ARE WOMEN DRINKING

With increased temptation to drink at Christmas, Closer speaks to two women whose alcoholism destroyed their lives

it developed into a litre because I needed to relax and I liked the feeling of being drunk.”

Soon Emma was waking up with a hangover every day.

She says: “I’d have a drink at lunch and do the school pickup drunk. I was dependent on booze and without it I’d get bad mood swings. James wanted me to get help, but I wouldn’t admit I had a problem.”

ROCK BOTTOM

In December 2006, she became pregnant with Ami and stopped drinking, but after the birth,

Emma fell back into addiction.

She says: “I struggled with three children and hit the booze hard. My drinking put a huge strain on our relationship and James moved out.

“I was incapable of looking after my younger kids so Luke, then nine, had to help. Friends and family were concerned but I pushed them away.”

Emma’s drinking became so bad her ex-husband was given custody of the children in September 2011. At rock bottom, she overdosed on painkillers and alcohol.

She recalls: “I came round in hospital and realised I couldn’t carry on like that.”

With help from AA, Emma beat her addiction.

She explains: “It was tough, but I regained custody of the children and we’re now rebuilding our relationships together. But I feel so guilty about what I put them through.”

By Emily Cope & Matt Barbour

MUM-OF-THREE

‘It’s my first sober Xmas’

Like Emma, Michelle Bridge, 44, from Essex, managed to beat her 21-year alcohol addiction.

Michelle became so addicted she nearly died after downing six litres of vodka a day.

She explains: “In my teens I never drank, but in my 20s I started having a vodka at the end of the day. I liked how it helped me relax. It all started harmlessly but within months I had the shakes as I needed a drink so badly. I used to drink a lot at Christmas and it sped up my addiction.”

When she became pregnant with her daughter Sophie, now 18, she continued to drink, often up to a litre of vodka a day. In August 2002 she gave birth to her second child, now 13, followed by the youngest, now 12, in August 2003 – drinking through all pregnancies. Incredibly, despite risks such as foetal alcohol syndrome, all three children were born healthy.

Michelle says: “My days were spent in a haze of vodka, passing out then buying more drink. I used benefits to buy it.

“When Sophie was eight she went to live with my niece, 34. My sister stepped in to look after my youngest at three months old, and my middle child was taken by social

Michelle, here with daughter’Sophie, is “” rebuilding her life

services when he was seven.

My life was a mess but I still couldn’t stop.”

In November 2014, Michelle’s health failed.

She explains: “I was shaking and vomiting. I was rushed to hospital suffering organ failure and fell into a coma.

It was the wake-up call Michelle needed.

She says: “I started AA i sessions and I’ve been sober for a year now, but I’m still wracked with guilt about putting my addiction ahead of my children.

“Sophie now hates alcohol because of what I’ve been through. I’m rebuilding my relationship with the others.

“This will be my first Christmas sober out of hospital, but I won’t feel tempted. I’m grateful I’ve been given a second chance.”

• Stick to one type of drink as mixing your drinks can get you drunk quicker. Alternate with soft drinks or water throughout the night. Use the Drink Coach app (Drinkcoach.org.uk) to keep track of your units.

• Resist topping up as it’s very easy to lose count of how much you’ve had.

• Downsize your drinks. A large glass of wine is around a third of a bottle. Stick to small glasses only.

• If you’re hosting, make a fruit punch or cocktails for those not drinking and serve snacks at regular intervals.

• For more info, visit Alcoholconcern.org.uk or drinkaware.co.uk.

YOU SAY

“I feel more pressure to drink at Christmas and often feel guilty and worried about my behaviour the next morning.”

Hannah, via Facebook

“Christmas is all about having fun and a few drinks with friends. I just make sure I cut down in the new year.” Louisa, via Facebook


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