Kate King began drinking at 13 and since then it has been a constant struggle

Kate King began dabbling into alcohol at the age of 13 from her parents’ liquor cabinet. King remembers herself and her friends at that time as teenagers, being quite adventurous and always wanting to go out and try new things. It was this spirit of adventure that led her into years of alcohol addiction.

The main reason she had difficultly letting go of alcohol was because it gave her confidence, something she always wished she had.

King recalls being lots of fun in her early drinking days, she surrounded herself with people that drank as much as she did, so she thought drinking the way she did was the norm. There were times where King would be the last person at the bar because she didn’t want to go home and be alone. King’s friends would leave before she did because as King recalls, “They had a life, they would have family or friends and other commitments that were more important.”

From the first time she drank, King didn’t have an off switch, she says. She didn’t know when was enough and that became even worse as the alcohol became more accessible.

King and the people around her started to notice she had a drinking problem in her 20’s when she Kate King works hard every day to continue on with her recovery process. King has become an inspiration at Fresh Start Recovery Centra in Calgary, Alta working as an executive assistant.
Photo by Anup Dhaliwal
was constantly going out with her friends to the bar and partying. King made a wager with a friend that she would go without drinking for a week.

By the third day King’s friends ending up saying, “Oh please have a drink, you are such a bitch.”

King remembers being restless, irritable and discontent when she wasn’t drinking, but when she was, she was at ease; she could talk to people, she felt she was brilliant and beautiful.

Dr.Paul Sobey, addiction medicine physician and president of the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM) explains that environmental influences contribute to an individual’s reaction towards substances.

“There is this whole area of what we call epigenetics, the study of what causes gene expression. Genes are not automatically turned on, they have to be turned on and sometimes stressors or other environmental influences cause them to be turned on. So this to a certain extent explains the genetics influences in addiction, if you are stressed extensively, you are more likely to develop this disease if you already have the underlying risk for it,” says Dr. Sobey.

King had the whole world in her palm — or so it seemed. She owned a great restaurant in Calgary and from the outside she looked like she had a happy life. King recalls herself as “a great actress”, as she fooled everyone in believing she was something she wasn’t.

The wake-up call King needed

After nearly 30 years of out–of-control drinking, King was forced into rehab at the age of 43 when “I was rather shocked and surprised to find out how selfish I was, self-seeking and more than anything how fearful I was.”
– Kate King
her business partner put together an intervention to get King the help she needed. King was not up to go to rehab, but she did not want to lose her business. King initially thought she was going to rehab to learn how to “drink like a lady.”

But while in rehab, King finally realized how out of control her life had became and how much worse it could have become if she did not do something about it. King became the ultimate student: she studied what was taught to her at the treatment centre about the disease of alcoholism and learned about herself, which she recalls being a “hard thing to do at that age.”

King took a look back at her life in rehab — with all of the ruined relationships —and realized how angry and resentful she stayed with certain people.

“I was rather shocked and surprised to find out how selfish I was, self-seeking and more than anything how fearful I was,” says King.

While in rehab King realized she had a fear of being alone, a fear of not being good enough and a fear of not being loved. King thought that these were silly thoughts a young girl would have, but she was thinking this of herself at 43.

“There are so many things that I’ve learned in recovery through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and through the support that I get through people in recovery. Through my work in recovery and through women that I know that have helped me grow and helped me learn what loving relationships are about. How I can honour myself and how I can be of help to others that is a huge part of what people in recovery strive towards, it’s one person helping another,” says King.

Happy and healthy

Recovery gave King the confidence she always deserved. She began to value herself as a person and stopped comparing herself to others, which was always a big issue she had. Kate remembers not caring about others’ feelings while she was drinking, but today when she catches herself being rude or short with people she apologizes because she knows that’s not the woman she ever wanted to be.

Today King is an executive assistant at Fresh Start Recovery Centre in Calgary, Alta. She is 15 years sober and has been in a great relationship with a “wonderful” man for the past 11 years. King is able to provide alcoholics and recovering alcoholics at Fresh Start Recovery Centre with real-life advice and she is able to share her personal experience with those who need her help.

“No matter how bad it was, that doesn’t mean that’s where you have to stay, there’s so much opportunity in life and most people don’t take it. Now I just look and I think there’s so many things I’d like to do, the only regret I have is I’d wish I’d done them earlier, but I have lots of opportunities,” says King.

Adhaliwal@cjournal.ca