Alcohol addiction is a complex chronic disease that can affect any person from any background. For Cairns woman Samantha Hoult – who began drinking from the age of 14 – alcohol had become a burden that was having a devastating impact on her physical, emotional and mental health.
From the age of 18, Samantha characterised herself as a full-blown alcoholic who was only able to handle the issues in her life, her emotions, and her relationships with a drink in her hand.
“It got to a point where I was drinking from the minute I woke up. Otherwise I would get the delirium tremens [severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms],” she said. “It affected every aspect of my life.”
Samantha dropped out of university, went bankrupt, and lost multiple jobs, her driver’s licence, and relationships with partners, friends and family members.
“It’s so important to educate young people about the dangers of alcohol addiction, so that they don’t go through what I did.” ~ Samantha Hoult
After a particularly heavy weekend when she was aged 27, Samantha felt unwell and visited a doctor. The next day, she was rushed to the emergency department with liver failure.
Samantha describes that moment as her “rock bottom”. But every cloud has a silver lining, because this lowest of lows was a turning point, and since then, Samantha has never looked back. Now, 19 years after she took her first drink, Samantha, 33, is clean and sober, and has been for five years and two months.
“It was incredibly difficult,” she said. “I had to learn to do everything again sober. Even sleeping, eating, socialising, dating – I’d never done anything sober.”
Samantha started seeing a psychologist and took up exercise, joined the State Emergency Service and went back to university to finish her nursing degree, becoming a high distinction student. Her mum says she feels like she finally has her daughter back after all these years.
Samantha knows how important it is to educate young people about the dangers of alcohol and how quickly it can become an addiction. She says she didn’t have the tools to break the vicious cycle at the time and she doesn’t want other young people to have to experience what she went through.
Samantha’s journey is what led her to support Life Education’s Ocsober campaign last year, raising as much money as she could to fund vital drug and alcohol education that has the ability to stop the next generation of Aussie kids from making detrimental life choices.
“Now that I have broken away from alcohol addiction and am living a happy, healthy life, I feel very motivated to help and inspire young people,” Samantha says.
“I hope that by sharing my story, it may help another young person who has also experienced alcohol and drug addiction to know that they can turn their life around, as well as encourage other young people to think about the choices they make. You only get one life and it’s precious.”
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