‘I was always drunk for the school pickup’: Alcoholic mother-of-three who drank through pregnancy and abused her family speaks about her journey to sobriety

  • Sarah Colwell, 50, is now 18 months sober after decades of alcoholism
  • The Cambridge charity worker admits to drinking while pregnant
  • She also abused her police officer husband and family
  • Finally kicked the habit after humiliating night out with family
  • She now says that her relationship with her family is better than any drug


Sarah Colwell, a 50-year-old charity worker from Cambridge and mother-of-three, is now 18 months sober after decades of alcoholism.

Her addiction to drink saw her physically abuse her loving police officer husband Paul, 58, and emotionally abuse her first daughter Maisie, 25. She even admits to drinking heavily throughout her first pregnancy, often getting through several bottles of wine a night.

In October 2013, the morning after yet another drunken and disastrous night out with her family, a humiliated Sarah vowed to get her life back on track and has now kicked her habit.

Today, Sarah says that the relationship with her family is better than any high she ever found through drinking and here, with startling honesty, she shares her story in a bid to help other addicts like her.


Sarah and Chris ended up getting divorced two years later, Sarah’s drinking playing a significant part in that break up. Then, a single mother, Sarah says things went downhill.

She says: ‘I started a relationship with an actor called Dave who also liked to drink to excess, which was the opposite of what I needed. I was working in pubs at night – drinking all the time – then I’d take Maisie to school in the mornings, and the moment I got back, just after 9am, I’d start drinking gallons of cheap cider again.

‘I estimate I was drinking well over 100 units a week during those dark days, often much more. I was almost always drunk when I turned up at school for the pick-up, and pretty sure I was drunk first thing in the morning from the night before. I’d turn up to parents’ evening drunk, but when you’re drinking that much – all day, every day – you almost drink yourself sober.

‘Of course I was often late for any pick-ups, drop-offs and meetings with teachers, and certainly wasn’t in a fit state for much, but somehow I managed to avoid getting reported to the social services.’

She says she remembers one evening taking Maisie to the pub with her as she couldn’t find any child care.

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