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Their Story, Your Story

In specially recorded interviews for Booze, celebrities tell the stories of their battles with the bottle. Click on the names below to read more.

We'd also like to hear from you. Tell us your drinking stories - whether they're good, bad, funny or sad. Use the e-mail form below and we will publish them here.

Click to send us your story
Sharon GlessSharon Gless

Cagney and Lacey actress, Sharon Gless, won an Emmy for her portrayal of an alcoholic in the hit television series. Just one year later, she realised she was an alcoholic for real.

Buzz AldrinBuzz Aldrin

The second man to walk on the Moon reveals how the pressures of being one of the world's heroes set him on a steady spiral into depression and alcoholism.

Larry HagmanLarry Hagman

Actor and star of the American television show Dallas, tells how a life-threatening situation made him give up alcohol for good.

Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan

The singer and reformed alcoholic reveals how she turned to drink after being abused as a child.

Jet HarrisJet Harris

The former Shadows bassist, explains how his 30 year battle with the bottle sent him to the depths of despair.

Your Stories

I've been recently drinking heavily although I've been drinking for close to six years now. In my late teens I suffered from panic attacks and the only way I could seem to feel normal again was to get a beer down me and let its effect stabilise my thinking. This eventually led me on a downward spiral and it's been hard to shake off ever since. The association with and the almost constant thinking about alcohol is becoming a menace and I know that I have to get out of it before I end up in a situation where I have no rational control of myself.

Paul, UK

My hell stopped 13 years ago when I finally 'saw the light' and stopped drinking. As a family, drink was part of our lives, and although my father worked 12 hour shifts at the local silk dyeing factory, he liked nothing better than a good 'charge' at the week-ends. My drinking started when I was about 14, when we would go into a benevolent 'snug cubicle' at a local pub and get a half bottle of strong wine to drink before we went to the Saturday night Boys Brigade dance. Of course drink was associated with the fun side of life, and equally used in times of mourning, or after a hard days work etc. as the years went past, drink was an important part of my life, and caused many problems, but the biggest problem was my attitude towards my wife in particular. It didn't matter if I was a couple of hours late for dinner, that was my time after work to 'unwind' with the boys. Eventually, we split up, (many times), and of course I had the usual defence, that a man has a 'right' to his enjoyment. The fact that I had so much bad 'luck', like losing my driving licence 3 times, jobs suffering through hangovers, 'lost' week-ends, and all the other problems, were just part of life, and, of course you always had the support of your mates when things went sour. I had eventually to admit I had a drink problem and went into a rehab hospital for 6 weeks, and really tried to take a fresh look at life, but I failed, as I had done on many occasions before. It wasn't till one summers night 13 years ago, when I was walking home that the thought struck me that I probably would not live another year, but it was the realisation that I would be buried like a tramp, (I already looked like one). There was also something at the back of my mind that told me I used to be someone who was respected by family and friends. Since I stopped drinking I've had a wonderful life, and enjoy my time with my 2 year old granddaughter who reminds me of my own daughter, and how much I missed of her young life. Nobody can stop drink for another person, regardless of how much they care for them, a person has to give it up for their OWN health, it's by that means only can they spread happiness to others. I sincerely wish anybody out there who wants to stop drinking, the very best of really is a good life without it.

Joe, UK

I somehow wish I had had the courage to stop drinking years ago, when my liver caused me nearly to bleed to death from my gullet. I was told one drink could or would kill me, I stopped drinking. In one and a half years I have done more than the last declining ten! This sounds cruel, but its the BEST thing that ever happened to me. I thank God for every enjoyable day. The first six months is the hard bit.

Hickory, UK

Alcohol is the worst drug available and should be on prescription. I was addicted for many years, but had to give up as it was likely to kill me. I was lucky, a lot are not. Mix alcohol with other human weaknesses and you have a ticking time bomb.

Roger, UK

My girlfriend, now sort of ex as I can't stay with her for very long at a time, due to her perpetual drinking, is totally dependant on alcohol. She is very attractive and intelligent with a degree and yet she has lost a very good job, lost all her family ties, her friends, her driving licence and her sanity. She cannot go one day without drinking at least one bottle of wine, but usually a bottle of whisky or a two litre bottle of White Lightning. She goes for days without eating, she is very thin, she often spends a day without remembering a thing about it, especially when she has been violent which also happens when she cannot get anything to drink. If I so much as mention the words drink or alcoholic, she goes berserk and attacks me very violently which is where I get out of the house for a few days until she calms down. Her doctor, a very nice and sympathetic person, has tried in vain to help, but she just refuses to accept that she has a problem. She blames her situation on anyone but herself. She just lives day after day in a mess, being sick all over the house, shouting and screaming, making unpleasant phone calls to me and others. So where on earth can she go from here? It has ruined my home life and I can't get anyone to help. They all say it is my fault for not throwing her out in the street. But I just can't do that to her. She has nowhere to go. Why do we have to put up with this when it is encouraged by peers and advertising? What a crazy existence.

Robert, UK

I'm sick of the saying "everything in moderation"'s used too much to justify drinking alcohol. Let's face it, alcohol gives you a hole in your pocket, a hole in your liver and after drinking it, you feel like you have a hole in your head! I've just gave up drinking for good....this time I'm determined, before I would say to myself "I'm not drinking again", but this time, I can actually see my life being so much better and successful due to staying away from all alcohol. The thing is, I would only ever drink once every 3 weeks anyway - but its effects were more noticeable to me as a healthy, non-smoker. It sedates me and makes me miserable for at least a few days afterwards - not good!....our nation would be much stronger and happier without it.

