Jamie from Alcoholics Anonymous in Plymouth hopes to reach young people who may be going through the same thing
A recovering addict from Plymouth wants to remove the misconception that alcoholism only affects older people.
Jamie, a Young Persons Liason Officer for Plymouth's Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), has been living sober for 14 and a half years, and he wants to raise awareness that help is available to anyone who needs it.
After starting his journey to recovery at the age of 20, Jamie wants to use his own experience to show others in a similar situation that there is effective support for young people.
He told Radio Plymouth about his own experience of dealing with alcoholism:
"I always thought AA was for older people, your stereotypical subway or park bench person, sat homeless.
"I grew up in the area of West Park of Plymouth and throughout my teens, drinking was one of the main parts of my life. All my friends were doing the same and it was normalised, to us it seemed abnormal if you didn't drink and you weren't a party animal.
"I was getting in trouble as a result of this and coming towards my 20th birthday I was in Crown Court. I was in the probation service and a Probation Officer at the time actually recommended that I went to AA, because he himself was a part of it.
"That there totally changed my perception because as I said, I thought it was only your homeless and park bench type cases that could be alcoholics, but when there was a Probation Officer in a shirt and a tie looking well and professional, telling me that he was an alcoholic in AA, that's when it totally changed my perception."
Statistics from Alcohol Change UK states that in 2018, 44% of pupils aged 11-15 in England reported having ever drunk alcohol. Of these, 14% of 11 year-olds reporting ever having drunk an alcoholic drink, compared to 70% of 15 year-olds.
6% of pupils said they drank alcohol at least once per week, but for 15 year-olds this went up to 14%.
Although 16-24 year olds are less likely to have drunk alcohol in the past week, when they do drink, they are more likely to drink at high levels.
Jamie says his role as a Young Persons Liason Officer is to share his own story to other young people, with the aim of aiding them on their own path the recovery.
Within the group they follow a Twelve Step Program and the purpose is to get a newcomer to take it on with the aim of turning their life around.
The final step is to carry the message to other alcoholics, as Jamie explains:
"That's where this role of Young Persons Liason Officer has come from really, it's trying to get the message across the other young people, but in doing that, it's helping me to maintain my own sobriety.
"That's the unique thing about AA, for me to stay well and stay recovered and to thrive in my recovery, I need to help another person who may be living in the darkness and may not know about this solution.
"If they're looking for help, they'll find the fellowship of people that are the same as them and they'll become a part of that group of people who have found a way out.
"When the new person finds their way out, hopefully they will go on to help others, and that's how the fellowship works. It's basically one alcoholic talking to another to remove the feelings of difference because alcoholics feel like they're alone when they're out there and drinking."
Jamie told Radio Plymouth more about his own experience:
Jamie hopes to reach other young people who may be suffering with alcoholism and need help. Alcoholics Anonymous Plymouth can be contacted on 01752 791111 or through their website: https://www.plymouthaa.org.uk/welcome.
You can also use the main Alcoholics Anonymous website: https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/, which also has a chat service in the bottom right-hand corner.