I once moved to Saudi Arabia in an attempt to beat my alcohol addiction. What a mistake that turned out to be. I feel lucky to have made it out alive. Not only was there plenty of booze available, but it was a lot stronger than anything I’d normally drink. I also didn’t anticipate that drinking would be more fun when it is illegal. It turns out that home brewing is an incredibly easy skill to learn; it helped that I was such an eager apprentice. It cost very little to brew huge buckets full of grog so this meant that there was never a dry moment.
Saudi Arabia Makes an Alcoholic Feel at Home
In the weeks before my move to Saudi I’d been told that my liver had been damaged. My body had finally begun to show the signs of chronic alcohol abuse. I’d already accepted a job as a nurse in Riyadh so the news of my struggling body part didn’t bother me that much – it was all under control. I’d spent over a decade trying to defeat my addiction, and Saudi now seemed like the last treatment option available. My plan appeared flawless; what could go wrong? Even the most determined alcoholic wouldn’t be able to do much damage in a country where the stuff was banned. I felt certain that given a year or two in the desert my liver would be once again ready for battle.
I wasn’t the only drunkard who saw Saudi as their exit strategy. Just before I arrived there had been another guy who had drunk himself to death in the land of no beer. His liver packed in and he developed a condition known as esophageal varices; this is where you drown on your own blood. His story scared the shit out of me, but it didn’t stop me drinking. The more worried I became the more I’d need to drink to calm my nerves.
Bye Bye Saudi Arabia and Thanks For All The Beers
I bailed out on my Saudi contract a few months before it was due to expire. I was holidaying in Vietnam at the time. I just knew that if I returned I’d drink myself to death. There were other factors involved, and I talk about these in my book Dead Drunk. I just knew that nothing good was going to come of my return to Riyadh. A few days later I ended up in Thailand, and this is where I’ve remained ever since.
Perhaps it is unfair of me to blame Saudi for offering such an awful alcohol rehabilitation program; after all, the never advertised their country as such. They do publically flog and stick people in prison for even smelling of drink, but this isn’t enough of a deterrent. It must be hard for such zealots to understand why alcoholics would risk all this for their favorite tipple. My advice for anyone considering Saudi as their next recovery option would be to look elsewhere – talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire.