From the high life to rock bottom Lisa’s battle to fight crippling addiction
The wife of Todd Greenberg, one of Australia’s best known sport bosses, almost died when drinking took over her life.
Now she wants to be a cautionary tale about its dangers.
“It is such a strong disease that I could see nothing beyond the next drink. Because I was nothing without it,” Lisa told 60 Minutes.
“Someone saying you can’t drink anymore, I’d rather chop my legs off. Who says that?”
But for the last four-and-a-half years Lisa has been winning the battle against a disease that almost destroyed her.
And she is not alone in that struggle. Lisa is part of the biggest growing group of problem drinkers.
One in five women aged 45 to 60 is now drinking at dangerous levels, more than any other age group.
For Lisa, it was a life of lies.
“Lying to my family. Looking them in the eye, ‘Please don’t have another drink’, ‘I won’t’,” she said.
“But you know, I really did mean it. I’d wake up in the morning and say ‘I won’t drink today’. And I meant it with every single ounce of my energy.
“And by midday I was in the car driving to a bottle shop.”
For Lisa, 53, things changed in 2016, when husband Todd landed the NRL’s top job, and she shut down her personal training business to support him.
“Something I loved was empowering women through fitness and I’d stopped that as well,” she said.
“So couple that with Todd’s big job, kids not needing me, me stopping 20 years of being a fitness devotee … and what was probably already diminishing got amplified.
“And as the self-esteem went down the drinking went up to try and combat that and it was a disaster.”
Todd said the situation moved from “okay” to “not okay” very quickly.
“One thing I learnt is that Lisa’s very good at hiding those things in full-blown addiction. So you know there were a lot of things I didn’t see, happily,” he said.
“But the thing that stood out was Lisa wasn’t Lisa. She was a completely different person.”
Christmas 2017 turned out to be a turning point, when Lisa said her drinking problem became apparent to her extended family.
But rock bottom came when Todd and their two children walked out on her, demanding she get help.
“I think they saved my life,” Lisa said.
“It was a hard call. Todd didn’t know if he’d see me alive again.”
And it worked. Lisa signed into a rehabilitation facility, and after a month, her family came home.
She now shares her story in the hope of inspiring others in trouble to make a change for the better.
“I never demonise alcohol, ever. If you can drink, great,” Lisa said.
“And the women that call me and say ‘I think I’m losing control’, and ‘what do I do?’. I just say, well why don’t you have a break?
“See how you go. And if you feel like you are white-knuckling and you need it to get through life, then maybe there’s a problem. And if there’s a problem, there’s an incredible sober community out there. And you’re not alone.”