An ex-brewery boss, who has worked in the drinks industry his whole life and experienced problems with alcohol, has turned his attention to helping those with addictions.
And Ian Linsley, who is still involved with Alnwick Brewery and Alnwick Rum, says he believes that he’s ‘one of the few people in this country who can help Gazza stop drinking’.
The 53-year-old, who now lives at Alnmouth, feels that there needs to be a sea-change in the way that alcohol and other addictions are treated in the West.
With alcohol something that was always present in his life, over recent years Ian decided to spend time researching various issues relating to psychology and science relating to the brain.
“Alcoholics Anonymous and the rehab centres here and in America work on a system that’s nearly 80 years old,” he said.
“I congratulate them for the people they have helped, but their success rate is very, very low.
“One of the problems was that no one back then knew how the brain worked.
“The question is, ‘how many systems or implements are used anywhere that are nearly 80 years old?’
“That question hasn’t been asked, and my question is why?
“I also want to do something about changing the whole way that the NHS funds treatment and the treatment that’s available to the general public.”
Now Ian is offering support to those who need it, not in a group setting like traditional treatment, but in one-to-one sessions, either over the internet on Skype or at his new ‘office’ – Alnmouth beach.
He believes passionately that the old methods of taking it one day at a time and sharing stories in a group setting with a heavy emphasis on guilt and powerlessness in the face of relapse is not the way it should be.
“I have been there and I have done meetings and I wanted to stand up and say ‘this is wrong’,” Ian said.
“I talked to some of the people after the meeting and they said they are most likely to relapse straight after the meeting.
“It’s because of what I have done that I feel that I can help people.
“I have actually lived it all my life and I feel it’s part of my inheritance.
“I have suffered from alcohol challenges and I have had counselling, which I found totally and uttterly ineffectual because I couldn’t relate to the people who came to see me.
“I have crossed the line many times, people who know me know I was a huge drinker and I just about held my life together, but it couldn’t continue.”
Ian started working with his dad at Alnwick Brewery at the age of 12 during school holidays, before heading to Edinburgh to work as a brewery rep at the age of 17.
There he became involved in a dangerous drinking culture, which included taking diuretics so that you could drink more and hosting parties three times a year for the police, who would then turn a blind eye to drink driving.
At one point, Ian’s GP said he had reduced his life expectancy to 25.
“When I look back, it was so wrong,” Ian said. “So embedded was I in the drinking industry that I started to judge people on how much they could drink.”