Anon, UK

I would just like to say that I have seen a lot of lives ruined by drink, nearly mine also. Luckily when I am drunk I am not violent but I have lost my licence in the past which totally ruined a family holiday because my ex-partner did not drive at the time, and I had a couple of accidents while under the influence, but luckily no-one was hurt. Just want to say it is ok to have drink but make sure you keep yourself controlled at all times. It's not as hard as you think. It is just never letting go or you or someone will get hurt. I am one of the lucky ones, it was caught in time.

Anon, UK

I started drinking at approx 15 years old and from the age of about 21 it is unlikely that I was ever sober until 1980 when I lost 24 hours. I was at a wedding reception in a borders town, and the next thing was 24 hours later I was in another town, to which I had driven, and I had during that time broken my hand. To this day I cannot remember a thing about that lost time. It wasn't until then I realised I had a drink problem and I went to an AA meeting and since that day in 1980 I have not touched alcohol. My father was an alcoholic and so is my son. I have been lucky as I was able to spot the problem, eventually. I see people now in pubs and clubs, etc, and I worry because all that is happening is that youngsters today have no idea just what alcohol is doing to them. Units and that sort of stuff is a waste of time. When I look back to before the breathalyser I was indeed lucky to survive. I don't preach non-drinking but what is happening to drinkers over the UK scares the willies out of me. If we tried to introduce alcohol as a new product now where would it be on the drug scale and to which class would it belong?

Anon, UK

It took me 21 years of drinking, separation from my family, loss of driving licence and a spell in hospital to make me realise what a hold alcohol had on me. I thank my Higher Power every day for leading me to AA. Now I am working the programme and enjoying life in sobriety. It's never too late to get your life back, but you really have to recognise that you have a problem and want to change.

Andrew, UK

My name is Tommy and I am an alcoholic and a proud one. It was 12 years ago today I had my last drink. It took me five years to try and stop to no avail. I went everywhere for help but could not stop drinking. I was told if I continued to drink I would get far worse than I could imagine and it did. I was just a little Glasgow boy who took a drink and then the drink took me. It controlled my whole life from when I woke up in the morning until I fell asleep at night. My life was HELL. I could write many books about me being a drunk, maybe one day I will. Today I have a very nice life. I also went through hell sober. My sister was killed by a drunk driver and my partner had a very bad stroke and I never thought about drink. I will not take a drink today and I won't get drunk and hopefully I can maintain that one day at a time. I also pray for everyone who is struggling and wish them well.

Tommy, UK

I was quite a heavy drinker until one night while very drunk, I fell attempting to climb onto a wall. Sounds funny but I cracked my ribs, sprained both my ankle and wrist and had a black eye for weeks. In a way that was the best thing that could have happened to me because it made me realise how stupid I had been. I still enjoy drinking but ensure I never get myself into that state of drunkeness again.

Hannah, UK

Alcohol bad for you? Why do people not see the positives with the negatives? Stress is the biggest killer in the western world today. It can cause an almost total shutdown in our immune system making us prone to all sorts of diseases/viruses/bacterium. It can lead to higher blood pressure and thus heart problems as well as more stress. Yes stress can cause more stress. If you are able to escape for a few hours a couple of times a week, like the majority that consume alcohol, I strongly believe that any negative caused by alcohol is negated twice over by the positives. And of course there is the social side of it. I am an extrovert but I can still quite honestly say that 80% of my real friends today are initially due to contact made whilst under the influence. And once again we come back to stress. Friends don't prevent stress but they can certainly aid in removing it.

Sanjay, UK

From the age of five I knew that my mum drank too much and I knew the word alcoholic. I remember my parents having screaming arguments my dad frustrated with the fact that he couldn't rely on mum to look after me when he was at work, her accusing me of "stealing" her bottle when she couldn't find where she had hidden it, not being able to bring anyone to the house, being instructed that I should never talk about home life outside, helping my mum to walk to the shops to get her fix, being made to feel like I was the root cause of her drinking, seeing her filthy and slumped with her head on the dining room table. She'd spend days and weeks not leaving the house at all, not cleaning herself or changing her clothes. What hurt the most was the manipulation, the rare periods when she was sober; falling for her "I'm never going back to it" routine every time and then having my hopes dashed. My Mum went for several detoxifications at the "best" clinics while I was growing up, on one memorable occasion she bought a full size bottle of Vodka within hours of leaving the clinic. I could never understand why she didn't want to start living her life, why as her child, I wasn't good enough reason for her to commit to sobering up despite being given the opportunities. Through all of this time my father was a rock, a shred of sanity that I clung to, I knew he drank a lot but I never saw him out of control like my mum and he held down a high powered job. I built up this stereotype of what an alcoholic was, based on my mothers behaviour, but just over two years ago my father died of alcoholic liver disease. He was just 67 and had hidden his illness for as long as possible before letting on that anything was wrong. Even up to the end I don't think he ever acknowledged that he had cirrhosis of the liver. I was left to look after my mother, which became impossible with a full time job at long distance. I gave up work for three months to try and put her back on the straight and narrow after finding her collapsed and unable to move at home. She stayed sober only for a short while and ended up literally drinking herself to death about 18 months after dad passed away, aged just 63. I'm ashamed to say that I was relieved at her death but it is the truth. This drug is a killer, it can take away your self esteem, destroy your life and those of the people around you. Don't assume that because you always manage to make it to work on time looking immaculate to your executive office that this couldn't happen to you - it can and will if you don't take action. As for myself, I do acknowledge that this disease can be inherited and I struggle with alcohol myself from time to time. Since New Year I haven't had anything to drink at all and I really want to stay that way too but it is most definitely a day to day challenge that has to be taken a step at a time.

