A FORMER lecturer has bravely spoken out about his alcohol misuse to raise awareness for Alcohol Awareness Week which started on Monday.

John McBride, 63, wants to highlight the work of the Alcohol Care and Treatment Service (ACTS) team at Poole "Born in the late 1950’s, my first taste of alcohol was at the age of six," he said. "I had been very unwell and on recovering from a life threatening illness my mother thought I needed building up, and as the GP had told her that Guinness was full of iron, she gave me a very small glass at bedtime!

“As life progressed, I became a nurse and a lecturer, quite successful in both areas. I knew the dangers of over imbibing, I told my students and patients about the risks of alcohol, but did I really take those on board?

“Fast forward to 2007, I had a family, two daughters and a son, my parents had died in the late 90s and I got over that by increasing my drinking at the time. I thought to myself ‘didn’t everyone?’ My marriage ended, work became the main focus of my life and long hours there led to increased drinking ‘to relax in the evening."

He drank more and more and after seeing his GP for depression he was advised to take early retirement.

“Feelings of rejection and obsolescence were dealt with by increasing my drinking," he said. "A few hospital admissions followed, all due to alcohol-related problems.

“Following an admission to Poole Hospital in 2017 I met the ACTS team. They were very direct and basically told me that if I carried on, I would die so I agreed to use their services and their support both in hospital and later in the community, and they enabled me to identify how to take back control of my life without alcohol. From there I discovered support groups and have been able to maintain my sobriety."

Now John volunteers with the team that helped him which saw 1,800 patients last year, with two thirds of them aged over 45.

"This year will be the service’s busiest ever, with more than 1,750 patients referred to them as of the end of October," he said.

Poole's head of addiction services Graeme White, said: "John is a great example of where the right tools, information and intervention can dramatically turn lives around,” said Graeme. “We’re looking forward to him using his experience to support others who may be a few paces back in their journey than he is, and he will be a great asset to the ACTS team."

*More information at livewelldorset.co.uk/drink-less