Alcoholic, 27, describes 'hell on earth' addiction that could've killed him before he got help

A man who drank up to two bottles of vodka a day at the height of his alcohol addiction has said he would have been dead if he didn't ask for help when he did.

It comes as health experts warn that is becoming more common for people under 30 to show signs of liver disease.

Over the past two years, deaths in Wales from liver disease have increased by almost 25% – a figure that has doubled in 20 years. 

Bradley has recently moved into Penrhyn House - a recovery centre for people with alcohol and drug issues

Bradley Jones, 27 from Bangor, is currently living at a recovery centre that supports people with addiction problems.

He told Welsh language current affairs programme Y Byd Ar Bedwar, "It controls you. It controls your mind - it's your best friend. All my mates went to university, got kids, wives. I was stuck on my own. It was hell on earth."

Bradley described how he would drink up to two bottles spirit and ten cans of beer or cider every day.

"It was a full time job. It sounds impossible but it was just like water to me. I started at seven in the morning and finished at eight at night.

"After Covid, it was like a habit turning into an addiction. I just drank and drank and drank and drank.

"A couple of times after drinking, I was admitted to A&E, passed out on the floor, threw up blood. I was put on a drip, which wasn't very nice."

Dr Yeoman said health professionals are worried things are going to get worse

According to the charity Alcohol Change UK, almost 30% of British people admitted to drinking more than usual during the pandemic. 

Dr. Andrew Yeoman, a liver expert in Gwent, said the situation has worsened in the last few years.

"Unfortunately, we're seeing people coming into hospital now showing liver disease for the first time who are under 30, and some of those haven't survived. In the past, this was something terribly rare, and it seems that this is becoming a more common thing." 

"When you're talking about alcohol-related deaths, most of those are from liver disease," he said. 

"We've seen an increase in people coming into hospital, and we're seeing an increase in young people dying.

"Are we worried things are getting worse? Yes, certainly." 

Latest figures show alcohol-related deaths are at a record high in Wales. 

Bradley said he now fully understands what recovery is - and describes it as a "struggle"

Bradley lost his job after drinking at work and became sober for nine months, but relapsed before Christmas.

He said he is now ready to try again.

"I didn't understand what recovery was about. But now, I understand what it is. 

"It's a struggle. You're never at peace, because you have problems with money, paying bills and so on. They say it’s unmanageable – and it was unmanageable to the highest level." 

"If I knew how to stop drinking, I'd be a millionaire. You go to the doctor, to the hospital, and everyone says you need to stop. How then? We don't want to drink, but that's the illness. We can't help it."

More than a quarter of Wales' 'high risk' drinkers are aged between 18 and 34.

Since April 2022, Dr. Yeoman and his team at Aneurin Bevan Health Board have provided a seven-day-a-week service for those with alcohol addiction – the only one of its kind in Wales.

"We were the first to set up a seven-day service. Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board has had funding to set one up, and they're in the process of recruiting staff, which is great news. But the care available in Wales varies. 

"It's not right that someone coming from Newport is looked after better or more consistently than someone coming from Narberth. I'm worried about the situation as it stands now. Everyone in the field is worried that things will get worse before they get better".

A Welsh Government spokesperson said a range of support services are available including inpatient detox and residential rehabilitation centres across Wales.

It added, "We've increased our investment in tackling substance misuse, including alcohol misuse, to £64m this year and will increase this again by £3m next year.

"Our wider actions to address alcohol misuse include the introduction of minimum pricing alcohol in Wales in 2020."

  • Watch Y Byd Ar Bedwar on S4C: Monday at 20:00. The programme has English subtitles.

If you are affected by anything in this article, alcohol support and advice is available here.