A woman who drank every day from the age of 14 and could drink two bottles of whiskey at once has revealed the startling revelation that helped change her life.
Abi Feltham, 35, from Berkshire, started drinking cider with friends from high school as a teenager in an attempt to feel “normal”.
At the time, Abi says she was still dealing with the devastating loss of her father, who passed away when she was three.
However, his drinking habit only worsened when he embarked on a 10-year backpacking trip through Southeast Asia and North America.
During this time, Abi worked in bars to hide his addiction to alcohol, and says that he would start drinking from the moment he “woke up until he passed out at night”.
Pictured: Abi Feltham when she was struggling with her alcohol use. The 35-year-old man drank daily between the ages of 14 and 32.
Pictured: Abi has now been sober for the past three years after having a “realization moment” at her mother’s house during lockdown.
At his lowest point, Abi was regularly downing two 700ml bottles of whiskey and several beers a day.
When Covid hit in 2020, Abi returned from Canada to her mother’s house, and had a moment of clarity when she found herself removing six empty bottles of wine and beer that she had hidden on the side of her bed.
She explained: ‘I went back to live with my mother and continued to drink. I went on an almighty binge and when the binge came to an end I realized I was hiding bottles next to my bed.
‘This is something I did as a child to hide my drinking from my mother.
‘One day I was cleaning the bottles and I sat on the end of my bed and dropped 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 on when she started drinking, 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 was drinking and that made me feel normal.
Pictured: Abi when she was still traveling and struggling with her alcohol use. At her lowest point, she drank two bottles of whiskey and beers.
Abi worked in bars to hide her addiction to alcohol, and says she would start drinking from the time she “woke up until she passed out at night.”
‘At first it was always partying with friends. When I became an adult and moved to London, I found that I could drink on my own whenever I wanted.
“I was partying all the time, hanging out with friends or strangers.”
When she was 23, Amie went on a trip and says she “lived paycheck to paycheck.”
She said: ‘All I was interested in was drinking alcohol.
“I’ve been doing it for 10 years. I was working in bars where they encouraged me to drink in some cases.
“While traveling, I met my ex-boyfriend in Southeast Asia and I thought my depression was cured, I fell in love.”
The couple then moved to New York, but after their breakup, Abi decided to move to Canada.
In 2020, Abi’s drinking and new drug addiction led to her losing her job as a waitress, and she moved back to the UK to be with her family in lockdown.
In the photo: Abi with her new boyfriend Stefan and her beloved pet dog. The couple reunited after she stopped 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 intense and traumatic’
After her moment of clarity, Abi decided to go cold turkey and hasn’t had 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 very intense and traumatic.
‘After that, I had a huge drive to improve. Every day I felt stronger and saw things improve.’
Abi said of her new life in the UK: ”Now I have a really stable peaceful life. I have a boyfriend and we’ve been together for a year
Since quitting drinking, Abi now goes to therapy twice a week to make sure she keeps up with her recovery.
However, Abi says that it was definitely the right decision for her, and now she has found love with her new boyfriend Stefan, with whom she shares a dog.
She continued: ‘Now I 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 normal: everything in my life is very peaceful.
‘I started working massively on my mental health. I go to therapy twice a week.
How you can seek help if you have a problem 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, it will have been difficult for you to fully control your drinking in any way.
Therefore, you will probably need help to reduce and control your alcohol intake or stop drinking altogether, and also some plans to maintain the improvement after that.
Your GP can suggest different types of assessment and support options available to you, such as local community alcohol services.
You can also ask about free local support groups and other advice that can go well for you.
If you have become physically dependent and need to stop drinking completely, stopping overnight could be harmful.
You should get advice on this and any medication you may need to do it safely.
Useful contacts for alcohol problems
- Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. If you’re concerned about your own or someone else’s drinking, you can call this free helpline with confidence. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., weekends 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a free self-help group. His ’12 Step’ program 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 or not they continue to drink. Alateen is part of Al-Anon and can be attended by youth ages 12 to 17 who are affected by someone else’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 abuse.
- adfam is a national charity that works with families affected by drugs and alcohol. Adfam operates an online message board and local support groups.
- He National Association of Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa) provides a free and confidential helpline by phone and email for children of alcohol-dependent parents and others concerned about their well-being. Call 0800 358 3456 for the Nacoa Helpline.
- SMART recovery The groups help people decide if they have a problem, increase 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 help on the Carers Trust website.