A recovering alcoholic who has been sober for more than a year said support is available for Wakefield’s street drinkers if they want to change.
Former shop owner Patrick Bonner, 62, had been a heavy drinker all his life but has abstained since January last year.
He said that support from social enterprise Turning Point can both help people become sober and deal with Wakefield’s street drinking problems.
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He said: “I’d wake up at 3am and all I could think about was how much I couldn’t wait to get to the newsagent to get a drink at 6am.
“It’s something I’ve struggled with all my life but didn’t realise how bad I’d got.
“As I got older I got worse, I found myself getting more and more dependent. I was hiding the fact that I was drinking and drinking in places I shouldn’t have been drinking.
“I’ve never drank on the streets like you see on the cathedral steps but I have walked with a drink in my bag and found a park bench to drink on.
“But it was probably the next step if I hadn’t done something about it. People say I’d hit rock bottom but I don’t think I had. I was close but I think if I hadn’t stopped then and it would have ended up that way if I’d lived that long.”
After going into detox on January 10 last year he made contact with Turning Point.
He said the groups and therapies the organisation offers were vital in keeping him away from alcohol and he now volunteers as a “peer mentor” helping other people with substance abuse problems.
He hosts an art group and runs trips to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
He said: “The big thing then was realising ‘I do have a problem’ and being honest with everyone. At Turning Point no one judges anyone and you make friends. You get support.
“I’ve not met one person and Turning Point who doesn’t love their job and want to help.
“It has changed my life completely. I have a different outlook.
“Turning point kills two birds with one stone because it’s keeping them clean but it’s helping the city as well – the more people we get clean the less people we’ll have sitting on the steps drinking.
“You have to want to recover and if people want support they will get it.
“They won’t turn you away and they know where people are coming from.”