From King's Lynn to Nevada: a successful author and sobriety coach will be appearing on ITV's Lorraine
A successful author and sobriety coach who lived and studied from the age of 16 in Lynn, will be appearing on ITV's Lorraine on Tuesday.
Veronica Valli has written Soberful: Uncover a Sustainable, Fulfilling Life Free of Alcohol which is available to buy on Amazon and in UK book shops.
Speaking to Veronica on my own five year anniversary of being alcohol free seemed all the more meaningful, as she talked about her journey to becoming sober for 22 years.
Moving from Thetford to Lynn at the age of 16 to go to college, Veronica, found herself getting into problems with substance abuse.
Now, aged 49, she tells her story from how she has gone from rock bottom to a successful sober life.
She said: "Between the ages of 16 to 18 I believed I was having a great time, living the life before I hit rock bottom from taking LSD, barely passed my A-levels and felt completely alone and suicidal.
"I didn't know how to put into words how I felt and although I stopped taking drugs, my drinking changed.
"I would drink before any kind of social situation and defaulted to alcohol to manage my feelings and how I felt.
"I went to a doctor who prescribed valium which started a prescription addiction and from the age of 18 to 27 I was trying to look for answers about what was wrong with me.
"I was referred to a mental health service but nothing was done about my drinking.
"I found a way to manage my drinking because I thought I needed alcohol and that I would find the thing that would fix me.
"It wasn't until the age of 27, when I met someone who was sober, that I thought sobriety was a 'thing'.
"I thought I would be this boring, grey nun, who would never go out and I would be like that for the rest of my life.
"But I accepted that, if it meant I would be free of alcohol which was causing anxiety, regret and being disconnected from myself.
"Who I showed to the world when I was drinking wasn't who I am, and I hated that was how I felt.
"I didn't like myself and there is no worse feeling in the world than not liking yourself.
"This would have been around the early 1990s when binge drinking, by role models such as Zoe Ball and Sara Cox, was accepted.
"My mission is to change this in British culture so that sobriety is accepted, like veganism is, I want being alcohol-free to be the same as that.
"Drinking alcohol is so entrenched in British culture and the blame that it is your fault if you can't manage it. I want to change that.
"When I met this sober person I went to a self-help group but didn't identify with anybody and just thought I'm going to be so boring, but if that's the deal I'll take it, I can't live with the anxiety, panic and self loathing.
"Now I am sober I am present in my life, laughing like I'd never laughed and I always wondered why was this never presented as an option?
"I feel I am restored to sanity and I am really glad that unlike when I needed help, there are lots more options, such as Club Soda, where this weekend in Brighton I will be giving a talk.
"It doesn't matter which recovery programme you pick as long as you consistently work on your spiritual and personal well being.
"The British belief is that the best way to have fun is to drink alcohol, 'just have one' and this situation will be more fun, if you add alcohol, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
"This system is reinforced by our peers and the media.
"I can't get rid of alcohol, that will never happen, and it has its place, but the message to people is to be clear it is not required for fun or enjoyment.
"The cost of alcohol, to 'just have one' is really clear, financially, physically and mentally.
"It can make things less enjoyable and most people who think that three of four glasses of wine a week is OK are raising the risk of breast cancer by 15 per cent.
"Alcohol shows internally before it shows externally and when, as a culture we default to alcohol to deal with our emotional life, we don't develop really important skills to deal with life, instead the drink hides and numbs those feelings.
"Drinking as a lifestyle choice can really age people and I noticed this when I visited Thetford and saw people I drank with 20 years ago and how it has affected them.
"There is a cost to drinking, time and money for example and the cost to your dignity, opportunities and relationships.
"The cost only gets ever increases over a lifetime.
"People may have a nice car, house and holidays but you sacrifice a lot for a relationship with alcohol, nobody talks about the price.
"I am about to turn 50 and a sober community and friends is really important.
"Sobriety is way more fun than drinking is, it brings you everything alcohol promises."
Veronica Valli will be appearing on Lorraine, ITV on Tuesday, July 12, and giving a talk at the Club Soda mindful drinking festival, Brighton this weekend.