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Three cans of Special Brew for breakfast

Eastwood Today, 5th August 2006

A FORMER Eastwood man, who is a recovering alcoholic, has spoken out about the perils of drink after a Government report said booze should be re-classified as more harmful than some illegal drugs.

John Hibbard, 57, who now lives in Heanor, quit drinking ten years ago after he was hospitalised on holiday in Scotland.

Working as a bus driver in Underwood, Mr Hibbard spoke of the times he ferried children and pensioners while under the influence of alcohol.

Mr Hibbard said: "I would drink three cans of Carlsberg Special Brew for my breakfast and then go and drive a double-decker bus.

"I was in a very bad place. I was drinking as if it was going out of fashion. My alcoholism wasn't picked up until I was 47."

"I have had to go from extremes to zero tolerance."

A mixture of specialised counselling, and the support of his "magnifcent" local GP, enabled Mr Hibbard to tackle his addiction.

Now he is warning others about the dangers of problem drinking: "Everywhere you go these days you get booze thrown at you."

This week Mr Hibbard took part in a Radio Derby debate about Government findings which rate some illegal drugs as less harmful than alcohol and tobacco.

The suggested rating of drugs, according to harm done, rates alcohol as the fifth most harmful drug, ahead of some current class A drugs, while tobacco was listed as ninth. Cannabis, currently rated a class C drug, was below both those legal stimulants at 11th.

The MPs said including alcohol and tobacco in the classification would give the public "a better sense of the relative harms involved".

Phil Willis, chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, said: "It's time to bring in a more systematic and scientific approach to drug classification - how can we get the message across to young people if what we are saying is not based on evidence?"

Mr Hibbard said: "Alcohol is the most available drug. It is more available than heroin or cannabis.

"Where you have got a human being, you have got a drink or drug problem."

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