Sunday 25 August 2019

'Bad, dark things happened' - Model Alison Canavan praised for honesty about alcohol abuse on Cutting Edge

Alison Canavan on Cutting Edge
Alison Canavan on Cutting Edge
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Alison Canavan has been praised by viewers for opening up about her struggle with alcohol in Cutting Edge.

The model, author, and health and wellness coach spoke about being an alcoholic when she was younger and the impact it had on her mental health.

Welcoming the proposed alcohol bill, which aims to regulate alcohol advertising and make it less visible in shops, Alison spoke about Ireland's relationship with booze and her own decision to quit.

The 39-year-old mum of one described herself as a "heavy" drinker although she says she "was an alcoholic" but does not consider herself to be one any more.

Brenda Power, Brendan O'Connor, Brian Kennedy, and Alison Canavan on Cutting Edge, RTE
Brenda Power, Brendan O'Connor, Brian Kennedy, and Alison Canavan on Cutting Edge, RTE

"When I went out [I couldn't stop drinking]," she said.  "I was a heavy drinker for 20 years.  I started drinking at 15 and realised it gave me a personality, it gave me a voice."

She added, "We're kind of brainwashed into thinking we need alcohol in social situations and to have any kind of personality at all.  The whole thought of giving up alcohol to me when I knew it was a problem was, do I have a personality?  Party Ali was a real identity, especially abroad.  It was a badge of honour, 'Canavan is Irish, she can drink us under the table'."

Alison said she never connected her alcohol abuse to the depression and anxiety she was suffering and the medication she was taking for those illnesses.

"Nobody ever connected those dots for me," she said.  "No doctor I ever went to see said, 'How much are you drinking?' while they were writing prescriptions for anti-depressants, anti-anxiety.  If you suffer from depression and anxiety and you are drinking heavily you are making it worse.  Period.  End of story.  Why are we not having this conversation?"

When it came to giving up alcohol, Alison revealed there were "millions of points" which were her lowest points but she ultimately stopped three years ago after a frightening incident.

She went out drinking and did not remember getting home.  She woke up fully clothed at home (her mother was minding her son James for the night) and she waited for somebody to text her to tell her where she had been.  A friend texted and asked her where she went so she knew she had not been with that friend all night.

"I got a message from a stranger on Facebook saying he found me outside a nightclub and brought me home," she revealed.  "How he got my address out of me, how I got home, I still to this day go, 'phew'."

Also appearing on the panel with host Brendan O'Connor were Brenda Power and singer Brian Kennedy.  Kennedy reminded Alison of a conversation they had had one night when she was drunk.

"You just said to me, quite drunkenly, 'Do you think I drink too much?'  You were kind of crying."

Alison said it is important to talk about incidents like this.  She also revealed that when she gave up alcohol and talked about her experiences she received "hundreds and hundreds and hundreds" of emails from people who had issues with alcohol.

She also revealed how her honestly about being sober impacted on her career.

"Be careful giving up drinking in Ireland because you're going to be lonely fo ra long period of time.  My phone never rang," she said.

"The Monday morning after I was on the Late Late Show a large majority of my clients cancelled my work.  You wake up Monday morning and they give you a variety of excuses, 'Oh, we're only having two speakers now not three speakers', 'We've decided not to go ahead with that campaign.'

She said she believes that there is a "huge stigma" about being sober.

Alison was praised by viewers for her honesty.


You can watch the full episode on RTE Player

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