Irish Daily Mail

I was staying up all night, getting home at 5am, having an hour’s sleep then heading back to work in the City


drank, no matter how hard they tried.

If reading this is making you just a little bit #sobercurio­us, let me assure you: everything alcohol promises us, sobriety delivers. I may no longer be the loudmouthe­d party animal I was pre-2011, but I’m much fonder of sober me.

As a drinker, I never understood people who were teetotal but nowadays, aged 45, I thoroughly enjoy not drinking.

There is a whole new world out there if you just put down the corkscrew. Who knew sobriety could be so wonderfull­y intoxicati­ng?

Here, three women reveal their own struggles to sobriety . . .


AIMEE HIGGINS, 39, is a director of business partnershi­ps. She says:

MY DRINKING was so bad that even being told I had early signs of liver damage at 32 didn’t deter me. Despite growing up in a household with parents who rarely drank, I was a heavy drinker in my late teens, spent all hours in the pub at university, and drank every night with colleagues at my graduate job.

I was drinking more than 100 units a week, sometimes staying up all night, getting home at 5am, having an hour’s sleep, then a shower and heading back into work. I suffered drink-induced blackouts and subsequent anxiety and brain fog.

After a standard work health check, I was referred to a liver specialist to be told I had the early signs of liver damage.

He asked if I ‘had a problem’ and I immediatel­y rejected the notion out of panic that it might be true.

It was another five years before I quit drinking, in January 2019. By this point I had sought help from a therapist and realised I was depressed and that drinking was making it worse.

When I struggled with Dry January, I turned to AA and stayed sober for almost two years.

Then lockdown began and, bored, frustrated and exhausted with work, I succumbed to alcohol again in November 2020. I did confess to my AA sponsor and my sister but it was three months before I managed to stop again.

I now accept that I’m a highfuncti­oning alcoholic, so I’ve replaced the drinking habit with healthier habits. I start each day with ten minutes of meditation and have even taken up exercising on a Peloton bike.

I’ve also started a new venture called ‘Mind v Soul’ (mindvsoul.

com) to help people like me who are ‘cursed’ with being highfuncti­oning alcoholics.

Lockdown has certainly helped more women to notice their drinking. Without it, you can start to live, rather than just exist.


EMMA DUTTON-GREENSLADE, 51, is a trauma counsellor who helps adopted people (theadoptee­ She lives with her daughters, aged 13 and 16. She says:

AFTER the financial crash of 2008, I went from having €4 million worth of property to being 400,000 in debt. My marriage began to crumble, along with my property business, and that was when I hit the bottle hard.

I had always been a social drinker but I found myself drinking every single night. I used to hang out with a friend who ran a tourism agency and we could easily down six bottles of champagne a night between the two of us. I put on so much weight and felt terrible most days.

We were living in India for my husband’s work when I had my first wake-up call. Owing to the upheaval in my marriage, I took to sleeping in my two young daughters’ bedroom.

One night I woke up feeling awful from the drink and realised enough was enough.

I went cold turkey, swapping drink for raw and healthy food, lost 15kg (2st 5lb) in weight and everything felt better.

But my husband and I went our separate ways in 2013 and two years later I returned home. I started drinking the odd glass of Prosecco and fell off the wagon completely during lockdown.

I didn’t know if it was menopausal hormones or the drink that caused such intense anxiety. I decided I needed to be more present for my daughters and had my last drink at Christmas.

Now, as a treat, I will pour myself a non-alcoholic drink in a nice glass, listen to an interestin­g podcast or go for a lovely walk.

It feels so much better to be sober. It gives me more clarity, I’m less anxious and even my high blood pressure has normalised.


LIZ WILKINS, 49, is a freelance marketing consultant and mother of one. She says:

IN MY 20s, I had a well-paid job in IT sales with a smart car and designer clothes. It was normal for the alcohol to be free and flowing at work dos and I drank to give me confidence.

At corporate events, I wasn’t bothered about the tennis — it was all about the free champagne.

But I married in my mid-20s, had my son at 33 and realised I had to be sensible. I never drank during pregnancy and only had the odd glass when my son was a toddler.

It was after my beloved father died of cancer in 2013 that my drinking escalated as I numbed the pain with booze.

I would come home from work in the evening and have a bottle of chilled Pinot Grigio. Before I knew it, I was drinking two or three bottles a night to the point of blackout, just so I could get to sleep. The next day, I’d have four or five cans of Red Bull to get me through the morning.

One night I ended up going out after a work event and drank until 3am. I got into a cab and struggled to stay awake: it cost me €90 to get home. Next morning, feeling groggy, I thought to myself: enough!

I went to see a psychiatri­st, admitted the extent of my drinking and was referred to the Priory clinic for a 28-day programme.

It was the best thing I have ever done. I have been sober for more than seven years.

After a phased return, I went back to the office, where I was promoted and got amazing results. It’s incredible what you can achieve when you’re not drinking three bottles of wine a night.

I now host a podcast called Today I Am Sober. We need to talk about the joy of being sober and what we can do as women in our 40s to make ourselves feel great without having to turn to drink.

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