Alcohol and drug service Forward Leeds helps man to ‘start a better life’

David has begun to see a new life for himself after support from the Forward Leeds alcohol and drug service.
David has begun to see a new life for himself after support from the Forward Leeds alcohol and drug service.

A MAN driven to crime by his drinking problems has given a candid account of his experiences after more than six months in recovery.

‘David’, who lives in Leeds, describes how he turned to alcohol as a teenager and found himself behind bars when he relapsed following six years of sobriety. Now in his 30s, he has begun to rebuild his life thanks to support from the Forward Leeds alcohol and drug service.

They gave me the confidence to start a better life for myself.

‘David’

“They supported me when I most needed it and gave me the confidence to start a better life for myself,” David said.

“I wake up everyday buzzing and can’t wait to see what the future will bring.”

Since completing a programme with the organisation earlier this year, he has gone on to find a new place to live, gained volunteering experience and has a potential job lined up.

David first drank alcohol with friends aged 14, but said his problems began two years later when he became a carer.

“My Grandad was ill so I went to look after him. It was a really difficult situation for a 16-year-old to be in, I felt like I didn’t really have anyone to turn to for support. Drink became that support. I remembered how great it used to feel to drink when we were younger so I turned to it to help deal with my situation.

“I was always between York and Leeds so I didn’t really feel like I belonged anywhere, the drink helped with that.”

He stopped drinking altogether at 18 but started drinking heavily on a daily basis six years on.

When David was 25 he was jailed for six years for an armed robbery, which was committed when he was drunk. After a second spell in prison, he was referred to Forward Leeds.

“We worked on relapse prevention techniques to make sure I have the mechanisms to cope and knew what to do if I was feeling that I might relapse,” he said.

“I also attended AA meetings, which were really great in supporting my recovery.”

David also completed training and started volunteering before being signed off by Forward Leeds in April.

He said: “It helped me build my confidence and realise my potential.”

Elijah Lawal, Google's communications manager for the UK and Ireland.

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