Kiwi woman addicted to alcohol, pills and shopping shares amazing life transformation

Hargreaves before and after her amazing transformation.
Hargreaves before and after her amazing transformation. Photo credit: Renee Claire/ Facebook.

A Kiwi woman has made an amazing transformation, overcoming addiction to pills, alcohol and shopping to a being a life coach now helping others in similar positions.

Former Aucklander Renee Claire Hargreaves, 32, who now lives in Sydney, had a traumatic childhood. She experienced sexual abuse at the age of nine and was suicidal as a teenager. 

Hargreaves' addiction began in her teens, from a feeling of worthlessness. 

"I went through this constant battle of never being enough," she told Newshub. "I would spend a lot of money on random things and I would try to fill a void."

Despite being a high achiever, getting good jobs in sales and working in management positions in her early 20s, she never felt fulfilled.

"I was never happy in myself because I was always trying to fill this void of not being good enough."

She was known as "bright, bubbly Renee" in the office. But beneath her bright facade, she held a terrible secret. 

"In my early 20s, I found myself starting to drink a lot," she told Newshub, saying everyone might have thought she had her "shit together", but once work was over she'd start drinking and taking painkillers - one or two Panadeines along with her two bottles of wine.

"It would numb the pain inside, the emotional things I was going through."

She managed to hide her functioning alcoholism from friends and family for years. Her husband simply believed his wife was a lover of wine.

"He used to think I liked drinking wine, he didn't really think too much of it at the time, because I also didn't tell him. If he did see me popping stuff, I would say I have a sore neck or period pain. I'd use every excuse under the sun."

Hargreaves was also a shopaholic and would buy things on impulse, eventually accumulating a debt of NZ$41,000.

But everything changed when she met her husband and soon became pregnant. With the responsibility of her baby's life, she stopped drinking, but only for a while.

"My husband and my daughter became very close and so I had all my feelings of not being enough come back up again," she said. 

Once again, Hargreaves turned to alcohol and pills to fill the void. And after the arrival of her second child she discontinued alcohol but continued to pop pills.

"Throughout that pregnancy, the doctor said I could stay on the Panadeine Forte for my neck," she told Newshub. "I didn't take anywhere as much, but I really recognised how much I was trying to escape."

But a change came after Hargreaves began recognising her own behaviour in her four-year-old daughter.  

"She was seeking so much love from me, the way she was acting out, you could tell something wasn't right."

Hargreaves decided to seek help. 

"After seeing a psychologist I realised, maybe I do need to look at myself. Maybe it is me."

Hargreaves had reached a turning point in her life. By hiring a life coach and investing in herself, she bravely faced her fears and took responsibility. 

She told Newshub that was the scariest thing. 

"I had to really face that I wasn't playing the victim anymore."

With the help of her therapist, Hargreaves got to the root of the problem.

"I didn't feel good enough in any situation."

Through work on her "unconscious mind", Hargreaves and her therapist were able to discuss her past experiences - which she associated with negativity. 

Hargreaves said one night she called her therapist and told her she would stop drinking. She planned to go clean for three months. 

"It was the best thing I've ever done," she said. 

Since her decision to go clean, Hargreaves has become a life coach too. She lives a happier life with her family, helping those in situations she experienced. 

But for those who haven't met Hargreaves , the biggest piece of advice she aims to give is to speak up and reach out for help. 

"It is confronting, it is scary but once you get through the initial stage, the other side of it is so worth it."