‘I didn’t really have a life and before I knew it I had lost everything’

Scott Thomson has turned his life around  after a decade of alcohol abuse. Picture: Michael Gillen
Scott Thomson has turned his life around after a decade of alcohol abuse. Picture: Michael Gillen

At one stage in his life Scott Thomson was downing up to nine litres of cider a day.

His benefits would last him for ten days on the booze before he would dry out for the other four before cashing in the rest of his fortnightly giro.

Annette Tonner and Scott Thomson are working together at the FVCF centre in Falkirk to provide to those who need it most in our society

Annette Tonner and Scott Thomson are working together at the FVCF centre in Falkirk to provide to those who need it most in our society

Scott was on a path of self-destruction that was bound to kill him as his spiralling drink binges would often end in a hospital stay following alcohol-induced seizures and fits.

He lived this way for ten years, but those dark days are well firmly behind the determined father-of-two who has been sober since January 13, 2015 – 947 days.

The thought of being a bad father to his nine-year-old son and two-year-old daughter forced Scott to re-evaluate his chaotic lifestyle and get his priorities right.

Former welder Scott said: “I used to just drink on a Friday and a Saturday when I was young, but when I realised I wasn’t getting a hangover when I was drinking I started to do it more frequently, not knowing what the consequences could be further down the line.

“Me and my pals would do silly things like have competitions to see who could drink the most days in a row and I just got into that way of life. Because I didn’t get the hangover, I wasn’t afraid to pick it up on a weekday.

“That’s where I started but I grew out of that and in my late teens started to get into pubs and was drinking at weekends. As I started to get to know people in the pub I started drinking on Sundays and that would then lead to a Monday because I was still rough.

“Then I joined the pool team which played on a Tuesday, then there was a pub quiz on the Thursday so I was in the pub six days a week before I knew it. I just thought that was a normal way of life because everyone else in the pub was doing it.

“The difference with everybody else though was that they could still go to their jobs, whereas I was missing days at the welding job in Camelon I had been at for 12 years.

“Rather than admit the problem, I hid away and that was when things really went down hill. It quickly escalated to me drinking during the day out of boredom. It was a ripple effect – my job went first, then my pals because I didn’t have money to go out with them.

“I didn’t really have a life, I was isolating myself, sitting in the house drinking myself and before I knew it I had lost everything, apart from my family, they’ve always been there for me 100 per cent thankfully. Without them I know for a fact I wouldn’t be sitting here.”

Scott has managed to tame his demons and is now training to be a peer support worker to help people who, like he was, are struggling to break free of a life ruled by alcohol.

The 32-year-old is working part-time at the Forth Valley Community Focus Centre (FVCF) in Falkirk’s Manor Street, a community interest company (CIC), set up by Annette Toner to provide support for those most in need in the district.

He is loving life again with a renewed respect and confidence in himself thanks to the support he received from organisations such as the Forth Valley Recovery Unit and wants to use his raw experiences to help others beat the bottle.

“I know what it’s like to get hit with a craving one morning and it is horrendous because you cannot shift that out of your head all day and that’s why people take the easy way out and run to a shop. Myself, I would just go on a binge for two weeks. It got to the stage that every time I lifted a drink, it would end with me in hospital two weeks later through either a fit, detox or withdrawals. I want to make people aware of binge drinking, especially younger people, who are going out these days. I realised I had a problem long before I wanted to get help for it.

“I went places like CADS (Community Alcohol, Forth Valley Recovery Community and Drugs Service) and Signpost. I would definitely recommend them to everybody because they are really helpful but, personally, my kids were my recovery. My focus was 100 per cent on them and being a better parent. I never drank on the days I had my son, but looking back there was a lot of things I didn’t do with my son because I was ill, withdrawn or hungover.

“I’m here four days a week as a drop-in. I’ve spoken to the people you see on the High Street begging or whatever and told them that I’ve been through the addiction process too and know how lonely that can feel. You need help to pull you out of that and that’s what our recovery community is all about.”

Annette says Scott’s help at FVCF has been “inspirational”. “For us as a community interest company, we belong to the community and get the community involved,” she said.

“We could have easily put the job out to someone with degrees and diplomas, but we wanted someone who had been through it and came out the other end with real experience.

“To date 937 families have used our food larder and Scott will help them all. Through Scott’s intervention one girl has already made an appointment to get help. We deliver services as a need and demand for the community, industry training, employability. For me, Scott is inspirational and he’s definitely got a positive destination ahead of him.”