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Teacher and former Folkestone bar owner Trevor Warman writes book about troubles with alcohol

As millions across the country set out on their Dry January challenge, there is no other time of year when our relationship with alcohol comes under greater scrutiny.

Teacher and former bar owner Trevor Warman has had his ups and downs with drink, and has now written a book he hopes will help others handle their 'drinking demons'.

Former bar owner Trevor Warman has written a book about his troubles with alcohol
Former bar owner Trevor Warman has written a book about his troubles with alcohol

"I realised that, probably from the age of about 14, I had drunk every weekend and it got to the stage in my twenties and thirties where I was drinking most days and I think I'm probably not alone in that.

"For those of us of that sort of generation, brought up in the 80s, alcohol, certainly amongst the working classes, was very much part and parcel of everyday life.

"I always viewed alcohol as a kind of a freedom, you know, but actually the older you get and the wiser we become, I started to think this is becoming a bit more like a prison."

As a nation we have what could generously be described as a love/hate relationship with alcohol.

Every celebration, every commiseration, it seems no occasion is complete without a drink in hand, no anecdote complete without some recollection of the state of inebriation.

"What could my life look like if I'm not constantly thinking about when am I next going to have next drink..."

At least that is how it can seem for some. Many taking part in January's month of abstinence will find it easy not to reach for the bottle, they truly can take it or leave it.

But for people like Trevor Warman, a 40-year-old teacher from Repton Park in Ashford, the power of what he describes as his 'drinking demons' had begun to slip from his control.

For many addicts or problem users, a 'rock bottom' moment forces them to make change and seek help, but for Trevor - who was regularly downing 10 pints a day - it seemed more of a gradual realisation another life could be possible.

"Yeah, it was more of a slow burn, more of a sober curiosity," he explains of his journey so far.

"What could my life look like if I'm not constantly thinking 'when am I next going to have a drink?'"

Trevor Warman hopes his book will help others address their issues with drinking
Trevor Warman hopes his book will help others address their issues with drinking

According to the charity Alcohol Change UK, alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among those aged 15-49 in the UK.

However, since 2005, the total amount of alcohol consumed in the UK, the proportion of people reporting drinking, and the amount drinkers report consuming have all fallen. This trend is especially pronounced among younger drinkers.

Education has played a part, and Trevor hopes his book, Don't Look Back Hungover: How To Handle Your Drinking Demons, will speak particularly to younger men who might relate to his experiences.

"I started reading a lot of 'quit lit', as they call it, and I felt that there were a lot of really good books, like The Sober Diaries by Clare Pooley, and there's quite a few aimed very much at women.

"I wanted to try and write a book that aimed at men.

"Certainly sports fans, music fans, people from a certain type of background that probably want to analyse their alcohol consumption, certainly want to look at it and maybe try to think about cutting down or quitting, but ultimately either don't have the education, the know-how, or maybe felt alone like I did.

"So I just wanted to try to help people who are in a similar position, who were just really curious, and maybe even if one person reads it and says 'oh gosh, that feels like me' then I suppose this helped in a way."

At one point Trevor, who is married and has four children, saw the country's relationship with drink from the other side of the bar, when he ran the Junction 13 venue in Folkestone town centre.

It gave him a chance to contemplate the nature of the alcohol business, but it also allowed him to cloak his problem drinking in the role of the convivial host.

"When I first got into it I think part of it was an excuse to be able to drink more and I think that it was kind of justifying drinking every day because I was the kind of publican, I was the guy getting texts off mates saying come down to the bar.

Trevor Warman says he grew up in a culture with alcohol at its heart
Trevor Warman says he grew up in a culture with alcohol at its heart

"Essentially it was a licence to be able to drink with people, be able to keep drinking and stay in that kind of mindset where you are drinking heavily.

"It's easy to stay in the cycle. If you drink a lot one day, then you probably start drinking again because you're feeling feeling pretty rough.

"People have many different hangover cures, don't they? But from my experience, the only real hangover cure is more alcohol."

Trevor spent most of the second half of 2021 sober and, although he candidly admits to falling off the wagon at Christmas, he says the improvement in his health and lifestyle has been pronounced.

One of experiences that has been most different since he embraced an alcohol-free life has been following his beloved West Ham United home and away without a drink, except what he describes as a "cheeky Bovril" at half time.

"We went up to Liverpool a few years ago, first game of the season, and we got battered 4-0, and I remember being sort of just uncomfortably drunk the whole time, and I thought I don't actually want to be in that situation.

"I don't know the city, I don't really know how I'm getting home, if I lose these people that I'm with then I'm in trouble, you know, and I was sort of a bit out of it because of the drink.

"I was worried about how football would go down and whether I'd be able to cope, but actually if I'm being honest it's a far more pleasant experience nowadays - and it does help that West Ham are winning as well."

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