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I got sober living in one of the UK's biggest party towns

Emily Tisshaw   

I got sober living in one of the UK's biggest party towns
  • I live in Newquay, one of the biggest seaside party destinations in the UK.
  • I started using drugs and drinking alcohol to excess before finally getting sober three years ago.

In 2017, I moved to Newquay, Cornwall, to be with my then girlfriend, but I fell in love with its stunning coastlines and quirky inhabitants.

Newquay is one of the United Kingdom's biggest seaside party destinations — and it's home to the annual Boardmasters, a massive multiday music festival.

Soon after moving, my relationship became tumultuous, and I desperately had to find somewhere new to live. I settled for the first place I could find: a one-bedroom apartment in the center of town, an area especially renowned for its nightlife.

When I first moved in, the club scene was the perfect antidote to my heartbreak. My home was situated in the heart of the party!

Every night I stepped outside, I was met with a lively, drunken scene that felt like entering a slightly dangerous theme park. I craved the raucousness to drown out my grief.

I partied a lot for a few years — I was sniffing God knows what and relying on liquid courage to cover up my pain. I'd go out all night, then be able to walk right home in under five minutes.

But the cracks started to show when my drinking and drug use became excessive. Once I started to become a regular at the emergency department of the local hospital because of drug overdoses and alcohol-related trauma, I decided I needed to change my lifestyle.

I knew sobriety was necessary if I wanted to have a healthy life — but living in the center of a party town made getting sober even more of an uphill climb.

My willpower grew stronger every time I said 'no'

In my first few months of sobriety, I had every opportunity to give in to my previous addictions.

Because I'm in the center of town and had been spending weekends getting wrecked with my friends for years, my house had become the go-to for pre-drinks and after-parties. I had people texting me for weeks, months, and even a year after I had been sober to ask if they could come around.

The more I said "no," the easier it got. I grieved the loss of many relationships in my life — all the friends I had were drinking friends — and the loss of my old self.

I started to take advantage of the seaside part of my seaside town. My flat was central to bars but I also lived a short walk from the beach.

I began cold-water swimming after learning it could help relieve anxiety and depression. I found peace swimming in the mornings, one of the few times of the day the town is quiet.

I did my best to avoid triggers and I started to exercise regularly. I found local support groups to aid my recovery, too.

Still, most nights, I'd lay in bed every night listening to the chants of drunk people outside.

I tried going out sober, but now I just do my best to tune out my surroundings

I eventually got to the stage where I felt comfortable enough to go out some nights — I knew that I couldn't avoid it forever.

At first, I found it easy to be sober around people who were drunk because no one seemed to care or notice I wasn't drinking. But I was desperate for peace as soon the clock hit 11 p.m.

Even after I got home, I could still hear the thumping bass of the club nearby that sent vibrations through my walls. It would keep me up and threaten to ruin the routine I had tried so hard to maintain.

I started wearing noise-reducing earplugs and fought back with a drug greater than the ones I'd glorified in the past: sleep. I don't really leave my house after 10 p.m. on weekends anymore.

I'm three years sober now and I still get woken up by the occasional drunk screech outside — but my rowdy neighbors have taught me the importance of a fiercely disciplined routine.

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