FORMER homeless alcoholic Tony Andrews used to routinely swig cans of super-strength lager on the streets of Portsmouth.
Now following an intensive detoxification programme the 40-year-old has beaten the booze and written a book about his life that warns others about the dangers of heavy drinking.
In From That to This, Mr Andrews talks about how he began drinking Special Brew lager through a straw at the age of 12.
He then began to drink more heavily and became homeless in his early 20s.
Mr Andrews, who is originally from Basingstoke, began living on and off the streets in London and Hampshire before moving to Portsmouth 15 years ago.
It was only until a ‘good samaritan’ picked him up from out of a gutter and took him to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, one night last summer that he realised he needed to change the way he lived his life.
He said: ‘I went through a four-week programme where I was put on medication which helped stop my body craving alcohol. The transformation has been amazing. I can think much more clearly now and I don’t feel depressed or sluggish any more.’
Following the detox programme in August Mr Andrews was put into supported accommodation in Sandringham Road, Fratton, where he wrote his book.
‘There’s no way I would touch a drop of alcohol again because I know what it did to me,’ he said.
‘I don’t know how it escalated so badly really. Now I want to make sure people are aware of the dangers of drinking – especially super-strength lagers and ciders which are full of chemicals.
‘I’m very lucky to still be here.
‘One time I even tried taking my own life on the steps of St Mary’s Church, in Fratton.
‘I want to say a big thank you to my close friends and family for supporting me.’
Mr Andrews is now looking to write a follow-up to his book, which is available on Amazon, that talks more about his life.
He’s also looking to set up a service called Specialised in Making Independent Living Easy (Smile) which would help homeless people move into private accommodation.
‘I’ve pitched my idea to Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock so it’s a case of waiting to see what happens next,’ he said. ‘I’m really keen for the council to back me.’