"I will die if I drink again"
battles back from the brink
by Caoimhinn Barr, Inishowen Independent
A RESIDENT from White Oaks Rehabilitation Centre in Muff
has spoken out about his harrowing journey back from the
Sean [not his real name] abused alcohol so much that he
was given just six weeks to live late last year.
Now, despite the sad loss of his wife before Christmas,
Sean is battling back to permanent sobriety.
“I’m not gonna let my wife down. She said that my
drinking was the one thing about me that she didn’t like
so I am determined to honour her memory by staying
sober,” he said.
Speaking about his life as an alcoholic Sean, aged in
his early 40s, said he didn’t think anything was wrong
at the time.
“I would literally drink all day, every day. As much as
I could possibly take. It was normal for me,” he said.
“I would get up in the morning about 11am and ring a
taxi to go into a few pubs in Derry. While I was waiting
for the taxi I would drink a few halfs of gin in the
“I was completely preoccupied with drinking, it was all
I thought about. I stopped eating altogether,” Sean
“When the taxi left me off I would head straight to one
of my regular bars. I would stay there for more than ten
gin and tonics.
“Then I would get a taxi home again. On the way back I
would stop off at an off-licence for a full bottle of
gin to drink in the house.”
“I would turn on the TV then and drink gin until I went
to bed. The next day I would do the same thing.”
Sean’s health suffered so badly because of his incessant
drinking that he ended up in hospital.
“I had six weeks left to live. I was a physical wreck. I
had lost a lot of weight, I couldn’t walk and I didn’t
know what day of the week it was,” he said.
Sean said he was one of the lucky ones because he was
given a ‘wake-up call’ before it became too late. He
will die if he drinks again.
“Doctors have told me that I don’t have a relapse left
in me. I will be dead if I start drinking,” he said.
His alcoholism had a devastating effect on Sean’s
family. His wife was afraid to go to social functions
because of Sean’s drinking; while his mother couldn’t
sleep with worry.
Sadly Sean’s wife died
prior to Christmas and his journey to permanent sobriety
is dedictaed to her.
“I was at my wit’s end after my wife died and I would
not have been able to remain sober during that period if
it hadn’t been for White Oaks. I can’t thank them
enough. Christmas Day was extremely difficult for me,”
Sean, who was involved in the building trade, lost his
job, giving him more time to drink.
“It was a relief when I was made redundant because we
all knew it was coming,” he said.
Prior to becoming completely dependent on alcohol, Sean,
like many of his peers, socialised in a bar almost every
night of the week.
“I was out often but I was more of a
weekend alcoholic a few
years ago and then it progressed. I used to just go out
for a couple of drinks but that soon became five or six
or more,” he said.
Urging anyone with an alcohol problem to seek help, Sean
said life is infinitely better while sober.
“I can deal with things much better when I’m sober. I
can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Sean said.
He said that it is difficult to admit that you are an
alcoholic but that it is a vital step.
“I am delighted that I came to White Oaks. I couldn’t
have come to a better place. This has been a real
turning point in my life,” Sean added.
‘We must tackle this problem together’ – White
WHITE Oaks Clinical Director, Tony Brown, said that we
must tackle the problem of alcoholism as an entire
“Culturally almost all of our important functions like
Christenings, Confirmations, weddings and funerals
revolve around alcohol.”
“Why do we still see glamorous adverts for drink on TV
when we know the damage that it causes?” Mr. Brown
He also said that alcohol is more widely available and
cheaper to buy than ever before.
“People’s drinking habits are changing. Many people are
drinking at home unchecked. They are drinking more and
more,” Mr. Brown said.
“There should be a limit on how much alcohol you can
buy. If you went into a chemist for 200 paracetamol you
wouldn’t be served yet you can buy a truck load of
Mr. Brown advised anyone who may have a problem with
drinking to seek help.
“You won’t beat alcohol on your own. You have a much
better chance of success as part of a group or network.”
In an effort to get the message of hope out there, White
Oaks have produced a video which tells the story of an
alcoholic who is successfully treated at the centre. The
video can be accessed on YouTube by
clicking here .