Louise's story: “I want to share my story so others get help too.”

Louise | April 2021 | 6 minutes

After appearing on BBC Two, Louise got in touch with us to share her story. This is Louise’s story of struggling with drinking, and how a family friend helped her stop.

Louise started drinking to try to cope with her mental health problems. On Fridays after work she would go to the pub with friends and drink pints of lager, and continue to drink once she got home. But she was also taking medication to help with her anxiety, which was interacting with the alcohol and having a negative effect. This led to her behaving in a way she didn’t like towards the people she loved. “I would sometimes get nasty and violent because of my tablets and the drinking.” The day after a drinking session she would receive messages from her friends to tell her about her behaviour the night before. Some friends even stopped getting in touch.

That’s when she realised her drinking was becoming a problem. She was worried that if she didn’t stop, her husband would leave her and she would end up alone. Her doctor also advised her to stop drinking because of her anxiety medication.

“I would sometimes get nasty and violent because of my tablets and the drinking.”

Through a friend of her mum’s, Louise met Claire Owen at a party. They got talking, and Louise mentioned that she wanted to stop drinking. From that point on, they met up often for coffee and dog walks, and together worked out strategies to help Louise achieve her goal. In this conversation between Louise and Claire, they discuss some of those strategies – including going to McDonald’s instead of the pub to keep temptation at bay. Alongside her supportive husband and mum, it was with Claire’s encouragement that she felt confident in making a change. “Claire was really encouraging and made me feel like I wasn’t alone.”

Today Louise is over 90 days alcohol-free.

“Claire was really encouraging and made me feel like I wasn’t alone.”

Since stopping drinking, she has managed to make more time for the things she enjoys. She can now take her dogs Sandy and Izzy for much longer walks because of the energy she’s gained, and can spend more time tending to the allotment she has with her husband. Her mental health has improved, and she hasn’t had a single panic attack. The friends she lost touch with because of her behaviour when drunk have come back into her life – now they just meet up for tea instead! Plus, she is able to spend more time on her work at ReDress, a co-operative textile shop offering training opportunities for people with disabilities, like Louise, who has Klippel-Feil syndrome and a learning difficulty. She has even helped another friend with her drinking as a result of her own experiences!

Lockdown has made making this change easier, she said, as the pubs were closed so she couldn’t be tempted there. Now that things are opening up again, she plans to keep busy to distract her from wanting to drink. She is hoping that by sharing her story, others will realise they can make a change, too – no matter how hard it feels. “I want to share my story so others get help too.”