It was a silent wrecking ball that left his life in tatters and saw him spending nights in the gutter. But for many years Linthwaite resident Dave Kennedy had no idea about the full devastating effect that alcoholism was having both on himself and on those he loved the most. Reporter Chloe Glover caught up with him at a cafe to hear his tragic story.

“It’s a problem that turned myself upside down for 24 years”, said Dave, 42, holding his cup of coffee.

“It took me to the darkest days of my life, ruined relationships and left me unemployed.”

That’s Dave Kennedy’s take as years of alcoholism took their deadly toll. Only now does he feel able to talk about the despair.

He said: “I think I’ve always had an addictive personality. When I was little I got obsessed with things like rivers and streams.

“But it was just when I was older that I replaced those fixations with those that were dark.

“I got into gambling on slot machines but alcohol took over after I turned 18.

“Everything I earned was spent on it but I didn’t see it as a problem.

“I thought I was just a party animal but I was really binge drinking.

“I couldn’t go out for one pint, it had to be 10.

“By the time I was in my late 20s it became serious and I started looking for an excuse to drink every night.

“I’d only got married a few years before when I was 25 and had two children by then.

“I was going to the pub almost every night and knew the exact times when I thought I should be ordering another pint. I made excuses by saying that I only went because my wife went to bed early, when in fact it was me going out that prompted her.

“Unfortunately, going there became a big part of my social life and I made some good friends–it was a terrible circle.

“On the nights I didn’t go out I always got through a bottle of wine in the house.

“I didn’t even realise the risks I was putting my family in– I could survive until 9.30pm but then would have to start drinking, even on evenings when I’d be looking after my kids alone because my wife was at work.

“It was just part of my daily routine and I had to keep at it because otherwise I’d get terrible anxiety.”

It was not long before his alcohol use began to destroy his working life. He was a self employed gardener and it was too easy to take days off.

“It was pretty pathetic but at the time it didn’t bother me– I was happy as long as I had enough money to drink.

“Looking back, it put a lot of financial strain on my family and all my customers got let down.

“Arguments between my wife and I got worse and worse, exacerbated by my inability to see another point of view.

“We divorced in 2005 – looking back, I think it was due to the alcohol. I cried but even then I didn’t realise that meant she was taking the kids away.”

Instead of prompting a wake-up call, it sunk Dave deeper into drink for another two years.

“I had a brief realisation of what it was doing to me in 2007, when my children had both moved back in with me.

“I became sober for a while – I just managed to stop like that, because I got addicted on the idea of being sober.

“I started hanging out with friends and family, which was fabulous and something I’d not been able to appreciate before.

“But after I met a new partner my old ways crept back.

“I hadn’t told her about my problem and she liked to drink Archers regularly, although only one glass a night. One day I just snapped and thought ‘well, why not just have the bottle?’

“We started going on big nights out and it just led to rows both with her and her family.

“The hardest part was when we split up in 2010, the year after my son was born. Since she left, I’ve not seen him, which is hard to deal with.

“I miss him and would love to see him again.”

Again, loss led him into a downward spiral and he lost his new job as an engineer.

“I was even given a good chance to sort myself out by my boss but I did nothing to address it.

“I started drinking at 6.30am – I’ve no idea how I afforded it – and was then unemployed for two years.

“I even spent child tax credits on alcohol - it was just disgusting but I was on full destructive mode.

“I’d spend some nights literally in the gutters and didn’t really mind, that’s the stage it got to.”

Former alcoholic Dave Kennedy - Huddersfield.

The beginning of the end came when Dave was put in touch with addiction recovery project, The Corner, on Prospect Street.

“I just went along because I was told they gave out free breakfasts and I wasn’t eating much.

But it was not until he heard the news that one of his friends from the centre had passed away from alcohol poisoning, that he tried to regain a grip on his life.

“He was just 27. After his funeral, on July 30 2013, was the last time I touched a drop. I just went cold turkey and had two or three days of hell.

“I was lucky because doing that could’ve killed me. I didn’t sleep, had delusions and cold sweats but then one day I came around and I realised there was hope.

“I began to go to Narcotics Anonymous meetings at The Corner and got a real buzz from them.

“Then I got a job as the centre’s chef – staff there helped save my life.”

Now, one year eight months later, he is proud to still be on the road to recovery.

“I’ve got a new partner, have a new job as a chef and just seem to suffer with memory problems - which is ridiculously lucky.

“Reaching little milestones help me and I don’t see it as a daily battle but daily victory.

“If I have a low day I just look back and reflect on how good things are now. There’s now just too much to lose.

“My mum’s been an absolute saviour to stand by me despite what I’ve put her through.

“Now I just want to try and help others who are still suffering and pass on the message that there is always a way out.

“I can’t be a hero but it would just be nice if some one can pick up on what I say and get their own life back on track.”


According to the NHS, alcohol dependence is affecting around four million people in the UK.

Many of those seek help in Huddersfield, Calderdale and the rest of Kirklees.

Health bosses estimate that nine per cent of all men and four per cent of all women are affected by the addiction.

Alcohol is one of the three biggest lifestyle risk factors for disease and death in the UK, after smoking and obesity.

It is a causal factor in 60 diseases, including mouth, breast, stomach and liver cancers, high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver and depression.

It can also cause digestive problems, heart issues, erectile dysfunction, reduced fertility, osteoporosis and a weakened immune system.

The definition of binge drinking is drinking more than double the recommended lower guidelines for regular alcohol intake in one session.

For men, this is drinking more than eight units of alcohol – about three pints of strong beer. For women, it is drinking more than six units – two large glasses of wine.

Gaining a tolerance to alcohol does not mean it is safer to drink more. Tolerance can actually be a warning sign that your body has started to be affected by alcohol.

Alcohol is also very high in calories. Drinking five pints of lager a week adds up to 44,200kcal over a year, equivalent to eating 221 doughnuts.

There is help available from several groups in the area, including Kirklees Alcohol Advisory Service.

A spokesman said: “The self-help support group is a registered charity with over thirty years experience of providing confidential support to all people in Kirklees whose lives are affected by excessive drinking, either drinkers or carers of drinkers."

There are three drop-in meetings each week running 7pm until 9pm.

They are: Monday - Ladies group, Huddersfield Methodist, Mission Lord St. Huddersfield

Tuesday - Mixed group, Batley Salvation Army Centre, Bradford Road, Batley

Wednesday - Mixed group, Huddersfield Methodist Mission, Lord St. Huddersfield.