Anon, UK

I was in the forces for nine years, and yes I did over indulge in drinking. I'm now a serving police officer, and have been for the last 5 years. I must say in all my years in the forces the only time I saw bad drinking related incidents were in this country, due to the fact-lets get out and get drunk because the bar closes at 11o'clock. So therefore you had 200 soldiers trying to get absolutely plastered by 11 o'clock. Every other country has liberal opening hours. It's not a case of lets all go out and get drunk. It's there's no rush, they're open all night. You could go to the smallest village in Germany, France, Denmark, Greece, and even America, and find a bar open 24 hours. Therefore you didn't have 200 blokes going out at the same time and coming back at the same time, which didn't cause public order problems. We need to learn a lot more about other countries, and follow their lead. I realise this would be a problem in the short term because of the novelty factor, though it would soon sort its self out. I feel it would be a lot better for the communities we live in.

Dai, UK

I don't think enough is done to educate young people on the serious effects of alcohol on their lives. It is never taken as a drug because it is a socially accepted pastime. I feel a lot of the time young people think that it is only the long term effects that they have to worry about and because they are young it won't be an issue to them as by the time they are older they won't be doing this binge drinking anymore, but what they don't realise is by then it will probably already have a hold on them, if they get that far. Our family found this out when we had to go and identify my 23 year brother in the mortuary who died from alcohol intoxication, people think that it will never happen to them. I think education has to be made more to the cutting edge, as has been done recently in the press about drug addiction and death. Young people today have to see that it is not only the long term effect alcohol has on you, for example George Best, but the risk of premature death due to binge drinking. I have to live with the last memory of my brother lying in his coffin because of alcohol and not a day goes by that I don't wish I could have done more to have prevented this heartbreaking loss.

Carla, UK

I first got drunk on my 16th birthday. I had some great years going out and getting drunk, but then things changed. To cut a long story short, a few years ago while I was living abroad, I prostituted myself when I was drunk. Try living with that hangover! I cannot let myself drink anymore, because it's not fun anymore - and I'm only 26.

Anon, UK

I'm a 23 year old female student. Last weekend I succumbed to the pressure of marking end of term with a drinking session in the student's union. I don't usually drink much as I did have epilepsy. I haven't had a seizure for five years but after that one night of drinking I feel physically awful and feel like it could be prime time for a seizure. Mentally I feel awful too as on the night I tried to hit my friend for no reason and basically 'woke' up half way through going for her. I am mortified. I often wonder why this nation treats alcohol the way we do. Sometimes it seems as though we are suffering from a sickness no one wants to talk about. The stupid thing is my friend thought it funny, as did everyone else, because I was 'plastered'. For me it marks the end of binge drinking and awareness of the violence it can bring in many forms. I don't think what I did was funny at all. To be honest it makes me sick to my stomach that my only consolation in going for my friend is that I didn't know what the hell I was doing so it wasn't really me! What if I had really hurt her? Would I be in trouble with the police? Would our courts have allowed that excuse too? I doubt it, quite rightly so, but for someone who hardly ever drinks, even I was seduced by the one pound a drink student ethos. We are supposed to be educated. We all need to wake up!

Louise, UK

As a child I had to suffer the uncertainty of having a father who was a heavy drinker, something that I still hate him for even today, because he took away my child hood.

Stephen, UK

Moderate to Heavy drinking can, over a period of time, cause Heart Failure. I developed Cardiomyopathy [floppy, enlargened, weak heart] with Left Ventricular Failure. I almost died with alcohol having caught up with my body without my knowing -or realising! Better education on the serious adverse effects upon our bodies will stop us from drinking so much. We need to be told - before main organs like the heart and liver simply stop working and kill us - prematurely. I stopped drinking and took 'ACE' inhibitors. A Cardiologist has saved my life - so, save your own! Cut back on drinking and reduce the amount of poison flowing through your veins and arteries. Go on, do yourself a favour. Love Life - drink less if you can't stop entirely

Joanna, UK

Started drinking at 13 hit rock bottom at 27. I was materially well off, had a flat in London, nice sports car great job, nice girlfriends. I didn't drink every day, but binge drinking on weekends finally caught up with me. When drunk I was promiscuous, aggressive, boastful and arrogant. I only really ever drank alcohol to get drunk. All the colour had gone out of life. I felt physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. I had a moment of clarity and realised that I was an alcoholic and it was only ever going to get worse. Once I started to drink I didn't want to stop and often couldn't. I was deeply ashamed of what my drinking turned me into. Went to a treatment centre for 8 weeks and have been going regularly to AA ever since. That was over 3 years ago. Alcoholics Anonymous has fundamentally taught me how live again and work at staying sober. I have a new life today.

Anon, UK

My drinking has cost me my figure and what used to be my stunning good looks. All it took was the wrong boyfriend, the wrong friends and the wrong degree course to see me an alcoholic at the age of 20. It is not just middle-aged business men that end up alcoholics.

After 8 years of binge drinking I have finally stopped. I have lost nearly 4 stone and hopefully may recover the looks that I lost to drink before I reach thirty. However a month ago, I got complacent and had six pints of strong lager with a friend (nothing compared to how much I used to drink in an evening) and I still cannot remember how I got home etc. My partner told me the next day that I vomited all over the bathroom floor and was shouting out of the window at nothing outside. I had also lost my mobile phone and my cash card - I felt such an idiot.

