I drank every day from the age of 14 and could get through two bottles of whisky at a time – a startling revelation turned my life around
- Abi Feltham, 35, began drinking as a teenager in a bit to feel ‘normal’
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A woman who drank every day from the age of 14 and could get through two bottles of whisky at a time has revealed the startling revelation that helped her turn her life around.
Abi Feltham, 35, from Berkshire, started drinking ciders with secondary school friends as a teenager in an attempt to feel ‘normal’.
At the time, Abi says she was still coping with the devastating loss of her father – who had passed away when she was three.
However, her drinking habit only worsened when she embarked on a 10-year backpacking trip around South East Asia and North America.
During this time, Abi would work in bars to conceal her alcohol habit and says she would start drinking from she ‘woke up to when she would pass out in the evening’.
Pictured: Abi Feltham when she was struggling with her alcohol consumption. The 35-year-old drank daily between the ages of 14 and 32
Pictured: Abi has now been sober for the past three years after having a ‘moment of realisation’ at her mother’s house during lockdown
At her lowest point, Abi was regularly having two 700ml bottles of whisky and multiple beers a day.
When Covid hit in 2020, Abi moved back from Canada into her mother’s home – and had a moment of clarity when she found herself clearing away six empty bottles of wine and beer that she had hidden down the side of her bed.
She explained: ‘I moved back in with my mum and carried on drinking. I went on an almighty bender and when the bender came to an end I realised that I was hiding bottles next to my bed.
‘This is something I did as a child to hide my drinking from my mum.
‘One day I was clearing up the bottles and I sat down at the end of my bed dropping the bag.
‘It all hit me at once. I had a full circle moment where I felt like a mirror had been held up to my face.’
Looking back to when her drinking started, Abi said she was an ‘angry and resentful’ teenager and ‘always felt like an outsider’.
She explained: ‘I felt like I couldn’t relate to anyone unless I drank and that made me feel normal.
Pictured: Abi when she was still travelling and struggling with her alcohol consumption. At her lowest, she would drink two bottles of whisky and beers
Abi would work in bars to conceal her alcohol habit and says she would start drinking from she ‘woke up to when she would pass out in the evening’
‘To begin with it was always with friends partying. When I became an adult and moved to London I discovered how I could drink on my own whenever I want.
‘I was partying all the time – going out with friends or strangers.’
When she was 23 years old, Amie went travelling and says she was ‘living paycheck to paycheck.
She said: ‘All I was interested in was drinking alcohol.
‘I was doing it for 10 years. I was working in bars where I was encouraged to drink in some cases.
‘While I was travelling, I met my ex-boyfriend in South East Asia and I thought my depression was cured – I fell in love.’
The couple then moved to New York – but following their break-up, Abi decided to relocate to Canada.
In 2020, Abi’s drink and new drug habit saw her lose her waitressing job – and she moved back to the UK to be with her family in lockdown.
Pictured: Abi with her new boyfriend Stefan and their beloved pet dog. The couple got together after she gave up drinking
Abi said of her recovery: ‘I was very numb for a while. I was exhausted. I felt like I had run a marathon; the last 10 years of my life had been so full-on and traumatic’
After her moment of clarity, Abi decided to go cold turkey and hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol since April 2020.
Abi said: ‘Physically it was very difficult – I was really sick to begin with.
‘I was very numb for a while. I was exhausted. I felt like I had run a marathon; the last 10 years of my life had been so full-on and traumatic.
‘After that, I had an enormous drive to get better. Every day I felt stronger and I saw things improve.’
Abi said of her new life in the UK: ”I now have a really stable peaceful life. I have a boyfriend and we have been together for a year’
Since giving up drinking, Abi now goes to therapy twice a week to ensure she stays on track with her recovery
However, Abi says it was definitely the right decision for her – and she has now found love with her new boyfriend Stefan whom she shares a dog with.
She continued: ‘I now have a really stable peaceful life. I have a boyfriend and we have been together for a year.
‘We have a really healthy relationship which is the most normal thing – everything in my life is so peaceful.
‘I have started massively working on my mental health. I go to therapy twice a week.’
How you can seek help if you are having issues with alcohol
A good place to start is with a GP. Try to be accurate and honest about how much you drink and any problems it may be causing you.
If you have become dependent on alcohol, you will have found it difficult to fully control your drinking in some way.
So you’ll probably need some help either to cut down and control your drinking or stop completely, and also some plans to maintain the improvement after that.
The GP may suggest different types of assessment and support options available to you, such as from local community alcohol services.
You can also ask about any free local support groups and other alcohol counselling that may suit you.
Find alcohol addiction support services in your area
If you have become physically dependent and need to stop drinking completely, stopping overnight could be harmful.
You should get advice about this and about any medicine you may need to do this safely.
Useful contacts for alcohol problems
- Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, you can call this free helpline in complete confidence. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a free self-help group. Its ’12 step’ programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups.
- Al-Anon Family Groups offer support and understanding to the families and friends of problem drinkers, whether they’re still drinking or not. Alateen is part of Al-Anon and can be attended by 12 to 17-year-olds who are affected by another person’s drinking, usually a parent.
- We Are With You is a UK-wide treatment agency that helps individuals, families and communities manage the effects of drug and alcohol misuse.
- Adfam is a national charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol. Adfam operates an online message board and local support groups.
- The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa) provides a free, confidential telephone and email helpline for children of alcohol-dependent parents and others concerned about their welfare. Call 0800 358 3456 for the Nacoa helpline.
- SMART Recovery groups help people decide whether they have a problem, build up their motivation to change, and offer a set of proven tools and techniques to support recovery. Caring for an alcoholic? Find out where you can get support on the Carers Trust website.
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