Jay’s story is one of many remarkable accounts told to the Liverpool Echo during a visit to Transforming Choice – an organization in South Liverpool that takes a unique approach to helping people fight their addictions and come back from the brink.
A former alcoholic, who drank three bottles of vodka and 12 cans of strong lager a day, is now putting the finishing touches to his thesis – and has just landed a job helping others to defeat alcohol.
As part of our homelessness series, we visited Transforming Choice to hear stories of people who have returned from the abyss
He remembered how strong his alcohol consumption became and added: “I drank about three full bottles of vodka and 12 cans of Skol Special every day”.
He explained: “I had been drinking alcoholic beverages for about ten years, and that had left me homeless for about seven of those years. I was involved in a car accident and received three grand in compensation – I spent pretty much every cent on alcohol”.
In a beautifully restored three-story Edwardian house surrounded by idyllic Sefton Park, 41-year-old Jay told us how his 14-week Transforming Choice course changed everything and saved his life.
You don’t have to be medically trained to know that high levels of alcohol abuse can have serious health consequences for anyone, and Jay says he has come close to the edge of the abyss.
It’s not that he hasn’t tried to get sober before, he has been to 23 different detoxification facilities in 10 years before he found Transforming Choice two years ago, and everything changed.
He said, “Your gamma GT rating gives you an indication of how damaged your liver is – usually it’s between 50 and 70, and at some point my 4,000 was – I had kidney failure and had chronic stomach pain and pancreatitis.
he explained: “This place was different in the sense that nothing was forced on you like in other places, you would take a step back and let the process take place if you change your destructive behavior, it’s a natural process – if you try to make it work, it won’t work”.
This was a decision that Carol Hamlett and her team were afraid of when they founded the center four years ago.
One of the key features that makes Transforming Choice different is the fact that many alcohol rehab facilities ask people to take a Librium pill when they try to detox – this place does it with alcohol.
“When we started this, people were worried because we gave people alcohol – but we had a 100% success rate in detoxification,” she told us.
“Nobody gets drunk, we just make it safe for them, we see it as getting rid of the alcohol, because until you’re free of substances, you’re not really connected and you don’t make informed decisions.
Once the week-long detoxification is complete, the residents of the center – up to 14 at a time – begin a rigorous education program based on exploring the reasons for their addiction and learning new skills and abilities that will help them make better decisions for the future.
Carol added, “The main philosophy is that no matter how many friends you have, you’re on your own in the world – no matter how many friends you have, you’re still on your own with the decisions you make.