A woman from north Belfast is on a mission to help others after battling the alcoholism that led to her admission to rehab.
Sian McClean has now been sober for 15 months and has started a full-time class at Belfast Met at the Titanic Quarter, which is very proud of herself and her family circle.
Ardoyne’s mother-of-two developed a drinking problem a few years ago, which she says was getting worse.
It wasn’t until she hit rock bottom that she asked for help.
Speaking to Belfast Live, Sian, 30, said: “I started drinking at a young age – around 14 or 15, then I got pregnant when I was 16. I was very young and I was out of school after my GCSEs I rebelled before the children.
âI was off the rails and gave my mom a hard time. I had my boys back then. I always spent one night a week with friends, I was a social drinker and then I think it was about two years ago, would have had a drink on a Friday and wouldn’t stop until Sunday.
“I would have stopped drinking for a few weeks, then the same pattern, but it got worse. Looking back, I never could handle my drink. I never remember most of my nights because I fell. I always swore I would never do it again – but I did.
âMy mom and family would take the kids and I would drink for days. During the week I was fine, but the weekend came. When the lockdown hit my boys went to my family and I was drinking a day and day and to be honest I would have been drinking everyday if I had had the money.
âThere were times I would wake up with bruises on my face because I would have fallen. There was one occasion when I fell down a full staircase. My family was really worried about me because of the measure in which I drank, I would drink red wine from the bottle.
“I was going into the scheme of hiding the alcohol and going around and getting half a bottle of vodka. An hour later I was doing the round for another.
âFalling down the stairs scared me. I don’t know how I didn’t die. I contacted Paul McCusker and told him I needed help. .
“Paul has done so much for the community and is fantastic at his job. I knew he would have had an alternative and he did.”
Councilor McCusker gave Sian the number of Sister Consilio in Newry and got him an AA sponsor. From there, Sian contacted Community Addictions and was attending sessions with the group. She then entered rehab on June 22 for three months.
Cuan Mhuire is Ireland’s largest voluntary provider of drug treatment and residential rehabilitation services.
Their main objective is the rehabilitation of people suffering from addictions to alcohol, drugs and gambling. Their program is based on the “philosophy of total abstinence and strives to restore confidence, self-respect and the sense of responsibility of all participants “.
Sian said, âIt was the hardest thing I have ever done, leaving my two boys behind.
âOnce I got in you were put into a structured routine. I couldn’t figure it out at first. It was fantastic honestly. I had never done counseling before or taken any medication. When I spoke up. from my problems there a lot of people bonded with me and i bonded with them, i didn’t feel lonely anymore.
âI used to hold everything back and now I feel like when I have a bad day I can talk about it. I can’t hold back my tears anymore. So many people were shocked when they heard that I went in. rehab because they I didn’t expect it, I always have a brave face.
âWhen I went to rehab, don’t get me wrong, it was tough but it was the best thing in my life. About four to five weeks later I was talking to my mom on the phone and she said: “Sian, I can hear the change in you through your voice ‘because she knew.
âI thought I could control the drink, but on going to rehab I learned that it actually controlled me because I didn’t know when to stop. They said excessive alcohol consumption was there. “one of the worst forms of alcohol use and it’s something I didn’t know. I was in rehab for 12 weeks and there were days I wanted to go.
âYou can take it off and obviously people do, which I found hard to watch. Every time I thought I wanted to come home, I just thought of my kids, my two boys. finished and I arrived on September 11, 2020 Seeing the kids was so touching, they saw their mom slide down the bottom of the pit.
“The guilt, I don’t think it will ever leave me.”
Sian says she still has a craving for alcohol, which isn’t as strong anymore, but it’s there.
When she feels like a drink, she calls her mom. She says it takes 10 minutes, sometimes longer.
She added: âMy life is so different now. I thought during the treatment that it was my fault, I shouldn’t have been drinking. I knew I was not well and had to stop drinking. ‘move away to help me I had to think I used alcohol as a crutch and in rehab I felt like I had lost my best friend.
“I’m proud of myself but I feel really guilty. I should never have let it go this far. But I’m so glad I found my bottom because that’s what made me realize that I “needed help. I’m wrong, every day is a battle, you don’t get out of rehab for free. Hard work begins when you come home.”
“Everywhere you go, there’s alcohol. It’s tough, but I’m getting there. It’s my new beginning.”
Sian speaks in the hope that it can help other people who are in a position similar to the one she was.
The mum-of-two recently joined Belfast Met to study level 2 beauty therapy, which is another milestone on her courageous journey.
âI applied for the course in April and just waited and waited. In the end I was scared because of my age. I didn’t think I would have the place, but they got me. contacted and told me I had an internship.
âWe started last week and it’s a two-year, three-day-a-week full-time course. It’s another thing that got ticked off my list. I was so upset because even going to Tech, I thought I would be the oldest in the class. I wondered if it was too late to start over. When I walked in, everyone was very welcoming.
âAnyone reading this finds it difficult, I just want to say ‘you can do it.’ I did it and I’ll never look back. It was a fight, and still is, but you can. really do it and I cannot thank enough my family, my friends, Paul McCusker, my godfather and Sr Consilio for the support they have shown me.
“The help is there, you just have to reach out. The bottom is not a pleasant place. Alcoholism is not sufficiently sensitized because it is normalized and it is a very difficult addiction to overcome.
âThere’s light at the end of the tunnel. I’m always here to talk to anyone if they want to talk. I now know that I don’t need alcohol to have a good life.
âI went to my first weekend festival, Planet Love. I went with my family and friends and stayed sober and it was one of the best days I have ever had. you really don’t need alcohol to have a good time. “
For more information on Sr. Consilio, please visit their website here.