There is currently no cure for addiction, and those who do manage to overcome this illness will always have the threat of relapse hanging over them. It is important for individuals in recovery to avoid complacency and maintain their sobriety to avoid suffering a relapse.
To overcome addiction once is difficult enough, but to have to do it again can often seem an impossible task to the affected person. Some may never get the opportunity to get better again because they are unable to find the motivation to begin once more. Sadly, for teacher Christopher Green, his relapse from alcoholism ended in tragedy.
Help That Never Arrived
Green hanged himself in his car on a slip road of the M53 on September 25th 2016 after relapsing just weeks previously. He had requested professional help in the days before his death, but this never arrived.
Depression and anxiety had affected Green for many years, which led to him trying to commit suicide on previous occasions. In later life, he became addicted to alcohol, and after around ten years of living with alcoholism, he finally managed to get sober; however, he relapsed just weeks before his death.
Green was spotted in his car by an eye-witness, Mandy Taylor, who said she saw his car jerking forwards and backwards as she passed. She then saw his car ‘shoot’ across the road and into a hedge. At this point, she told her son to call emergency services.
When police arrived on the scene, they found Green inside his car, which was down a grass embankment. PC James Wright, who was the first officer on the scene, could not get a response. Green was pronounced dead.
Shame and Embarrassment
Green’s father Geoffrey spoke of his son’s embarrassment at being affected by alcohol addiction. He said his son was a cheeky character, and he described him as warm and bubbly. Nevertheless, he stated that in his capacity as a respected teacher and father, he felt embarrassment about his illness.
He had accessed a home detox programme and had been sober for about nine months before suffering a relapse. Alcohol liaison practitioner at the Countess of Chester Hospital, David Howells, said, “Although teaching was one of his passions, it seemed to cause him a great deal of stress. Chris was very ashamed and felt a lot of guilt around the effect his dependency was having on his family.”
He spoke about how Green had been in touch with the alcohol liaison service just five days before his death to ask for help. He said, “In hindsight, given that he had relapsed and lost his job and split up with his partner, I would have gone to see him at home to provide that support prior to Turning Point’s involvement.”
After the death of Green, the service has now developed a fast-track route for those who are in immediate need of help.
Waiting for Help
Assistant coroner Jean Harkin said that while the death was the result of suicide, it was set ‘against a background of alcohol and mental health issues rendering him unable to work’. She added, “Hopefully we can learn from Chris’ death. Sadly, at his low point on September 20, it appears that he was waiting for some support that never arrived. In hindsight, we recognise that a home visit should have been made because that it what was requested and expected. We have no evidence that this would have made a difference, but nevertheless, it is a missed opportunity. But the service have themselves recognised that omission and I am satisfied that follow-up measures are now in place.”