Amanda Davis' battle with DUI's, alcoholism and recovery - CBS46 News

Amanda Davis: In her own words

Amanda Davis: In her own words (SOURCE: WGCL) Amanda Davis: In her own words (SOURCE: WGCL)

Former Atlanta television anchor Amanda Davis says it's been a rough road to recovery, but she prays she stays on course.

A DUI crash nearly four years ago ended her 35 year career in news. She's never talked about the DUI or the circumstances surrounding it until now.

Now a CBS46 contributor, Davis is sharing her story of redemption in hopes of helping others. 

Amanda Davis: In Her Own Words

In treatment, they say anyone who drinks can get a DUI. Two DUI's should raise a red flag.

Three, well you've got a problem.

I got my first DUI after a holiday party in the 90's. The DUI crash was in 2012. The third DUI was in the early morning hours of June 15, 2015. After that, I voluntarily checked into a residential treatment facility.

Trouble started simmering in my life about six years ago.

I remember waking up one day and realizing I just wasn't happy. My heart was broken after a failed 8-year relationship that included an engagement called off by my fiancé.

My self-esteem suffered a major blow. So did my award winning career.

For the first time I began to feel my days were numbered at work. I knew how the industry operated: Women don't get to age on TV. They're replaced by younger, prettier ones. More and more, I felt like a fake on TV, pretending to have it all together when nothing could be further from the truth.

I'm an introvert. Shy, grew up an only child. So isolation came easy. And when you're alone, unhappiness is amplified. And that's when you just want the pain to go away.  That's where drinking came into the picture. I always thought of myself as a social drinker. On weekends, special occasions. Never at home, alone.  

A few friends expressed concern about my drinking when I did drink, but I brushed it off.  After all, to me, an alcoholic was someone on the street who drank every day, sun up to sun down. They needed it. I didn't. Or so I thought.

"Denial had a major grip on me. I thought an alcoholic was someone who woke up reaching for a drink, and ended the day passed out drunk... That wasn't me. I just didn't know how to stop when I did drink."

I was doing just enough to get by at work, playing a role in public. Privately, I kept drowning in my own self-pity. I felt sorry for myself. I lost sight of how truly blessed I was and how much I had going for myself. My life was spiraling out of control. And then it happened.

The worst day of my life: I hit rock bottom.

I went to a comedy show that November Saturday night with three girlfriends. When it was over around 10:30, they all had someone to go home to - I didn't. So I stopped to get something to eat and a drink. 

On my way home, I had a head on crash.  As my car spun out of control, I remember being terrified, yet relieved. My secret would be out. Someone would hear my cry for help.

That sense of relief was short-lived. Being handcuffed and arrested, brought on a flood of realizations, not the least of which that my life was about to change forever. I thought I was in pain before, but nothing compared to what followed in the months after the accident.

Yes, God saved me but I still kept drinking.

That crash was the worst time in my life. I was heartbroken, sad and alone. My career was in jeopardy. I didn't know what to do.

I hurt. I wanted, no I needed, to escape! 

Depression is a mental illness. It means something is wrong with me — and there's the stigma.

November 12, 2012 - A day I'll never forget. The day I hit rock bottom. My car didn't just spin out of control, my life went right along with it. I got out of jail, went home, pulled the covers over my head and cried… for two months.

My Mom came from Texas to take care of me. I didn't want to see or talk to anyone. Guilt, shame, embarrassment all consumed me. I was referred to a psychiatrist.

I was diagnosed as "clinically depressed".

Once again, relief rushed over me. I could be treated and eventually, actually feel better. I found a light in that dark tunnel. But it was soon washed away, replaced by more anxiety. I couldn't let work know about this. And the public, forget it. Depression is a mental illness. It means something is wrong with me. And there's the stigma. I've got to keep this quiet.

So the pain continued and so did my drinking. But, because it wasn't everyday, because I didn't get drunk every time, because I didn't crave alcohol, no one could tell me I had a drinking problem. As far as I was concerned I just had a low tolerance. So with my drinking in check, so I thought, I answered a pull on my heart to go back to church.

I grew up in the church but let a relationship pull me away.

I also felt there were people more worthy of God's help than me. Plus, I was ashamed to go to Him now that I had made a mess of my life.
With my faith renewed, regular therapy and medication for depression, I made it through retiring from FOX5 after 26 years, and a court case for the DUI crash. I was acquitted. I found new purpose, support and love.

Things were looking up. I thanked God! It was a few months after that, CBS46 came calling.

Early in the morning, the day I was to make my debut on CBS46, June 15, 2015, I got another DUI. As soon as the blue lights came on behind me, it clicked. I've got a problem. I said it and I knew I had to get help. But first, I would have to face the public again, and there was no one to blame but me.

One of the first things you learn in treatment: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

I found comfort in being with others who knew my struggle, the pain I felt and caused because they lived it too. I learned an alcoholic cannot control their drinking. There is a distinct physical desire and mental obsession with alcohol. It is a chronic disease, with a genetic and mental component.

In other words, it's not my fault. Guilt is so much a part of being an alcoholic.

The best explanation that brought it home for me, simply put: there's a pleasure center in your brain that alcohol feeds. The switch is always on because the alcoholic's off switch is broken. Alcoholics don't know when to say when.

Millions have found support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous helpful in maintaining sobriety. It doesn't cost you anything.

The goal is to help you stay sober and then have you help others. Also in treatment, I learned I had a dual diagnosis: depression and alcoholism. Many alcoholics also suffer with mental illness. Drinking is often a symptom of a bigger problem. I was lucky - in treatment I got to root of my depression.

That heartache, once I confronted it, I felt liberated.

I'm here by the grace of God!  I'm responsible for everything that's happened to me. I offer no excuses. This is what I know:  God takes care of me, family and friends love me, and I got some much needed help.  I hope sharing my journey will help someone else.

I feel whole again, ready to see what life has in store for me next.  I'm here to say I fell down, hard, but I got back up. And that's the key, I've learned no matter what, nothing is insurmountable.  And I'll be OK. 

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