‘I’ll die if keep drinking’ - booze battle councillor

BOOZE BATTLE ... Counr David Potts.
BOOZE BATTLE ... Counr David Potts.

A CONTROVERSIAL South Tyneside politician today admitted he would soon be dead if he doesn’t quit boozing for good.

Self-confessed alcoholic Coun David Potts, who represents UKIP in Cleadon and East Boldon, is in the last-chance saloon.

Six weeks ago, his heavy drinking led to him being taken to hospital in Edinburgh.

The 30-year-old has since been transferred to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, where he is awaiting the results of a biopsy to determine the extent of damage to his liver.

These are grim days indeed for one of the most controversial characters in local politics.

But despite his predicament, Coun Potts isn’t looking for sympathy, and said his slide into alcohol addiction was a “salutary lesson to others”.

In a candid interview with the Gazette, he said: “I have to stop drinking. If I don’t, I will die – it’s as simple as that.

“I may die anyway, it may already be too late. But I’ll definitely die if I don’t stop. I have no choice.”

In a remarkably frank conversation, speaking from the gastrointestinal ward at the Freeman, Coun Potts outlined the worst extent of his drinking.

He revealed he could consume up to 70 units of alcohol a day – the recommended limit is just three to four.

His day would start by downing a bottle of vodka before he went to his work as a financial investor.

The former Tory would sip from a hip flask filled with vodka during the morning and consume up to eight gin and tonics at lunchtime.

The afternoon at work followed a similar pattern, and he would often down several pints of strong Stella Artois lager in the evening.

It was a routine which has led to several spells in rehab, including an extended period drying out in South Africa early last year, after the breakdown of a “very special” relationship.

Despite the warnings that he was placing his life at risk, Coun Potts continued to drink, on occasions heavily, leading to his collapse in Scotland.

He said: “I was in Edinburgh with a friend and she said I didn’t look well. I’d turned yellow.

“At least I’ve got a chance. I’m a fighter and I’m fighting on.

“We need to see the results of the biopsy, to see if it’s cirrhotic, and take it from there.

“I don’t feel sorry for myself, I’ve brought this on myself. It’s not a question of ‘woe is me’.

“I am paying now for my addiction to alcohol. Strangely enough, I never did drugs.

“My wild days have come back to bite me.

“I’d warn other young people to take a lesson from my book. Alcoholism is ugly and pernicious.

“The medical staff here are very supportive and I’m not giving up. I’m just being realistic. This is the result of a decade of alcohol abuse.

“I’m being treated with very strong vitamins, they’re keeping my bloods right and I’m on a balanced diet. I’m in safe hands.

“I’m struggling with the boredom of being on a ward all day, but other than that I’m coping.

“I’m under no illusion that some people might not be bothered if I croak it, but I have a lot of support and I will battle on.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul

n Battling his old demons ... Page 6