A woman who said she used to "live for the weekend" has opened up about how addiction almost robbed her of her life.
Zoe Hesketh, from Dovecot, said it took her years to realise she had a problem after saying she would work through the week, but drink heavily on the weekends.
The 29-year-old said alcohol "gripped" her and made her "warped by addiction" after she first started going out when she was 17.
The mum of two has bravely shared her story in the hope of helping others, warning that "it's not normal to binge drink and take drugs" on the weekend.
Zoe said she began drinking while she was in dance college, training to be a professional dancer.
She said: "When I was introduced to that style of lifestyle while I was in dance college, it came hand in hand. We were out nearly every other night, whether that's mad Wednesdays, or student Thursdays, and it was £1 a drink."
"My career started slipping through my fingers. From the age of 17 I was dying with a hangover in college, but partying on the weekend and it progressed over time."
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Zoe went on to work as a nursery practitioner, but said she still continued to drink heavily on the weekends.
She said: "From a young age drink and drugs were a massive part of my life. I've always worked throughout all my life, but on a weekend it was always party time and going out.
"As the years went by it progressed and progressed. I was a binge drinker but I thought that's just what everybody was doing in Liverpool on the weekend - that's how I was justifying my drinking.
"I could put the drink down but I would become like an actor. I'd go back to work and behind closed doors you didn't know how broken I was. I used to make out my life was perfect. Everyone around me was so shocked when I came out and said I'm in recovery.
"I didn’t realise why I couldn’t stop when I had that first drink which led on to taking other substances.
"My mental health was completely shocking, I was just crippled with alcoholism and I didn't know what was wrong with me. I didn't know why when I put one drink in me I couldn't stop."
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In May 2019, Zoe said she reached rock bottom and said she feared losing either her children or her life. She said: "My children were always well looked after, but I wasn't present for them. The drink was more powerful for me."
She said "everything was stripped away" from her and she began the recovery process.
She said: "People are made to think it's okay to have a drink and have a line of cocaine, but that isn't normal just because everyone is doing it. You need to break that mould and I believe that's what I've done and I want to spread that message of hope onto others.
"If you need to have a drink, if the obsession for that drink is more powerful than anything in your life, then you've got a problem. If you need to drink or take drugs, you've got a problem.
"It's a progressive illness and I want to break that mould for young people who are starting off, drinking and thinking it's okay to take drugs on the weekend.
"Fast forward 10 years and you'll be in my position where it will either kill you, or you'll be crawling into recovery like I did."
If you are suffering from problems with alcohol, there are many helplines which may be able to support you.
Talk to FRANK
You can ring FRANK anytime and speak to a friendly adviser who's professionally trained to give you straight up, unbiased information about drugs and alcohol.
It’s totally confidential – we won't ask for your name or repeat your conversation with others.
Freephone: 0300 123 6600
Offers advice and information for people worried about their own drinking, and support to the family and friends of people who are drinking.
Helpline: 0300 123 1110
Zoe is now passionate about helping other people and has opened up her own recovery studio and fitness centre.
She is now a personal trainer and said: "What better way to give back to people by helping them physically and mentally".
She said she wants to let other people in recovery know they are "not alone" and said that even though we're in a pandemic, help is available for those who need it.
She said: "Recovery has given me a life beyond my wildest dreams and I want people to know they don’t need to suffer in silence. It’s okay not to be okay and that there is a world out there in recovery to get you out of the darkness.
"You're not alone. Addiction and alcoholism wants you isolated, it wants you dead and that's the only place it will take you to. But recovery is a different life - one I wasn't aware of.
"In recovery we get well one day at a time. We do together what we couldn't do alone."