Anon, UK

I'm 50, alcoholic and in recovery now for two and a half years, I inherited an addictive gene but didn't realise the fact until about three years ago when I was told by a therapist. My life had fallen into chaos and been ruined as a result of my binge drinking and drug taking. I started a bible study with Jehovas Witnesses and eventually I made my unsteady way to AA. Since that time I have managed to stop drinking entirely and have recently stopped smoking too. My life has opened and blossomed, I have many interests and activities, indeed, I am happier now than ever before and I would say to other alcoholics not yet in recovery - yes, it's hard at first but well worth the effort. The choice is yours, you can either be a drinker, or have a life.

Dawn, UK

I had the hangover from hell, the day I met my husband. It was the first time I'd had a hangover in about five years, and it really made me think 'Never again!'. My husband is a recovering alcoholic, and the most wonderful person I know... and I know I have to thank AA and his higher power for that. I had relationships with alcoholics before - practising alcoholics and dry drunks, but this was the first time I'd ever met anyone who was fighting alcohol and winning. I know AA doesn't work for everyone, but it gives people more of a fighting chance. I don't think that banning alcohol advertising would make the slightest bit of difference, and I don't think pubs should be allowed to open 24 hours a day. I don't know what can be done to stem the rising tide of alcohol abuse, but I do think education plays a fundamental part.

Becky, UK

Alcohol is pleasurable and brings millions of people personal satisfaction. It brings misery to those who do not have self discipline. In my father's immortal words 'all things in moderation including moderation'.

Andrew, UK

I once saw a fellow choke to death, effectively drowning, on his own vomit after a drinking binge. You might have thought that would have taught me better but I can think of at least three times I have been hit by a car when I was drunk, and another two visits to the Accident and Emergency for heavily bleeding head wounds sustained after a drunken tumble. Worst of all I once drunkenly keeled over with a pint glass in my hand - it blew up like a grenade taking two fingers off - plastic microsurgery was required to reconnect the veins and tendons and flesh. Even after months of physiotherapy the hand will never function properly again. I have also spent thousands and thousands of pounds on my habit and ruined many friendships and offended hundreds of innocent people. Nonetheless I still manage to sustain a high paying and complex job in the City - but find myself powerless to overcome my constant craving to get myself hopelessly lushed up.

Anon, UK

My brother and sister are both alcoholics. Fortunately, even though my brother still drinks he has been getting some counselling and seems to have it under control. It has taken years to get to this stage as we could not get his GP to take the problem seriously. Sadly my sister also has a drink problem which has become much worse over the past year. It is affecting her work and the whole family. I have my own family to look after and cannot take much more. Being called out in the middle of the night, lying to people about what's wrong with her, making excuses for why she's not on work. I've cleaned up after her when she's been sick all over the place or wet herself. Sometimes I sit and wait for the call to tell me she is dead. It has caused me so much despair and heartache over the past year that it almost cost me my marriage. Luckily we are still together. My advice to anyone who lives with or has an alcoholic in the family, do what you can to help but most importantly look after yourself.

Suzanne, UK

I am an adult child of an alcoholic. My Father, who died on New Years Eve, had been an alcoholic for as long as I can remember and I am 41. As a consequence of his disease he destroyed his marriage and made the life of his immediate family - me and my Grandmother a misery. His disease spread to his siblings in the way it does; denial. He just likes a 'good' drink. But people don't realise the damage done to children by alcoholic rages and the general dysfunction that accompanies the disease. His siblings even now cannot accept his illness. As a consequence of his addiction and the failure of his family to accept it as abnormal, I hadn't had any contact with my Father for some 16 years prior to his death. The last time I saw him was in the street. He was so drunk he couldn't recognise me. On the physical front, courtesy of his 'good' drinking lifestyle, he had pancreatitis and alcoholic diabetes. On the mental front he suffered from depression. I have dealt with the issues left to me by my Father's behaviour, sadly his siblings haven't. When will the government acknowledge the damage done to society and even if one wants to be callous, productivity (my Father was often off sick - hungover, etc, by such behaviour. It is widely acknowledged that alcohol has a role in 8/10 serious crimes and one only has to have the misfortune to visit casualty on a Saturday night to understand the impact. This doesn't even deal with the families of the abusers - we pay a heavy price. With £6 billion income from alcohol tax and somewhere between £6 billion and £30 billion cost to the NHS alone, where is the sense. It is time to treat alcohol more like the dangerous drug it is. It is responsible for more deaths than all the other illegal drugs combined. A sensible policy might be to ban advertising and enforce current drinking laws. That wouldn't prohibit drinking but it would force publicans who serve people obviously over the limit or under age or causing public affray out of business. People could still drink but not be subject to the millions spent to promote the stuff, hopefully more sensibly. Equally, consider the savings to the police and NHS. Sadly, I don't believe that Tony & Co have any moral fibre and are far too afraid to take on the brewers. By way of closure - I do drink on occasion. In fact I have even abused it a few times myself. So I am not a raving prohibitionist, just someone looking to claim back his own life and not wanting to see others suffer.

Karl, UK

I have never been famous but I did manage to build a successful business and have a wonderful home and lost the lot. With inflation I guess today you would be looking at nearly a million pounds. As if that wasn't enough I went bankrupt for a second time to keep quenching my insatiable thirst.

David, UK

I feel very strongly that alcohol is still not considered to be a drug that can wreck lives - and not just the lives of those who drink, but their families and those around them also. My father drank, ultimately to his death. I remember coming home from school to play "hunt the bottle" for a chocolate reward if we found it: it was the only way that my mother could make the situation seem like an almost normal part of life. I remember being on tablets to help me sleep at less than 10 years old; I remember how our furniture stank of alcohol where he had spilled it; I remember sitting curled up in his lap late one evening just before my parents split up, bawling my eyes out because he looked like the sad, lonely, drunk character on the TV program we were watching. But most of all, I remember, at 16 years old, pleading with him on the phone to stop drinking... only to attend his funeral 2 weeks later.

