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My vodka spree put me in a clinic...but now I have finally won my drink battle.

FORMER model Paula Hamilton collapsed after a marathon vodka-drinking binge and had to spend a month in a drying-out clinic.

Friends said Paula, 39, had been drinking more than a bottle a day since going to visit her brother John, who works in New Zealand's South Island.

Together they headed for Queenstown, a bungee jumping and white-water rafting centre, as well as as a jumping-off point for the skiing fields.

A bottle of vodka costs just pounds 2.25 and it was here at New Zealand's No.1 tourist spot that Paula really started drinking heavily.

A doctor called out after she collapsed in an alcoholic stupor immediately admitted her to The Deanery, a private clinic in Christchurch.

Now, after a month at the pounds 1,000-a-week clinic, Paula believes she has finally won her 15-year battle against the bottle and can stay sober.

"The Deanery was simply magic," said Paula. "In the past I've tried to stop with dignity but I invariably ended up falling off the wagon with no hope for the future. Now it's a different story.

''The clinic has developed a unique system of recovery, a million miles away from all the deep psychological nonsense you get back in Britain.

"You've got a problem, you want to sort it out. And at The Deanery they keep it light and simple.''

The Deanery , the former home of the Bishop of Christchurch, was converted into to a private detoxification clinic only in December last year.

It only has places for ten people at time with the emphasis on self-help and a friendly, supportive atmosphere,

Paula is best remembered for her role as the elegant blonde who dumps her pearls and fur coat but holds on to the keys of her boyfriend's VW Golf in an 80s car commercial.

Over the years she has fought a constant battle against drink and drugs, spending more than pounds 100,000 on counselling treatment in Britain and the United States.

She was first treated for alcoholism when she was just 24 and she quit her modelling career in an attempt to recover from her drink and drug addiction.

But she described the time she spent at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as "bloody boring".

She added: "I will have a glass or two of wine when I want to and not feel guilty about it."

Paula separated from her first husband, international photographer Danny Mindel, in 1989.

Then she had a close friendship with billionaire Michael Ashcroft. But he ended the relationship after she damaged a taxi during a drunken night out.

Next she fell in love with film director and former drug addict Henry Cole.

He proposed two weeks after they met, and gave her a supporting role in his movie, Mad Dogs And Englishmen, starring Liz Hurley. But he dumped her when filming ended.

She also dated a part- Colombian investment banker called Donald Kantorowicz. But that affair ended after two years.

Her most recent relationship was with former army captain Sebastian Rhodes-Stampa - six years her junior - which ended two years ago. Last year it was revealed she had chosen to have her eggs frozen in the hope she one day meets Mr Right.

She said at the time: "I'd like to have children eventually and have had my eggs frozen so that as my body deteriorates, they won't.

"But before I think of having any children I need to meet a man whom I'd like to father them."
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Author:Pisa, Nick
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 1, 2000
Words:577
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