Alcoholism comes with a lot of shame but the way to address it is to strip the shame off and bare it all.

Lotta Dann doesn't hide anymore. She openly admits she was a "working alcoholic" for 24 years of her life.

Now, sober for six-and-a-half years, the mother-of-three wants everyone who is struggling to know that, if she can kick her addiction, so can they.

The journalist, married to TV broadcaster Corin Dann, says her work and social environments made it easier for drinking to become a regular occurrence.

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"The main thing that I think contributed to my drinking is the booze-soaked society I live in, where alcohol is normalised and glorified and used liberally at every turn," she told the Herald.

Mother-of-three Lotta Dann celebrates every milestone and says, while she has kicked her addition, she keeps her addictive personality in check. Photo / Supplied
Mother-of-three Lotta Dann celebrates every milestone and says, while she has kicked her addition, she keeps her addictive personality in check. Photo / Supplied

She says she has lived her life in a "boozers' playground" so drinking didn't even carry much of a judgment, as everyone else around her was doing it too.

That's not all, though. "I also know now that I am feel emotions very keenly [mine and others] and that is hard to deal with a lot of the time, especially when the going gets tough.

"Alcohol was the perfect solution to the challenge of 'being human' because it blurred the edges constantly."

Alcohol was once a part of Lotta's daily life so it was a struggle to find a new focus, away from the liquid in the glass. Photo / Supplied
Alcohol was once a part of Lotta's daily life so it was a struggle to find a new focus, away from the liquid in the glass. Photo / Supplied

Dann knew she had to quit when she found herself hiding empty bottles so her husband wouldn't know how much she was drinking. She'd hide an empty bottle she'd just downed and would then drink a glass from a new bottle so as to not raise any suspicions. She knew the games needed to end, for herself, and for her family.

Alcohol was the perfect solution to the challenge of 'being human' because it blurred the edges constantly.

But quitting, even if for herself, meant having to learn to live with herself. And that, she says, was the hardest part, "to sit in the silence, to feel all of my feelings, to never escape or numb anything ever. And this is ongoing".

"Living sober means facing up to all of life's events, and life sucks sometimes," she says.

It's an ongoing effort she is happy to make, but that doesn't make it any easier, in day-to-day situations.

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"Social events were hard at first. I'd feel like I was wearing a gorilla suit and everyone was staring at me for not drinking. I wouldn't know what to do with my hands and felt incredibly out of place. But with practice it got much easier. I realised no one gives a toss if I'm drinking or not.

"I was also amazed to discover that not everyone boozes heavily either! There are a lot of moderate drinkers out there - who knew?! Nowdays I have a great time at parties and weddings. I just focus on all the elements of the party that make it special, rather than what liquid is in my glass."

Lotta says she is a lot more 'present' for her family, including her three kids. Photo / Supplied
Lotta says she is a lot more 'present' for her family, including her three kids. Photo / Supplied

Now 46, Dann says that from about the age of 15 she drank every day.

One aspect that shows just how normalised heavy alcohol drinking is in society is the fact that, through all those years, no one really noticed Dann was drinking too much. Her addiction was seen through the rose-tinted glasses of an "obsessive dedication", and those spectacles very much fitted her lifestyle.

Dann wasn't having a couple of glasses a day. She was having a bottle and a half, at least, and spending about $200 a week just on alcohol alone.

Her boys, aged 13, 11 and eight, grew up with a "functioning alcoholic" mum and didn't know any different.

When asked what they think of sober "mum" now, the answers are sobering themselves: "The youngest doesn't remember anything different and the older two think I was more 'slack' when I was drinking, but I suspect they just think that because they find me strict now."

Dann says they are proud of mum for her books and the media coverage but, in general, they're not that interested, which, she says, "is the way it should be".

"I just know that I have hugely changed the trajectory of their lives by quitting booze. Things could have been very sad and tricky for them if I'd continued down the path I was on," she adds.

Over the past 6-and-a-half years, Dann has been, in a way, writing herself sober.

From the moment she decided she had to quit - back to that dark time in her kitchen, hiding away empty bottles - she knew she'd only succeed if she put it all out in the open, no more hidden bottles.

Writing helped Lotta Dann keep her alcohol addiction at bay. Photo / Supplied
Writing helped Lotta Dann keep her alcohol addiction at bay. Photo / Supplied

She began writing in her blog, Mrs D Is Going Without, which quickly grew into a big online community. Since then, she's written two books on her journey to sobriety, including the bestseller named after her blog, which came out in 2014.

Last year, she published her second memoir, Mrs D Is Going Within, where she opened up about the real struggles of quitting alcohol, much beyond just putting down the drink.

She also heads Living Sober, a website funded by the NZ Drug Foundation and dedicated to helping people kick alcohol addiction.