White Lightning addict ‘left 40% alive’ as he downed litres of booze

A dad-of-six who was addicted to White Lightning has bravely revealed how he finally kicked the booze.

James Carter was declared ’40 per cent alive’ in 2014 after suffering a severe internal bleed from his oesophagus.

The 41-year-old, from Salford, Greater Manchester, had been a heavy drinker since he was 13, the Manchester Evening News reported.

He would regularly have five or six blackouts a day from litres of White Lightning and Glen’s vodka.

But he survived the scare and is now four and a half years sober and a volunteer for an NHS recovery centre.

He credits the National Health Service with saving his life.

“Blood was coming out of every orifice and I thought I was dying," he said, recalling his terrifying hospital visit four years ago.

“I didn’t believe in God at the time but I said ‘please God, get me through this and I will never drink again’.”

“When I woke up two days later I couldn’t believe I was still here.”

James narrowly avoided becoming one of the 400 people who die every year in Greater Manchester from alcohol, according to new figures from the NHS.

Between 2015 and 2017, 1,189 people lost their lives as a direct result of alcohol misuse, more than one a day.

Manchester’s alcohol death rate is 50 per cent higher than the national average and costs public services £1.3billion, equivalent to £500 per person, as hospitals, police and social care workers struggle to cope.

James will start working for the NHS in January in their outreach team – his first job in 17 years – and he believes his battle with alcohol can inspire others to overcome their addiction.

He said: “I am giving back to the NHS because they saved my life, I am helping others and reinforcing my recovery at the same time.

“I feel part of something and feel needed here and I have never had that in my life.

“At my worst in 15 years of drinking it got to the point of me eating out of bins in the streets and sleeping in buses.

“I did not know what I was mentally doing and I did not know how I survived. It was a horrible time.”

James believes his problems stem from a difficult childhood and he now hopes his children can now be proud of their dad for turning his life around.

He said: “At the time I used to think I was a good dad because I was always there but now in hindsight I’ve realised I was always drunk.

“They’re so proud they’ve got a real dad now.”

More than 15,000 children in Greater Manchester live with alcohol dependent adults while 22,000 hospital admissions are directly caused by drinking.

Despite his near death experience in 2014, James – who would regularly drink 10 beers in a morning – said he still found it difficult to quit drinking.

He said: “My brain was still telling me I was alright and I could just have one drink.

“In my head I wanted to drink despite what I had gone through.

“I have been in tears wanting to give up. Stopping drinking is like losing a member of your family, it was harder than losing my dad.”

He attended sessions at the Orchard, a recovery centre in Salford for drink and drugs.

James credits the education and new skills he has learnt during his recovery for his new lease of life.

He said: “I didn’t have any hobbies when I was drinking because that was my only hobby.

“Now thanks to the NHS I have started trying things like pottery for the first time and it has helped take my mind off everything because I was doing something I had never done before.”

James spoke alongside Mayor Andy Burnham at the launch of The Big Alcohol Conversation in November, a partnership which hopes to tackle the harms caused by alcohol.

Mr Burnham said: “Greater Manchester is an amazing place to live and to visit, with a vibrant nightlife and a strong sense of togetherness.

“No one is saying that people shouldn’t enjoy themselves with a drink, but it’s also true that alcohol abuse is causing more harm to people and communities than is often recognised.”

The UK’s chief medical officers recommend drinking less than 14 units per week, equivalent to six pints of beer or seven glasses of wine, and regularly exceeding these limits can increase the risks of heart and liver disease, cancer, brain damage and dementia.

The Mayor and his night-time economy advisor Sacha Lord, the co-founder of Parklife and Warehouse Project, have announced funding for 150 extra Drinkaware staff members to help people who appear vulnerable on nights out as a result of alcohol.

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