'My computer made me an alcoholic’
Tuesday 19 October 2010
When angela thomson was made redundant six years ago she started to use online chat rooms for a bit of fun.
But as she retreated deeper into the virtual world she became hooked and within two months was spending 16 hours a day chatting over her webcam to new online “friends.”
To keep up with their party lifestyle, Angela began drinking cider and, shockingly, within a few months she was addicted to booze.
“Chatting online with a drink was a lovely escape. But within months I couldn’t function without alcohol,” says Angela, 34, who’d lost her job in an electrical factory.
“Before I lost my job I had a fiancé and good friends at work,” recalls Angela, from Motherwell, Scotland.
“Suddenly I was on £45 a week benefits and could barely afford to visit my fiancé Joseph 15 miles away. I felt worthless. But everyone in the chat rooms was so nice and I found it easy to talk to strangers. It gave me a buzz.”
Psychologist Dr Susan Marchant-Haycox says: “When people have any traumatic life event, like losing a job, they need friends and coping strategies. Without either, they are more vulnerable. You could have the predisposition to become alcoholic, but it just takes something to trigger it off.”
The first time Angela – who previously only drank a few lagers at weekends with friends – had a drink while online was in an Australian chat room.
“It was 7:45am, but the evening over there. They were all drinking and asked why I wasn’t,” says Angela. “I said it was too early, but they called me boring. I felt left out and went to buy some cider.”
Shy Angela admits alcohol gave her confidence, but by 2pm she was so drunk she’d passed out in front of her webcam.
“If I’d done that in public, I’d have been mortified,” Angela admits. “But they were on the other side of the world.
“It was just like going to the pub,” she says.
“People were aged from 18 to 40. Everyone was chatty and I made 10 close friends. We’d log on at the same time and when those with jobs got home, the party really started. I drank cheap cider as it was all I could afford.
“Joseph begged me to cut down on my drinking, but I refused.”
Within two months Angela was online for 16 hours a day, guzzling a shocking six litres of cider a day. Her alcohol intake was 189 units a week – 13.5 times over the recommended limit for a woman. She often vomited after binges and within two years she lost over 1.5st, going from 8st to 6st 6lbs.
Then, in November 2006, her period was late. Angela ignored it but a few weeks later the death of one of her chat room friends, due to excessive alcohol consumption, shocked her out of her complacency.
“I was used to seeing people pass out, but now someone had died,” she says.
It was the wake-up call Angela needed. She took a test and found she was pregnant.
“I’d assumed I’d never conceive because of all the booze,” she says. “Joseph was thrilled, but I feared the baby would be disabled. I had to stop drinking.”
Ironically, Angela turned to chat rooms that support recovering alcoholics and her GP referred her to a counsellor. After four weeks, she’d stopped drinking.
Angela’s son William was born five weeks early by emergency Caesarean in June 2007, weighing just over 3lbs.
Angela was overcome with guilt when told his premature birth was due to her drinking.
She split from Joseph last year after they grew apart and doesn’t have time for chat rooms now. “Everything revolves around my son,” she says. “I’m a normal mum and we play football in the park.
“Drinking has aged me 10 years, but I want to warn people that the internet is as addictive as the alcohol I became dependent upon.”
By Philippa Cherryson
Posted by sugar sweet
RE: 'My computer made me an alcoholic’
is there no regulators of these sites that may be aware that the users are encouraging each other to be alcoholics and drinking on their webcams?
Posted 19/10/2010 12:58:37
Posted by Bridezilla
RE: 'My computer made me an alcoholic’
Good on her for sorting her life out and not just sitting moaning about it! My ex was an alcoholic and despite his drunken abuse I was sympathetic for years, dragging him to doctors, counciling etc, eventually I realised he was making no effort at all and I should just give up and leave him to it, best thing I ever did.
Posted 04/12/2010 02:10:14