Talking about it openly, putting what is a genuine illness into words, admitting your problem again and again … this is the mantra of Laurence Cottet, a former alcoholic and founder of the H3D association. Now aged 55, she hasn’t drunk alcohol for 8 years and every day battles with determination to take the drama out of alcoholism. Her aim is to help those affected talk about it and talk about their experience.
“In my working environment, I soon came up against alcohol. In fact, it was alcohol that helped me get on. And by the age of 35, I had become ill. I was what is known as a social drinker. It was when I lost my husband at the age of 35 that things went downhill. And at the age of 48, at my company’s New Year ceremony I collapsed and lost everything, except my life”.
For Laurence Cottet, this event became a kind of lifeline. “I’d reached rock bottom but that was what saved me because I didn’t have to conceal my illness any longer. We feel so ashamed of what is happening to us that we retreat into silence. I haven’t drunk alcohol now for 8 years and I decided to try to help others”. The message she delivers is a powerful and effective one. “Don’t be alone, talk about this illness. In my case, it took my fall before I found the right doctor to help me get out of this situation.”
Recovery through abstinence and reduced consumption
The fact that Laurence speaks out loud and clear about alcoholism is precisely because she wants to raise people’s awareness. Through her H3D association in the Rhône-Alpes Auvergne region, she promotes support groups for patients, relatives but also for health workers. “We remove the guilt and help health professionals find the right words to support the patients they care for. Since I created this association, many sufferers have been successful in recovering, either by avoiding alcohol altogether or by reducing their consumption”.
Laurence indeed believes that it can be helpful to offer an alternative to abstinence. “Stopping drinking altogether overnight can be very harsh. It makes people feel afraid and panic. Offering a staged approach of reduced consumption makes the situation less dramatic for the patient and helps health professionals address the subject more easily. It is a far more attractive proposition. And so much the better if some people can manage to reduce their consumption with the support of medicine and a health professional.”
The aim is to intervene as early as possible in order to identify the problem. Speaking openly about it with those close to you is the first step on the way to reducing consumption.
Finally, Laurence is keen to involve presidential candidates by asking them to take a stand on the creation of a national day against alcohol. The battle continues…