Alcohol Awareness Week: Gareth’s Story

Posted on: 12th November 2019

I disguised my growing dependency by being a social butterfly.

Gareth, from South Wales, had a liver transplant earlier this year. Here, he shares the journey he took from being a young social drinker to a liver transplant patient.

“I moved away from the South Wales Valleys to pursue a career in broadcasting. As a man in my 20’s, social drinking meant just weekends with friends.  When I moved, away, the drinking built and built as part of the work culture, helping me hide from insecurities and poor mental health. I could go to the staff bar, to wrap parties, to various gatherings and disguise my growing dependency by being a social butterfly.

“I became so unhappy and insecure. I had a ‘brainwave’ that I could secretly drink whenever I wished, starting with small sips.

“I can’t pinpoint the moment it got so bad. From a social drinker, I became hooked on alcohol beyond my greatest fears. Before I knew it I was on at least two litres of spirits a day plus going to any means to reach more when needed.

“Drinking for breakfast, lunch, dinner, bedtime and anytime in between, passing out by canals, under bridges, in high streets, everywhere. Arm in arm with this came isolation, hospitalisation, close suicide attempts before the inevitable occurred – I was gently released from my media career and found myself broken in the back of a family car, head on pillow, heading back to the South Wales Valleys.

“But the heart-ache for me and my loved ones didn’t end there. I was sectioned on several occasions, underwent failed detox programmes, ended up virtually homeless and ignored medical advice to reach the frightening heights of advanced liver disease, cirrhosis and ascites.

“Despite this, through sheer determination and a supportive medical team, I somehow found the strength to fight the disease. After four false starts and lots of health assessments, I’ve had a liver transplant.

“There were complications. Despite my new liver being an all-round good egg, it turns out my body wasn't rolling out the welcome mat at first. But, my new liver was working just fine and my self-made moto, ‘Turning guilt into gratitude’, continues to help me focus less on the negatives and more on a future.”