The whole experience has marked my outlook on life: I cannot bear to get drunk; I cannot bear to watch those around me become "legless". And I still cry now - 13 years on - at how my father wasted so much of his life, but at the same time happy that he has been released from his torment. Something has to be done about the level of drinking in this country - I don't think it should be banned, but it is not taken to be as serious a threat to society as mainstream drugs, though the effect on people's lives can be the same. I would implore anybody who recognises themselves in my words to PLEASE admit you have a problem, and seek help - for yourself, and for your families...

Amanda, UK

I'm enjoying life without the booze. I was drinking one and a half litres of gin a day when I got to my rock bottom and finally admitted I needed help. I've been going to AA ever since and by working the programme and living one day at a time life has got better, my family care about me, I work better and I'm not driving a car in a state where I could kill someone. I hope that through the programme people will see their own problem and seek help from one of the organisations which can help them come of the booze.

Dave, UK

I have been drinking for over 20 years. I gave up for 3 weeks last February (first time ever), started drinking again then around May last year I finally stopped. It actually took five weeks to stop. I would have a good drink on the weekends and stop on the Monday but by the Tuesday I was climbing the walls - not helping that I was running a preview theatre and managing the bar as well. After the fifth week I didn't drink on the Monday, or the Tuesday, and it started from there and I haven't had a drink since. I don't feel a lot different, my life hasn't drastically changed. I just don't wake up with hangovers anymore. I have got one advantage. I had and still get great support from my girlfriend and I seldom work in the West End anymore

Alan, UK

I once went on a bit of a binge in Middlesbrough of all places and woke up in Switzerland. I didn't have a clue how I'd got there or where I'd been

Mark, UK

I have a four year old boy and I was with his father for about six years, we had bought a house together after our son was born, with a view to eventually getting married. It did not work out. My partner loved and loves to drink. From very early on in the relationship there were tell-tail signs which I failed to see. Years ago when somebody mentioned the word alcoholic I would of thought of somebody who drinks everyday and cannot hold down a job. I was wrong. My partner went for counselling where he was informed he was a binge drinker, you may or may not know this means the alcoholic may drink for a few days and stop for a few days. He would take me out for dinner mid-week; he would drink two to three pints of Guinness, a bottle of wine through the meal, sometimes an Irish Coffee followed by a few more pints and sometimes Southern Comfort and coke. All this during the week and he had work the next day. Sometimes he would arrange meetings closer to home so he could lie in bed later in the mornings. The moods swings got worse. You never knew quite what was going to walk through the door. The nights out became more frequent and when I did not want to go out drinking I was the one with the problem, he made me feel inferior. He was getting more aggressive verbally and starting to get physically aggressive too. When my son was being picked on too I knew we had to leave and we did suddenly. It was the best thing I ever did and the scariest. It took all my strength and I did it mainly for my son who was two and a half at the time. He was frequently being shouted at by his father. His father seemed to be in worse form the day after the drinking binge. A lot of the time drinking put him in better form. Before I left I was already attending Al-Anon meetings set up for family and friends of alcoholics, they really helped me get through this tough time. Since we have left my son is eating and sleeping better, he has come out of his shell and is no longer shy. He still sees his father twice a week. His father has met someone else who is also very fond of the drink. I feel very sad as I feel I have lost him to drink. Our family unit has been destroyed by drink along with countless others. He still does not think he has a problem. Maybe one day he will get better, I hope so.

Anon, UK

My story is simple, yet complicated. I drank and used for many years in LA. I did rehab three times in LA. I came home in 1992 and did the same here on and off for nine years. In 1999 I went into hospital to have a polyp removed in my nose, only to be told it was cancer. My surgeon told me that my drinking was the main reason for the cancer due to its location in my face. After ten hours of surgery removing half of my mouth, face and teeth, I am a very lucky man to be to sit here today and write this e-mail. One day at a time.

Brian, UK

I have not had a drink now for 13 years and 10 months. I am 48 years old and it was through watching a programme on TV 16 years ago, sat alone in my flat, having drunk the best part of a big bottle of wine, I heard some very famous people talking about being alcoholics, but not having drunk for a number of years. A few days later I decided to contact one of these people who happened to be in a play at the National Theatre. I don't remember how the conversation went, as I was a bit drunk [had to be to be brave enough to confront this person]. We met on the Sunday morning and I was taken to my first meeting of AA. I stayed sober for two weeks and decided I was now ok, and would be able to drink like normal people. How wrong I was. The following two years were hell for me and everyone close to me. I had been a model for twelve years, and knew a photographer that went to AA. I called him. I was crying and covered in bruises from falling over. He asked me to come to his studio and we talked for ages, but that evening we went to a meeting, and as I said earlier 13 years and 10 months ago I had my last drink to date. We only have today. I own a company today. I'm holding onto that company by the skin of my teeth, and there are days when I am very down, but whatever is going on I know that drinking is not going to help. In fact it would do just the opposite. I have to trust that everything will be fine, just as it was the day I walked into the National Theatre.

Suzy, UK

I have been trying to come to terms with my mother's death for 18 months. I have written poems, started to write her life story, even kept a diary of how I felt, but the pain of her death from drinking is too much to think about sometimes. I would like to submit a passage about my mother whom I miss terribly. I hope it will help others affected by alcoholism because I feel there wasn't any support for us as a family whilst she battled with her demons.

