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‘Alcohol became everything to me': The stark reality of life with a serious addiction

Most of us like a drink to socialise or relax. It’s part of our culture. But for some people, alcohol becomes everything.

Tony Wright Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Tony Wright spent twenty years presenting breakfast radio. He’s also an actor who’s raised thousands of pounds for charity.

What started as a few drinks in the evening, over time, grew into serious addiction.

"You create a habit... if you’ve had a bad day, you think 'I’ll just pour myself a glass of wine, it’ll make myself feel better'. Any excuse really", said Tony.

Eventually the lunchtime drinks became a bit more and then I’d put myself to bed for a few hours, get up, have some food and start all over again.

And then of course the longer this went on, the afternoon drinks got earlier and earlier. And when you’d wake up in the morning... you’d feel absolutely horrendous.

You’d start shaking and the only thing that would make me feel a little bit better was another trip to the fridge and I’m ashamed to say, it got to the stage where at 8 o’clock in the morning, I’d be taking a trip to the fridge.

– Tony Wright
Tony Wright battled an addiction with alcohol for a number of years Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Tony’s addiction became so bad, he thought about killing himself.

You just think, what’s the point? Why am I throwing away 20 years of hard work and hard graft, for something that’s taking away everything I’ve ever worked for?

What's the point in living? And why am I putting someone I love dearly through this?

– Tony Wright MBE

He managed to fight his addiction and get his life back - but others are not so lucky.

The number of people dying because of alcohol poisoning has gone up by 12% in Wales over the last decade. And the number of overall deaths related to alcohol has remained the same, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

As well as that, who is drinking is also changing. A recent survey found people in professional and managerial jobs report higher levels of unhealthy alcohol consumption than those in other professions. 65% of all deaths are men and the highest number are in the over 55s.

It’s something which experts in the field say is a real concern. "Potentially, we’re heading towards a crisis in relation to the amount of physical damage that alcohol has on the body", said Dr Julia Lewis, an Addiction Psychiatrist in Newport.

Alcohol dependency affects people across the whole social spectrum, across all levels of educational attainment. These are not belligerent or silly people, these are people who are battling something.

We’ve had teenagers that are dependent drinkers, we’ve had a couple of 15-year-olds that were dependent drinkers that actually needed a detox. We have people from professional groups, elderly people with alcohol-related brain damage, a lot of adults in their 70s and 80s so we’re having to address the whole range of individuals.

– Dr Julia Lewis
Experts say we should rethink our relationship with alcohol Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The Welsh Government says it is tackling the problems alcohol can cause.

We remain determined to tackle substance misuse head on and invest almost £50 million each year in this serious issue. We support strengthening current controls on advertising and licensing which would help change the public’s relationship with alcohol.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

Tony now lives a happy and healthy life without alcohol.

My future is now looking a lot brighter than it did a few years ago and I’m glad to say it. I missed the everyday routine that we take for granted. Thank God, I’m through it... my life with alcohol was horrendous, my life without alcohol is fantastic.

– Tony Wright
  • You can see more of Tony's story on Wales This Week, tonight at 8pm on ITV Cymru Wales.
  • If you’re concerned about your drinking or that of someone you know, the advice is to contact your GP or Alcohol Concern Cymru at alcoholconcern.org.uk.

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