right in the mirror and call themselves an 'alcoholic'. Here, 8 recovering alcoholics dig deep to share stories that could inspire all of us to be better people.

1. Find The Calm In The Chaos

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"For a long time in my life, I had a deep feeling of discontent – a hole in my soul. I don't have that anymore after finding the missing piece – my higher power and spirituality. I really don't know why I thought I could 'do life' on my own. When we are willing to give up where we are, we are able to go where our Higher Power wants us to go. Most days in my past 8 months of recovery, I wake up with real joy in my heart. I have learned to match calamity with serenity." - Carla, Western Cape

2. Growing Up Is Swallowing Your Pride And Accepting That You're Wrong

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"While I was still drinking I was always in a hurry, driving on yellow lanes if there was traffic or squeezing myself in the front at offramps. I was always tired, always recovering from a night of heavy drinking. And always cleaning my own vomit – I hated that! I have learned to constantly remind myself that I am alcoholic. To live with my bad choices and to accept myself – the real me and not the actor I used to be when drinking. I can no longer blame alcohol for my actions, I am accountable." – Mandla, Kempton Park

3. Find Strength In Those Who Love You Most

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"My rock bottom came while on holiday in Knysna; as per norm, I was drunk, swearing and shouting, eyes drooping and mind floating. My 8-year-old daughter stared me down and hissed, "Why do you have to act like this, do you know how you look?". Even in my drunkenness, her words cut through me like a knife. My daughter had lost respect for me... I lost respect for myself. In my recovery, I've joined my daughter for swimming lessons and a whole new world has opened up for me - I was no longer afraid of taking up challenges for I knew with the Higher Power by my side, I can accomplish anything." – Sumi, Cape Town/ Pretoria

4. Accept What You Can't Change, Change What You Can't Accept

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"I look back and think to myself, 'How come it took so long to admit that my life is unmanageable?' I preferred to call myself alcoholic- even without prefixing it with 'functional' – because in my mother tongue the word for drunk was too much to stomach. 'Letawa' – 'ta' for 'taking a quick drink' and 'wa' for 'fall down'; what in English is referred to as a 'fall-down drunk'. I refused to identify with that!" – Kano, Eastrand

5. We Can Rise By lifting Others

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"In applying my mind to 'Service Unto Others' as a universal concept that has its origins in divinity. I realised that in order to stay sober, I need to help others. It doesn't matter at what level (group, area, province), just serve because something happens to a person when he serves. It's difficult to pinpoint what it is but there is a general feeling of 'strength', serenity, knowing, peace and accomplishment that permeates one's entire being." – Basil - Midrand

6. Get Up, Show Up

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"My dark slide into insanity lasted all of 5 years during which time I lost everything I hold dear – my wife, jobs, directorships, home, care and more. It is the most horrible place to be; to know the solution, to know the way out but not being able to follow the path. I have learned during this time of sobriety that it is my duty each day to get up and report for duty, regardless of what may lie ahead." – Angus, Durbanville

7. Playing Victim Doesn't Change The Situation You Created

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"I became very good at blaming the world. Anything and everything was against me, even inanimate objects like traffic lights, computers. I know that this is called 'self-centeredness'. I've learned that guilt says 'I made the mistake', whereas shame says 'I am the mistake'." - Brett, Cape Town

8. Learn To Laugh At Your Pain

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'Laughter is good for both body and soul'. Obviously, there are things in life that cannot be dismissed with laughter. But there are some problems that can be made better by making them appear ridiculous. If you see anxiety developing, defuse it by exaggerating it to the point of absurdity. Think: 'If I flunk this exam, they will announce it on national TV at prime time. At the international summit, they will talk of nothing else but my flunking!' When you laugh at such things, you diminish their impact. - Corrie, Gauteng

It's never too late to turn your life around and get help. If you're battling with an addiction to alcohol, get in touch with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) on 0861 HELPAA (435722).

Diageo, global leader in beverage alcohol, urges you to take the pledge to #DriveDry and lead by example. You can visit @DriveDry on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and click to share your pledge.