Teen alcoholic admits: Booze nearly killed me

Monday, March 10, 2008

Helen ( name has been changed to protect identity ) nearly died when she was 16 due to a drink habit.

A shy and socially awkward teenager, she had her first drink at 14 “just to fit in with the crowd”.

Quickly becoming hooked, Helen says she and her mates would regularly shoplift to get the alcohol they craved and would think nothing of downing bottles of gin and vodka in local parks and on waste ground.

“I liked it, the feeling of euphoria it gave me, and the confidence to talk to people and especially to boys,” says Helen, now 38.

“Sober, I had no social confidence and felt that I was unattractive. With a drink inside me everything was great. Anyway, people thought you were weird if you didn’t drink.”

But at 16, and after drinking two-thirds of a bottle of neat gin and tumblers of vodka in one evening, Helen threw herself down a flight of concrete steps and nearly died.

“I’ve no memory of what happened,” she says, “but friends said there was some drama or other and it looked like I threw myself down the steps rather than just falling.

“If it hadn’t been for the mate who put me in the recovery position I would be dead, because by then I was vomiting everywhere.”

Her parents were called and they took her home, but did not realise the severity of Helen’s drinking.

“I think they knew I was drinking, but they had no idea how much and anyway they thought it was just a phase,” says Helen, who now lives in Mid Wales.

“They warned me about the dangers of drinking – I had a good, solid upbringing in that sense – but we all hid what we were doing very well.”

But years of heavy drinking through university and then work culminated in a nervous breakdown at 35.

It was then that Helen sought help for her addiction from Alcoholics Anonymous, which she says “completely turned my life around”.

“Drink becomes an obsession, but the more you drink the more you have to drink to get that feeling of euphoria,” says Helen.

“And soon you don’t get that feeling at all.

“For me, drinking in my teens was all about going to the disco and drinking my guts out.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but if I had my chance I wouldn’t do what I did to that extent again.

“Drinking to excess can put you in so many dangerous situations.

“Basically you lose your right to say ‘no’, because effectively you have lost your mind.

“I used to come home covered in bruises and have absolutely no idea how I got them.

“So very many bad things could have happened to me while I was drunk – and to this day I have no idea whether they did or not.”

source: Wales On Sunday