Star date: 21st July 2012  


`My wife would moan to me that I was drinking too much but isn't that what wives always do?'

Former heavy drinker, Tony Devenport, sent the Salford Star a moving account of his descent from having too many down the pub to full blown alcoholic. He lost everything.

Read Tony's brave tale that is aspiring to have a happy ending.

Full story here…

"I did not know that the grip of alcoholism was taking hold of me. I did not notice it was slowly taking over my life…"  
Overcoming an addiction to alcohol can be a long haul. At times it may seem to be impossible. But let me tell you it is not impossible. There are a lot of people out there who have been in the same boat as you, I am one of them.

I do not class myself as being cured of alcoholism, but in recovery which to me will be on going as long as I know I have an addiction to alcohol, and remember the harm it not only did to me but to those around me.

Deciding to stop drinking alcohol for an alcohol dependent is one of the biggest decisions they will make, it is life changing, but it does not happen overnight. Working towards being alcohol free is a gradual process. Alcohol dependents have to be in the right frame of mind. Denial is a big problem even after the admission of an alcohol problem.

The best type of help is self help. Self belief goes a very long way.

I did not know that the grip of alcoholism was taking hold of me. I did not notice it was slowly taking over my life. Day by day my dependency grew. I still did not know. I started to retch in the mornings when I was getting ready for work. I put this down to nerves or a cold but never my drinking habits. My wife would moan to me that I was drinking too much but isn't that what wives always do?

I began to neglect my family. I would rather go to my parents to drink with them or go to the nearest pub but, hey, I was only being sociable. Everyone spoke to me. I was a nice guy and had money in my pockets. I wasn't causing any harm, or was I?

I acted like this for a couple of more years. During this period I lost my wife, I lost my children, home, brother, sisters, aunts, uncles and a very well paid job.

I still had my parents. I moved in with them - they were heavy drinkers, strong white cider and super strength lager. I could drink when I wanted and there was always alcohol around. I lost interest in everything and everyone around me. I didn't give a shit what I looked like but I had my alcohol and that was all that mattered. It was the only thing I could trust to do its purpose.

As my drinking continued to increase my body was changing. I used to be very fit cycling. This stopped as my body could not cope with what the alcohol was doing to me. As my physical and mental health deteriorated so did my parents. My mother and father's personalities changed. They began looking more yellow each day. My mother's mobility ceased to exist, making taking her out impossible. My father started having fits when he tried to get to the local shops for his white cider.

My life started to change when my mother fell trying to go to the bathroom. She was lying there covered in her own excrement, I knew it was time to phone an ambulance to help. The ambulance crew were shocked to see the conditions we were living in, it was a very unhealthy place to be. My mother was taken to Salford Royal Hospital.

During that very night I woke up with a start. My heart was racing, then it felt like it stopped, I felt dizzy and couldn't walk. I managed to phone an ambulance and was taken to A and E. I cannot remember much about my time in hospital, I was out of it for three weeks. I heard a doctor say `I will give him four to five months if he comes around'…

The next thing I remember is being in the First World War. I was a German fighting the Russians, I could smell and feel my surroundings. In reality I was running up and down the ward with a mattress as my bayonet. Next I was in the future fighting on a star ship, there was a net of lasers coming towards me and I had to get away. In reality I was trying to escape the ward and was being held by nurses and my brother as they tried to sedate me but this was not working due to the alcohol tolerance I had built up.

As I lay in my hospital bed I began to gather my senses, realizing the pain I had caused to my family, in particular my daughters as they had thought they had lost me (so did I ). Not all the people on the ward were in for alcohol but you could tell who were.

This day was the first day I would meet my hospital social worker Andrew Brown. He didn't care about my drink problem, he just wanted to help and help he did. He also gave me the news that my father was also in hospital. So my mother, my father and myself were all in hospital for the same reason. Alcohol.

