“From being a hopeless drunk and drug addict, I am now the happiest I’ve ever been”

Living today on the Costa del Sol, Leona, aged 45, grew up in a house where drinking excessively was normal. Like many people she followed the family habit – until she nearly died one day that she’ll never forget for the rest of her life…

“I worked really hard as an office manager, where drinking was a big acceptable part of the job. I was married to someone who also drank a lot and so having children wasn’t a priority. We worked hard and drank hard.

My grandfather drank and died from it, and my parents drank a lot. We would quite often be staying over at friends’ houses at the weekends so that all the parents could get drunk. When I was older though at least my mum stopped drinking after going to Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meetings.

I started drinking aged 13 at the youth club or in the park. I started using cannabis, LSD, ecstasy, and speed at about the same time – and a few years later I began using cocaine. By my late 20s I was drinking to blackout every weekend. There were often consequences – fights, breaking bones, putting myself in dangerous situations…

When I got married aged 30 my drinking and drug use went to a new level and carried on for 10 years until I was hospitalised with kidney failure. People who loved me were obviously concerned – yet I carried on abusing myself.

I didn’t actually drink alcohol for 18 months, but I substituted cocaine for the alcohol until one day it wasn’t enough. Then one day after violence in my marriage, I hit my rock bottom.

At that point I realised I had to do something – that it was me who had the problem and it wasn’t my husband or my job. My parents mentioned I should try AA.  At my first meeting in 2016 it was like having a lightbulb switched on. I realised I wasn’t alone anymore.

Now I have completely changed my life. Working through AA’s 12 Step programme gave me a freedom not only from alcohol but also from destructive behaviour and thoughts.

Now I’m happier and more peaceful than I’ve ever been.”