A frank conversation with a trusted friend was the "psychic shift" that led Patrick Gower to give up booze for good, the Newshub journalist revealed in a new documentary that aired on Tuesday night.
That conversation with former reporting rival Corin Dann was shown in Patrick Gower: On Booze - the latest in a series of documentaries by Newshub's National Correspondent on New Zealand's relationship with drugs.
While in his previous work covering cannabis and meth (in On Weed and On P respectively) he's been able to maintain some journalistic distance, this time it got personal as he investigated his own problematic connection to alcohol.
In an attempt to understand his drinking problem he met with Dann, who in doing the same political reporter job at competitor TVNZ for years was familiar with the pressures Gower was under and the craving for a release after a long day.
"It's an incredibly demanding job… you've been busting your arse for 24 hours, and you go 'mate, should we just whip over to [Wellington pub] The Backbencher and have a beer?'" Dann, now a radio host at RNZ, recalls.
"Yeah, except it wouldn't be just one beer," Gower responds, with Dann agreeing it was more like "three, four or five - and suddenly you're dusty the next day".
"I look back at it now and think it's actually a bit f**ked," Gower says.
In the conversation, Dann reveals he and his fellow political reporters had talked about Gower's drinking, expressing their concern that the Newshub reporter was consuming too much.
"You weren't OK at that point, and that's why I was worried. And others in the [parliamentary press] gallery who were very fond of you were worried as well. We would talk to each other that we were worried about you.
"But we never talked to you about the booze or rang you up, and that's problematic."
Later in the exchange, Gower admits to Dann he's an alcoholic.
"I know I am; everything points to it. You can gloss around it and hide it and say I'm high-functioning and everything's gone well… I've managed to keep the wheels on the track my whole life."
Dann warns Gower he "can't see how it ends well" for him if he continues to drink alcohol at the same rate, but tells him it's hard to convince Gower to change when it's clear he isn't ready for it.
"Of course I want to give up, but being honest I just can't," Gower says. "I'm trying to stage an intervention on myself and I just can't do it, so what does that say?"
"I know there's consequences, but I can't link it [to my drinking]."
While Gower didn't see it at the time, he comes to recognise later in the documentary that he could kick his booze habit - and by the time filming concluded, had been sober for a month.
He credits the conversation with Dann as being the catalyst for change.
"I was on a bullet train to boozing… until bloody Corin got out in front of the blimmin' train," Gower tells his counsellor.
"Once he said it, my mind was saying to me 'Paddy, you have been told'. I ended up getting off my face straight after I talked to him, and I was actually hungover for a few days afterwards, so I wasn't drinking,
"But I couldn't stop thinking about what he said, so I just thought, 'You know what? I'm going to give this a go'. I've done a month [off alcohol] just like that - boom. It was easy."
Gower's counsellor warns him he's likely riding a 'pink cloud', meaning he's still in the honeymoon phase of sobriety - but says it's clear the conversation had led to "a psychic shift" that helped him to give it up in the first place.
And with the improvements he's seeing - 7kg of weight loss, better cognitive performance and a healthier lifestyle - Gower is optimistic for the future.
"This is about changing who I am and taking something out of my life that I don't actually need," he said. "I don't know for sure if I've had my last drink, but one thing I know is that I never, ever want to go back on the booze like I was."
Watch the full Patrick Gower: On Booze documentary on-demand at ThreeNow. And the conversation around booze continues when Gower hosts Newshub Talks Booze live at 8:30pm Wednesday on Three and ThreeNow.