Zoe is an alcoholic – but she neither needs nor wants to drink. She is an alcoholic in recovery – a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

She has another illness too – chronic osteoporosis, which has left her with fractures in her spine and hips.

“I spent 38 years actively drinking, and most of them alcoholically, before I put the bottle down,” she said.

“I hid my drinking well until the last 20 years. I justified it by saying: ‘I work hard and I play hard’.

“Little did I know that the first drink I had would be the only one I wanted – the rest I needed”.

Zoe had a good upbringing – hard working parents with ambition and responsibilities.

”I did well at school but although I had friends, I always felt different. Almost like I was on the outside, looking in”.

Zoe had her first drink when she was 14, and didn’t know how she got home.

“The fear inside me was overwhelming, and I was to live with that fear for another 38 years. I married young and by the age of 21 I was a Mum and a wife. I was so in love with my husband and baby son, I thought I could live like Doris Day for ever”.

Within four years, she’d left her husband and put her young son in the care of her parents. Zoe retired on medical grounds because of her osteoporosis. She moved to the North of Scotland to be nearer her parents, but her drinking got worse.

She remembers her last drink very clearly. “My head was about to explode, my heart was jumping out of my chest. I was so alone and so frightened. I didn’t want to live or die. I was full of fear and paranoia.

“I begged ‘Please help me, I can’t stop drinking’. Something changed, and I stopped drinking”

Zoe is now a committed member of AA, and attends meetings where fellow members help each other.

“My life is now one million times better. I am so grateful for what is not in my life today. I do not allow my pain or my mobility problems to stand in my way”, said Zoe.

If you think you may have a drinking problem, please phone AA in the strictest confidence 0800 917 7650. Calls are free, from mobiles or landlines. You can also visit the AA website www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk.