Britain is one of the planet’s biggest boozing nations, with annual consumption of alcohol per Brit now at almost nine liters, more than double the rate 50 years ago. While some may shy away from this troubling issue, Martin Prest has faced it head on, for all the world to see. The 26-year-old Cambridge, England, native is a recovering alcoholic who writes about his disease on his blog, Open Alcoholic. “It has long been said that no one but an alcoholic can help another alcoholic stop drinking,” Prest told The Fix. And Prest’s penning seems to be hitting the mark.
Prest and his blog may be young, but his desire to go public with his recovery was formed early on. “I am not a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, but came to realize they were doing something vital to successful recovery: helping other alcoholics,” he says. “I wanted to do that too, but without going to meetings I had no way of reaching out to people.” Last week, the BBC caught wind of Open Alcoholic, pushing Prest into the spotlight thanks to a radio interview and a profile on its site. He was both surprised and gratified by the coverage. That the BBC would publicize such a fresh-faced site is partly explained by the relative scarcity of personal recovery sites in stiff-upper-lipped Britain, especially in comparison to the glut of such blogs in the more self-confessional U.S.
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Yet a growing following among fellow Brits testifies to the quality of Prest’s blog. His daily record of fighting to stay sober is suspenseful, mixing humor with self-revelation—all the while showing dark undertones of how alcohol still has a powerful pull in his life. Blogging has also been therapeutic for Prest--he calls it "a daily purge of the alcohol demons." Prest is a budding writer and claims to have on tap a couple of novels, a play, and a book based on his blog. Among Open Alcoholic’s most loyal fans are his friends and family, who returned to his life when he entered recovery. "As a drunk I became a loner and began to cut out all my friends and family. I didn’t want them to know me,” Prest says. “Now I am proud and grateful to say I would be able to ask any of them for help if I ever get into trouble again. For one thing is certain: the alcoholism never goes away."