Student Voice: Choice – By Michelle Quigley

So, you really believe I got up one morning and said “You know what? Today, I think I’m going to become addicted to something. Something destructive, something damaging!”

That’s my goal in life, to be the worst person I can possibly be.

My addiction was to alcohol.  To me it was a slow form of suicide, I drank to the point of oblivion; black-out!  Does that sound like the choice of a rational mind to you?

You see, there is a very fine line in social acceptance, where alcohol is concerned and that’s where recovery can be hard.

Alcohol is legal, it’s cheap; it’s socially acceptable. If you tell someone you have quit smoking, you may get a pat on the back, a “well done”!  Tell someone you’ve quit drinking and you have to explain yourself; you’re looked at like you’ve grown a second head! You’re seen as unsociable. “Well, one won’t hurt you!”, “Why don’t you drink?”. Yet you wouldn’t necessarily ask the same question to an ex-smoker!  It’s now socially acceptable to be an ex-smoker, but not an ex-drinker, that is seen as shameful – “Oh, so you have a problem?”

One of your gang is seen as someone who can hold their drink – they are idolised, the cool one; the good laugh; the life and soul of the party.  The one in your gang, who can’t hold their drink, is seen as weak, a wimp, totally uncool, taken the mick out of.

Then you take it a step further – to an addiction.  In comes the judgement, the stigma.  Let’s isolate them from society.  The very society that led me to believe it’s socially acceptable to drink.

Kind of a contradiction, don’t you think? That this same society then tells me it’s a lifestyle choice of only my doing.  The only lifestyle choice I see, is when you realise that you have a problem and you then choose to do nothing about it, to stay down, to not choose recovery and life over continuing and dying.

My choice was to stop drinking. To stand up to social acceptance and its fine lines; its stigmas and its judgements. Because my choice is to be me! Not what society chooses me to be!

I choose a life of substance, not substance misuse.


By Michelle Quigley


If you or someone you know has been affected by addiction or substance misuse, there are a number of ways in which you can find help. Try visiting your GP or taking a look at the NHS Website.

There are also many charities which offer a variety of different services; visit  Mind, Addaction or Aquarius for more information.

This year, Fircroft College will be hosting Black Voices: A Spoken Word Event. A celebration of black excellence through the art of poetry. We invite established local poets as well as up and coming wordsmiths to share their thoughts and opinions on black history and culture.

Join us on Monday 23rd October from 7 – 9pm. Tickets are FREE and can be booked here.

Black History Month was launched in UK in 1987 – a campaign led by Akyaaba Addai Sebbo who worked for Greater London Council at the time. GLC selected October as the Black History Month to coincide with the Marcus Garvey celebrations and London Jubilee.

From the London boroughs, the interest in Black History Month soon spread to other cities. Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Birmingham actively participated in promoting and publicising its philosophy.

The aims of Black History Month are to:

  • Promote knowledge of Black history, culture and heritage
  • Disseminate information on positive Black contributions to British Society
  • Heighten the confidence and awareness of Black people to their cultural heritage


Black History Month fundamentally highlights the history and contributions of Black communities and Black individuals, past and present.