A former alcoholic dad who once drank a bottle and a half of whisky a day has opened up about how seeing his own selfie finally forced him to get sober.
47-year-old Gene Davis, of Cwmaman, Wales, had battled with alcoholism for decades, with his excessive drinking costing him multiple jobs, relationships and even his marriage.
The selfie – taken after he was hospitalised for falling out of a bunk bed – was the shock to the system he needed to give up the bottle completely.
Find out more about Gene’s story in the following clip:
The accident happened while Gene was staying in a friend’s spare room, having been asked to leave his family home on account of his drinking.
Gene has given the following account of the fall, revealing he’d ‘partially scalped’ himself:
I was given the spare room, which had a bunk bed in it, and I must have sunk into a heavy sleep,” he adds. But when I awoke in the night needing a pee I quite forgot I was six foot up and dropped like a stone to the floor, taking out a chest of drawers with my head on the way down.
I wasn’t knocked out – the drawers were totalled, mind – and staggered to the bathroom to see the mess I’d made of myself and whether or not I could get away with just wrapping it in a tea towel and going back to bed.
But, when I saw the blood, lifted up my hair and a big flap of skin came with it, I realised I’d partially scalped myself and could actually see my skull. I remember thinking, ‘Nope, it’s the hospital for you, pal’.
Gene first began drinking as a young teenager playing in a band alongside his cousin, Kelly Jones of Stereophonics.
Although he doesn’t put the blame completely at the door of rock and roll, Gene confessed he had felt pressured to live up to the ‘rock drummer image’ when he wasn’t onstage.
Gene ended up being chucked out of university for not attending classes, before working through a series of odd jobs where he was regularly dismissed.
After falling into the catering industry, the stress of the work only exacerbated Gene’s drinking, leading to him sneaking in cans or heading to the pub on his breaks.
Gene moved back to Wales in 2003, and continued to drink heavily; spending all his money on strong, cheap lager while hiding his addiction from his worried parents.
Discussing his lowest point, Gene said:
The lowest point probably came one New Year’s Eve, when me and the rest of the band I was in at the time went to this pub run by an Irish guy we knew.
While we were in there someone spilled their beer and I decided to take a straw, get down on my knees and suck the remnants of it from the dirtiest, mankiest pub carpet you’ve every seen.
And this was despite already having a full pint waiting for me on the bar. Isn’t that the most disgusting thing you’ve ever heard?
Since his accident 18 months ago, Gene has cut out drinking completely, and is now focusing on being a good dad to his son, Joe:
I’ve not touched a drop since – that was 18 months ago, I now work washing pots and preparing veg in a local Indian restaurant – basic stuff but there’s no stress, just the way I like it. Now Joe is my rock and my number one fan and he helps me keep it together.
As for all those lost years? I’m a bit ‘Edith Piaf’ about it all – ‘I regret nothing’ and all that – because, had I not gone down that route I wouldn’t have ended up meeting Vick, with whom I’m still friends, and I wouldn’t have had my boy.
Now it’s all about focusing on him and being a good dad. It’s been a long time since I felt like myself again, and I’m loving it.
All the very best of luck to Joe as he moves forward with his new outlook on life.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, you can contact Alcoholics Anonymous either by ringing their national help line on 0800 9177 650 or by emailing [email protected]
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.