A dad has revealed how he turned yellow and swollen ‘like Homer Simpson’ because of a deadly alcohol addiction.
Mitchell Balzan would binge on 20 cans of lager and a litre of vodka every day.
And at the age of just 24, his alcoholism left him bedridden.
He would steal from his family and friends and emotionally manipulate them in order to get his hands on more booze.
Mitchell – who was just 13 when he started drinking and an alcoholic by 21 – said it started when he began to "self medicate" because of severe anxiety.
He told the Liverpool Echo : "I wouldn’t be without alcohol, my last binge lasted 12 months , I wouldn’t stop, I couldn’t stop."
As a result of his last binge, which lasted a year, he drank so much he started to turn yellow.
He said: "I looked like Homer Simpson. I would describe myself as swollen and yellow, I really looked like a cartoon, it was surreal.
"When I looked at myself I thought, I’m not yellow but other people would tell me."
By this point Mitchell was drinking a litre of vodka a day and says he was at the point where he cared more about alcohol than dying.
He said: "I’d drink 20 cans of lager in one day and graduated to a litre of vodka a day. My anxiety was keeping me awake but the alcohol was forcing me to sleep.
"It’s not a normal existence. I’d wake up have a couple glasses , vomit, be retching, have to get more alcohol and then sleep again.
"It was waking up, drinking, feeling like I was about to die have another drink to calm down, put a programme on TV, go to bed, that was the cycle."
He added: "When drinking, I never worried about dying.
"I was drunk, I was resigned to being drunk, even though my girlfriend just had our first baby."
Family and friends tried to help Mitchell get sober but he believed that drinking was keeping him alive and instead of accepting their help he would steal from and manipulate them to buy him more booze.
Mitchell said: "It came to the point my family, they didn’t know who I was, it was completely Jekyll and Hyde.
"It send shivers round my body."
"I took my girlfriend Leanne’s purse numerous times, it got to the point she wouldn’t bring money to the house at all. I’d search and find notes saying ‘there’s no money, you need help,’" he said.
During a particularly dark binge Mitchell stole his cousin’s laptop and cashed in all the money on booze.
The 26-year-old said: "He gave me the laptop to play a game on and I’d had no drink, so I took it to cash converters and got someone I know to go to do it with their ID because I didn’t want it traced back to me."
Mitchell made multiple attempts to give up drinking but they all failed and he was hospitalised every time because of seizures.
He said: "People didn’t understand, my mum tried to help me, she had been an alcoholic but she’d been sober for 15 years, in my family there’s a phobia of hospitals.
"I came off it at home, tried to cut down the ale, but I’d go into a seizure. I tried cold turkey and it wasn’t working. I thought if I didn’t have it, it would kill me.
"I couldn’t think past the drink."
On Christmas Eve in 2015 Mitchell was taken to hospital after his family doctor told him he was on the brink of dying.
Despite the desperate circumstances, Mitchell still could not let go of his drink and was taking a bottle of vodka, disguised as Lucozade, into hospital with him.
He had his last drink from that bottle on Christmas Eve and was rushed to ICU the next day and diagnosed with Hepatic Liver Disease.
Mitchell credits his mum, Christine, who has now passed away, with helping him get life saving treatment.
He said: "I’m here now because she never gave up on me. I could have been on the streets, I was willing to do anything.
"As a mother she wanted to protect me but she knew she was killing me [by buying alcohol]. I was completely willing to do whatever, it had control of me.
"I have two children now and it breaks my heart thinking about what I’d be like in her position."
The shocking truth of how ill he was and the realisation he had a baby that was relying on him forced Mitchell to sober up.
He said: "Once I was in hospital my girlfriend brought me a picture of the baby before she would bring the baby in. I remember clearly, she said ‘you’re sober now but look what you’ve got, you’ve got a daughter.’
"It was the realisation someone was dependent on me, I’ve never had that before. Since then I’ve never drunk."
Mitchell has now been sober for over two years and says he feels lucky to be alive.
He added: "My latest bloods came back and everything is within the normal range. I’m lucky, it’s a miracle, I wasn’t expecting it."
Since being sober Mitchell has focused on his family and now has two young daughters.
He said: "I got back some time I missed with Scarlett, now I don’t take anything for granted."
Mitchell wants other people to know the warning signs of addiction and encourage people to seek help early.
He said: "If you get a feeling of angst or you love that alcohol and you notice it, say. Ask for help immediately, go and speak to someone, a doctor or family.
"If you noticed a drink is what makes you feel ok, that’s not normal. In moderation it’s great but as soon as you use it to express a feeling or make things a certain way, that’s an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and needs to be addressed immediately."
Since being sober Mitchell has focused on his family and now has two young daughters, Scarlett, 2, and Amelie, 8 months.
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