Addiction: a trail of chaos & broken relationships
I don’t remember my first drink but I remember my last as I was driven terrified and anxious to begin treatment at Phoenix. It felt like my life was ending there and then, although in truth I scarcely had a life anymore just a trail of chaos and broken relationships. I’d tried everything I could to manage my drinking but each time I thought I had it beaten it came roaring back at me.
It was a corporate health check that really brought me to my senses when the full scale of the damage I was doing to my body was revealed. The Board gave me an ultimatum – go into treatment or get out. It was HR that introduced me to Phoenix and, less than a week later, I was in a car heading from the airport to begin treatment.
Gambling addiction: the grim reality
I grew up in a very strict household, where gambling was totally frowned upon, which is perhaps why it seemed so exciting when I first started betting and visiting casinos. For me, gambling started out as something glamorous – dressing up for a day at the races or an evening at the casino – and being able to shrug off losses whilst lavishly celebrating successes was all a part of the game.
It wasn’t even about the money, because it didn’t seem to matter if I won or lost, the real thrill was in taking part, in placing the bet, the anticipation of the race or the spin of the wheel. I laugh now when I look back at that person because I’m looking back over the wreckage of two failed relationships and three failed businesses.
Drug addiction: coming to my senses
Coke had been a part of my life for so long that, looking back, what happened to me seems almost inevitable. Everyone I knew did it. It was a part of every social occasion, every dinner party, every night out. And life was good. Or it felt so at the time. But then the fun went out of it, my health began to suffer, work began to dry up, I stopped going out, stopped seeing people. Basically I stopped living. I didn’t realise at the time but I was so close to losing everything.
It took a family intervention before I finally came to my senses and realised I needed to do something, but the thought of going into rehab terrified me, the idea of sitting in a group of strangers and talking about my deepest fears and feelings was just something I couldn’t imagine doing.
On-line gambling: a parent's story
The first I knew of my daughter’s addiction was the day that the police came round and it was revealed that she had been using stolen credit cards to fund an on-line gambling habit that ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Our initial reaction was one of heartbreak and shock. She had never been in trouble before and had wanted for nothing. She had moved back home after the break-up of her marriage and received a healthy monthly allowance from both her husband and us.
Thankfully, we were able to pay back her debts and, in agreement with the courts, help her into a treatment programme in Spain where she was able to address her addiction.
Prescription Drugs: my shameful secret
I remember my overwhelming feeling being one of shame. How had I allowed myself to get into this situation? This was quickly followed by anger at myself and then a sense of blind fear and panic at what would happen if this got out? My reputation would be trashed. I’d thought I’d managed to cover my tracks but my behaviour was becoming increasingly erratic and I’d already lost several lucrative jobs.
In the end it was my agent who sat me down and put it to me bluntly: get help now, before it’s too late. But the last thing I could afford to do was be seen publicly to be checking into treatment. Privacy was so important to me and I didn’t want to be just another ‘celebrity goes into rehab’ story.
Love addiction: a new beginning
Before I entered treatment at Phoenix my life was a complete mess. Since my late teens I’d stumbled from one hopeless relationship to another, always clinging desperately to the idea of love even when I knew relationships were toxic and making me unhappy.
Above all I was embarrassed by my apparent inability to hold down a relationship. In all other aspects of my life I was an unqualified success, with a fantastic career doing something I loved, but I just couldn’t seem to avoid piling into one disastrous relationship after another, then feeling distraught and worthless when they ground to an inevitable end.
Anorexia: a parent's nightmare
There is no worse feeling as a parent than seeing your child suffering and being unable to do anything about it. Our daughter had always been a happy child, smart, done well at school, popular with loads of friends and always playing sport. However, once she went away to university in France things started to change. She became increasingly moody and also became a really fussy eater. She also became pre-occupied with how she looked and continually complained of looking fat or being over-weight.
When she came home at the end of the first semester we were shocked at how thin she looked, although put this down to her university lifestyle and she assured us there was nothing to worry about. If only we had known then.
Sex addiction: facing up to the facts
What does a sex addict look like? That was a question I asked myself many times as I faced up to the fact that many of the problems in my life were due to my dysfunctional and inappropriate use of sexual relationships. The one thing I knew was that I was desperately unhappy with my life. I was working hard and, publicly, a success but away from work I was risking everything on meaningless, squalid sexual encounters.
I longed for a meaningful relationship, but every relationship I had ended up in disaster and I just plunged myself into a world of sex, alcohol and drugs to try and escape. One day, waking up hungover and disgusted in a strange bed with yet another stranger I decided enough was enough.
Alcohol addiction: a professional's perspective
I have worked with many alcoholics and addicts during my career although there is one client who I will always remember; she had everything life could offer – fame, good looks, fantastic wealth – although she seemed hell-bent on destroying herself completely through alcohol.
I lost count of the number of times I saw her, pale, sweating, shivering…and absolutely adamant that this was it, that she was going to stop for good this time. But ‘this time’ never seemed to come and although she appeared to bounce back, the toll alcohol was taking on her physically, mentally and emotionally was becoming a real cause for concern.
Bulimia: ten years of suffering
My history with eating disorders began nearly ten years ago, in my teens. I had always been smaller than my classmates — shorter, skinnier, and petite. However, as my body began to develop I was gaining inches and pounds all over my new body and found these changes hard to deal with.
I started by restricting my food intake. I’d try to skip breakfast and barely eat lunch, often hiding food. Of course, by the time I got home I was absolutely starving and so would binge on whatever food, usually junk, I could lay my hands on. This pattern continued for years – half starving myself then binging – although I covered it up well.
Drug Addiction: when the party ends
For me, it felt like life had been one big party since I was sixteen. Coming from a wealthy family I’d never had to worry about anything, everything in my life was taken care of and – so it seemed – I had a fantastic future mapped out for me. So what went wrong? Why did I find myself in my mid-twenties in a hospital bed de-toxing from the drugs and alcohol which had very nearly killed me?
Over the course of the next three months I gradually found the answer to this question through the Phoenix Programme, as I was forced to admit, honestly and openly, to my problem and then take a long, hard look at the underlying reasons.
Executive Burnout: the story of a 'workaholic'
Workaholic’ was something my family and friends had always called me and, to be honest, it was a label I wore almost with pride. My career was everything to me. Coming from a fairly humble background I was determined to succeed from a very early age and seemed to excel in the corporate world, earning promotion after promotion until I was running a substantial business, responsible for millions of dollars and thousands of staff.
I first started to realise something was wrong during a routine medical check-up when my doctor commented on my blood pressure and said that I was well on the way to Type 2 Diabetes. He started asking questions.
Prescription Drugs: a partner's story
Finding out the true extent of my husband’s problem with prescription painkillers, when he broke down in tears and confessed everything, was one of the worst days of my life. It felt like a massive kick to the stomach and, crazily, I remember thinking “why can’t he have just had an affair, that would be easier to deal with!”
Addiction, certainly to drugs, was something that happened to other people, to other families. Not to my handsome, successful husband. But looking at him, as he sobbed uncontrollably in front of me, I realised just how devastatingly real the problem was.
Executive Burnout: the story of a high achiever
Being a female high achiever in the corporate world is challenging enough, but being a female high achiever in the banking industry is harder still and I relished my position as a senior executive at a large investment bank.
I’d taken time off to have two children and was proud of the fact I was back at the helm swiftly after each birth, seemingly juggling the demands of being a mum and a busy executive with ease. But what I didn’t see at the time was that I was actually working harder, being ever more demanding of myself than many of my male colleagues. I felt that I couldn’t show any glimpse of weakness or vulnerability and so pushed myself to the limits.