By the time Anna asked for help she was at breaking point after a drinking career which spanned 30 years – every day, all day. Now though, with help from Addiction NI Older Focus she’s reclaiming her life and wants to bring hope to others like herself.
Belfast pensioner Anna thought nothing of sinking 15 pints – a day.
Now in her 60s, she devoted almost half her life to a drinking career which, quite literally, filled every day – all day – for the last 30 years.
“I’ll be blunt – I disgraced myself. I lost my self-respect and I lost the respect of others”, she admits.
“The first time I came to Addiction NI I walked out again – I lost my nerve but then I came back because I knew I needed help.”
Until that day though, Anna’s life was ruled by the bottle: “We’d head to the pub about lunchtime and that was us until it closed. After that, we’d maybe go to a drinking house – somebody would throw an open house where you could just drink to three or four in the morning sometimes.
“That went on for 30 years. Half the time I’d fall trying to get home. I’d be covered in bruises some days.”
The turning point, however, came one morning just over three years ago.
“One day I started shaking so violently I couldn’t even get a teacup to my lips. I was shaking from head to foot. I sat down and cried. I had a real problem and I couldn’t ignore it any more. I was at breaking point.”
The first time Anna came to Addiction NI her courage failed her and she didn’t go in but the next time her shakes were so bad that staff at the centre immediately realised the desperation of her situation.
And that was the beginning of her journey back to life.
“They were fantastic. My counsellor came to my home twice a week at first and we talked about so many things. I think people forget that older people can have these problems too.”
“At last I was prepared to listen – and they listened to me and didn’t judge. Before, I wasn’t listening and I couldn’t get out of this situation. It was a vicious circle.”
“I still slip sometimes but at least now there’s always someone I can ring for help and I’m not slipping as much because I keep myself busy going to craft classes, a day centre and coming here.”
“Addiction NI has helped me through so many things. They’ve helped me realise that I am a good person within myself. ”
“If you’re in that situation, whether you’re 18 or 84, ask for help. Think of what your life could be like. It’s up to you – only you can do anything about it. If you listen to my story though, you’ll know there’s always hope.”