WHEN mother-of-three Dawn Fee started to drink again after her second attempt to quit, she thought there was only one way it could end.
“I knew if I went back to it I’d be dead,” she said.
In the grip of addiction, the 34-year-old from Muirhouse was knocking back a bottle of vodka a day, and disappearing all weekend as her parents looked after her daughters.
Having already returned to drinking after two attempts to detox she knew she was near the end of the road.
But fortunately for Ms Fee, help was at hand from the Lothians and Edinburgh Abstinence Programme (LEAP).
The scheme, funded by NHS Lothian and run with help from organisations including the city council, provides intensive support during a three-month detox period and beyond.
Yesterday, sober and happy, she became the 250th person to graduate from the scheme since it began in 2007.
Ms Fee said: “I started drinking after I gave birth to my second daughter. Before that I didn’t drink at all, but I did use recreational drugs.”
After giving birth to her second daughter, now aged eight, she found the drugs were making her increasingly paranoid, so she stopped using them – but found a new crutch in drink.
“Alcohol was my confidence in a bottle,” she said. “It made me able to face the world.”
She was a “top-up drinker”, drinking all day to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay.
In 2009 she was admitted to the Ritson Clinic at the Royal Edinburgh hospital for a ten-day supervised detox programme, but relapsed after five months. She moved in with her parents and tried another detox at their home, and managed to stay clean until last summer.
But even while she was sober things weren’t right. “My emotions were totally flattened. My head was a mess, I was consciously having to tell myself I should be giving my daughter a cuddle because that’s what a mum does,” she said.
Her own mother, fearing Ms Fee was self-destructing, managed to get her a referral to LEAP. At the beginning of this year she moved into a staffed hostel and began three months of all-day sessions at LEAP.
She said: “It was group therapy, one-to-one therapy, opening up. It’s not easy, but everyone’s in the same boat, you’re all a support for each other.”
Now she is heading back to her family, but continues to go to mutual aid meetings. LEAP’s aftercare service also provides social activities which provide an alternative to drinking.
She said: “I’ve learned a lot. It feels amazing, I feel proud. I’ve got a future ahead of me now.”