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"I will die if I drink again" 29.01.10

Local alcoholic 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 brink.
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 house.”
“I was completely preoccupied with drinking, it was all I thought about. I stopped eating altogether,” Sean added.
“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,” he said.
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 Oaks Director
WHITE Oaks Clinical Director, Tony Brown, said that we must tackle the problem of alcoholism as an entire society.
“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 asked.
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 alcohol!”
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 .
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