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From the age of 16, Lerato drank alcohol and lived a reckless life that became a hindrance to her studies. She eventually dropped out in the 10th grade.
“I became an unruly child who went drinking at night with friends. I dated different guys that I met at the taverns where I drank and sometimes slept at their places. I always lied to my parents about my whereabouts. I could not balance my studies and my wild lifestyle with alcohol, as a result, I was condoned in grade nine up to the next grade, but that became even more difficult and I eventually dropped out.”
Tired of her drinking and not coming home until late, Lerato’s parents chased her out of their house.
“I was not remorseful about my actions. Alcohol was the center of my life. Instead, I saw it as an opportunity to live my life freely without being controlled by my parents. I moved in with one of my boyfriends and I became pregnant six months later. My mother forgave me and allowed me to move back home.” After giving birth Lerato didn’t change and continued drinking and going to parties. “My mother invited me to The Universal Church but I wasn’t committed and I later had two other children with different men. Only last year, I realized I needed to commit my life to God and ask Him to change my character.
I attended the meetings and asked God to help me overcome my addiction. I stopped going out at night and I became a responsible mother to my three children. I was able to stop drinking and dating different men after six months in the church. I set aside time to develop my spiritual life because I do not want to lose my newly found life that is filled with peace and joy.
When someone is struggling with alcohol, it may not be visible to them, but it’s obvious to those who are around them. They might be in denial and don’t feel they have a problem with alcohol. However, it’s based on the symptoms they experience.
According to Mayo Clinic, alcohol use disorder can be mild, moderate or severe bases on the symptoms they experience for example:
• Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink
• Wanting to cut down on how much you drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so
• Spending a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol or recovering from alcohol use
• Feeling a strong craving or urge to drink alcohol
• Failing to fulfill major obligations at work, school or home due to repeated alcohol use
• Continuing to drink alcohol even though you know it’s causing physical, social or interpersonal problems
• Giving up or reducing social and work activities and hobbies
• Using alcohol in situations where it’s not safe, such as when driving or swimming
• Developing a tolerance to alcohol so you need more to feel its effect or you have a reduced effect from the same amount
• Experiencing withdrawal symptoms — such as nausea, sweating and shaking — when you don’t drink, or drinking to avoid these symptoms
Consider speaking to a professional, or attend a self-help group. At The Universal Church, there are several meetings a person can attend and seek a one-on-one consultation.