'Denial is the real tragedy': Three alcoholics on the moment they realised they had a problem

"The real tragedy of alcoholism is you're the only person that doesn't know you've got it."

We all know someone whose affection for the bottle is damaging - but they're often far from the alcoholic stereotype we all imagine.

Groundbreaking Lifestyle YOU documentary My Name is... And I'm an Alcoholic tells the frank stories of eight people recovering from their relationships with alcohol.

From their first drink and subsequent love affair with booze, to their despair as they hit rock bottom and got sober, here are just some of the stories from the documentary.

Rachael, 31, professional cellist

"When I was 17 I had some kind of break up with a man and I drank a brandy and it took the edge off, and I thought, 'Hello, that's it.'

I was playing in professional orchestras, but I was doing it drunk. I'd be thinking, 'In the next bar's rest I will lean down and there's a bottle of water with vodka in it and I will have a sip then, and I'll just need to get through to then'.

I did spend a lot of time in public toilets of supermarkets putting own brand supermarket vodka into water bottles and I'd see myself and think, 'How did this happen?'

I couldn't live with how I was drinking, but I couldn't live without the alcohol either.

People would go, 'You've got an illness'. No I haven't I just drink too much. I'll get some willpower from somewhere.

That's what the denial does. That's the real tragedy of alcoholism - you're the only person that doesn't know you've got it."

David, 52, former editor of UK newspaper The Sun

"I was a loner, I had a chip on my shoulder which I can see now was not entirely healthy. I wanted to be successful, I wanted to prove people wrong.

It was a it was a huge feeling of ambition inside me that propelled me. I was a newspaper editor in my mid 30s, so looking back it all happened quite quickly.

The first day when I was editor of The Sun, I was so nervous. I couldn't sit and not shake. So I would drink to bolster my confidence.

I worshipped alcohol. It made me feel powerful, it made me feel as if anything was possible. I was given the job being a national newspaper editor, where I had all the tools to be an active alcoholic and not get caught.

It was a dream for an alcoholic. I had a chauffeur driven car, most of my drinking was on expenses. I could go anywhere in the world without accountability.

"My first day in recovery, I said, 'I'm in the wrong place. I shouldn't be here. Do you know who I am?' and he said, 'Yes, you're an alcoholic'. I burst into tears, that was the moment I reached acceptance."

Liz, 38, GP

"I've never been a big drinker. I've been a GP for nine years. I was seeing lots of patients and when I would get home at night my mind would be whirling from all the things that I'd heard.

It was like commentary in my head, 'Was that the right decision to make? Did I say the right thing?' It was listening to the sheer weight of human problems over a period of time.

I drank to manage stress. The alcohol made me feel numb. It turned the little voice off in my head. It became a means to an end, to relax and to sleep really.

I think my family and friends knew but I didn't want to share what was going on with them because I felt embarrassed and I also thought I could sort it out myself.

Rock bottom for me was my husband having second thoughts about whether to continue the relationship. I love him dearly and I didn't realise the effect that it was having on him.

When I decided to ask for help it was almost like a weight had been lifted. There was this tremendous sense of relief."

As much a story of the struggle as it is one of hope, this sensitive and resonant film takes us straight into the heart of one of society’s most prevalent and misunderstood addictions.

Watch My Name is... And I'm an Alcoholic on Lifestyle YOU, Sunday May 21 at 9.30pm.

Find more information on support services at DrinkWise.

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