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Giving the gift of sobriety

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Monty Hamill has received $22,000 to buy his dream gift — sobriety.

The 44-year-old has been battling alcoholism for most of his life.

Friends and family stepped up with the cash for his rehabilitation only hours after his brother Kirkland requested help.

Treating Monty's alcoholism had become a matter of life or death, according to another brother, Robin.

“Alcoholism is a progressive disease,” he said. “Monty has been hospitalised half-a-dozen times with pancreatitis, triggered by the alcoholism. Our family is living with a death sentence over Monty.”

His brother had struggled with alcoholism since he was a teenager, Robin said. The disease runs on both sides of their family.

“You feel powerless watching a family member go through this terrible disease. If most people were told they had cancer they would run to get treatment. With alcoholism, a lot of people don't do it like that. It leads to blame and guilt, which feeds the habit.”

Kirkland turned to social media to appeal for $10,000 on August 12. He'd paid for three weeks of Monty's treatment at High Watch Recovery Centre in Connecticut, but it wasn't enough.

“As many of you know, my younger brother, Monty, entered alcohol rehab for the second time this past week,” he wrote on the crowdfunding website youcaring. “He was close to death when I saw him. He was hardly able to walk; he had stopped eating and he talked openly of ending his life.

“The counsellors at the centre said that somebody with his degree of illness needed 100 days for his brain chemistry to change and for him to fully take to his programme. He so wants to get better, but his disease is advanced, and without enough time for treatment he is facing an uphill battle.” Robin said he believed the high cost of rehabilitation was likely a deterrent to many alcoholics.

“Insurance pays for some of it, but I'm not sure how much,” he said.

He was staggered when the youcaring page raised double the amount needed.

He said: “I thought we might reach our target. I was blown away when we raised $10,000 in just four hours and $20,000 by the end of the day.

“Many of the donations were from friends in Bermuda Monty hadn't seen for years. He lives in Florida at the moment.

“The extra money might be used as a seed fund to help him get back on his feet after rehabilitation.”

For a while, Monty's 12-year-old son Crawford had been the encouragement he needed to get better, Robin said.

“Crawford is a real ray of sunshine in Monty's life. We thought his son would be the opportunity for him to get better. It worked for a little while, but didn't hold. Monty lost his driver's licence at least three times because of driving-under-the-influence charges. That meant in Florida he couldn't work.

“That led to economic issues in the house, which led to more stress and more consumption and self-medicating.”

His brother reached rock bottom a month ago.

“He was suicidal,” said Robin. “He called a friend who had successfully been through rehab and asked for her help. He said to her ‘I want what you have'. She helped him to find a place at High Watch, the same place that helped her.” Monty checked into rehab on August 2, his 44th birthday. It's his second attempt to get sober.

“We talked about how this opportunity could be the greatest birthday present he could receive,” said Robin.

“This was a whole new life for him. He has taken it on. There is a work-day programme he can qualify for, that will waive some of his tuition. In the meantime, Kirkland started the crowdfunding page.”

His relationship with Monty hadn't always been easy, Robin said. “When he is sober, he is incredibly generous; he would give you the shirt off his back. But as a close family member of someone with this disease, the only way you can protect your own feelings is to love unconditionally — and withdraw a bit and give him space.

“He probably interpreted that as we didn't love him. We have continued to love him through the whole thing. He needed to come to the conclusion that he needed help.

“My family would like to express our incredible gratitude to the people who stepped up to help Monty.”

• See www.youcaring.com/monty-hamill-411123.

Inspiring advice: Monty Hamill and a friend who has inspired him to quit drinking. His brother Kirkland raised $20,000 for Monty's rehabilitation in four hours on crowdfunding website youcaring. (Photograph supplied)
Robin Hamill and his brother Kirkland have raised $22,000 through a crowdfunding site to help their brother Monty quit drinking (File photograph)

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Published August 19, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated August 19, 2015 at 10:59 am)

Giving the gift of sobriety

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