BARBARA...." FOR God's sake Mum! Not again!" I was sick to the back teeth of her being slumped on the chair in the kitchen, stinking of alcohol, sick dribbling down her chin, blood over her swollen face, burns on the floor. She always seemed to fall flat on her face, her eyes bulging, her nose open showing clots of blood just teetering on her lip, ash on her skirt and a pain in her heart. There was nothing we could do. For 15 years she abused her life. I knew people who would ache to have what she had. She was a mother, a wife, a grandma. She had a home - a loving home. The list is never ending, yet it just never seemed "Enough". The "Enough" is hard to describe, this "Enough" she was never happy with.... Barbara, what did she want, how did she really feel? Her thoughts in her mind seemed to change. She could never settle on one thing at a time in her life. She could never make decisions. Always searching for that something, yet never knowing what that something was. I remember after the funeral, A friend she had known in the past (like everything in her life in the past not the future). I remember it clearly what she said to me as I opened my car door, she even pulled on the door to stop me from getting in. She said "Why? Why did she die? What was missing from her life, she had everything to live for". As I turned to her "Old Friend" I simply said "What you think she had in her life well it was just simply not enough."

Karen, UK

For me, when I stopped drinking my deep depression lifted, but it has taken some time. I watched people dying, growing up with this illness, and I believe alcohol in this country is at epidemic proportions.

Anon, UK

I was an alcoholic for 6 years on and off. At my height I was on two bottles of neat vodka a day. I had 9 detoxes with no avail. I was arrested on charges of criminal damage and was remanded to Dorchester Prison awaiting sentence. Thankfully I am now happy and sober. I now realise pubs and prison have one common interest bars!! I now choose life and no booze and am happy again. What do you choose?

Tom, UK

I'm 35 years old, and have just got through my first year of sobriety after 21 years of boozing. My life today is 100% better, but I always remember that this is a cunning, baffling, and powerful illness, and that what I have is a daily reprieve from the illness simply by speaking with others who have the same problem. Alcoholism is a condition of the mind.

Anon, UK

Growing up as the son of a chronic alcoholic mother my earliest memories were of games of "find the gin bottle" in the toy box, under the bed or under the oven etc. Being adopted I found in later years that my real father was also an alcoholic. Is it in the genes? Not in my opinion as I've been bought up with an alcoholic and found that my blood father was also an alcoholic. I can drink alcohol socially or go for months without a drop - it really doesn't bother me. I do think the programme should have concentrated more on those that live with alcoholics. To me it was total mental torture.

Anon, UK

To cut a very long story short my father was a successful business man with happy family. He drank and for many years until it got so bad that he was homeless. He carried on drinking and then eventually died two years ago this April, in a bed-sit on his own with no-one to find him for two days. We tried the AA and the doctors, nothing worked. I am a 22 year old business graduate, my sister is a doctor and my Mum is a successful teacher all without a very much missed father or husband. It is extremely upsetting because you don't know who to blame. I feel it would be very different if it had been drugs Alcoholism is far too socially acceptable.

Natalie, UK

I'm just a week and a half out of detox and my life is starting to come back together again. After nearly 6 years out of work and a relationship with a boozy woman, I was struggling to keep hold of my new job. Thankfully, I was able to set up counselling, detox and follow-up support, along with medication to suppress the compulsion to drink. For the first time in ages I feel like I've got a future, a chance to live again.

Phil, UK

I grew up with my mother who was an alcoholic. At 6 years old I cleaned up sick, had to undress her and had to fend for myself. I used to search for bottles around the house. I would find them everywhere even in boxed pipes! I hated being young. I still hate my mother for what she put me through and I don't think I could ever forgive her. Alcoholics are selfish. They never just get drunk on their own, they always end up ruining everyone else lives. Alcoholism has made my life a misery. Now I am an adult and have a family of my own I refuse to be put in those situations again.

Lisa, UK

I moved in with my best friend of 16 years, completely unaware that he was an alcoholic. His mum and dad didn't give a damn what happened to him. I became his carer and ultimately his enemy (in his eyes). He ended up in prison for drink driving, being 7 and a half times over the legal limit. He tried to drive down a suburban road on a Saturday morning whilst children were playing football and out on their bikes. I reported him. I couldn't bear the thought of him killing an innocent child, let alone himself. He still claims to this day that he was in control of the car and that he will never forgive me. I have now moved on and no longer speak with him. I miss him very much but recall the way I was treated throughout this year in my life.

Emma, UK

My mother was and is a chronic alcoholic. This has led to many periods of depression in my life - something which I am trying to get over because I would hate my own children to suffer in any way. If you know you have a problem you MUST seek help for the sake of the people around you. My mother never has - and because of this we have no relationship. I won't allow my children near her because she is abusive and often violent when drunk, which is every day of the week. I am now totally resigned to the fact that she would rather drink than have any sort of family life.

Rachel, UK

I am a recovering alcoholic and was in a treatment centre nearly a year ago. It totally changed my life and my view on alcohol and life. I had tried to commit suicide and had been on a downwards spiral for 7 years. I attend AA and am in the second stage of a counselling course. Alcohol kills life and people.

Torli, UK

My Father has been an alcoholic for as long as I can remember. His alcohol abuse made him beat my mum whilst me and my younger brother watched. My childhood was ruined by my father drinking. He still drinks heavily now and is in constant denial, he tells my mum that he no longer drinks but we know that he does. He abuses my mum mentally, because he doesn't live with us he can't hit her so instead he texts and phones her constantly. As a result of my Father's behaviour I have not got any relationship with him as I don't feel that I can relate to him or have any respect for him. It has also made me not enjoy drinking alcohol. I will have a drink now and again but I'd much rather a pint of coke.