This was not the reason why I stopped drinking the reason was this. I got to talking to an elderly gentleman called Tom. We were discussing what was on TV that night, and he said he would like to watch the football, would I set his TV up for him? Which I did. After watching the football with him I went to sleep. When I awoke the next morning I noticed that Tom's bed curtains were drawn. I popped my head around the curtain to see him sleeping and made my way back to my bed. Five minutes later Andy Brown sat down besides me, at the same time the nurses were drawing all of the curtains.

I turned to Andy and asked him why they were doing this and he answered that Tom had died during the night. I sunk into my bed. As I sat there I heard a noise that I will never forget. This noise is what changed my life forever, it was the sound of Tom's body hitting the metal trolley so they could take him to the morgue. My mind started racing - that body making that noise could have been mine.

For me it was hard to admit that I was alcohol dependent and what I was doing was controlling me. To be really honest deep down I did know, but asking for help was just hard for me. I didn't want to admit that I was in trouble, it was easier to hide behind the alcohol. I had to get it through to myself that I was no longer in control of my life and actions. I did not know what to do about this, but I was hungry, I had to find a way to get the control back and cut out the alcohol for good. At first for me, and me only. Then I could start rebuilding the bridges that had been brought down.

Later that day I decided that I was not going to drink again. I began to reflect on how I had got myself here. It felt like I had been given another chance and I was not going to waste it. The first job I had to do when I came out of hospital was to care for my father and mother. My father continued to drink for another three months until his death from liver failure. Five months later my mother died of a heart attack caused by drinking alcohol for many years, with the strain of having had bowl cancer and the loss of a husband was just too much.

I thought of ways that would help me keep my mind off alcohol but everything I used to do just reminded me of drinking, so a career change it was.  I started to study alcohol addiction, how you become dependent, the harm it does, its social implications and the ultimate harm it does to people and their families. I did two courses in counseling and found work in an alcohol project, hopefully being able to get the message across to people with alcohol dependency that this is not the end. That there is power and determination inside everybody to change their lives for a better healthier future.

At first there were people, even family members, who doubted that I would stay away from alcohol, they would smell my breath and accuse me of drinking alcohol. This made my journey more difficult as I thought that I wasn't being supported and people were waiting for me to fail. In reality they were looking out for me, they were doing what they thought was best.

Since I became abstinent in March 2008, and to continue with this little chunk of my life, I have been surprised the way my body had to adapt to life without alcohol. Little things like my balance - has it gone back to normal? Was my body compensating to keep me steady when I was drinking? Just something to think about.
In 2010, November 3rd, I was given the opportunity to work at Royal Court, which supports adult males with alcohol dependency. At first close friends and family thought it was too soon to work at a project where alcohol was freely available. I knew better. I knew that this is what I wanted to do. It saddened me to see people slowly deteriorating into a shadow of their former selves. I had seen it too many times with myself, my mother, and my father. Enough was enough.

I wanted to be in a position working to change the attitudes towards alcohol dependency. Now I am in that position, and this is only the start of the rest of my career working, supporting and improving the lives of people with dependency.   

Tony Devenport: Alcohol Worker   

Points of contact for people with dependency are local G.P service, S.D.A.S, Drinkwatchers, and Royal Court (Positive Lifestyles) 0161 789 5009. 

Royal Court is set to lose its funding in March 2013. More details to follow…

Del wrote
at 07:45:26 on 17 August 2013
All this must be printed up and given away free to anyone with a drink problem. My dad always told me never to drink alcohol when you are thirsty (drink water) or you end up an alcoholic. Never go for a drink after work, go home for your dinner first. Never drink on an empty stomach, fill up on milk and mash potato first. He had a long very happy life (84). Look, can the newspaper print off copies of this, it is SO IMPORTANT, just put their banner heading at the top. Excellent publicity.
Matt wrote
at 07:29:24 on 27 July 2012
Many thanks for sharing that with everyone
megan devenport wrote
at 20:56:03 on 23 July 2012
My dad is an inspiration, not only to me, but to everyone that has a heart. He's taught me to dream of whatever my heart may desire, to go wherever my ambitions guide me,fur fill my goals,and follow my childhood dreams. Because I have only one life and one chance to do all the things i want to do. As my sister chelsea put it,'this is a man that proves that there is always going to be a light at the end of the,what may seem,'ever lasting' dark encased tunnel. Thanks to this extrodinary man,through out my entire life,I'm going to face my struggles,conquer my fears head on,and do you know why I know I can do this?because my dad,my role model did it,and I'm very proud to say I'm his daughter,and he's my dad.my Nana and grandad would be really proud,as are our family,and anyone which sets eyes on this inspiring story x
Chelsea Devenport wrote
at 05:23:14 on 22 July 2012
This is a man that proves life can get be a really dark tunnel and then proves that there is always light on the other end... This is a man that i am so very proud to call my dad!! during the time that my dad, nanna and grandad was dependent on alcohol was really hard for my family expecially me and my too sister..! The day that they all became ill from alcohol that they had to be rushed to hospital was so hard as i thought that i was losing three people that ment so much to me I recieved a phone call from my step-dad telling me that my uncle had been on the phone telling him not to let me or my big sister go up to the hospital to see my father as he was not in a very good way.. at this point my heart was breaking further as i thought that i would not be able to hug my dad or tell him how much that i loved him.. at this point i turned to my mother who split from my dad when i was a baby and said to her that i was going to the hospital to see my dad and that she could come and support me or let me go on my own.. thankfully she came to support me because what i witnessed my dad going threw was beyond heart breaking to see.. Too see how far my dad has come is so inspiraing i work at the local newsagent next to royal court so i no the men that my dad and other staff support and for them to tell me how much they think of my dad and are so greatful of his support is so heart warming as i know he is doing things that he is good at.. My Dad is My inspiration!!
Jade Devenport wrote
at 22:04:34 on 21 July 2012
I have the honour of saying this is my dad and i am very proud of him he is such an insperation. i am his eldest daughter of 3 and to watch your dad and grandparents go through this day by day was very hard as i was only a young teenager at the time but i still loved him and them the same as i do now and would like to say i walk with my head held high as i know he is making something positive out of what was so negative.
Ian Devenport wrote
at 22:04:10 on 21 July 2012
From a brothers perspective....... First of all I would like to say I an proud and honoured to be able to call Tony my brother, it's been a rough few years, I'm writing this on the 3rd anniversary of Mums departure which makes it all a little more meaningful. I'd seen the rot set in with Tony, mum and dad but every time concerns were raised they fell on deaf ears, they were adamant everything was fine....life went on. Tony worked at the same place I do, it is as he says well paid, but as his absenteeism increased i was getting pressured off the HR department, "where is he?, why can't we contact him?, tell him to get in touch" etc etc...knowing what ma and pa were going through I felt tony was going down the same path. Yes he was going through a divorce and it was hard but he tried to "keep calm and carry on" even going back to work on restricted duties to get him back in the routine. This lasted six weeks, Tony had a few holiday hours in the bank and asked for a week off, this was agreed with the proviso "make sure you come back", he never did and was dismissed around Jan 2008. Back to hospitals and admission....The night where mum was admitted to hospital I actually spoke to Tony, it was a weird conversation he sounded different as opposed to his usual (and I'm sure he'll let me off with this) pissed up self, he sounded worried / scared. So Mum's in hospital so is Tony, I'm at work then get a call off my sister, It went a little like this. "Ian we're at the flat, we can't get in we think dad's dead", I left work drove like a mad um to the flat to find Police community