‘I’ve already died twice,’ says Gazza

March 11th, 2011 - 2:17 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Mar. 11 (ANI): Former England football star Paul Gascoigne has candidly revealed that he has come back from the dead twice while trying to overcome his addiction to alcohol and drugs.

Gazza now looks gaunt and has a hairline that is thinning at age 43, but is regaining his physical and emotional health, and is sober to boot.

“The country cares for me, I know that. And, I take everything on board people say. But now I have to do everything for myself. And now I am more at peace with everything and enjoying myself,” the Daily Express quoted him, as saying.

He admits that even by his own madcap standards, 2010 was manic.

He insists that he spent the first half of 2010 hardly drinking. He says that his tolerance for alcohol of the old days, when he could drink bottles of wine or spirits in a session, is now gone. Instead, he was a recluse, just leaving his flat in the Newcastle suburb of Jesmond.

Then, one Sunday last June, he decided to go to a pub to watch a World Cup game. He was harassed and called a friend to drive him home. The car arrived with the friend’s girlfriend driving. Minutes later, it ploughed into a lamppost and bollards at high speed in the city’s Quayside district.

“I woke up the next day with a broken nose, a cut over my eye, a cut on my arms, broken ribs and a punctured lung, ” he says.

“They told me I died in the ambulance twice. My dad and my sister were standing next to the bed and she took a photo that shocked me.”

“I went home 12 days later and didn’t have my house keys so I got up on a ladder to get into the house, fell off and did another rib. I went back to the hospital and they put me on an oxygen machine to pump up the lung again. I accidentally switched it off and was turning blue.”

Now, the drinking took off again, the amounts small but the dependence still the same.

“Four cans was enough for a couple of weeks, because I hadn’t been drinking for a while, but then it became six. I could drink a bottle of whisky but give me six cans and I will be drunk.

It was getting too much for me.”

When his situation seemed to be getting out of control, Gazza called Steve Spiegel, the founder of the Providence Project centre in Bournemouth, who had offered Gascoigne help before.

Gazza lasted five weeks before heading back home, spooked by a newspaper report that people were buying him cans in treatment, which he denies.

He came back for another 11 days before returning to Newcastle again.

One night he drank a quarter bottle of gin. The next afternoon, he was in Jesmond at a cash point when a woman - after getting a photo of him with her two sons - reported him to the police as being unsteady, having just got out of his MG sports car.

Police arrested him in the car, 142mg of alcohol still in his system against the limit of 35mg.

At a court appearance, the judge told him he could expect to go to jail. The next day he collapsed.

Police arrested him on suspicion of possessing cocaine. “I never was a drug taker, ” he insists.

He says: “I have slipped up with cocaine a few times, I know that, when people have offered me a line in a pub toilet, but I have had to take some of the stories about me because I have done it before.”

Now Gazza knew he had to give Providence a proper try and again rang Spiegel, who drove to Newcastle to collect him. This time, Gascoigne lasted the course.

The judge in the drink driving case accepted that treatment was more beneficial than a prison cell and imposed an eight-week sentence, suspended for a year, plus a three-year ban.

What kept him going through the demanding daily regime of group sessions, workshops, one to-one counselling and evening Alcoholics Anonymous meetings was the thought of making it to a passing-out ritual and receiving a commemorative coin in front of his peers in treatment.

Now in aftercare, he continues to deal with his demons, not least the ruins of his relationship with ex-wife Sheryl, son Regan and stepchildren Mason and Bianca.

A documentary about them last year laid bare the pain all round.

“I would like one day to see the kids. I don’t like it when they go to the papers and say, ‘I don’t want to see my dad’, but I understand why they might say it. I can’t let it ruin my sobriety. I’m not being selfish. I would just rather the kids see me when I’m better,” he says. (ANI)

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