Emma UK

Drinking is a weekend ritual amongst me and my friends. Without fail we are all falling around by 10 refusing to go home because we feel 'we haven't had enough yet!' For a change I decided that I would stay sober and observe the others. I have never been as frightened in my life! They acted like complete and total half wits, they fell into everything and everyone, they talked rubbish and made no sense whatsoever, they got angry and hurled abuse at people for no reason. To top it all off, two threw up outside the nightclub and one was incapable of walking! The morning after when I told them what I had seen, they all were adamant that they wouldn't behave like that, even though they didn't have a clue what had happened. Had this been any other night, I would have probably been the one that threw up and hurled abuse at people. Being sober on that night really frightened me, and made me take a long hard look into how I behaved while drunk. I never noticed it before and I know that when I'm drunk I act just the same as they did. Needless to say, I still have a drink, but not as many as before!

Sarah, UK

I am a smoker - risking my own life. My ex-husband was an alcoholic and a danger to myself and our two very young children. He was a Jekyll & Hyde character and would knock me about whether or not I spoke to him when he came home, and was permanently drunk from pay-day until the money ran out. Your programme brought those memories, well hidden, flooding back. Alcohol advertising should be subject to the same restrictions as those for tobacco products and, if possible, treated even more seriously. Alco pops should be taken off the market immediately as these attune the young to a future with alcohol. More publicity should be given to those who have overcome this addiction that has a hold on so many men and women in this country. Alcoholism is costing the State and therefore us millions of pounds in healthcare and social security benefits for dependants of alcoholics or their estranged families. My sons grew up without their father because of alcohol.

Margaret, UK

Ever since a young age my Dad has been a drinker. I remember thinking how "cool" he was, because he could enjoy a drink. However I never realised the seriousness of his habit. Recently things have deteriorated. Him and his second wife have separated and because of this, and financial problems my dad has turned to the bottle even more, drinking up to a bottle of brandy a day. His wife is very bitter towards him so much so she and her ex-husband tried to run him over. All I can say is that Drink is a destroyer.

Jane, UK

I woke up in a phone box covered in blood and puke and not knowing how I got there or where it all came from

Matt, UK

I lived with a man who was very nice until he had a drink. He then became the most offensive and abusive person I have ever known. I was with him for 3 yrs - we split up 4 yrs ago. Today, there is not a week that goes by that his abuse and violence towards me does not affect my life. I cannot be around people who are drunk. I have become almost t-total because of my experiences with him. Men who are violent when drunk have no idea whatsoever the effect they have on their partners. I think I will spend the rest of my days being affected by 3 years of abuse and violence at the hands of alcohol.

Jo-ann, UK

I have been with my fiancé for three years. He is an alcoholic. I can honestly tell you from where I'm sitting it should be banned. It has wrecked my life and I don't even drink. You're always wondering when it will ever be over.

Kathleen, Northern Ireland

It didn't happen to me, but by friend was out with some mates of his for one of their birthdays. One attempted to vault a wall and broke his arm. He was taken to hospital with all the others swaying around and going green in the back of the Ambulance. My friend insisted to the nurse that his mate needed to have a cast put on. They made to leave the hospital, but got horribly confused by the signs and got lost.

Neil, UK

After an entire afternoon spent drinking vodka my friends and I went to a very posh bar in Liverpool. We were the only customers so all the staff there were constantly watching us. My friend ordered a cocktail which when it arrived seemed really thick and creamy. I said it would probably come out of the glass even if you tipped it upside down. He disagreed. So to prove it I took the full glass of cocktail and held it over my head, and then I tipped it upside down...the entire contents poured over me and the rest of the evening was spent soaked and sticky.

Simon, Liverpool

I did have a year without drinking about eight years ago because I knew that it was causing me problems, but never went to AA or anywhere to get help. Still not feeling happy I started to drink again, big mistake obviously, but I knew nothing about alcoholism then.

Things really got a lot worse for me when I became an air steward. I worked for British Airways and did long-haul flights so was away for up to two weeks at a time. I would have been drinking whatever job I was in, but that job speeded things up a bit. Nearly everyone I worked with drank a lot, and it was not long before I started drinking on flights. There were many other issues that I blamed my drinking on but the real reason was that I was an alcoholic but couldn't see it. I was just too ill to realise. I managed to stop drinking for weeks at a time but picked other drugs up instead. One night I died twice and was saved by some wonderful paramedics and doctors, but still I couldn't stop.

On March 9th last year I had just had enough. I found myself back in hospital having been drinking day and night for two weeks. I had spent two and a half years taking 100 painkillers a day and my stomach and liver were suffering. I'd been through two addiction clinics but had not been receptive to what they were saying. But suddenly something clicked and although I could not say whether I would be able to get clean and sober, I knew I had the willingness to try. The thought of living with alcohol was terrifying, and so was the thought of living without it. But I just knew there had to be a different way to live, continuing like that just wasn't an option.

Anyway that was a year ago and life today isn't easy but it's so much better! I lost my job when I got drunk on a flight but looking back that was a blessing. I'm 32 now and starting to rebuild my life. It wouldn't have been possible without AA and my friends and family.

Jon, UK

My friend dared me to rob a bar in Spain so I attempted to but all of the alarms started going off! Oops!!! I didn't get caught though!