support officers, ambulance crew and my sister waiting outside. "whats going on why aren't you inside?" I asked, PCSO said they weren't allowed to bust open the door till the real police arrived, so i kicked the door in and ran into the corridor expecting the worst only to find dad collapsed in a heap on the floor, he looked up and said "what?", he was then shipped off to Salford Royal. So imagine the scenario....mum, tony and now dad all in hospital for the same problem, not ideal, but made visiting really easy! :). Anyway whilst dad was getting checked in went to see tony and to be honest didn't know who he was, he was to be honest a person I'd never seen before, I spoke with the staff explained what was going on with mum and dad the went back to check on dad. So I was sat there with dad, he'd been admitted I was getting him settled when a doctor walked in, checked dads notes then asked me "are you Ian?", yes I replied whats wrong? "the nurse on Anthony's ward has been on, he's having an episode and they wondered if you could go up" So I did and was not expecting what I would walk into. I got on the ward to see tony being restrained by a few nurses, he was going ballistic, he accused the doctor of being a spy/double agent and trying to give him a truth serum, the doctor was responsible for tonys platoon being killed, a bit weird?, yes but not as weird as when the nurses saw me coming, they let go of tony and I was confronted face to face by a person whom to be honest I was seriously afraid of, he didn't know me....and I didn't know him, he was the captain of this ship and he other patients on the ward were his crew, eventually we got him back to his bed and he was sedated....for a while. The next few days were shall we say a bit strange. So the weeks went on, the medications appeared to be working and tony was discharged, mum and dad remained in hospital. Whilst they were all in hospital I went and sorted the flat, me and my eldest son cleared a few rooms to make it habitable again, we found at least 50 unopened cans of super strength lager and took a few pictures sort of before / after thing, showed tony these pics and that was when the first sparks appeared, he was determined to get the rest of the flat sorted, I left him....the next time I saw him was when I went to visit mum and dad in hospital, I walked through the reception area and saw my nieces (tonys daughters)sat with someone I didn't really recognise...I was tony, at that point I knew I had my brother back. He looked alert, healthy, alive like the tony I grew up with. Months passed, mum was now in a nursing home due to having wernicke-korsakoff syndrome, dad was getting weaker by the day, we got the call on a sunday afternoon to go to the hospital, mum was at my house I left saying I'd be back in a while, dad passed away his children, brother and sister were all there, I returned home an broke the news to mum, bit of a mind funk that telling you mum her husband has died, that knocked her for six, she said she didn't want to die in a home so we managed to get her a bungalow, she was doing ok enjoying her independence then was diagnosed with bowel cancer, she had the op, cancer was removed then just seemed to give up, wouldn't eat etc etc, she was admitted to hospital 20 july 2009 with dehydration, she died 21 july 2009 from a massive heart attack. All this time Tony could have reverted to his old ways but no, he has gone from strength to strength proving everyone wrong and pushing himself to acheive what he has done helping people in the same situation as he was. It takes a lot of bottle to admit you have a problem, even more bottle to share your story, you are an inspiration to me. I'm honored te be able to call you my brother. Love ya man. Ian
katie goddard wrote
at 21:19:10 on 21 July 2012
Very sad and this hapens everyday to so many people. Well done Tony and thank's for sharing your story. I and my four brother were put into care at the age of 3 because my mum was an alcoholic, she is still alive but has drink related altzimers since the age of 53 and is helpless, very sad. Keep up the good work Tony.
caroline wrote
at 21:18:31 on 21 July 2012
To many tears..to much pain..for a dream of..?Best wishs ..hold on ..darkness will come,,hold on as darkness will come again..so hold on to your belief..and your dreams..You are not alone..even if it seems so at times .You are moveing forward..go forward into the light...You say you have made it ..but ..remember darkness awaits....an for a time you will have wait to see...an be watchful..You have had it hard..You now can make it...It has got to be from your heart........I belive you will follow the road of light..no more tears...no lost love...
John Ryan wrote
at 17:50:28 on 21 July 2012
Bravo for your honesty! I wish you well in all you do, good luck.
Gaz wrote
at 17:50:23 on 21 July 2012
I have the pleasure of working alongside Tony, his example and enthusiasm gives many affected people and their families hope and inspiration that they can overcome this often misunderstood addiction. Long may his good work and the work of the many others in this field continue!
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