A mum whose ‘glass or two of wine’ in the evening spiralled into a devastating addiction to booze which saw her lose 15 stone has shared her path to recovery.
Teresa Allen, 45, began downing a bottle of whisky a day to cope with mounting pressures at work and the heartbreak of splitting up with her partner.
After her weight plummeted from 22 stone to a tiny seven stone, Teresa finally checked into hospital when she began coughing up blood.
By the time she arrived doctors revealed her organs were shutting down and she was ‘on the brink of death,’ unlikely to survive.
But against all the odds, Teresa made a remarkable recovery and is sharing her cautionary tale during Dry January to encourage other heavy drinkers to seek help.
“It started with a glass or two of wine or cider,” said the mum-of-one, 45, from Birmingham.
“But as pressures began building at work I began drinking more at night and weekends.
“About two years ago it started getting out of hand after the breakdown of a relationship I was in. I was working lots and to cope with everything I would drink a one litre bottle of whisky during a weekend.
“I realised that I had a problem and with the help of my doctor I managed to stop for three months.”
Sadly, Teresa says she used a family argument as an excuse to turn back to the booze – and the row triggered her drinking again.
“I started secretly back on the whisky which I was drinking during the evening and my world fell apart,” she said. “I was suspended from my job and when I lost my job I started having a bottle of whisky a day.
“People around me could see I was spiralling out of control. I started vomiting blood and was rushed to hospital. I had a feeding tube inserted as I wasn’t eating enough. I’d lost so much weight and yet my stomach looked like I was carrying twins because of the booze. Alcohol was making me severely sick.”
Teresa sought help and was referred to the drug and alcohol service Change Grow Live (CGL) which led her to get onto the detox programme with the award-winning Alcohol Care Team at City Hospital in Birmingham.
“On 20 January 2020, I went into detox,” she said, “it was then I realised what sort of state my body was in. I was on the brink of death and my organs were shutting down. I was told that I was dying because of the extent of the cirrhosis,” Teresa said.
“But as I started on detox and the medication, as well as eating better, a miracle started to happen. I was recovering and was discharged from hospital just over a month later.”
“Since then I have had tremendous support from the Alcohol team and CGL. This has continued throughout lockdown. Now I believe I am worth something.”
Thanks to the help of the hospital’s Alcohol Care Team and the CGL, the new grandmother is now on the road to recovery and later this month will celebrate her first year of going teetotal.
Teresa is sharing her story during Dry January – a campaign encouraging drinkers to quit booze for the whole month – and hopes to help others to think about their drinking habits.
Like many, she had initially only been drinking heavily at the weekends to cope with the pressures of work.
Roxanne Mahroof, Alcohol Care Team Nurse, said: “Teresa has done brilliantly. From the beginning she was honest and open about her drinking. She acknowledged she was becoming physically unwell and had the courage to make the necessary changes.”
“Anyone who thinks they have a problem with alcohol should go to their GP to start the process,” she said.
She added: “I’m not currently working, but I am building up my strength to get fit and well so I will be in a position to return to employment. I’m also completing various online courses to help with this.
“For now I’m enjoying the precious time I have with my family. They can see how far I have come and have been so supportive throughout.”
“I made a mistake with my drinking, but I am grateful that I am here now and able to tell my story,” she said.
“I feel horrible when I think back to the worst times. I can’t go down the alcohol aisle in a supermarket as it makes me feel sick and watching TV adverts just reminds me of the pain and suffering I went through.
“I still have health problems as a result of the years of abuse, but I am in an amazing place now.
“I’m coming up to my first year anniversary of being dry and I want to make sure that I never go back.”
Roxanne added: “It was clear that Teresa was prepared to do whatever was advised by the professionals to become abstinent and live her life in healthy sobriety.
“During these uncertain time people are struggling and the alcohol care team has noticed there has been an increase in drinking amongst people. Her story carries hope to others struggling with alcohol misuse – that you can make changes to your life despite what’s going on in your world.“