Those first few days and weeks without my former drug of choice were pretty unbearable. I was irritable, couldn't concentrate, couldn't sleep, had terrible headaches and was totally obsessed with the thought of smoking.
Nicotine patches really helped to take the edge off. They were advertised everywhere. Your doctor could prescribe them on the NHS. We wore them with pride.
When I quit drinking, the cravings and withdrawal symptoms were just as bad but this time there was nothing available to help. Or so I thought.
A few days ago I got an e-mail from a friend I met through this blog. J's drinking history is very like mine. She's been struggling for years to quit the habit, but hasn't got past the first few weeks.
J, unlike me, had the courage to confess her problems to her family doctor. He prescribed her a drug called Acamprosate (also known as Campral), an anti-craving medication. Here's what she says:
Day 9. Acamprosate is bloody brilliant. All of my previous attempts have had me crawling up the walls, bad tempered and, in AA style, surviving one day at a time until an argument with the husband "justified" a dash to Oddbins.
I know it's early days and there's a long road ahead, but I haven't had the slightest urge to drink at all. I feel so upbeat and my energy levels are amazing. Husband came home on Monday and hardly recognised the house!
And I didn't even want to drink when a plumber fixing our bathroom tap managed to flood the bathroom floor and water came down through the ceiling, drenching the hallway, kids screaming.
I Googled Acamprosate. It's been approved in Europe since 1989.
I've written a lot on this blog about how long term abuse of alcohol changes our brain chemistry, reducing the amount of dopamine our brains produce naturally, so that - without booze - we feel tetchy and depressed.
After we quit drinking, our brain chemistry does, eventually, find its way back to equilibrium, but in the initial months we are left to cope with badly malfunctioning neurology.
That's where Acamprosate steps in. It helps to restore your brain's chemical balance and, therefore, helps with those terrible cravings.
Why, why, why had I never heard of this? Why aren't the government advertising it widely? How is it that everyone knows about nicotine gum, patches and inhalers, yet no-one's heard of Acamprosate?
If any of you have experience with this one then please can you comment below and let us all know if it works for you? If you've discussed alcohol issues with your doctor, have they offered you anti-craving medication?
It's easy to comment totally anonymously. All you do is go to www.blogger.com and set up a Blogger account under any pseudonym you like. You can then use that Blogger name to comment on any Blogger or Wordpress blogs.
Huge thanks to J for letting me share her e-mail, and love to you all,