Helen's #BelieveInPeople story

Helen is smiling at the camera while sat in her garden

In this week’s #BelieveInPeople story, we spoke to Helen, who accessed our services for help with alcohol. She explains how she overcame her reluctance to change with the support of the people around her.

“I am grateful for life, where before I didn’t care”

“My name is Helen. I’m a 44-year-old mother and grandmother, and I have been sober for 19 months.

As an adult I drank alcohol socially and as a coping strategy for life’s challenges: historical domestic violence, escaping domestic violence with two small children, time in a refuge.

I drank more heavily in times of stress, and drinking became daily 17 years ago. 13 years ago my mum passed away and my drinking increased again.

A crossroads moment

My life became so bad I tried to take my own life in 2016. In June 2022, I was admitted to hospital. Before then I was living on alcohol, not eating and not being able to tolerate anything but alcohol. I detoxed while I was there, but I was informed I had decompensated liver disease and advised not to drink.

I was referred to Change Grow Live by the alcohol care team at the hospital, but I was reluctant to engage. I thought I could manage on my own, and I felt family support was enough. I didn’t want to engage as I didn’t think I needed professional help. But after meeting with my care co-ordinator, she supported me to my first group where I realised I was not alone and needed support.

I first met my care co-ordinator in the community for a chat. She kept in contact with me, and after seven weeks I decided to try a group. She supported me to the first one, and I started to engage in groups. I regularly attended at least two groups per week. I was supported by being given a bus pass due to my low income and distance from the Change Grow Live office. I was supported by my peers in groups and by my care coordinator. I was very anxious over my first sober festive period and worried that I would return to drinking. Change Grow Live worked with me to make a plan to keep me focused and occupied.

A new direction

I enrolled in an online NVQ in childcare, and now I volunteer 1 day per week at the city farm. Change Grow Live also helped me to purchase a pair of wellingtons for this activity!

I’ve recently been approached by the manager at the city farm and offered a part time paid position.

My latest appointment with the hospital has shown my liver function is now in the normal range, and I am 19 months abstinent.

I am grateful for life, where before I didn’t care. The relationships I have with my family, children and grandchildren have massively improved and I am proud to have done two sober Christmases, with many more to come!”

If you’re worried about your drinking, we’re here to help. You can take our online quiz to understand how much you’re drinking, and read our advice for cutting down or quitting alcohol.

To find out more, follow the links below: