Listening to the journeys of the famous

Learning and gaining strength from other people’s stories can really help in changing your relationship with alcohol. With programmes going back 60 years, BBC Radio’s Desert Island Discs has interviews and music with hundreds of notable figures. We pick out those who talk about drinking and alcohol, and how drink has impacted on their life.

In case you were wondering, George Best? Never did one!

Sporting glory despite being an alcoholic

Tony Adams

The drama and successes of his life have been as remarkable off the pitch as on it. He found sporting glory despite being an alcoholic and even served time in prison for drink-driving. But his journey of recovery has been a remarkable one. He went back to studying, developed a love of literature and the arts, and put his own money into a charity to support other sports men and women recovering from addiction.

Near-fatal alcoholism

Clarissa Dixon Wright

The opening lines of this programme made me want to listen straight away! She speaks at great length of her near-fatal alcoholism and was telling the story of when she thought she had looked death straight in the eye.

Talking about depression and alcohol

Freddie Flintoff

Freddie has talked openly about his depression and use of alcohol: “…somewhat the worse for wear, he weaved into the cabinet room, plonked himself down in the PM’s chair and knocked back yet another bottle of beer.”

Start again and live a second life

AA Gill

His witty, first-person articles have earned him a whole host of awards and a loyal following. But his life as a successful writer was preceded by more than a decade that was spent living in squalid squats, taking drugs and existing in an alcoholic haze. It was the unplanned intervention of a GP that made him face up to his alcoholism and seek treatment. It’s now 21 years since he last had a drink and he has been given, he says, the chance to start again and live a second life.

Tumultuous early life

Kathy Burke

Her early life had been tumultuous – her mother died before she was two and her father was often drunk, leaving her and her older brother to run the family home.

Tough guy hellraiser

Oliver Reed

Need we say more?

Pattern of self-destruction

George Michael

I picked this one since how he describes his pattern of self-destruction may be familiar to many of us. I listened to this whilst driving around Bristol in 2007 and it stays with me most because of what he says about Amy Winehouse – and how perceptive that was in hindsight!

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