‘I hated every minute of it, but AA saved my life and family’: Limerick woman opens up about her journey to recovery

four women looking down
Stock photo: Rosie Sun/Unsplash.

ANNE from Limerick City had her last drink on Mother’s Day 21 years ago and hasn’t touched a drop since.

“I got up from being in bed so sick I thought I would die, and went straight to an AA meeting. I hated every minute of it – but AA saved my life and my family,” confessed Anne, who spoke to the Limerick Post on condition that her real name not be used.

This weekend sees the annual national AA conference taking place in the Castletroy Park Hotel and Anne will be in the thick of it, helping to organise, distribute information, and anything else that is needed to help give back to the organisation that helped her when she needed it most.

On that that morning 21 years ago, Anne says it was a neighbour who forced her to take action.

“When I started drinking, I was okay, but soon it was every night. I had my cans and I was all lively and chat, but the next day I would just die,” she says.

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“I didn’t drink during the day because I was so sick from it and I always blamed the last couple of cans. By eight o’clock in the evening, I was off again.”

“I got up that morning after three days in bed with the curtains pulled. My husband was sick of it – my children were afraid I was actually going to die and then this neighbour came in and dragged me to the meeting.”

Anne says her neighbour brought her to AA meetings every morning and evening for three weeks.

“Secretly I hated the meetings, and I hated the people at them. I was brought up in a big family where you didn’t tell outsiders your business, and they wanted me to get up and talk about my life in front of strangers?

“My plan was to go until my husband and everyone was off my back and I could go back to drinking and, as I thought, ‘get it right’ this time and not overdo it.”

When Anne eventually went to a meeting on her own for the first time, she left the session and went to a quiet pub.

“I ordered a pint and paid for it. I hadn’t had a drink in three weeks,” she says.

“I looked at it sitting on the counter and went into the toilet where I went down on my knees and begged God to help me not drink it. I walked out of that pub and never had that or any drink since.”

Anne has a deep faith, but explains AA doesn’t involve or demand a religious belief.

“I don’t think I could have gone to any kind of rehab  – that just wouldn’t have worked for me. I kept going to AA. It wasn’t easy. Drink was my best friend every night but it was destroying me and my lovely family.

“The cravings, the longings – it was very hard but the people at AA were there every step and they knew exactly what I was going through and supported me.

“I still go to three and four meetings every week and I’m involved in anything AA ask me to do.”

Today, Anne has back a full life with her children, grandchildren, and a mountain of voluntary work in the community.

Looking back on a life that once was, she says: “Sometimes, on holiday in the sun or something, you see that long, ice-cold glass and you get a pang. But it lasts a second. What I have now lasts a lifetime and one glass would ruin all that for me”.

The Limerick Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous will take place across the weekend in the Castletroy Park Hotel with a number of open and closed meetings set to take place throughout the gathering.

For more information, visit alcoholicsanonymous.ie/event/limerick-area-convention-2024/.