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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 November 2006, 14:18 GMT
'I hit rock bottom'
Person with drink
Alcohol-related deaths have doubled since 1991
Government figures reveal alcohol-related deaths have doubled since 1991 in the UK. The BBC News website spoke to a former alcoholic about why she turned to drink and her long struggle to give it up.

Gaye, 50, from Liverpool, has not touched alcohol for two years. But her battle to give up drinking has taken years.

"I drank intermittently between the ages of 18-30, but I didn't have a problem with it - I could drink it or not drink it."

Her problems began, she said, when she was 32 years old, two years after the birth of her second daughter.

At eight in the morning I was at the supermarkets waiting for them to open to buy drink

"I was living in London feeling isolated, had had four miscarriages, and was in an unhappy marriage with a very controlling husband."

"I became very depressed and really didn't know what to do or where to go, and I found that if I drank, that would ease the pain."

Bottles of vodka

She said she began to drink heavily in the afternoon or evening, but when she fell pregnant, managed to give up for a brief period.

"But I was very upset because I didn't want another child and my marriage was becoming worse and worse, and after my son was born I just drank."

She said she drank all day, every day, often consuming a bottle of vodka a day.

"Ten years ago it got to a head; I just couldn't cope any longer and asked my sisters for help."

For the next decade, Gaye was in and out of various treatment programmes, managing to give up drink for brief periods but always turning back to alcohol, all the while going back and forth to her husband.

"My behaviour during this time was dreadful. Although I didn't hurt my children, my behaviour around them did. But I was very much in denial of my problem."

Rock bottom

About five years ago, Gaye said, she hit rock bottom.

"I drank constantly for three years. I just couldn't stop drinking. At eight in the morning I was at the supermarkets waiting for them to open to buy drink."

"I was 46, 47 didn't know where to go, who to ask for help, and in the end my sisters rescued me and put me into the Promis treatment centre."

Until you realise you have that problem there is nothing you can do about it

It was a turning point for Gaye, after seven weeks in Promis, and then five months in a halfway house, she finally managed to give up drinking.

She said everything changed after she finally accepted that she had a problem and had to do something about it.

She said she has become a changed person since giving up alcohol. But her drinking did not come without consequences, her two daughters, now 18 and 23 refuse to talk to her.

Not a day goes past without me thinking about them, she said.

On the news of the recent statistics on alcohol-related deaths, she said it was difficult to tell people that they have got a problem.

"Two people who were in treatment with me are no longer with us."

But it is impossible to force people to change, she said.

"You have got to help yourself - you can tell people until you are blue in the face that they have got a problem - but until you realise it yourself there is nothing you can do about it."


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