'Don't be ashamed:' The message of a recovering addict to those in Cumbria struggling post covid

  • Watch Natasha Potts' video report

"Please don't be ashamed"- the words of recovering alcoholic to others in the ITV Border region struggling with addiction post covid.

Paul, 34, battled alcohol addiction for most of his twenties, but has not had a drink for three years.

He's urging others depending on alcohol, many of whom may be fighting addiction for the first time following the coronavirus pandemic, not to suffer in silence.

"This is something you can recover from," he said.

"You know trapped in the bottle is a phrase we hear all the time, you can get out the bottle.

"The mental torment of alcohol isn't just your physical health but it starts up here; if it's starting to cost a toll in your mind reach out.

"The GP, NHS services there's numerous organisations in this county alone who you can go an ask for help and don't be ashamed. Please don't be ashamed."

Across the UK, the number of alcohol related deaths rose by almost twenty percent in 2020-2021, the highest year on year increase since records began in 2001.

Nearly 9,000 people died.

During the the first lockdown, the Cumbria Alcohol and Drug Advisory Service (CADAS) recorded a 25% increase in the number of calls to its helpline.

Paul, who is from Carlisle, believes the reason for the rise in people becoming addicted to alcohol during the pandemic is due to the isolation people experienced.

"It's an illness that wants you to be isolated away from everyone.

"Me being alone with a bottle was my idea of a holiday it was perfect."

He continued: "Thankfully I have a great support network around me, but If I didn't have this in place, the pandemic would allow me to go back into that state of isolation.

"That state of rumination, and ruminations and anxieties and fears can be revealed by that magic potion in the bottle."

Paul admits it is a miracle his is still alive, having regularly drank himself into "oblivion."

The was even a point he thought he could not carry on.

He is calling on alcoholism to be dealt with similarly to a mental health crisis, as those experiencing it "suffer in silence."

Paul says the stigma surrounding addiction often means those needing help do not reach out.

"This is a profound chronic illness that takes people to some horrible depths horrible darknesses.

"There's people I know through various organisations who've paid the ultimate price, they've died.

"They've taken their own life or they've gone onto the bitter end and drank themselves to death."

In a report by ITV Border on 23 May health professionals said the pandemic fuelling a rise in alcohol addiction is down to anxiety around relearning how to socialise, changes to people's working pattern and financial pressures.

The escapism drink provides, is what Paul believes makes people turn to the bottle.

"It's a very dark place to be in because you think you're alone, you think you're isolated you think there's no one else in the world who drinks like you or thinks like you.

"You don't know where to turn you don't know what to do."

Paul has now started to rebuild his life after losing everyone and is encouraging anyone else battling addiction to seek support too.

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