A RECOVERING alcoholic has spoken of how his addiction to booze almost killed him, in an effort to deter young people and children from making the same mistake.
Steven Mitchell, 53, is recuperating from his ordeal with the help of Chichester-based homeless charity Stonepillow – one of the supporters of the Sensible on Strength campaign.
Speaking to the Gazette, Steven said: “I had a wife and children and worked all my life up until my issues around addiction caused me to ruin my marriage as well as losing my job.
“Eventually I found myself homeless and living on the streets for the last three years before I got into a detox and rehab centre and into recovery.”
He said he used to be constantly desperate to find his next fix, his next drink – so much so he turned to begging.
“Living on the street and unable to work because of my need for alcohol left me begging for the price of the cheapest drink I could get.
“I needed the alcohol to function and I became reliant on higher strength alcoholic drinks, needing that level of alcohol in my system to stop myself from fitting.”
He said as his drinking habit worsened, the local shopkeepers would recognise him. He admitted he used to use his benefits on buying more alcohol.
Steven added: “Near the end of my drinking I had become very ill and close to death. I started to notice very young people were buying the same cheap kind of alcohol as me and even shocked at the amount they were drinking.
“Something really does need to change because I had a whole lifetime to ruin myself, if children are starting where I ended up, their lives are going to be destroyed and that’s if they even live long enough to have a life.”
Determined Steven has been abstinent from drink for about a year now.
He is currently helping to train junior doctors at St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester, and police officers in Littlehampton on effective ways of dealing with homeless alcoholics.
As of next month, Stonepillow will be opening a new facility in Harwood Road, Littlehampton, to offer added support to those with addiction issues, homelessness or mental health problems.
It will be called the Arun Restore hub.