4th August 2020   •   profile
An alcohol addict in recovery appeals: 'We need to educate the Asian community'

Image: Sonia Randev
Sonia Randev was 23 years when her life spiralled out of control.

After a close relationship ended she sought comfort in alcohol. Only by reaching for the bottle could she temporarily numb the pain inflicted by her reality. It was like a friend she had entrusted to solve her troubles but one that became a deceitful and formidable foe.

As her eyes opened in the morning, the fresh feeling of sobriety wouldn’t promise good health but remind her of the problems she faced.

“At the height of my addiction I drank from 7am until whenever. I didn’t care about my health or my looks. I often didn’t bathe, brush my hair or clean my teeth,” she tells me.

“My family tried to help by allowing me to drink at home but it only made things worse. After a while they got tired of me not wanting to change.”

Worse, during her greatest moment of need, her community betrayed her.

“They were whispering and gossiping about me and my family. They judged me without knowing or trying to understand the reason behind my drinking. Someone actually sent letters through my door asking my family to move home because I was bringing shame on them.”

How did the situation change?

She says that in 2012 she attempted to take her own life but two friends and their families saved her. “It was then that I was signed off from work and decided to go sober.”

That lasted three years, until her mum became seriously ill. “The pressure was too much. I went down the slippery slope and started having black outs.”

But she was determined.

“In 2018 I started going on tv and radio to share my story which got a really big response in a positive way. It felt good letting it out.

“It’s been a long battle and I still struggle now but controlling it is key. If I feel like going mad on the drink, or if I’m sad or annoyed I go for a run or walk and I make sure to workout every day.”

“I have never been to counselling; I’ve done it with sheer will and determination. I worked hard whilst battling my demons to get where I am and I can now say I’m very proud of the woman I’ve become.”

Now as a public speaker, Sonia shares her journey with others and also runs a support forum where people struggling with addiction can come to talk about their problems and share tips on how to overcome them.

She is still angry about how she was treated by other people.

“People need to speak up and we need to continue to educate the Asian community. Addiction is a disease. You can be sober for years but unfortunately you will always be regarded as an addict in many people’s eyes.”

What advice do you have for people struggling with addiction?

“Face up to it and seek help (advice link). It won’t go away quietly,” she says.

Sonia Sophia Randev now works as a freelance sports reporter and an award-winning sports agent, working with boxers in their pursuit for sporting success.
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Anish Parekh is a freelance journalist and writer.
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