A Wearsider who beat the bottle has told how he replaced his addiction to booze with a passion for running.
Andrew "Andi" Graham, 46, inspired many runners when he attended a recent Start Me Up for Sunderland 5K training run with fellow Washington Running Club members.
Andi, who works in the Business section of Barclays at Doxford Park, described how his drinking a number of years ago often led to him drinking four cans of strong lager and a bottle of wine with or without his partner Claire in the house.
Working in a factory at the time, he would often call into a nearby shop after work, buy a half bottle of spirits which he would drink in the bus stop, discard the bottle then return home.
Andi’s drinking escalated to the point where colleagues would notice his hands shaking, all-inclusive holidays were ruined by his constant drinking and in December 2009 he recalls being unable to hold the handrail on an escalator due to his shaking being so bad.
"My story of alcohol addiction or dependency as I call it started over 10 years ago when I was in a previous job," said Andi, of East Rainton.
"I worked long hours and found my way of relaxing was to have a can of lager or a glass of wine on a night.
"It was a few months after I got made redundant about nine years ago and I found my drinking escalating.
“Alcohol had by that point become my best friend which was a terrible way to be.
"When it got to February 2010 I realised after I’d taken my boys swimming I wanted vodka more than I wanted to be at the pool.
"Very soon after I had confided in my friend Susan how bad it had got.
"She said to see my GP as soon as possible for help.
"I then contacted Turning Point at Sunderland Royal Hospital. I was given the option to cut down or give up drinking as my body was struggling to cope.
"I decided a week later I wanted to give up altogether. I was then put in touch with Counted 4 in Sunderland to discuss my detox options.”
Confiding in Claire, dad-of-two Andi took the option to detox at home.
Despite being shocked and upset, Claire stood by him and with her support as well as that of Sunderland addiction service Counted 4, Andi detoxed after five days at home, taking medication for five days to take away the alcohol cravings alongside and vitamin injections for three days.
Andi has since gone on become a facilitator at NERAF the alcohol charity in John Street, Sunderland city centre.
Three years later, Andi replaced his addiction with running which he confesses was not an easy task, but with the support of Washington Running Club, who he joined in 2015, he was soon running around the streets in training.
“On 19th April 2010 I was diagnosed as sober when I started to detox," added Andi, who started taking part in half marathons last year.
"I went back to work the following week and have not touched a drop since.”