Liz Fraser on living with and loving an alcoholic

What do you do if the person you love turns out to hold the seeds to your own destruction? My guest this week has lived through it and discovered the answer to that question the hard way. Writer and broadcaster Liz Fraser was a divorced mother of three in her 40s when she met and fell in love with M. They moved in together, she became pregnant, and when they had a daughter they decided to move to Venice. So far, so idyllic. But M was an alcoholic and Liz’s life was about to descend into a hell we all think is reserved for other people.

In her astonishingly visceral memoir, Coming Clean, Liz writes about love, addiction, mental health and recovery with rage and clarity to create an unlookawayfromable story of - well, I want to say pain and healing - but I have to be honest and say it’s mainly pain. But she also writes about love. The love that brought them together. The love that kept them that way through unimaginable trauma. The love that, against all odds, still exists.

I want to thank Liz for her candour throughout this conversation. She talks with generosity and honesty about the urge to fix everything, her sense of failure and the consequences for her own mental health. Unsurprisingly it’s upsetting in places. But I know if you’ve ever been a situation remotely like this, you’ll find what Liz has to say immensely helpful. 

WARNING: this conversation includes discussion of alcoholism, addiction, emotional abuse, violence, mental health issues, self-harming, eating disorders, trauma and PTSD.

If you've been affected by any of the issues discussed in this podcast, these organisations may be able to help you.

AL-Anon -

Nacoa -

Refuge - helpline: 0808 2000 247,

Samaritans - helpline: 116123,

Shelter -

Women's Aid -

• You can buy all the books mentioned in this podcast at, including Coming Clean by Liz Fraser and the book that inspired this podcast, The Shift: how I lost and found myself after 40 - and you can too, by me!

The Shift (on life after 40) with Sam Baker is created and hosted by Sam Baker and edited by Emily Sandford. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate/review/follow as it really does help other people find us. And let me know what you think on twitter @sambaker or instagram @theothersambaker.

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