A man recovering from an alcohol dependency said he was at “rock bottom” after his drinking problem left him homeless.

As part of our coverage of Alcohol Awareness Week the Haringey Independent spoke to a volunteer at the Haringey Advisory Group on Alcohol (HAGA) about his battle to overcome his drinking problem.

John Gibbs, 64, has been alcohol free for the last four years after completing a rehabilitation programme with HAGA.

He said: “The date is etched in my mind – the last drink I had was September 18, 2009.

“It’s been tough but I knew for my health and for my family that things had to change.”

Mr Gibbs said he started drinking socially but it soon got out of hand and he had developed a full blown drinking problem.

As a result of his prolonged alcohol abuse Mr Gibbs had begun to experience blackouts and numbness in his limbs.

He was referred to HAGA after he eventually became homeless and was force to use a night shelters.

Mr Gibbs added: “I never imagined I’d be homeless but drinking and using drugs had sent me to rock bottom.”

He knew he had to get help after his sister and nieces expressed their concern about his wellbeing.

Following a six-month rehabilitation programme, the 64-year-old went back to college and trained to support others overcoming addictions.

He now volunteers three days a week and runs many of the programmes which were vital to his own recovery.

The HAGA volunteer said: “I love being able to give something back – to HAGA and to the community.”

“I hope anyone reading who knows things aren’t right gets help. I did, and at 64 I have never been happier.”

According to Haringey Borough Council, who fund HAGA locally, 26 per cent of people in the borough drink at risky levels.

And one in ten people who seek alcohol treatment are parents living with children, and a quarter of domestic violence referrals are identified as alcohol-related.

To mark Alcohol Awareness Week the council is piloting a new responsible retailers scheme to tackle alcohol issues.

It will give businesses support and training around alcohol as well as tobacco and fast food sales.

The scheme was set up after a report from the director of public health highlighted the impact of alcohol across the borough.

Haringey’s director of public health Dr Jeanelle de Gruchy expressed concerns that clusters of licensed premises were driving the high levels of drinking over the recommended daily allowance.

Those that take part in the scheme will be listed on the council’s website and receive shop window branding and displaying alcohol bottle hangers that direct people to sources of support on alcohol issues.

The council is also funding alcohol treatment services and backing the national Dry January campaign, which is run by Alcohol Concern.