International model Alison Canavan, who was catapulted onto the catwalk when she was just 15, is celebrating 18 months of sobriety.

Alison’s story of recovery is about her stepping back into the real world while knowing that she is only ever a small step away from addiction.

Her sobriety has been tested in the past few weeks. Her five-year-old son, James, was in a near-drowning accident on holidays, and their luggage was stolen on the way to a Spanish airport.

She told Brendan O’Connor on RTÉ radio yesterday that drinking was her way of escaping from the real world because it terrified her.

Alison, 37, knew she had an issue with alcohol and had tried quitting many times. She would succeed for days, weeks and even months at a time but she would eventually go out and, as she put it, “get wasted again.”

There were periods of her life when drinking became out of control. Family and friends begged her to give up alcohol. She attended AA meetings but was in denial and would start drinking again. “Now I really feel and hope that I am sober for good but during those times I always had something to look forward to – a wedding, a weekend away or a modelling trip in the Caribbean. And I thought: great; I can drink then.”

Alison, now a much sought-after motivational speaker, became tearful recalling the years of endless blackouts. “I am not emotional because I am upset, I am emotional because I am relieved that I have left that behind,” she pointed out.

Bar the odd glass of wine; she managed to stop drinking during her pregnancy, but five months after the birth of her son she went out on another “bender”.

Alison said alcohol gave her a happy release from the anxiety and depression she had suffered from a young age, But she would be the one carried home nightclubs and the next day was always horrible.

“I have lost relationships; I have lost work; I have lost a lot through alcohol,” she said.

Now life is good. Alison wakes up every day knowing that she can do anything she wants because alcohol is not dragging her down.

“It is a beautiful, beautiful feeling.”


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