Alex Clapp and his son Marcus

A Nantwich man who battled back from “rock bottom” as an alcoholic has launched a new business to help others suffering mental struggles.

As part of National Alcohol Awareness Week (July 1-7), Alex Clapp tells Nantwich News how words from his teenage son brought him back from the edge of despair.

Now, two years later, the 44-year-old has completed rehab and has launched the “sober events” Claritee Group to offer training and guidance for companies and their employees.

Alex said words from his own son (pictured together, above) were “a miracle” and probably saved his life.

He had become more reliant on alcohol, his son had stopped seeing him, and his son’s mum had said that he should get help with his drinking.

“I was sitting with him in the garden at my parents’ house, and he turned to me and said: ‘Dad, you are 42 years old and you still need your mum and dad. I am 17 years old and I need you.

“I was at such a low point in my life – feeling lost and alone doesn’t begin to describe it – but those words hit me like a ton of bricks.

“It was at that moment I realised I did have a purpose in my life – I had to be a decent father to my son again.”

Alex made huge changes to his life – where he lived, what he did for fun, who he went out with among others.

He also started working to help young people work through mental health issues at Jabbin’ Dabber boxing club in Nantwich.

Alex’s problems started in 2019 when he started to lose the sight in one of his eyes.

Despite extensive investigations, his condition remained undiagnosed and he lost 90% sight in one eye.

He turned to alcohol and rapidly becoming dependent on it.

“I have always been an ambitious, independent individual; heading a successful consultancy business for over two decades and part owner of numerous other companies,” says Alex.

“I have enjoyed honing my entrepreneurial skills, executing business plans and bringing successful companies into fruition.

“As you can imagine, losing my vision had a significant effect on not only my physical wellbeing but the quality of my mental health which directly impacted all areas of my life such as career, family and general day to day life.”

Alex recalls growing up in a “predominantly male household” with a strong father and brothers.

It was in an era where masculinity dictated that emotions and feelings were not to be discussed out of fear of appearing weak.

“This led to me suppressing the trauma of my ongoing sight issues,” he says.

“I put on a facade to the outside world in a bid to cover up my internal struggles but without the adequate skills or information, it was a short-lived solution.

“I looked for another aid to my situation – and found alcohol.”

For the three years Alex suffered from alcoholism and his relationship with his family, and most importantly his son who I had been a single parent to, disintegrated.

“My self-worth was at an almighty low that I had never experienced before, and I had become unrecognisable to myself,” he adds.

“Internally I was losing motivation to carry on yet externally, I appeared my usual self.

“At that time, I was hugely unaware that help and support were available to me, and the possibility of change seemed intangible.

“I hit rock-bottom, but I am pleased to say that eventually, I did find the courage to speak about my internal conflict and in turn take action to face my addiction to alcohol.

“Within the last 2-3 years, I have spent a total of five months in rehabilitation facilities, battling my inner demons, confronting my mental health issues and understanding how my life experiences have informed my behaviours.

“This has been a huge challenge to say the least, allowing me to grow mentally and physically.”

Alex feels his experiences have shown him the wider problems of society’s general attitude towards alcohol.

“Alcohol has become synonymous with relaxing and decompressing,” he says.

“It is often perceived as the ultimate aid to have fun.

“I firmly believe that with the continuation of this attitude, the amount of people who become dependent on alcohol to relieve mental stress will only increase and in certain instances, have detrimental effects like what I, myself, have experienced.”

This was the catalyst for Alex to set up the “sober events company” Claritee Group to encourage an alternative to drinking alcohol for a good time.

They have already hosted a range of events across the North West including corporate night outs that include a three-course meal, fun, games and activities.

“We have live music, DJs competitions, activities, all the things that you associate with having a fun time, but without the alcohol.

“It means that you wake up in the morning with a fresh head and remembering all the great people you met and socialised with and without dreading if you’ve said the wrong thing to your boss whilst under the influence.

“Likewise, over the last 18 months we have introduced nights at locations across the region under the brand of Club Claritee.

“The club nights are for a whole range of different people, some are alcoholics in recovery, some simply want a night out off the booze.

“We’ve even had students attending our events in Chester after local colleges and universities recommended the night as a way for students to relieve the stress of exam time without relying on alcohol.”

Alex, who grew up in Holmes Chapel, was introduced to boxing by his Claritee colleague Bern Giam.

Alex coaching at Jabbin Dabber in Nantwich
Alex coaching at Jabbin Dabber in Nantwich

He now teaches kids boxing in Nantwich at Jabbin Dabber boxing club on Welsh Row.

“It’s a great place to get one to one time with the kids and we regularly ask them how they’re feeling whether they have any problems and invite them to talk.

“The boys and girls know it’s a safe space to share any worries and have an open chat.

“It’s great that times are changing, and young people feel more able to speak to up and speak out, more so than when I was a kid.”

This year they are working with charity Steps Together – a collection of private addiction treatment services such as residential and outpatient addiction treatment and therapy.

Steps Together and Claritee Group are hosting the UK’s first alcohol free awards ceremony in Liverpool in September, celebrating the charity’s hard-working community.

“It’s going to be a wonderfully uplifting evening, one that shows how easy it is to have fun without relying on alcohol,” adds Alex.

“I plan to be a long time sober myself, and I certainly don’t intend to give up having fun now, so I’m learning new and exciting ways to achieve it every day.”

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