Amy Liptrot went from a childhood on a sheep farm in Orkney, to a hard-partying life in London. She was hungry for experiences and angry about her childhood home. At first, her drinking and drug-taking was not out of place in her social circle, but:
“Every year it got worse. As people around me began to drink and party less, I drank more and partied alone”.
Throughout her twenties she lost friends, houses, jobs, opportunities and the man she loved, spiralling into ill-health and increasingly dangerous situations, until she’d had enough. She sought treatment in London and got sober but could not see what to do next. So, she went ‘home’ – to Orkney, to farming, birdwatching and wild swimming, to memories and to unresolved parts of her relationship with her parents and the islands.
The Outrun is a vivid portrayal of addiction. Liptrot shows how easily things spiral, and it’s all very relatable, whether or not you’ve ever had an addiction take you down in this way. It’s also an unsentimental, clear sighted picture of recovery. Going home to Orkney was not easy and there aren’t quick answers. But she comes alive again, renewed, and so this book is full of life and hope.
“But everything I’ve found in the past year is pulling me more strongly… I screw the cap back on, throw the bottle down and laugh loudly and wildly out into the waves. Is this all you’ve got North Sea? I can take it. I can take anything you throw at me.”
Liptrot recovered with the help of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) programme, despite her initial reservations about it. If you also have reservations, Russell Brand’s book Recovered offers a funny, accessible (and sweary) explanation of the process, or, for an alternative approach, try Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whittaker.
Many people also seek counselling for addictions and it can really help to understand and address your feelings and needs. You are welcome to get in touch if you would like more information about this.