Shauna's #BelieveInPeople Story

In this week’s Believe in People story, we spoke to Shauna, a Substance Misuse Nurse for Change Grow Live, about overcoming addiction and how important it is to believe in yourself and others.

 

“I’m coming up to 8 years in recovery now. I think alcohol brought out a side of me that I was always trying to show but couldn’t.

Just over 10 years ago, my mum and dad started mentioning to me that they thought I had a bit of an issue with alcohol. I went home to Ireland one week, and they gave me leaflets for Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and I thought, “I don’t have a problem. I don't drink every day. I'm not dependent on alcohol, I was still working and still looking after my two kids.”

A few weeks later, I went home again, and I didn't drink at all for the week. As far as I was concerned, I’d proved to them that I didn't need it. Then it was my niece's birthday, and we had a party. I had a few drinks and as I was leaving, my mum gave me a look. And I genuinely don't know what it was about the look, but it was her disappointment.

I had one more drink that night, but that was it. The next day I said to my parents, “OK. I think you're right. I'll go to AA.”

The start of my journey

I cried all the way back to the airport. It was very, very painful that day, and the next day I rang AA and I got to a meeting. So that was the start of my journey.

I had a couple of blips the first couple of months, and then I finally got properly on the wagon. I was six months sober, and my mum died the day after.

I got back to AA and opened up that I was really struggling, and I wanted to use codeine because I knew I couldn't drink.

A friend of mine suggested that I try Narcotics Anonymous, and they were the most supportive people I've ever found in my life.

But I did what every addict does and tried to cure myself some of the way. And then I had a relapse. I just didn't care.

A relapse

My drinking during the relapse and my behaviour were the worst I've ever displayed. If I had continued, I know I'd have lost my children.

I asked my dad for help, and he helped me to arrange a rehab clinic. I will be coming up to 8 years sober since then.

When I was in the clinic, I had an epiphany that “My drinking has never been normal”. I realised that I became an alcoholic with my very first drink at 18. I was always absolutely wasted every time I’d have a session. I had my first blackout within the first year of drinking. I just figured, it's just normal, but it's not.

New beginnings

Since then, I have been finding out who I am again.  I met my husband when I was at my lowest, and we're still together anyway.

I'm grateful that I have support around me that I don't need to drink. I can say to my husband “I need a drink” and he knows to say, “what's up?” rather than “don't be silly. You don't need a drink.”

I've also learned how to be a more consistent parent for my kids. My son has told all of his friends I'm in recovery. And he said it's because “I'm proud of you mum”.

I was embarrassed that his friends would look at me and think, “oh, she's an alcoholic”. But I don't consider myself an alcoholic. I consider myself an addict, because anything could be an addiction for me. It just happened that alcohol was my choice.

I am only one drink away from falling back into old habits. However, I take it one day at a time to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Believing in others

I love my job and I want to try and give people that glimmer of hope that it can change for them.

Having had that personal experience helps my work. There are times I will disclose it, especially to someone who feels like they’re going to be judged. Often I can see a visible relaxation in their body language when I say “I am actually in recovery, there will be no judgement. I will understand a lot of what you're saying to me from a professional, but also a personal point of view.”

 Quite a few of them have said ‘I can't open up to anyone else except you because I know you won't judge me.’

Who believed in you?

About three weeks before my mum passed, she just kept saying she was so proud of me. I loved that I had gone from the look that she'd given me before when I was drinking, to suddenly her saying this to me, and it gave me strength.

If I won the lottery, I'd still work here. We need people to know that we believe in them and that they can do this. We just need to build you up to believe in yourself - that's my belief anyway.”

If you’re worried about your drinking, we’re here to help. You can take our online quiz to understand how much you’re drinking, and read our advice for cutting down or quitting alcohol.

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