Ex-alcoholic Claire, 29, backs campaign in memory of Amy

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RECOVERING alcoholic Claire Binns has backed the campaign set up by the father of tragic singing star Amy Winehouse.

The 29-year-old, of Halifax, hopes Mitch Winehouse’s plan to launch a foundation in memory of Amy will help those trapped in the downward spiral of addiction.

Claire has been alcohol and drug free now for 15 months after she was helped by Halifax’s Basement Recovery Project.

She said: “I’m gutted about what happened to Amy but if her dad can improve services for young addicts in her memory, hopefully some good will come of it.”

By the time Claire turned her life around at 27 - the age Amy died - she had been an alcoholic for 13 years.

She said: “From 14 I was drinking heavily. I’d meet friends and knock back two bottles of cheap cider.

“Naturally my education suffered because I was so badly behaved. I started using LSD, ecstasy and inhaling gas from pressurised canisters. Later I drank spirits like vodka when I could afford them.”

Claire, who lost her mum when she was 25, eventually hit rock bottom when a cocktail of drugs and alcohol landed her in intensive care.

She said: “I had sunk so low I went on a binge. After lots of drink and drugs I swallowed several anti-depressants. I have a vague memory of being violently ill then waking up in hospital.

“During a visit from my granny I remember her talking to me, which made me feel really different. I knew I had to change. I’d end up dead if I didn’t.”

After being discharged Claire got in touch with the Basement Project.

Their programme involves a four-week pre-recovery course to prepare for detoxification, then support throughout the detoxification process.

Finally a 12-week abstinence recovery group helps participants through the psychological challenge of being clean.

Claire said: “The Basement Project is run like a big family and the staff are former addicts so they know what you’re going through. They told me the truth of the situation - if I kept drinking I would die.

“During recovery I couldn’t imagine life without another drink.

“But I’ve been dry for 15 months and I can imagine the next 40 years without a drop.”

Next month Claire starts a degree in criminology at Huddersfield University and is now a Basement Project community recovery champion, promoting it to others in need.

Claire said: “I feel extremely lucky. I know there are a lot of young people struggling and they don’t have a Basement in their town. Hopefully Mitch Winehouse’s campaign will change that.

“Meanwhile I’d advise them to investigate all the drug treatment facilities in their area.

“Put in that bit of extra effort to get clean - it isn’t easy. And don’t give up.

“There is a much better life waiting around the corner.”