Testimonial: You can't win against alcohol
Updated: Apr 6
Rhiannon is a 49-year-old woman who stayed at Ocean Hills in 2020. This is her story of recovery.
How did you end up at Ocean Hills?
I knew I was very sick. I’d gone to the doctor as I was going quite yellow. I had all these tests done and ended up in hospital. They told me I needed a liver transplant and if I’d kept drinking I would have had 2-3 weeks to live. They called Mum and Dad in and there was a family meeting. They put their foot down and told me I really needed to go to rehab. I had to try again even though I had been to so many rehabs – about six over the years – and nothing had worked.
How long have you been sober for?
I’ve been sober since I left Ocean Hills in 2020. I think it helped save my life because by some miracle, not drinking has kick-started my liver. The doctors told me that livers do regenerate but they thought that mine had gone past that point. Obviously there was a little bit of life left in me! At this stage I don’t need to have a liver transplant.
Since being sober I’ve also lost 25kg. My diabetes has also cleared up and I’m not on insulin anymore. All I take is a multi-vitamin. I know I’m not totally in the clear as my bilirubin levels go up and down, depending on the day, but I’m alive!
How did your drinking develop into such a problem ?
I started off going to parties on weekends and doing the usual half a dozen beers here and there. I was always quite a big drinker and prided myself that I could drink the boys under the table. But it got worse and worse.
I turned into a daily drinker and had a bottle of gin a day.
I had a difficult marriage, although we had three wonderful children. I used to be a beer drinker at parties and then moved on to the pre-mixed gins. Then I bought bottles of gin to mix with the pre-mixed ones to make them stronger… I used to do wine as well. Then I turned into a daily drinker and had a bottle of gin a day.
When I had my last child I went to detox. I remember telling my husband that I needed to go because I had the shakes. I used to cramp up with them. He knew but he was turning a blind eye.
I was an award-winning professional artist and I used to tell myself I was more creative when I was drinking. I had a studio at home and I was in my element, with my bottle of gin out there with me. I thought I was in a good place but I wasn’t really.
I got divorced 11 years ago and was living alone. That’s when the drinking really took off. By then I had no motivation and I couldn't be bothered. Everything was too much. I used to stew on what a terrible person I was for drinking so much, then have another drink. All I did was sit and watch movies and drink, drink, drink.
Why do you think Ocean Hills worked when all the other rehabs didn’t?
Being told I was going to die made me take it a lot more seriously than I did at previous rehabs. I liked Ocean Hills because it was smaller than other places I had been to. I’m not into big groups because I’ve always been an introvert. And Elaine [founder of Ocean Hills] is wonderful: she’s got a heart of gold. The support there was great with all of the staff being lovely people. It was also a homely place with nice meals. It was like being away on holiday!
It was so good to take some positive action.
What did you learn at Ocean Hills?
That I had to stop drinking and I can do it if I’ve got support. My mind became a bit clearer even just in two weeks and I realised I won’t drink again. The days there are full-on but it was good to be able to be busy instead of sitting around dwelling on not drinking and thinking too much. It was so good to take some positive action.
What is life like for you now that you are sober?
I keep myself busy as I’m very creative and do a lot of art. I have a lot more freedom too now as I can drive and do things like meet Mum and Dad for coffee now but I didn’t used to - I couldn’t go to public places without having panic attacks. I’m more social too and I go to every single family event, even with drinkers there!
What advice have you got for anyone considering getting sober?
You can’t win against alcohol. If you’re even thinking about it – do it. It’s worth having a life and living it happy and sober and enjoying things. You can actually have a lot more fun being sober than you are when you’re drunk.