Sober Story: Lee

Today’s Sober Story comes from Lee, a 46-year-old living in Auckland.


Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?

Lee: Sobriety date 22 May, 2012

Mrs D: What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?

Lee: The last few years (10 actually) I drank to die. I don’t have children and my relationship with my family is anything but normal. I lived alone with my cat. One thing that did keep me somewhat sane was my gardening job that helped me feel good about myself. I drank to blackout daily, I couldn’t stop drinking and had reason to, until I met up with a long time friend and commenced a relationship. I drank 4-5 drinks in front of him and would pass out. We’d go out to functions, dinner etc and again I would just drop. He couldn’t understand what was going on with a lot of my ‘black out’ behaviour. What he didn’t know is that I was topping myself up with half a bottle of spirits before I left the house.

Mrs D: Did he ever realise what you were doing?

Lee: After splitting and reuniting several times, he realised the extent of my drinking. The excuses, hiding of bottles/drinking, hospital visits to detox and the lies I told work due to my absence forced him to intervene. He met with work colleagues and it was agreed I’d take 5 months off to attend rehab. The pain I put everyone through got the better of me. I tried to stop but couldn’t live without King alcohol – any reason, any state of mind, physically sick or well, I needed alcohol to function. I attended AA after my 4th hospital visit. I received many 30 day tags (91 days was my record) but I would always end up drinking.

Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?

Lee: Eventually I was beaten. The day I walked in to 4.5 month residential treatment changed my life. I was going to die but was scared of dying, but I didn’t want to live. I was very sick mentally and physically, and the help and unconditional love of my friend encouraged me to get the help I needed. I will not survive another relapse.

Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?

Lee: The first 5 weeks in treatment I experienced every emotion you could think of and had no idea what they were or how to deal with the uncomfortableness. I suffered many panic attacks, cried a lot, distanced myself from my peers, and felt incredibly uncomfortable. As the mind cleared, I could start to listen and understand. I did what I was asked and I prayed. The experience ripped me apart and put me back together again, for the better. The hardest was going back to work. People, places and things are my triggers and found work very stressful. Within 3 months of being back I wanted to kill myself.

Mrs D: What about your friends and family, how did they react when you started getting sober?

Lee: My friends at the time were in recovery and therefore very supportive. My parents helped by regular visits and have been supportive since.

Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?

Lee: I’ve experienced a number of relapses. I’d see my doctor regularly who’d prescribe me diazepam to help with shakes and to function.

Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?

Lee: About 3 months into treatment.

Mrs D: What about socialising sober… do you find that difficult?

Lee: I don’t want to drink and I can’t drink. I have no problem watching others having drinks. My problem is the next day, the emotional hangovers. Every time they got worse so I now don’t socialise with drinkers.

Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?

Lee: What surprised me the most was that I could normal things like food shopping and driving without a drink.

Mrs D: How did your life change?

Lee: Before, if I wasn’t drinking I was thinking about drinking. I don’t do either now so a lot has changed. I am present. I’m a daughter; a sister; an aunt; a friend; and of late a Director. Who would of thought? I was just a drunk.

Mrs D: That’s so fantastic! Can you pinpoint any main benefits that have emerged for you from getting sober?

Lee: Being present and a member of society. I benefit from using a 12 step program that helps me live day-to-day and stay sober.

Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?

Lee: No.

Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?

Lee: I suggest a 12 step program and/or other services. Stay in the day. Reach out, don’t do any thinking alone; ring and talk to someone. Don’t ever think you’re alone. It does get better and it does get easier, just don’t pick up that first drink.

  1. Lucy 6 years ago

    Thank you Lee for sharing your story… you have done so well… very inspiring. xx

  2. janabel 6 years ago

    Thankyou Lee for sharing your story with us 🙂

  3. behind-the-sofa 6 years ago

    Thanks for making it through Lee and sharing your story…. it sounds like it’s a miracle that you’re still here….. I sometimes think that about myself too….. it gives me a little spur and reminds me to try and enjoy the day……. : )

  4. SummerCruise 6 years ago

    Wow, I really needed to hear your story. I’m day 3. Scared but determined. The scary part is being totally present 24/7. It’s like taking off blinders for the very first time and seeing the light of day. My first reaction is to immediately put the blinders back on and pour that first drink. But with much courage I resist and start to live in an existence that is foreign … unfamiliar. Your story gave me the push I needed to keep the blinders off. I’m discovering a whole new way of living. It’s taken 46 years to get here. So many times I just wanted to die, now I thank God for being given the chance to live. Much love to you and everyone on LS.

