Scarborough man tells of brave journey through addiction after almost dying of pancreatitis

He hit rock bottom more than once and although he thinks he “shouldn’t be here today”, somehow he is. And now he wants to share his story.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 4:49 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 4:53 pm

Shaun Hughes suffered from alcohol and substance abuse, an addiction that at one point took away everything he had.

In 2014 he almost died of pancreatitis but last year, following his move to Scarborough, his life got back on track.

“I had an amazing childhood, I left school, went into college, met my partner who then became my husband and together we opened two opticians in Sheffield.

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“Life was good but then slowly alcohol started to play more of a part in my life. Living and working in the city centre I noticed it was easier to socialise over a drink. Everything was around a party, a meeting, break some bread with people, have a glass of wine, feel good, go home, go to sleep, get up, go to work.”

But when his marriage “took a turn for the worse” his drinking habit spiralled out of control. As the 45-year-old explained, his husband became a politician and he, his support system.

“Looking back I realise I was in a mentally abusive relationship. My husband used me as a crutch to support himself and my crutch was the bottle and other substances. Every week there would be dinners, launches, charity fundraisers... You turn up at these events and before you know it there’s a glass of wine handed to you.”

Shaun’s addiction got so bad, he says he used to drink a bottle of wine before getting out of bed. As he puts it, “I lived to use” and the effect was so devastating, that by 2014 he’d developed pancreatitis.

“One weekend I went from not feeling too good to being in intensive care. The doctors around me told me to say my goodbyes to family because they were going to put me in a coma to keep me out of pain and said there was an 80% chance that I would die.

“At that point I knew my marriage was over and that my life was going to have to change.”

Despite bouncing back very quickly from the coma, the addiction was still there and the following years were marked by repeated hospital admissions. After losing his job and separating from his husband, Shaun went back to live with his family who encouraged him to seek help.

Last year he ended up in Scarborough where he started a six-month recovery programme at Ark House Rehab. Thanks to the support he received during and after the treatment, Shaun can proudly say he has not drunk a single drop of alcohol in over eight months. He now has his own flat, he’s attending an access course at university and has found himself a job at the Seafood Social cafe.

“I believe in a power greater than me that got me clean and sober. I really pushed the luck about dying, the amount of times I ended up in hospital I should not be here today but something has kept me alive.

“Some people would be envious of my lifestyle, the vehicles, the house, but all those things kept me trapped. Now I’m free and I’ve never felt more comfortable.

“I came to Scarborough a very broken man, and thought my world had ended. It’d only just begun.”