Every morning, Heidi wakes up and takes a swig from a bottle of wine hidden inside her wardrobe to stop her hands from shaking.
The 32-year-old student administrator from Melbourne has been battling a secret alcohol addiction that sees her drink up to 20 standard drinks a night for the past five years, and even her friends, family and workplace don’t know about it.
‘I’m an alcoholic and I feel like I can’t tell anyone,’ Heidi said in the gripping new program, Addicted Australia, which premieres on SBS on Tuesday 10 November.
‘I think if I said to people that I drink in the morning and I drink at work and I drink when I get home, it wouldn’t make sense, because it doesn’t make sense.
‘There’s this idea that if you are addicted to whatever it is, you’re to be shamed so I don’t say anything.’
Scroll down for video
Student administrator Heidi (pictured), from Melbourne, has been battling a secret addiction to alcohol for the past five years
Heidi said she never had a problem with drinking until she was in her mid twenties, when her drinking spiralled from being something she just did at celebrations and parties into consuming alcohol every single day in secret.
‘I really want people to understand that alcoholics aren’t just someone holding a paper bag [filled with alcohol],’ Heidi said in the program.
‘This [my life] is also the reality.’
Heidi said her addiction is something she has kept secret from her friends, her family and her workplace.
She said she is ‘never sober’ and is often three times over the drink drive limit but still functioning, which is testament to her terrifying tolerance for alcohol.
Every morning, Heidi (pictured) wakes up and takes a swig from a bottle of wine hidden inside her wardrobe to stop her hands from shaking
Heidi knows she has a problem and so she is appearing on the TV show along with nine other addicts as they go through a six-month treatment program at Melbourne’s Turning Point centre.
‘I’m trying to stop something that… is getting really bad,’ she said. ‘It’s starting to take over my life.’
Speaking honestly about her addiction, Heidi said alcoholism often isn’t what you’d imagine.
‘People think you’ll be stumbling down the street and not able to speak properly, but for me drinking serves the opposite purpose,’ she said.
‘It gives me some sort of a life,’ she added. ‘If I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t know what to replace it with.’
Heidi (pictured) said alcoholics aren’t just people you see stumbling down the street; she often lives a regular life but is three times over the drink drive limit
During the program, Heidi (pictured) and the other addicts are put into rehab and forced to confront their addictions
During the program, Heidi and the other addicts are put into rehab and forced to confront their addictions, with varying degrees of success.
Addicted Australia lays bare the challenges faced by families and their loved ones who are searching for a different life.
Heidi goes to a rehab centre and has days without drinking for the first time in years.
‘It’s really confronting to be in a space where you need to ask for help.
‘But I need it and I’m so glad I’m getting it,’ she said.
Addicted Australia premieres Tuesday 10 November at 8.30pm on SBS. For more information, please click here.
For support for alcohol-related problems and addiction you can contact one of the many services available, speak to your GP, local health service or call a helpline. There are trained telephone counsellors available in every Australian state and territory.
Addiction and alcoholism in Australia
* Around one in 20 Australians struggle with a substance use problem or addiction each year, but only one in four seek help.
* If you drink a lot of alcohol, you might become dependent on it to make you feel good. Your drinking behaviour could be harmful and a form of substance abuse.
* You or someone you know might be drinking too much if they:
– have a strong urge to drink
– cannot control how much they drink
– feel physical effects like nausea, sweating, shakiness and anxiety if they stop after a period of heavy drinking
– need to drink more over time to get the same good feeling
– drink while alone, or hide alcohol from members of the household
– struggle with work, education or relationships for no obvious reason
– lie about how much they drink
– drink early in the day or are anxious about when they will be able to drink
– forget what they said or did while they were drinking
* If you drink too much alcohol, you are at increased risk of illnesses such as heart and liver disease, cancer, diabetes and damage to the brain.
* It can also have a bad effect on those around you as it is a key player in car accidents, family violence and crime.
* The most important starting point for treatment is to talk to your doctor about how to control your alcohol consumption.
Source: Health Direct