Young, professionally successful…and alcoholic. Simone*, 26, shares the story of her downward spiral and what made her family face up to her addiction.
"Like most people, I began drinking at house parties and went clubbing when I turned 18. I like alcohol but I didn’t have an addictive relationship with it until I was 20. Then was when I started drinking alone to the point where I’d pass out. If I was at a friend’s house getting ready to go out, by the time everyone was leaving I was blind drunk and couldn’t join them.
At the end of each day at university, where I was studying teaching, I’d head to the nearest bottle shop and grab a 250ml bottle of vodka to drink on the drive home. I was so ashamed but I couldn’t stop. It wasn’t long until I was arrested for driving under the influence. I truly thought that would be my lowest point.
I sought help, but I didn’t understand that ‘recovering’ meant I was always going to be an alcoholic. I thought I was cured and could have a drink, but I spiralled out of control again. Once you’re an alcoholic, that’s it – you’re one for life. I hated the person I was when I was drunk; I was cruel and manipulative to my lovely family and friends.
Amazingly, I managed to complete my degree and got a teaching job. But every day I was hanging out for 3pm so I could drink. My friends would joke that I was a human GPS when it came to bottle shops. I progressed to buying a litre of vodka on my way home from work and would finish it in one night, blacking out in between drinking sessions.
I realised that my addiction was affecting my teaching, which wasn’t fair on the students, so I quit. I cited anxiety as my reason for leaving which was partly true.
I couldn’t handle the concerned faces of my family so I rented a motel room in a dodgy area so I could drink in peace.One night, I went outside for a smoke and when I returned, I forgot to lock my door. A man must have seen me; he came in and sexually assaulted me. Because I was barely conscious and there was no surveillance, there was no way to identify him and the police couldn’t catch him. It makes me sick.
If that wasn’t enough to force me to seek help, my mother then asked me if I wanted to be buried or cremated. She was convinced I'd die.
I finally booked into rehab at Wesley Mission. My body was so used to the enormous quantity of alcohol I was consuming that I was advised not to go cold turkey because I could have a seizure. During the withdrawal process I had the shakes, sweated profusely and was in so much pain I could barely stand, shower or feed myself. I got through it and have now been sober for eight months. I still get into a dark place at times and attend AA meetings to keep on track.
People have this view of alcoholics being old men on park benches drinking out of a bottle in a brown paper bag, but I’ve met lawyers and policemen who are addicted to alcohol – it can happen to anyone. Now I’m enjoying being present for my life. Since I’ve been sober I’ve gone travelling, skiing and swimming. It’s crazy to think that this time last year I was locked in my room drinking.
I’m taking it one day at a time and have so much support from my family. I still love teaching, so when I’m ready, I’ll go back to my passion."
Could you have a drink problem?
If three or more of these statements apply to you, it might be time to speak to a professional about your drinking habits.
- You use alcohol to cope with your problems.
- You’re constantly thinking about when you’re next drink will be.
- You’re unable to meet commitments due to drinking.
- Loved ones have said they’re worried about your drinking.
- You can’t control the quantity of alcohol you drink.
- You can’t get through a day without a drink.
- You often have to apologise for your actions when drunk.
Compiled by Edwina Carr.