“I was a binge drinker who drank to blackout – but just couldn’t see I had any problem”
Entrepreneur Lee, aged 48, grew up with an alcoholic father who made a fortune and then drank it all away and then died from drinking. Lee very nearly did the same, that was until he was forced to face the stark truth…
“My father was an alcoholic. My mother left him when I was three. He had assets worth more than a million – but drank, gambled, and drugged it all away until he died penniless. Then after four serious health issues in five years, my mother died from alcoholism too.
Prior to her death I went to Al-Anon meetings that help people who have an alcoholic friend or relative. While there, we’d listen to the recovering alcoholics in the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting next door. But I had no idea I had a drink problem.
My first drink on my own was when I was 13. I drank to blackout most times. I was a binge drinker. I couldn’t stop when I started.
Meanwhile, to prove to my constantly criticising stepfather I could be somebody I worked obsessively and built up a successful business empire. But that just became a source of stress that gave me more “reason” to drink.
The point I decided I had to do something was when I went to a nightclub after drinking heavily. A guy I’d fallen out with saw me in the corner passed out and he had someone take a photo while he held me in a headlock, with two girls either side laughing. He sent the photo to me; I was so humiliated and angry.
Around the same time a friend called who said: “You go to those alcoholic meetings don’t you, because I’ve got a friend with a drink problem too.” I was mortified he thought I was an alcoholic. I told him I didn’t go, but I could take her to the AA meeting.
At the meeting, someone gave her a leaflet with questions to see if you have a drink problem. I mentally ticked off yes to virtually every question.
So, I went to an AA meeting and have not had a drink since then: November 2007. I found a bunch of people who didn’t know me yet knew the illness in me perfectly – and they were willing to love me and care for me until I could love myself.
I learned what had driven me to drink and what the causes were of my unhappiness and problems. Today I am a caring and loving person. Most of my six children have never seen me drink and they have a father who adores them.
My life today here living in Spain is a gift.”