Silhouette shot of a female drinking red wine in a room
Silhouette shot of a female drinking red wine in a room kiatipol

How alcoholism nearly claimed this mum's life

"IT TOOK me to places that I never thought I would ever go."

For Bundaberg woman Daisy (not her real name), alcoholism robbed her of eight pregnancies and saw her give birth to a stillborn baby.

But it wasn't until she gave up custody of her four-year-old son that she realised her addiction had spiralled out of control.

"I gave my son back to his father after a divorce because I wasn't capable of raising myself let alone a child. So basically I chose alcohol over my child. It was just so powerful, I couldn't give it up," she said.

Daisy recalls waking up in her own vomit, diarrhoea and urine with no food in the cupboard, such was the extent of her addiction.

The former nurse is now in recovery, her last drink on January 24, 1998. But the rollercoaster she endured before then is heartbreaking and reflects the very serious nature of this disease.

A recent study has shown teenagers are no longer the problem drinkers.

That title has gone to middle-aged, middle-class women whose enjoyment of a wine or two after work is progressing towards dangerous territory.

For Daisy though, she was just 10 years old when she took her first sip of alcohol.

"I was given rum as a remedy for a cold. I loved what it did for me, so as I child I developed colds on a regular basis so I could get more," she said.

This continued into her teenage years, with a penchant for spirits including Jim Beam and Southern Comfort and Coke, and later, red wine.

For Daisy, growing up in a violent, incestuous home was the trigger for her alcoholism.

"I didn't like my reality and I was full of fear, I didn't trust anyone in authority," she said.

"I found solace in alcohol, it helped me to escape ... it just filled me with this amazing ability to be who I probably always wanted to be."

After a while, however, the alcohol took control.

"My behaviour changed dramatically and my life became increasingly unmanageable," she said.

Daisy said she grew up believing she needed to be married, needed someone to "prop myself up ... to make me feel complete because I was always looking externally to make me feel good".

"I married the first man that asked me in the pub because he drank like me and he was the perfect escapism from my family. I had a child because I felt that that was what I was supposed to do."

Daisy later remarried to a chronic alcoholic with a violent streak, then when that collapsed she found herself on her own with no one else around to blame.

"I was 31 years old when I put down the drink.

"I thought sex was love. I had very warped ideas on life, what's acceptable and what's not," she said.

Giving up her son was one of the hardest things she has ever had to do.

"When I gave him up it absolutely gutted me [but] it was the only decent thing I did for him."

When Daisy realised she had a problem, the intellectual in her led to a decision to educate herself about alcoholism and enter a detox program.

Once out, she began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and says even now the temptation is still there.

"After 18 months I almost picked up a drink. I put a glass of red wine to my lips, but thought 'don't do this'.

"The disease of alcoholism is a progressive, cunning, baffling and powerful disease. If I ever pick up a drink again it could be worse and I could even end up dead because at the end of my drinking I was suicidal and I didn't have much hope for myself at all.

"It just strips you of every moral and any good thing about yourself."

Daisy was able to take her son back and they now have a good relationship. Every day is a battle, but one worth fighting for.