It was Christmas 2013 and Rod Anderson had hit “rock bottom” – again.

The father-of-two was, in his own words, “unemployed and unemployable”. After a two-year seesaw of recovery and relapse, he needed a bottle of spirits a day plus a couple of bottles of wine just to stave off withdrawal symptoms.

His marriage was on the rocks, he was suicidal, he had lost a string of jobs, and was unable to even sleep through the night without drinking.

"From the moment I opened my eyes in the morning, I had to have a drink. If I didn't I knew I was going to vomit, go into withdrawal and have the shakes.

"But it got as bad as waking up in the middle of the night needing to drink, which was a new experience."


It was the final turning point after more than 20 years of problem drinking.

"When I first discovered alcohol, I never really drank with any sort of limit - it was always 'to the floor' from day one,” said Mr Anderson, now 53.

“I went out with my friends and just drank to get drunk. That was the mission, and it continued like that.”

At 19, he began working as a car salesman and worked his way up in the automotive industry, eventually becoming a regional business manager for a major global brand.

Behind the scenes, however, Mr Anderson’s life was unravelling as the stress and pressure of his work caused his relationship with alcohol to spiral.

“Working away from home was a very toxic combination that led me to becoming an alcoholic a lot quicker than I would have if I hadn't done that [job].

“It was a perfect storm really: in my late 30s I already had a problem with alcohol where I was drinking most days – or most evenings anyway - but I was managing to keep a lid on it.

“But when I got to level career-wise that meant I was working away from home and going down south a lot, then there were more opportunities for drinking.

“I also worked in an industry where that was acceptable – not getting totally pissed, but where socialising as part of my job was expected. And I totally exploited that.”

The Herald: Mr Anderson said working with other people in recovery had helped him to maintain his own sobrietyMr Anderson said working with other people in recovery had helped him to maintain his own sobriety (Image: Colin Mearns/Herald&Times)

His employer offered to cover the cost of a private stint in residential rehab, but Mr Anderson declined. He says he was not ready to admit that the problem had become that bad.

In 2011, Mr Anderson finally sought help and completed a home detox supervised by specialist alcohol nurses while on annual leave.

But when he returned to work two weeks later – sober for the first time in years – he was sacked.

“I was a bit naive thinking everybody would help me, but I went along to this HR meeting and was presented with all this evidence around my misbehaviour.

"That was the end of my employment. It was awful.”

Over the next two years, Mr Anderson tried and failed to stay sober. He was admitted to hospital twice for emergency detoxes.

He concedes that he was simply not ready to “do the work”.

“I was completely clueless about recovery back then. I thought you just stopped drinking. And one of my biggest problems was that I was quite middle class in my addiction.

"I had gone along to some recovery services and thought ‘I don’t really like these people, this is not for me’.”

By the time he hit rock bottom in December 2013 – when he was detoxed at home by his GP – Mr Anderson knew it was life or death.

“I was either going to kill myself, or get better."

Mr Anderson credits Addaction – since renamed We Are With You – for his recovery.

He went on to volunteer and then work for the charity, before retraining as a recovery coach and founding Borders-based Recovery Coaching Scotland at the end of 2021 – a social enterprise which works in prisons across Scotland.

Mr Anderson, who lives in Newcastleton with his wife and sons – aged 20 and 23 – says his new career has aided his own sobriety.

"It makes my own recovery easier because I'm talking about it every day - I'm using it to explain things to other people.

"People with lived experiences of adversity and addiction have a lot to offer other people.

“Recovery is a lifelong commitment. It does get easier as time goes on, but you can't be complacent."