Craig Strippel found himself ready to take his own life just a few months ago - now, having found support at drug and alcohol charity Addaction, he’s starting the New Year with a fresh zest for life and taken up running.
The father-of-three says running has been a vital part of his recovery from alcohol issues. So this year, the 37-year-old is gearing up for the London Marathon to use his running to raise money for Addaction - the alcohol and drug charity that supported him to take back control of his life.
“I stood on the end of Albert Pier, intoxicated, and I knew the tide was out so there was no water to break my fall. I was so close. My head was consumed with negative thoughts and saying do it, but my legs wouldn’t move. A fisherman saw me and kept his torch on me while he called the police and for the next hour a police officer talked to me until I came away from the edge. He offered me a cigarette - that’s what did it in the end.
“The stress of life and drinking heavily had taken its toll and led me down a dark path. By the age of 24, I was working 60-80 hours a week as a senior chef in charge of 11 other chefs. We had enormous daily targets on food and could sometimes work 4.30am-1.30am. I could have 30 pints behind the bar some days, but I was also making loads of money, so could spend £800 on a night out. I was hardly ever home. At my heaviest, I was drinking from 8.30pm to 3am Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“My girlfriend kept telling me to stop, but I didn’t want to admit it, I thought I was alright - apart from my growing beer belly. Even when I was at home, I used to go out fishing quite a bit to drink where the kids couldn’t see me.
“As time went by, I was tired all the time, I’d lose my temper over small things and I was always thinking about drinking. I realised I had an alcohol problem, but didn’t think there was any help out there. I just felt shame and I didn’t believe that anyone loved me. I thought the only way I could stop drinking was to end it.
“After the police talked me off the pier, I went to the hospital and from there found Addaction. I started going every day, attending sessions and meeting my key worker Gary. I still go twice a week and Gary gives me a call regularly to see if I’m ok. My passion for running has come back too and this has had a hugely positive effect on my mental health.
“My New Year goals are to become a recovery champion and support others finding their feet at Addaction - I’ve seen with my own eyes how powerful that is - and to run the London Marathon to raise money for Addaction so more people can get the support I had.”