Recovering Derbyshire alcoholic tells of Christmas struggles

A recovering alcoholic has told of the struggles he still faces over the festive period.

By Michael Broomhead
Wednesday, 10th December 2014, 8:51 am
Alcohol awareness campaigner Gary Topley.
Alcohol awareness campaigner Gary Topley.

With Christmas and New Year celebrations just around the corner, Gary Topley said he is conscious of “sliding down a slippery slope” at this time of the year.

Gary, who has been sober for six years following a 15-year battle with booze, is campaigning to raise awareness about alcoholism – and wants friends, family and colleagues to help those with drink problems.

The 36-year-old, of Chesterfield, said: “Over Christmas and New Year, many of us overindulge, whether that be with food or with alcohol or a bit of both.

“It is a celebration so why shouldn’t we have nice foods, a drink and a good old knees up - after all, us Brits love to party.

“For those of us who don’t drink because of a past addiction, however, it can sometimes bring difficulties.

“Even now, after almost six years of being sober, I think, ‘well it’s Christmas, why can’t I just have a couple of drinks and soak up the atmosphere’.

“As a recovering alcoholic, I can’t – otherwise the slippery slope I have slid down so often in the past will start once more.”

Gary – who was taken into care when he was just two-years-old partly because of his mother’s drink problems – recently launched the CATS UK project, which is aimed at helping individuals and their families who are affected by alcoholism.

He added: “Sometimes people go through the festivities without even realising they have or are developing an addiction and it is these individuals we need to reach out to and help at this time of year.

“I would advise people to aid those in need.

“Seek help for their alcohol intake if you have concerns about them and generally be someone they can trust and rely on.”

For more information about the help available to people with drink problems, see

Visit Gary’s website at

• Derbyshire folk are being encouraged to make a healthy start to 2015 by ditching the booze for a month as part of Alcohol Concern’s Dry January campaign.

Now in its third year, the drive aims to get people thinking and talking about their relationship with alcohol.

Organisers say those who take part feel a range of benefits including weight loss and better sleep.

For more information, visit