Friday, 01 December 2017
Old Boy Julian Butterworth attended Bolton School from 1981 to 1990. He returned to the Boys’ Division to talk to Year 13 students about the dangers of alcohol as part of their SPACE session. Julian is a Public Information Officer for Manchester Intergroup for Alcoholics Anonymous, and is a recovering alcoholic.
Julian opened his talk by saying how proud and honoured he is to be back in School to talk about his experiences and recovery.
He began by talking about his relationship with alcohol as a teenager, around the same age as the Year 13 students and younger, and the notable differences between his drinking and his friends’ drinking throughout his life. He explained that he was a functioning alcoholic: he had a job, two children, and a good life from the outside looking in. However, he said, “I didn’t think I had a problem with drink, but drink had a problem with me.”
In charting his personal journey, up to the point when he finally sought help five and a half years ago, he helped the students to see another side of this common and often misunderstood disease, different to the stereotypes and misconceptions they may have had before. He also was able to talk about the threefold physical, emotional and mental effects and progressive nature of alcoholism.
Finally, he talked about discovering Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) at his lowest point, and said, “I found people exactly like me, and it gave me hope. The only difference was that they were sober, and I was drunk.”
He talked about his recovery through the AA programme, ending his talk on a positive note as he has reached a point where he no longer wants or needs a drink.
The floor was then opened to questions. The Year 13 students asked a number of mature and thoughtful questions about Julian’s experiences with AA and his recovery, such as who was the most difficult person to make amends to during his recovery and whether many people of a similar age to the audience attend AA meetings.
Julian was also asked his advice on drinking in moderation or a controlled manner. He stressed that he wouldn’t tell them not to drink, but to think about his experiences and consider whether a similar thing was happening with them, and to be aware of alcoholism as an illness. He said he would ask, “What are you drinking for?” and “How does it make your feel?”
Julian’s talk was preceded by two presentations from Old Boys on the theme of careers which were aided by technology: Nick Lord spoke to students live from Singapore via Skype and Raj Apte sent a pre-recorded message about his work in the City.
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