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Addiction and Me: Cambridge graduate ''drank because I was sad''

Around two million adults are dependent on drugs and alcohol in England - and the number is growing.

Home Office statistics reveal around 1 in 12 adults aged 16 to 59 have taken an illicit drug in the last year.

Mention the word addict and the image most of us conjure up is one of down and outs, living in the gutter, scraping by from one hit to the next, funding feckless lifestyles by criminal means.

This week, Calendar reveals a very different face to addiction as abusers of drugs and drink bravely tell their stories of how they became hooked on illegal - and legal - substances.

In Addiction and Me, we hear from their families, medical and law experts as we reveal the emotional, financial and physical toll drugs and drink takes on the people, communities and services they touch.

Our stories reveal the real faces of the addicts - and they are very far from the stereotype.

Adam Gutteridge drunk four bottles of wine a night

A first class degree from Cambridge University followed by a Master's and doctorate set Adam Gutteridge on course for a glittering career.

Lecturing in archeology at the world-famous Brown university in Rhode Island appeared to seal that. But as steelworker's son Adam, 38, educated America's finest brains, he skillfully hid a deep and troubling secret.

For since the age of 14, Sheffield-born Adam drank and with each passing year, his need for alcohol grew stronger until by the age of 34, he drown his misery in up to four bottles of wine a night.

‘I drank because I was sad. There’s no history of alcohol abuse in my family. I knew right from wrong but I could not stop,’ says Adam, now 38. ‘I’d sleep where I fell down and start again the next day.’

Even doctors’ advice to have one drink a day, he treated as a joke. ‘i found the largest jug in the house and filled it with booze - that was my one glass,’ he says.

Broken relationships, lost weekends, a chaotic lifestyle were all skillfully covered up as the high-functioning alcoholic just managed to keep a grasp on working life. ‘Until one day, I’d had enough of feeling sick and tired and did the hardest thing in the world - ask for help,’ he says.

Getting support from a nationally-known support network for problem drinkers, Adam set about rebuilding a new life.

He left his lecturing job and says he is happier than ever - four years on from taking his final drink.

He now works for the Amy Winehouse Foundation, visiting schools in Sheffield and Rotherham to speak with children as young as 11. ‘I drank to fit in, to cover up my low self esteem. I want to help youngsters to learn to spot the signs of developing risky behaviour that could see them turn to drugs, drink or abusive relationships.

‘I want them to learn and not waste 20 years of their life like I did, hiding my problems behind a bottle of booze. I have a peace and serenity in my life now. I wouldn’t trade my worst day sober for my best day drunk,’ says Adam.

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