Leeds man's alcohol torment

£1.8m was spent in a year on alcohol treatment services in Leeds. The YEP spoke to two men about overcoming their addiction.

"Drinking kills you.

"That's the thing I realised - carry on and you will die, especially at the rate I was drinking. You think you will get away with it, but you don't."

Personal tragedies, job loss and depression led to Keith Wyatt developing a habit which left him sitting at home drinking all day, every day.

Up until 2001, the 58-year-old had worked for the Post Office for 22 years.

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But then he developed anxiety and depression in the aftermath of his wife being killed in a road accident in 1996, which came after several other bereavements, and eventually retired on medical grounds.

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"In 2001 I was drinking a bottle of whisky a day and my doctor referred me to a clinic in Otley," he said.

"When I left I started taking Antabuse (medication which results in bad side effects when combined with alcohol) and I stayed abstinent for eight years."

In 2008 his second wife left and Keith had a breakdown. After a spell in hospital he was discharged in 2009 and started drinking again.

"I just thought 'what the hell' and I hit the bottle again.

"I was not a social drinker, I used to sit at home drinking."

Two attempts at rehab followed but these failed.

"All through 2010, I was drinking a bottle and a half of rum a day on my own. All I used to do was get up on a morning, drink, fall asleep, wake up in the afternoon and go out to get more booze."

Last November he went through detox at St Anne's Alcohol Services in Leeds and is now coming to the end of his 13-week residential

rehabilitation stay there.

The father-of-two, who lives in Otley, is hoping to stay on longer and this time feels much more positive about overcoming his alcohol dependence.

"They are trying to help me rebuild my life and find me some sort of occupation to stop me being lonely and bored.

"This time I am putting plans in place for a life that does not involve just sitting in my flat doing nothing."

Now he is hoping to start voluntary work and is looking forward to a life without drinking, as he knows he will never be able to have any alcohol.

"The alcoholism never goes away - you learn to live with it but it never leaves you and you can never drink normally again," he said.

"You think you can but as soon as you have a drink you are off down that road again. You are always a recovering alcoholic, you are never cured."

Andy, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his children, has also

stopped drinking with the help of St Anne's but his story is quite different.

Working in the building trade, drinking had always been a part of his


"You are working away, there's nothing to do in an evening so you go out for a few beers," said the 41-year-old.

"I didn't drink at the weekends."

As his drinking didn't affect his work, or family life at first, Andy was happy to carry on, though it did lead to some dangerous situations - such as when his home caught fire from a cigarette.

However over time it began to take over.

Though he could go days without a drink, he was still dependent on alcohol.

He realised how much when he tried a breathalyser test when in charge of a building site, having already tested staff who were not over the limit.

"I was nearly three times over and I'd not had a drink for two days," he said.

Andy would have periods where he "hammered it", then times of not drinking, but his tolerance levels for alcohol became ever higher.

"It gets to the point where your tolerance level gets so high, before

you get drunk you would be dead.

"I just woke up and had enough so I went to see my doctor."

That led to Andy being referred to St Anne's and he went through their detox programme followed by the 13-week rehab stay.

A text from his son saying he loved him and was proud of him kept him going and now he has completed the programme successfully.

"I don't see any good from drinking any more. You don't have to drink, you can still go to the same functions but you don't have to get hammered to do it.

"I cannot see the point really of drinking."

The treatment service which helped the pair is part of charity St

Anne's Community Services and is one of several organisations across the city which provides treatment for dependent drinkers.

Jonathan Philpott, project manager at St Anne's Alcohol Services, said they see people of all ages.

"It's not your typical 50-year-old single man, it's right across the age ranges from people in their 20s to people in their 70s.

"More females are being referred than before, and there are people who have lost their jobs because of their drinking.

"For a lot of people it starts with a binge at the weekend."

The service has four detoxification beds where clients are supported through the effects of withdrawal when they stop drinking. These can include hallucinations and fits so symptoms are managed by a nursing team.

There are 15 rehabilitation beds for clients to go through the residential programme, which includes group work, relapse prevention and sessions designed to teach self-sufficiency.

Mr Philpott said demand was growing.

"It has got busier. We had 500 referrals last year and we can see about

180 people a year in terms of detox.

"We are not able to meet the needs of all the people being referred."

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