'Prison helped me kick booze for good!'
Wednesday 28 April 2010
Last year susan bruce was dubbed the face of binge-drinking Britain after she appeared in court for her 10th booze-related offence. Aged just 22, Susan was in the grip of a 49-unit-a-night alcohol addiction.
The mum of one, whose daughter was put up for adoption by social services, hit the headlines when she was jailed for removing her parole tag. But now, Susan insists she hasn’t touched a drop for six months – and is eager to prove she’s turned over a new leaf.
Susan, from Birmingham, says: “Losing my daughter hurt but it was only in prison that I realised I had to change. I’m determined to make something of my life. I’ve stopped drinking and when I’m reunited with my daughter one day she’ll be proud of me.”
Susan blames her heavy drinking on her troubled childhood. “Mum was an alcoholic and put me into care when I was eight,” she says. “Then when I was 14 I fell pregnant. I loved my daughter but I didn’t know how to look after her. Her dad disappeared and when she was a year old social workers took her off me. I felt like I’d lost everything and started drinking to feel better.”
By 17, Susan was drinking six half-pints of strong lager, 10 Aftershock shots and a 70cl bottle of vodka a night – adding up to 49 units of booze, almost 25 times the recommended daily amount for women. Amazingly, Susan says her heavy drinking didn’t affect her looks or health.
“I’d finish my drinks then start on other people’s,” she recalls.
Her boozing, which was funded by her bar job, landed her with 10 convictions for alcohol-related crimes, including being drunk and disorderly, petty theft and she pleaded guilty to stabbing a woman with a wine glass in a drunken rage.
In August 2009, Susan was jailed for three months, for defying a curfew that had been imposed on her after she fought with club bouncers and police.
She says: “I got so fed up that I cut off the parole tag and went drinking with my sister. But I got arrested and was jailed for breaking the tag and my curfew.”
Thankfully, prison proved a wake-up call.
“Talking to other mums there made me realise that although my daughter isn’t living with me, I’m still her mum and always will be,” she says. “I felt guilty. I realised I didn’t want to be like this.”
Her time inside helped her kick the booze, which she did by going cold turkey, and she also studied for computer qualifications. She kept motivated by focusing on making a better life for herself.
Susan, who is single, says: “I had a can of Stella the night I was released, but it tasted disgusting and I haven’t touched a drop since.” Susan is now living in a flat in Birmingham and hoping to study social work at college. However, she isn’t allowed to contact her daughter.
“If I can save one kid from a life like mine then it will have been worth it,” she says. “I’ve moved away from where I used to live and cut ties with all my old drinking friends to make a fresh start. Instead of drinking I spend my evenings visiting my family, watching telly or going on the internet. It sounds boring but I love just being normal.
“My daughter’s adopted now and I know I’ll never get her back but I hope when she’s old enough she’ll find me. I’d like to be an inspiration to her. I want her to know how low I got and how I pulled myself out of it to become a mum she could be proud of.”
By Phillipa Cherryson