I necked 20 pints and did cocaine every weekend – lifes better now Im sober
A DJ who used to binge drink and sink up to 20 pints every weekend has turned his life around after giving up alcohol.
John Leaver, 39, says he would get "blackout drunk" every Friday and Saturday, spending most of his money on pints and cocaine.
After a heavy night out in 2019, he felt so awful that he decided to quit drinking for good. Now sober for four years, he runs a life coaching business helping others reduce or stop their drinking, while still working as a teetotal DJ at clubs across the country.
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John, a father of two from Rotherham, doesn't miss alcohol at all and enjoys DJing even more without the hangover. He said: "On a typical night out we'd go to our local, drink five or six pints of lager, then move onto spirits.
"We'd go to VIP booths and get one of those stupidly big bottles of vodka, which costs around £250, which we couldn't even afford.
"I became overweight because of binge drinking, I had bags under my eyes, and was depressed and anxious as hell, and I was spending all my savings going on benders. You convince yourself that it's something fun but it's not."
John highlighted the issue of how non-drinkers are stigmatised in the UK, adding "The biggest barriers for someone trying to quit is that there is still a stigma and expectations of men to drink.
"For a lot of young men I support, the thing that pulls them back into drinking is their friends because they feel like they're missing out. The drinking culture is very powerful thing and if you're not drinking and you're around people who are often it makes them feel uncomfortable."
In 2019, after years of binge drinking, John reached a breaking point. He said he had a "full on breakdown" following a breakup with his partner, the mother of his two children, and regular weekends of heavy drinking.
He recalled: "I lost the ability to cope, I had put weight on and lost all motivation and sacked my job off as a youth worker. The last time I went out it was a Saturday night four years ago, I got in at 5am and the next morning had my head down the toilet.
"I was 35 and my kids were getting dropped off in an hour and I could barely function. I said to myself – I am never doing this again, and I meant it."
"Binge drinking is one of the worst trade-offs of all time, if you had food that made you sick, you'd never eat it again, but we do this with drink, and it's considered normal."
After deciding to stop drinking for just a month, John felt so much better that he decided to continue abstaining indefinitely.
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Now, he's a part of the recovery community in Rotherham and gives talks about the benefits of quitting alcohol. He recently teamed up with the NHS to set up a new service for young people.
"It's a big deal for me really personally, I've seen the chaos and destruction that booze causes, I've lost multiple friends to alcoholism," he said. "My main objective is to try and normalise people not drinking and allow people to feel OK with not going out and getting wrecked."
DJing has been a constant in his adult life, which he continues to do, but now completely sober, which he admits has been "strange experience."
His next gig will include him playing a set and speaking on stage about the dangers of taking the party lifestyle too far. "Alcohol is a devious thing, I have learnt that for me being sober is a much better way to be," he said.
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