A man who was addicted to drinking alcohol for the most part of his life decided to quit after he missed his father’s funeral. Now, two years sober, he is helping people who have fallen into addiction get their life back.
“Today I am living life; what came before was just an existence,” Karl Finn, 46, told The Epoch Times via email. “Staying sober is my way of making amends, and my tribute to my dad and the rest of my family who stood by me.”
“I think he would be proud of the person I’ve become and of the journey I’ve been on to overcome my addiction,” Finn, who resides in Southend, Essex, in the United Kingdom, added.
Finn was born and raised by his parents along with his older brother in a working-class area of Dublin, Ireland, called The Liberties, which is famous for its bars and markets. According to Finn, the “area was full of addiction and crime and it was easy to fall into drinking.” At the age of 14, Finn, who says he was a sensitive child back then, began drinking just to fit into the crowd.
However, his addiction spiraled out of control, and within just one year, Finn went “off the rails,” with drinking becoming a major problem in his life.
“At the time, my mom and dad were going through a marriage breakup, which made me very sad but I couldn’t really express how I felt, so I drank to forget what was going on,” he said.
After his parents separated, Finn decided to stay with his father. Life wasn’t very easy for him though. His father had bouts of alcoholism and was unpredictable when he drank. It was left to Finn to grow up and take on some responsibilities at home while also supporting his father emotionally.
“It wasn’t easy seeing a strong man like my dad deal with the breakdown of his marriage,” he said.
During this phase, Finn, who dropped out of school, began drinking on most days, and felt “lost.” Without any plan for the future, and no qualifications, a then-15-year-old began to work in a bar.
In an attempt to help him with his addiction, his aunt allowed him to stay with her at Weymouth, in order to “detox.”
“It worked—for a while—and I managed to cut right down,” Finn said.
However, not long after, when he turned 17, he decided to live with his father, who had moved to Birmingham. Surrounded by his father’s side of the family whose business was pubs and clubs, Finn went back to his habit of drinking.
During this time, he became the manager of the biggest pub and club in the city.
“I was working during the week and thought I could contain my drinking to weekends, but it soon spilled over until I was drinking most days of the week,” Finn said.
With the addiction taking over his life, he became unreliable and began showing up to work late, completely hungover, or would disappear for hours. Unable to take control of himself, he eventually lost his job.
For the next two years, he moved jobs and relationships, unable to stick to anything, as his drinking habit dominated his life, making him “selfish,” and “chaotic.”
At the age of 19, he went to live with his mother in Bournemouth. His mom thought he would start with a clean slate. However, the same episode repeated. He began to lose new jobs and relationships because of his drinking habit.
“I became a different person when I drank and my life was unmanageable—I wouldn’t turn up to work or I would disappear for several hours at a time. I couldn’t stop,” Finn said. “Each day I would wake up and focus on how to get money so I could drink. I would sell things, like my phone, or I would hang around with other addicts and alcoholics who had drinks, which I didn’t always like. I was existing, but not living.”
As days passed by, Finn drank a liter of vodka and as many as six cans of lager a day, until he would blackout.
Despite suffering from cardiac arrest, a kidney and liver failure, and sustaining serious injuries due to a bike accident while he was drunk, he lacked the motivation to quit.
In 2018, he was even warned by multiple doctors that he would die within a year if he didn’t decide to change himself.
“As an alcoholic, I continually lied and put my family through hell,” he said. “I pushed the boundaries and broke their hearts repeatedly.”
Then, on one Christmas, when Finn called up his mother, he was met with the news that would change his life forever. His mother told him that his father had died alone after a bout of food poisoning.
“He was still drinking. And, to make matters worse, I found out I had missed his funeral—a month after it had happened,” Finn said. “My family had tried hard to let me know, but as I was always losing or selling my phone, they weren’t able to contact me.”
Finn was heartbroken on hearing the devastating news. Whilst, on the other hand, it also served as a “catalyst” for him to quit drinking.
“The addiction had cost him everything, and I didn’t want that to be my future. It was time to make a change,” Finn said. “I felt incredibly guilty that I’d not been there—because of my own addiction problems, I was absent when he most needed me.”
In a decision to change his life, Finn solicited the help of Danielle Byatt, the founder of Step by Step Recovery, a private residential clinic that provides a safe and confidential environment for those affected by addiction but who are looking to begin recovery.
The residential treatment he underwent was for a period of six weeks, and it had a tremendous impact on his life.
“I’ve now been sober for two years and I couldn’t be happier. My life is a million times better—I’m in a flat and I have a partner. And I’m full of hope for the future,” Finn told The Epoch Times.
With a desire to give back to society, he began volunteering to help people who are in the same condition he once was, and was then offered a job as an alcohol and drug recovery worker at The Lighthouse in Southend, the clinic for Step by Step Recovery.
He has also rekindled his relationship with his mother, who stood by him through the darkest of times.
Currently living his best life, Finn advised those who are trying to overcome their addiction that “there’s always hope.”
“Don’t ever give up,” he said. “Somewhere, there is the chance of a new start and a better way to live.”