Stella’s story: "It’s hard when everyone you know drinks and no one thinks you have a problem."

Stella | February 2019 | 6 minutes

Stella was introduced to alcohol at a young age, and her relationship with it became darker ask she got older - but six months ago, she decided to make a change.

I was introduced to alcohol at a young age, as my mother made her own wine. She was in a local wine circle and used me as her ‘taster’ when putting a new wine into a competition. She brewed beer from kits as well.

So it was very normal to see/taste/smell alcohol in the home, and I also had a good knowledge of the ingredients, as in what fruits, plants or flowers could be used, mostly out of our own garden. It was a country village so all the country stuff that went on – WI sales, village fetes – involved alcohol, and it was part of normal life.

Growing up in Somerset it was natural that I became a cider connoisseur, and by the time I started work at 19 in the building trade I was used to being in a fairly heavy drinking culture, at school (!), at work, and socially.

This led to some bad experiences, from teenage experiences of psychiatric hospital and prison, to drunk driving, losing huge amounts of money, and abusive relationships. All on top of being self-employed and running my own business, employing people, and paying a mortgage.

This led to some bad experiences, from teenage experiences of psychiatric hospital and prison, to drunk driving, losing huge amounts of money, and abusive relationships.

This sort of constant day to day stress leads to more drinking in an effort to ‘cope’ with it all.

Several times I came into money which should have secured me financially, but which was all basically drunk or given away or wangled off me by others, because I was surrounded by the kind of people someone who wasn’t drinking heavily would not choose to be anywhere near.

I tried many times to stop or cut down; my GP sent me to an addiction clinic once and I also tried AA. But it’s hard when everyone you know drinks and no one thinks you have a problem.

In my 50s I tried to take more control of my health because of diabetes, so I started jogging, going to gyms, and went more or less vegetarian. I’m still doing all those things. But the drinking stayed the same.

There were two things that motivated me to finally stop.

First, I found myself drinking more heavily and in secret – for example, sitting in the park on the way home with a drink without telling anyone.

Second my husband, who has bipolar and has not been able to find more than occasional gig-economy work in the last ten years, inherited money, so now has his own financial security, and I do not feel the pressure of having to earn for both of us. He also drinks quite heavily.

I found myself drinking more heavily and in secret – for example, sitting in the park on the way home with a drink without telling anyone.

This was the final impetus I needed to stop – I told him I did not want his family to look at me as the person who helped him drink it all his money away, which had happened to me several times in the past.

In the end, stopping was surprisingly easy. I used the Allen Carr ‘Easy Way’ method. I didn’t want to either blame myself, or see myself as a victim, and Allen Carr’s method helped me to find a route which didn’t require either of those things. Lots of the messages we get about dependent drinking suggest that only certain people can become ‘alcoholics’ – but anyone can develop a problem with alcohol. I used to look at the rows of bottles in the corner shop as if they were attractive coloured sweets, and now they look like nothing – like looking at empty cardboard boxes, for example.

I have not stopped meeting my friends in pubs or buying other people a drink and I don’t intend to be ‘preachy’ about it. I’m just enjoying my new alcohol-free life.