'I had a business, a nice house, a lovely family. Oh, and a bottle of wine every night.'

I started drinking the same way most people do. As a teenager at a family event sneaking sips or at the park in high school. I didn’t grow up with daily drinking being normal but it was always part of celebrations and parties. Being drunk looked like so much fun – of course I wanted to do it. I didn’t drink too much in high school but by the time I got to uni and got a fake ID and things really kicked off.

Uni for me was one long party and binge drinking was the norm. Hey, it wasn’t a good night if you didn’t remember going home or someone didn’t vomit. Back then our only worry was who could make it to McDonald’s in the morning for the greasy food to feed our shocking hangovers.

Then, I moved swiftly into the entertainment industry, which again was one long party. Never drinking every day – that would mean you had a problem! But lots of big parties and drinking on weekends. I lived in New York on and off for 10 years, bars were open till 4am and we never started work until 10am. I had a fantastic time, and never once thought I might have been brewing a bad habit.

When I moved back home the partying had started to take its toll and I was looking for a quieter life. I was definitely partying less but I never ever thought about giving up drinking entirely. Why would I? I love it, its fun, and apart from the hangover, what are the risks? It never ever occurred to me there could be long-term risks.

Sally Doran on Insight, speaking about her experiences.


I met a wonderful man – there was lots of tequila involved that night – got married and had our first little boy. Surely I’d slow down now that I was a wife and mother, not a party girl anymore? But the severe sleep deprivation and learning how to become a mother really took its toll on me, and soon the nightly wine started. I had an awesome mothers group – we all loved to drink, having play dates with wine all the time. Loads and loads of fun! I still never had any inkling that my drinking was risky or could become a problem. Everyone was doing it.

Baby number two, another blue-eyed boy, arrived and I thought I’d have this parenting gig down pat. But he didn’t sleep either and had some health issues, and somewhere along the line I developed postnatal depression, with wine my choice of medication. I can’t tell you exactly when a couple of glasses a few times a week turned into a bottle a day, but it did.

For a while I saw no problem with it – I was a mum, I was tired and stressed. Kids, work, no sleep – most mums have been there. My end of the day wine was my reward. I deserved it and I couldn’t get a break away from the kids, so I had my break with them. A glass while cooking dinner, a glass with dinner, then a couple after the kids were in bed.

Listen: How do you talk to your teens about boozing responsibly? Jackie Lunn shares how she navigates the tricky topic. (Post continues after audio.)

Somewhere along the line the drinking didn’t seem fun anymore. I didn’t feel great mentally or physically. Don’t get me wrong, no one had any idea. My husband and I run a successful business, live in a nice house, our kids go to private school and we go on nice holidays.


But I knew it was time to make some changes. I found the online community Hello Sunday Morning and met so many people just like me – wondering how we ended up with a problem with the booze.

After a particularly boozy birthday lunch I just decided enough was enough. Got myself to my GP and asked for help, started reading and educating myself on the risks, really connecting with other people on Hello Sunday Morning. I was shocked at just how hard it was – I never saw myself as having a problem.

Today, it’s seven weeks since I had my last drink. I don’t know if I’m giving up just for now or forever. But I do know right now I feel pretty happy and the stress that I thought I needed the wine to help manage really isn’t as bad. So maybe life is better without it.

This is such an important conversation to have. The face of problem drinking isn’t a homeless person drinking out of a paper bag – it’s more than likely the mum next to you at school drop off. The more open we are about this, the more people we might be able to help.

Sally is a guest on tonight's episode of Insight at 8:30pm on SBS, which explores why women over 40 are drinking more.