Becca, UK

During a holiday last year my wife (27) and I (24) were staying in Stalis, Crete only a couple of hundred metres from the well-known Brit holiday spot Malia. Due to the fact that my upbringing was strict I never went on an all lads holiday so when the wife stood on a dragon fish and had to be laid up for the night she said that I may as well go out for the night with some of the British lads working out there to Malia. We all went out and I ended up buying a bottle of Vodka, 12 hours after first hitting the lagers and cocktails. I briefly remember seeing an inch left in the bottle at 10 am long after the other lads had gone home. The next thing I remember is waking up next to my wife and the woman in the next apartment looking at me in a hospital bed with a drip in my arm. For some sick reason all I could do was laugh but not for too long. I apologised to the ambulance staff who I attacked before collapsing on the road. I also apologised to my wife and the nice lady from Leeds. I decided I needed to sort my head out by going for a swim in the sea, which had quite a good effect, it was time to go back to the apartment which had two swimming pools with deep ends at opposite ends in each pool. Still thinking my head needed sorting out in water I dived in only to realise this was the one with the shallow end nearer the apartments. I came to the surface with blood pouring from the bridge of my nose and my forehead. To say my wife was not impressed was an understatement and she still reminds me to the day about this holiday-which apart from those incidents was a cracking 2 weeks. I know I am not an alcoholic as I can go weeks without drink as I work on cable laying vessels where company policy doesn't allow you to drink when we are laying cable. It's just that when the lads and me go out (who are all mostly officers at sea as well) we drink to destruction, there is no break between each round and we don't drink single spirits, it's got to be doubles or trebles. The fact that us seamen seem to be able to drink more than the average human does not help!

Simon, UK

For me, my adventure lasted 15 years and I'm still so desperate to ride this devil that is playing with my mind every day. I've been free from drink for around four months but still have tremendous cravings for it. My poison is vodka, wine and southern comfort along with strong lager. I'm under AA, and see a psychiatrist every month, and attend a help group, despite being down in the gutter with nothing and then nearly killing a girlfriend of mine in a drunken accident in a car, almost ending back in prison. I'm still battling with this drug. I have a home, a good job, a baby daughter, and a fantastic partner who supports me well in my addiction, but I hate to say this even though I have all this, I'm a very moody person and don't care about a lot of things around me. I'm paranoid about most things. I can't stand being in crowds, I wonder if I should forget everything and drink myself to the end of my life. I wake up feeling dry drunk everyday after all this time. This is a battle that I'm fighting every minute of the day along with the depression my habit has given me. I don't know were to turn know or what to do, but be strong and face each day as it comes.

I have had many brilliant times and "lost weeks strung out on alcohol, but know I'm paying the price of the amount of abuse I have done to my body. I'm 31 years old. I remember my first drink when I was fifteen at a Clash gig in London, when my last drink is I will never know. So for what it's worth all you people out their drinking the amounts you do, slow down and don't end up feeling like me, it's not good, it's not nice and it's a long drawn out recovery process to get to some form of existence. My problem was with smack and cocaine and I was drinking so much, I was fired. I wonder if I should forget life and have my last party until the end. This is how the side effects of abuse changes the way you think. I'm sorry if this seems strong but it's fact, so give it up and don't end up an emotional paranoid wreck as I am dealing with each day.

Steve, Berkshire

Many moon's ago, I was sat on a wall, very drunk, fell back into a river. I never felt a thing. Next morning I woke up, I was red all over my body; the dye from my dress had run. The rabbit fur coat I was wearing had shrunk and could fit a child. Looking back it's quite funny. Because my father is an alcoholic, I know I am at more risk of becoming an alcoholic. When I've felt myself going down that road, I go to the doctor's for anti-depressants.

Verity, UK

I remember breaking into someone's garage just to have a look, jumping on cars and rugby tackling bushes. We have stood on the ledge of a bridge over a canal and run across train tracks in the early hours of the morning. At the time they seem fun and exciting but when you wake up you realise they are crazy and dangerous!

Phil, UK

Woke up after drinking heavily realising I was late for work. I phoned the school I worked at and left a message on the answer phone, only to notice moments later that it was a Sunday morning. I phoned 2 minutes later to say that they should disregard that last message.

Mike, UK

When I was 14 I went drinking with a friend before going to an under16 club. He decided to go to the off-licence and buy a large bottle of spirit. He then consumed this rapidly, and started looking for more. He drank a lot before collapsing in a pile, luckily, next to the city hospital. After deliberation with my friends, and him being violently sick unconsciously, we decided he was extremely ill, and as it was freezing that night we decided to ring an ambulance, and he was taken to casualty. The doctors said that he was about 4 degrees under normal body temperature, and confirmed that he was suffering from severe alcohol poisoning. This was a very worrying, and - forgive the pun, sobering experience for me, as I experienced first hand the effects of underage drinking. I would like to deter young teenagers from drinking to any sort of excess, purely due to the fact that it can be life threatening, and a vodka bottle really isn't worth that.

Andrew, UK

Until 10 years ago I drank every night possible until one day I collapsed and could not move. After that I stayed off the booze for 8 months. I drink now but in a much more controlled way. I now know when to stop and go home but as for my friend, he still needs carrying home - every Saturday you have to drag him out of the pub.

Wayne, UK

There are so many stories, most good, the odd one bad, but how anyone can narrow down their nights of drinking into 1 particular story - I'm not sure. All I know is I enjoy drinking and everything that comes with it. You are nearly always assured of something memorable happening when you go out drinking.

Matt, UK

I drank alcoholically for twenty years, despite numerous hospitalisations, A.A and recovery clinics. Although off it a year now, I tremble permanently, am blind in my left eye, my kidneys are damaged, as is my liver beyond repair, I have had many accidents, lost a finger in machinery when drunk, police trouble, and two divorces, and homes lost. I am fifty and not expected to see fifty five. Just a thought to ponder as you pour your next vodka.

Cavan, UK

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