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I drank so much booze my eyes and skin turned YELLOW – I was having 21 pints of alcohol a day before my body shut down

AN ALCOHOLIC was drinking 21 pints of cider a day – which left his eyes and skin yellow before his body started shutting down.

Jack Mackey was found by his mum Sue slumped in his bedroom vomiting blood the day after his 27th birthday.

Jack Mackey would self-harm while drinking heavily
Jack’s eyes and skin turned yellow
His battle with booze lasted nearly a decade

His body was shutting down and he was on death’s door, but not for the first time. She drove him to hospital and pleaded for staff to save him.

For years – during around 30 hospital visits – they’d been told there weren’t enough beds to keep him longer than a few hours, and he was indefinitely on the NHS waiting list for inpatient detox.

He couldn’t afford rehab – not even with the savings his grandmother offered him. But something had to change.

Luckily, it did, and he’s been sober since September 2019.

Speaking to the Sun, the now-31-year-old agreed to relive the agonising battle he had with booze which lasted nearly a decade.

“I felt so on my own when I was near the end. I almost died three times, and you feel so lonely. You feel like there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel, but there is,” he said.

From the age of 19, Jack, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, slowly began drinking more and more.

As a musician, he was performing in a band multiple nights a week and alcohol helped him get over his anxiety.

But it was a slippery slope, to the point where he was soon drinking four litres of cider just to get out of the house for his day job at Tesco.

It began to dawn on him he had a serious problem. His first hospital trip came out of the blue. He hadn’t drank that day.

He said: “I had a really bad seizure at home and was rushed to hospital with my nan. I was in the back of the car seizing up. That’s when I realised I was dependent on it.”

Doctors at Pembury Hospital told him his body was so dependent on alcohol and the adverse reaction was due to withdrawal.

After being put on a drip, which topped up nutrients he was lacking, he was sent home and told to continue drinking, but slowly reduce it.

Jack’s mum Sue was baffled. There was no aftercare, just a vague plan of how much he should drink and tablets to help his immune system.

He said: “My mum was like ‘are you kidding? You’re sending us home to drink more?’

“Unfortunately, that’s the advice you get when you go to hospital and they haven’t got the room to detox you or they are just too busy.”

For Jack it was a “green light to drink more and I was like ‘great'”, he said.

For the next six months, he and his mum would do their best to monitor his drinking levels – but the withdrawal meant he was “hallucinating, completely delirious”.

“I felt so on my own when I was near the end. I almost died three times, and you feel so lonely. You feel like there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel, but there is,” he said.

Jack Mackey

During frequent trips to hospital, his mum would be told “you’ve got to go home, we’ve got no beds for you”.

“Each time I remember my mum begging with the person in charge of the whole ward for the night just literally begging her not to send me home but they still had to, unfortunately,” Jack said.

“At this point I was suicidal as well, because the things I was seeing were some of the most terrifying stuff I’ve ever seen in my life.

“For them to send me home, was like a death sentence to me.

“When you are drinking that much you can’t sort out your mental health, so my depression was getting worse and worse. I was self harming, it was a nightmare.”

He went on to say:  “I think the system is still broken in a lot of ways. Even when you go to the hospital you still have this stigma of ‘addict’.

“One doctor came into the room and poked me in the stomach and was like ‘do you feel silly now? This is going to kill you – do you not realise?’

“I was lying in my bed crying. There needs to be more help out there for addicts.”

He said cutting down his drinking “at a stable rate”, as doctors had ordered, was “not enough”.

The hallucinations began to get worse. “I started hearing stuff, hearing music coming out of my fan. It was crazy,” Jack explained.

“My mum got me in the car and said ‘come on, we’re off.’ By the time we got to hospital I was talking to the walls and thought the world was going to end.

“That was because I didn’t drink two litres that I was supposed to that day. That type of withdrawal can be fatal, and in a lot of cases it is if it goes untreated.

Jack with his mum Sue outside the rehab centre on Christmas Day
Jack with his brother while in rehab

“We had no idea that alcohol withdrawal could cause hallucinations of that kind, and delirium. It was terrifying. My mum thought I’d lost my mind.”

At his worst he was drinking 12 litres of cider a day.

“I was literally having 20 minutes sleep. The day would end, 20 minutes sleep, wake up, drink. It was just crazy,” he explained.

“I could never walk in the mornings because within those 20 minutes of me not drinking, my shaking would be so bad. It’s pure hell, basically.”

At the age of 23 he was finally accepted into an inpatient detox programme at Bridgehouse Centre in Maidstone. He’d waited months that many other addicts don’t have.

“The day I got taken to hospital was a week before I was supposed to go for detox and I almost died. It can literally not be enough sometimes,” he said.

Jack was given librium – a class of benzodiazepine drugs – which allowed for a tapering off process of the withdrawal symptoms.

Just under two weeks later, he was allowed to leave. It worked – he didn’t drink for three years.

But a bad relationship break up saw his mental health spiral. He admits he started drinking again, initially, because he didn’t want to live.

“It’s not a quick way out, it’s very slow. It got to the point where I wanted to die but by the end I was thinking I would do anything to live,” Jack said.

Over the next few months, he continued to drink, but he thought it was at a manageable level.

“It got to the point I was hearing angelic music coming from the sky and I thought ‘this isn’t good’,” he said.

“I hadn’t drank for five days at this point and I knew it wasn’t alcohol withdrawal because I wasn’t shaking.

“I went to hospital and they gave me something because I couldn’t sleep and when I was better I really went for it with the drink and it got awful and within the space of five months I was yellow.”

His final drink came on September 29 2019. His mum Sue found him in his room the following day.

“I was vomiting blood. It was like a horrorshow. I don’t really remember much of that day, it was the day after my 27th birthday, it was the day of my last drink.

“I don’t remember going in, it was a big haze. I was on death’s door before they decided to help, basically.”

Jack was in hospital for eight days and then sent back to Bridgehouse for inpatient detox.

His family had been discussing rehab but couldn’t afford it.

“I can’t tell you how extortionate they are, an everyday person can’t afford them,” Jack said.

However, he learned about Kenward Trust, a nearby charity-run rehab centre.

He spent three months there. He said all they asked was a small contribution from his benefits and in return he got his own room, food, and days filled with recovery lessons.

“So many places saved me, but Kenward Trust really did,” he said.

Jack is now living in his own flat and is continuing with his music.

He has also published a book – Delirium – detailing his battle to overcome alcohol, and is working on a second.

A spokesperson for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust told the Sun they are unable to talk specifically about individual cases.

However, they added that the trust does not provide specialist alcoholism services and so patients are referred back to their GP for referral to local community services for ongoing care.

Jack’s book is available from Pegasus Publishing here.

He can be found on Instagram at @jackleonmackey

Jack with his nephew
Jack hasn’t drank in over four years
He is continuing to do his music and is writing another book
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