Steve Saunders went from alcohol addiction to helping others overcome their struggles with substance abuse and addiction.

Steve, 66, from Pyrford near Woking, is a former aircraft engineer who now works with Surrey County Council’s Changing Futures Programme which aims to support people facing issues such as substance abuse, domestic abuse and mental health challenges.

Steve started drinking in his late teens and early 20s it was in his 50s that social drinking turned into a life-changing addiction.

Steve said: “At my worst, I was drinking a bottle of spirits a day, often in secret. You kid yourself that people don’t know what’s going on, but it was out of control. I kept losing my driving licence and I was lucky not to be in prison. When I left my job I nearly drank myself to death.”

The real turning point for Steve was when he discussed his drinking problem openly with his doctor leading Steve to go through rehabilitation.

Steve said “Going through rehabilitation changed everything.

“I decided I wanted to help others who are facing similar problems so I became involved in Bridge the Gap to offer my insights into the systems that support people and also to run SMART recovery meetings which are both face-to-face and online.”

Steve said: “As well as helping others I also get something from the SMART meetings because it reminds me to be grateful for where I am. Anyone facing a drug or alcohol problem needs to know that there is help out there, and we will support them in turning their life around.”

Steve now uses his experiences to help others by volunteering with the award-winning Changing Futures programme which aims to help multiple disadvantaged people to reintegrate back into society. Steve volunteers to help with the charity Catalyst.

Steve with the Changing Futures Team
(Surrey County Council)

Keely Glithero, service manager at Catalyst, said: “Steve’s rich lived and learned experience in addiction brings a valuable perspective and contribution to how we deliver services. I am truly inspired by his relentless energy for supporting people, and I’m so glad to support and work alongside Steve as a volunteer for Catalyst in the Changing Futures programme.”