Natalie Mason’s alcohol problem started with a few drinks at night to help her cope with anxiety.
But over 20 years it grew into an addiction that almost killed her.
Now, after getting professional help, the 41-year-old from Renishaw has overcome her problems, regained her health, and is looking forward to the birth of her first child.
“I have suffered with anxiety to varying degrees since I was 18 years old,” she said.
“I used alcohol as a crutch. I simply could not get through a night out without having quite a lot to drink, and at home I would drink every night to wind down.”
Natalie’s anxiety became unmanageable after her father died.
“I suffered a bad panic attack at home, and instead of taking anti-anxiety medication I had a glass of wine to calm me down,” she said.
“That soon became routine and it wasn’t long before I became addicted, drinking from morning till night.”
She went through five detox sessions between 2008 and 2010, but relapsed.
“Thinking that I had overcome my problem with alcohol, I went out and had four glasses of wine,” she said.
“The next day, I had the most awful hangover and instead of taking painkillers I went to the shop and bought a bottle of wine.”
Natalie was diagnosed with a fatty liver - but she kept drinking.
“I was being sick every morning, shaking until I’d had three or four drinks. Then my hair began to fall out.”
Natalie’s GP sent her to Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust NHS Foundation Trust, who referred her to Sheffield Alcohol Support Service’s rehabilitation unit on Priory Road.
By then her skin and the whites of her eyes had turned yellow, a sign her liver was seriously damaged.
“I was admitted to hospital with acute alcoholic hepatitis and my poor mother was told to ‘expect the worst’,” she said.
“Luckily, the medication I was given worked and I came through the crisis.
“Since completing treatment 16 months ago, my life has been transformed.
“My life is now rich – I have the love, support and respect of my friends and family.
“Best of all, I am pregnant and I am expecting my first baby in May. Life doesn’t get much better.”