A RECOVERING alcoholic who drank so much he was convinced a vending machine was a relative has shunned the booze and turned his life around.

David Richardson, 51, lost his job, family, and dignity from drinking, regularly consuming up to 12 cans of lager and three litres of cider a day.

His problems started as a teenager when he would enjoy drinking at weekends with pals.

The father-of-two explained: “I started drinking as a teenager but didn’t know when to stop.

“When I got a job in a pub, that just made things worse.”

In his 20s, David worked at Possilpark's now demolished Hawthorn Bar, but spent much of his free time drinking and was unable to keep down the job.

His late shifts and boozing also caused problems with his partner, their son and her parents who they stayed with, and soon the relationship broke down.

David, from Possilpark, explained: “One month I was in New York with pals on a trip, the next I was begging and asking people for money in Saracen.

“I just let everything build up, I gave up everything for drink.”

At his lowest point, David said he would “let anyone with a carry out” in to his ground floor flat - whether he knew them or not.

The flat on Stonyhurst Street became a drinking den with people coming at all times of day and night.

David said: “Everybody just chapped the window.

“If I saw they had a blue carryout bag, they’d get in. I used to hide my cans in the washing machine, with clothes on top of them, so that other people in the flat wouldn’t steal them.

“I was begging on Saracen Street for money too, I was a complete tramp."

David was eventually unable to afford electricity, heating or food and contracted Tuberculosis from drinking out of the same container as someone infected with the disease.

His mind and body had also become so destroyed with alcohol he would hallucinate and believed he could see things that weren’t there.

Unbeknown to David, this was the start of Alcohol-Related Brain Damage (ARBD).

He said: “I believed there was a family living in my close and I had taken them in and let them stay in my house.

“My friend Ricky came round one night and I said he had to be quiet as this family were sleeping in the other room.

“There was nobody there at all.

“Another time I had been in hospital and was taking to a [vending] machine thinking it was my nephew.

“I thought this machine was speaking to me, I genuinely believed I was having a conversation with my nephew.”

David hated being in his flat so much that he stayed with family members during the day, only returning at night.

However his bad habits started to wear on his relatives, who had given him “more than one last chance”, and David lost contact with the majority of his family.

His brother William was one of the only siblings who still kept in touch and it was he who managed to convince him to stop drinking.

David explained: “In 2009 I took an alcoholic seizure and died.

“They brought me back to life in the ambulance, and now I’ve been diagnosed with heart failure.

“Its non-curable and the doctors say the chances of sudden death are very real.

“Eventually I went to the Royal Infirmary, where I was for 13 weeks. I’ve never seen my brother cry but he did that time.

“He held my hand and said ‘ We’re going to lose you.’

“I decided from that day, when I got out of hospital in 2009, that I wouldn’t touch alcohol again.”

David kept his promise, and has been teetotal since that day, staying abstinent through the deaths of his brother William and best friend Ricky six years ago.

The effects of David’s decades of drinking have had a long-term impact on his health, and he often has memory problems.

However a range of charities and agencies in Glasgow have joined together to help him get his life back on track.

The ARBD team from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde greatly helped the 51-year-old to deal with his problems and helped him secure a new tenancy which David says has changed his life.

He also went on a 20week course designed for people with brain injuries, run by charity Momentum.

The course helped him develop basic skills again, including reading, writing, cooking and socialising with others.

In 2012, he began volunteering in a British Heart Foundation shop to get more structure and responsibility back in his life.

David said: “ I didn’t expect to last a day in there.

“I just thought I’d go and see what it was like.”

David enjoyed the work so much he has now been awarded a five years’ service certificate from the charity.

Along with helping in the charity shop, David works with Penumbra - an organisation which supports people with ARBD and mental illness.

He acts as a peer support volunteer to help other people with a diagnosis of ARBD , giving them hope that recovery can and does happen.

David’s next hope is to reunite with his family and his two children - a son and daughter - who he has not seen for a long time.

He said: “I know I had a lot of last chances and let people down but I’ve changed my life, and everything is different now.”