    • Lee Deverell 6 years ago

      Hi there, how are you doing? Yes I can totally understand how you are feeling. I was petrified of not having a drink to cope with my day to day living. I did not know how not to drink! It is the scariest thing letting go of the love of your life. I needed help and was ready to receive it. Yes it was painful. I’d been in rehab before back in 2005 at Rotoroa Island but wasn’t ready. I’ve been in mental institutions due to drug psychosis. I’ve had a lot of trauma in my life, and counselling since I was 15. I was in complete denial of why I drank, I just needed alcohol to help ease the root of my problems and over the years got progressively worse.
      Being sober is not easy but it’s a hell of a lot better than coming to every morning – with cuts and bruises, waking on the floor where I had just dropped the night before, obsessing about that next drink. There is help available if you need it and try to take things one day at a time.
      You’re doing so well – the early days are the absolute hardest but just hang in there, reach out and never loose hope.
      Kia Kaha x

      • Lexic 6 years ago

        wow – your story really touched me with so many similarities to my own. I certainly learnt that until childhood (and adulthood) trauma is dealt with, there is no conquering addiction totally. I’m 3 years into therapy for the trauma even tho I’ve been sober for over 4 years. We are a similar age and also having no children, it can be really tough as its just another reason not to take stock of responsibility. If it weren’t for my little dog I don’t know where I’d be but she is my reason for always staying on top of things when it gets too hard. Not that I’ll ever drink again, but you know those hard days when your resolve is weakened, and you just need something to remind you to keep going. Like you, I always blacked out and preloaded on spirits before I went out. Isn’t it amazing to have a clear head now, to be able to remember everything you do and say, and like you said, just being able to drive places and not obsess over the bloody drink all the time. You are an inspiration. Keep up the great work. I totally get you Lee.

  5. Mari135 6 years ago

    What a beautifully raw and authentic sober story…!
    Thanks heaps for sharing this, it’s inspiring and motivating.

    You go girl!

  6. JM 6 years ago

    Hi Lee! Thank-you for sharing your story, what bravery and resilience you’ve shown to triumph over addiction! I’m so glad you have your life back. I too don’t like hanging out w drinkers, smart of you to avoid those people. Congratulations on a mighty achievement!

  7. reena 6 years ago

    What a triumph over death, @Lee, thank you so much for sharing with us @LS. Even though our drinking patterns are different it really is all the same, drinking is a death culture and will lead everyone if they drink enough towards doing things that are dangerous and risky. Thank you for being so brave.

  8. jo14 6 years ago

    Thank you for the honesty in sharing your story. One of the best thing being sober is being present in our daily life. It does get easier and those sober days do add up. Life gets better.

  9. Seizetheday 6 years ago

    Thank you so much Lee for sharing a bit of your story. I love the honesty in it, and am so proud of you coming this far after being so close to alcohol taking your life.
    I’m sure you will keep on growing and doors will continue to open. Xo

  10. 68notout 6 years ago

    Thank you for being open & honest Lee & to Mrs D for taking time to ask the questions & share your story. I am on day 424 & still in shock with myself for how far I have come. My life changed, like you, because drinking was all I thought about. If I wasn’t drinking I was working out when I could get my next one. Now it’s a coffee shop for lunch out – it used to be the pub. I used to think when could I start for the day, won’ t do that coz it takes up drinking time etc. etc.
    Realised today that I had actually started drinking 45+ years ago. OMG what a waste of money.

  11. Anonymous 6 years ago

    Thank you for sharing Lee….I found your comment regarding being emotionally hungover the day after you watched someone drink. That’s totally articulates how I feel as well .. thank you . Day 18 of many attempts.

  12. freedom1025 6 years ago

    Wow! Your story is incredibly powerful. I am blown away by your strength and perseverance.

  13. Joni 6 years ago

    Thank you, Lee! I come here every day to read inspiring stories like yours. People like you give me hope. I am still in the early days of sobriety @ 34 days and appreciate all the advice I can get. I did confide in my doctor also my husband (who already knew of course) and a couple of friends. Also LS is a wonderful and safe place to come. God bless Mrs. D. Thank you again for sharing!

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